Wednesday, February 24, 2010

How Millennial are you? A quiz.

Pew Research Center has put together a quiz with a few carefully selected questions based on their survey research that they feel will allow you to determine how similar to the millennial generation you are. I scored a 51 while a typical millennial would score a 73 and a typical GenXer, of which I am supposedly a part, would score 33. So I am slightly ahead of the curve of my generation.

I suppose that the score moving me further along than my age or generation would suggest is because I have taken active measures to keep up with the new stuff. This blog, my twitter and other similar accounts being one example, and the requirements of my profession being another. I still think that in many cases I am behind the curve in adoption of these new technologies, but then I often encounter others who have never even heard of the thing that I am adopting.

I have often thought of myself as old-fashioned about some things because I am a GenXer whose parents were in the Silent Generation, not baby-boomers, and who was also raised in part by my grandmother, who lived with us my whole life. Yet I know I have to keep up with the new.

My wife and I had a related discussion when she said that our parents hadn't continued to change their tastes in music as the music world had changed but that we were still doing our best to remain current. That is because I actively seek out new artists and songs in music and the latest thing in everything not just technology. I think my generation and succeeding generations need to learn to learn and adapt.

You can take the quiz yourself here.

Freaking out about flash mobs and the war on children

I heard a story on WHYY this morning that a Philadelphia city official wants to restrict the use of Septa TransPasses to before 4:30pm to stop students from being able to cause mischief after school. It turns out this story is true. City Controller Alan Butkovitz yesterday called for a crackdown on student TransPasses. He thinks that the TransPasses, which allow students to travel an unlimited number of times in center city between 5:30 a.m. and 7 p.m., let students travel to areas to cause mischief and especially refers to flash mobs.

The other half of the story is that a flash mob of 150 students gathered on Tuesday Feb 16th for a snowball fight got out of hand and resulted in vandalism and theft in Center City Philadelphia. Apparently there have been several flash mobs in Philadelphia supposedly organized using social media. So many that Philadelphia police and some council members are suggested that any online media social network be sued if it is found they were used to organize the mobs. From the article:
Councilmen Frank DiCicco and Jim Kenney both witnessed the chaos from their City Hall offices and called the act "appalling" and "disheartening" in a letter to Mayor Nutter and Council President Anna Verna.

In the letter, Kenney and DiCicco requested "cooperation in pursuing the possibility of a lawsuit against Facebook, MySpace and Twitter" - if it turns out that the teens arranged their mob gathering through one or more of the Web sites.

Good luck with that.

In a small victory for the vast majority of students (57,600 vs. ~200 at flash mob) that were not involved, though City Controller Butkovitz urged SEPTA general manager Joseph M. Casey to curtail the time on the TransPasses, Casy retorted (from the article)
In a letter responding to the controller, Casey wrote that there was no "correlation between the issuance of TransPasses and the incident involving the students who rampaged through Center City last week."
He also said:
In a statement, SEPTA General Manager Joseph Casey disagreed with Butkovitz's correlation and said school attendance has increased, truancy has decreased and juvenile vandalism on SEPTA is down 50 percent since institution of the TransPass in summer 2007.
Restricting the passes punishes the many for the few that are committing crimes and is a classic tactic in the war on children that sees all children as scary out of control things to be controlled rather than taught. I would even contend that not even all who attended the flash mob were guilty of bad behavior. I also doubt that suing the social media sites is a workable idea. If in fact they know that the mobs are planned that way then monitoring the sites is the approach to use. The groups essentially announce the mob on the network, find a way to get on the distribution list. Be clever and thoughtful, rather than reactive and fearful.

This morning's Shellpot Creek is calmer

The creek this morrning is lower than last night's high but still flowing. Now it is also filled with flood borne branches. I suspect that some of the branches that broke off of trees due to the heavy snow got the chance for a trip down the creek and got stuck on these rocks.

Last Night's Shellpot Creek was raging

As predicted, the creek rose as the rain and melting snow filled it. This short video is from last night.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Melting snow and rain fill Shellpot Creek - video

Think of the snow as a few inches of rain sitting on the ground and then add the rain that is falling to it. The creek isn't too high today, but I expect it to get higher.

Monday, February 22, 2010

The snow is melting slowly - Shellpot creek goes up and down

The USGS has a hydrological station on Shellpot Creek in Delaware near Wilmington down stream from my area of the creek. I have noticed the creek rising during the day the last few days. But don;t just take my word for it. Here is the chart from the station.

Up, as the snow melts during the day, and down, as the melting slows. It is interesting that the stream lags the day. I suppose the sun has to rise and melt some snow and the water must travel to the creek before it registers, and the warm part of the day isn't even getting started until noon or later. It is supposed to rain this week, so that will obliterate this nice chart. Add to the rain the snow melt that will accompany it and this might be a high creek week.

