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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Demise of the Newspaper - Time for Change

I predicted in 2000 that newspapers would be dead by 2020. It looks like I was being gracious with expecting them to last that long. I think they will be gone sooner than that now. I am not saying that their will not be a "printed" news sources - it will just be in electronic format.

In 1975 - Lulu and I founded a weekly newspaper called The Tamaqua Paper. The daily newspaper - The Tamaqua Evening Courier - was closed and we thought our town of 10,000 could still support its own paper. Although we planned to publish daily we soon realized that publishing weekly was even a difficult task. We had the entire operation set up in our 20 by 20 basement - printing press - darkroom - offices - circulation.

Lulu was fresh out of college and reluctantly served as editor. I was the publisher and did much of the reporting. We slugged it out for 2 years - finally selling it when our children starting coming along. Russ Funk - a local pastor - bought it and folded it 2 years later after running up a lot of debt.

Fast forward 30 years. With the advent of the Internet - news can be circulated at lightning speed. Electronic web pages can be published in seconds from anywhere in the world. The term Weblog was born and everybody could now publish what they wanted - when they wanted. You are reading my weblog right now.

Like every large town in America - Tallahassee has a daily newspaper called the Democrat. This town of 185,000 has faithfully supported this newspaper for over 100 years. It is the history book covering whatever happens in the capital city. It is owned by Gannet publishing which also owns many newspaper throughout the land.

The Democrat is dying a slow death. They offer a fantastic product by historic standards - but we live in an electronic age. It is hard to compete with a product that is virtually free. It is 9 AM - and I have already read over 10 newspapers from throughout the land - even the world. I have also faithfully read my Tallahassee Democrat that was on the driveway at 4 AM. The problem is that I already read most of the stories in their Internet edition last night.

When computers first were marketed - it was difficult reading news printed on a black screen in dot matrix type. But today - one can skim pages that in most cases look better than the version printed on newsprint. Since I have just crossed the 60 year old barrier - my eyesight is not what it used to be. With the touch of one key - I can enlarge or brighten the page to my comfort. I can also cut and paste any article or picture I want to save. It is so easy to highlight an article and send it to all of my friends in one swoop.

Old terrestrial newspapers have a lot of expenses. Beside having a large capital investment in equipment - it is a labor intensive industry. It is also expensive to keep a staff of reporters - writers - editors - photographers - deliverers - printers - and office workers. It is difficult to cover that nut by selling a product for 50 cents that costs you $5.00 to produce.

Newspapers have lived on advertising fees and retail sales. But services on the Internet like eBay and Craigslist have virtually wiped out the classified advertising pages of the paper. An example of this dramatic loss is in today's newspaper. There are only 2 pages of classified ads where there may have been 12 pages just 5 years ago when we arrived in town. Also in today's edition they are offering a two for one subscription deal. Pay for one subscription and have the newspaper sent to a friend for free. A newspaper generally charges for advertising space based upon paid circulation. This is a cute way of increasing circulation in an effort to not lose advertising customers.

Newspapers are failing all over the country. The Morning Call of Allentown - the daily that covered Tamaqua for 100 years - has filed for bankruptcy. It was the flagship of all media in our area and their demise was unthinkable right up to when the parent company - The Tribune - made the announcement. Keep you eyes on the news - more will follow.

Almost all newspapers offer an electronic version on the Internet - but the dirty little secret is - they make very little money in the process. They are all marking time waiting for someone to come up with a model that they can follow. The New York Times offered a special edition on line for $5.00 a month. It failed miserably. There just wasn't enough added value over their free Internet version.

On this last day of 2008 - a year filled with much sadness about wars - lost homes - lost jobs - lost fortunes - it is sad to throw another log on this fire of gloom and doom. Many older folks can't start the day without their fresh newspaper and coffee at the breakfast table. It is like reading a novel that did not exist just a few hours ago. What they do not realize is that even this fresh crisp copy in their hands is already obsolete. Meanwhile their kids are catching up with the latest news on their iPhones and Blackberries. News stories that have broken in the last 5 minutes are available on the Internet now.

In the old days - people used to heat their homes with wood and ride their horses to work. They used to buy fresh food daily because it would spoil from the lack of refrigeration. They would bathe only once a week and use an outhouse for waste. You are experiencing another change.

Tomorrow is 2009 - place the newspaper on the romantic scrap pile of the past. Out with the old - in with the new. I doubt that the Tallahassee Democrat will print this weblog in the paper.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Only Thing Constant is Change

Holiday moments jog the mind. Fragrances - decorations - flavors - music - pictures play tricks on us. The arrival of Jack beckons me back to a really happy time - when my boys were young and I was the big daddy. It seems like a new Everhart comes along every 30 years. Now the cycle is repeating again. Each one seems better than the last.

Following the Florida Coal Cracker

There is an easier way to keep up to date on the Florida Coal Cracker page. A free service is available called Follower. You can sign up in public or anonymously. You simply click "follow this blog" in the right hand column - then insert your email address. The next time I add something to my page - it will be sent to you automatically. Your name does not have to appear anywhere. If you ever decide you want it to stop - you can easily cancel the service.

You are invited to become a Florida Coal Cracker Follower.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Returning home from Pennsylvania

After a lovely visit back to the Valley - we made the big turnaround
at 1300 miles and are on the way home. We had a white Christmas but
did not see any snowfall - just a little sleet.

The Taylor Family had a nice party for us. It was a nice way to see so
many friends at once.

Today we will see Jack - Robin - and Drew. We will cheer on the Noles
together in Baltimore.

Tomorrow we will drop Keith in DC and cover the last 900 miles alone.

It has been a cheap trip. The Honda is getting 25 mpg and gas is $1.50
a gallon. We will barely drop $200 on the whole trip.

Our hotel suite was perfect. We even put up a Christmas tree.

We are looking forward to showering Jack with presents on his first
Christmas today.

I am posting this story while Keith chaffeurs us down I-83. It is
foggy but the snow is gone now. As the snow melts our memories last of
our first Christmas spent in a hotel back in the valley of our youth -
and the first Christmas of the newest Everhart.

Sent from Harry's iPhone.

Friday, December 26, 2008

She Said Yes

After 37 years of solid friendship and courtship - Lulu has accepted Harry's proposal of marital bliss. The couple have set a wedding date - June 24th 2011. The location of the festive event will be announced at a later time.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

10 Degrees Outside and Almost 10 Degrees Inside Washington Hotel

I am writing this from under two quilts in our hotel room. We are spending our first night up north in the Phoenix Park Hotel in Washington DC. It is just across the street from where Keith works at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. We have a corner room on the 4th floor - you can see the Capitol down the street.

It is 10 degrees outside and very windy. Our corner room is beautiful - but let's just say the temperature is much lower than we usually keep our home in Tallahassee. This is a beautiful old hotel with colonial architecture and appointments. On the first floor there is an Irish pub that reminds us of the many pubs that we visited in London last summer. No one can say they are wasting energy though.

Keith met us at the hotel last night and we had supper in the Irish pub. He parked our car in the secure parking garage under his office building. We wanted to make sure all of our Christmas gifts are safely stowed away. Today - we tour the Capitol arranged by Representative Boyd. Then after seeing Georgetown play Florida International in basketball - we will drive to Towson near Baltimore to spend a night and visit Robin - Drew - and JACK.

After that - we will head to Tamaqua for 3 nights - then visit Drew and his family in Towson - then drive home to Florida the next day.

We have not seen any snow yet - we are supposed to run into that north of town. It is a good thing that I installed a Die Hard Gold Battery right before we left Tallahassee. The last thing we need is to be stuck alongside the road here.

Happy holidays to everyone. It is a time of the year to enjoy the friends and family. We are looking forward to seeing you all.

Should You Bailout A Friend In Need?

