Wednesday, October 28, 2009

This Makes Perfect Sense to Me

My old college dining hall is slated to become a faux Hogwarts dining hall tomorrow night and that reminds me of why I loved that place when I was there a quarter century ago.

It has a high goofiness quotient.

I am a 1984 graduate of Colby College and for much of my time there I ate my meals in the dining room at Foss Hall. That's Foss at right in a photo by a gent who blogs as Critical Christian and was on-campus at some point recently for his spouse's Class of 1956 reunion.

The Foss dining hall is a longish, two-story room that feels like a church hall or a manorial hall. It is entered by two stairways from the dormitory portion of the building and has deep, rich wooden walls. It would serve well as a small Hogwarts hall.

The young lady whose "inside Colby" blog post alerted me to this re-purposing of Foss also seemed delighted:

There are times when I think I couldn't possibly love Colby any more than I already do. And then they announce that Foss Dining Hall will be transformed this Thursday into the Hogwarts Great Hall, complete with Harry Potter-appropriate dining hall options, and my heart wants to implode with delight and wonder at this marvelous, oh-so-dorky school I attend.

It has me thinking back to my time at Colby and pleasant meals with Mark, Todd, Katie, Laurellie, and many others. I remember the parent's week-end when we deployed the silly cigarettes-and-ashes jello-mold (seemed funny at the time). I remember nights studying down there and week-ends when I played in various bands on that little stage.

And I remember elaborately staged, crowd-heavy stair-falls during finals. That was a tradition unique to Foss. I wonder of it is still practiced?

Monday, October 26, 2009

She Got Bigger

Polly has been with us for a full year now. She joined our menagerie on this weekend last year after turning up in the parking lot of the Sussex Dance Academy during a Nutcracker rehearsal.

At the time, she was a petite, underfed kitten. We think she must have been on her own for at least a few days, because she came in eating and kept eating until she was up to her fighting weight.

And Polly is a pleasantly goofy cat. When she first arrived she had a fascination for the television, particularly football games. She treats us as if we were her pets. As she walks past us, sometimes, she'll reach over with a cold, wet nose and give a friendly little nudge as if to say, "hey there, fella."

Also, she likes the sink.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

A (Typically) Busy Weekend

We started our weekend Friday night at the Sussex Tech vs Smyrna High football game. It was the final home game of the season, and therefore Colleen's last game as a fan at Tech. Tech has a very strong team this season, so we wanted to see a game. They won.

We also wanted to see Tech's marching band. Matt Wilshire, long a classmate of Colleen's, is one of the drum majors. He is good at it and the band sounded good.

We were distracted, though, by the band teacher's running commentary over the PA system during the halftime show. He tried to hype it up, but just sounded silly and drowned out parts of the performance.

Saturday morning, I took a nice walk around town. It was a blustery, overcast sort of morning that turned into a stormy afternoon and evening.

The girls, meanwhile, were in a long rehearsal for the Nutcracker (performances the first week-end in December). Karen ran some errands and then did some shopping with Christina, who had a birthday party (costumed for Halloween) that evening.

Karen and I had a fine dinner date at the new Lewes-area Bethany Blues restaurant.

This morning, the girls performed with the Sussex Dance Academy at the Rehoboth Beach bandstand as part of the annual Sea Witch Festival. They did a great job.

After, as is our tradition for Sea Witch, we had a late lunch at Nicola Pizza with Andy and Lynn and their girls and with another of the dancers, her dad, and his folks.

The extra dancer and Dad were Hannah and Joe Powers. Joe teaches physics at Tech and is an interesting guy. I always forget, though, that he is also the brother of new Castle County Councilman Bill Powers. And their Mom is a retired educator who is also politically active. We had an interesting conversation -- lots of fun.

It was a busy sort of weekend.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Sussex County Politics Vignette #25

Former State Elections Commissioner and newspaper columnist Frank Calio has a new blog. Frank is from western Sussex County and is a long-time spectator of Sussex County's unique politics.

