Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A Bit More on the Red Clover Inn

We're home from our week of wandering north of here and I have had a chance to yank photos from the trip off my camera. Many are of the Red Clover Inn, which we felt we helped pioneer this past week with our friends Andy and Lynn and our collections of daughters.

That's the main Inn building to the right there. Andy and Lynn and their girls had rooms in the main building. Karen and I stayed in a large room in a separate carriage house. Colleen and Christina were in the carriage house as well. Their room was above a dedicated room where our old friend Andrea, a massage therapist we visited for years at The Tyler Place, has begun to create a new spa.

The Red Clover Inn is an old Inn that was built on an even older farm. It served vacationers for many years and developed a strong reputation. The owners turned their Inn over to new managers and retired some years ago and the place seems to have declined. In the last year, the owners sold the property to the Tyler family who spent eight months fixing and mending and redecorating; they created a lovely new/old Inn which reopened just a few weeks ago.

A major attraction of the Inn is a wonderful restaurant that integrates gently into the main building. The Tylers found a great chef and he has put together a tasty menu that features local ingredients and sustainable foods. The restaurant seems to do a steady business beyond the Inn guests; that's a good thing.

There is also a comfortable lounge, with a fireplace and sofas and chairs and games and windows overlooking the property. A comfortable spot after a day of skiing or hiking or golfing or which-ever of the attractions of this part of Vermont you choose to enjoy.

The guest rooms vary from spacious and elegant to small and cozy. Several have fireplaces. Some feature hot-tubs (fabulous for aching old-guy muscles that hadn't been on skis in 30 years).

Am I gushing? yes, I am. But with good reason. The Tyler family are great inn-keepers and they find and support high-level employees. We've spent the last decade getting to know these folks. They give us vacations to celebrate and I think it is only right that I pass on to you information about those vacation opportunities.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Ski Report (Sorta)

We're in Mendon Vermont for a few days on a mini winter vacation. We're staying at the Red Clover Inn, an old inn that has been taken over by our friends who run The Tyler Place.

As I've noted before, we outgrew the Tyler Place and were sad to leave it behind. When we heard that the Tylers had bought and fixed up an Inn in Southern Vermont we decided we had to give it a try. Our friends the Southmayds (who led us to the Tyler Place in the first place) were interested as well.

The Red Clover Inn is a cool place. It has location and an elderly charm. The folks from the Tyler Place (family and long-time employees) have spent the fall putting a high gloss on the place. They've created a warm, friendly, luxurious Inn.

And we've spent parts of the last two days at the Killington ski resort. Karen has skied before, but only a few times and long ago. Neither of our girls had ever tried it. I skied all through high school, but stopped when I entered college, almost 30 years ago.

We took a family/group ski lesson yesterday. I learned that I can still ski. The girls learned that skiing is tough. Today we took a snow boarding lesson. I learned that I prefer to ski. The girls found that, though snow boarding is tough, they prefer it to skiing.

We're all bruised and battered. Colleen's nursing a sprained (I hope just sprained) wrist. We all have bruised knees. I may have sprained a rib. Fun times.

After the lesson, I traded back to skis and did some more traditional ski runs. It turns out that skiing is like riding a bike. I can still do the basic moves, but my legs at 46 are nowehere near what they were at 16 and 17 years old.

Now we're relaxing, trying to find a low-impact dinner choice, and thinking about our long drive back south tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Convergence: Puppies and Kitties

The first thing to say is that one reads these messages from bottom to top. This is a screen capture from Twitter today; a look at a moment of tweeting by two of the people I follow. They are not talking to each other; they are both entering messages and I happen to be listening to both of them.

dacagle is a cartoonist with MSNBC. thatselbert is a blogger from southwest Sussex County here in Delaware. dcagle was posting some cartoons that involved puppies and kittens and was tracking reader reactions. That led him to declare a theorem about the web: people love kitties and puppies and the web delivers. And, right on cue, thatselbert delivered a cute kitty picture.

I love the Internet.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Old Folks at Home Work

I spend five days a week in an office in downtown Dover, working for the people of the state of Delaware and with some truly nice folks. I generally don't write about my job here; but now I want to make an exception. Instead of leaving cards on co-worker's desks this Christmas, I want to share some thoughts about those co-workers.

Connie Holland, the State Planning Coordinator, is my boss. Connie brought a determined "nice" to our office eight years ago when Gov. Minner appointed her to the job. We'd known Connie for many years as the Planning Director for Kent County. Her extensive experience in county government was a great help. Connie reminds us every day that whatever the issue or beef, we're all just folks. And Connie likes folks. It's catching.

Dorothy Morris joined the office shortly before I did more than ten years ago. Technically, she was an administrative staffer, but she's always been more than that. Dorothy is one of those "hold the whole thing together" types. She knows how to manage things and brings that knowledge to an office or a home. As a result, she has risen to the position of Planner and has taken on management of the PLUS process. She has taught herself to use GIS, taking over much of the technical work I had been doing and freeing me up to try other new things. One of the great joys of my professional life has been gossiping about everything from world events to raising teenagers with Dorothy.

When Dorothy and I arrived we found Herb Inden there before us. He was there when the Office of State Planning Coordination was re-created, helping Dave Hugg pull the thing together. Herb worked in City Planning in Wilmington and adds an urban view to things. He's like an older brother; funny, warm and a voice of experience.

Bryan Hall is our newest staff member. Bryan is a former forester who now works with county and municipal governments in Sussex. Bryan is a breath of pine-fresh air. He's a brusque, out-doorsy type who cuts right to the heart of matters and greets almost all challenges with a laugh. He's a little goofy, which I like.

Diane Dukes I have known longer than I've worked in the planning office. She starred in a Possum Point Players production of Wait Until Dark that I had a part in back in 1988. Then she worked at DNREC for a while when I was there. Then one day, she came to help us out with graphics and publications. Diane is good, I've learned a lot from her about making things readable and visually interesting. And we share an appreciation for what's twisted about the world around us.

Laura Simmons is also a recent(ish) addition to our office. She brings an understanding of politics and the people of Delaware government and has taught me how to start to see beyond the surface of what's happening. She has also jumped-in to learn GIS and take on some of the tasks I had been covering. In fact, she insists on learning new things. I respect that. And Laura has become my good friend. We share stories of our kids and our parenting challenges. And she and Dorothy are my sounding board for ideas for gifts for the Lovely Karen.

I've saved David Edgell for last. I wanted to book-end this list with Connie, who leads us, and Dave, who will be a leader some day. I tease him (it annoys him) that he'll be Governor some day. Dave doesn't seem to want the job, but I'd trust him with it. He is smart, steady, and mature beyond his years. And he has a sense of humor. I love to bounce ideas back and forth with David. His training and experience are very different from, but somehow complimentary to mine. I'm going to enjoy watching his career; I hope to stay near him.

These are some of the the people I spend my days with. They are my work family; the people I come back to after visiting friends and colleagues at many other agencies. I'm blessed to have gotten to know federal, state, county and local government people from all over. My work life is fascinating and wide ranging. I'm glad to have Connie, Dorothy, Herb, Bryan, Diane, Laura, and David to ground me.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Happy Hanukkah!