The following is a guest post by Trisha Wagner. I copied this post from the Not Made Of Money blog.

What do you do if a close friend or family member comes to you in dire need of financial help? If you have not yet faced this situation, the chances are you might in the near future. The question of whether it is wise to lend money to loved ones is not a new one, however more and more people may find themselves in the position to request help or extend help. Banks are not really in the business of lending these days and people are losing their jobs and homes in record numbers, so it is no great surprise that some people are turning toward friends or family for assistance. Which leads us back to the original question, what should you do if you are approached by a friend in need? By answering the following questions you will be one step closer to knowing if this is something you can live with.

Are you in a position to offer assistance? Just because someone thinks you are in a position to help them, doesn’t make it so. Before considering loaning a friend money, take a hard look at your finances. Do you have the money to loan without adding financial hardship to your own budget? You should only consider loaning money if you have your own expenses covered and the loan will not affect maintaining your own household responsibilities.

Can you afford the financial risk of this loan? If this loan is not paid back or is paid back over a period of time, will it cause you financial hardship? Ask yourself if you can afford to give this money away? If you can’t afford to live without it if it isn’t repaid, you should probably think twice before loaning it.

Reason for needing the loan? Do not be afraid to ask what the money is needed for. You will know better than anyone if the person who is asking for the loan is one who has just fallen on bad times or someone who is always falling on bad times largely due to their own decisions. While you may feel obligated to help a loved one, you should also consider how this loan will help them in the long term. If they have previous issues handling finances or struggling with debt, loaning them money might not help them beyond their immediate needs. Are you OK with loaning money that might not really help them in the long run?

How much are you willing to lose? Are you willing to risk a strained relationship with this individual if the loan goes south? While both parties may enter the loan with the best intentions, life has a way of throwing a wrench in the best laid plans. Do you want to take the chance with your money and relationship?

If after considering the aforementioned questions you feel this loan is something you are interested in doing, please include a legal document as part of the process. Hopefully you will never need to proof the terms and conditions, but it is always better to be prepared.

Trisha Wagner is a freelance writer for, a debt community featuring debt forums. Trisha writes regularly on the topics of getting out of debt and personal finance.


Sunday, December 21, 2008

Trip north

We are at our first stop in
Jekyll island ga

Nice drive

Listening to john Lennon book CDs - almost not wanting stop

Hit a little rain in ga

Will have lunch here with kay - lulu's. Library buddy

They rented house on beach for week

Honda van is great for highway travel - full to brim with gifts.

Will drive to Santee sc today. DC tomorrow.

Sent from Harry's iPhone.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Summer Solstice Baby is a Half Year Old

Tomorrow is the Winter Solstice and Jack Everhart - our number one grandson is 1/2 year old. Jack was born on June 20th - the longest day of the year. He has been nothing but a bundle of joy for the family. Jack is spending the day in New York City with Drew - Robin - and grandmother Charlotte. They will do Christmas shopping and enjoy the decorations of the city.

Lulu and I will be driving north for the holidays. We will stop along the way in Jekyll Island, Georgia - Santee, SC - and Washington, DC. We will spend some time in Washington and when Keith is done work - we will drive to Baltimore and spend Christmas Eve with Jack (and Robin and Drew) - finally driving north to the Valley. Nancy booked a hotel suite at the Residence Inn just north of Tamaqua where we will entertain friends and family. We also will have a fireplace and decorate a Christmas tree.

After Christmas - it s back to Baltimore - where the whole family will watch the Florida State Seminoles play Wisconsin in the Tangerine Bowl on the 27th. After a few days - we will head back to the sunshine of Florida.

As I type this story - it is 75 degrees and sunny here in Tallahassee. We have doors and windows open. Meanwhile - up north in Syracuse they are getting tons of snow. We are looking forward to driving in the snow and seeing all our friends and family from back in the Valley.

In the earth picture above - the earth is in the far right position - and the 21st will be the shortest day of the year. Then the days start getting longer - about 2 minutes a day until June 20th - when Jack will be one year old.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Vince Papale - Invincible

Vince Papale

Sometimes called "The Real Rocky," Vince Papale is a local guy whose dream really came true, to play professional NFL football for the Philadelphia Eagles.

Vincent Francis Papale was born on Saturday, February 9, 1946 in Glenolden, Pennsylvania. He was graduated from Interboro High School, in Prospect Park, Delaware County in Pennsylvania. Papale was a letterman in basketball, football plus track and field.

Playing only one year of varsity football, he won "All Delaware County Honorable Mention" and in track, Papale was outstanding as a pole vaulter, triple jumper and long jumper. During his senior year at Interboro, he won the "District One" large schools championship in pole vault, finishing 4th in the statewide competition. His best pole jump (12 foot 9 inches) put him in the top ten all-time pole vault jumpers in the state.

Vince went on to St. Joe's with a track scholarship as the college didn't have a football team. Papale, as a junior, won a US Track & Field Federation college development pole vault at Madison Square Garden with a vault of 14'6."

During the seventies, Vince Papale was bartending at Max's Bar in Prospect Park while doing some substitute teaching at his old high school. The Philadelphia Bell was a World Football Federation team that played here in the Quaker City for the 1974 season and part of the next year. Vince played for them as a wide receiver catching nine passes for 121 yards.

In 1976, Papale's life changed. Dick Vermeil, the former head coach for UCLA came to Philly as head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles, a losing team at that time. Vermeil, who was our 1985 "Person of the Year," held open tryouts. No one thought that a superstar would be found, but that's before they knew of Vince Papale. As season ticket holder, Papale loved the "Birds." He was invited to the Eagles training camp at Widener College.

He made the team (the oldest rookie in NFL history without the benefit of college football) and played for three seasons, retiring in 1979 after an injury. Afterwards, he became a sports broadcaster for the next decade. Then he became involved with commercial mortgage banking which led to his being named "Marketing Executive & Special Projects Director for Sallie Mae, the country's top student financial aid company. He has served as chairman or co-chairman for literally dozens of different charitible organizations in our area.

In 2006, Vince Papale's life changed again when "Invincible" was released and Vince was the inspiration for the movie. Just five years before that, he was diagnosed with colorectal cancer and has since recovered. He resides in the area with his wife, Janet. The couple has two children, Gabriella and Vincent.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Trailing Spouse Has Solution to the Bio-Mass Electricity Plant Debate

Tallahassee needs a source of cheaper electricity. When we moved to Tallahassee from back North - we went from paying 8 cents a kilowatt hour to 16 cents a kilowatt hour. Now before arguing with me that I have it all wrong - I simply divided the full cost of electricity including fees and taxes by the number of kilowatt hours used. Back north PPL made our electricity using nuclear power - coal fired plants - and oil fired plants. In Tallahassee most of our power is made with cleaner natural gas but it costs so much more because of it.

Tallahassans pride themselves in living in one of the greenest and cleanest towns in the country. It is one of the things that has attracted us to town and the city's south side. When the city voted to invest in a coal fired power plant in Perry - a militant minority forced our elected officials to defy the majority and end our investment in the Perry power plant. We lost a lot of money backing out of that deal - and now a double whammy is that we need more electricity.

Now a company has come to town and wants to built a Bio-Mass Power Plant that will make us electricity by burning wood waste - turning it to gas - using the gas to heat water - turning a steam turbine to make us kilowatts of power. They selected an available site that is in an industrially zoned area. It has the needed rail lines to bring in the wood waste. There is even an electrical substation already on the site to distribute the power. It seems like a deal made in heaven. Once again Tallahassee is blessed by nature with a situation that is the envy of the country. We could be a vanguard that would be looked up to by a nation in quest of a solution.

