Click picture to enlarge.
Sunday, January 31, 2010
Yesterday was an Everhart Bowl - this is where two of our family teams play each other. Drew's Dukies were playing Keith's Hoyas in Washington. To honor that game - President Obama and Vice-President Biden attended the game along with Keith - Liz - Drew - Robin. It was Drew's birthday - so Robin surprised Drew with a surprise weekend visit to DC. First they dropped Jack off with Charlotte in Baltimore to spend his first night without Mommy or Daddy.
The game was a sellout - Keith offered a ticket to me - but I decided it would be better to stay home and watch it with Lulu. I was happy I did because Washington was having blizzard conditions - and I would not have gotten to see Jack anyway. Lulu and I enjoyed the game and lunch in front of the TV. It is hard to choose a team to root for in that game. In front of the President and a sellout crowd of 20,000 - Georgetown pasted a terrible beating on Duke. The game was never in doubt and the lead sometimes broke 20 points. The President even took the microphone a bit to talk about the game on TV.
Immediately after the Hoya victory - Florida State was playing Boston College up there. Just a week ago we were in Boston - and would have enjoyed seeing that game. The Noles came from being 5 points down at the half to win by 4 points - although the game was in doubt until the end.
So the Everhart teams were 2-1 yesterday. The Noles return home now to play Maryland on Thursday at 9 PM. My "third son" Steve Simchak got his Masters degree at Maryland so again - we will have an Everhart game of sorts. Keith has a friend Steve who always invites him to that game when it is up north. Presently the Terps are leading the ACC - they already beat us once - I hope we can return the favor here.
FSU is doing pretty well this year. They already beat two ACC teams on the road - BC and Georgia Tech. The Noles are young - but feature 4 players that are 6 feet 8 inches or taller.
March Madness is coming up soon - looks like all our teams will make the NCAA playoffs. This year - two games will be played in Providence - in the Dunkin Donuts Arena - just two blocks from the Drews Condo. Can you say road trip?
Saturday, January 30, 2010
Friday, January 29, 2010
I am looking forward to many great stories and pictures in the coming few months.
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
It was after supper on Saturday night. Lulu and I were looking for something to do. Out of the clear blue she suggested The Comedy Zone - a little live comedy club on East Tennessee Street downtown. We got cleaned up a little - piled into the car - and drove a mile or so north to the club. There was plenty of free parking - we were early.
The price was right - $12 each - plus a $4 minimum purchase of food or drinks. Inside - the room was just filling. I reminded the waitress that I was hard of hearing - she sat me close to the stage - maybe a bit too close. I could reach out and touch the microphone and Lulu reminded me that I might be the brunt of the entertainers' jokes. I was brave and we sat down and ordered some drinks. As the other customers came in - it was fun meeting new people - also veterans giving the newbies a review of how things went.
Promptly at 7 PM - the emcee came on to introduce the warm up act and then the featured comedian.
Shaun Jones was the headliner. He has appeared in many feature films and he quickly got into connecting with the crowd. His act mainly consisted of his original people and interacting with the crowd. There were plenty of racial jokes and bathroom humor - in a good natured way. He had the crowd in the palm of his hand.
Since I was warned that I was sitting on the hot seat - I was ready when Shaun started teeing off on me. He could sense that I was enjoying myself - and each joke or put down was a little stronger - trying to reach my "uncomfortable" point. Being a middle school teacher for 33 years - I have a high threshold of "verbal abuse."
The room held maybe 100 people. The prices of the drinks and food were reasonable. The crowd was ready for a good time - and Shaun did not disappoint them. Since there was a second show at 9 PM - the room cleared quickly and in 5 minutes we were back home.
I shot a few seconds of video with my phone to show you how close I sat to the stage and also show you how much it looked like watching comedy on HBO. Click on the main headline above to go to see Shaun's facebook page.
Friday, January 22, 2010
Thursday, January 21, 2010
This week Harvard returned the favor coming to Tallahassee for a women's basketball game. Everyone was expecting a close game - after all - Harvard was still savoring a victory over the ACC's Boston College. I am sure the Crimson girls were looking forward to a couple of days in the Florida sun - but they were welcomed by a day of 5 inches of rain. The clouds cleared just in time for the Seminoles to take no prisoners and beat them 98-54. The score could have been much worse as the Seminoles substituted freely.
