Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Learn to park FRETS license in Delaware

This two space, abandonment parking job by big SUV driving FRETS license plate owner implies that he or she is an inconsiderate jerk.

This parking job was at Independence Mall on 202 in Wilmington earlier this evening. You would think that the owners of the businesses wouldn't want one car taking up all of the prime spaces.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Suppposedly the best smoked whitefish on the UP

Gustafson's in Brevort,MI supposedly has the best smoked whitefish on the UP. That is abold claim considering how much folks up here love their smoked whitefish. Lynn makes a tasty smoked whitefish spread from recipe she got from a store in Escanaba that unfortunately has closed.

Let's just say it is the best smoked whitefish along RT2 on the way back home. We got our fish in a cooler, let's hope we can get it home.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

What is this tree in Escanaba? Closeup of fruit.

A closeup of the fruit on those trees in Escanaba. What are they?

Update: Barbara Tiesch, librarian for the Harrisburg Patriot-News, has suggested (via Twitter) that these tress might be Mountain Ash. A quick wikipedia search reveals that these trees look like Sorbus americana. Thanks for your help Barbara, a several year mystery (to me) is now solved. The article says that in the United States they are distributed from the Appalachians from New York to Georgia and out to the Great Lakes.

What is this tree in Escanaba MI

These trees are on the green in front of the lighthouse in Escanaba, MI. They have bright orange berries and interesting leaves. Do any horticulturists out there know what there are?

Closeup of berries and leaves to follow.

Update: Barbara Tiesch, librarian for the Harrisburg Patriot-News, has suggested (via Twitter) that these tress might be Mountain Ash. A quick wikipedia search reveals that these trees look like Sorbus americana. Thanks for your help Barbara, a several year mystery (to me) is now solved. The article says that in the United States they are distributed from the Appalachians from New York to Georgia and out to the Great Lakes.

Just burgers ... And more?

I think the creator of this store doen't understand the word "just". Once you say "just" you can't add to it. I guess it caught my eye.

Lynn Linus and the Lighthouse

Lynn, Linus and the Lighthouse sounds like a children's book. Now I need a story and a publisher.

We were at the Sand Point Lighthouse in Escanaba a few days ago. This is Linus' first lighthouse. We will have to get him a scrapbook to keep track.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Mario Paper Art at the UP State Fair

I hope Mason Wellman of Rock, MI, doesn't mind me posting a picture of his really cool Mario Paper Art 4H project on display at the Upper Peninsula State fair in Escanaba. It won a first place ribbon. This artwork is made entirely of colored, glued, torn paper. I think Mario looks suitable plumber like and the heroine looks worth saving. The colors of the sky, the brickwork and the shadows of the dangers that Mario faced to save her are almost surreal. I hope someone encourages this kid's artwork.

Creationist Museum Display at the Upper Peninsula State Fair in Escanaba

A local Escanaba Baptist church had this nice display of artifacts that seek to prove the Creationist theory of life on Earth. The display had replicas of artifacts purportedly showing footprints of humans next to dinosaur tracks and ancient human art showing that humans and dinosaurs lived together. I haven't ever seen a real life display like this one before.

A closeup of the footprints:

I took a picture and then I noticed I could get a peice of chocolate if I got 8 out of 10 bible questions right. I aced it and got my chocolate. I think they were recruiting and were unprepared for my "try to win a prize for knowing trivia" attitude. When it comes to winning chocolate bible facts are as good as any other for me.

Just for the record I think that the Young Earth Creationism depicted here is bunk. But the people seemed nice, if misinformed.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

When did they paint the Gap Town Clock white?

In June 2005 when I last took a picture of the Gap Town Clock, it wasn't painted white. I suppose it looks nice and perhaps that will help it to stay in good condition, but I can only imagine the town meetings to discuss it. I do wonder how historical it is.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Yet another politcal spectrum map

Howard reveals his political views with the Political Spectrum Quiz. I took it myself.