Back home in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania - there is 400 years worth of coal underground just waiting to be used. But another even bigger commodity they have there are holes - really big deep holes. some of the holes are 2 miles long - 1/2 mile wide - and 1/4 mile deep. They were made by strip mining - the process of ripping off the mountain top to take coal. From outer space the county looks like it has a bad case of acne. These holes were made a long time ago - the coal companies chose to pay a fine rather than fill the holes.

Philadelphia offered this Appalachian county an deal to take mud from dredging the Delaware River and filling those holes. They even offered some towns $1 a ton to allow them to fill the holes. We are talking about millions of tons. The town of Tamaqua cut such a deal - only to back out of it after the entire town council was voted out for making the bargain. The local people were too proud to accept waste from the big city - even at $1 a ton. After a cancer scare from a local Superfund site - you can't blame them.

For years- New York City has wanted to throw their garbage into Schuylkill County holes. The city pays $177 a ton to get rid of their trash. But usually when they make offers to the coal country - they only offer single digits.

To me- the solution to their problem is money. Money changes everything. Just like the story on what you would do for $1 million - I would not sell my soul for it - but I would come pretty close. A million bucks could set up my kids and posterity for life. There are a lot of things I would do for a large amount of money. Try me.

Getting back to our bio-mass electric plant on the Southside. Since the power plant would make a lot of people rich - it would also save a lot of citizens money as the energy crunch tightens the market and raises prices once again. I guarantee you that it is going to happen - prices will rise higher and faster. Don't go out buying any big SUV's thinking it is all over and we will always have $2 a gallon gasoline.

The Bio-Mass Power Company should sweeten the pot for the locals. The homes close to the power plant will lose value. No one is sure if the quality of life in that area will be affected. But money could change things. The powers that be should offer the people that live within a mile or so of the plant a reward. How about free electricity? How about eliminate their property taxes? That way - if the people wanted to move away form the power plant - the homes would be attractive to people willing to move there for free power or no taxes. Put me on that list.

After raising two sons - in the later years I stopped trying to reason with them to see things my way. I found out that bribery put smiles on their faces very quickly. I would simple say - what is this going to cost me. There was no yelling - no protesting - no whining - no delays.

To the people of the south side - how much is it going to cost us? We want to set up this bio-mass plant in your backyard. What do you want in return? We all need electricity. We do not want the Southside holding the bag. Let's give them an offer they can't refuse. Can you imagine the stampede to live by the power plant if we offer the locals free electricity and no property taxes? Put me on that list.

Monday, December 15, 2008

FSU's Kuijken wins European cross country title

FSU's Kuijken wins European cross country title

Florida State junior Susan Kuijken was crowned the 2008 European Cross Country Champion Under 23 earlier Sunday in Brussels, Belgium. Kuijken represented her native country of the Netherlands while 65 other participants represented 18 countries around Europe in the 6K run.

"It wasn't easy to win this race; cross country is never easy," said Kuijken. "The start was very fast, but I'd made up my mind not to go for silver, only gold counts."

Crossing the finish line with a relaxing few last steps and one of the biggest smiles on her face, Kuijken defeated her closest opponent, Britain's Sarah Tunstall, by eight seconds with a time of 21:02. Competing on what she says is her favorite cross country course was not difficult for Kuijken as she ran on the same field as a teenager.

Still feeling the excitement from her second-place finish at the 2008 NCAA Cross Country Nationals, Kuijken used her training and tactics there to prepare her for this.

"I knew I was in good shape and I could go for gold today because of my result in the NCAA nationals," said Kuijken. "I have been training very well in Florida and now I want to prove in Europe I have made a lot of progress on the international scene."

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Tuskegee Airmen Invited to Obama Inauguration

By KATHARINE Q. SEELYE from the NY Times
When the Tuskegee Airmen, the all-black force of elite pilots, emerged from combat in World War II, they faced as much discrimination as they had before the war. It was not until six decades later that their valor was recognized and they received the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian honor Congress can give.

Now, the roughly 330 pilots and members of the ground crew who are left from about 16,000 who served are receiving another honor that has surpassed their dreams: They are being invited to watch the inauguration of Barack Obama as the country’s first black president.

“I didn’t believe I’d live long enough to see something like this,” said Lt. Col. Charles A. Lane Jr., 83, of Omaha, a retired Tuskegee fighter pilot who flew missions over Italy.

“I would love to be there, I would love to be able to see it with my own eyes,” he said, chuckling on the phone as he heard about the invitation. But, he said, he had a “physical limitation” and was not sure he would be able to attend.

Thousands of people who participated in the fight for civil rights over several decades helped pave the way for Mr. Obama’s triumph. But the Tuskegee Airmen have a special place in history. Their bravery during the war — on behalf of a country that actively discriminated against them — helped persuade President Harry S. Truman to desegregate the military in 1948.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

After 14 Years - I Will No Longer Use Turbo Tax

I have been using Intuit's Turbo Tax (formerly called Mac-in-Tax) since 1994. It has been a great program for filing my federal income taxes - even my state income taxes when I lived in Pennsylvania. It was a reasonably price program that went through a step by step process to file income tax returns - by paper or over the Internet. One could buy the product and file several returns for friends and other members of your family.

Starting this year - if you buy Turbo Tax for the increased price of $29 - you can use it only to file one tax return. It will charge you $10 for each additional return.

This year - I will try H & R Block's TaxCut. This program continues to allow the filing of many returns. With Turbo Tax - the filer could transfer information from the previous year's return. New users will have to re-enter their name and address in TaxCut. Big deal.

Opinion - In this era of cost cutting measures - I think Intuit cut off its own nose. Their savings will be short term - and they will lose their number one position in the field.

The Morning Call Files For Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

Our old hometown newspaper - The Allentown Morning Call - has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. This is a way of protecting the company from its creditors while it tries to reorganize. It's parent company - Tribune - has about $8 billion in assets and $13 billion in debt. The problems have been caused by competition with the Internet - advertising revenue downturn - and the credit crunch.

Tribune owns newspapers in Chicago and Los Angeles among others. They own 23 television stations - but two of their most noted assets are the Chicago Cubs and Wrigley Field.

In a cost cutting measure - The Morning Call closed their branch offices in Lehighton - Quakertown - and Bethlehem. This caused the layoff of 36 employees. The newspaper shares daily delivery in Tamaqua with The Lehighton Times News - The Hazleton Standard Speaker - and the Pottsvile Republican.

See the Morning Call at -

Sunday, December 07, 2008

When Harry Met Sally - The Trailing Spouse's 20 Year Computer Relationship/Affair

Thirty years ago the trailing spouse got his first computer. Twenty years ago - he used his first Mac while working on a science project at Florida State University. Ever since then - computers have been a big part of his life. When he bought his first 300 baud modem - the world of e-mail opened up to him - even though he and Al Gore hadn't officially opened the Internet to the general public. So Harry was "all dressed up with nowhere to go" with his new toys.

Lulu was busy helping the world "computerize" school libraries. She used to proudly carry her complete library card catalog on a 5 megabyte hard drive the size of breadbox. While attending a library convention - she met Sally. Sally was also a computer nerd and had a computer and modem. Back home - Lulu leanred about this free 800 telephone number that you could dial with your computer and receive and send something called email.

Lulu rushed home with this news. Harry hooked the family computer up to the telephone and dialed the number. After a series of very strange sounds - like magic the computer was "talking" to another computer. After following directions on how to set up a mail box - they saw the message from heaven - "you have mail." Sally had left Harry a message. For the next several years Harry and Sally emailed each other almost everyday. Since we didn't know anyone else with "email" we got to know a lot about each other.

We talked about school - hobbies - cars - but mostly about sports - namely college football. I found out that Sally was one of the biggest Penn State fans. My stories about Seminole football and Bobby Bowden were a common interest. Her Nittany Lions had Joe Paterno who was ancient even back them.