How to and not to drill in glass tile

Eventually I hope to post about the bathroom remodel that Lynn performed on second bathroom on the second floor. It had been my bathroom and will remain my bathroom and Linus' as he gets old enough to use it. It turned out wonderfully.

One of the defining characteristics of the new bathroom is 1 inch blue glass tile in various shades in the tub surround and as an accent back splash all the way up the wall behind the sinks. It looks beautiful. So beautiful that I was nervous about installing the show curtain.

I needed to drill through that beautiful glass tile and I had never done that before. I was very concerned that I would break the tile when I drilled it and and deface this work of art. Thus a little practice was in order.

Guess which tile I drilled first and which I drilled second. The tile on the right was the first attempt and I learned not to press too hard when drilling. The directions which the drill bit (example drill bit) suggested using a nail to mark the surface so that the bit would have something to hold it in the place where you wanted to drill. I had to tape these tiles to some wood for the testing so I couldn't see if I actually may have broken the tile making the nail mark rather than drilling. In any case I left off the nail marking step when I found that I could drill precisely without it.

I drilled two more tiles successfully before I started on the actual wall. It went well if a bit slowly. To use the bit it recommends that it be lubricated with water through the whole process. If you are drilling and you hear the squeak of the bit on the glass that means there isn't enough water. I actually used a clean squeeze bulb (called a nasal bulb syringe) that you might use to clear a babies nose to squirt water as I drilled. The difficulty was squirting constantly to keep water on a vertical wall surface while drilling with the other hand. I also found that gently and very slightly tilting the drill bit from side to side while drilling at a reasonable speed helped the bit to bite into the material and help to speed up the drilling. High RPM's do not help to make the drilling faster and is not recommended.

The holes were drilled perfectly though it took some time because I was being cautious. I actually think I cracked one tile inserting the screw anchor after the drilling, but the drilled tiles were covered completely by the bracket for the show curtain rod. I would be more gentle the next time I need to insert anchors in glass tile.

Friday, February 19, 2010

XCHANGE license plate in Delaware

Perhaps the owner of this car with an XCHANGE personalized Delaware license plate deals in the foreign exchange markets.

Or perhaps they want CHANGE EXTREME!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Snow pictures #7 A sneak peek at Shellpot Creek

I know that pictures of a snow covered Shellpot Creek water fall are very common this year, but it is amazing how much snow is piled on these rocks. This looks more like some snowy mountain stream, than a creek in Delaware.

Upstream from the waterfall.

Top of the water fall.

The waterfall.

Base of the water fall.

Downstream of the waterfall.

Snow pictures #6 The trees, the trees.

Except that the heavy snow is potentially breaking all of them, the snow sticking to the trees has turned the world into a magical snow streaked wonderland. I have tried to capture some of the views, but it is more spectacular to stand under these trees or look across a clump of them, all painted white.

Snow pictures #5 second snow!

This was the view looking from Stoney Creek Lane up Baynard towards Marsh Road at 8am this morning.

This is the view looking up Baynard across the Shellpot Creek bridge towards Shipley Rd. It's all uphill from Stoney Creek lane.

Stoney Creek lane itself (a cul-de-sac with four houses) looks just as good.

Obscured road sign.

Our house is covered.

I am the mighty snow conqueror!

I am the mighty snow conqueror, wielding my shovel of power to clear driveways and raise mountains.

Suffering Junipers - this last snow did it!

The most recent snow storm (Feb 10, not the one before that!) was so heavy and sticky that I feared for some of the evergreens and plants in the garden and yard. It looks like we have lost a juniper due to the heavy snow, sleet, and freezing rain (and then snow again).

The juniper, the bottom left limb should be pointing up, and the two right limbs should also be pointing up.

A close up of the right limbs shows the bottom one peeled down the trunk. The upper limb actually broke as I was closely inspecting the bottom one. That removed any hope of me saving the tree.

There is another juniper in the front of the house which is very interesting and tufty. It is also bowed done to the roof with snow.

Here it is yesterday in the afternoon, halfway through wave two of the snowstorm.

It still seems even more bowed down this morning, but not broken. I am hoping the sun melts the ice and frees it gently. I am afraid to tap it to free the limbs at the risk of them breaking.

Here is the front juniper from the other side.

And a closeup looking up. I didn't want to tap it and get buried on snow.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

I'm in the money - Second Place in the Playoff Fantasy Football Pool

My roster (RDK 1) came in second in the the RKB Playoff Fantasy Football pool!

I predicted a significant chance (18%) that roster RDK 1 would be in the money! And it happened. I just want to take some time to gloat. My acceptance speech:
"I want to thank the Drew and the Saints for winning the Superbowl, especially their defense for that critical touchdown and Garrett Hartley - kick away Garrett. I also want to thank Joseph Addai for getting that touchdown that helped put me over the top, even though his team lost. And Adrian Peterson, you didn't even make it to the big game, but getting those touchdowns with no credit for Brett Favre really helped. Thanks to Yahoo for your player stats, and Sagarin for your ratings. And finally, I couldn't have done it without math and statistics, you guys rock!"

