Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Fly away fly away

I cannot hide my bright colors so I'll just fly away.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Covered bridges

Yesterdays picture was the inside of a covered bridge, but you already figured that out didn't you? On Saturday Carol and I toured Lancaster County, Pennsylvania looking for covered bridges. Most of the bridges were the same reddish color and style.

This picture of the Kurtz's Mill Covered bridge caught my attention because the dots of light on the road draw you into the bridge. The lack of road signs also made this a photogenic covered bridge.

Another interesting picture was this sign on the inside of the bridge. The sign was on the Zook's Mill Covered Bridge about 6 feet above the bridge deck. I guesstimate the water was 15 feet below the bridge deck so during the flood the water must have been 21 feet higher than it was on Saturday. Hurricane Agnes brought parts of Pennsylvania as much as 19 inches of rain and extensive flooding to the eastern half of Pennsylvania.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Friday, July 27, 2007

History in my backyard

The Battle of the Clouds was just a quarter mile from my house. How many men walked through my backyard as they fled from the British troops?

Could rain be the event that turned the tide of the revolutionary war? On September 16, 1777 it saved the American Army from being over run because gunpowder doesn't fire when it's wet. General Washington was able to retreat and reform his army under cover of the storm.

The British found another day at another place to seek revenge. On September 21, 1777 ther British killed or wounded 150 American's in what became known as the Paoli Massacre.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Celtic Heritage Festival

Saturday we attended the Celtic Heritage Festival at Graeme Park in Horsham, Pennsylvania. This one day festival celebrates Scottish heritage or at least that's how they promoted the event. I have not attended the event in three years and this year they couldn't find a sponsor so there were no highland games. There were 5 clans in attendance; Clan Scott, Clan McAllister, Clan Campbell, Clan Donald and Clan Gunn. Music was provided by The Hooligans and Carl Peterson.

To increase attendance the organizers opened the event to the dog rescue groups in the area. I own a dog and I have nothing against dogs but this Scottish festival was more dog show than Scottish festival. My observation's was half the people at the event had brought dogs and these dog owners only stayed for a couple of hours. Most people that attend Celtic Festivals plan on staying all day and spending money. Some of the vendors complained about poor sales.

So here are my pictures from the dog show.

Walking through the dog rescue section and I noticed this dog standing on his hind legs. As soon as I stopped to take his picture the other dog popped up to get his picture taken too.

These playful puppies eat a lot of dog food, over 100 pounds a month the owner replied. The dog rescue area was out in the sun so the owner brought the dogs to the shade behind the clan tents. The dogs played and slept in the cool grass next to the creek.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


I love the different colors and shapes in this wall.

New house construction started

After a couple weeks of no activity it looks like they have all the permits in place to start construction. Yesterday the builder dropped off a front end loader and this morning the surveyor started staking out the house. When I got home tonight there was a large pile of topsoil pushed to the back of the lot and stakes marked the corners of the house, garage and porch. The house is farther down the street than I thought it would be but I still don't know where the property lines are since they never marked it with stakes. Maybe the house is centered on the lot and I just can't visualize it yet.

Piper and I went for a walk and stopped to say hello to the former owner of the lot who was outside in his yard with the kids. They told me the construction had stirred up a bees nest. After watching a couple of bees get too close for comfort Piper and I went for our walk.

By the time Piper and I returned from our walk Lucas and Lorie had been stung by a bee. Lucas is fascinated with bugs and he'll pick up any bug and show it to you. Maybe now he'll leave the bees alone.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


Is fear a genetic trait or a learned response?

I watched a little boy push his truck to the top of the driveway and let go. A huge smile appeared on his face as the truck gathered speed and raced down the driveway. As the adults scrambled to get out of the way he ran down the driveway to get the truck and do it again. This scenario went on 3 or 4 times before the little boy decided to sit on the truck and ride it down the driveway.

His bare feet pointed downhill; barely half an inch above the blacktop of the driveway, with his eyes wide open and that ear to ear smile on his face he raced towards the street. Luckily one of the adults managed to grab him and the truck before he got to the street.

Once was not enough, he ran to the top of the driveway and rode down one more time. This time his mother grabed him and carried him home kicking and screaming. It seems he wasn't born with fear and he hasn't learned what actions might cause him harm.