Today begins the Festival of Lights, an eight-day celebration that commemorates the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem in the Second Century during a revolt against Greek rule by a Hebrew commander called Judah Maccabee. (Hat tip to wikipedia).

Matt Haughey has posted a link to a fun song for the holiday. One that places it nicely in a modern context.

I grew up in an area that had a healthy mix of faiths. I was raised a Catholic but a great many of my friends were Jewish (and some were Hindu and some Muslim, but that is a post for other holidays). We were aware of and took pleasure in each other's holidays. There was no "War on Christmas." There a universal respect for our various cultures. And there was occasional jealousy over gift-getting traditions, but that was minor.

For a full primer on Hanukkah, I strongly recommend "A Rugrats Chanukah," which tells the story of the Maccabean revolt through the imaginations of Tommy, Chucky, Angelica, and Phil'n'Lil. Watching The Rugrats was an added bonus for me during the time of small children, and this retelling of the Hanukkah story contains one of my favorite Rugrats moments: when Tommy emerges from a cave, dressed as one of the Maccabees, and declares, "A macca-baby's gotta do what a macca-baby's gotta do!"

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Twitter-Enabled Life

The Wizard of Oz is is playing this evening on TNT. It is a family favorite and worth re-watching, if not too frequently.

As we watch, I am scanning the web, as one does, and find, via Twitter, that Civil3Diva is also watching. I know Dana from my professional life; she's a CAD designer and her mind went right to the practical land-use design aspects:
just noticed that the yellow brick road has straight faced curb (no gutter). Looks like 5' lane width.
My mind, being rather less disciplined, asked:
Where is the Witch of the South in all this? And, is the Witch of the North by Northwest just a little cranky?
What strikes me now, however, is the fact that we're watching the movie together this evening, and sharing our thoughts on Twitter. Not one-to-one, but many-to-many; Twitterers around the nation are watching and commenting as they go.

That's the beauty of twitter. It's a tool for wide ranging, minor chatter. That can be an annoying thing, of course, but can also be great fun, as it is now for me. and it can be a great tool, as we saw when Mumbai was attacked and many of us tracked events through the tweets of Indians and others in the scene.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

'Tis the Season

We decorated our tree this evening. Though it was not a particularly cold evening, we had a roaring fire and a hearty homemade spaghetti dinner to put us in the mood. And we created a Christmas music station on Pandora; Tchaikovsky (snowflake waltz), Wyndham Hill artists, Laurence Juber, and the like.

We have more ornaments than we need, and fewer lights. We have balls made throughout pre-school by and for both of our daughters. We have reindeer made from popsicle sticks and pipe cleaners. We have knit things and glued-on-paper things and hand-made ceramic things (made by very little hands).

There are Giraffe- and flute-themed ornaments for Karen. There are golf- and football-themed ornaments for me.

We have a lot of ornaments.

We generally put our tree up late in the season. But we also keep it up longer. Karen was raised in the Orthodox church that celebrates the religious holiday of Christmas on January 7 (little Christmas).

Every year I grumble that Christmas starts too soon. But when we get to this part of December, this is a holiday I really like.

The Tree-Shaker Machinery...

...Out at the Christmas Tree Farm.

David C. shakes needles from a fresh-cut tree. With a special guest appearance by Sammy C. cutting branches from another fellow's tree.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Christmas Tree? Up.

We chose our Christmas Tree last weekend, out at the Sposato tree farm, near Milton. It's where we've gotten our tree for several years now. It's a nice place and a favorite of lots of local folks. Every time we stop by, we see more people we know.

The girls were busy getting ready for the Nutcracker, so Karen and I made the tree trip. We brought along her sister, Michele, who was in town for the show.

We found this year's tree way off in a far corner of the farm, where few tree-hunters had been and the selection was still wide. Our young friend David pointed us in that direction, and we thank him for it.

David's girlfriend recruited him to appear in the party scene for our nutcracker (a small crowd of adults is always needed to stand around in the background) and I got to know him during rehearsals. Nice kid.

I went back this afternoon to collect the tree. David cut down the tree for me, ran it through the tree-shaker machinery -- to get rid of dead needles and bugs and things -- and baled it. He helped me pop it onto the car and I drove cautiously home.

I set the tree up this afternoon in the corner of the new room. The cats were fascinated.

We'll decorate it tomorrow evening.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Really High-Level Etiquette

President-Elect Obama and VP-Elect Biden met today in Chicago with former VP Al Gore. I'm sure there's a great deal of important news related to this meeting.

But that's not what this post is about. This post is about a basic question that troubles me as I look at this picture.

When a group of people this powerful gets together, which one drinks from the water glass first? The most important person? Or the least?

Monday, December 8, 2008

A Long Weekend Onstage

It has been a busy few days. All four of us were on-stage together over the weekend in the Sussex Ballet production of The Nutcracker. This entailed dress and tech rehearsals on Wednesday and Thursday evenings and performances on Friday and Saturday evenings and on Sunday afternoon. Those rehearsals were long and tiring, but performances are great fun.

Christina, who is becoming a very good dancer, took the lead role of Clara for the Friday and Saturday performances. She did a lovely job. Colleen is a seasoned and dependable member of the corps de ballet and took some featured spots on Friday and Saturday. On Sunday, Colleen danced the solo "Arabian" dance and hit an absolute home-run. We were terribly proud of both our girls.

It's a great treat, by the way, to watch your daughters perform from on-stage with them. I had to be careful, at times, to keep from getting too misty-eyed. Wouldn't have worked for the minor character I played.

And it is fascinating to watch a Ballet from backstage. What is carefully choreographed grace and beauty on-stage is equally carefully choreographed chaos offstage.

Above all, it was great fun to get to know better a wonderful group of young people; some of them we've known since they were toddlers, others we have just met. All of them are great kids.

So I am tired, but happy.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Remembering Odetta

The folksinger Odetta has passed away. I only got to see her perform live one time. It was back in the first Bush administration. Odetta performed at an outdoor show on the University of Delaware College of Marine Studies campus in Lewes. She introduced the song "Rock-a-Bye Baby" as one that could be sung not only as a lullaby but also as an indictment. And she did so, dedicating the song to, and the indictment against, Bush Sr. It was a memorable show.

Monday, December 1, 2008

I Am a Huge Geek #25


I have added a smaller version of the Feully "signature" banner (above) to the left-hand column of the blog. Fuelly is a social-media site designed to allow users to track their fuel economy over time, share that information, and trade fuel-saving ideas.

I've added every fill-up of my Scion to a Fuelly profile since I started driving it in July. Over 18 fill-ups, I'm averaging 32.5 miles per gallon. My best performance has been almost 36 mpg, back in the summer. I go about 300 miles between fill-ups.

As noted above, I am a huge geek.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

...That Couldn't be Beat

We went to Bethesda, Maryland, for a Thanksgiving Dinner with my family. We alternate where we eat turkey each year, but always manage to spend time with my clan and with Karen's.