It was years before we met for the first time at a basketball game. Leter we meet at an Apple Computer Convention in New York City. Sally was a surprise guest at my retirement party. We became really good friends. One night when Florida State was playing Penn State in the Orange Bowl - we stood outside the stadium with fingers in the air looking for tickets. We sat on the sidelines in row one - and sat through several overtimes to see Penn State win. So all in all we met 4 or 5 times.

Sally always admired Bobby Bowden. She said she wanted to see FSU play in a game at Doak and also hear Bobby speak at his luncheon. We decided she would visit last weekend to see the game. Sally would fly into TLH Airport - spend a few nights in our guest house and see Coach Bowden speak and maybe get an autograph and picture.

Sally arrived in town Friday night after a hard day's work at school. Harry's job was to get tickets - a major task of trying to get four good seats together for a reasonable price. Son - Keith - was flying into town from Washington for the game. Son - Drew - wanted to come from Syracuse in the worst way but he was busy starting a family of his own. He would watch the FSU game TV with wife - Robin - and 5 month old Jack.

All week long we had been hunting for tickets on Craigslist and ebay. We even tried the Seminole Booster page. Tickets were priced in the hundreds for four seats together. Son Drew is an Internet whiz. Even though he was in Syracuse - while we were touring the Capitol - Wakulla Springs - several museums - Drew's eyes were glued to the computer screen.

Saturday morning Drew called to say Peter who lives in Southwood was willing to sell us four extra seats together. Peter was very concerned that whoever sat in the seats must be FSU fans. The thoughts of a con job went through our minds.

I rushed out to Southwood to Peter's house. Peter was very nice and was happy to see me wearing FSU garb. Peter decided that it was bad luck to sell the tickets ----- so he gave them to me for FREE. I expected a strong arm heist - and met a compassionate soul.

Sally got to experience a Doak tailgate party. We sat on the 35 yard line - half way up. It poured during our party and during most of the game. The good karma from Peter giving up the tickets did not hold. The Gators pounded us.

Monday morning - we took Sally to the bookstore. She bought a bunch of FSU gifts for friends and family. She bought a little helmet hoping that Bobby Bowden would sign it. We got to the luncheon early and got seats right up in front to see Bobby speak. Bobby walked in and personally said "Hi" to us as he walked to his chair. He didn't look too happy - maybe had a hint of a cold - but he was gracious throughout lunch and his talk. Sally was so impressed especially when I told her that he preaches at a local church sometimes.

Sadly - Bobby announced that he had to leave early to go recruiting. There would be no autographs. No one knew that Sally's little helmet was on the floor by her chair. She just passed it off as bad karma.

Not only did Bobby have promises to keep. Sally's plane awaited and the next day she would be back at her school desk wearing an FSU pullover. Life would go on for both Harry and Sally. Emails travel much faster now. We can even send pictures and video to each other.

You experience joy and sadness in your friends' eye. Harry only met Sally a couple of times in his life - but in this last weekend - these two FSU fans continued a 20 year relationship/affair that only friends can understand.

Sally left the little helmet in the car. Here's hoping I see Bobby on the street some day - I will tell him the story of "How Harry Met Sally" and ask him to please sign this little helmet.

Gerald Ensley: As newspapers struggle, change brings pain

Gerald Ensley wrote this excellent article in The Tallahassee Democrat Today

The View From Here

We'll remember it as Terrible Tuesday: The day last week this newspaper cut 25 employee positions.

That followed layoffs of 10 employees in August and two longtime managers in September. Co-workers huddled, whispering, worrying, crying.

This round was particularly painful in the newsroom, as it claimed four veterans: editor Ron Hartung and editorial writer Bill Berlow, who took voluntary buy-outs, plus editor Zilpha Underwood and reporter Bruce Ritchie. Combined, they had 93 years of service to this newspaper.

Yes, this is a bad year for the economy and all industries. But it's the worst year ever for newspapers.

Hundreds of journalists lost their jobs in Florida cities such as Miami, Tampa, Palm Beach, Gainesville and Ocala. Thousands of journalists were cut loose nationwide in cities such as Atlanta, Milwaukee, Fort Worth, Newark, Tacoma and Savannah.

The Christian Science Monitor quit being a newspaper: It will publish online only. Reportedly, the Tampa Tribune will follow suit in January.

Common wisdom holds that the Internet is killing newspapers.

Eighty percent of newspaper revenues come from print advertising — which is shrinking like a mud puddle in the desert. Classified ads in particular have galloped away to online. And efforts by newspapers to make up ad revenues online — "monetize the Internet," as our business people call it — have been only mildly successful.

The Internet is also killing newspapers by dividing our attention: We now have to feed the beast of online, because the readers expect it. And we have to put out a print product, because that's where the money is even as it declines.

You can serve two masters if you have enough people. But without the money, you don't have enough people.

"It's a bloody time for newspapers," said Lou Heldman, a former Tallahassee Democrat executive editor who now teaches at Wichita State University. "The whole industry is in search of a new business model."

Yet, I would argue the Internet's biggest impact on newspapers is how it has changed readers.

Between CNN and the Internet, readers have come to expect all news now . That demand for now forces newspapers to cover things that can be reported quickly online and updated constantly (to give the appearance of more now ): robberies, shootings, traffic accidents, arrests.

Such things qualify as news because they just happened. But they are really just statistics that do little to inform the decisions you make about your life or community. And because we have to expend manpower on the now , we have less manpower to cover the issues that do affect your life, such as City Hall decisions or environmental controversies or changes in school policies.

The Internet also is eroding our legitimacy. Newspapers have always been held in contempt by those who confuse our mix of information and opinions as promoting an agenda (which isn't true).

But the Internet has accelerated that contempt. People understand you have to be an expert to be a plumber, a hair stylist or an accountant. But they assign no value to the skills and filters of journalism. Everyone blogs, everyone posts — ergo, everyone is a reporter.

That's hooey. Gathering and delivering information is a craft. A cub reporter can deliver a half-good story when he or she walks in the door; the other half comes with practice, learning and the editing of those with experience.

Our most painful loss is Ron Hartung, who has been this newsroom's writing coach for most of his 32 years. Ron's role was a recognition of the value, impact and necessity of correctly crafting the written word. His departure is a signal that craft is held in less regard.

None of this is to blame readers — though folks who read newspapers only online for free aren't doing us any favors. Readers didn't invent the Internet, they just fell in love with it when it became available.

Nor is to say the Internet hasn't done some good for newspapers. Once readers could access 1 million sources online, it was clear local papers could no longer remain a smorgasbord of general information. We had to surrender the national and international stories we couldn't deliver very well to focus on the local stories we could deliver best.

Newspapers will survive and find ways to meet the economic challenges: Someday, several newspapers may share a single regional printing plant. Someday, local papers may be a 10-12-page insert in a national newspaper.

But we are a labor-intensive business. We need people to gather and deliver information.

And a lot of good people are being lost in the march through change.

Four of them this week.

Contact Senior Writer Gerald Ensley at (850) 599-2310 or

Friday, December 05, 2008

Myron Rolle - Rhodes Scholar - Florida State Seminoles

Which one is different?

Black black Friday

From the Washington Post

Retailers posted the worst November sales in more than 30 years yesterday, as holiday shopping not only failed to lift the economy but showed that the financial crisis is further distressing everyday consumers.

About 30 major companies -- including Macy's, Abercrombie & Fitch and Target -- posted sales declines at established stores. Overall, retail sales in November fell 2.7 percent compared with the same month last year, marking the second consecutive negative month, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers, a trade group.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Penn State at Florida State

FSU jumps out to a 5-0 lead on two quick hoops. I am right behind
score keeper. I rode the scooter over. Lulu is teaching.

Game over. I am home. FSU won by 13. Rough game - lots of fouls. Three PSU girls fouled out.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Panther Valley Couple Crosses USA in a Vegetable Oil Powered Bus

Reprinted from my old hometown newspaper - The Times News

You may remember that Nancy and I owned a bus back in the 1970s. Here is a neat story about a young couple that built a bus to run on vegetable oil and used it to cross the USA.

