Friday, February 20, 2009

Seven more guppies

A few days ago I spotted a few more guppy fry in the aquarium. Oddly enough, they were in the worm feeder that I haven't used in a few weeks. They must have been just a few hours old when I spotted them. It took a while to find them all, but over the next day I was able to count seven, and I'm pretty sure that is it. That is a lot of guppies! For a while, four of them were hanging out by the filter, which leaves them sort of exposed to be eaten by some of the larger fish, but it seems that their little fish brains have figured out that staying in the floating plant will give them the best chance of survival.

The original two guppy fry are growing quite well, they are taking on their guppy like characteristics. I'm still not sure of their sexes yet, but I'm leaning toward female, but they'll need to get a little bigger before I know for sure.

The tank biology and chemistry still isn't quite right. I need it to stabilize before I add some more fish. I really need to get my neons, then the angel fish. I'm planning on having four angel fish to keep the guppy population in check!

My take on the Maryland State Song

I think that a lot of people forget, or would like to forget about Maryland's place in the nation's history. Maryland is a southern state that didn't secede, but Maryland was not treated well by the north, especially during the war. Unfortunately, the south showed little sympathy for Maryland either, although I think that Maryland's treatment by the union was far worse, but that could just be because the Confederate army was pushed to the south in the later part of the war.

I've read some of the interviews and comments that have been given by the Maryland lawmakers that sponsor and support the bill to change the lyrics, and I don't really like their reasons. They seem to want to deny the history of our state, deny that the union marched an army on Baltimore! I like the current state song, it is historic, I even recall learning it (at least a few verses) when I was in elementary school. If the people supporting this bill would just have kept their extra reasons to themselves, I'd be a lot happier.

That being said, I totally like the proposed lyrics also. I like that it was written in Maryland by a Marylander, from Frederick County no less, the same place as Francis Scott Key. The words would definitely be easier to remember, especially for school children.

So, I like both songs, but I don't really know what I would do about this. I'd create two state songs. The original, and title it the historic state song, and the proposed, and simply call it the state song.

Proposed Maryland State Song Lyrics

2009 Maryland House Bill 1241 if passed would change the lyrics of the state song to those of a poem of the same name by John T. White, a native of Frederick County Maryland.

We dedicate our song to thee,
Maryland, my Maryland,
the home of light and liberty,
Maryland, my Maryland,
we love thy streams and wooded hills,
thy mountains with their gushing rills,
thy scenes our heart with rapture fills
Maryland, my Maryland.

In twain the Chesapeake divides
Maryland, my Maryland,
while ocean ward its water glides,
Maryland, my Maryland.
Yet we in thought and purpose one,
pursue the work so well begun,
and may our state be ne’er outdone,
Maryland, my Maryland.

Proud sons and daughters boast of thee,
Maryland, my Maryland.
Thine is a precious history,
Maryland, my Maryland.
Brave hearts have held thy honor dear,
have met the foeman far and near,
but victory has furnished cheer,
Maryland, my Maryland.

"Sail on, sail on, o ship of state!"
Maryland, my Maryland.
May we, thy children, make thee great,
Maryland, my Maryland.
May gratitude our hearts possess,
and boldly we thy claims express,
and bow in loving thankfulness,
Maryland, my Maryland.

Maryland State Song (Current)

The despot's heel is on thy shore,
His torch is at thy temple door,
Avenge the patriotic gore
That flecked the streets of Baltimore,
And be the battle queen of yore,
Maryland! My Maryland!

Hark to an exiled son's appeal,
My mother State! to thee I kneel,
For life and death, for woe and weal,
Thy peerless chivalry reveal,
And gird they beauteous limbs with steel,
Maryland! My Maryland!

Thou wilt not cower in the dust,
Thy beaming sword shall never rust,
Remember Carroll's sacred trust,
Remember Howard's warlike thrust,-
And all thy slumberers with the just,
Maryland! My Maryland!

Come! 'tis the red dawn of the day,
Come with thy panoplied array,
With Ringgold's spirit for the fray,
With Watson's blood at Monterey,
With fearless Lowe and dashing May,
Maryland! My Maryland!