My folks hosted all seven of their kids, their seven sons- and daughters-in-law, fifteen of their seventeen grand-kids, and my brother Matt's in-laws. That's thirty-three people, including my Mom and Dad.

Everyone brings something. We had two turkeys, white potatoes mashed and sweet potatoes too. There were two kinds of stuffing. There were veggies and gravies and many, many desserts.

We had a tub of sodas and a tub of beer. I took responsibility for bringing the beer; I started with a mixed case of Dogfish Head beers and added another mixed case of other non-mainstream beers.

We arrived early and had a chance to admire the old family dining room (seen here backwards) before it filled with people. There were several different tables set up, from the long dining table of my childhood, to the round gate-leg table in the sun-room.

Soon the family started to filter in. My nieces and nephews range in age from their mid-thirties down to first grade. We have golden-haired little princesses and cow-licked rambunctious boys. We have dancers and swimmers and ball-players. We have aspiring writers, musicians, actors, and activists.

Among my siblings and their spouses are lawyers, librarians, and managers; teachers, writers, artists, accountants and librarians. We are all readers and talkers. It is never quiet when the Mahaffies gather.

We ate. We talked. We laughed and we shared. Eventually, we started to disperse. As we did, teams of kids gathered and stowed the folding chairs. We paired-up to move tables back into place. A brother started a first-load in the dish-washer. By bed-time the old family home was put back together and tolerably clean.

As the only out-of-state guests, we spent the night at Mom and Dad's. After a pleasantly quiet breakfast, we drove to Karen's sister's house where we ate left-overs with her parents and some of that side of our family. We watched our great-nephew and his half-brother play video games and wrestle good-naturedly. We got to play scrabble with my Mother-in-Law; she is the Michael Jordan of scrabble.

As dusk fell, we were headed back east across the Bay Bridge. Back to our cats. It was a fine Thanksgiving holiday.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Time Travel: Remembering The Razz

An odd confluence of letters in my RSS reader led me to search this evening for a band I followed as a youngster back in Washington DC. This week's Monday Music entry on the NPR Monitor Mix blog included a video from the Nazz (Tod Rundgren's old group).

Seeing that "a-z-z" reminded me of The Razz, a DC band from back in the late 1970s. The Razz were a hard-rock band -- almost punk -- that played a snarling form of power pop. They put out a series of singles and an extended play (EP) single. I may still have several of these buried somewhere in my archive.

The group included Tommy Keene, who went on to a recording career starting in the 1980s. According to Wikipedia, his music is critically acclaimed but commercially ignored.

I insulted Mr. Keene one evening at a bar in Northern Virginia. I didn't mean to insult him. A group of us were there to see The Razz; we were fans. I was at the time a rhythm guitarist in a high-school garage band (The Ramblin' Beach Guys) and I was impressed by Keene's guitar playing. The group's other guitarist, Bill Craig, was playing a more obvious "lead guitar" role and I approached Keene during a break to tell him how cool it was to see a fellow rhythm guitarist (I was pretty young). He was not amused; he played parts just as complex as the other fellow, he was just less showy. That was my first lesson in the potential complexity in rock music.

That was one of two Razz shows that I remember specifically. I expect I probably also saw them play at the old Psychadeli at some point, but I'm not sure.

The other show that I remember clearly was a concert in November of 1978 at the University of Maryland Student Union. The Razz opened for Rockpile (Dave Edmunds and Nick Lowe). Several of my bandmates and I got there very early and snagged a table at the very front of the hall. It was one of those great moments in youth when you are part of just the music you want to hear.

In looking around the web this evening, I also found that some of The Razz folks, including singer Michael Reidy, have recently been performing as The Howling Mad. Thirty years ago, I recall being told that Michael Reidy was a graphic designer and had done the artwork for The Razz' posters and record sleeves. In retrospect, I think it is the case that his graphic work, along with his group's music, influenced my tastes as a young man and is with me today.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Nutcracker Time!

It's just about that time of year again; time for traditional holiday shows. Among them is the Nutcracker, which has become a large part of our family life for a few years.

Our Nutcracker odyssey goes back at least to 2003. The girls are part of the Sussex Ballet and have also done the Nutcracker at the Southern Delaware School of the Arts. In 2004, they took to the streets of Lewes in Nutcracker costumes for the City's Christmas Parade. In 2006, we made it A Family Affair when Karen and I took on roles as extra adults in the party scene that starts the show. Last year, I took the part of Drosselmeyer, the kindly old coot who brings an enchanted nutcracker to the party.

This year, Christina is featured as Clara, the young girl at the center of the story. And Colleen is the lead dancer in the dance of the flutes for several performances and is the solo dancer in the Arabian dance.

Karen, as always, plays the part of the lovely, tall brunette in the green dress.

The shows are set for Friday and Saturday, December 5 and 6, in the evening, and an afternoon matinée on Sunday, December 7. We're using the theater at Cape Henlopen High school, just outside of Lewes. Tickets are $16 general admission; $12 for seniors and students. You should call (302) 645-7855 for your tickets.

Friday, November 21, 2008


I spent Wednesday morning at the Air Mobility Command Museum at Dover Air Force Base. Wednesday was GIS Day, a day intended to celebrate the role of GIS data and tools in many aspects of modern life.

I was one of many volunteers from the Delaware GIS community hosting fifth graders from three Delaware schools for a GIS Day field trip at the museum. We squired them through a series of learning stations including activities teaching about maps and map data, weather emergencies and emergency preparedness, and using GPS to help locate accident victims.

As a centerpiece, we had the Earth Balloon from the Delaware Children's Museum. This is a 19-foot inflatable globe into which kids can enter with an instructor to see all manner of geography from the inside.

Wednesday evening, the event was open to the public. I had to miss that; I had a Lewes Planning Commission meeting that night. It wasn't the only GIS day event; the City of Dover GIS folks hosted an for city staff to demonstrate the ,many uses of the technology in the capitol city.

I spent my Wednesday morning with 14 fifth graders from McVey Elementary School, in Newark, a very nice bunch of kids. Fifth grade is an interesting age. We had little tiny kids and boys who had shot up above their classmates and whose voices have dropped an octave. There were young ladies of great self-possession with bright, inquiring minds. They worked well together. They listened. They were a pleasure to work with.

I was also very pleased with the work done by the folks who created the event, led by Megan Nehrbas, of Sussex County government, with help from Miriam Pomilio, of the Delaware Geological Survey. They have created a new educational resource that I hope will continue in the years to come.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Let There Be Good Beer

Originally uploaded by Troy
Dogfish Head's Sam Calagionne is featured in a long-form story in the November 24 issue of The New Yorker. In A Better Brew, author Burkhard Bilger examines the rapidly growing "craft brew" movement by tracing the steady rise of the Dogfish Head brewery to one of the top beer makers in the country.

Sam and Mariah Calagionne are Lewes folks. I see them at Lewes Planning Commission meetings sometimes and at other gatherings. Sam is one of our local celebrities; as The New Yorker notes, he has a knack for making a splash.
This is partly a matter of clever marketing and partly of a genuine creative temperament.
Early on, he rowed his first export of beer to New Jersey across the Delaware Bay himself. I remember hearing about that at the time. It made an impression.

