Wednesday, April 30, 2008

CATS license in Delaware

Animal lover or Andrew Lloyd Webber fan? You make the call.

I am guessing animal lover.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

I sing the appliance electric

First it was the electric lawn mower. My old city house had a lawn so small that I could probably have cut it with scissors. Just to make it worthwhile I would mow the first three houses lawns, and could have gone further because the electric cord reached. My current mower is actually my second electric mower. The new house's lawn is not too large to reach with a 100ft extension cord.

My wife has an electric chain saw which has served her well in the clearing of many of the trash trees on the property so that we can eventually plant trees on purpose and let the healthy ones grow up big and strong. This might be the one electric device that we wish was a little more powerful. Once the trees get too big we call in a professional anyway.

All of the wood from the trees that were cut is not going to waste as we have been using it for some very cozy fires in the wintertime. Instead of breaking my back with a maul and wedges to split the wood I had stepped into the electric age and I own an electric log splitter. It is a pleasure to use.

Finally I have gone so far as to get a half electric car, returning my leased car and purchasing a Toyota Prius. It actually had only 1 mile on it when we purchased it but I needed to get it home to take a picture of the odometer a la Mike. I have now driven it about 700 miles and finally have broken the 40mpg barrier. I wonder if any Prius drivers out there have any advice as to how to drive it economically.

Perhaps someday I can buy an all electric car or some other large electrical device. Maybe something large and sparky like the machine Tesla built in the The Prestige.

(post title references "I sing the body electric" from the Walt Whitman poem or the Bradbury short story and collection)

Imposter license plate

I am not so sure that this M POSTR license plate is what it really seems to be.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Unconstitutional Crazy Blue Hen News Roundu

Please read constitution before ratification

Lately Delawareans have been up in arms about our school taxes going up because of tax referendums. Often the schools make sure that their 18 year old students get out and vote for the referendum and that has some property owners crying foul. Rep. Deborah Hudson introduced a bill that would limit property tax votes to only property owners in the district. Those of you yearning for a simpler time when only property owners had the right to vote will have to continue yearning because her proposal is unconstitutional. I know that we were the first state to ratify the Constitution but apparently we didn't read it first.

Ooo that smell.

A farmer in Delaware noticed a bad smell on his property which led him to discover tons of illegally dumped clam waste. The truckers who did the dumping were finally convicted, but the dumping happened at the height of last summer. Can you imagine the smell? The real losers in this situation are the pigs that didn't get to feast on the clam waste and now have to make do with some other type of slop.

Month's best headline:

"County, City knee-deep in sewage negotiations" - from the Brandywine Community news.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

SmartCar spotted in Wilmington Delaware

In the words of one observer - "it's so cute".

This little guy was parked at the Branmar Plaza in north Wilmington. This is the first time I have seen one in person.

Would you buy one of these to tool around town in? I know it is cliche, but I would worry about getting into an accident with a bigger car, and they are all bigger. I know the point is to avoid an accident in the first place but just in case...

On the other hand sometimes this little car might be all you need for a short trip.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Great Blue Heron on Shellpot Creek

I was able to get two very bad pictures of the Blue Heron that frequents the Shellpot Creek right in back of my house.

This bird or birds has found a good cache of very large minnows that it likes to eat. The difficulty I have had in getting pictures is that any noise or movement frightens it away and it flies on up or down the creek. Even slow movement inside the house scares the thing away, so when I stumble and bump along to grab my camera to take a picture it is gone. Today I was able to quietly get the camera and take these through the screen and the sliding glass doors. But the zoom in my shaky hands unaided by a tripod means they are blurry.

I think they are clear enough to positively identify the bird and claim it as documented by a photo. Someday I will get a better one.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Tulip carnage

We planted loads of tulips in the Fall with the expectation of glorious flowers in the Spring. They all started beautifully and then in the course of a few days something ripped or chewed off the top of everyone that was close to the house. The tops are usually scattered nearby, not eaten. The only survivors are the white ones down the driveway. The neighbors had no such problems.

Do any of the gardeners out there know what happened or have had a similar experience? We do not have deer in our yard but we lots of squirrels and we have some raccoons that come by at night. Lynn even tried putting hot pepper sauce on the remaining ones, but they were taken out the next day.

The tulip carnage is horrific.


This cookie is Obamalicious.