I am talking about the shower head/shower heads in our bathroom. Every day you had to select if you wanted to use one or two heads. The sign tried to convince you that you could save the planet by using one shower head - but they provided two just in case you really didn't care.
I have always been taxed by tests of character. An example might be if you're at a red light at 3 AM and no one is around - do you sit there for 5 minutes because someone thought it was a good idea? Or in this case - when you are in a shower all alone - will you save the planet or say heck with it and have a stronger shower.
I find it ironic that many "greenies" will admonish us to save energy but live in a 20 room mansion like Al Gore. They will drive around in a Prius - then spend $10,000 to "see the whales" in their natural habitat wasting thousands of dollars of fuel. The same folks that will burn a wood fireplace to save fuel - then pollute the entire neighborhood with wood smoke and drive for groceries in their 427 Corvette using maybe 5 miles per gallon.
What would you do? I know what I did. The button on the shower stayed in the same position for the next shower. And every day I had to hit the button.
Monday, January 18, 2010
My grandson Jack lives in Providence RI. His Mom is interning at Brown University and his Dad is a research scientist for Syracuse University. We get to see him every chance we can. They came to Florida for Christmas.
Lulu had an 8 day convention in Boston. Since Providence is just 40 minutes away by train - we got to see Jack a lot. He is 19 months old now and growing up way too fast.
He has a love of learning and his Dad is a bit of a "taskmaster" as a teacher - but Jack does not seem to mind.
In the first video you see how much Jack enjoys talking and learning his alphabet.
Today was special. Although it was snowing here - Jack and Drew piled into the train and made the trip to Boston. I met them at the train station and we had a great day. Part of the time we spent at the convention hotel. We had lunch there - a long walk indoors - and Jack even got a nap. The afternoon was more exciting - we explored the Boston Aquarium.
Before we knew it - it was 5 PM and time to catch the train home. Good-byes are the toughest - but we exchanged hugs - kisses - and goodbyes - then Jack faded in the distance waving over his Dad's shoulder.
When we were out the other day - Drew got the best compliment ever in a restaurant. Drew is quite the picture carrying the "managerie" for Jack to travel. Besides a stroller - diaper bag - blankets - and favorite stuffed animals - he keeps a stash of emergency food and drinks in his pockets. After a long wait for our food with Jack being particularly good - a lady said to me, "Your son is an excellent mother!"
I said, "yes he is," but I thought even more that he is a great Dad - man - and my hero.
Jack loved the aquarium - partucularly seeing the Clown Fish - Nemo.
Sunday, January 17, 2010
Amtrak nonstop. Train continues to Washington. We were pretty brave -
bought one way tickets.
Lulu did not see Jack yet. She is in for a surprise - Jack knows all
his letters. That is pretty neat for 19 months.
Weather is nice here - above freezing.
Sent from my iPhone
Saturday, January 16, 2010
South of Boston on the red train line is the Town of Quincy. John Adams - John Quincy Adams - and John Hancock were all born in this town. It was famous for shipbuilding and granite.
This afternoon I decided to visit Quincy and hopefully tour the National Historic Site. To my surprise - it was all closed up for the winter - but the grounds were wide open. Although the paths were snow covered I walked around and got a few nice shots of this northern "white house." Again - I had the place to myself - not another soul was present.
I vaguely remember Sears advertising "weather beater" paint on this house. This house is not in the greatest repair - but it did have a thick coat of the light yellow Sears paint on it.
Behind the home is a large granite out building that looks a bit like a summer kitchen - separate from the house. On closer inspection - one learns that it was the presidential library from many years where 14,000 books owned by both of the Adams presidents were stored. The collection has since been removed to a more substantial building in town for safe keeping.
Both Adams presidents are buried inside the church downtown. A large Asian population has settled in to Quincy - with plenty of cultural shops in the downtown. For a Saturday - very few people were milling outside. The name Quincy came from Adams's in-law family.
Adams left an endowment to the town to support Adams Academy - a prep school built on the site of John Hancock's birth home. The school closed in 1905 - and has been turned into a Historical Society.
Click small box to enlarge video.
My good friend Shirley Dodson - my sons' babysitter - asked me to visit Fenway Park. So here you go Shirley - pictures - video - story - I even risked my freedom by sneaking in a door past a security guard to get a little video. They do offer a tour - but you know better than thinking Harry would fork out $12 for a picture when it is so much more juicy to get one for free.