Dogfish Head makes very good beer. Some of it is fairly odd; Sam will make beer out of almost anything, if he thinks it will be interesting. He is in a battle against sameness in beer.
“I’m not afraid to pay compliments where compliments are due. Anheuser-Busch’s quality—if quality is consistency—is second to none. But I’m frustrated that that one beer has been hammered down people’s throats. I mean, banana cream pie may be your favorite fucking food. But if you ate banana cream pie every day you would hate it, too.”
I hang out with other beer lovers. My family is a beer family; we drink it for taste and for pleasure. When I head to my parents' place for Thanksgiving next week, I'll bring about a case of various Dogfish head beers.

Many of my friends in the National States Geographic Information Council are also beer connoisseurs. This spring, when we held our regular mid-year gathering in Annapolis, I realized that I was perfectly positioned to bring great beer across the Chesapeake.

There's a lot you can say about beer. I admit that at one time I drank beer for the buzz. Now, it is for the taste and the companionship that can come with the sharing of that taste.

And beer is good food. It is made from grains and yeast. Like liquid bread. Here in southern Delaware we have a talented creator of this great food.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Wet Day at Moore's Lake

It was a wet day today. Not steadily rainy, like yesterday, but wet. At any moment today, the world looked like it had just been rained on, or was about to be rained on. Yet I never saw it actually rain.

It seemed like a good day to take my camera down to Moore's Lake, just south of Dover, to take some wet day photos. I had spent part of a lunch hour there back in 2005. That was a lovely sunny summer day and I took a set of sunshine-y pictures.

This time, I found myself photographing lots of leaves. Many were floating downstream; passing over reflected empty tree branches. Artsy.

Others were spread all around on the ground. And on the picnic tables. And the walkways. And the dam and spillway. and on the fish ladder that I photographed a few years ago.

One of the problems I face as an amateur photographer is a limited set of subjects. The world is vast and there are many cool things to photograph, but I have a day job, and kids, and other things to do. I take pictures on my lunch hour and on the week-ends and on business trips when I can find free time. And on vacations, but those are special.

And, I live in a small place. After almost four years posting digital pictures (my first were from spring break in 2005), I feel like I have photographed everything that I see in my normal round. Yet, on days like today, I get a chance to go back to a place I've already shot and try to find new photos in new conditions.

Sometimes the same old thing can be brand new all over again.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Mental Note: Don't Forget the Grain of Salt

It seemed like the only thing missing from this year's election was something to humble the media and the bloggers. That need has now been filled by a fake expert from a phony think tank.

The New York Times has the story -- A Senior Fellow at the Institute of Nonexistence -- about a counterfeit McCain advisor from an invented institute who cast fictions into the political waters and reeled in bloggers and media alike.

Remember the story about Sarah Palin not knowing that Africa is a continent and not a country? Almost believable... Seems in character.... Matches our shared experience of Mrs. Palin's qualifications... but not true.

The "source" for that story was a Martin Eisenstadt, of the Harding Institute, supposedly an advisor to the McCain campaign.
...Martin Eisenstadt doesn't exist. His blog does, but it’s a put-on. The think tank where he is a senior fellow — the Harding Institute for Freedom and Democracy — is just a Web site. The TV clips of him on YouTube are fakes.
Eisenstadt is really Eitan Gorlin, who created the character along with Dan Mirvish as part of a long-term hoax intended as a promotional stunt to develop a television show. According to the Times, they have fooled several newspapers, TV networks and many bloggers, even after some of those who had been fooled published warnings about the hoax.

The lesson we take from this is to not believe everything that we see, or hear, or read even when it is "on the news" or "in the paper." And, in the hyper-news-sensitive environment we find ourselves, in a time when anyone with a laptop, an ISP, and rudimentary spelling skills can become a part of the new media, caution is even more important.

On the other hand, Mrs. Palin's response to the fake story (prior our learning that it was a hoax), was almost as interesting. Here's what she told Greta Van Susteren, as quoted on ABC's Political radar blog:

I don't know, because I remember the discussion about Africa, my concern has been the atrocities there in Darfur and the relevance to me with that issue, as we spoke about Africa and some of the countries there that were kind of the people succumbing to the dictators and the corruption of some collapsed governments on the continent, the relevance was Alaska's investment in Darfur with some of our permanent fund dollars, I wanted to make sure that that didn't happen anymore.

Wait... what?

I'm also tickled by the hoaxers' explanation of how they came up with the fake advisor character's name:

Mr. Gorlin said they chose the name because “all the neocons in the Bush administration had Jewish last names and Christian first names.”

And for the Institute? They named it after one of the least popular presidents in US history. That seemed believable.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Twelfth Golf Game of 2008

Andy and I took advantage of the Veteran's Day holiday to play 18 holes at Old Landing Golf Course outside of Rehoboth Beach. We got there early and were the second group out. We walked, carrying our bags. I don't know about Andy, but I needed the exercise.

Andy and I play old Landing one or two times each year. It's an older course with mature trees and several small hills in play. Taking care of the course seems to be a challenge. The fairways are often rough, but the greens have been nice this year.

I'm afraid I did not play well. I started poorly and never really caught up, though there were a few bright spots. I pulled out the driver from my set of clubs for today, for example. I had shelved it earlier this year in favor of an over-sized, square driver that I always thought looked like a metal ham sandwich. I thought I'd try the old driver, which has the same shape and shaft as my 5- and three 3-wood. It worked a bit better.

I'm also starting to have some success with my 3- and 4-hybrid "rescue" clubs. I'm now hitting them more like the irons. I sometimes top them embarrassingly, but when I connect I'm very pleased.

I ended the day with a 121. I had hoped to break 100 this year. I guess I'll do it in a sweater if I break it this year.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

An On-Line President

Barack Obama's candidacy was one of the most web-enabled we've seen and it looks like his transition and presidency will be as well. The transition, for example, will be on line at

There are several cool spots on flickr that are focused on our president-to-be. There's a group called "A message for Obama" that invites users to post photographed messages for the President-Elect. I made mine with wordle.

There's also a fascinating set of photos from back-stage with the Obamas, the Bidens, and friends on election night. This photo of Joe Biden greeting Sasha Obama is my favorite.

I think this web-connectedness is part of why I'm so excited about Obama. It's not just that he's using the web the way it can and should be used. It's also the fact that it doesn't seem at all forced; his techie-ness is natural.

More Eyes on Delaware

It's not unusual that Delaware should be getting more attention now that our senior Senator is the Vice-President Elect. Web interest in Delaware had increased starting in the summer when Joe Biden was nominated to run with Barack Obama. I was a bit surprised by the sharp jump in views of my flickr pictures this week, though. Daily views have doubled since I posted photos of Joe at Return Day on Thursday.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

At Return Day

Joe Biden came back to Delaware today to take part in Return Day, there's no way I was going to miss that, even if it was a nasty, dark, rainy day. I dragged along my camera to see what I could see.

