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Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Trump Sells Out America

In my opinion - Putin has information on Don Trump. So Trump is selling out America to protect his own interests. His motto has been "America First."   Now it seems to be "Trump First - Russia Second - America Last."

I am in London. I love America and am shamed of our president.

I am tired of all his mean - selfish - rude - sexist - racist behavior. Obama worked really hard to save our country from the mess Bush left it in. Now - with his tax cuts to the rich - Trump will run up the debt even worse. Most of that debt cash will go into the pockets of the rich.

I read where if you make $150k a year - you are in the top 3%.

What disappoints me the most is that people I know and love support this terrible behavior. How many times do they have to be on the wrong side of history?

Monday, July 16, 2018

The National Portrait Gallery - London

Queen Elizabeth II

A great free museum in London is the National Portrait Gallery. It is on Trafalgar Square. I enjoyed an hour walk through the pictures - taking a few snapshots. I was surprised no one stopped me form taking pictures. I also walked in without be examined by security. 

Harry and William - 2 and 5 in line 

Princess Diana

Queen Victoria

Florence Nightingale

Original George Washington

Robert Baden-Powell
Founder of Boy Scouts

Monday Morning In London And Off To Work

This is Lulu going off to work this morning. 
It is the beginning of our second week in London. Lulu has classes on Monday - Tuesday - and Thursday. Classes go from 9 to 3. She is in front of our apartment at 12 Bedford Place.

Lulu started teaching over here in 2008. We were lucky to be here during the 2012 Olympics. It is just a wonderful gig. Temperatures are usually 70s in the day and 60s at night. We have only had one short rain shower in the 58 days we have been in Europe. We go home on August 2nd.

Side note - in the picture above you can see the round Coal Hole. In the old days before 1956 - that was where they used to deliver the coal to the coal bin. Like many other things in England - they do not cover over the history. Because of pollution - all fireplaces are sealed - and all chimneys are capped. No more "London Smog."
I have been studying abroad
in London for 10 years. 

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Happy Shots Around Merry Old London

This Morris Ice Cream Truck would
make a great camper. 

We will be in London 3 more weeks and then we come home. I love the cars - buses - trucks - cabs - bikes - scooter - subways - trains.

Lulu is teaching a one month course here for Florida State at their wonderful town house campus. FSU bought 7 four story town houses and connected them inside. It is truly a great place on Great Russell Street - a few doors for their British Museum (their Smithsonian).

Lulu and I have been in the same apartment for the last 10 years - 12A Bedford Place. I pushed my desk to the west facing window - so I am facing home. It is really quiet since my grandson left for home.

There are rallies against Trump here - but they love America and Americans. They are so nice to us.

Scotland Yard -
Brit's FBI

Royal Air Force
first headquarters

The Thames River was really high -
they control is by locks.
This blues guy was really good.

Protestors were too entertaining.

Cops on horses kept protestors apart.
That is Trafalgar Square in back.

Funny balloon - about 25 feet high -

The Last Supper - at Nancy's favorite pub -
Marlborough Arms.
Blowing out the candles. 

Dr Janet Bynon O'Brien - We Met My Former Student At The Coal Hole - London

I met my former student - Dr Janet Bynon O'Brien
at The Coal Hole in London -
Coal Cracker Friends Forever
One of the best parts of being a school teacher is meeting your former students and enjoying their successful stories. She was little Janet Bynon back in 1974 - when she was in my 7th grade Earth and Space Science Class. She was also a charter member of the one day trip to Disneyworld from Pennsylvania that I sponsored.

Janet lives near Phoenix - Arizona. She teaches at the Arizona State University. She has a PhD in Educational Psychology. She started out going to Penn State University in State College - where she met her husband - Chris O'Brien. Chris is from Pittsburgh. He was a history teacher.

We met at The Coal Hole - a pub on The Strand in London.

The O'Brien's are on a pleasure trip - visiting Oxford - Liverpool - Stonehenge - and several other British attractions. We had not met in 44 years - but old friends are the best friends.

Janet lived in Summit Hill PA while attending the Panther Valley Middle School in Lansford PA with me.

The Coal Hole is a favorite pub of mine -
it is in the Savoy Hotel on The Strand
Harry - Nancy - Chris - Janet
At the Coal Hole

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Hamilton - The Play - London Victoria Palace - Last Night

Our receipt - 179 pounds for 2

Lulu - happy to finally see the play

Lulu has wanted to see Hamilton ever since it first came out. The play won 14 Tony Awards in New York City. It even won a Pulitzer Prize. Still I was not convinced. Horror stories of tickets costing thousands of dollars scared me away. Even with ticket prices of 200 pounds in London - the play was sold out for the next 6 days. I am not a fan of hip hop or rap music. So - there was not much interest for this 70 year old guy. 

