Saturday, June 30, 2007

44 pictures

Carol was outside for less than an hour and when she can back inside she handed me the memory card from the camera. She managed to take 44 pictures in that time, all with the macro lens, so we have closeups of bugs and flowers to show you today.

Friday, June 29, 2007


Today I'm off to Carlisle, PA to attend a retirement party, Tim served 36 years as a teacher / administrator in the public school system. The state of Pennsylvania offers a decent pension to it's employees, I on the other hand work in the private sector and have to set aside my own money for retirement. When you look at these numbers you have to wonder if it's possible to save enough money so you don't out live your savings.

Did you know?

• In 1907 the life expectancy of men was 45.6 years and women
49.9. Infant mortality was 9.99%.
• In 1957 the life expectancy of men was 66.4 years and women
72.7. Infant mortality was 2.63%.
• In 2007 the life expectancey of men is 75.5 years and women
80.7. Infant mortality is .68%.
• Remember: half of us will live beyond the average.

Source: AARP Bulletin

Thursday, June 28, 2007

New house

Work on the new house started with the official sale of the property on 25 June 2007. The next day they tied ribbons on the power and telephone lines, scrapped off the top soil and laid a bed of stones for the driveway. On 27 June they dropped off a bobcat and put snow fence around trees they wanted to keep; later that night we had an inch of rain. So on the 28th crews showed up to cut down trees, they positioned the largest truck on the street and the smaller truck with the chipper backed into the driveway. Well the driveway is short and the chipper went into the mud and sank up to the axle. They pulled the chipper from the mud with the bobcat and cut down 8 trees. These were old growth oak trees about 75 feet tall. I don't know what the tree trunks weigh but there is no way they can get the logs removed until the ground dries up...I stand corrected.

At 7:30 AM Friday morning the crew showed up with a logging truck that backed off the driveway and sank it wheels in the mud. The driver kept the wheels spinning and drove far enough into the yard so the crane could reach the logs. I started taking pictures thinking the truck would sink with the added weight of the logs. When the truck was loaded the driver tried to leave but the wheels were spinning and the truck was sliding sideways. Then it started raining so I headed inside to get ready for work. The driver got back in the truck and with the bobcat pushing the truck from behind they managed to get out of the mud and on the street.

Japanese beetle

Our plants are under attack by Japanese beetles. The beetles arrived in the United States in the early 1900's, they are native to Japan and it's thought they arrived with some plants imported from Japan. They will attack almost any plant but they love the Harry Lauder's Walking Stick that we have planted in the front garden. They eat the surface of the leaves, but leave the veins, it makes an interesting design but isn't good for the plants. We spotted the beetles a couple of days ago but now they are everywhere.

New nest

The bluebirds moved away so I cleaned out the ne3sting box. For 3 days the box was empty but last Friday there were two sticks in the box. We watched as the wren brought sticks to the box and once the wren forgot to turn the stick and struck the box with enough force that it knocked it's self to the ground. Saturday night there were sticks poking out the hole in front of the box. I opened the box and it's full of sticks from top to bottom. What a difference the wren and bluebirds have in nesting materials and size of nests.


In 1950 Phoenix was ranked 99th with 107,000 residents, now Phoenix has moved to number 5 bumping Philadelphia to number 6. Philadelphia, like other northern cities, lost manufacturing jobs and residents moved to the suburbs leaving behind poor and less educated residents. There were 406 murders in Philadelphia last year and over 200 murders this year. Lets hope the new mayor can develop a plan to get guns off the street and reduce the murder rate.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Close up

I bought a 50 MM macro lens for Carol. Here are some pictures she took the first day she had the lens.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Great Lakes Lighthouses

I was on the Flickr home page and saw a link to Lighthouses of the Great Lakes. Flickr users have taken pictures of lighthouse and geo tagged the pictures so it was easy to look for a specific lighthouse. My grandfather was a member of the United States Lighthouse Service from 1933 to 1956 and was stationed at four lighthouses on the Great Lakes. Ray was the last official keeper at the Dunkirk, New York lighthouse but his wife was the last unofficial lighthouse keeper. She manned the lighthouse while Ray was in the hospital and that makes her the last lighthouse keeper. You can tour the lighthouse from May to October and see the original light which was placed in service in 1875.

Ray was stationed at the following lighthouses
1. Cleveland, Ohio

2. Buffalo, New York

3. Rock of Ages, Isle Royal

4. Dunkirk, New York

The blogs world wide following.

This blog has only existed for a couple of weeks and the number of people reading the blog is small but growing. I did notice one person from Brazil, Japan and Germany visited the blog over the weekend. I'm not sure how they found the blog or if they will return but it's amazing the way internet traffic can be traced.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire

Yesterday was the Celtic Fling at the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire. A number of the Clans setup tents at the festival, in attendance were Clan Scott, Clan Boyd, Clan McAllister, Clan Campbell and Clan Donald. The weather was warm with a nice breeze, it was a great day to walk the festival grounds.

