Sunday, May 31, 2009

Shellpot Creek Strawberry Festival

Last year I built a 4' x 4' raised bed in a somewhat sunnier part of the yard to plant strawberries. It is better to plant the strawberries in a raised bed because then it is easier to keep them contained as the runners like to spread out an colonize other parts of the soil. Last year was the planting year and this year is the harvest. Right now there are strawberries or flowers in every stage of ripeness.


Green unripe berries

We picked the first of the ripe strawberries last week. This isn't all of them, many didn't make it to this picture because they were eaten. I just love growing my own stuff!

I think it is too early to officially declare the Shellpot Creek Strawberry Festival, but we hope to have a lot of strawberries. Enough that we run out of ideas of what to do with them and that we have to get out the canning jars for jam. Strawberry shortcake will be the first use after just eating them plain.

Detroit Tigers beat Baltimore Orioles on Saturday

It turns out that the Detroit Tigers did beat the Baltimore Orioles on Saturday (They also won today). here are some pictures from the game. The bets one would have been of me catching a foul ball because we were right behind home plate. However the guy sitting behind me caught my foul ball! I would have probably dropped it anyway.

Here is Jim Leyland and a coach looking at Everett's hand after he was hit by a pitch.

Leyland is my favorite coach, as much from when he coached the Pirates as for now coaching Detroit.

Ordonez and his crazy hair at bat.

Ordonez at second after his hit.

It was a good game and the weather was great after two really rainy nights. I picked the correct game to go to.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Detroit Tigers at Batimore Orioles

Baseball in Baltimore. Hopefully Detroit can win won finally. They have lost the past two nights.

Go Tigers!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Pillsbury Doughboy Cartoon Roundup

I suppose it makes sense that somebody as sweet as the Pillsbury Doughboy gets cavities.

Then there is the question of what to do with all of that sweetness.

You may have also seen the obituary of the Pillsbury Doughboy.

Dear friends,

Please join me in remembering a great icon of the entertainment community. The Pillsbury Doughboy died yesterday of a yeast infection and complications from repeated pokes in the belly. He was 71.

Doughboy was buried in a lightly greased coffin. Dozens of celebrities turned out to pay their respects, including Mrs. Butterworth, Hungry Jack, the California Raisins, Betty Crocker, Hostess Twinkies, and Captain Crunch. The grave site was piled high with flours. Aunt Jemima delivered the eulogy and lovingly described Doughboy as a man who never knew how much he was kneaded.

Doughboy rose quickly in show business, but his later life was filled with turnovers. He was not considered a very smart cookie, wasting much dough on half baked schemes. Despite being a little flaky at times, he still was a crusty old man and was considered a positive role model for millions.

Doughboy is survived by his wife Play Dough, three children: John Dough, Jane Dough and Dosey Dough, plus they had one in the oven. He is also survived by his elderly father, Pop Tart. The funeral was held at 350 for about 20 minutes.

(Error check for above, the Pillsbury Doughboy's name is Poppin' Fresh)

(Cartoons from The Argyle Sweater by Scott Hilburn)

Monday, May 25, 2009

Still difficult to photograph a Blue heron on Shellpot Creek

A friend that was babysitting understand my obsession with recording the wildlife on Shellpot Creek tried to get a photo of the Blue Heron on Saturday. Her efforts equaled my own in this task and she suffered the same difficulties.

The blue heron is very skittish and takes flight at the slightest noise, I think it can hear us inside the house. Invariably it is also walking up the creek so it tends to be a moving target for the picture. Still I think she got a good shot. This is probably the fifth or sixth time we have seen it, usually flying up the creek.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Screaming Yellow

These perennials are called Screaming Yellow. They are Baptisia sphaerocarpa.

Planted last year, they are doing well this year. Supposedly they do poorly in the year they are planted but then perk up as shown. We are big perennial fans for the simple reason that you don't have to plant them each year, and many of them look great.