Vote with your stomach

Kij's Bakery in Chichester, Pennsylvania has a delicious way to express your support for your favorite presidential contender. Since Pennsylvania's primary is April 22nd the volume has been turned up on the political commercials. The cookies lighten the atmosphere I guess.

I don't know if I should eat my favorite candidate or eat the other guys up to devour them and get them out of the race.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Space Debris Visualization beats statistics

The ESA have put out an impressive set of visualizations of the number of satellites and space debris in orbit around the earth. I am certain that they used the information from the papers by Liou and Johnson on space debris which I highlighted in previous posts.

This visualization beats my earlier analysis of all the satellites in orbit for sheer beauty of display. They have put together an impressive array of visualizations of the simulation of space debris generated by collisions. However I feel it doesn't really convey the numerical details of the issue. The chart below allows you to see all of the satellites in both circular and elliptical orbits, but isn't as pretty because I don't have teams of visualization experts working on it, just me and excell.

Here I thought I would put the map of Earth below the geosynchronous satellite histogram, just so one could see that the satellites are bunched over the populous parts of the globe.

I hate to sound like a spoilsport about the great visualization. I guess it is good that the ESA is getting out the message about satellite debris, though I feel that they (and NASA, the Russians and the Chinese) are the ones who would work on it, not me.

(Howard, and UniverseToday were also enticed by the pretty pictures)

Monday, April 14, 2008

Landing at Philadelphia on Saturday - Aerial photo

I love attempting to take these pictures from the plane. My seat was over the wing so with this shot you get the versimilitude of peaking over the aircraft engine to see the ground. You should be able to see the Delaware river, and in the background, Center City. We were landing pointing southwest, so the city is roughly north.

Finally North America - aerial photo

This picture is of us approaching the continent of North America during my flight on Saturday. I still had a little way to go before home at this point. I assume this is the Labrador coast or close to it since you practically fly over the North Pole to get to Europe from the east coast of the US.

The English Channel on the way from Dusseldorf to London - aerial photo

On my flight Saturday, I peaked out the window of the plane just as we were leaving the Continent to go to England and took this picture. It was interesting how the clouds just piled up over the land but not the sea.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Obvious License Plate for a Prius

I spotted this, oh so appropriate, SAVNGAS license plate on a Prius the other day. I hear they get good gas mileage. I will tell my experiences with my new Prius in a future post.

Monday, April 07, 2008

You ain't no running robot

On Saturday we ran in the Robot 5K. I suppose it was for the good cardiovascular health that comes from excercise but we all know it was just to get this cool t-shirt with a robot on it. We had slow times and I am sure some of the walkers beat us, but it's not a competition, right?

The race also raised money for the student teams who build robots and compete and learn about engineering. Unfortunately there were no robots actually in the race. I was a little disappointed at that.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Delaware's elected officials take in the American pasttime

Friday was opening day and a birthday party for a friend (Happy Birthday!) at the Delaware Blue Rocks and many of Delaware's elected figures were there. The team was honoring the late team president Matt Minker which I think was the extra reason that all of the officials were there as they read from various proclamations honoring Minker.

The first pitch was greatly delayed by these dedications. First to speak was Governor Minner, with a proclamation.

Then Senator Carper in a blue Blue Rocks baseball cap. That's the Minker family next to him. They made them stand out for almost the entire presentation after they were given the proclamation by Minner.

The first ball was supposed to be thrown out by Congressman Castle, who also spoke.

There was no Senator Biden to be found, and the mayor of Wilmington sent his chief of staff. Here is the governor, the mayor's chief of staff, the congressman and the senator waiting for the game to start.

I thought Mike Castle was to throw out the first pitch but Tom Carper threw one, and that stupid Rocky Bluewinkle (MySpace) jumped in front when I took the picture.

Then Carper waited around while Castle threw his "first" pitch. Mike castle was in a suit because he said he was also supposed to be at an event at the riverfront center near the stadium. I thought he was a good sport for doing both things.

I didn't get to see my favorite character Mr. Celery (MySpace, mascot page) because the Blue Rocks failed to score, in fact we left after 9 innings because neither team had scored. Wilmington lost to the Myrtle beach Pelicans 2-0 in 13 innings, according to the box score, but 2-1 according to the recap (which I think is a typo). However, there was some excitement during the popcorn, hot dog and peanut race.