All the clans fly the flag of Scotland, know as the saltire, the white cross of St. Andrew on a blue background. The flag dates back to the 9th century and is the oldest national flag still in use. When the flag was designed I doubt the designers ever thought the flag would appear on a pair of sun glasses.

Because I attended the faire; I learned there were three types of people.
1. People that are Scottish.
2. People that wish they were Scottish.
3. People with no ambition.

Many of the festivals feature dancers from local schools and this festival was no exception. The Irish costumes are colorful and expensive, I saw a couple of the dresses with for sale signs, "worn 5 times, only $500 dollars."

The festival draws thousand to the festival grounds and traffic backs up on the Pennsylvania turnpike. Saturday a tractor trailer ran into 4 cars that were stopped on the turnpike; the tractor and a least one of the cars caught on fire. Three people died in the accident and the turnpike was closed for more than 10 hours. I exited the turnpike two hours before the accident and traffic was already starting to backup. The interchange is under construction and the placement of the E-Zpass lane was poorly chosen. The inner most lane was for E-Zpass only but no one could get to that lane due to all the other vehicles that wanted to pay cash. This isn't the first accident caused by traffic backing up but we hope they soon find a solution.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Circle of life

The light at my garage door attracts insects, which in turn attracts spiders which build webs to catch the insects. The spiders tend to catch the flying insects like this moth. And a toad is waiting for insects to fall to the ground. This is a young but well feed toad, by the end of summer it will have doubled in size. This was the only toad I saw last night but there are usually two or three toads out every night.

Bad day

California decided to crackdown on illegal street racing and this poor man had his ride taken away and crushed. This get tough policy should have an impact on the racing, the rest of the story can be read here.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007


Last year I visited Florida and ever since then I've spent time thinking about retirement. While I was in Florida I played Bocce and for fathers day the dog was kind enough to bring me a Bocce set. I'm on-call this week and my work day started with a 5:30 AM wake up page. I cannot wait to retire.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Blue bird

Over the weekend I managed to take a picture of the male blue bird.

DNA Ancestry

Today I read an article that said will add DNA tests and the tests will retail for less than $200. DNA testing gives genealogists another avenue of linking their family tree with other users. The DNA test will provide information on the paternal and maternal side of your family. There are 24,000 genealogical databases on the Ancestry web site so the possibility of linking your tree to another users tree is pretty high.

I've traced so many branches of my family tree to dead ends that a test like this could help get me past the "brick wall."

The test isn't for everyone, people that suspect they married their cousin might not want to take the test.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Father's Day

For Father's Day we went to the Fatherfest 2007 at the American Helicopter Museum in West Chester Pennslylvania. You could ride in a helicopter or an open cockpit airplane for a small fee. I didn't take a helicopter ride as I had planned because they flew a predetermined flight plan and the path didn't extend over my house. I was hoping to get some aerial photographs of the house. There were cars and motorcycles on show in the parking lot, my favorite car was the red Dodge Viper. The car was not for sale but I over heard the owner say he bought the car for $85,000. I understand the Dodge Viper is one of the more expensive cars to insure.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

New house

They sold the lot across the street from me and I'm going to start taking pictures as they build the house. My house was built in 1999 and none of the neighbors took pictures as the house was built, and when I showed up to buy the house the walls were up and the roof was on the house.

The house on the corner had a pool in their backyard and it turns out the pool was built across the property line of their lot and another lot they owned. The owners decided to get rid of the pool and sell the lot. I didn't get pictures before the pool was removed, but this is what it looks like after the pool was removed. The builder should start construction next week.
My plan is to take a picture everyday once construction starts so we can build a time lapse slide show of the construction.

I'm looking forward to having another house on the street. Most of the houses on this street were built in the late 40's and mine was built when one of the original home owners sold off a extra lot they had purchased. I have the most expensive house on the street and the new house is about $150,000 dollars more than my house is appraised for. I'm hoping the new house helps increase the value of all the homes on the street.

There is a vacant house near by that sits on 3 acres of land. They are going to tear down the house and build 4 house with prices starting around $600,000 dollars. Right now the property is a forest of old growth oak trees 80 feet tall. We hear the builder has final approval and construction should start this summer.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Class Reunion

Two weeks ago I had an email from a classmate telling me our high school class reunion was scheduled for September. Today the official invitation made it to my mail box. The invitation had been sent to a former address and getting it forwarded to my current address took an additional 12 days. Getting the invitation brought sadness because there was a slip of paper added to the invitation, the classmate putting together the reunion had died. Jim was one of the first people I met when my parents moved the family to Carlisle. We didn't keep in touch after graduation and I only spoke to Jim for a brief time at the previous reunions.