Late Spring Flowers - Peonies smell so good

I wish there was a Sniffr(tm) just like Flickr where you could upload the smell of something. These peonies smell even better than they look. You will just have to go outside and smell your own or just imagine as you look at these pictures.

The ants love them

Three in a row.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Cool videos of TacSat3 launch from Wallops Launch Site

Here is a followup and cool video of the TacSat3 satellite launch from Wallops Island in Virginia at the tip of the Delmarva peninsula that occurred on Tuesday night. I did not see anything from Delaware, but people in Rockville, Md, Charlottesville, Va, and Wilmington, De claim to have seen the rocket trail. Also, Leesburg, VA, Eldersburg outside of Baltimore, DC, Severn, MD, and even Philadelphia claim sightings. Here is a picture of a rocket trail from Arlington, VA. Picture of a rocket trail from Lusby, MD. Pictures from western shore of Chesapeake bay.

Professional video below from close to Wallops launch site.

If you watch the video closely, and especially in HD (click on the video to got to YouTube), I think you can see the first stage separation and second stage ignition, and then later possibly the second stage separation and third stage ignition. I need to go see one of these in person, since it is so close.

Amateur video below from Rockville, MD. Impressive as this is 120 miles (as the crow flies) northeast of Wallops Island.

(video one via ShoreFireProductions, video two via Jared's Global Microbrand)

Azaleas blooming like crazy

It is azalea blooming time in Wilmington. These bushes looked pretty ragges when we got the house and I still hope to shape them a little going forward.

Put enough blooms on them and they look great. They have been doing better since the removal of a fallen weeping cherry tree, the world's sharpest holly bushes and other stuff that was crowding them out. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Satellite Launch from Wallops tonight at 7:35pm

Here we go again with the launch of a TacSat satellite from the Wallops NASA launch site at the tip of the Delmarva peninsula. The launch is tonight at 7:35pm, though the launch window extends to 11pm. Clear skies mean the weather is probably not a factor, but that isn't what stopped it last time. I will try to glance south at the appropriate time, but tonight I may miss it.

The last time was a bust.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Explosion at Refinery in Claymont felt for miles

It turns out that last night we felt and heard the explosion that occurred at Sunoco's refinery at the PA/DE border just to the northeast of us. I was reading in bed and heard a loud THUMP and thought a branch or something fell on the roof, Lynn thought that the house shook. I got up to look around and see if anything had fallen. I looked out and there was no wind to shake the brnaches and drop the phantom limbs. Now we know what it was.

We are about 5 miles southwest of the refinery as the crow flies. I wonder how they would have gotten all of us sleeping Delawareans out of bed if the ethylene oxide cloud came our way? The ermergency broadcast system tests only seem to occur in the middle of my favorite shows. Even more fun on both Comcast and FIOS they stop the DVR from playing. I suppose it is for our safety.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Baseball curve ball part skill part illusion

It turns out that while curve ball in baseball really does curve a bit due to aerodynamic forces and they way it is thrown, that there is an optical illusion component. Many players claim that a curve ball seems to suddenly break, more than the physical science would seem to indicate. Turns out that is due to the eye shifting between central vision and peripheral vision as the pitch reaches the batter. Researchers from
American University, USC, Dartmouth and the SUNY College of Optometry have put together and excellent application that lets you see the origin of the effect
. Try it. When you look at the falling spinning ball head on it appears to fall straight when you look at it with your peripheral vision by staring to the right the ball seems to fall at an angle top the left. Switching between the two viewpoints makes it seem as if the falling ball jumps to the left.

It has been pointed out that curveballs really do curve (see also the essay "The Hell it Don't Curve" and this thesis) but in our Cartesian dualist influenced society it always has to be either-or instead of both. Seems that curveballs do curve and that an optical illusion enhances this effect. This simulation does not appear to be the first of its type. Here is one that focuses on the batter's point of view, and other POV's of your choice.