This is a photo of Delaware's Governor-elect Jack Markell, with my friends Claudia Walker and Rachel Southmayd. Young Claudia had plucked a flower while we were in the circle waiting for the parade and when Jack came over to shake a few hands, she wanted to give it to him. I could not quite catch that picture, but the three of them obligingly posed for me. Claudia is the daughter of my friends Kate and Geoff Walker. Kate runs the studio where my daughters dance and Rachel is one of the dancers, and is the eldest daughter of my buddy Andy. It's a small state.

Return Day is our biannual post-election gathering in Georgetown to close out the political cycle. Return Day dates back to early times when voters would travel to the county seat to cast their ballots and then return two days later to hear the results. These days it's a festival, a parade, a speech and the ceremonial burial of a hatchet.

This year's Return Day was not normal. Usually, Return Day is a laid-back affair at which politicians and voters mingle freely. There are numerous vendors selling food and drink. The parade is long and loose and fun.

Having the Vice-President-elect in the parade changes things. The Secret Service closed-down the town. We parked outside town and were bused-in. We had to go through a security check-point that was somewhat like airport security, if airport security was in a small tent set up on a sidewalk in the rain.

The were no vendors and no strolling politicians. The parade started late and was oddly disjointed. For security reasons, Joe Biden went first, and alone, and the rest of the parade had to wait until he was safely on the reviewing stand. He may have made a short speech, but if he did the PA system was insufficient to get sound to where I was standing.

The parade was smaller than usual, likely because of the weather and the security concerns. We heard that all participants had to be frisked. There were the usual politicians; tradition has them ride the parade sitting (in cars or carriages) with their election opponents. Christine O'Donnell, who had challenged Joe Biden for his Senate seat, rode alone.

Lattimer the Mouse was there. He's the new mascot of the state Department of state. Ironically, the guy standing next to me has "Lattimer" as his middle name.

There were antique fire trucks and cars. There were a few floats and more beauty queens, and princesses, than you could shake a tiara at. Did you know that there is a Mr. Delaware? and, of course, marching bands.

At the end, we were tired and footsore and wet. But we were part of a once-in-Delaware-history event.

Mo Dowd Muses on The Changes to Come

New York Times Columnist Maureen Dowd has a sobering take on the Obama presidency this morning. In her column, Bring on the Puppy and the Rookie, she starts with the scene outside the White House Tuesday night and considers the nation's history, our recent past, and the challenges that lie ahead.

She suggests that Obama has already taken on the needed mantle of leadership; that his Tuesday night speech was the start of his presidency:
His somber speech in the dark Chicago night was stark and simple and showed that he sees what he’s up against. There was a heaviness in his demeanor, as if he already had taken on the isolation and “splendid misery,” as Jefferson called it, of the office he’d won only moments before.
It is a hopeful, if thoughtful, column and stands in tonal contrast to the more usual mocking Maureen Dowd columns.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

An Election Collection

I picked up some interesting election-related items in my normal scanning routines today. I thought I'd offer some links here, in no particular order.

The text of both Barack Obama's and John McCain's election night speeches are on-line. I made wordles of each (yes, I am a great big techie-geek). As I've said, I was impressed by John McCain's speech, the wordle of McCain's speech does suggest that he puts (at least the word) "country" first. The wordle of Obama's speech suggests that he used the words "tonight," "people," and "America" most often.

There's a cool illustration of one of the changes that Barack Obama represents on the web site of Mathhew Buchanon. It shows, in a set of simple caricatures, the progression of faces of the 43 presidents so far, and the face of the 44th-elect.

I also enjoyed reading Matt Haughey's take on the election results. He used the graphic at left, which I have seen in a few other places. I like it.

Matt writes that he also missed the earlier version of John McCain:
I don't recall much of any talk from McCain from the last two months about his detailed plans or reasons why someone should vote for McCain, instead all I heard about was why I should against Obama. That's never a good path to take -- when you don't accentuate your positives and instead focus on negatives, even if you convince others to avoid the opponent you end up with followers that don't have much to be proud of.
Matt has a very young daughter:
I'm glad my daughter gets to grow up and will remember her first president being an inspirational guy that proves anyone can still make it in America.
Finally, there's an inspiring set of images of President-Elect Obama on the Boston Globe's "Big Picture" site. I particularly like this one (as a fan of artsy photography) and this one, because I like fist-bumps.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Today We Made History

I am happy, and proud, this evening. My country has made a change, I think for the better. We have made history and taken a step into a new generation of leadership.

I'm watching large celebratory crowds from all over the nation on television. I just watched a gracious concession speech by John McCain; I'm glad to see that that John McCain has come back to us.

This has been a good day.

Jack Markell's "Dewey Wins!" Moment?

I'm not sure anyone else noticed this, and it was quickly fixed, but I did catch Salisbury's WBOC television in a Chyron error during election coverage at about 9:35 pm. They had flipped the percentages for Jack Markell and Bill Lee in the local graphics running below Bob Schieffer (sorry about how I caught you Mr. Schieffer).

This was a "Wait... what?" moment for me.

Report from a Delaware Polling Place

Karen and I headed out to vote this afternoon around one. Our polling place is the Ninth Grade Campus -- the old Lewes School -- on Savannah Road, in Lewes.

As we walked up, WBOC's "Chopper 16" was overhead, taking video of folks voting there, at Shields Elementary School next door, and at the Fire Hall, down the road. Another TV camera-person was just leaving.

Our incumbent state representative was out front greeting voters. I went over to say hello, though I voted for his opponent. He's a nice enough fellow, but I support his challenger.

I had spotted a bit of a crowd when I went by earlier in the day, but things were quieter this afternoon. We walked in and voted with no wait.

Because we live on Delaware, where Joe Biden is also running for reelection to the Senate, we had the rare pleasure of voting for him twice on one ballot. As usual, I didn't vote a straight ticket; I voted for at least one Republican and an Independent.

Afterwards, we went downtown and grabbed a coffee and a tea at the Lewes Coffee Roastery and Bakery. While we were there a couple came in and greeted some friends.
"What are you guys up to?"

"We just voted and now we are going home to celebrate."

"Well, good luck!"

"We are hoping...."
We found ourselves wondering how they voted and what they were hoping for. But we were too shy to ask.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Please Vote on Tuesday

It is terribly important that you vote in this year's election. It is always important, of course, but this year even more so. I won't pretend to be neutral; I hope you will vote for Barack Obama in the presidential election. I trust you won't be deterred by the many lies that are being spread around about him. If you are a Delawarean, please also vote for my friend Jack Markell; he's going to make a great Governor. (Not to mention Matt Denn. Vote for Matt too.)

Make sure that you have all the identification required to vote in your jurisdiction. Bring more than you need; don't be surprised at the polls.

Make sure you know where to vote. Google has deployed a Voter Info tool that uses Google Maps to geocode your address and relate it to your polling place. Don't trust this tool alone.

The image at right is Google's voter tool telling me that our polling place is the Department of Transportation building in Georgetown. It is not.

Our polling place is the old Lewes School building on Savannah Road, in Lewes. I know this because that is where we have voted in every election since we moved to this spot 14 years ago. I also know this because I checked the Polling Place Locator (at left) provided by the Delaware Commissioner of Elections office, which is a simple database look-up tool. It is not as cool and geo-techie as the Google tool, but it is accurate. I am a long-time geo-geek, but where-you-should-go-to-vote is too important to use only the cool Googly thing.

