Wednesday, September 30, 2009

AQUMINI license in Delaware

Not sure what AQUMINI is supposed to stand for on this Delaware license plate but I have never seen a Q on a Delware license before so I captured it in a photograph.

This license also declares it self to be a centenial license plate 1909-2009, but I am not sure what centenial it is celebrating, maybe of the DMV.

Speculations from the crowd?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Venn diagram of Baseball team names and origins

This fascinating diagram of Major League Baseball team names groups them together by type and origin.

There are more links with the origins of the team names at The name origin of "Phillies" is obvious, but did you know the Detroit Tigers are names after the Detroit Light Guard military unit, known as "The Tigers." So they are only named after an animal because what they were named for was named after an animal.

(via Neatorama, via Kottke)

Magenta Screen of Death?

I have heard of the blue screen of death, and like everyone I have, very rarely, had my computer reset suddenly, but has anyone ever heard of the magenta screen of death?

Every so often my computer screen suddenly goes blank and shows one color like this, one time it was bright green. The hard drive light blinks still so I suspect that the computer us still working but the video output is broken. Turning the monitor off and on doesn't fix it, and I have been to lazy to unplus the monitor from the computer to see if haty fixes it. Any ideas?

Monday, September 28, 2009

Ambulance in front of Five Guys

On Friday I went to lunch at Five Guys, a nationally syndicated burger joint with the best burgers. They are delicious and I think they butter the buns I suspect they have other delicious and unhealthy characteristics like adding bacon and cheese and all the toppings you could desire.

The ambulance was there when we got there and we wondered if someone had had a heart attack from eating the delicious burgers inside. To a certain segment of the population, an ambulance taking out a heart attack victim of the burgers would serve as a great advertisement for the burgers, others might take it as a warning.

Turns out there was no drama; they were just getting lunch themselves.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Tetris Tiles for your remodeled bathroom

Lynn and I are remodeling one of our bathrooms. We have already picked tile, but I like to throw a wrench in the works and jokingly sent an e-mail today asking to use these Tetris tiles in blue instead:

Her clever answer was:
"But I'm too good at playing Tetris so the tiles will never build up enough to cover the bathroom."
Game, set and match to Lynn. She really is good at tetris.

Monday, September 21, 2009

History and the Presidents quiz twofer

Mental Floss has a presidential lunchtime quiz today, "Who was president when? Part 2." So I went back and found quiz 1. These are hard since they give you the event and you need to guess who was president. I did alright on quiz one, but the questions grew more obscure on quiz two. I will probably tank quiz three when it comes out.


My Results:


My results:

Alright history buffs, tell me how you do.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Astronauts in the Movies quiz

AMC has an astronauts in the movies quiz written by a contributor to sfsignal. I think that if you like movies and science fiction you may find it easy. My score as 100%.

I am sure you will do as well.

FOTOG license in Delaware

This person is probably an avid photographer albeit some one who will changes spellings for the convenience of a FOTOG license plate. Perhaps they are an advocate of the simplified spelling and they are a fotografer.

I would bet they have some great pictures of Grateful Dead concerts and Key West by the Grateful Dead and Conch Republic bumber stickers.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Update on easing restrictions on raising chickens in New Castle County

I have received an e-mail last week from Nellie Manlove who is Council member Tansey's legislative aide, that the ordinance to ease restrictions on raising chickens in New Castle County will be discussed (.pdf agenda) at the Council's Land Use Committee meeting on Tuesday 9/15 at 3:00pm. This is open to the public and public comment is encouraged. It takes place in the 8th floor Council Conference Room of the City/County Building, 800 N French Street, Wilmington, 19801.

I expect to attend the Land Use Committee meeting tomorrow at 3pm, though I am not sure what to say or what is expected. I certainly can speak in support of the change to the ordinance. My concern is that I am not a Land Use professional so I am not sure what the objections to the change in the amendment are.

I stand by my earlier comments that the county ordinances already allow chickens (and other farm animals) on parcels of greater than one acre, and that this easing of the restriction is a small change addressed primarily at raising hens.

From a common sense perspective it seems that the council members might need to know the following to be swayed to adopt the easing of the restrictions to allow raising up to 4 hens (no roosters) on parcels of at least one acre no nearer than 25ft to property lines in New Castle County.

