Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Molecule Furniture for the Discerning Chemist

The DuPont science and inventions exhibit at the Hagley Museum in Delaware has the coolest chairs made of molecules. I do understand that most chairs are made of molecules but these are made to look like molecules. Where can I buy this chair?

Also included, a giant Nylon molecule column as an artistic room centerpiece.

Don't Blink!

My eyes dried out as I followed this car on the road because I tried to follow the instructions "to the letter". DNTBLNK license plate offers good advice for drivers to pay attention while driving.

Perhaps they might also mean don't blank. Imagine that you are on Jepardy and they have just posed the answer and you must come up with the question, "What is...". This license plate would help you to not blank on the question.

Sage advice no matter the interpretation. All I ever needed to know I learned from license plates.

Lunch along the banks of the Brandywine

The Brandywine river at Hagley looked cool and inviting at lunch today but it was too darn hot to walk around. More Hagley lunch adventure stories to come.

Filpot, Kilpot or Shellpot - The history of Shellpot Creek on maps.

The creek that flows through my backyard that is currently called Shellpot Creek, wasn't always called that, it didn't even always empty into the Delaware river. Early maps (late 1600's) show the creek with various names and have it emptying into the Brandywine. It is famously know as the boundary of Valentine Hollingsworth's plantation "New Worke" or "New Ark". He arrived to settle in Pennsylvania in 1682, only months after William Penn.

The USGS has a name server where you can search for geographical features in the United States. The Shellpot Creek entry lists some older names for the creek and conveniently provides some citations, which spurred this study.

Names of Shellpot Creek:
  • Kitthantemessink
  • Schillpades Creek
  • Schilpatts Creek
  • Secellpot Creek
  • Shell Creek
  • Shelpot Creek
  • Shilpot Creek
  • Shilpts Creek
  • Skilpot Creek
  • Filpot River
  • Philpot River
  • Shillpot Creek
Not all of the maps below came from the USGS citations as my searches turned up more references to early maps of northern Delaware. (click on any of the maps below for a larger picture).

The earliest map in English that I have found shows Shellpot creek as the Filpot river. And this is not a "f" for "s" mistake as often happens with early typography since elsewhere in the map capitol "S" is rendered as "S" not as "F". This map dates from 1687, only a few years after Hollingsworth's arrival in Delaware.

Reference: The City of Philadelphia two Miles in Length and one in Breadth.
Inset to: A Mapp of Ye Improved Part of Pennsylvania in America, Divided into Countyes, Townships and Lotts. Surveyed by Thomas Holme. Sold by George Willdey at the Great Toy, Spectacle, and Print Shop, at the corner of Ludgate Street, near St. Paul's, London. 1687. (source)

My favorite alternate name for the Shellpot creek name is from a 1688 map showing the creek as Kilpot creek, shown above. This time it appears to empty into the Delaware. It is possible that the mapmaker has mistaken Naamans Creek for Shellpot (Kilpot) creek, but there is an unnamed creek (in the middle of Chichester) between Kilpot and Chester creek that could be Naamans Creek.

Reference: A NEW MAP OF NEW JARSEY AND PENSILVANIA BY ROBT. MORDEN , page 567 from Geography Rectified: Or A Description of the World, .....The Second Edition Enlarged by Robert Morden London, Printed for Robert Morden and Thomas Cockerill MDCLXXXVIII (Burden #650), 1688. (source, see 1688.1, full map)

This map from 1775 names the creek Shilpot Creek and once again shows that it empties into the Brandywine. Farther north up the Delaware River is Naamans Creek. The atlas that this map comes from is one that George Washington and the founding fathers might have used to understand the war situation during the American revolution.

Reference: A Map Of Pennsylvania Exhibiting not only The Improved Parts of that Province, but also Its Extensive Frontiers: Laid down From Actual Surveys, and Chiefly From The Late Map of W. Scull Published in 1770; And Humbly Inscribed To The Honourable Thomas Penn And Richard Penn Esquires True And Absolute Proprietaries & Governors Of The Province Of Pennsylvania and the Territories thereunto belonging. London Printed for Robt. Sayer & J. Bennett ... June 1775. (source, uses Java applet to view maps)

Here is map clipped from a larger map showing Shellpot creek as Fillpot creek. Could they have perhaps used the Thomas Holme map as a reference? The numbers in the river are depths for ship navigation. I fear this map would have been useful to British ships prosecuting the Americans in the Revolutionary War.

Reference: A chart of Delawar River from Bombay Hook to Ridley Creek, with soundings &c taken by Lt. Knight of the Navy. The Atlantic Neptune. London: Des Barres, 1779. (source, map)

This 1778 map shows the creek as Shilpot creek.