Here are the final results with all of the roster's points separated by position. It pays to have a good QB on the roster, but WR, RB and K's also contribute almost the same amount of points for the roster which are towards the top. Remember that there are 3 RW's and 2 RB's so the K has more point generating power as a single player. Even the defense can be significant. Probably the TE is the least useful point generating player on a roster.

The final results separated according to the game in which the points were generated reveals a truism that has been a guiding principle all along. Rosters with players that play more games generate more points. The light blue "dusting" of Superbowl points is what determined the winner this year.

A chart with the order of the roster based on the points before the Superbowl shows a little more clearly that the Superbowl points are what changed the order around. The top contenders had many or all NO and IND players left on their sheets, especially the big point positions like QB and K.

The rosters are shown above for the top twenty finishers, with just the players in the Superbowl on them. Realize that in the above some roster (like mine, RDK1) had players that did not play in the Superbowl and so are not listed above, however the correct total points are in the grand total at bottom.

The final contenders strategies were the three fold obvious ones, all NO, all IND or a mix. Give the way the game went it didn't pay to be all IND. I was able to thread my way to second place because I was a mostly NO roster, K, QB, DEF, but with enough IND to differentiate myself from others. Those that split the K and QB between IND and NO ended up not faring so well.

Finally, I simulated this outcome. Bruschi Drink 3 in first place and RDK1 in second, was the second most likely outcome in my simulations at 10% after the one with Tim G 5 in second.
The simulations above are from the prediction before the Superbowl. What happened to Tim G 5? That roster started 2 points behind RDK1 before the Superbowl. It had IND K instead of NO K for who were 5 to 11 in the Superbowl for 6 more points of deficit. RDK 1 beats Tim G 5 entirely due to the choice of kickers. Even if Matt Stover (IND) had made the field goal he missed that would only have added 3.

The simulations also picked out particular aspects of the game. About 40% of the time when New Orleans defense forces a turnover they get a touchdown. I included that in my model and lo and behold it happened during the game. Having Joseph Addai finally get a touchdown this playoff season pushed me over some of the NO rosters, but having NO do so well pushed me over the IND rosters. It also helped when Jeremy Shockey got a touchdown because no one of the top contenders had him for points. Sometimes it is just as good when no one gets the points as when your roster gets the points.

Next up, March Madness simulations. I have to go get started.

Colors test reveals the deepest truths about your soul

A color test reported in USAToday purports to reveal the truth about your deepest soul. Actually, they take the fun out of it and turn it into a career recommendation test like we all took in high school. Just pick which colors you like the most and the least and it does the rest for you.

You can take the color test here.

I am a "CREATOR",
Keywords: Nonconforming, Impulsive, Expressive, Romantic, Intuitive, Sensitive, and Emotional

or second best I am a "PERSUADER"
Keywords: Witty, Competitive, Sociable, Talkative, Ambitious, Argumentative, and Aggressive

I notice that the keywords on these tests tend to be complimentary. Nobody wants to be told a test proved they were a jerk. The test is supposedly as accurate as a Myers-Briggs or other career profiler tests. I will let my readers judge the worth of that comparison.

These professions are slightly different than the engineer (or mail sorter) I was told I would be from my high school test.

What do your favorite colors say about you?

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Snow pictures #4 - This driveway is clean!

Remember in Poltergeist when they rescue Carol Ann from the other world and at the end of it the short exorcist/medium lady says, "This house is clean"?

This driveway is clean.

Last night I cleared just enough snow to get my car out for church today. We were one of the few families there this morning.

Today I finished the rest so that both cars can get out of the driveway. Why take a picture? Because that is a lot of snow and it never took me two several hour days of shoveling to clear this driveway before.

Cleared driveway end, and no "plowed-in" portion!

Cleared walkway.

This cleared walkway goes around the house next to the creek. I stopped at the end there. I just wanted to be able to see the creek if I wanted.

Beautiful afternoon sun illuminates the snow and the Shellpot Creek.

Snow pictures #3 with more measurements 20 to 24 inches!

The measurements in the pictures below might not reflect the "official" amount of snow that fell yesterday, but they certainly represent the "official" amount of snow I had to shovel. For the purposes of my back they are the measurements that count.

20.5 inches at the top of the driveway.

...down to 18.5 in the middle...

...and back up to 24 inches at the end of the driveway.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Snow pictures #2 with measurement

The snow was about 15 inches on the front walk at about 10am. This measurement could be low or high depending on the drifting either into or away from the spot. As to the practical application, it still means that 15 inches of snow have to be shoveled!

Lynn shoveling. You can clearly see the height of the snow in that cleared area at the turn in the walkway.

Snow day pictures, snow pillows, snow hammock, snow chairs, snow table

Remember that big snow we had on December 19th? This is more.

Snow hammock.

Snow chairs redux (the last time.)

Snow table

Snowy creek.