AL ZAGOFSKY/TIMES NEWS Amber Breiner and her husband, Josh Finsel, converted a 1992 Bluebird school bus into a mobile home, called a schoolie, to return to Pennsylvania from Oregon. Toward the rear, Josh demonstrates how the custom tanks of the schoolie are filled with waste vegetable oil, which they got free from restaurants along the 3,000-mile journey.
(This is Part One of a three-part series – How we got our yellow schoolie)

"I never imagined we'd buy a school bus and convert it to run on veggie oil," began Amber Breiner as she recounted the story of how she, her husband, Josh Finsel, and their three-year-old daughter, Ada, crossed America on a yellow veggie oil schoolie.

Although the trip comprised over a year in its planning, the actual trip from Eugene Oregon to White Haven, took only 10 days. According to Amber and Josh, the veggie oil schoolie had no problems and "it was a lot of fun."

The Finsels made two conversions to the retired school bus – one to renovate the interior into a motor home, and the second to convert the fuel system to run on waste vegetable oil.

The story began in 2004 when Josh and Amber were both working for Youth Services Agency as adventure counselors at camps for adjudicated teens. Josh was working at their boy's camp in Penn Forest and Amber was working at the girl's camp in Kunkletown.

"I wanted to learn to play the guitar," said Amber. "We had a mutual friend who knew Josh was a guitar instructor."

After three lessons with Josh, "he stopped returning my phone calls," said Amber. "He had feelings for me and I had feelings for him, and we were excited like two new friends meeting. We had a lot in common - a love of photography, the environment, and organic food, but it wasn't a good time for us to get together.

After a while, when Josh became available, he called Amber. She was no longer interested in guitar lessons, she had been teaching herself to play, but she was interested in dating Josh. A year and a half later, they married.

Josh's interest in organic farming took him to work at the 14-Acre Farm in Summit Hill. Amber, now pregnant, had applied to graduate schools and was accepted to a program in Public Administration and Non-Profit Management at the University of Oregon in Eugene, Oregon.

They overpacked their Subaru with all their worldly possessions, squeezing their cat into a space reminiscent of the flux capacitor from Back to the Future.

Amber would start school the following year. In the meanwhile, they raised their daughter and started a wedding photography business.

As her program was in sight of completion, "we knew we were going to come back to Pennsylvania," Amber said. "Our family ties there are very strong and we wanted our daughter to grow up around our family. It's important to us."

But how were they going to get home? In the three years they were in Oregon, they had acquired a household of personal and business belongings plus "we had a lot of stuff for our daughter." Their first thought was to rent a U-Haul.

Enlarge Image

AL ZAGOFSKY/TIMES NEWS "I never imagined we'd buy a school bus and convert it to run on veggie oil," said Amber Breiner as she recounted the story of how she, her husband, Josh Finsel, and their three-year-old daughter, Ada, crossed America on a yellow veggie oil schoolie.
Josh wanted something with some room so Ada would be able to play. Amber and Josh wanted to be able to camp along the way. "We thought about a conversion van or a VW bus," said Amber.

They remembered back before they left, the band Hot Buttered Rum played at the Mauch Chunk Opera House. "They traveled in a tour bus that was converted to run on veggie oil," Amber said.

They looked on Craig's List and found a converted tour busbut at $17,000, it was out of their price range.

They began researching their options and learned about schoolies, former school buses that were converted into mobile homes. They checked online sites and answered ads.

"We looked around town but decided that we didn't want to buy someone else's schoolie," Amber said. They learned that after so many years, school buses had to be retired and generally, these school buses are traded into a dealer for credit towards a new school bus.

"We decided we would buy one from a dealer," Amber said. "In our minds, if it came straight from the school district, it would be well maintained."

Josh had spoken with people from Green Eye Auto, a company that specialized in converting diesel engines to run on waste veggie oil. He learned what would be needed in a vehicle that he could convert to run on veggie oil.

They wanted a bus with automatic transmission, with undercarriage storage to locate the veggie oil storage tanks, and a flat front called a transit style.

They sought one final piece of information - advice from an experienced bus driver. That would be Josh's Uncle Hilbert - who drives a bus for the Lehighton School District.

"We asked him, what's his favorite bus?" said Amber. "Josh was looking at all different kinds of engines and options."

Uncle Hilbert said, "I don't know anything about the engines. My favorite is bus 19. That's what I get in and drive."

At the bus dealer, they found a bus retired from the Sweethome School District. "It had everything we wanted: automatic transmission, undercarriage storage, and a flat frontand it was number 19. We laughed about it and took it as a sign. The price was right. The guy gave us a break because the tires were down. We paid $4,600," said Amber.

(Continued in Part 2 Converting the yellow schoolie to veggie oil)

Friday, November 28, 2008

We Spent Thanksgiving at Disneyworld

It is Black Friday at 9 AM. I woke up to an empty bed because Lulu went out on the streets at 4 AM to compete in Black Friday shopping. I know nothing other than getting a text message at 6 AM stating, "Bargains galore!" I am still in bed at Wayne and Shirley's apartment in downtown Orlando. I guess Keith is in the other bedroom - not a creature is stirring.

What are we doing in Orlando and Disneyworld? Keith's Georgetown Hoyas are playing in the Old Spice Basketball Classic at the Disney Milk Fieldhouse. So instead of flying to Tallahassee - Keith caught a flight to Orlando where we picked him up Thursday.

Our neighbor Shirley keeps a spare apartment in Baldwin Park in Orlando. She teaches at the FAMU law school here - and commutes down once a week. It is a pretty apartment overlooking a lake near Winter Park.

On Thanksgiving - we spent most of the day in Disneyworld. The first Hoyas game was at 1 PM - after that we were the guest of Tim Howard's famiy. Tim was Keith's roommate at Georgetown. His family is staying at the Disney Swan Hotel. Instead of cooking a turkey meal today - Lulu enjoyed a private catered dinner in a suite overlooking EPCOT.

After dinner we returned to Wayne and Shirley's apartment. Lulu wanted to get some sleep for her big shopping venture today. She took the van and a GPS - I hope she can find her way home.

After another Georgetown game against Tennessee today at 1 PM - we will point the van north to Tallahassee. We hope to be home in time to pick up the newest Seminole fan at the TLH Airport. Sally Bair - an old friend from Pennsylvania is flying into town to see the Florida at Florida State football game and attend the Bobby Bowden luncheon on Monday before she returns home.

Sally will stay in our guest house - Keith will inhabit his old bedroom with us. We are still searching for four tickets together for all of us for the Saturday 3:30 game. The entire world expects the Gators to clobber FSU - but there will be four fans - hopefully together - cheering on the Noles. Tickets on Craigslist started at $150 but many can be found now for under $75. Getting four together will be a little harder. Usually I wait until game time for deep discounts but with so many guests - we would like to sit together.

Sally Bair is the biggest Penn State fan of all time. We attended the Orange Bowl with her when PSU played FSU. It was called the Geezer Bowl and it went into overtime - before Joe Paterno's Nit's beat Bobby Bowden's Seminoles. Sally is an educator in the Pennsylvania school system near retirement - and we hope we can deliver a Seminole victory to her at home before one of her favorite coaches falls over on the sidelines.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Florida State's Myron Rolle is Worth the Hype

This story was written by Bob Garbordi - Executive Editor of the Tallahassee Democrat

This is a story you have to love, and you just absolutely have to share with your friends and family.

I called my wife when I got the text alert saying that Myron Rolle had been named a Rhodes Scholar. She told my daughter and a group of friends. And so on.

And yes, sent a breaking-news text alert out the minute the scholarship was announced. The truth is we can use more stories like Myron Rolle – check that, more people like Myron Rolle.