1.) Why was the first restriction against farm animals on parcels smaller than one acre first enacted.

2.) Is there a reason we cannot just discuss chickens (really just hens) and not open up the discussion to all farm animals.

3.) How many parcels in New castle County are one acre or more and could have chickens right now, and how many do have chickens right now. How many are a half acre or more, or would be added to the parcels allowed to have chickens? This would help us know the scope of the change and its effect. I suspect that there though there are probably a lot of parcels with 0.5 acre or more, we should consider only those that will be added as the change, and how many of those really have people that would want to raise hens. That is the new set of hens that anyone could raise an objection to.

4.) Are there other concerns. Health concerns, noise concerns, nuisance concerns, and doesn't New Castle County already have regulations for those. Thus should anyone who raises chickens and causes these issues can be addressed through existing ordinances.

5.) How many other counties or similar sized municipalities in the country have similar restrictions or ordinances? Is there something we can learn from them?

The ordinance should then come up for a vote at the 9/22 Council meeting, which takes place at 7:00pm in the 1st Floor Council Chambers, also in the City/County Building.

What do you say in support of an ordinance at a Council Land Use Committee meeting? Anybody gave any suggestions?

Friday, September 11, 2009

More views of the fallen tree

This view of the fallen tree let's you see that it was a pretty thick limb and that no car was leaving the garage until it was cleared. This is probably the largest tree or branch that has fallen on our property since we got here. One fell into the creek from our side, but it wasn't in the way or even as large. The large trees that have fallen in the creek were from the other side.

We thought we heard some branches fall on the roof this morning but they sounded small and near the bedroom. Little did we know that they were large and on the other side of the house.

Fallen tree across driveway

This is the view that greeted me this morning when I opened the garage door to go to work. I guess God wanted to slow me down this morning. A limb about 8" in diameter (really the top of a tree) broke off, apparently slide down the roof and fell blocking the entire driveway. Pieces of it fell into the garage when I opened the door.

We lopped off all of the limbs we could to lessen the weight due to wet leaves, cleared that stuff, and then it took the two of us to drag, not lift, the remaining branch to the side for cutting up later. A change of clothes and shoes later and I have finally made it to work.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

In honor of MLB calling today 09/09/09 - Baseball Day - Current players with #9

Today is 09/09/09, and at 9:09 MLB has been giving away prizes to commermorate the day. In honor of the day, here are all of the players currently wearing #9 on their unforms according to wikipedia:

Michael Abrey, first baseman for the Baltimore Orioles
Gregg Zaun, catcher for the Tampa Bay Rays
Carlos Guillén, left fielder for the Detroit Tigers
David DeJesus, center fielder for the Kansas City Royals
Chone Figgins, third baseman for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Jack Wilson, shortstop for the Seattle Mariners
Hank Blalock, first baseman for the Texas Rangers

Hunter Pence, right fielder for the Houston Astros
Omir Santos, catcher for the New York Mets
Miguel Cairo, infielder for the Philadelphia Phillies
Reed Johnson, outfielder for the Chicago Cubs
Hernán Iribarren, infielder for the Milwaukee Brewers
Gerado Parra, center fielder for Arizona Diamondbacks
Ian Sewart, infielder for Colorado Rockies
Juan Peirre, outfielder for the LA Dodgers

Just in case you need it for a triva question today.

Republican Robocallers ask for help against Health Care Reform

A Republican Robocaller found me last night. The recording asked me to record a message for my congressman telling him that I was against the Democratic plan to change the health care system. It used more alarming words than I can remember now. So when the message beeped and it was time for me to record I said extemporaneously (as I can recall now) :
"Congressman Castle, this is Richard Koehler of Wilmington and I fully support President Obama's plan to reform the health care system. Please give him and the plan your full support. The health care system needs to be reformed and more people need access to health care."
I think that the robot might have been expecting a different type of message from the priming that was given. I should disclose that I am on the list since I am a registered Republican, though lately that hasn't been how I vote. I just don't want to change now because I get all of these crazy messages and participate in all kinds of crazy surveys. My wife gets the Democratic ones, so as a household we are covered.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

A revelation about Pi

Found this at Neatorama who found it at Digg, but it is making the rounds of the social networks and aggregators.