To their credit, Google is quite clear that you should always check with your local elections officials. And they have included a link to submit corrections. I did so, politely.

I will also note that I checked the Google tool using my parents' address in Maryland and it got their polling place right -- Bannockburn Elementary School. At least, that's where I went to vote in my first-ever election back in 1980, when I still lived at home. I assume Mom or Dad will correct me in the comments if I am wrong.

So make sure you know what is required to vote. Make sure you know where to vote. Make sure you vote for Barack Obama (and Jack Markell, if you can). Most importantly, please make sure that you vote.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Eleventh Golf Game of 2008

ocean resorts golf course
Originally uploaded by mmahaffie
Andy, Rich and I played 18 holes at the Ocean Resorts Golf Club in Berlin, Maryland. Andy and I had played there a few years back, but things have changed a bit. It is under new ownership after having gone out of business for a while.

Ocean Resorts is a mature course. It still has that "carved from a soybean field" for some holes, But others wind through the woods, there is plenty of water, there are tricky humps scattered throughout. It is a tight, tough course. For several holes, the scorecard recommends "a long iron, hit straight." I got the first part right...

This was one of my worst games of golf in some time. Or at least that's how it felt. I started strong, staying near par for a few holes. Then it all fell apart. I tried to rally, but was either mediocre or plain awful on many holes. I ended with a 124.

And yet, there were shots I was proud of, and some putts as well. And, it was a lovely day. Remarkably warm and sunny for November 1. I'm glad we had a chance to play.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A Cool Water Park

water park active pool 1
Originally uploaded by mmahaffie
There's a cool water park at one end of Main Street in downtown Fort Worth, Texas. The Water Garden, as it is properly called, was put in in the 1970s and it has that "70s Cement Architecture" look, but is pretty fascinating. It has many levels and different types of water features.

The NSGIC retreat group wandered down there on Tuesday evening and walked down the steps to the Active Pool, which was fairly disorienting in the dark. There are cement steps of varying shapes and sizes, surrounded by the sound of rushing water; add deep shadows and a dark sky and it is otherworldly.

Will Craig and I went back just after sunrise this morning. The steps are still daunting, but not as frightening, in the day.

There's also a quiet pool, surrounded by Cypress trees and walls of gently falling water. While we were there, the aerated water pool was closed for maintenance.

So, if you find yourself in Fort Worth, take a moment to check this place out.

In Fort Worth

fort worth morning
Originally uploaded by mmahaffie
I'm in Fort Worth, Texas, for a few days, for a leadership retreat of the National States Geographic Information Council (NSGIC). We're here for just two nights, with meetings for an afternoon and evening, a whole full day, and a morning, before flying back home.

There's not much time to look around, but I stepped out this morning and again just before the sun sank to grab a few photos of the downtown. I hope to get out again tomorrow morning. Fort Worth seems to have a compact and walkable downtown, but it has been quiet when I've been out.

My trip to this Fort Worth Hilton was a minor odyssey. I managed to get on the wrong "SuperShuttle" van at Dallas/Fort Worth International and got a bonus tour of downtown Dallas before catching the right van into Fort Worth. Next time I won't trust the fellow in the yellow windbreaker, with the clip-board, at the shuttle stop to make sure I don't get on the wrong van.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Meet Polly

meet polly
Originally uploaded by mmahaffie
This is Polly, our third cat. We weren't planning on having a third cat, but she showed up at the Sussex Dance Academy one day last week looking cute and lost and alone. The Dance Academy at any given time consists of a dozen or so teen and pre-teen girls, most of them with feline soft-spots. There was no way they were going to let this cat stay a stray.

She spent a few days at Miriah's house, but her family had just taken on a stray in their neighborhood. We were always on call, just in case and I fully expected to have this new cat before too long. We picked her up on Friday evening.

Mocha and Shoe are not pleased with us. They were neither of them quite pleased with being one of two cats in the house. Adding a third has them a bit miffed-off.

Shoe got over it fairly soon. He's been faced with a new cat once already, so he was a bit more used to this.

Mocha has spent much of the last two days under our bed, coming out only to eat and use the cat-box. She's been arching her back and puffing-up her tail and looking very intent. But this afternoon she has come out and is napping in the sun; not fully comfortable yet, but getting there.

Why "Polly?" She was discovered outside the Dance Academy door during rehearsals for The Nutcracker while the Polichinelles were rehearsing. The girls refer to them as "the Pollies."

Friday, October 24, 2008

Grand Opening: Crumb's

Grand Opening: Crumb's
Originally uploaded by mmahaffie
I watched a grand opening in downtown Dover this week. The Dover Mayor, a councilman, and local economic development folks joined the owners of Crumb's in cutting a ribbon on Thursday at around noon.

A few of us walked uptown to try the place out and watch the ribbon get cut. My colleague Laura (second from the left here) is involved in things Dover and wanted to attend. My friend, and former colleague, Anne Marie is the city's head of inspections and planning. She's holding the roght side of the ribbon in this picture.

Anne Marie and her husband Mike T. (one of my golf buddies and a GIS pro) joined us for lunch. Th place has pretty good food and makes a nice addition to the downtown choices.

There are now four newish lunch choices on Loockerman Street, in Dover. I'm still loyal to my friends at 33 West, but it's neat to have a few other choices, a few other styles from which to choose.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Tenth Golf Game of 2008

Mike T., Sandy, and I took Tuesday afternoon off to try out the newly refurbished Garrison's Lake golf course just south of Smyrna, Delaware. We get to play together every once in a while and when we found ourselves all scheduled for the same morning-long meeting on a day with clear afternoon schedules, we decided to use a little of our vacation time, get some sun, and show how much fun poorly played golf can be.

In fairness to Sandy and Mike, I played poorly. They played pretty well. That's Sandy in the picture there in his Tiger Woods red shirt, about to drive on the back 9.

Garrison's Lake was built in the 1960s and is a mature course. It feel into disrepair a few years ago when the ownership closed it and sold it for housing development. After an outcry against that idea, the course was purchased by the state. After some outcry over that idea, the course has reopened as a public, non-profit course.

The course as been made a little longer than it was, and the trees have been trimmed back a bit. The greens are in great shape and fairly fast. The fairways are still recovering from encroaching crab-grass but have been kept quite short and play well. It is a challenging and fun course.

May game started well. I was hitting straight, if medium-length drives. My iron play was acceptable but my putting was not great. And, when my putting started to come around, I started pulling my approach shots badly. Several times I hit what were, for me, great drives, but wasted them with poor approach shots. Frankly, I'm not used to being within a short-iron of the green for my second shot on a par-4.

With a few "blow-up" holes, I ended my day with a 120. Pretty poor. But it was a lovely afternoon, and we had fun. That is always my test for a round of golf.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Sad News

I'm saddened this evening to read that Grace Pierce-Beck has died. I remember her as petite, quiet, polite, ridiculously intelligent, determined, and very effective. Grace Pierce-Beck was an environmental leader and leading light in Delaware and on the national stage. You may not have heard of her, if you have not been intimately involved in the environmental movement. She got a huge amount done very quietly and behind the scenes.