Reference: This map of the peninsula between Delaware & Chesopeak Bays, with the said bays and shores adjacent drawn from the most accurate surveys. Churchman, John. Philadelphia? 1778? (source, map in zoomable view from LOC)

There have been travel guides throughout all of history. If you wanted to get from Philadelphia to Washington or to new York in 1804 you could have used Moore's and Jones' excellent guide. North is down in the map above because it is showing the route of travel to Washington from Philadelphia in the southerly direction. This closeup of Map 4 shows that between mile 25 and 26 a traveller would cross over Shillpot creek just after they came back down Shillpot hill.

Reference: Road from Philadelphia to Washington. (Maps) 1, 2, 3 and 4. from
The Traveller's Directory, Or A Pocket Companion: Shewing The Course Of The Main Road Philadelphia To New York, And From Philadelphia To Washington. ... From Actual Survey. By S.S. Moore & T.W. Jones. Philadelphia: Printed For, And Published By, Mathew Carey. 1802. (source)

When we jump forward to 1868, Shellpot Creek becomes Shell Pott Creek, but at least that looks more like its modern name. I have shown another portion of this map before in reference to the Newark Union Cemetery where Valentine Hollingsworth is buried.
Atlas of the State of Delaware, Pomeroy and Beers, 1868 (source click on the hundreds for map in .pdf, map in .pdf)

Shellpot creek takes its modern name if not its modern location on this image, joined from two sections of the 1904 USGS survey maps. (It is a combination of sections from the Northeast Wilmington quad and the Southeast West chester quad, source maps for Delaware in 1904)

The story of when Shellpot Creek was redirected to empty into the Delaware river (sometime after 1937) instead of the Brandywine will be in an upcoming investigation.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Sell your own cadaver for money or profit.

Exploding Aardvark must be having some cash flow problems as she points us to a handy calculator to determine how much your cadaver would be worth. It seems you must be either very healthy or very interesting to command a higher price.

$4475.00The Cadaver Calculator - Find out how much your body is worth. From Mingle2 - Free Online Dating

For $4475 you could have my cadaver, unfortunately I am using it at the moment. How much are you worth? Please tell us in the comments?

Saturday, July 28, 2007

The Honest Hypocrite as negative space between buildings

In an effort to bring you The Honest Hypocrite in as many typefaces as possible, I bring you negative space.

Lisa Reinermann of the University of Duisberg-Essen has taken pictures of the sky between buildings to generate every letter of the alphabet with the open sky as the letter defined by the buildings around it. Thus the letter is not something, but the absence of something. She was inspired when she looked up and saw the letter "Q" in Barcelona.

I couldn't wait for someone to make a program that takes each letter and allows you to type out a message using this new "font" so I did it the hard way with Microsoft Paint.

Previous fonts for The Honest Hypocrite: Old Timey Graffiti, my back tatoo, as actual buildings, alphabet agates, in lights, on a T-shirt (I really should sell these), Googlized, and with zombies.

(via BoingBoing)

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Simpson fan, Simpsonize thyself, doh!

The Simspson movie has all of us Simpsons fans a buzz. You can share in the excitement by taking a photo of yourself and getting it Simpsonized over at SimpsonizeMe. The site is slow and quirky but perseverance is rewarded with your very own Simpsons character based on you. The site is also sponsored by Burger King, but that's OK, they have good onion rings. If you go and do it leave a comment with the link so that I may enjoy your creation.

You can also place the character is various Springfield locations. I have chosen the nuclear power plant to suit my scientific and engineering bent.

You can also create one using a collection of characteristics at the Simpsons movie web site. Some preferred that method. I liked the plug and chug method at Simsonize me a little better.

By the way 10 Zen Monkeys has gathered many Simpsons drug references, with clips. Starwars.com has joined the excitement of Star Wars (ho hum) to the humor of the Simpsons by cataloguing many Simpsons Star Wars references.

Man vs. Wild not real? Another hero with clay feet.

I am shocked, shocked to hear that the Man vs. Wild show is not as authentic as it is portrayed. The premise of the show is that Bear Grylls, an ex British special forces soldier, is dropped into various wilderness situations from the tropics to the alps, from islands to deserts. He then uses his knife and the various sticks and twigs, if available, around him to survive and get back to civilization.

The show is filmed somehow. One of the most annoying questions I ask when we are watching the show is who is filming the action. Often the shots are Gryllis holding the camera but the far away from him shots are not still like on a tripod, someone is carrying the camera. Apparently the crew goes and stays in motels each night, and perhaps so does Gryllis.
"Bear Grylls had partaken of indoor accommodations on at least two occasions when his series had depicted him spending the night in the wild."
There are also accusations that the rafts and other stuff he builds as part of his survival are built by the crew for him.
"But among the charges made against Grylls is that a raft he is depicted as having built himself actually was constructed and then disassembled by consultants to the show in order for the host to put it together. In another episode, Grylls happens upon what are referred to as wild horses that were said to be brought in from a trekking station."
Now I wasn't copying down all the tips during the show in case I was ever in a "survival" situation, maybe I was, but now that information is suspect. I am so crushed.