Come! for thy shield is bright and strong,
Come! for thy dalliance does thee wrong,
Come to thine own anointed throng,
Stalking with Liberty along,
And chaunt thy dauntless slogan song,
Maryland! My Maryland!

Dear Mother! burst the tyrant's chain,
Virginia should not call in vain,
She meets her sisters on the plain-
"Sic semper!" 'tis the proud refrain
That baffles minions back amain,
Arise in majesty again,
Maryland! My Maryland!

I see the blush upon thy cheek,
For thou wast ever bravely meek,
But lo! there surges forth a shriek,
From hill to hill, from creek to creek-
Potomac calls to Chesapeake,
Maryland! My Maryland!

Thou wilt not yield the Vandal toll,
Thou wilt not crook to his control,
Better the fire upon thee roll, Better the blade, the shot, the bowl,
Than crucifixion of the soul,
Maryland! My Maryland!

I hear the distant thunder-hum,
The Old Line's bugle, fife, and drum,
She is not dead, nor deaf, nor dumb-
Huzza! she spurns the Northern scum!
She breathes! she burns! she'll come! she'll come!
Maryland! My Maryland!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Don't Procrastinate

Yes, I learned a valuable and expensive lesson today, but I need to rewind about two years for it to make sense. See, two years ago I managed to break my car's outside door handle on the passenger side door. It is just a piece of plastic, so, it was bound to break eventually. At some point, I bought a replacement door handle and put in in my glove box and never really thought much about it since. It did cross my mind that if the driver's side handle broke, I would be in a lot of trouble. Well, that is exactly what happened today. With two door handles broken, there is no way to get into the car. I tried to go in through the trunk, I thought for sure I could unlatch the seat from inside the trunk, but no, all I ended up doing was bending the seat. I ended up having to break a window to get in, there was no other option.

I removed all of the electronics from the car and I'll just leave the window open when it isn't raining. I have tested a method where I use some nylon cord tied around the inside door handle, with the other end sticking out of the car. I have one rigged up on the passenger side now and it tested well. I'll leave it in place, and on a rainy day, I'll rig one on the driver's side too, that way I'll have a backup. If that fails, I can remove the covering from the window that I broke and get in the way I got in the first time. The good news is that it should be fixed on Wednesday. The bad news is that it is going to cost about $550 for two door handles and a window to be replaced at the shop.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Message for President Obama about TV

If there is one thing I don't want to see when I push play on the DVR, is President Barack Obama talking about anything less than an attack on US soil. Fortunately, he was just wrapping up, but I spent the whole show worrying that I would miss the end. So, Mr. President, 24 is more important to me than anything you have to say about the economy.

20 years ago, Frederick High PTA got it wrong

I really enjoy reading the 20/50/100 section of the Frederick News post. This one really shows how the world changes.

Six percent of Frederick High School students plan to seek technical training beyond high school, a recent survey showed. In contrast, 80 percent of the jobs in the 1990s will require technical training, rather than college degrees, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. "Many students just don’t explore all the avenues available," Elizabeth Vest, Frederick High PTA president, said. "Parents are also unaware of how many avenues there are."

Eight percent of the jobs in the 90s won't require a college degree? I think that most folks these days would disagree. These days, it seems that now, more than ever, you need a college degree to get anywhere! That doesn't mean that a degree necessarily makes you qualified for a job, or that not having a degree means that you can't do it, but it has become the benchmark for getting most jobs these days.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Alex receives the Light of Christ

The Light of Christ is the Catholic religious emblem awarded to younger Cub Scouts, Tiger Cubs and Wolfs for completing a series of requirements. For Tigers, it at least as involved as the Tiger Cub badge itself, if not more, because simply trying doesn't cut it, requirements must be completed!

I worked on it with Alex and Aaron over the last few months and they both were presented their awards today.

Aaron, who attends St. Jane Francis in Pasadena Maryland, was the only one in his parish to be presented a religious award, but his was awarded by Bishop Rozanski Archbishop O'Brien. While I think it is cool that the Bishop presided, the reason sucks, because it is due to leadership issues with the parish.