I was lucky enough to have met her in the early 1990s, when I was working for DNREC -- Delaware's environmental agency -- and got to interview her for a magazine story.

The News Journal story linked above includes a recent photo of her. It looks like she had been fighting an illness recently, but she still had that spark in her eye that I remember. It looks like it is from earlier this year, on the occasion of her induction into the Hall of Fame of Delaware Women.

Grace Pierce Beck was a wonderful person. I'm thankful to have known her.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Bruce Springsteen on Barack Obama

Ryan Cormier has posted the text of Bruce Springsteen's short speech in support of Barack Obama on his Pulp Culture blog. Springsteen spoke, and sang, yesterday at a voter-registration rally in Philadelphia. The News Journal's straight news section has the story as well (Springsteen rocks Obama rally in Philly). Both feature some impressive photos of the crowd that gathered.

Springsteen spoke about how his job has been to observe, and sing about, the promise of America. And he noted that he has observed a growing distance between the promise of the our nation and the reality of life lately.
I believe Senator Obama has taken the measure of that distance in his own life and in his work. I believe he understands, in his heart, the cost of that distance, in blood and suffering, in the lives of everyday Americans. I believe as president, he would work to restore that promise to so many of our fellow citizens who have justifiably lost faith in its meaning. After the disastrous administration of the past 8 years, we need someone to lead us in an American reclamation project.
It is worth noting that Springsteen went on to remind the crowd that it will take more than voting for Obama to turn things around.
But most importantly, it needs us. You and me. To build that house with the generosity that is at the heart of the American spirit. A house that is truer and big enough to contain the hopes and dreams of all of our fellow citizens. That is where our future lies. We will rise or fall as a people by our ability to accomplish this task. Now I don't know about you, but I want that dream back, I want my America back, I want my country back.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Ninth Golf Game of 2008

Andy and I played 18 holes at the Rookery this afternoon. We started late, after two, and timed our game so that when we finished we could join our lovely wives for dinner at Saketumi, a new pan-Asian restaurant at Midway, between Lewes and Rehoboth.

We were paired on the course with Jim and Ellen, a very nice husband and wife from Bethesda, Maryland, with a place in Lewes. They were a little bit older than we are; their two sons are now in college. I was interested to learn that their boys had graduated from my old High School, Walt Whitman.

Andy and I had so-so rounds. Interestingly, we seemed to trade-off bad holes. When I was going well, he sliced. When he hit well, I hooked shots badly. I was not putting well at all. still, though I ended with a dismal 118, there were some bright spots. I did hit the green in one on one of the long par-threes. I just completely spoiled that chance at par with very sad putting. But I had a few tee shots I was proud of, and I reached the green on the long, long par-5 tenth hole without wanting to kill myself, which is, I think, a first.

And it was a lovely day. Sunny but cool. With low humidity. It's hard not to enjoy weather like that.

From the New Lexicon #102: "Sarah-phonics"

NY Times Op-Ed Columnist Charles M. Blow has coined a new term in his column on the Biden/Palin debate (The Joe Biden Show).
Palin launched into her charm offensive — winking, smiling, dodging questions and speaking in her signature Sarah-phonics , a mash up of sentence fragments and colloquialisms glued together with misplaced also’s and there’s — gibberish really. Everyone in the bar lapped it up. It was The Sarah Palin Show." [Highlighting by yours-truly]
While we're on the NY Times site, I can also recommend Bob Herbert's column "Palin's Alternate Universe," which includes this gem:
...Ms. Palin’s words don’t mean anything. She’s all punctuation.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Deployment Ceremony

There was a deployment ceremony today in downtown Dover for the 361st Signal Brigade, a unit of the Delaware National Guard. They are headed out for a period of training in Texas and then to Iraq. These ceremonies are not all that unusual, but this one was special in part because Delaware's Attorney General, Beau Biden, is a captain in the unit and his dad, Senator Joe Biden, was on hand.

I understand that our Governor, Senators and Congressman often attend these ceremonies, and address the troops. Senator Biden's status as VP-candidate, with the Secret Service complications that go along with that, made this one a little different. Streets were closed all around the site of the ceremony -- Legislative Mall in front of Legislative Hall. Access to the ceremony itself was strictly controlled, but we were able to watch from outside a guarded perimeter.

A colleague and I took a short break early in the day and checked out preparations. A crew was erecting a flag-draped ceremonial arch for the Brigade to march under. We spotted Captain Biden on the street in front of our office. We stopped for a quick chat and, why not, a photo. Beau Biden is a nice guy; friendly and charming. You can see his dad in him.

At eleven, the brigade marched a short way down Legislative Avenue, under that ceremonial arch, and onto the Mall. They were preceded by a group of police on motorcycles, a platoon of Harley-mounted Patriot Guard Riders, and a set of bag-pipers. The Patriot Guard group, by the way, included Delaware blogger Shirley Vandever, the Delaware Curmudgeon.

The ceremony itself featured short speeches by the leadership of the Delaware National Guard, the Governor, the Senators and a representative of our Congressman (who was back in Washington to vote on the bailout). We expected Senator Biden to avoid the election in his remarks and he seemed to do so; his was the shortest address. The CNN story has the heart of it:

"I've come here many times before as a Delawarean, as a United States senator," he told a crowd in Dover. "But today I come, as you prepare to deploy, as a father -- a father who had some sage advice from his son this morning: 'Dad, keep it short, we're in formation.' "

"My heart is full of love and pride. ... You are the best demonstration of both our nation's greatness and ... our people's goodness," he added.
I've long opposed the war in Iraq, but I couldn't help feeling a little choked up with pride and concern as I watched these men and women marching in my state's capitol. You can oppose the war and support the troops at the same time.

I also found myself watching some of the VFW guys who were in attendance in support of the younger troops today. I was standing a short way behind a Vietnam Vet. Did he get this sort of support? I hope so. In any case, we can still show him and his compatriots respect today.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

I Want One #316

I have spotted a technology that I want to play with. The Make Blog points to a plan by AS220 Labs to debut a new tool at the Maker Faire in Austin, Texas, later this month: The Hair and Balanced TV Filter.

The technology is simple.
The Hair and Balanced TV Filter taps into the composite video input to your TV, detects whether you are watching talking head pundits or newscasters, then draws mustaches on the faces on the screen. The TV filter is a new kind of hardware shield that helps users take control of their screen.
I love it. It reminds me of a novel I read some 34 years ago. I cannot remember what the title was, but it was about someone who developed a tool that let him add graffiti to live television broadcasts. I remember the novel following the consequences of that and the uproar it caused. It was a counter-culture novel. The Nixon people were the bad guys.

I do remember that I finished that book a few days before we learned that Nixon would resign the Presidency. It was an exciting time.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Tearing Down the O'Brien Building

The Robert O'Brien Building in downtown Dover is being torn down to make room for an expansion of the Kent County Courthouse. This is just up the block from my office and is almost always on my lunchtime walk.