Sure, the media made a lot of it. He got more attention than America’s 31 other Rhodes Scholarship winners. Good for the media for recognizing a Florida State football player for his academic and personal success.

I’ve always been bothered by the term “off-the-field success.” That just means life. What good is being a good football player if you don’t live your life right?

Rolle has lived his 22-year life very well. That’s why he got a police escort to Byrd Stadium at the University of Maryland on Saturday night, why the crowd stood and cheered his entrance, why his teammates mobbed him and dumped celebratory Gatorade on his head.

Winning the Rhodes Scholarship is not like winning a Heisman Trophy. Media hype can't help you win a Rhodes Scholarship. According to the Rhodes Trust, “extraordinary intellectual distinction is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for election to a Rhodes Scholarship.”

In other words, just being smart isn't enough. Having a “fondness” for sports helps. You must also display “sympathy for and protection of the weak, kindliness, unselfishness and fellowship.” And you must demonstrate an ability to lead with a “moral force of character.”

Smart. Physically fit. Committed to your fellow man. A leader. Rolle deserves to have the media spotlight his accomplishments.

On this, T.K. Wetherell is absolutely on point: "We've been getting a lot of attention for (athletes) who get in trouble," the FSU president said. "I'm not going to apologize for the ones who do the right thing."

Myron Rolle graduated in 2 ½ years with a degree in exercise science and having completed the pre-med requirements. That plus being one of the premier safeties in the ACC, if not the country.

That plus he’s the founder of “Our Way to Health,” a fifth-grade curriculum that addresses diabetes and obesity for students at a charter school run by the Seminole Tribe of Florida.

Not to mention he won FSU’s Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity Award, which provides $4,000 for undergraduates to pursue research in their field of study, and the Vires Award, given annually for "intellectual and moral strength."

That's just for starters. There is much more to this young man.

FSU should brag on Rolle but also on itself.

Three Rhodes Scholarship winners in four years: Rolle, Garrett Johnson and Joe O’Shea. Johnson was also an NCAA champion in the shot put; O’Shea was student-body president. FSU's other Rhodes Scholarship winner was Caroline Alexander in 1976.

But none got the attention in the media of a big-time football player that Rolle is getting: Sports Illustrated and the Chronicle of Higher Education joined the Tallahassee Democrat in flying with Rolle from Birmingham, where the Rhodes Scholarship was announced, to Maryland. ESPN and the Miami Herald have done stories, too.

So FSU has no reason to apologize for the hype around Myron Rolle. No one is bothered when the school hypes an athlete for the Heisman, and this -- well, the Rhodes Scholarship is so much better than that.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Florida State's Myron Rolle awarded Rhodes Scholarship

By Gerald Ensley
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Myron Rolle admitted his heart was pounding.

Thirteen finalists for the Rhodes Scholarship sat before the committee late Saturday afternoon in Birmingham, all hoping to hear their name called.

The committee chairman announced the first name — and it wasn't Rolle. Then the chair paused for three seconds — and called Rolle's name.

In that moment, the Florida State defensive back had joined the long line of presidents, authors and inventors whose resumes include the world's most prestigious post-graduate scholarship.

"Those three seconds seemed like an eternity; my heart was pounding," Rolle said. "The first thing I did was put my head down and thank God for the opportunity and moment. I knew it wasn't just me in the room. I had a lot of help from a lot of people."

Rolle was selected from 13 finalists in District 7, which covers Florida, Alabama and Tennessee. The other student selected was Parker Goyer, a Duke graduate now at Harvard.

Two of the other District 7 finalists were from Tallahassee: 2003 Maclay grad Adam Kircher, who now attends Stanford, and 2004 Leon High grad Elliot Hawkes, who attends Harvard.

The U.S. each year sends 32 students — two from each of 16 districts — to do postgraduate study in Oxford, England as Rhodes Scholars. More than 7,000 men and women have been Rhodes Scholars since they were first awarded in 1903.

Rolle, a junior eligible for next spring's NFL draft, said he has not decided whether he would accept the Rhodes Scholarship or pursue pro football. If he accepted, Rolle, who wants eventually to be a physician, would spend one year studying medical anthropology.

"The Rhodes — where the future is going with that — I want to make that decision with my family," Rolle said. "We haven't really talked about the future yet."

The selection — fittingly in the city where FSU head coach Bobby Bowden was born and raised — came shortly after 5 p.m. EST. Within minutes, Rolle was whisked off to catch a private plane to play in the FSU-Maryland game at 8 p.m. EST.

The plane was a corporate Lear jet provided free to FSU by Bob Basham, chairman and co-founder of Outback Restaurants, who is benefactor of the FSU business school and has a son and step-daughter who attend FSU. Reporters from Sports Illustrated, the Chronicle of Higher Education and the Tallahassee Democrat, plus a freelance photographer , accompanied Rolle and FSU athletics academic advisor Bill Shults.

Rolle texted friends before takeoff. Once airborn, he ate a sandwich, napped for a half-hour then listened to his iPod. As the plane landed, he was listening to Ice Cube's "Today Was A Good Day."

The hour-and-half flight had Rolle in Baltimore just minutes after the game started. Following a police-escorted race to the stadium — monitored by ESPN broadcasters — Rolle was suited up and on the field by the second quarter. After embracing his parents on the sideline, Rolle entered the game with 1:30 remaining in the first half and FSU ahead 21-0.

Rolle became Florida State's third Rhodes Scholar in four years and fourth overall. Previous Rhodes Scholarship winners from FSU were student body president Joe O'Shea (2007), track and field All-American Garrett Johnson (2005) and best-selling author Caroline Alexander (1976), a Tallahassee native who was selected in the first year women were eligible.

Rolle is believed to be the first major college football player selected for a Rhodes Scholarship since Cory Booker, a Stanford tight end and now mayor of Newark, N.J., who was chosen in 1992. Other major college football winners have included Ohio State receiver Mike Lane (1985), Southern Cal quarterback Pat Haden (1975), Army's Heisman Trophy winner halfback Pete Dawkins (1959) and Colorado halfback and U.S. Supreme Court judge Byron "Whizzer" White (1938).

Rolle's pursuit of a Rhodes Scholarship had gained national publicity, in part because it has become unusual.

Elliot Gerson, American secretary of the Rhodes Trust, estimated "three to five" of the annual 32 Rhodes Scholarship winners are varsity athletes. But he said it is "rare" for a Division I football or basketball player to be chosen, because of the time demands of those sports at that level.

"A generation ago, you could be a varsity athlete in those sports and still compile the record we're looking for," said Gerson, himself a Rhodes Scholar (1974). "But the time commitments are so much more demanding now."

Rolle had spent weeks preparing for the final 20-minute interview, participating in seven mock interviews with tutors and former Rhodes Scholars.

FSU professor Sally Karioth, who mentored Rolle during his yearlong pursuit of the Rhodes and accompanied him to Birmingham, had worried Saturday's 20-minute finals interview was too short. She said Rolle's reserved personality does not lend itself to an immediate appreciation of his intelligence, dutifulness and long list of accomplishments.

"He's solid as a rock. But (the committee members) are not going to get that in 20 minutes," Karioth said. "It takes a long time to realize he does the right thing over and over. He doesn't seem to fit his bio until you know him long enough to know that he not only fits it, but he is a shining example of it."

Rolle conceded he was thinking about that — "I'm a little introverted" — but opened up the interview with a few joking comments about television coverage of the recent presidential election, which brought chuckles from the committee.

"Once I got them laughing, I relaxed," Rolle said. "The pressure went down and I started enjoying the moment."

Rolle said the toughest question in the interview was about care. Rolle said he was dismayed 45 million Americans have no health insurance and said health care should be "more of a right than a privilege." He shared a story told to him by fellow Tallahassee candidate, Elliot Hawkes, who was in a bike accident in Switzerland and received fast, extensive treatment.