Alex on the other hand received his award at our church, St. John the Evangelist in Frederick Maryland, along with about forty other Cub Scouts and Girl Scouts of various ages (couldn't fit them all in a photograph). Most were from the Cub Scout pack and Girl Scout troops that are chartered by the church, but there were some, like Alex, from other packs, including one boy who received his Parvuli Dei from the same pack as Alex.

Now I just need to figure out how the Pack 285 does the knot of recognition. The way I remember it is that the next pack meeting after the boy receives the religious emblem, the pack presents the knot.

The knot is worn on the uniform on all occasions, while the metal is worn at pack meetings and more formal occasions. The youth religious knot is one of the few that can be worn on a Cub Scout uniform, Boy Scout uniform, and adult uniform.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Zoe Free Falls

Robin had Aaron's birthday party at pump it up. I'm not a big fan of these sort of places, but the kids had a great time. Especially Zoe.

Yeah, the entire point of this post was to show that picture!

Kulhi Loaches Love to Hide

I've never seen all five kuhli loaches at the same time, and they aren't easy to photograph. They are great little fish though. Not only are they nice to look at, but they do a pretty good job keeping food from settling at the bottom of the tank.

Kuhli loaches also have a low bio load for their length, so you can have several of them without worrying too much about how they will impact the tank's biology. In fact, since the kuhli loach is sort of a social fish, you should always have four or five to keep them happy.

I should note that I don't have the best tank bottom for kuhli loaches. While I have plenty of places for them to hide, my gravel is much larger than they would like. Kuhli loaces do better in fine gravel or sand.

Pinewood Derby 2009

Today was the annual Pinewood Derby race for Cub Scout Pack 285 in Frederick Maryland. Things are a little different than they were when I was a kid. They had computer scoring and timing, and a pretty fancy track.

We'll start with Amy's car. The pink shoe with a black bow and black polka dots. Unfortunately, there was only one other leader car entered, and she came in second. She did beat out some of the boys in the heat races though!

Alex's car was definitely fast, winning three of his four races. Unfortunately one of the wins wasn't timed because the sensor was broken in that lane, and the one he lost he lost big time because his car had jumped the track. His average time kept him out of the top three so he didn't get a trophy. Since we really weren't trying for trophies in any of the other categories, like best design or most original, he only took home the participation ribbon and patch.

Alex's car leaving the track!

Alex's car in the lead!

Amy's car in a good race!

While I'm a little bummed that Alex's obviously fast car didn't win him anything, he seemed to take it OK. I'm going to try and get the raw data from the folks running the event and see just how well he did if the slowest score was thrown out!

Wednesday, February 04, 2009


So, congress just passed a bill to postpone the date where television broadcast stations had to turn off their analog transmitters from February 17, 2009 to June 12, 2009. We have endured two years of constant advertising about the DTV switch on February 17. I was really looking forward to never seeing them again. I have cable, so I really don't care one bit. I as thinking about getting one of those boxes just in case I went broke one day and needed to get TV over the air, but I never did. I really don't know what good congress expects to come from this delay. I seriously doubt that anyone who gets their television signals over the air doesn't know about the DTV switch. I doubt that anyone who isn't ready now would be ready four months from now. This is a prime example of why congress has such a low approval rating.

Michael Phelps

So, Michael Phelps smoked some pot. I can’t say that I’m happy about it, but I’m not sure that it is as big of a deal as everyone is making it out to be. I never smoked weed (unless you count the occasional second hand), or did any other illegal drugs (yeah, I know, hard to believe). I know that Andrew doesn’t really understand such things, but if Andrew has a sports hero, it is Michael Phelps. Even Alex knows who Michael Phelps is. A lot of children look up to Michael Phelps and the image of him smoking weed will not be helpful when they are faced with hard choices of adolescence. But how much will it hurt? I don’t know any kids when I was young that said, well, such and such big name star smokes pot so I guess it is OK. So, is it really a big deal, I don’t think so, is it something that he should have to deal with, sure.