Fenway Park is the oldest and probably the smallest major league baseball park in the country. I am guessing it seats 35,000 - reminds me a bit of going to see the Reading Phillies. There are streets all the way around the stadium - very few parking spots - I saw one lot that charged $42 on game day - highway robbery. The whole place is not much more than 100 yards either way. Just outside the center field gates - there is the Boston High School of Performing Arts. It was in session on my 1 PM Friday afternoon visit.
Real baseball fans know that this is where Babe Ruth started out in the major leagues. Most people do not know that he was an excellent pitcher who was capable of pitching with either hand. They say that sometimes he would wind up to pitch and the batter did not know which hand he would use. Unfortunately or fortunately - he was such a fantastic hitter that they could not afford playing him only every 4th day - so he played outfield and became the best of all time.
Interestingly - they have logos from every world series they played in. Starting in 1903 - they were in many world series - for the 1920'a to the 2000's - was a giant dearth of banners. You see - Boston sold the Babe to the Yankees - and a curse was put on the team - so the legend goes. Read Sox fans have hated the Yankees ever since - but they should really hate their team's owners who made the sale. Of course it is much more fun to hate the Yankees - and it is fun to be in the fraternity.
Today - even the Yankees have replaced Yankee Stadium - the house that Ruth built. Money changes everything. But old fashioned baseball seems to exist here - getting off the subway and fighting traffic to see a game - and getting a chance to sing "Sweet Caroline."
Friday, January 15, 2010
you get from the subway station.
This beach is the oldest public beach in the country. They have a lot
of the "oldests" in Boston.
I will walk the beach now - it is sorta sunny and 38 degrees. Weather
reminds me of home.
From my iphone
Thursday, January 14, 2010
on Summer Street - not a good name because it is 15 degrees and winter
here - real winter.
After a nice breakfast in the station I boarded my waiting Amtrak
train. The conductor said take any seat - the train car I took was
maybe 35% full.
The train is clean - nice wide reclining seats - and a power outlet
for each seat. There is no excuse for a drained phone or computer
No body patted me down. No security tunnels - no one even asked for an
ID nor took my hot chocolate.
Travel time is 40 minutes. It is suppoed to leave in 3 minutes at 8:15.
The station reminds me of all out jaunts in London and the rest Europe.
I did not check to see if we have wifi.
I brought along Lulu's Kindle - willrun it through it's paces.
There - we pulled out exactly as the iPhone flipped over to 8:15. All
aboard "Casey Junior."
iPhone has an App for this.
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Today - I took the trains from our hotel to Harvard. Our hotel is on the silver line - Harvard is on the red line. All lines meet downtown.
It started out cold and sunny - then around lunch it turned to just cold and dreary - and at 4 PM it is cold dark and snowy.
The train line from our hotel looks more like a bus or trolley. It has rubber tires - no rails - and wires overhead to carry the electricity. They do go through tunnels to avoid any traffic.
The South Station is nearby. While I was there I bought a round trip ticket to go visit Jack in Providence. It will take 40 minutes and is $12 each way. I took Amtrak because it has few stops. At prime times in the day the price goes up to $30 each way. I will leave here at 8 AM and leave there at 7 PM. There was a commuter trains for $8 each way but it took longer. Big spender took the express.
At 6 PM I meet Lulu at the Goethe Institute on Beacon Street. They are the folks that sent Lulu to Germany last March for a week and gave her a VIP tour. They have an office here and Nancy is impressed by their organization. She also would like to go back to Germany.
Last night we made it safely to our Westin Hotel on the Boston Waterfront just in time to watch FSU basketball get beaten by North Carolina State. The hotel is top drawer with a beautiful view of downtown and the docks. The Boston Convention Center is hooked to our hotel by a covered walkway.
By 8 AM - Lulu was dressed and long gone doing what librarians do at their national mid-winter convention - I almost said vacation. Because to me - it is 8 days to explore the city and also travel to Providence to see grandson Jack.
At 9 AM - it is 18 degrees here not much colder than what we left in Florida. The highest temperature this week is expected to be 43 degrees. At least the chimney smoke is going straight up indicating not much wind out there. We only spent a few seconds outside - from the airport to the taxi - and from the taxi to the hotel door.
As you can see by the video above - there is snow on the convention center's roof - but the sky is a clear blue.