Did you ever notice this about Pi:

Fascinating to take the poorly handwritten Arabic numeral expression of the first few digits of pi and find that in a mirror it incorrectly spells the word for the Greek letter in the Roman alphabet.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Evolutionary Band T-short offends the masses

Shirts using the evolution of man to compliment a marching bands "Brass Evolutions" program them are apparently to offensive for the school district. The shirts ...

"... which were designed to promote the band’s fall program, are light gray and feature an image of a monkey progressing through stages and eventually emerging as a man. Each figure holds a brass instrument. Several instruments decorate the background and the words “Smith-Cotton High School Tiger Pride Marching Band” and “Brass Evolutions 2009” are emblazoned above and below the image."

The band debuted the T-shirts at the Missouri State Fair parade.

While the shirts don’t directly violate the district’s dress code, Assistant Superintendent Brad Pollitt said complaints by parents made him take action.

“I made the decision to have the band members turn the shirts in after several concerned parents brought the shirts to my attention,” Pollitt said.

From the article, "Pollitt said the district is required by law to remain neutral where religion is concerned."

Too bad evolution is science, not religion.

As a Tuba player myself I am offended at the concept of a monkey or pre-human hominid playing brass instruments, but I am guessing that the parents who complained were offended by something else.

I call bullshit that he would have taken the shirts if it said Brass Resurrections. He took them because somebody complained.

(via Castro's Favorite Color)

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Dramatic changes as Lake Michigan rises over two years

Lake Michigan has risen over the past two years. I noticed it the most when we visited Peninsula Point Lighthouse on our vacation to Escanaba this year like we did two years ago. (I wish I would have take a similar picture in July of 2005 on that vacation as well.)

Above is a shot from the top of the Peninsula Point Lighthouse taken on August 26, 2007.

Above is a shot taken from the top of the same lighthouse taken on August 23, 2009. Water now covers a lot of area that was dry land two years ago.

You can tell these are lined up the same way because of the the trees in the foreground and the lighthouse (Minneapolis Shoal Light) in the background on the horizon. I am sure that the great lakes go through these cycles.

Other have noticed the rise in lake levels. Apparently low lake levels mean that cargo ships on the lakes must load less cargo and that raises costs per unit shipped. Every inch of lower lake level means 250 tons less on a 1000ft cargo ship. This adds up.

I went to the NOAA website to look for lake level data. I chose to use the Green bay, WI levels because it appeared to the be the only site with data back to August 2007 when the earlier picture above was taken and you could make the point that Peninsula Point is in Green Bay (which extends from Green Bay to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan).

In answer to a question posed while at the Point, yes, the Great Lakes have tides. You can see the fluctuations in the chart of water levels for July 4th through 6th. The levels change only a few inches due to the tides, but the levels also change due to more important effects like wind and weather. Mostly the Great Lakes experience seiches or slosh.

The next chart shows the verified level data from Jan 2007 through the present. Arrows represent the dates of the two pictures above. There is no verified data for August of 2009 yet but you can see where lake levels were only a month earlier. The difference between Aug 2007 and Aug 2009 is about 1.5 ft which is consistent with the pictures and what I saw at Peninsula Point between the two years.

Lake Michigan has been much higher in recent memory. The plot below goes back to 1995 and shows that the difference between the highest level in the mid 90's and the lowest level two years ago was about 5 ft. You can see shelves of shoreline at Peninsula Point which are consistent with water levels being much higher. Lynn also remembers the Lake Michigan water levels being higher at the family cabin when she was younger.

Some people think that the reason the lake levels have dropped is that dredging of the St. Claire river (which connects Lake Huron to Lake St. Clair, water then goes through the Detroit river to Lake Erie) has opened up a drain hole in the Lake Michigan/Lake Huron system (really one big lake joined by the Straits of Mackinac). There have been many requests for the Army Corps of Engineers to plug this hole.

I suppose that now each time I go to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, I will need to travel to Peninsula Point and take the same picture since I appear to have accidentally become a historical lake level observer.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Help to get backyard chicken raising restrictions lifted in New Castle County Delaware

Currently in New Castle County, Delaware you can only raise chickens in your backyard if you have more than 1 acre of property. Mr. William Tansey has introduced Ordinance 09-974 (.pdf link) to ease restrictions on raising chickens in backyards of New Castle County. His reasonable change allows residents to raise up to 4 hens (no roosters) on property with at least 0.5 acres.