What bothered me most was the public relations machine spin and coldness. His words “I engaged in behavior which was regrettable and demonstrated bad judgment. I'm 23 years old and despite the successes I've had in the pool, I acted in a youthful and inappropriate way, not in a manner people have come to expect from me. For this, I am sorry. I promise my fans and the public it will not happen again.” I just don’t like it, it sounds like a team of lawyers and PR people made it up and told him to say it. If it were really him, I’d expect to hear something like, “wow, someone took a picture of that, what a jerk, well, there is nothing wrong with the truth, it happened, and it looks like I’ll have some explaining to do to the fans, I bet I let a lot of folks down, I’m sorry.” Would that have been so hard?

Yes and No on CEO Pay

Today Obama is expected to say that he is setting limits on executive pay, but it sounds like all talk to me. For example, “Banks and other financial institutions that receive capital infusions, but are considered healthy, could waive the $500,000 salary cap and the stock restrictions.” So seriously, if they can just waive the restrictions, why have them?

This proposal doesn’t seem right to me. “The administration will also propose long-term compensation restrictions even for companies that don't receive government assistance, the official said.” Ok, now, I think it is fine for the government to control compensation for taxpayer funded banks, but for banks that the government isn’t involved with, they should stay out of it. I do think that executive compensation should be decided on by shareholders. I get so much “junk mail” related to my financial holdings, but I’d much rather get a one or two pager from the compensation committee regarding their decision on the CEO’s pay check or bonuses and have the right to approve or disapprove.

Typical Russian?

Now here is a story. Passengers boarding an Aeroflot flight from Moscow to New York noticed that the pilot was drunk when he greeted them. The passengers complained, rightly so, but the response from Aeroflot representatives is classic. An unnamed Aeroflot representative announced that it was "not such a big deal" if the pilot was drunk because the aircraft practically flew itself. I guess this is how Russians are working hard to live up to their old stereotypes.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Administration Tax Cheats

Regular Americans would probably end up in jail for failing to pay nearly $150,000 in taxes, but former senators and cabinet nominees seem to get a pass. Three of the President’s high profile nominees have been implicated in some way or another for failing to pay taxes. Political views aside, there is something wrong with this picture. How can we have a treasury secretary who failed to pay nearly $40,000 in taxes? Sure, he paid them, only after finding out that he would be nominated for a cabinet position. I suppose it is easy to support tax and spend policies, when you aren’t actually paying the taxes you are supposed to.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Mr. Bento Lunch Box

Today was the first day that I used the Mr. Bento lunch box that Amy gave me for Christmas. I must say, I can’t believe that I haven’t been using it more often. While I didn’t use it as a way to keep the food warm and cold, it was great to have separate containers for my potato salad, baked beans, pulled pork, and the roll. When it was time for lunch, I heated the baked beans and pulled pork, used the supplied metal spork to transfer the pulled pork to the roll, ate the meal, then packed up all of the containers, with no mess.

I suppose I should explain a little more about the Mr. Bento lunch box. It is a stainless steel jar like container that is about one and a half quarts in size. Inside are four separate containers with lids that can store hot or cold items. It comes with a small nylon bag and a metal spork with a little cap to keep things neat.

If I had a single complaint, and this is a pretty minor complaint is that there is not enough extra room in the bag for a bottle of water or can of soda. It is also a little expensive, but the quality seems to be pretty good, and if you can find it on sale, it is probably worth the cost.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

24 Season One is Done

Thanks to Amy for staying up until nearly 3 in the morning two nights in a row so we could watch 8 episodes each night. It was pretty good, but having seen later episodes, you know some things. I won't really get into them here, but you know how it is, some characters you don't see in later seasons, you know that something is more likely to happen to them or that they turn out to be a bad guy. And of course, you know that Jack doesn't get killed. As the night wore on last night I was getting a little loony, saying, "I bet they are going to kill Jack now, there is now way he can get out of this!" LOL! Anyway, when we got a late start on watching last night, I only planned on 4 episodes, but at the end of the last episode on that DVD, it really left off at an intense moment. Now the dilemma, to move on to season two, or go with season four, a season that will really clear some things up for me, but then again, with the way season one ends, I would like to know what happens next. I wonder if I can find season two fairly cheap second hand.