Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Mid-Year Reader's Report

university libraryI have read 32 books so far this year. That is slightly ahead of last year's mid-year pace and about the same as at this point in 2008.

This year, I'm tracking my reading using a Google spreadsheet.

I finished book 32 -- A Lion Among Men -- last night. Seven of the 32 (about 22%) were purchased. The rest were from the Lewes Public Library (Yay, the library!). all but one -- Craig Furguson's memoir American on Purpose -- were novels. I read for escapism; I prefer fiction.

To get truly geeky, I have read 10,507 pages this year. That's an average of just over 328 pages per book.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Steampunk Treehouse Comes to Delaware

Steampunk Treehouse
Originally uploaded by Mickipedia
The fine (but delightfully twisted) folks at Dogfish Head Brewery have arranged to give a home to the Steampunk Treehouse. The Treehouse was created in 2007 for the Burning Man Festival and has been erected for a few other festivals since, but has not had a permanent home -- until now.

Mariah Calagione explains on the Dogfish Head blog how the brewers reached out to Treehouse builders Sean Orlando and the 5-Ton Crane Arts Group last year:
We quickly realized that we were on the same page of a pretty off-centered book as Sean and his crew. We enthusiastically agreed to make a permanent home for the Steampunk Treehouse at our Milton, Delaware brewery.

I saw this blog post yesterday and found the idea fascinating. My nephew Magpie Killjoy spent some years publishing a steampunk magazine and has a good understanding of that world. I sent him a note asking what he knew about the Treehouse. He was excited at the news:
These people put a huge amount of energy into creating this entirely weird thing. And one thing that is beautiful about it is that it was built before steampunk got really codified and snobby, So it's the kind of thing that people now might say "oh that's not steampunk enough" or some such crap. I haven't seen it in person, but I was corresponding with one of the makers while they were working on it.
Cool that it's in Delaware. I was sad that it didn't have a permanent home.

One more reason to go spend more time with my off-centered friends at Dogfish Head.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

At a Dance Recital

My view...
Originally uploaded by mmahaffie
The girls had their annual dance recital with the Sussex Dance Academy last night. I wasn't planning on taking any pictures, but a group of three very tall and very large-headed men sat in front of us. Our view was, therefore, somewhat obstructed.

It was a long show; the Academy continues to grow and now serves many students, girls and boys, of all ages. I looked around at the very large crowd before the show and realized just how much our friend Kate Walker's business has grown.

Class after class of dancers performed, from tiny, twirling tots to sophisticated and well-trained teens. They represented a cross-section of Sussex County, daughters and sons of dentists and doctors, teachers and farmers, cops and engineers.

Colleen danced a solo in the show. By tradition, graduating seniors have a farewell solo in the recital. She did herself proud, dancing her own choreography to Coldplay's "Yellow." Christina also stood out, she has developed into a fine dancer.

It's fascinating to watch these kids progress and develop. Christina now leads a core of talented kids who were gangly tweens just a short while ago. Behind them are younger boys and girls starting to grow into their talents. And in the many groups of very small kids being introduced to dance, you sense a number who get it, who belong on-stage and who will be part of the corps de ballet in years to come.

I'd just prefer not to be behind the big-head family any more.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

An Afternoon of Golf

15th at garrison's
Originally uploaded by mmahaffie
A colleague and I took the afternoon off today to play 18 holes at Garrison's Lake Golf Course, just south of Smyrna, Delaware. Garrison's is coming back and offers good value for the money.

I had a fairly good start, but fell apart a bit on the back nine. I ended the day with a 115, about what I've scored each time out the few times I've played this year.

My drives have gotten better, but I was trying to hit my second shots with woods, instead of irons -- for the distance. Unfortunately, I wasn't hitting the woods very well at all. There are a few "blow-up" holes on my scorecard.

Still, it was a lovely day and we had fun.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

From the Pages of...