Dante and Virgil in Union Square by isabel Bishop at the Delaware Art Museum

Dante and Virgil in Union Square by Isabel Bishop (1932).

The two classically dressed figures in the painting are Dante and Virgil from Dante's Inferno. of the author, the description plate says
she was inspired by her reading of a "down-to-earth" and "unpoetical" translation of Dante's Inferno, a version that dwelled on the mundane details of the underworld. The artist connected the hordes of ordinary souls that confront Dante and Virgil in hell with the hordes of human beings that daily passed through Union Square at rush hour.

Meditation by Louis Eilshemius at the Delaware Museum of Art

This painting in the modern art gallery struck me as contemplative and is in fact called Meditation and was painted by Louis Eilshemius in 1919. More interesting was his career as described on the description of the picture. I have italicized the humorous part.
"Louis Eilshemius' paintings appear naive in execution, though he trained in New York and Paris and exhibited at the Armory Show in 1913. His landscapes are peopled with nude women and share some of the dreamy qualities of Aurthur B. Davies' pictures. but he never achieved Davies' level of success. Eccentric, independently wealthy, and unappreciated by critics, Eilshemius quit painting shortly after being given his first one man show in 1920."
He finally got a show, didn't like the criticism and quit.

Botero at the Delaware Art Museum

Last weekend we visited the exhibit, "The Baroque World of Fernando Botero" at the Delaware Art Museum. You will recall that Botero is famous for his voluptuous, corpulent, or even bulbous figures in sculpture and in paintings. He seems to use the style to poke fun at important figures, though he claims that is not his intent. These twin pictures of the "President" and "First Lady" certainly suggest that.

The figures are sitting on his classic bulbous puffy horses that he loves to paint and sculpt.

One of my favorites was the Nuncio (2004), which I found humorous because the Nuncio dwarfs his servant, maybe this is Botero's opinion of the Nuncio's self importance. It was pointed out to me that both are dwarfed by the jungle.

There were several very large sculptures outside in the museum's sculpture garden just for the show.

The cartoony Rape of Europa (1999)

The stocky Hand (1985)

No image is sacred enough to escape the corpulent transformations of his paint brush. This painting of the Crucifixion for instance.

I realized that we have also seen Botero's works in Chile on our honeymoon and this sculpture, Reclining Figure (1984) at the Birmingham Museum of Art in Alabama.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

From the Life imitates the Simpsons file

This guy got caught trying to steal cooking grease from a Burger King in California. With all of the hype around biodeisel these days I can understand the draw. The full truck was estimated to be worth more than $6000.

Simpsons fans will remember the "Lard of the Dance" episode of the Simpsons from way back in 2002, in which Homer enlists Bart in his grease stealing enterprise and they make some nice money until the mob shuts them down. The episode ends in an explosion of grease at the school dance. Another instance of life imitating Simpsons.

A great quote: "Used grease is worth money? *gasp* Then my arteries are clogged with yellow gold! I'm rich Apu! Rich, I... arrrgh! *clenches heart, sighs* Money in the bank!"--Homer Simpson, Lard of the Dance

Friday, April 04, 2008

An Austin Powers fans license

This person, PA license MINI-MI, has gone all out, even purchasing a Mini Cooper to make this personalized license come true. A real Austin Powers fan.

One wonders if MINI-ME is already taken in Pennsylvania.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

From the correlation is not causation department

Yahoo news tells of a study that reveals that people who buy more than three pairs of sneakers a year are more likely to have leadership "qualities". That's nice but are they actually leaders? Does sneaker purchase correlate with or even cause success or actual leadership? Will millions run out to get their third pair of sneakers to get those great qualities.

The information in this article from a "study" by Mindset Media is more misleading that just confusing correlation with causation because the leadership qualities mentioned - vision and ideas, and an inclusive and decisive style with others - are not really strongly defined so the sneaker purchases are not even really correlating with anything quantitative. It is also part of the postmodern tendency to confuse feelings with facts. There is nothing more postmodern these days than marketing. Not whether the product works, but how it makes you feel. Who doesn't want to be perceived as a leader? Got that third pair of sneaks yet?

I was able to write this post so well because I have recently bought a hybrid car and thus now am 78% more likely to be creative and less dogmatic.*

*actual statistic from the article.

(learn about the mighty crown nike picture above at freshmag)