Birth and death are the front and back covers of the book of life. The story lies in the pages in-between. - Edward Lewis

Death is as casual - and often as unexpected - as birth. It is as difficult to define grief as joy. Each is finite. Each will fade. - James Alonzo Bishop

Death is the penalty we all pay for the privelege of life. - Robert Half

Still in the game at age 90

The U.S. Open Championship started today at the Oakmont Country Club, located north east of Pittsburgh, PA. Steve Macaluso started caddying at the Oakmont Country Club when he was 8 years old. Now Steve is 90 and he still caddies. The complete article on Steve can be found at this link U.S. Open.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Penn State Tickets

21,520 student season tickets sold out in a record 59 minutes; last year it took 13 days to sell the tickets. This might be Joe Pa's last year and the ability to scalp the tickets on-line has generated an opportunity that people just couldn't pass up.

Weapon dates bowhead whale to 1800

A bowhead whale was killed off the coast of Alaska in May. While slaughtering the whale they discovered the tip of a bomb lance fragment in the whales bone between the neck and shoulder. Scientists think the whale survived a previous attempt to harpoon the whale in the late 1880's. The bomb lance fragment was produced around 1880 which helped date the whale, estimated between 115 and 130 years old. You can read the full story on CNN.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Flight Delay Information

The FAA has a web site where you can view flight delay information. If you have an internet ready cell phone web site should prove useful. The link to the web site is At 8:45 Eastern every airport on the map is showing a flight delay.


Today I went to Valley Forge park to photograph the radio controlled airplanes. One section of the park has an airstrip for the planes to use during takeoffs and landings. When I was a boy the plans were small, expensive and held together with rubber bands. The rubber bands allow the wings to pop off during the crash landings.

Some of these planes have wing spans in excess of 6 feet and the pilots have special crates to transport the planes to the field. This yellow plane even had a pilot!

I'll take more pictures and get to know how and why these guys started the club.

Valley Forge Signal Seekers

Monday, June 11, 2007

Piper's Bonnie Lass

Piper is our Sheltie and I have enough pictures on Flickr to make a slide show. She turned 10 years old on March 7, 2007.

Let me know if you want your Flickr pictures as a slide show on your web site.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Bluebird update

I have not seen my bluebirds in a couple of days.

I read bluebird facts on the North American Bluebird Society web site and learned I should have been checking on the bluebirds nest every week. Today I opened the nesting box and saw 2 eggs, hopefully the mother will return to incubate the eggs. The mother can lay 4 or 5 eggs and it's possible these eggs didn't hatch. I didn't see any hatched eggs inside or outside the nest so maybe the mother went for food and will retunn to incubate the eggs.

How to find latitude and longitude

I don't need to know my latitude and longitude, but maybe you need to know yours. Here is an easy way to find out what it is. Go to Google maps and put in the address, this will center the address in the displayed map. Cut and past this code into the address bar and a pop up window will display the latitude and longitude.


The script above was found on the Tech-Recipes web site.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Care or don't care

Paris Hilton sent back to jail - don't care

Soprano's last episode on Sunday June, 10th - CARE!

Philadelphia bicycle race - care
The 22nd professional bicycle race will happen on June 10th. The race starts at 9 AM but the course is open to everyone at 7 AM. A couple of years ago I bought one of those Trek carbon fiber racing bikes and rode one lap of the course. The race is on the streets of Philadelphia and the riders have to pedal the biks up "the wall" in Manayunk, a hill with a 17 percent grade. I was in the best shape of my life and I thought I'd never see the top of the hill. I did one lap of the course but the pros make 10 laps and cover 156 miles. You can read the race history by following this link

Race results -- Juan Jose Haedo crossed the finish line in just over 5:45.50, unofficially setting a new record for the Commerce Bank Triple Crown of Cycling. Haedo, an Argentinian riding for the Denmark-sponsored Team CSC, unofficially finished at 5:45.51, roughly 5 minutes faster than the previous race record.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Today in 1946

Today in 1946, television in Britain resumed after the war. The announcer Leslie Mitchell said: "As I was saying before I was so rudely interrupted ..."

Stanley Cup 2007

The 2006 - 2007 hockey season ended last night with the Anaheim Ducks defeating the Ottawa Senators, I can't remember the last time I watched a hockey game. I closely followed the sport in the early 90's when Mario Lemieux and Jaromirr Jagr took the Pittsburgh Penguins to two Stanley Cups. After Lemieux retired as a player and Jagr was traded I lost interest in the game. I think the public lost interest in the game when the players went on strike and the league struggled to find a network that would broadcast the games.

Anyway, congratulations to the Duck's and their fans.

Olympic Logo, London 2012

I to have to join the crowd and say "What were they thinking? The new Olympic logo for the 2012 games in London is terrible. From a marketing standpoint I cannot see anyone wanting an article of clothing with this logo. You can look at the Olympic site or the London site to see the logo.

How many logo's were submitted and how bad were the logo's that were rejected?

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Backyard neighbor

I placed a blue bird box in my backyard a year ago and this year I have the start of a family. I have a pair of blue birds that made a nest in the box, this is a picture of the female blue bird. I'm tempted to open the door and see how many eggs there are but I've decide to keep my distance.