Search This Blog

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Keith Receives Master of Science

Keith graduated with his Master of Science degree in International Affairs from Florida State University on Saturday. The indoor ceremony was nice but when we went outside - it was pouring and we got all wet and could not pose for pictures. So we waited for Drew and Robin to visit and join us in a few pictures. Nancy marched in the graduation ceremony with the faculty - it was her first commencement here as faculty. Long ago she marched here as a doctoral graduate in December of 1990. The photos were taken in front of the Westcott Building. Keith worked in the Office of Graduate Studies in that building. George and Joel Dawson took the photos.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Keith Graduates with Master of Science Degree from Florida State University

We are very proud to announce that Keith earned his Master's Degree in International Affairs at FSU graduating on Saturday.

Graduation ceremonies were held in The Leon County Civic Center in downtown Tallahassee. Over 3000 students graduated and all of them were announced and they got to march across the stage and be congratulated by President Wetherell. The Dean sent Keith a message to commend him because he passed the Comprehensive Graduate Final Examination "with Distinction."

After graduating from Tamaqua High School in 1996 - Keith started his education as a freshman at Florida State University. He spent a year in the honors program and was a member of the cross country and track teams. He received an award for being named to the All-ACC Academic Team.

Keith then transferred to Georgetown University in the fall of 1997. He completed his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Economics there in three years.

After Georgetown - Keith landed a job with the Institute of International Finance. Keith's office was at 2000 Pennsylvania Avenue - four blocks up the street from the White House.

"This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased."

So This Is Christmas

So this is Christmas
And what have you done?
Another year over
And a new one just begun

And so this is Christmas
I hope you have fun
The near and the dear one
The old and the young.

A very Merry Christmas
And a Happy New Year
Let's hope it's a good one
Without any fear

And so this is Christmas
For weak and for strong
For rich and the poor ones
The road is so long

And so Happy Christmas
For black and for white
For yellow and red ones
Let's stop all the fight.

A very Merry Christmas
And a Happy New Year
Let's hope it's a good one
Without any fear

So this is Christmas
And what have you done?
Another year over
And a new one just begun

And so Happy Christmas
I hope you have fun
The near and the dear one
The old and the young.

A very Merry Christmas
And a Happy New Year
Let's hope it's a good one
Without any fear

War is over!
If you want it
War is over!
War is over, Now!

-John Lennon

Friday, December 23, 2005

You May Be a Redneck - The Florida Coal Cracker Buys a 4 x 4 Pickup

Click picture to enlarge.

To help clean out the back lot and lake front - we decided to get a four wheel drive pickup truck. So for the last two weeks I have been shopping on the internet to get as much truck as I could for the least amount of money. After much deliberation - I decided on a truck that was listed for $4000 that was 120 miles east of town.

So yesterday - the coldest day of the year so far in Florida - I dressed warmly and hopped on my motor scooter and headed over US Route 90 to Lake City. Route 90 is a really nice highway - two lanes most of the way - great for a scooter. It was a little cool as I started at 9 AM. I filled my gas tank up - which holds one gallon.

I was able to keep my speed between 45 and 50. It was mostly level with wide berms many of them lined with crepe myrtle and other decorative bushes. To my surprise I was only passed by three cars all the way. It was neat going through all the little county seats - Monticello (Jefferson Country) - Madison (Madison County) - Greenville - Lee - Live Oak - and finally Lake City. I filled the scooter up again - one gallon - so the math is pretty easy 120 miles per gallon.

When I got there - I was surprised at how clean and new the truck looked. It is a 1998 - but then I realized that is 7 years old. The truck has really high mileage on it - 170,000 - so I took it for a long ride - about 40 minutes. It started up great with fuel injection. No smoke - plenty of power - smooth ride. It has a 145 HP V6 - power steering - power brakes - automatic transmission - AM-FM CD radio - cruise - OD - etc. It seats 5. I examined the truck as thoroughly as I am able - which means I kicked the tires.

I worked the guy down to $3000 - and had him throw in a bed liner and bed tool box.

So I loaded the motor scooter on the back - strapped it down - and drove home on the interstate.

Now - all I need is a gun rack - and for Nancy to get a pair of Daisy Duke shorts.

Merry Christmas from Tallahassee

Merry Christmas to all of our friends and family. Drew and Robin will arrive today and spend the holidays here. Keith is here - what more could one want - his family together for Christmas. Nancy has the front of the house decorated with poinsettias - but notice that her impatiens are still in bloom. Also note - the truck in the window.