This young boy reminds me of my own daredevil youth but lets hope his childhood requires fewer hospital vists. My childhood included surgery at age 5, concussion at age 7, broken wrist at age 8, broken ankle at age 9 and a broken collar bone. Video games had not been invented and the TV had three stations so most of my youth was spent playing with other kids in the neighborhood.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Autumn Blaze Red Maple

This spring we discovered one of the oak trees had carpenter ant damage. We decided to remove the tree on our terms rather than wait for the tree to die. This is the fourth tree I've had removed in 8 years, none of the other tree were strategically located to shade the house like this tree. The base of the tree was almost four feet across and the tree was about ninety feet tall. When they ground out the tree stump I had 5 yards of mulch and a huge hole in the yard.

This week we had a new tree delivered and I planted it today. Almost every tree in the neighborhood is an oak and I decided to plant a maple. I planted a scarlet maple at my last house and the leaf color in fall was a beautiful scarlet red. Today I planted a hybrid maple called Autumn Blaze. This is a hybrid of the red and silver maple trees. I like the fact that the tree doesn't produce seed pods and has red leaves in the fall.

The new tree.

Some example pictures of Autumn Blaze Maple trees displaying their fall colors.

Friday, July 20, 2007

All work and no play

If you are a daily reader and noticed I have not been making daily posts, well you are not alone. I've had some very long days at the office and little time for photography. I have a new camera and photography plans for the weekend so check back over the weekend.

We went to the barbque at the club last night, the croc count was 5 kids and 1 adult. I should have brought the camera, each child was wearing a different color croc so a photograph of them lined up would have been colorful.

Note to self ... don't forget the camera!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Tour de France crashes

You want to be the leader and avoid the crashes that are a big part of the Tour de France. This video is from 9 July 2007.

Tour de France crash on 16 July 2006.

The photographers vehicle burst into flames moments before the tour was to start.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


Crocs come in many sizes and colors but this father and son like blue crocs. Every where I look I see someone wearing Crocs and according to this article there is a Croc epidemic. But why do children put their shoes on the wrong feet all the time? Since children do this instinctively isn't it adults that are putting their shoes on incorrectly? And what about that backward R, what adult decided the letter R was supposed to face to the right and not to the left?

Just a couple of things to ponder while you're sitting in traffic.

Monday, July 16, 2007

What is a sport?

So what is a sport? Does a sport require participants to compete so that someone is declared the winner? Does a sport need a name that can be shortened to a three letter acronym? Does it become a sport when it's televised?

Well Saturday ESPN2 televised the United States Rock Paper Scissors Championships from Las Vegas, Nevada. I've seen a lot of unusual shows on television but this ranked in the top ten. The contestants spoke of their training routines like they were training for the Olympics.

One women got up at 4:30 AM and went to the club to work out. She practiced yoga, Pilates and worked on her strength training. Then there was the psychological training, the key to a RPS champion was knowing your opponents throw.

I was amazed how many people showed up to compete and watch the championship. Now I know why Budweiser has a couple of commercials with the RPS theme. If you missed the USA championship maybe you can compete in the RPS world event.

Pennsylvania Historical Markers

A weekend is defined as the time after 5 PM on Friday till 8 AM Monday. For me this was a work weekend and an on-call weekend. All three nights I had one or more pages that interrupted my sleep and Saturday I was tethered to the computer for more than half the day. Needless to say I never left the house all weekend and I have no pictures to share.

The state of Pennsylvania has an Historical and Museum Commission and one of the things they do is erect historical markers. When we went on the bike ride last weekend we were rerouted through Mill Grove. Here is the historical mark erected at the site. I knew the town of Audubon was near by but I never made the connection to the famous John Audubon.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Niagara Falls

The American falls as viewed from Canada.

The Canadian falls as viewed from Canada. Now you know why they call it the horseshoe falls.

A better perspective on the size of the Canadian falls. The falls are approximately 175 feet tall and the water flow is about 20 miles per hour. If you make the trip be sure to take the boat ride up to the falls but prepare to get wet. The pictures are from our trip July 2, 2005 and we couldn't have asked for better weather. It was hot and the mist off the falls was cool and refreshing.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Bushkill Falls

Yesterday we had some powerful storms pass through the area, the rain gauge displayed 1.06 inches and the rain barrel overflowed. I wasn't home when the storm passed through but it must have looked like a waterfall when all that rain fell in such a short time. Speaking of waterfalls, we went to Bushkill Falls in August 2006. They advertise the falls as "The Niagara of Pennsylvania" but it doesn't compare to the real Niagara Falls.

Some of my co-workers do not have United States citizenships and therefore can't go to Canada to visit Niagara Falls. The view of Niagara Falls is best viewed from the Canadian side so if you are going, cross the border for the best view.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

New owner

Today we met the new owner, her name is Wren.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


We have two horses that live in the neighborhood. I don't know the history of the property but it must be grandfathered so the owner can have a mini farm with horses. The rest of the development is single family homes so the horses seem out of place. I've never seen anyone ride the horses, they just roam the pasture eating grass and posing for pictures.