I've been collecting photos of the deconstruction process when I can. There's a pair of large yellow tracked things. One with a front-end loader on the front and the other with a high-powered pincer-claw that is used to grab steel I-beams and yank them out of the building. This after the exterior brick was shaved away and the internal stuff scraped-out.

At lunch today the building was about a third gone. Another big chuck was missing at closing time this afternoon. Stay tuned.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Just What Did Nancy Say to Upset Those Guys?

Some among the Congressional republicans are blaming a speech by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for the failure of the republicans to deliver the votes they needed to pass the $700 billion bailout plan. Apparently Speaker Pelosi, like many of us out here on Main Street, blames the problems of Wall Street at least in part on George Bush:
Pelosi had said that the $700 billion price tag of the measure “is a number that is staggering, but tells us only the costs of the Bush Administration’s failed economic policies — policies built on budgetary recklessness, on an anything goes mentality, with no regulation, no supervision, and no discipline in the system.”
Those are fairly strong words, but not out of line for politics and politicians. And was that all she said? I took a look at the full text of the speech, as posted on Talking Points memo this afternoon. That bit there? That's the second paragraph.

I yanked the text over into Wordle and created this word-cloud of the 75 most frequently used words in that text. I'm seeing "Street. Financial. American crisis. Recovery legislation. Must."

As I read it, she smacks the Wall Street folks around much more thoroughly than she does the President or the Republicans.

The corporate CEOs whose companies will benefit from the public's participation in this recovery must not benefit by exorbitant salaries and golden parachute retirement bonuses.

Our message to Wall Street is this: the party is over. The era of golden parachutes for high-flying Wall Street operators is over. No longer will the U.S. taxpayer bailout the recklessness of Wall Street.

This is the one thing that both right- and left-wing folks I've talked to agree about right now. (That and the delightful fact that the Cowboys were beat yesterday)

So. Was Nancy Pelosi so horrible? I don't think so.

I thought Barney Frank was very funny about this this afternoon:
Frank remarked on the numerical "coincidence" that the number of "deeply offended Republicans" who voted no equalled exactly the number needed to reach the 218 votes in favor to pass the bill.

"I'll make an offer," he added. "Give me those 12 people's names and I will go talk uncharacteristically nicely to them and tell them what wonderful people they are and maybe they'll now think about the country."

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Sunday Morning with the Newspapers #132

In this morning's News Journal, I find an article (Georgetown DelTech to offer theater productions) that describes an effort by Delaware Technical and Community College to bring regular theater productions to the stage on their Georgetown campus.

The goal, said Vice President and Campus Director Ileana Smith, is to get area residents into a habitat of supporting the arts and to "think about this theater as a place to come."

Smith said campus leaders believe the time is right for a theater venue in central Sussex County. Many new residents in nearby Bridgeville, Millsboro and Lewes moved to Sussex County from larger communities with vibrant culture and arts scenes, Smith said.

While I applaud this idea -- I'm in favor of theater, after all -- I do have to point out that Georgetown already is home, and has been for many years, to the Possum Point Players and their Possum Hall theater. In fact, Possum Hall is less than two miles from DelTech (as the Google bot suggests that the crow drive).

I used to be closely involved with the Possums. In the days before kids, the Lovely Karen and I were both a part of that group. Our first date was dinner at Adriatico (when it was on First Street at Baltimore Avenue in Rehoboth) followed by a Possum performance of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.

That performance was at (wait for it) Delaware Technical and Community College, in the theatre now proposed for the addition of theater programs.

In those days, before the refurbishing and expansion of Possum Hall, the Possums did their larger productions at Del Tech. And we were a part of many.

Karen, a talented flautist, was a member of the orchestra for almost all of the Possum musicals (back when they used real orchestras). I can act and can fake my way through a song as long as I'm in a "character part." And I used to help out backstage for shows that lacked a suitable "Mike part." I did props, or sound, or helped shove things around on-stage between acts.

Between us, we were involved in The Good Doctor, Wait Until Dark, the Sound of Music, Nunsense, The Crucible, Oklahoma, The 1940's Radio Hour, The Man of La Mancha, Big River, and I'm sure there are others that I am now forgetting.

The week before I proposed, in 1987, we helped out at a Possum Kid's production of The Emperor's New Clothes. It was the last show of that production, so we stayed behind to help tear down the set. I wasn't paying proper attention and put a foot down in the wrong spot. I twisted my ankle over so severely that I pulled the connector-thingy (tendon?) that connects shin to foot completely out of my foot. Technically, it was a bone break. So I proposed on crutches. Never underestimate the power of sympathy.

When the Possums did Nunsense, I was the props master and Karen, then large with Colleen, did sound effects and turned pages for the pianist. Nunsense is a show-within-a-show show. The idea is that a group of Nuns is putting on a performance, so anyone seen onstage should be wearing a Nun's habit. As the show started, the stage manager (our friend Nina) and I would be out on the stage, setting props for the Nun's "stage." At that point I had only a mustache, so I kept my back turned to the audience until the very last second, when I would spin around, face the audience just long enough for my facial hair to register, and then exit, stage left. Those were the easiest (and somehow most satisfying) laughs of my stage career.

We also have a photo of the two of us from that show-- both in Nun drag, Karen clearly quite pregnant, me mustachioed. We like to haul it out to scare the girl's friends when they visit.

So, when I see a story about how the fine folks at DelTech are going to rescue a culturally benighted Georgetown by bringing in theater, I bristle. Just a little. The fact is that Sussex County does not really lack culture. You just have to seek it out. You just have to support it in any way you can.

We have the Possums. We have the Sussex Ballet (where our efforts, and those of our children, now center). We have the Rehoboth Summer Children's Theatre, whose Board I served on for many years and whose web site I still manage. There is a new theater group working in the old Epworth Church building in Rehoboth Beach. There are good programs in the local high schools. And there is the Southern Delaware School of the Arts.

There are fine music programs all summer at the Bethany and Rehoboth bandstands. There is the Rehoboth jazz festival and the Rehoboth film festival. There is a music festival in Dewey Beach. There are weekly concerts in Stango Park all summer in Lewes.

We have culture. We just have to do a better job of supporting it.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Anyone in Seattle?

We need someone to attend this concert. Magpie Killjoy is my nephew, an artist and musician and a nice, if intentionally scary-looking sometimes, tall young man.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

A Bi-Partisan Yard

I found this mix of yard signs on a property in Lewes on a walk with the lovely Karen yesterday. It was nice to see a bipartisan mix of support in one yard:
  • Joe Booth, (incumbent) Republican candidate for the local state House seat.
  • Barack Obama, Democratic Presidential Nominee (and, I hope to God, our next President).
  • Joan Deaver, Democratic candidate for the local County Council seat.
  • Jack Markell, Democratic candidate for (and likely the next) Governor of Delaware.
  • Gary Simpson, (incumbent) Republican candidate for the local state Senate seat.
I think this shows the power of incumbency in a small place. Of these five races, only two aren't "open" seats; these are the ones for which this property owner is supporting Republicans. As a side note, I think at least one of the Republican incumbents here is probably worthy of re-election.