"If that can happen to a stranger in Switzerland," Rolle said, "it should happen in the United States."

Saturday, November 22, 2008

FSU Has A Rhodes Scholar - Myron Rolle

As I type this story - Myron Rolle is in a private jet zooming at 30,000 feet to College Park, Maryland. At 5 PM - he was receiving his Rhodes Scholarship at a ceremony in Birmingham, Alabama. In two hours - he will be on the football field with the Seminoles paying the Maryland Terrapins.

Rolle left high school early to matriculate at Florida State University. Since then - he has been carrying a heavy load. Besides being the starting safety for the Seminole football team - he has completed his undergraduate degree in 2 and 1/2 years. He has carried a 3.75 GPA in a difficult pre-med program.

This could not have come at a better time. The FSU football team has been in the spotlight for different reasons - ranging from several players being suspended for cheating on a music test - to four players being involved in a brawl on campus.

Tonight at 8 PM - Florida State plays the University of Maryland - it is a must win to have any chance of playing for the ACC title.

Rolle has already spent one summer at the FSU Study Center. Rhodes Scholars study in Oxford - about one hour outside London. He is the 4th FSU student to win this award. The Rhodes Scholarship may be the world’s most prestigious postgraduate academic award.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Bowden Speaks Out About Fight

Article published Nov 16, 2008
Bowden wants players to learn to 'back away'
By Steve Ellis
It is a message that Bobby Bowden has delivered numerous times.

“Back away.”

But Florida State football players apparently didn’t do that last week during an on-campus brawl. And, as a result, five receivers were suspended for the Boston College game. The group included three of FSU’s top receivers in Corey Surrency, Taiwan Easterling and Bert Reed.

“I’ve done this every year: ‘Men, you have to back away from trouble’ ”, said Bowden who told the players to call police if they find themselves in a similar situation. “You might look like a coward but you must back away. As a football player you do not have a chance. Just back away. If someone is harassing you. …. My number is listed. Call me.”

Bowden handed down the suspensions prior to the completion of the FSU Police Department's investigation, an unusual move for the veteran coach. Bowden, during his first in-depth interview about the fight and suspensions, said on Sunday that he believed it was necessary.

“The fact that they went over there,” Bowden said. “Sure, they knew something was up. Yet you could see why several of them would go -- have to go over there and protect so-and-so.

“My thinking was: ‘Well, you shouldn’t have gone over there in the first place.’ ”

Three of the players disciplined had been suspended for various reasons before. Bowden said he believes a message has been delivered.

“I’m sure they got the message because these kids that were suspended came by my office and cried: ‘Why me? I was just trying to help my buddy.’ And stuff like that. (They) couldn’t believe they were going to be suspended. I’m sure they got the message and they’ll get the message to all our kids. It could happen again but buddy, they know what will happen if it does.”

More discipline could be handed down for those apparently tied to the fight with Phi Beta Sigma.

“I hope there is no more bad news so we can get the full team working out there,” Bowden said.

He added: “To me it makes a lot of difference of who attacked who.”

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Reporting from FSU Game with iPhone

PICTURES - Heisman Trophy Winner Chris Weinke - The view from our seats.

It is 40 minutes until game time. We are sitting in the president's
box - front row 50 yard line.

We have plenty of food and drinks. Lots of people are working the crowd.

Weather is clear and cold.

FSU is wearing black with maroon numbers. I cannot read the numbers from here.
Flags are standing straight out.

Lulu is enjoying black martinis.

TK and his wife greeted us.

There is a very dramatic fly over of two giant helicopters. The pilots bring them down close enough to be lit up by the stadium lights - it seems almost dangerous. From this cocoon high above the stadium you would swear you were looking down on the choppers as they peeled off. The two best things tonight about the president's box is that it is not cold and windy in here. After living 55 years through the winters of the hills of Pennsylvania - you never forget how the wind feels if you have a loose sleeve or a shirt untucked.

More later....

...FSU loses by 10....

Morning After - A lot of folks are very sad with last night's loss to Boston College. It felt as if the old Seminoles were coming back - but now one realizes we are stuck at 7-3 with a very difficult Maryland team on the road next week followed by a Florida team that many think will play in the national championship game. If FSU gets in a bowl - we could very easily end up 7-6 - for the third year in a row.

All of this makes one realize how "unnatural" it was that FSU went 19 years in a row in the top 4 in the country. It is a distant memory when FSU won every game in the Atlantic Coast Conference for 7 straight years. But many FSU fans feel like their birthright is being stolen away. They blame the coaches - they blame the kids - they blame the fans. But one must realize we are like ants on a log going down the river - no one is really in control but we all thing we are steering.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Honda Introduces a Car That Gets 60 Miles Per Gallon

I just got home from Proctor Honda in Tallahassee after taking my car in for regular service. In the showroom - they proudly display an innovative car - a vanguard of fuel efficiency and economy.

This Honda gets an honest 60 miles per gallon. It is not a hybrid and does not require special fuel - just good old regular gas. It has a two-cylinder air-cooled gasoline engine that directly drives the front wheels that have 10 inch tires. It has a 4-speed standard shift mounted on the dashboard. It seats 4 people and has a small hatchback for cargo.

The amazing thing about this car is the window sticker of $1525. That includes an AM-FM radio. Another interesting gas saving feature is the hand choke.

Although this little orange beauty has a prominent place in the Proctor Honda showroom today - the car was introduced to America in 1972.

Lulu and I got married in 1971. We spent our honeymoon on Miami South Beach in a motel for $8 a night. The next summer - we decided to return to Miami. Before we left Pennsylvania - we bought a brand new car. It was the 1972 Honda 600. Even then I was a bit tight with spending and the $1525 price caught my eye.

Up until 1972 - Honda only sold motorcycles in America. The Honda 600 was marketed through cycle shops one full year before Honda introduced the world famous Civic in 1973.

We bought the car in Scranton and drove it non-stop to Miami - 1300 miles down US Route 1. Even though gasoline only cost 25 cents a gallon at the time - living on a $6000 a year teacher's salary demanded thrift. We were able to make the trip on $8 of regular leaded gasoline!

In about 24 hours we were in Miami - our funds were running low. When I dropped by the local Honda shop to buy an oil filter - the sales manager encouraged me to sell the little cars for him. He offered me a flat $60 commission for every car I sold. I only had to sell 100 of them to match my annual teacher salary.

When I returned to my classroom in the fall - my students got great pleasure out of carrying my little ride up the school's steps giving me a bumpy ride home.

Honda went on to be one of the most successful auto companies in America. In a few years - they started making their cars in Ohio. Maybe they should consider re-introducing this innovative car. At present fuel prices it would sell like "a Honda."

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Our Email Trip to Portugal

We just got home from a fantastic trip to Portugal. Lulu was invited by the Ministry of Education to be a guest speaker. They had been using her book to set up a model evaluating system of school libraries and someone suggested they go right to the source. At first we were skeptical - but everything turned out wonderfully. They had translators and earpieces so everyone was on the same wavelength. Since every student in Portugal studies English - it was second nature to them.

We had great flights - stayed at a very nice hotel - and ate way too much good food. Portugal is a big producer of sugar and they aren't afraid to use it in their cooking. It was hard to find a restaurant that displayed fake sugar sweeteners. The hot chocolate was fantastic - you could almost stand your spoon up in it. The national bird is a small custard tart called a pasteis.

On the way over to Europe and on the way back - we were able to visit our grandson in Syracuse - but that is another story.

Our plane got to town about midnight and we are still a little jet-lagged - but the memories of this trip will linger a long time.

Enjoy the slide show above. I had to whittle 250 pictures down to 66.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Last Day On The Road

It has been a fantastic 11 days on the road - but it is time to come home. As much as we look forward to our own bed and all of our own toys - this day is the hardest one of all.