I enjoy going to plays in London. I also like to bargain for tickets - find deals - etc. Lulu played to my vanity. She told me that I would find a deal.

We were lucky. England was going to be playing in a World Cup Soccer game. They had not advanced this far in 60 years. I am guessing some men - refused to miss the match. While I was at the box office - some tickets were being turned back in. I was able to get two tickets for 90 pounds each - in a good location. Nothing but the best for my girl.

Before the show - Keith prepared Pimms for us. Pimms is local cocktail and Lulu's favorite. Then we took the Tube to the theatre - about 20 minutes away. We found a pub - the Bag O Nails - and had supper. Folks were just coming in for the soccer match. At 7:10 - we were leaving and England scored! The place went wild. It looked like a wonderful night all around. 

Funny part - they gave me a receipt - they hold the ticket until curtain time. They did not want me reselling them. When we got to the theatre - my credit card and ID had to match the receipt. 

We got to the theatre - they looked at my cards - and gave me the tickets.

The Victoria Palace where we used to watch Billy Elliot - has been renovated from the ground up. It it is beautiful with the latest sound and lighting equipment. The seats were excellent - the place was packed - the crowd enthusiastic. 

Quick story - Alexander Hamilton - was born an orphaned  bastard on a Caribbean Island. He came to New York  City and went to Columbia University. He became an assistant to George Washington. After Washington was president it appeared Hamilton might be president. Jefferson's vice president was Aaron Burr. Hamilton was Secretary of the Treasury. Burr and Hamilton had a love/hate relationship. Hamilton wrote stuff about Burr - Burr challenged him to a duel. The Vice President shot and killed the former Treasury Secretary. The devil is in the details. 

I am not a play critic. I am a 70 year old retired school teacher. I am just happy to march around with Lulu on my arm. People think it is a father and daughter date. She wanted to see the show - so I wanted to see the show. After 53 days in Europe thanks to her - no complaints here. My biggest fear was high ticket prices - that was over with now. 

I am near-sighted and hard of hearing. I like to sit in the front row for everything. When I was in school - I always sat up front - maybe to entertain - but I was up there. So I had trouble reading the faces. Some of the characters - like Aaron Burr - was very clear to me. Others were not as good. I love the guy that played George III. He did gay it up a bit - but it was especially funny seeing all the Brits laughing at their former king. The whole idea of the Brits even wanting to see all this was strange to me. Still - they are selling the place out at 200 pounds a seat. 

Lulu loved seeing it. After the play - we caught the same Tube - and went home.

On the way home - we heard the bad news that England lost the soccer match. It has been 60 years since they were in the final 4. Two guys got in a tussle on the subway right in front of us. It got tense when a white guy in a red shirt said to an eastern European guy - Where the hell is Croatia anyway?

People jumped in and stopped the action. No one was hurt. Lulu was stepping over feet :-)

Hamilton is a very nice play. I amazed that this story has not been highlighted more in the past. It took a bunch of hip hop singers and dancers in wonderful costumes to bring it all back to life. My niece wrote to tell me how much her step-daughter loves this. She knows every line of every song. I would probably enjoy it if I knew the music before hand. 

You all know how much we like the play Billy Elliot. But that is a story of a kid trying to escape the Coal Regions by learning ballet. It is set in Northern England in a town like my hometown of Tamaqua PA. There are lots of parallels between the play and our family. 

If I had to rank Hamilton - I would give it 4 out of 5 stars - but who am I to question a Pulitzer Prize. I just wonder how long they can sustain the 200 pound ticket price. 

For years - we have been sitting in the front row of Billy Elliot for 20 pounds. Someday - we may do the same for Hamilton. 

They were really touchy about pictures.
I sneaked the curtain call.

This was the subway - right before the soccer fight.

Keith made us Pimms before the show.
Our friend Jean and Bill like to stay
in the hotel out back.
They take drink pictures too.
Upstairs in the Bag O Nails. 
Early soccer crowd. 
No scenery changes
Renovated Victoria Palace
View from our seats.
Lots of new lights and speakers

Here Is My Answer To Will You Still Need Me - When I'm Sixty-Four

Nancy loves Paul McCartney. It would have been nice to get him to sing for her. He was busy. But this connection is even better. Simon Barrass lives in our former house at 1607 Seminole Drive. He is from Middlesbrough - England. He and his wife emailed me from England to buy our home that they saw on the Internet on my web page. They sent the money - and in a couple of months they became our new neighbors and friends. When I asked him to prepare this tune for Nancy - he said of course. 

Nancy in Nancy - France -
June 24th 2018 -
our 47th anniversary.
Today Nancy is 64 years old. We are married 47 years. She is a Professor of Library Science at Florida State University. This summer she has done presentations in Greece - taught at Darmstadt Hochschule University in Germany - spoke at a convention in Berlin  - and is now teaching a class at the FSU Campus in London. You know how they say teachers take the summers off - right?