I would love to see this insight combined with high speed photography of curve balls to see if the comparison holds in real life as with the simulation (already done in the thesis above and elsewhere). Perhaps instead of just a regular baseball one could also use a ball painted half black and half white. Does that enhance the effect? What other variables could you change? I want a machine that throws baseballs with control to change the pitches every which way, a high speed camera and computer to capture the data (It exists). I can always design the experiments, and great minds think alike since much of this has been done, I just don't have the resources or time to follow through.

(via Neatorama's Upcoming Queue, via the Best Visual Illusion of the Year Contest)

TIGERS license plate in Delaware

Spotted this TIGERS Delaware license plate. I know a Detroit Tigers fan in Delaware that would love to have this plate.

Given the location and lack of other Detroit or Michigan identifying information on the car, I expect that we should look more locally for the reference of this license plate, rather than assume it is a Michigan expatriot.

The top contender is the A.I. DuPont Tigers, a high school on the road where I saw this car. Other options that are less likely are the Tigers of Towson in Maryland and the Princeton Tigers in New Jersey.

If you own this car tell us what the reference is in the comments. For you others, what Tigers near Delaware have I missed?

Last night's storms raise Shellpot creek

I love taking pictures of the creek when it is running faster due to rainfall. It is interesting all the time but even more interesting when it rains.

Since I was asleep and it was dark I probably missed the high point for this event last night.

Someday I need to get a webcam pointed at the creek and then we can all watch all the time.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

German Tuba Urinals

This blasphemy is being committed in a pub in Germany.

From the owner, "Most people see the funny side but we've had a few complaints from musicians."

The article calls these tenor horns, I might call them euphoniums. That doesn't make the scandal any less. Perhaps a pairing of these German Tuba Urinals with the Japanese War Tubas is in order.


Sunday, May 10, 2009

SHDOWFX license plate in Delaware

I have a good idea as to the reference probably intended by this license plate. First to come up with it wins bragging rights. Leave your guess in the comments.

Friday, May 08, 2009

NASA Rocket launch center practically in my backyard

I did not know that there is a NASA rocket launch center on Wallops Island in Virginia towards the tip of the Delmarva Peninsula. Compared with Cape Canaveral that is practically in my backyard. How did I not know about it and not visit it on the way to all those trips to the Outer Banks of North Carolina?

Nevertheless the rocket launch of an Air Force satellite scheduled for last night was postponed until tonight. You can follow the status here, and watch video and webcast here and twitter feed here. I am going to keep updated and sometime between 8pm and 11pm tonight I will go out and look south to see if I can see the rocket achieve orbit. I doubt I will see anything since it is about 160 miles due south of me. I also expect the rocket to take off towards the east to get the benefit of the Earth's rotation.

I must visit during a launch someday. I saw the Shuttle takeoff in February and see the next one getting ready, but that was a lucky happenstance - the last launch was delayed to the date of my trip, which would have been too early for the next launch. This one would be easier to get to.

Can you imagine an alternate reality where this launch facility was the one where they decided to do manned flight from instead of Kennedy Space Center. How cool would it be to have the Shuttle launch from Virginia. Apparently this site has the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport or MARS, and its first commercial launch was in 2006 (Spaceport website), which might explain why I hadn't heard of it, though it has been around doing rocket testing since the 40's.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Rainbow over Rt202 and Rt141

Into every life a little rain must pour, but then come the rainbows.

Stop Wikipedia Vandals

A fake quote attributed to French Composer Maurice Jarre was inserted by Shane Fitzgerald into Wikipedia and fooled newspapers around the world. Supposedly it was intended as a social experiment about globalization and reporter fact checking. While it seems to have shamed the reporters and press somewhat, it is still being reported as a failure of Wikipedia somehow, even though the quote was removed from the article because it had no referenced sources, while Fitzgerald repeatedly added it.