On this trip - we got to see Jack two times - once on the way to Europe - and once on the way home. He is such a little guy - but he is growing so fast. Lulu and I have grown head over heals in love with him. He is such a happy baby - and his parents are absolutely fabulous with him. They are both busy with research - jobs - and schools - but it is easy to see who comes first.

As I look at this picture of Drew - Jack - and me - flashbacks of my 60 years come flying back from the deep corners of my mind. In one memory - I am the baby - Drew is my Dad - but grandfather Roy Everhart could not be there because he went down on a ship in WWII long before I was born. It is a void not ever having met my grandfathers. In the next flashback - Drew is the baby - I am the Dad - and a much gentler coal miner Dad is hovering over to help any way he could. Dad gave me everything he could. Now - I just imagine the wonderful future both Drew and Jack are going to have. Drew is a much better father than I ever was.

Here's hoping I am still in the picture in 30 years - and I get to see 4 generations of Everhart's all lined up. That would make me very happy.

Yes - the last day of this trip is the nicest and the hardest.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Our Last Day in Portugal was Spent in Sintra

Sintra is a quaint town high in the mountains overlooking the Atlantic Coast. The King of Portugal had a palace here to enjoy the summer breezes. Also the Moors had a castle here to defend their territory in the 800's. Today we visited both places.

The day started out with a 40 minute train from Lisbon. When we got to Sintra - we took a tour of the King's Palace. Portugal is world famous for its ceramic tiles and this palace was no exception. After the palace- we took a bus to the top of the mountain to see the Moorish Castle.

This area of Europe was Moorish Territory for centuries until the crusades cleared the Muslims out. We were really surprised to see how large the castle was. It reminded me of the Great Wall of China.

After spending a few hours shopping and eating in Sintra - we returned to Lisbon for our last night in town. We went to the old downtown square to enjoy a little shopping and supper. Then we took a cable car to one of the 7 hills of Lisbon. The hill was a great place to catch sunset and dusk overlooking the city.

After a cab trip back to the hotel - we enjoyed a bottle of champagne to celebrate one wonderful trip to a very beautiful country in Europe.

Pictures -
1.Lisbon is famous for cable cars similar to SanFrancisco.
2.Lisbon at dusk. See St. George Castle on the far hill.
3.Moorish Castle Wall in Sintra.
4.Tile sidewalks all over Portugal.
5.View of Sintra from Moorish Castle.
6.These girls thought they were in "les-bon."
7.King's Palace in Sintra.
8.Streets covered with tiles.
9.More tiles inside King's Palace.
10.Tile train station in Sintra.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Where Did You Experience the Obama Election - We Did It in Portugal

We are spending a fantastic week in Lisbon. Thanks to computers and the internet - we got to enjoy what was happening in America. Thanks to the people of Portugal - we saw how much the world looks to and admires America. 

The Portuguese people are very friendly and engaging people. they love to practice their English on American visitors. Crowds also packed the streets and cheered for the election of Brack Obama. 

Lulu's conference is over and we are just enjoying touring this fantastic old city. There is so much history here. 

For centuries - they ruled the seas. Vasco de Gama sailed from this city to discover the new route to the East by sailing south around Africa. They invented some of the first ocean worthy ships that safely discovered the new worlds.

Lisbon is an excellent port on the Tagus River outlet to the Atlantic. The river is about 2 miles wide here and turns to make and safe harbor against the ocean storms. 

Pictures - 
-View of downtown from St. George Castle high above the city.
-Dinner in honor of Lulu by the Portuguese bureaucrats.
-People listened to translators with earphones like at the United Nations.
-Lulu at the National Tile Museum.
-Bull Fighting Arena.
-Europe's largest mall in Lisbon.
-All sidewalks are made with pieces of marble made into mosaics.
-Vasco de Gama tomb in monestary downtown.

So the email that brought us to Portugal was not a fraud. Lulu got to tell her story about "evaluating school libraries." And the Trailing Spouse got to carry her bags.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Harry's Visits Birthplace Home

1. Our first faucet
2. Our first bathroom
3. Our first home facing the Blue Ridge Mountains

On Thursday while driving from Allentown to Syracuse - I decided to visit my very first home. It was a beautiful fall day - sunny and mild - so the one mile jog off Route 309 was a nice place to stop.

In 1948 - I gained the address that would be listed on my passport forever - RFD 1, Andreas, Pennsylvania. While Dad was working in the mines in Coaldale - he attempted his hand at farming for 8 years. The family of 5 bought 10 acres with a house and barn that was planted at the base of the Blue Mountains. From the front door you could look up the northern face of the range to see where the Appalachian Trail passed on the way from Maine to Georgia.

On a cold February night in 1948 - there was a heavy ice storm that made the roads impassable. Supposedly - Dr. Weissner came by horse sled to await the birth of the last remaining "Everhart" name carrier. The doctor arrived before midnight on the fifth - rolled up his coat for a pillow on the sofa and took a nap. At 4:44 AM - they put a piece of ham on a stick out the window and the stork traded it for a baby. The doctor charged $15 - Finishing touches would have been $5 more.

The old plank home had electricity and a hand crank phone. It was heated by a coal fired kitchen range with a register in the ceiling that made the bedroom above the warmest room in the house. Although it was my sisters' bedroom - they chose that to be my place of birth.

The kitchen below had a cold water faucet that Dad ran from the hand pump outside. But if you wanted large amounts of water - you hand pumped it directly outside. On Saturday night when it was bath time - we had to carry many buckets of water to the coal stove to be heated for the bath for Sunday School the next day. Being the youngest - I always was first in line to use the tub. Good thing they didn't throw the baby out with the bath water. We all used the same bath water.

Outside the bedroom window - a few years later - Dad would put up a television antenna that would receive 3 channels from Philadelphia on the other side of the mountain about 70 miles away. I recall seeing Harry Truman on the tube there - along with Howdy Doody - Milton Berle - and others.

We didn't have an indoor toilet - and I was probably one of the few that had a "bathroom" on the other side of the highway. The highway today turns out to be a sparsely used but paved road. I remember asking Santa Claus for a black rubber flashlight to take people to the "two holer" toilet at night.

Things changed when the mines slowed down. Since Dad was working fewer and fewer shifts in his 25 years as a miner - Mom had to take a job in the mill in the thriving metropolis of Tamaqua about 10 miles north of home. For a while in the summers - my 11 year old sister Gail was left in charge of 5 year old me and 8 year old sister Judy. Those two young ladies spoiled me rotten as best they could. Since the closet neighbors were 1/2 mile away - we were on our own. Today - they would probably arrest my parents for child abuse - but things were different then. I would not want it any different. Maybe it is what we were thinking when we "made" Drew walk 1/2 mile to Kindergarten every day. He had perfect attendance.

After spending 6 years in our "country estate" - it was time to move to the big city. With one month in a one-room school with Kutztown State Teachers' College rookie Leah Wertman Fritz - we moved to town and rented a row home with city water and sewer. We could afford cable TV in a couple years. Now instead of cranking a phone you would tell the operator what number you wanted. People would call us with "2384J." The lady operator would often listen in on the phone call to "collect" important information.

So - we only lived in the farm house for 6 years - but it has placed an indelible mark on my life. Sometimes - I feel like escaping to that cocoon of innocence. Life in West Penn township seemed so much simpler then. But sometimes at night - when I hear the train whistle as a freight passes through Tallahassee - it reminds me when Uncle Roy used to blow the whistle as he used to wizz by on the Lehigh New England. His freight passed along the foot of the mountain about 200 yards down in the woods from the front door. The tracks are long gone - but the memories aren't.

It was just the 5 of us against the world at that time. The world was winning. But we didn't know any better. We felt rich.