After New Years - we plan to go to the Orange Bowl in Miami where Penn State will play Florida State.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

The Atmosphere of Bill and Patty's Blacksmith Shop Hits Your Senses Like a Sledgehammer and Beckons You Back to a Different Time

Pictures (click to enlarge) -
1. Patty Draper shows Josef how to start his coat hook.
2. Bill and Patty invite us into their blacksmith shop made from scratch.
3. Doug Dawson makes hose hanger while Bill Robertson says to not keep it in the fire too long.
4. Joel Dawson puts a tip on her garden hose guard.
5. Harry strikes the iron while it is hot making a wrought iron nail.

Today George and Joel took us 20 miles east of town into the middle of "cracker land" in the Florida Panhandle. Around each curve in the road you expected to meet up with Marjorie Rawlings - this is the Florida that I abandoned the coal regions of Pennsylvania for.

Finally we reached the homestead of Bill Robertson and Patty Draper. It is a splendid country place - a cedar home up on stilts and a blacksmith shop nearby. Did you ever run into someone new and feel that you had a brush with genius? That is how I felt about meeting these folks. Bill has a degree from FSU in psychology and spent 15 years as a taxidermist. Patty has a doctorate in law and worked as a lawyer for FSU. A few years ago - they just decided to try a new life. They built a really neat blacksmith shop and now they make things out of iron. They also collect historic tools - their home is decorated beautifully and reminds one of a museum. This is real country life - right down to their Twin Toyota Tacoma Trucks.

To my surprise - when we got to the blacksmith shop - they had two fires going in the forges and they were going to teach us how to be blacksmiths. Joel made a garden hose protector - Doug made a hose hook - Josef from South Africa made a decorative clothes hook - and I made a nail. If was just so much fun working with all the antique tools. I was smithing on an anvil from the 1600s. One's senses were overwhelmed with a feeling of history.

After our work - we had a lunch that Joel prepared and brought along - sandwiches - soup - salad - all from scratch. Notice I did not mention George in the story once - he drove us there - and just watched us having this wonderful experience.... and then he drove us home. Thanks, George.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

UPS Gets the Grant Proposal - I Get Nancy Back

For the past month - Nancy, Eliza, and Rachel have been working around the clock on "the grant." If funded - a program would be established at FSU that would provide 30 full scholarships for school librarians to come to FSU and get "board certified." What that means to most librarians is a substantial pay raise - what it means to Eliza and Nancy is the "birth of their new baby" - IF - they win the grant. Total funding of the grant is roughly one million dollars.

What it means to me - a little sanity around here for the Christmas Holidays.

In the picture you see the workers at UPS inspecting the overnight package to make sure it will get to Washington safely and on time. It had to be postmarked today.

PS - I haven't posted a story in six days - and this is as good as it gets right now.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Matt Fredericks - Teacher - Penn State Fan - My Student - Our Man

Click Pictures to Enlarge

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Matt Fredericks has to be one of the students that learned the most from me. I am so very proud of him.

Matt made a big impression on me when he was in my seventh grade earth and space science class. He loved the Florida State Seminoles at the time and would always wear FSU garb to class. On my birthday, in the classroom, he surprised me with a picture of Bobby Bowden personally signed to me by Saint Bobby. Class was recessed that day to party food and happiness.

Fast forward through the second half of Matt's life. Matt went to college and became a teacher. Since Pennsylvania is waning and Florida is waxing - Matt went to a job festival at PSU and was recruited by the Palm Beach School District to become a teacher in Florida. They got the pick of the litter. So Matt moved south and is now a middle school math teacher - just like my buddy and Matt's neighbor - Charlie Depuy. I talked to several of his co-workers and they said he is a very good teacher. They love him and hope he stays forever. Matt and his friends came to Tallahassee last year for the UVA/FSU game.

Allison Collevechio - another one of my students - is Matt's girlfriend. She is still a college student back in Pennsylvania. Her mommy was one of my students and later one of my co-teachers at Panther Valley. Allison still beckons Matt's heart back to Pennsylvania. Our community back in Pennsylvania is so small that Matt's aunt - Robin Hill - also was one of my co-teachers.

Matt wrote an e-mail yesterday all excited about attending the press conference with Bobby Bowden and Joe Paterno. To my surprise - check out the shirt and tie that Matt is wearing - PSU blue. Matt also re-created the Bobby Bowden signing of my picture with his picture of Bobby signing at the conference.

I love to tease PSU fans - but I am so proud of my Pennsylvania heritage - students - and family. It is going to be a marvelous month from now until the Orange Bowl. We hope to see lots of friends from Pennsylvania on the build up to gametime. PSU picked a fine time to play FSU after "dodging" FSU so many times since the Noles beat the Nits in the Blockbuster Bowl in 1990. The Seminoles are at a low point in their cycle and will probably get clobbered by the Nits - but we will still enjoy the game.