Whenever I tell someone that I looked up something on Wikipedia they often come back with the same crap about how anybody can publish stuff there and it is all wrong. I graciously explain to them that they should always be aware of the potential errors in the source of their information wherever it might be from, and to always read the discussion page on Wikipedia. They can contribute to Wikipedia and make it better themselves as well.

I have heard of other students doing experiments where they added some incorrect content to Wikipedia and how long it stayed up. What do they think they lean from this or what they think they learn from it. Instead of encouraging students to be vandals, how about teaching about adding correct information to an article instead of defacing it, or researching and writing a new one.

Shane Fitzgerald is a Wikipedia vandal. Lazy reporters are bad, but it is also bad to vandalize Wikipedia to make your point. I am so glad the "he was wary about the ethical implications of using someone’s death as a social experiment" - and then still decided to lie anyway.

Am I naive in my hope for people to play nice together in the common areas of the web or is this prank a necessary lesson in journalism and the critical eye with which to read Wikipedia articles?

(via Castro's Favorite Color)

The bigger container is better right?

These two containers are different sizes and one is bigger than the other. However the taller one (ooh, it looks bigger) actually contains 59oz instead of 64oz in the shorter "smaller" container. Besides not fitting in my refrigerator it is a great way to pay more for less.

Prices from the Acme website show $4.99 for the tall 59oz and $4.49 for the short 64oz regardless of the type. You do get less sugar with the tall Trop50 but I would think to pay less. This looks like a brilliant Tropicana move rather than an Acme move.

If you have an Acme Supersaver card you can get them both down to $3. So 5.1 cents/oz for the Trop50 59oz and only 4.6 cents/oz for the 64oz container. You make the call.

A week of rain intermittently fills the Shellpot Creek

It has been raining for what seems like weeks in Delaware. The creek has gone through its ups and downs but last nights thunderstorms have raised it the highest in this series of storms thus far.

The good news might be that all of the branches and other junk might have been flushed away so it isn't accumulating in the streambed in my backyard.

The best thing about the rain is that it makes an interesting to watch creek even more interesting.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Galileo's Original Telescope at the Franklin Institute

We visited the Franklin Institute on Sunday so that I could see an original Galileo telescope that he made and used to make his discoveries of the moons of Jupiter, mountains on the moon, and even seeing some hint of the rings of Saturn. This is the International Year of Astronomy in honor of the 400th anniversary of Galileo being the first to turn a telescope to the skies and record his observations.

The telescope he used looks very plain, I suppose because it was early effort and a working instrument. Galileo wrote a note of the device's magnification on one end. You can see the writing in the next photo.

Galileo did make nicer telescopes as gifts for his patrons, such as the Grand Duke of Tuscany, but they only had a replica of one at the Franklin Institute. It is famous however for appearing with Derick Pitts, the chief astronomer of the Franklin Institute when he was on the Colbert Report.

Galileo made many more observations after 1609, one collection of famous ones from March 1st, 1613 to May 8th was published “Istoria e Dimostrazioni intorno alle Macchie Solari” (”The Sunspot Letters to Marc Welser”).

Massimo Mogi Vicentini took the manuscript and the observations of Jupiter's moons and turned it into a nice animation.

(video link found via Strange Paths, videos at Mogi-Vice, pictures of the telescope were taken by me without a flash, to not damage the exhibits, but against the rules, I did get caught by the guards and had to stop)

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Dr. Pepper Recipe from 1880 found

I am a big fan of Dr. Pepper so news that an early notebook containing what might be an original recipe piqued my interest. I expected that it would contain things that you are not allowed to put in sodas anymore like cocaine or embalming fluid. The auction website has some of the pages in great detail, but I can't understand the handwriting of the recipe for "Dr. Pepper Pepsin Bitters" (click on the picture for bigger). The stain on the page might be Dr. Pepper.

The notebook is expected to sell for more than $50,000. I am content with a few high-res pages.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

City Hall peeks behind the buildings

William Penn atop City Hall in Philadelphia peeks out from behind some building in Center City.

He used to be on the tallest building in the city, but no more.