Monday, July 23, 2007

More Snakes on the Shellpot Creek

This snake surprised me while I was piling cut wood in the woodpile at the edge of the creek. Using "Amphibians and Reptiles of Delmarva" by James White and Amy White as a reference suggests that this is an Eastern Gartersnake, Thamnophis sirtalis sirtalis. I saw it once without the camera and it darted away. It came back the second time and I was ready for photos. It is about the thickness of a finger and is about 18 to 24 inches in length. I didn't put a ruler next to it since I didn't want to scare it away, or get that close.

The entire length of the snake without flash.

A close up of the head with flash.

Coiling up and turning away with flash.

The pictures with and without the flash have a little bit of different coloring because the lighting was very shady in the back near the creek. The snake's belly was definitely a greenish yellow as seen in the pictures, and you can clearly see the pattern between the long yellowish lines down the back. This patterning helps me to distinguish this snake from the Common Ribbonsnake, Thamnophis sauritus sauritus. Additionally the Common Ribbonsnake is not found as far north as the gartersnake as reported in the White's book. It would have been quite a coup to see a ribbonsnake for that very reason. The Whites report that the ribbonsnake has been colonizing further north following the streams but they have no reports of one in their book. I guess I must keep looking.

"Amphibians and Reptiles of Delmarva" by James White and Amy White is available at the nature store at the Ashland Nature Center run by the Delaware Nature Society and on Amazon. It will be the basis of a wikipedia page for a List of Snakes of Delaware if I ever get around to starting one. The last snake I saw on the creek inspired me to find out if there was such a list in wikipedia, and then to go find the book. That snake is a a Northern Water Snake, Nerodia sipedon sipedon, but I only found that out conclusively by buying the book.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

More and Better Fireworks from Longwood Gardens

The new camera did get some good shots before its battery gave up the ghost at last night's fireworks at Longwood Gardens. For fun here are the top three.

Blue and Exciting.

Falling Stars.

Double firework, with an explosion within an explosion.

There was a type of firework that I had never seen before at last night's show. It would explode and then the tips would explode in little crinklers(as I call them due to the sound they make). Then the insides would do the same thing. It looked like an artists rendition of the Big Bang. I dubbed them cosmological crinklers in honor of there look. I was not able to get a picture. I think only a movie would do them justice.

Adding fountains to the fireworks at Longwood Gardens

The cool thing about the fireworks at Longwood is that they also have fountains as part of the display. You are also close enough that it isn't just high flying fireworks that are part of the show, they shoot off vollies of rockets that explode lower as well.

Fireworks at Longwood Gardens

We saw the fireworks at Longwood Gardens last night. They were set the music of Tchaikovsky.

I did my best to catch a few fireworks with the slightly less crappy Treo camera because I was unprepared when the new camera's batteries ran out. Just some advice for everone else in the crowd - you don't need the flash to take pictures of the fireworks.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Can you name all of the Presidents? - A quiz

Can you name all of the presidents off the top of your head? Try the quiz here.

I am embarrassed to say that I only got 31 out of 43 presidents on this quiz. The most shocking part is that I lived on some of these streets yet I was still unable to remember them in the heat of the moment. Enter as many last names as you can in 10 minutes. I have a nephew who could do this when he was 4 (with some gentle intermittent first name prompting from his father.)

I can console myself with the fact that I knew the two least remembered presidents (only 48% remembered them). I have actually been to the presidential library of one of them (Thank you for the recommendation, Sara Vowell), and the other I remembered as one of the "caretaker" President's of the United States from a school musical on the "I Love Lisa" episode of the Simpsons. On the pother hand, I had a lot of trouble with the pre-Civil War presidents.

26% of people who took the test remembered them all. How did you do?

(via Neatorama)

Without the express written consent of Major League Baseball

Whenever I daringly post from a baseball game in progress (such as in Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington this year, or Chicago's Wrigley Field) I always jokingly put that I am worried about copyright or describing the game, because I don't have the "express written consent of Major League Baseball". My reporting must be bad or I am a small fry because I never had any trouble.

One of Cory Doctorow's students, Crystal Larsen, had a final project in the class to explore getting press credentials to bloggers so that they could write about MLB games. I guess credentialing is a first step towards easing up on the heavy hand the MLB has and would open up sports writing to a whole new crowd. I don't expect that I would want any credentials for my infrequent visits. But I do have some friends that are crazy about baseball that might be interested.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Are there plans to land the Space Shuttle on Easter Island?

I just finished reading the book Shuttle Down by Lee Correy. This 1981 story of an emergency landing of the Space Shuttle on Easter Island definitely has many of my favorite things all wrapped up into one.

