Saturday, July 24, 2010

A Second Year of Driving Data

FuellyMy little blue Scion xD turned two years old on Friday; I took delivery of the car on July 23 of 2008. I filled the tank this evening. It was my 58th fill-up since July 24 of last year, which makes this a good time to look at a bit of data.

I drove 16,700 miles between July 24 of 2009 and July 24 of this year. That's a bit more than the first year. I averaged almost 288 miles per tank, less than in year one. I used more gas -- 519.8 gallons -- and averaged 8.96 gallons per fill-up.

That gas cost me $1,349, an average of $23.27 per tank. Gas cost less in year two than in year one, though, when I averaged more than $30 per tank.

I averaged 32.13 miles per gallon over the year. That's a bit less than my years one average (32.19) and less than my two-year average of 32.2 mpg.

Heat Got You down?

We're expecting highs around 100 today and a heat index well above that. The elderly and the infirm are concerns for officialdom. Libraries are designated cooling zones. Most of us plan to hide inside with our air-conditioners. seems like a good time to look back to February of this year.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Local Politics: The Gloves? They Are Off

My neighbors here in the Lewes area will probably already have seen this, but for the rest of you, who maybe don't habitually follow Sussex County politics, here's an interesting moment and reaction from our County Council this week.

As Cape Gazette reporter Ron MacArthur wrote in his On the Circle blog, a Lewes woman had a bit of a run-in with some of the council members at their weekly meeting on Tuesday. Dixie Boucher, an active citizen, had come before Council to try to find out the status of proposed changes to the manufactured housing codes that she helped to write.
[She] blasted county council in one of the most tersely worded criticisms I’ve heard recently. She used words and phrases like “total lack of concern,” “abhorrent” and “detrimental” in her dissertation on the ills of county government.
Mr. MacArthur's post title -- "Just answer her question" -- tells the story. They didn't answer, apparently. Instead, Council member Sam Wilson (pictured above), never afraid to say what he's thinking, blasted her back.

Ron MacArthur doesn't give many details, but you get a pretty good sense of what must have been said from a letter to the editor from Ms Boucher that appeared in today's edition of the Gazette.

Her letter is titled "Everybody came here from somewhere." I include it below because the letters to the Cape Gazette don't get their own pages, or persistent URLs, on the paper's web site.
I often hear grumbling when, as “locals” call us,” transplants “ speak up with regards to issues affecting the county as well as the state. It is as if we do not exist.  We, appear to have no rights, and according to a statement by Councilman Sam Wilson at a recent council meeting, “People come here and they want more services and more government. I tell them to go home and then they come back and be glad to live in Sussex County.”
No surprise, but once again Mr. Wilson, you could not be more wrong. We “transplants” in most cases aren’t looking for more government; we just want the government, like your Sussex County Council, to be responsible in its conduct of county business. We want the council to hear what all the citizens say and want for Sussex County. And we want you and the other council members, Vance Phillips and Michael Vincent, to understand that an awful lot of the voters in this county, “locals and transplants alike,” are fed up with your “good old boy” attitude. It is not cute and it is not quaint and it is not good for Sussex County.
And by the way, I dislike the term “transplant.” We are citizens of this county and we pay taxes and spend our money and should have the same rights as “locals” do. Everybody, transplants and locals alike, came from somewhere. You didn’t just grow out of the dirt, did you?  And the reason you hear more from the eastern side of the county is because that is where most of the development is occurring, thanks to those who continue to approve it regardless of concerns about the effects.
Frankly, if the three primarily western council members are removed, it would be a blessing to the entire county and that is in reference to Sam Wilson, Vance Phillips and Michael Vincent. You all need to go.
I guess Sam Wilson isn't the only one around here willing to speak their mind.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

At a Jack Johnson Concert

At a rock concertI heard a story on NPR the other day that outlined the lag in the concert business this summer. Ticket sales are down and some shows and even some tours have been cancelled.

Ironically, this year has been my family's busiest concert year in some time.

Karen, the girls, and I cruised down to Virginia Beach on Friday for a Jack Johnson concert. The opening acts were ALO and G Love. It was a great show.

We were all four of us already Jack Johnson fans. The concert cemented that for us and gave us a good introduction to ALO and G Love. 

Jack Johnson uses his tour to connect people with his All At Once social action network, and with local non-profits who are invited to take part in the "village green" that he establishes outside each show. We chatted with folks from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and Food & Water Watch before the show.

By the way, we read that Johnson has dedicated all of his profit from this tour to charity. I think that's pretty cool.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Gordon Sumner and the Royal Philharmonic!

Sting with orchestraKaren and I had the great pleasure of seeing Mr. Sumner, known professionally as Sting, perform with an orchestra last night in Camden, New Jersey. He was quite good.

We had traveled up to Radnor, Pennsylvania, yesterday morning to collect Christina from Cabrini College. She has just finished two weeks of ballet classes at Philadelphia's The Rock School, which houses its summer students at Cabrini. We packed her out and Colleen drove her home, while Karen and I checked-in to a hotel and got ready for the show.

At penns landingWe parked at Penn's Landing and took the RiverLink ferry across the Delaware River to the Camden waterfront and the Susquehanna Bank Center. That's a nice way to get to the show, though there was a loud, annoying, preppy dude yelling that we all had to sing a Sting song on the way across the Delaware River.

"It's a tradition," he yelled.