In a post from earlier in the week, he offers a classic moment from this week's Sussex County Council meeting. The Council was discussing a proposal, by Council President Vance Phillips (R), to cut funding to the three libraries that make up the county's Library system. The libraries would still get some state funds and most have local support as well.
During the debate Councilman Sam Wilson, (R) said he had never been inside a library which prompted a reply from Republican Councilman George Cole who said, “I kinda thought that Sam, but I never thought you would admit it.”
This will give you some idea of why I like George Cole so much. He is a straight-shooter sort. I don't agree with him much politically, but I like him and I enjoy talking with him about issues.

About Sam Wilson... all I can say is that I am not surprised.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Twenty-First Golf Game of 2009

This post is a week late; I have spent much of the last week not blogging.

Last week, I had a chance to play 18 holes with two friends out in Cleveland. We were all there for the annual NSGIC conference. We managed to get out one afternoon and were nearly the last group to get around the course.

We played at Sleepy Hollow Golf Course which is part of Cleveland Metroparks. Those folks do a great job; the course is in great shape and was great fun. It is about 90 years old and is a classic hill course. Each nine holes start at the top of the hill and go down and then back up.

It was not a day for me to break 100. I'm not at all used to a hilly course. I had some pretty poor holes, particularly on the front nine. I got better on the back nine and managed a pair of pars. I finished at 115. Not great.

Sandy played solidly; we play together fairly often and he is a good player. He ended at 100.

Our third was Michael, from the Boston area. He's a very good player, with a monster drive. His score -- 84 -- shows his skills. And he is a fellow Deadhead, so we enjoyed a pleasant afternoon of golf and reminisces about Dead shows.

We also talked GIS and geospatial data coordination, so it was like a continuation of the day's conference sessions.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

I Went Back to Ohio...

...or, more specifically, to Cleveland. I had been there some 12 years back for a conference of the Census State Data Center network.

This time (from last Sunday through Thursday) I was there for the annual conference of the National States Geographic Information Council (NSGIC). This is the national GIS coordination group that I am part of and for which, until this past week, I served on the Board of Directors. My second term ended with this conference and I chose to step aside and let some younger folks join the leadership; I'm still chair of the communications committee, so I'll keep a hand in things.

We had a lively conference with many and varied presentations and discussions on topics ranging from governance of public data to the new social media tools that are starting (finally) to be used by state and federal agencies. We tried some experimentation with twitter as part of the conference, encouraging attendees (and some who followed along from home) to continue discussions on-line using the hash-tag "#nsgic2009."

I was traveling on a federal grant, rather than state funds, and I chose to drive out to Cleveland to save money and be able to bring others from Delaware along. It gave us a chance to visit the "Point of Beginning," on the Pennsylvania/Ohio border west of Pittsburgh. There is a monument that commemorates the starting point for the Public Lands survey System which was used from Ohio west to lay out the rectangular township and range subdivisions of the "new" lands in the United States.

This is where state shapes started trending towards the square.

While at the conference, I was not able to get out much. NSGIC packs as much into these events as possible. We met from eight in the morning until past nine many evenings. We were never bored, but we were pretty tired-out.

I did have a chance to visit the rock and Roll Hall of Fame, though. We had our off-site social there one evening and it was great fun. There are others among the GIS group who share with me a love of both punk rock and the Grateful Dead, so we made small pilgrimages together to different parts of the museum. The Hall features a Bruce Springsteen collection just now.; that also brought me back to my childhood.

And we found just a sliver of time for golf. But of that, more later.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

At the Craft Fair

Karen and I went downtown today to wander around the annual Craft Fair hosted by the Lewes Historical Society.

The day started out overcast and wet, but the rain held off enough for us to have a pleasant walk into town.

The Craft Fair was scattered around the Historical Society grounds in a variety of tents and pavilions. There were painters and jewelry-makers and weavers and glass artists and metal-workers and everything in between.

The bluegrass band Bitter Creek were there. They have a very tight, very pleasant sound. They added a nice touch to the day.

And they were an inspiration to at least one other artist.

I was pleased to see the glass artist Justin Cavagnaro was there. I have admired his work for a while, particularly his glass-headed golf putters, one of which I photographed in 2007 at the Bethany Beach Boardwalk Arts Festival.

It was a great way to spend a morning, and we both came away with ideas for Christmas gifts that we'll have to follow-up on at a later, more discreet, date.