Sometimes I come across a passage in a book that I really enjoy and want to share with you. This is from the novel Johannes Cabal the Necromancer:
The hooting started at dusk. A dismal, unhappy sound that echoed from the hills and sent shivers down the spine. It was a faintly pleasant sensation. With no telephone calls or knocks at doors, the town gravitated en masse to the station that hadn't been there as anything more than charred beams and blackened piles of bricks even twenty-four hours before. In huddled groups, the citizens waited. The hooting came closer, joined by a gargantuan, rhythmic snorting and a mechanical clanging of metal on metal. Somebody saw the smoke first and pointed, speechless. The huffing plume grew closer and closer, and the people there didn't know whether to run or to wait. They waited because it was less effort.
And then it appeared: a great, monstrous beast of steel and fire. Sparks flew from its smokestack as they once did from the pyres of martyrs and witches, swirling into the darkening sky like fiery gems on deep-blue brocade. The train's whistle blew, the triumphant shriek of a great predator that has found the prey. And the hooting grew louder and clarified into a horrid, disjointed tune played upon the steam calliope in the fifth car, a death dance for skeletons to spin and stagger to.
The train drew into the station and spat steam across the platform, making everybody skitter away.  The engine made a noise that, to Barrow's ear, sounded like a contemptuous "Hah!"

Monday, June 7, 2010

Mad-Libs Spam!

My work blog, DGDC News, gets a healthy amount of spam comments. Most are caught by the spam filter; I delete several hundred every few days. But a few make it through to comment moderation and I have to decide whether to let them be published.

Today, my inbox held three comments for moderation, all from the same IP address and all similar, but not quite the same.

Take one:
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Take two:
Comfortably, the article is actually the freshest on this noteworthy topic. I harmonise with your conclusions and will eagerly look forward to your incoming updates. Saying thanks will not just be enough, for the tremendous clarity in your writing. I will immediately grab your rss feed to stay informed of any updates. Gratifying work and much success in your business endeavors!
Take three:
Easily, the article is really the greatest on this notable topic. I fit in with your conclusions and will eagerly look forward to your approaching updates. Saying thanks will not just be sufficient, for the extraordinary lucidity in your writing. I will at once grab your rss feed to stay informed of any updates. Delightful work and much success in your business endeavors!
I think it's a new sort of Mad-Lib:
ADJECTIVE, the article is MODIFIER the on this topic. I JOINING-STYLE WORD with your conclusions and will eagerly look forward to your TIME-RELATED WORD updates. Saying thanks will not just be ADJECTIVE, for the ADJECTIVE SUCK-UP WORD in your writing. I will grab your rss feed to stay informed of any updates. SUCK-UP WORD work and much success in your business endeavors!
Obviously, I have lost track of my parts of speech (it's late), but you get the point.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Sad News: Rusty Harvey has Died

26-Obit-Harvey.jpgThe Middletown Transcript has an obituary for Rusty Harvey today. I didn't know him personally, but I knew of him and I know enough about him to say that this is sad news. According to the paper, he died on Monday, at age 69.

Rusty Harvey was a leader of Delaware Wild Lands, "a private, non-profit tax-exempt organization dedicated to the conservation and preservation of natural areas through the acquisition and management of strategic parcels of land."

In my career in state government in Delaware, I've been involved in several agencies concerned with land preservation. "Rusty Harvey" is a name I heard from the very first. He was so established as a "name" in land preservation that I thought he was already long dead and simply being honored posthumously with tracts named for him as far back as the early 90s. I was a bit surprised when he was pointed out to me one day.

I'm sure there will be many more memorials and testaments in his memory as word gets around. But I thought I would note his passing for those of you who aren't from around these parts and might otherwise have missed the news.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

One Down...

with our graduate
Originally uploaded by mmahaffie
Karen and I are now the very proud parents of a high school graduate. Colleen received her diploma this evening at Sussex Tech High School in Georgetown. She graduated with an impressive 9.4 cumulative GPA and in the top 10 percent of her class.

I'm proud as hell and inclined to brag a bit. I'll note, though, that while I think she inherited some of her smarts from me, she inherited more from Karen. And it was Karen who enforced discipline and good study habits.

It was a challenge to get all 294 seniors across the stage, handed a diploma, and congratulated before some sizable thunderstorms rolled across Sussex County. We spent part of the evening nervously watching the storms approach.

Despite the threatening skies, the ceremony did not dissolve into mass hysteria with lightning strikes and pouring rain. In fact, when the storms passed, they passed by on either side of the school -- sparing the crowd and the moment for almost 300 happy graduates.

So that's done. Next up for Colleen is Villanova, while her younger sister -- Christina -- will move on to Sussex Tech next fall.

Did I mention how proud I am of my kids?