Sunday, July 27, 2008

Fifth Golf Game of 2008

Andy and I played 18 holes on a hot Saturday at Pine Shore golf course, near Ocean Pines in Maryland. Pine Shores is a small, mature course that is adjacent to the larger and newer River Run course. It is less expensive and more laid back; that's what we were looking for.

Andy has been off the course for a couple of months for health reasons. He was not sure how his game would react and didn't want to be part of a foursome with folks we don't know and who might have paid a great deal for their game. He's polite like that; I just look to see if the people we play with have a sense of humor before I start swinging.

In any case, Pine Shore was the right course for us on this particular week-end. It is short -- par 60 -- but challenging in a way that only mature courses can be. It has trees that have grown up as part of the course layout, rather than having been carved around. And there are rolling greens. We don't see rolling greens so much on the newer courses.

I started rather poorly, but shaved strokes off the back nine and finished at 91. I had a few pars and only one bad blow-up. I find that I can achieve a decently straight, if short, golf shot if I don't try to hit too hard and if I accept that my lower back issues mean an odd, twisty follow-through.

It feels funny when I do it right; which, if you think about it, is an apt description of golf.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

New Wheels. No, Not a Hybrid

I've bought a new car, a Scion xD. We've become a three-driver family this summer and so now have a third car. This will be my car, and it is not a hybrid; that is a major change for me.

I've driven Toyota Prius hybrids for most of the present century. My first was a 2001, the first version that was available in the US. I was, I think, the second or third to have a Prius in Delaware. I replaced that with a second generation Prius in 2004.

I love our 2005 Prius, it is a roomy, comfortable, efficient and clean car. But we are at a point where we need a car for our daughter to drive. We could have found her a used car at one of the dealerships, and we looked a bit. But I didn't really want to buy a used car (my personal bias, I guess). And, if I'm going to buy a new car, it won't be for the young driver; it's going to be for me. We recently replaced Karen's car, by the way.

So I started looking for a small, efficient, and inexpensive car for my commute. I did some research, test-drove a few models, and settled on the Scion. It presents a nice balance between efficiency and features. The Scion is a sporty little thing but you sit up fairly high, which I like. The styling is sharp; a colleague described the front view today as like a Japanese anime character. I can see that.

I'm pleased with the stereo and its integration of both satellite radio and the Ipod. I think this will be a nice place to spend my commute.

I'm a bit sad that there isn't a new version of the Prius, or something even cooler, ready for me to buy this year. I like having cutting edge cars and now that so many Priuses are on the road I feel a bit overtaken (of course, it is a good thing to have more hybrids out there).

Why can't I have an all-electric car, with a big battery, lots of energy recapture technology (regenerative breaking and such) and a skin made up entirely of photovoltaic cells? I don't need hydrogen, thanks, and I'm ready to start ending my dependence on oil (not "foreign oil," mind you, all oil).

I'm here, I'm not queer, but I do like to buy cars. Who will sell me my real e-car? Anyone? No? I guess I'll have to wait. I'm happy to play in my little blue Scion for now.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Changes Have Been Made

The column on the left side of this blog was just getting too long. Changes had to be made.

I have replaced the lists of Delaware blogs, political blogs, media blogs and other blogs with a shorter, simple blogroll. For a while now, I have tried to link every Delaware blog I can find (using and listing them all (at least the active ones) in the sidebar. Too long.

I have instead limited the side-bar blogroll to sites I visit regularly, sites by good friends, and sites by people I admire. I have included links to longer lists of Delaware, non-Delaware and media blogs that have caught my attention. I will continue to update those lists.

I also moved photos of my folks' fiftieth anniversary party from an old HTML page I created in 2004, before I found flickr, to a special flickr set. That let me delete yet another left-side link; a small victory in blog-decluttering.

All Politics Is Local?

There's an interesting on-line discussion this week on several sites about a race for a state representative seat in Kansas. Sean Tevis, an IT guy from Olathe, Kansas, is running for the 15th District seat in the Kansas House.

He's a Democrat challenging a several-term incumbent Republican and he's making a strong on-line pitch that includes an xkcd-style infographic about his reasons for running and his fund-raising approach. Told he needs to raise $26,000 for the run and that the traditional approach is to find 52 people to donate $500 each, he has decided to try instead to get 3,000 people to donate at least $8.34 each. And his web site is set up to do just that.

This approach has attracted notice on several web sites nationally, including on metafilter, where Tevis has been a member for many years. He didn't post the link himself, but he has joined in the discussion and seems to be listening to criticism and suggestions from the many commenters. There's a lively discussion which is generating some contributions and is helping Tevis refine his thinking on some issues.

My interest increased when I looked at the District map and realized that Tevis is running to represent the downtown portion of a town that my great-great grandfather helped found, where my grandfather was born, and where I still have some distant cousins.

