Monday, December 21, 2009

Crypto-Catholics - Sun Worshippers at the Winter Solstice?

Every year around Daylight Savings Time in the fall and the time change leaving it in the spring I notice that the sign shines so brightly through the stain glassed window at our church, Immaculate Heart of Mary, that whole sections of the pews are unoccupied because parishioners would be starring straight into bright sunlight only partially filtered by the glass. I have a long term project to map those areas of the church but I need to get in there with a measuring tape to develop a good floor plan to do so.

One thing that I have done is notice the odd position the church has on its lot. It is not straight but on the diagonal. In fact, running a line through the church center and through the stain glassed window in the front of the church as in the diagram above shows that the church is oriented to face 123 degrees on a compass, or almost southeast by east. Why should it have that particular orientation. Using the Planetarium program on my trusty Treo or any website which gives a sunrise at 120 at 8:19am today, suspiciously close to the 123 degrees, give or take, of the orientation of the church.

Or it could be that the church is just facing the corner and its angle bisects the two roads that make up the southeast corner of the lot, Shipley Rd, which is the more north to south road, and Weldin Road which is the more east and west road. I used the New Castle County Parcel Search map function (IHM parcel) to get exact coordinates for the roads. These roads are not exactly aligned to a North, South East West grid or the church would point at 135 degrees (90 plus 45). The roads are canted slightly counter clockwise from the grid, which points the church at the sun. (click the picture below for larger)

The final choice I leave up to my capable readers. Is the church pointed at sunrise on the Winter Solstice in homage to the secret sun worshipping sect that took over the church at the time of Constantine, or is it just pointed aesthetically at the corner of the two roads that define the lots? Conspiracy or coincidence?

(I used the New Castle County Parcel Search and the mapping function there for pictures and maps. I also got some maps, aerial photography and coordinates and much more at the Delaware DataMIL, also click on the Map Lab for customer maps and the coordinate system I used to find the street orientations.)

Snow chairs, pillows and blankets

Snow piled up 17 inches high makes interesting "snow chairs"

The snow on the rocks in the creek makes it look like snow pillows have been placed gently in the creek.

Snow blankets cover the rocks near the waterfall on Shellpot Creek.

Friday, December 18, 2009

GR8 FOOD license plate in Pennsylvania

I have seen this Toni Roni truck twice this week on the way to work. It's got it all, an appropriate personalized license plate, GR8 FOOD, a slogan with a double entendre, and a franchise offer so that you can be a part of the experience.

Anybody want to go into business with me?

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Waterfall on raging Shellpot Creek

This video confirms that after that night of rain that Shellpot Creek is almost as high as it has ever been this year.  It is interesting to watch and it roars when it is this high.

Shellpot Creek was a raging torrent this morning.

I would say that after that night of rain that Shellpot Creek is almost as high as it has ever been this year. It is interesting to watch and it roars when it is this high.

I will try to post some video later. I have been trying to do so all day.

Shellpot Creek is a raging torrent today

I think that after last night's rain that the creek behind the house is almost as high as it has ever been this year. It is roaring today.

Upstream of the waterfall on raging Shellpot Creek

Upstream of the water fall today was so high that the water draining from across the street down the ditch I had dug to the creek was held up. The creek isn't quite down hill today so the yard isn't draining.

More video of the raging Shellpot Creek

I tried to pan the camera downstream of the creek so that you can see the extent of the torrent.

Waterfall on raging Shellpot Creek

I would say that after that night of rain that Shellpot Creek is almost as high as it has ever been this year. It is interesting to watch and it roars when is is this high.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Picking against the spread in football (is difficult)

This year I am participating in a football pool where you must pick the team that win against the spread for each week. It is much harder than picking the winning team because the spread is supposed to even out the betting money on each side is the wisdom of the crowd opinion of the score difference that has the favorite beating it 50% of the time and losing 50% of the time.

I compiled the results up to week 12 of the current season.

It hovers around the 50% mark as you might expect. But there are fluctuations, and in those fluctuations there is money to be won. As I have said, I don't know anything about football, so I have been trying to see which teams not just win, but do well (or poorly) against the spread in the hopes of figuring out which teams the bookies are having trouble with and get an edge. My results thus far are still about 50/50. I told you I don't know anything about football.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Ultra Final Jeopardy - an answer without a clue

Ultra Final Jeopardy is when you guess the final answer knowing only the category and not the clue. Last night the final category was "Political Nonfiction" and I immediately said "All the President's Men", because, what else could it be. Then the clue came up - This book begins "June 17, 1972, nine o'clock Saturday morning". What else could it be but a book, that book, about Watergate. I was very pleased with myself.

I have gotten some other Final Jeopardy' with only the category and no clue, Walt Whitman seems to be a favorite answer. Granted I only remember the times I do this and not the ones I don't, so there is selection bias. I certainly try to forget anytime I fail to get the final answer even with the clue.

My dream someday is to go on Jeopardy and write in my final answer in the same space as my wager, knowing only the category at that step, just to show what an (obnoxious) badass I am. But in all reality I would just play it straight, because I would want to win.