Monday, July 9, 2007


What did we use before the AA battery was invented? I have three computers; each computer has a wireless mouse that uses two AA batteries and two of the computers have wireless keyboards, they use four batteries each.

I needed to replace the four AA batteries in the camera and the four AA batteries used by the flash.

I went to turn on the AC and discovered the household thermostat batteries needed replaced. The thermostat required three AA batteries. I have a wireless thermostat that tells me the outside temperature but the batteries went dead, it was two more AA batteries to tell me the AC should be running.

I opened the junk drawer in the kitchen, every kitchen has a junk drawer, and noticed the flashlight had exploded. The flash light was at least ten years old and the plastic threads where the top is screwed to the body had separated . I went to Home Depot and selected a replacement flashlight. The new flashlight can use one, three or six LED's depending on how much light is required and it can use three, six or nine AA batteries. Lucky for me Home Depot sold AA batteries in a twenty pack.

I've replaced almost forty AA batteries in the last three weeks and the wireless rain gauge displays the low battery symbol; that means two more AA batteries and another trip to the store.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Bike ride Valley Forge

Time: 06:15 AM
Temp: 70.7 degrees F

Yesterday we prepared the bikes for an early morning ride before the heat and humidity arrived, today is supposed to be the first day of our three day heat wave. To save time and energy the bike rack was attached to the Highlander last night and the bikes were staged in the garage. What I wouldn't give to have a house with a longer garage so the bike rack could be on the Highlander and still have the garage door close. The goal was to be on the road by 7:00 am, the actual time we left home was 7:07 AM.

The Schuylkill River trail follows an old railroad right of way along the Schuylkill river. The trail runs from the Philadelphia Art museum in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to the Green Lane Park in Montgomery county. There are mile markers painted on the trail for those people that don't have trip computers. The trail is popular with roller bladders, joggers, walkers and parents with strollers. An early start on the trail helps avoid the little kids and slower traffic on the trail.

We headed for Green Lane Park because that section of the trail runs through the Valley Forge and Perkiomen Parks, offering more shade and cooler temperatures. The trail starts with a long upgrade under a canopy of trees. When you exit the covered section of the trail it's common to see deer grazing in the tall grass but today there were no deer. This was our first bike ride of the year and we discovered the Oaks bridge was under construction and all trail users we rerouted.

The alternate trail used another trail that I didn't even know existed. We passed through the John Audubon Center at Mill Grove and noticed a sign warning us the trail had a nine percent downgrade. I decided Carol should wait at the top of the hill while I ventured to the bottom. The down hill ride was fast but I used the brakes since I didn't know the turns and twists I'd encounter on the way down. I crossed over the Perkiomen Creek and was back to a familiar section of the trail. There was a sign notifying trail users the bridge would be under construction till August 2007.

The ride up the hill wasn't that big a deal for me and provided Carol with some slow motion camera shots. Before Carol could get on her bike we encountered an older man pushing his bike up the hill. We started talking about anything and everything, from his extensive travels around the world to religion and politics. Two ladies rode down the hill to our location but they turned around after deciding against the long ride back up the steep hill. The ladies came back a second and then a third time. One of the ladies pulled me aside and said the man would talk to us for hours and they hoped to rescue us by pulling one of us out of the conversation. It worked! Carol was back on her bike and we started riding again.

Every bike ride has a goal, miles peddled, average speed, fastest speed, etc. Our goal was to enjoy the day and to treat ourselves to a Rita's Water Ice. We arrived at the store and found out it wasn't open but the owner was getting setup for the day. He said if we gave him fifteen minutes he would get us some water ice. The bike shop was already open so we walked across the street and browsed. We bought our water ice and spent time speaking with the owner and his wife. After twelve years in business they decided to sell the franchise. Anyone interested in a job that requires 13 hour days, seven days a week for 7 months a year let me know.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Hershey's Kisses

On July 7, 1907 the chocolate tear-drop known as Hershey's Kisses were hand-wrapped at Hershey, Pennsylvania. Automatic wrapping equipment was installed in 1921 with a little strip of paper hanging out the top to let buyers know these were real Hershey's chocolate. Production was interrupted by shortages of aluminum foil between 1942 and 1949. Hershey's produces over eighty million kisses every day, making it the fifth most popular candy in the United States.