My Political Views
I am a centrist social libertarian
Left: 0.14, Libertarian: 4.64

I have been moving over the years to a moderate position because I find I have less and less tolerance for black and white positions, though I suppose that in my moderation I should still tolerate people who have black and white positions. I do find that I like authority less and less, perhaps because I don't like what authority has been doing the past few years. At least they add an interventionist dimension and a cultural dimension.

I can't see how anyone could be interventionist (or neo-conservative as above) these days given our current obligations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

All of these quizzes fail to actually assess the complexities of defining a person's political tendencies. If one dimension, left to right, isn't enough to describe a person's political philosophy, why is two? Why is four, adding foreign policy interventions and "culture"?

We should ask thousands of questions to millions of people and then do conjoint analysis to find the dimensions of politics. It seems to me that politics is the subset of philosophy involved in how we deal with other people or set up governments to regulate our actions and we know how easy that is to categorize.

Add to this that the questions on the quiz are ambivalent and are reminiscent of traditional true/false questions, either answer seems to be right and wrong, depending on the wording and interpretation.

Why you should have lobster for dinner

We had lobster for dinner last night because we had been seeing articles that prices for lobster had collapsed with the recession. I am more of a fan of lobster tails because all of the meat that is worth eating on a lobster is either in the tail or in the claws. If I am missing a critical location of meat in the lobster please point it out in the comments. We boiled them and they certainly had enough meat in the claws and tail to make it worthwhile and they were delicious.

They were only $5.99/lb and were about 1.5 lbs each. Because we melted butter for them, that set the tone for the side as well, corn on the cob and potatoes. It wasn't intended to be a low fat meal, it was intended to be tasty.

Even Linus wanted some.

Apparently the lobster fishery in the Gulf of Maine is one of the better sustainably harvested fisheries on the world, and the lobstermen have done such a good job that they can harvest more live lobsters than the demand. There management is good for consumers. I do hope that their business can be managed as sustainably as the harvest.

Cucumbers of the gods

Two weeks ago we had the second cucumber of the season. The first had to be fed unwillingly to our "pet" groundhog" to go with the lettuce that he ate.

Before washing and having the spikes removed

A glamour shot with drops of water just like in a supermarket ad.

These little bush cucumbers don't get too big but they are very tasty. I still fear to grow them or any variety because I haven't figured out when to pick to avoid overripe, bitter cucumbers.

Are there any cucumber aficionados who would care top comment in what to plant and when to pick?

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Dogfish Head in Rehobeth crowded for lunch

I have enjoyed Dogfish Head beer and this restaurant in particular for the 19 years I have lived in Delaware. Thanks to whoever told me to drink this beer and eat this food, it's so long ago I don't remember, probably some grad school friend.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Bensi Italian Restaurant in North Wales, PA is NOT kid friendly

Linus got to see his grandparents yesterday because we happened to be up that area (Montgomeryville, North Wales, PA area) to visit a new nine day old friend. My parents recommended Bensi in the Shoppes at English Village because they said it had good Italian food and would be kid friendly. Linus is only 6 months old and we haven't taken him out to eat that much (maybe four times, all lunch). Since this was a little new to us and him, the kid friendly description was important. My parents had already been to the restaurant many (~10) times before.

When we got there at 6:30 or so the restaurant was almost empty, maybe three tables of 30 had people at them. As we were seated another couple came in with two babies as well. The staff very helpfully got us a high chair, put us away from other patrons and at a banquette table where we could spread out if needed. Linus had just been breastfed and so we thought we would be good to go. Being a 6 month old he had other plans. He was excited at all the new sights and vocalized, fussed and cried off and on. Toys were not soothing him and he may be going through a growth spurt so we tried to feed him some cereal. Please servers, when a mom asks for hot water for the cereal and the baby is crying right in front of you, she needs it that minute not when we remind you the second time.