As I type - she is slugging it out teaching a 6-hour class on the streets of London.

I am 70 now - 6 years difference - no big deal - NOW.

Happy Birthday to the smartest - funniest - prettiest person I ever met.

Last night - her birthday gift - tickets to Hamilton. 

Nancy at Humboldt University in Berlin - Germany.
She had a 3 month fellowship there in 2016.
We revisited there in June on this trip where
she did a presentation at their national convention. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

July 11th 1804 - Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton Was Shot By The Vice President of The United States Aaron Burr - 214 Years Later Lulu Wanted To See The Play Hamilton

Victoria Palace - once the home of Billy Elliot -
now where we will see Hamilton - tonight.

They just did a complete renovation of
our favorite old theatre. 

Ever since the award winning Broadway play Hamilton was introduced 2 years ago - Lulu has wanted to go see it. It has won 14 Tony Awards. It even won a Pulitzer Prize. It was picked the Best Musical. But ticket prices in New York City are insane. I vowed not to see it - nothing is worth $1500 for 3 hours of entertainment - nothing. Well maybe a couple orbits of the Earth in a spaceship. So my answer - has always been no - no -no.

We are in London now - and Lulu is turning 64 tomorrow. I tried to get Paul McCartney to sing "When I'm 64" to her - but he is out of town. She still kept saying I could do some magic and land some nice tickets to the play "Hamilton." We used to love to go to the Victoria Palace to see the play "Billy Elliot." We saw it 11 times there. They closed the show last year - to take the theatre down to a bare bones restoration. They have cleared the lot around the theatre and are building a garden type entertainment center. They finally opened Victoria Palace up with the play "Hamilton!"

We have been pretty lucky at the Victoria Palace box office. So yesterday - I took the subway to the box office early. It was 10 AM and pretty quiet. The main ticket window was open - but all I could hear - sold out. There was another desk nearby and the lady looked like management. I thought I would try my charm there. I started out with my Florida Drivers License and teacher card. She told me I could go online and tickets become available as people turn in extras. She said the show was sold out for the next 8 days. Lulu's birthday is July 12th. That would not do. The lady started to show me how to look up tickets. She said they were 200 pounds each - that is $266! $532 for two! Maybe Lulu could go alone.

She then explained to me that they have a daily lottery for the front row - 10 pounds. Can you see Lulu's eyes if I handed her lottery tickets for her birthday? Yikes. Next - I pointed to my hearing aids and said that I like to sit close because I can read lips and see better there. I had pretty well given up - my next step was to say I had cancer in 1998.

Just as I was set to leave - she said - how about Wednesday night? Someone just turned in 2 tickets because it is the same time as the England-Croatia World Cup Soccer game. Even though it was against my religion to pay $532 for two show tickets - I said that I would take them. At least it was a lot cheaper than New York City - I lamented.

I whipped out the American Express card and paid. To my surprise and delight - the tickets were only 89 pounds each. They are in the 7th row - exactly middle of the row. We will be able to see and hear great. The price came out to $236 cash. I never asked why. I was way ahead of the game - I was lucky to get out of this Herculean task for that. She gave me a receipt - no tickets. She said she did not want to see these tickets for sale on the street. Not me - your honor. She said once she gave me the tickets - I could not leave the theatre. I must bring ID to the theatre when we come in. Only Harry and Nancy can use the tickets.

I came home and put the receipt under Lulu's pillow. She slept on it all night. This morning she found it. She was very happy but she reminded me the tickets were for July 11 - not July 12 - her birthday.

I have been reading about Alexander Hamilton and the play. Here is a simple review. Hamilton was born on a Caribbean Island - out of wedlock - to a half-French half-English women. The father was a Scotsman who wanted nothing to do with a child. The mother died when young Alex was 12. So he was an orphan bastard.

Another islander raised him. Hamilton was very bright and became a good writer. He moved to New York City in his teens. During the Revolutionary War - he became a personal assistant of George Washington. He was a good administrator and with handling cash. He was also a hero at the Battle of Yorktown - where the colonies beat England. He ended up being the first Secretary of the Treasury. He rode Washington's coat tails. It looked like he might be in line to be president. Maybe after Adams or Jefferson.

In those days - the winner of the election was named president. Second place - became vice-president. Aaron Burr lost to Thomas Jefferson - and he became vice president. Hamilton wrote many  bad things about Aaron Burr. Burr challenged Hamilton to a duel.

On July 11th 1804 - they sailed across the Hudson River in separate boats. They stood back to back - took 10 paces - and turned around. Supposedly - Alexander Hamilton fired his pistol into the air. Aaron Burr then took steady aim - and hit Hamilton in the belly.

Alexander Hamilton died on July 12th 1804 - Lulu's birthday.

There will be a new subway station
next to theatre when done

They call that clock Little Ben