Ugly bug

If anyone knows what this very ugly bug is called please post a comment! On July 3rd I had a post about another bug, if you want to make a comment about that bug you can view the post here.

Tour de France 2007

Today is the start of the Tour de France and it started with a prologue in London. The prologue is a timed race, one man against the clock, unlike other stages where a team works together to make their designated rider the Tour de France overall winner. Riders in the prologue use specialized bicycles that have under gone hours of wind tunnel testing to perfect the slipstream that minimizes the riders race time. These specialized bicycles are made of carbon fiber and can weight so little that the tour created a minimum weight specification. My road bike is a Trek 5200 and it weighs a mer 15 pounds, half as much as my mountain bike!

The Versus TV channel broadcasts every stage of the race multiple times a day so you can't miss a moment of the action. The best time to watch the race is during the nightly rebroadcast, the commentary of Boll Roll is not to be missed. Bob is one of the funnest commentators you'll ever listen too and his expressive hand gestures are not to be missed. I love the way Bob pronounces the name of the race, he pronounces Tour de France as Tour Day Frants which does not sit well with the citizens of France.

Last year I was cheering for Floyd Landis to win the race and the seven prior years I was cheering for Lance Armstrong. Since day one has concluded I better get busy and select someone to root for since I'll be glued to the television for the next 20 days.

Prologue Final Results
1. Fabian Cancellara
2. Andreas Kloden
3. George Hincapie
4. Bradley Wiggins
5. Vladmir Gusev

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Pennsylvania white-tailed deer

Yesterday I went to Valley Forge National Historical Park to take pictures of deer. The park is over run with deer so it's a great place to go if you want to take pictures. The park was crowded and it seemed every time I had deer approach someone would come by and scare the deer away. The lighting was perfect for photography.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

4th of July rain

The 4th of July celebrations are rained out in post places. Some areas managed to get a break between storms and launched their fireworks into the night time sky. We had over half an inch of rain at the house which filled the new rain barrel up to the overflow tube.

Water bottle?

As a bike rider, road and off road, my bikes have more than one cage to hold water bottles. A year or two ago I started using a camel for my water which means the water bottle cages goes unused. I've seen cages that mount on the down tube, the cross tube and the handle bars but I never saw a cage like this one. It was posted on the Google Earthlings blog. I wonder if it's home made? Not that I think you should drink and ride but you never know when you'll need some sipping whisky to fight off that snake bite venom. I have that same flask and it's an integral part of my Scottish outfit worn at the festivals.

The spell checker thinks I spelled whisky incorrectly. In Scotland they spell whisky without the "e" so my spelling is correct.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Good bug or bad bug?

This is another bug Carol found when she had the macro lens in action over the weekend. Does anyone know what type of bug this is and is it a good bug or a bad bug?

Monday, July 2, 2007

Drive slower or pay $1000 dollars

The state of Virginia needs money for their transportation system so they raised the fines. If you are ticketed for more than 20 miles per hour over the speed limit you will be charged with reckless driving. The fine, a staggering $1050 dollars! Ouch! The interesting thing about the new fines is they only apply to Virginia drivers, out of state drivers will continue to pay fines based on the old rates.

So what do you think, should the new rates apply to everyone or just the Virginia drivers? Would you slow down if you knew it would cost you more than $1000 to pay the fine?

And here is an article about a guy who got a speeding ticket and sued the state to raise the speed limit.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

New Seven Wonders of the World

Go to this web page to vote for the New Seven Wonders of the World. Voting ends on Friday July 6, 2007 so don't delay, vote today.

Rain barrel

We used a plastic trash can as a rain barrel for a number of years. The barrel sits by the side of the house and collects rain if we remember to remove the lid. If an inch of rain falls and the lid was removed before the storm we accumulated an inch of rain. Not the most efficient way to collect water.

Last week we purchased a rain barrel from a catalog and now I need to hook it up to the down spout. I'll need some cinder blocks to elevate the barrel which will make draining the barrel easier. I also need some tubing to divert the overflow water into the drainage pipes. When the house was built I added 25 feet of drain pipe onto every downspout so the water was discharged away from the house. With all the plants, electrical boxes, air conditioners, etc we only have one downspout that can have a rain barrel.

I think every community should pass a law that all new homes must have a rain barrel at every downspout. It's my belief that people would use rain water if it was easily collected. Adding rain barrels after the fact is more work than most people want to undertake. Besides, the barrels are expensive and additional fees are tacked onto the price for shipping. I thought the barrel would ship in a large box but it was wrapped in shrink wrap plastic. I'd like to have spoken with the FedEx guy that delivered the barrel.