I always thought traditions were things that happened without someone yelling that you have to do it. But, in any case, he gave the rest of us something to bond around: "That guy is a boob." "Yeah, he is..."

Sting performed with a 45-piece orchestra, members of the Royal Philharmonic. He had his own percussionists, a bass player, a guitarist and a back-up singer. His music lends itself well to orchestration; it sounded wonderful.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Great Wisdom From Freddie Maugatai

The Discovery Channel program Deadliest Catch has been outstanding this season. I've been a fan for several years, but this year has been remarkable; not least for the story line involving the death of Captain Phil Harris.

I noted Captain Harris' passing back in February. At the time, I wondered how the show would handle his death. In the event, it has been one of the main story arcs for the season and has produced one of the best, most touching scenes in the show.

Phil had just suffered a massive stroke and been rushed off to the hospital. One son went with him and the other, the eldest, Josh, stayed behind on the boat to take care of the family business.

The scene I wanted to highlight finds Josh sitting in the wheelhouse uncertain whether he should stay with the boat or go to be with his father. Freddie Maugatai, a Samoan and a long-time and model deckhand, speaking in broken English, encourages Josh to go to his father's side and leave the crab fishing behind for a bit.
Season every year... crab every year. Dad? No.

The crab is always catch... we make money every year. But we cannot catch a dad every year.
I strongly recommend you watch the video. I've just quoted the small bit the touched me most deeply.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Personal Traditions: How My Family Celebrates July 4

I've been blogging since late 2004 and taking and posting digital photos since early 2005. So I have about a half-decade of documenting my life now on-line. This morning, I thought I'd take a look at how we -- the Lovely Karen and I and our girls -- celebrate the Fourth of July.

Most years, we spend the Fourth with elements of my family at my folks' place in North Bethany. We often attend the Bethany Beach July 4 Parade, we always lounge on the beach, eat great food and watch Bethany's fireworks show from the beach north of town.

Squirt The Crowd2005
This was the first full year of my flickr/blogger obsession and the July Fourth celebration was just the sort of material I needed. I wrote a longish post about it that simply detailed what is our usual approach:
We spent the fourth with my folks, one of my brothers, and some family friends at Bethany Beach. We went to the Bethany Beach Fourth of July Parade, where I took a mess of photos. We spent the afternoon on the beach at North Bethany. We had a traditional meal of Burgers and Dogs, and eventually went down to the beach to watch the fireworks.
Don Leads Them Out2006
Our 2006 Fourth was much the same. We always enjoy the Nur Temple Little-Car Shriners who turn parts of the Bethany Parade into a little Daytona .500. Later, the weather gave us some headaches:
... we waited for the sun to set and the Bethany fireworks to start. Unfortunately, a large thunderstorm rolled in and put paid to the fireworks show. So we sat and watched lightning from the living room.
one lane2007
We broke tradition somewhat in 2007. Daughter #1 was finishing a lacrosse camp in Westminster, Maryland on July 4 so I spent the day driving out to pick her up and we joined the family for dinner later in North Bethany.

The Fourth was a Saturday that year so I spent the Friday night, after work, in a hotel partway between work and Westminster and finished the trip in the morning. I had stopped in northern New Castle County after work for a partial round of golf with my friend Sandy. The drive out to Westminster took me through some places I had not been before, including a lovely ride through Gunpowder Falls State Park.

We were back to our normal Fourth of July activities in 2008. The parade included lots of politicians. And, oddly, Santa Claus.

We had a primary for the Democratic nomination for Governor that year and I was torn, since both John Carney, then the Lt. Governor, and Jack Markell, then State Treasurer, are great guys. I could cheerfully have supported either of them.

Ultimately, Jack Markell took the nomination and won the Governorship. He's been doing a great job, I think. John Carney is now running for Congress, where he would be a real asset.

constituent relations2009
The parade was on July 3 in 2009. There were somewhat fewer politicians in the parade, because the elections were over. But this parade is a regular stop for some of our leading elected folks. Tom Carper, now our Senator, is one. I got a sweet shot of him greeting a young constituent.

Since the parade was not on the fourth, Andy and I had a chance to play golf on the morning of the fourth. We played Ocean Resorts, outside of Ocean City. We were back on the beach with our families for an afternoon of sun, dinner, and fireworks.

Somewhere in the last few years, we've added Andy and Lynne and their girls to our Fourth of July gatherings. They fit right in and add a new dimension to the holiday.

Dessert for the 4th of july2010
This year Andy and I played our golf on the Third. And we included daughter #1's young man, who is visiting from out of state. He's a fine golfer and a good kid. He passed the test of golf-with-the-girlfriend's-dad with flying colors. Not that it was really a test; I just wanted to play some golf.

We're headed out to North Bethany for beach/burgers/fireworks soon. The parade will be tomorrow, for some reason, so I'm not sure if we'll see that this year.

Meanwhile, daughter #1 is starting a new tradition by crafting festive desserts for the family gathering. Among them is this Fourth of July tart which she photographed for me with her cellphone.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Why Are Mug Shots Always So... Off?

I keep noticing that the mug shots posted from time to time in the local papers are always somehow just "off."

This is a mug shot of a guy named Charles Willis and the police in Milford, Delaware, are looking for him. I know nothing about this guy, but his mug shot matches the off-centered-ness of many I've seen in the local press lately.

Why can't these mug shots be better centered? It's off-putting to see them this way.