As a geezer myself - at age 57 - I love having Bobby Bowden and Joe Paterno coaching in my favorite of all the bowls. I am so happy it is happening so close to our home in Florida - just 500 miles down the road.

People that we have not talked to in five years are calling on the phone asking for tickets. They say things like "makes sure you get us six tickets together on the 40 yard line - but make sure they are on the Penn State side." They mustn't read my web log because they would know that Nancy and Harry never buy tickets before game day - just like we would never go to Hawaii - because you can't drive there.

Matt - please don't be insulted when I call you my mini-me. I am so proud of you. I hope to see you at the game and I wish whatever team you are cheering for good luck. As far as I am concerned - regardless the game outcome - I am the big winner.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

FSU wins ACC Championship - Beats VT - Score Seminoles $17,000,000 - Gators $0

Nancy and her brother Jack

  • More game photos

  • The week started out badly. The Gators romped on us in the Swamp and the Seminole fans in Tallahassee were walking around with a rope looking for a tree with two strong branches to hang Bobby and Jeff Bowden. Then my camper sold on ebay on Sunday and the new owners picked it up on Monday. We planned to tail gate in the camper one last time for the Jacksonville ACC game - but the chuck wagon is gone. So Nancy rented a van and got lots of food and chairs - for the big event.

    We left Tallahassee at 12:30 in our Pontiac Montana Van. We got to the stadium at 3:00 - and got a nice parking spot for $30. We set up for the party and shortly Jack and his buddies arrived. We ate and drank and talked family - sports - business - and life.

    Then Bryan Slick - a sports fan I often talk to on the college football newsgroups on the internet - arrived. I invited him to the party and he brought his lovely wife - Stacey. He is a die hard VT fan - and I think he was certain of a victory.

    About one hour before game time - I went looking for tickets. There were tons of free and cheap tickets out there. I looked at 70 pairs before I chose a pair on the 20 yard line down low - maybe 10 rows from the field - for $5 each. A few folks offered me free tickets - but they were in the upper deck.

    After the game - we made the 160 mile trip home in about 2.5 hours. After unloading the van - it was 4 AM and we went to bed. We got up at 9 AM to return the rental van.

    We plan to go to the Orange Bowl where FSU will probably get beaten by a very good PSU team. ABC and the media will be hyping "the geezer bowl" for the next month. We plan to stay with Gary Miller - he lives near Fort Lauderdale and the stadium. You may remember Gary Miller - from the THS class of 1966. His parents ran Miller's Dress Shop in downtown Tamaqua where the Subway Shop is today. Gary lived in the apartment above the store.

    The biggest losers are the Florida Gators. They beat FSU at their home last week - and this week the Noles win - and go to a BCS Bowl that pays $17,000,000. The Gators get nothing - no SEC championship - no BCS bowl - just a space in the toilet bowl. Thanks Gators - we needed that wake up call.

    Thursday, December 01, 2005

    Rosa Parks Day in Tallahassee

    Click pictures to enlarge.

    Tallahassee, FL - Think back to the newreels in 1956 when you were watching your little black and white console TV. You remember the few white people mixed in with hundred of stately black folks marching in quiet protest of segregation. On today, December 1st, 2005 - it was easy joining in the march to honor Rosa Parks - the lady who 50 years ago made everyone stand by remaining seated.

    The ceremony started inside the First Presbyterian Church on Adams Street. The stark white exterior and interior of the church overwhelmed my senses as it probably did in 1840 when the slaves were allow in - but only to sit in the far corner of the balcony. Ironically - after the civil war - the black people were no longer allowed in the church.

    After the church ceremony - we were led to the bus depot by the Florida A&M Marching 100 - a world renowned band famous for their dance and music performances. Once my feet started moving in the procession - a lump came up my throat that brought shivers and memories from my childhood days back in the little lilly white hillbilly valley where we watched the protests on America's first cable television system. The whole day brought new meaning to a retired school teacher that may have had maybe 5 black students in his 33 year career. There was a strong feeling of accomplishment in the crowd - not animosity at all - sort of like the relief after having a baby - no malice - just glad it is over.

    At the bus depot - Mayor John Marks spoke and dedicated a plaque to Rosa Parks. He also unveiled a sign that will grace the sides of Tallahassee buses.

    We never forget December 7th or September 11th. I do not think that December 1st will ever come up on my calendar again without thinking about what Rosa Parks did on that day.