As of this morning, he's almost half-way to his goal of 3,000 contributors and he's now known to a wider, and growing, group of politically interested voters. Not all of them, however, are local.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

I have Succumbed

When we rolled-over our family of cell-phones this summer, Karen and I decided to get unlimited texting. Colleen, being a teen, seems to have lost the ability to talk on a telephone and communicates entirely by SMS text message. So it made sense for us to become texters ourselves.

Even though we are old.

As a result, I have decided to finally look into twitter. I never thought twitter would be a format that worked for me as a browser-based writer. Twitter is designed to allow users to send short-form updates -- "tweets" -- limited to 160 characters. I have never been "short form."

Still, I don't like to post on Mike's Musings from my machine at work. Sometimes I think of things I'd like to post during the day, but don't feel that I should. So I have signed up for twitter and added a "Random Thoughts" box at left that I can populate from my phone.

God forbid you should ever have to be without my, um, thinking.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

So Long, Ollie, and Thanks for All the Memories

Olive Riley passed away this week-end. She was 108 years old and had been, for the last few years, "the world's oldest blogger."

As I write this, all links to her blog are failing; my guess is her site is getting hit with too much traffic as news of her passing spreads. With luck, things will settle down soon and the site will be accessible.

It's something of a stretch to call Olive Riley a "blogger." She was visited regularly in her retirement home by a punk kid of 70-something who interviewed her and transcribed the interviews to a blog site. But her site was a rich mine of memories and history as seen from the eyes of a normal woman, leading a life in Australia for all of the Twentieth Century.

Her blog was one of the great treasures I've found on-line. I'll miss her, but I was glad I had a chance to get to know her. Rest in peace, Ollie.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Seen From a Train

I took the train to Albany, New York, this afternoon for a two-day USGS-sponsored meeting of State GIS coordinators. The train was no more expensive than flying and it was easier and more comfortable to take the train from Wilmington than to drive to BWI or Philly and deal with the full airport drill.

The second part of the trip was a ride up the east side of the Hudson River. It was late afternoon and I had a nice view of the river and the many bridges that cross it between New York City and Albany.

Despite the dirtiness of the window I was next to, I decided to spend the trip grabbing what photos I could. There was a series of bridges, there were boats, a castle, and views of the river.

It was a very pleasant few hours.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Fourth of July, Bethany Beach

We were in Bethany Beach for the Fourth of July parade on Friday. We were with my folks, three siblings and their spouses, and a clutch of nephews. It was great fun.

The Bethany parade is always a long, loose, sometimes casual affair. It features a healthy dose of politicians, small bands, decorated cars, family floats, loads of beauty queens, and masses of kids on decorated bikes.

We were treated to Senator Tom Carper (D), Congressman Mike Castle (R), and some local leaders. Sussex County Councilman George Cole and Dewey Beach Mayor Dell Tush rode together.

Both of the Democrats vying for election as Delaware's next Governor came by. Jack Markell was walking and shaking hands, including mine. John Carney was riding and waving. I caught his attention and Lt. Gov. Carney gave me a wave and a smile. "I wave and smile on command," he said (or something like that). Both gents looked like they were having a fine time.

Neither of the Republican candidates were in the parade.

Miss Delaware was among the several pageant queens on hand. They ranged from a very young Little Miss ... Somewhere to a more grown-up Mrs. Delaware.

I came across Miss Delaware's blog recently. She was crowned in June and started blogging a bit later. I took advantage of the opportunity of the parade to remind her not to let her blog get too stale. I have to give her credit; I didn't throw her. She knew what I was on about.

I was standing with a group of my nephews ranging in age from about 6 up to 15. I found myself wondering whether they were more interested in the beauty pageanteers or in the cars they were riding on. I was amused to read Miss D's blog entry from today about her several parade appearances:
After reflecting back on the day, I realized that Donald's car (a 1965 convertible, red corvette) had gotten as many comments/compliments as I had! The quote of the day: "Nice car!!" I guess that's what happens when you have such an eye-catching ride!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

What Are You Looking For?

I have a few different ways to track visitors to this site. I'm not too obsessive about it, but I enjoy knowing what's brought people here.

Over the long term, I find I get a steady stream of people looking for information on getting rid of a blood clot. Installing satellite radio in a Prius is also popular as are Delaware's boundary monuments.

And I see seasonal patterns as well.

In the last two weeks, for example, there has been interest in the Fourth of July in Bethany Beach. Since June 22, fifty-eight of Mike's Musings visits were generated by web searches for some combination of Bethany Beach, Fourth of July, fireworks, and parade. That's 23.6 percent of all searches that led to the blog. ("Bethany Beach Fireworks" is the champ.)

There has also been a steady stream of visitors looking for information about the Tyler Place, in Vermont. I've posted reports from there the last several summers, and they are being found by folks researching their own trips, it seems.

We've stopped visiting the Tyler Place, but not because we don't love it. After nine summers, Colleen has aged-out of the Tyler kids' programs. It was time to make room for these other folks. I hope our reports and pictures help them get ready. But we do miss it terribly.