The council is set to vote on this ordinance change on Tuesday, Sept 8th, but many are already coming out against. We must change their minds. Please help me and your New Castle County neighbors by contacting your New Castle County Council member (click on their picture for contact info) by phone or e-mail today to tell them that you would like them to support this change.

I have included the e-mail that I am sending to every council member and their legislative aids below. I myself live in the 2nd district. Please feel free to use or modify my letter as needed.

Dear Councilmember (insert member name here),

Mr. William Tansey has introduced Ordinance 09-974 to ease restrictions on raising chickens in backyards of New Castle County. His reasonable change allows residents to raise up to 4 hens (no roosters) on property with at least 0.5 acres. I stand in full support of this reasonable rule regarding raising chickens in a suburban environment and I hope that you will support this change by voting for it at the next council meeting on September 8th.

In a state on the Delmarva peninsula, historically known for raising poultry, it is unfortunate that residents of New Castle County currently have such a restrictive ordinance preventing them from participating in the chicken raising tradition and allowing them to grow some of their own food. New Castle County also has the chance to join other forward looking communities by your support of an easing of this restriction.

I urge you to support ordinance 09-074 to allow the raising of up to 4 hens on property with more than 0.5 acres. I will look forward to your response on this matter.

Richard Koehler
New Castle County Constituent

Comment if you send an e-mail or make a phone call. I would really like to get this passed, for the reasons stated in the letter above.

Let Delawareans have their Blue Hens!

List of council members, e-mail, office phone, legislative aids, e-mail and phone (all 302 area code below).

Council District Name E-mail Office Phone
Council President Paul G. Clark 395-8340
CP Legislative Aid Lynne Phifer 395-8360
1st District Joseph Reda 395-8341
1st Legislative Aid Christine Roberts 395-8361
2nd District Robert S. Weiner 395-8342
2nd Legislative Aid Louis Hinkle 395-8362
3rd District William Tansey 395-8363
3rd Legislative Aid Nellie Manlove 395-8363
4th District Penrose Hollins 395-8344
4th Legislative Aid Nique Traylor 395-8364
5th District Lisa Diller 395-8345
5th Legislative Aid Renee Bensley 395-8365
6th District William Powers 395-8346
6th Legislative Aid Ruby Dillmore 395-8366
7th District George Smiley 395-8347
7th Legislative Aid Tara Finnigan 395-8367
8th District John Cartier 395-8348
8th Legislative Aid Christina Bloemendaal 395-8368
9th District Timothy Sheldon 395-8349
9th Legislative Aid Stephanie Rizzo
10th District Jea P. Street 395-8350
10th Legislative Aid Charneece Jackson 395-8370
11th District David Tackett 395-8351
11th Legislative Aid Susanne Hussey 395-8371
12th District Bill Bell 395-8352
12th Legislative Aid Joseph A. Cochran 395-8372

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Frogs of Escanaba and Lake Michigan

While on vacation in Escanaba on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan I saw and took more pictures of frogs than I have ever taken near my house on the creek in Delaware. Here is a sampling of at least two species that I saw and stood still long enough for photography before leaping away.

These frogs were in the marsh between Lake Michigan and the cabin. They were two or three inches long. I think this is a Northern Leopard Frog. (link for Northern Leopard Frog at Michigan DNR)

These tree frogs were hidden until pointed out living on leaves and trees right in the backyard of the cabin. They were about the size of a quarter. I think these are Gray Tree Frogs, (link for Grey Tree Frog at Michigan DNR) but they seem too small, perhaps they are immature. Are they any Michigan frog experts that can confirm this?

Tree frog sitting calmly

This one was interesting as it walked up the leaf, mostly because I was too close with the camera antagonizing it.

If you look closely at this (unfortunately blurry) video you can see the frogs throat moving. I couldn't hear anything, perhaps the noise was too high or too soft, or non-existent.

I spotted this frog at the tip of the peninsula at Peninsula Point Lighthouse. It also appears to be a Northern Leopard Frog.