It has the Space Shuttle, an exciting emergency landing, Easter Island (or Isla de Pascua or Rapa Nui or Te Pito O Te Henua), heroes that are engineers and finally a little Cold War intrigue.

When we were on Easter Island we learned that the Mataveri International airport runway had been widened and the airport modernized by the United States for NASA as an emergency landing site for the Space Shuttle. This was in November of last year and there wasn't a Shuttle mission until December. How cool would it have been to see the Shuttle land on Easter island? While there are emergency landing sites all over the world, one is in Dover, Delaware. If that ever happened I would be in my car driving south to see it as soon as I could.

The book takes place long before the airport on Easter Island was prepared to take a Space Shuttle landing and the story revolves around getting the airport upgraded to allow NASA to get the Shuttle off of the island and one of the true heroes of the book is Red Richardson the NASA engineer who is in charge of getting it done. The book is credited with getting the NASA emergency procedures changed to take into account these situations and may be responsible for getting Easter Island its long runway, which allowed us to honeymoon there in the first place. Thank you, Lee Correy.

In great Cold War tradition the Russians even try to make a grab for the Space Shuttle. Do you remember the Cold War, when there was a right side and a wrong side? Even the CIA's release of the "family jewels", the embarrassing illegal activities from the height of the Cold War 50's, 60's and 70's, makes some folks think that the Cold War was the good old days compared to today's international situation. Those parts of the book were a nostalgic trip down memory lane.

While the book seemed to portray Easter Island fairly authentically the one critical mistake is that it repeatedly described the Moai as pointing out to sea and watching over the part of the world towards which they faced. Any Moai standing on Easter Island that are not in the quarry are restored, since every statue was knocked down during the wars on the island and when they were standing or when they were restored they faced inland, not out to sea. Our guide on the island pointed out that the Rapa Nui people believed the Moai concentrated the mana of their ancestors and watched over the part of the island they faced.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Broad Winged hawk comes to work

Today, I had another broad winged hawk encounter but with a better camera than the last time. This hawk was at work roosting in the trees around the parking lot but right in front of the office window. At first it appeared injured as it hobbled around on the ground and flew from branch to ground to branch, but around lunchtime I saw it soaring high above, so I imagine that it is fine.

(click for larger images)

Here it is perched.

Perched with eyes closed

Perched with a good shot of the tail below the branch as well.

On the ground facing toward.

On the ground facing away.

After some further review of hawks on the web, this appears to be an immature broad winged hawk and not a Cooper's hawk (no red eyes) or Red Tailed hawk (no red tail). The broad-winged hawk (Buteo platypterus) summers in the eastern United States and is very common.

I would still like the expert opinion of a bird watcher, especially if they were familiar with birds of the eastern United States or the Delmarva peninsula.


The insouciance of WHATEVR on this license plate is enhanced by the faux barbed wire frame.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Shellpot Creek muddy with no rain

This is the first time I have seen Shellpot creek this muddy with no rain. I checked the weather reports and the Shellpot stream gage and neither indicates that it rained last night yet I woke up this morning and the creek is this muddy yellow color. The muddy stuff even seems to be covering submerged rocks. Last night it was clear. I wonder if this is something natural or did someone dump something into the creek or disturb it upstream to cause it. Any theories from creek watchers out there?

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Poorly chosen ad suggests eco-catastrophe

If Sherwin-Williams really did "Cover the Earth" with the zillions of gallons of paint it would take to make this advertisement a reality, I think that would rate as an extiction level event.

I would also imagine that any chemical company (paint contains chemicals) would shy away from the image of pouring their product all over everything. I love chemicals, but appreciate the correct application of them.

High price of 3 rail fence posts takes toll on local aesthetics

In a bold move defying conventionality this person has decided to continue the fence, not with the original three tier system already in use, but with a two tier system. Was it to save on the high cost of fence rails? We can only speculate on the economic tradeoffs that caused them to defy common sense, aesthetics, or logic and impliment their rail elimination strategy. I suppose in modern fence design there is no transition that is too jarring.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Happy Second Thoughts Day

Since the Lee resolution on American Independence was passed yesterday July 2nd, but the delegates didn't get around to adopting, announcing or signing the Declaration of Independence (except for John Hancock who signed it July 2nd) until tomorrow July 4th, I imagine that they took this day to have grievous second thoughts about their treasonous activities. Shouldn't today be American Independence Second Thoughts Day?

I am glad they went through with it. What many people don't remember is that the Revolutionary war continued until 1783, long after Independence was declared.

Quick question: Do the British have July 4th?
To see the answer highlight the text below between the [ ]
[Smart Answer: Of course they do, they just don't celebrate Independence Day!]

Do you know all of the State Quarters?

I still randomly collect these quarters but I haven't been keeping up. Test your state quarter acumen.

Quarter Backs
Score: 85% (17 out of 20)

(via Neatorama)