Linus gets fed the cereal and that is quieter with some happy yelps during the meal. All good things come to an end but babies don't know that so he complains at the end as usual because he liked it so much. Thus we try to distract him with some toys and get him back into the car seat because even though he is fussy, this is a prelude to a nap and some quite and a chance for his parents to eat. Keep in mind that we had only just gotten our appetizers so this whole time has been no longer than twenty minutes.

About the time when we seem to be getting Linus calmed, a manager (the unfriendly one) comes over and tells us in the most officious manner possible that some of the other patrons have been threatening to leave because of our crying baby, and some parents take their children outside to calm them, and isn't teething tough. That ended the kid friendly atmosphere for me. Lynn took Linus outside to calm him, and never did come back into the restaurant. Our dinners arrived a few minutes later but none of us wanted to eat them then anyway.

I tried to forget about it and eat; the manager could have found a better way to express his concern, but when your wife is outside with the baby and angry, it is hard to eat. I finally went up and told both managers that they had just lost us as customers. Lynn pointed out later to me that the restaurant was worried about losing one set of patrons but now has lost us. They just traded one for the other. I myself wonder if that calculus works out for them, how much business is there from people who complain about babies vs. people who have babies and want to go out to eat. Everyone knows that Italian food isn't about family and friends, it is about corporate profits. Yet the Bensi story does mention food made from fresh ingredients and love, and how the first restaurant where they served American families (no crying babies though).

One of the managers, the friendly one, not the one who had asked us to quiet the baby before, came over to try to smooth things over. He told a long story about how corporate had many rules for the restaurant, how they had had whole tables walk out recently because of babies or children crying, how they had problems with children sitting at the bar, how they had a night where some kids were running around the restaurant and their parents let them, how they had had a lot of turnover in staff and managers. None of which were completely relevant to our situation - Linus can't run yet, and won't be doing it in restaurants when he can, he won't sit at the bar. If it was an attempt to engender some sympathy for him and his restaurant, it didn't work, I choose a 6 month old baby over a 50 something restaurant manager every time, but I am biased. We asked him if anyone had complained about the other children that were crying while Linus was (there were two).

I pointed out that they have a lot of competition in the area. Iron Hill Brewery is a few doors down in the same shopping center. They are a perfectly good example of a restaurant/brewery started in Newark Delaware that expanded from the original location but lost none of the appeal of the first location. Uno's is up the street. There are probably several Italian restaurants per square mile in the area, many of which are not franchises and so might appreciate the business more. I don't know if those places are kid friendly or not, but at least there is a possibility, I know Bensi is NOT kid friendly.

They tried to comp us the meals we didn't eat but my parents and I would have none of it. I told him he (and Bensi's everywhere) had lost us as customers, my parents can do what they want, though they weren't to thrilled about ever going back either. He had even recognized my parents because they had been in there many times before. I think he realized the restaurant handled it wrong. I would ask you to leave your advice about how to best handle this situation in the comments, because I don't know what it was. What are the rules about how long your baby can cry in a restaurant before you take them out? What are the rules about complaining about crying babies? I don't know, I have never complained about a crying baby in my life, even before mine. Should complainers get the restaurant staff to get the babies taken care of or should they do it themselves? It seems cowardly to complain to the staff, but I am biased.

I did say one thing to the manager. Babies cry, it happens. We were doing what we could to soothe him but he could have stopped or kept going as he wanted. If it is not your child, what you have control over is your response to the crying or your feelings about it. You can be annoyed and call the manager police over to force something to be done about it or you can ignore it and choose not to be annoyed. You can actually decide what your response will be. Perhaps he should have told the complainers that and refreshed their drinks. Maybe they still would have left, maybe they would have stayed and we wouldn't have been asked to leave (in so many words) and I would be telling you how nice dinner was last night, instead of warning you that Bensi is NOT a kid friendly restaurant. How was the food? It was fine, it just had a sharp taste of officiousness to it.