When I retired at 55 almost 7 years ago - I never imagined getting opportunities like this to visit one of the major settings of learning in the world. I read where there are 177 colleges in the area - I plan to visit a few.
If anyone has some good suggestions of places to visit and eat - let me know. I am looking forward to reporting back to you.
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Tallahassee Airport was dead - no one was in line to go through the security tunnel. I was looking forward to being patted down but no luck - the agents were to busy gabbing. I did forget to take my shoes off though and they sent me through again. They also enjoy grabbing my CPAP machine and swabbing it for bomb dander. It reminds me of the time I took a large wet cell battery on board the plane to London to power my machine on the all night flight. The guy said he never saw one before - but let is go through.
The plane taxied out to take-off - only to be called back because the radar was down in Atlanta. All incoming flights were sent back to the gate. In Tallahassee they means our one and only plane. Looks like we would miss our Atlanta connection. After a half hour later - the radar was back on. We were "number 1" in line for takeoff - the pilot did not even stop at the end of the runway - a U turn would do.
In Atlanta - we missed our plane to Boston by 5 minutes - luckily there was another flight in one hour and they already booked us onto it. After a quick lunch - we were called to the ticket counter to find out that we were being upgraded to first class - well at least one of us. The lady said, "Which one?" Since I think first class is a silly snobby thing to have - I gave it to Lulu. I would happily ride in the back. For a $50 discount - I would ride with the luggage. Since the plane was full - I offered my seat up for a "bump." No luck - I was going to be in row 29 and Lulu would be in Row 2. Finally - when they called up zones - as I passed the scanner - it gave me a first class seats too - Row 1! So we were both in first class and I would get to Boston 3 feet before Lulu.
Lulu couldn't let me out of her sight - because in the plane she arranged the seat next to her for me. We could spoon our way to Boston. It would have been a neat story to tell - Lulu being upgraded to first class and me getting bumped off the flight for cash - but that turned out to be half right.
I have no set agenda in Boston. I plan to visit museums - historic spots - and enjoy the people. Maybe I will sneak into a class at Harvard and I can add that to my resume. My main objective is to get to see Jack. Jack goes to a local school - and we tease Drew and Robin that he has a New England accent. I'll get to compare Jack's accent to the locals.
We're staying at the Weston Hotel in downtown next to the convention center. According to their web page - Boston offers a $15 pass that works on the trains - subways - and buses. I plan to get my money's worth. Also - Drew's condo in Providence is close to the train station downtown. With a little luck the trip will be an hour - door to door.
Lulu has been busy. She just got back from 5 days in Washington on Sunday - and after two nights in her own bed - it is 8 days on New England. But this time it will be different - I am trailing along to carry her bags.
Friday, January 08, 2010
People still are in a frenzy to buy iphones - if my craigslist sale is any indication. My family replaced our old iphone 2G's with new iphone 3GS's for Christmas. Today - I decided to sell on on Craigslist.
Above is a picture of the ad I placed on Craigslist.org.
To my surprise - my phone started ringing and texting off the hook. It seems everyone and their mother wanted the old iphone - even though it had a chip on the corner.
I got over 30 calls and text messages - some folks even offering me more money if I held the phone for them.
But here was the best one from Jeff - "hello i was just curious to know if you would be interested in a possible trade, tattoo work for the iphone."
I was relieved when a nice looking young man with a Toyota showed up with the cash. While he was standing here - two more calls came in. Some of the calls and texts were pretty rough - scaring me to hide the silverware.
The phone is gone - $99 cash.
I did hit the reset button to erase all the personal data.
In December - I went along - but this time I chose to avoid the cold northern weather to sit through cold Florida weather.
Lulu flies home Tuesday - then we both fly to Boston for a week - to attend the American Library Association Convention. We will have a chance to visit grandson Jack on that trip.
Thursday, January 07, 2010
I installed the bedroom TV wall mount this morning. It took about 2 hours start to finish. It was pretty straight forward. The most time was spent fishing the wires through the wall so that they are hidden. It was not necessary - but it made for a nice professional clean looking installation.
The wall mount allows for a low profile - the TV is only one inch from the wall. The TV can be tilted out to install more cables. The kit is basically three fitted metal pieces - and tons of nuts and bolts for a variety of TV's. I used 4 lag bolts to go into the studs - then 4 bolts that go into the TV. Next you just hang one on the other. Then you slide a rod to lock them together in case of earthquake.
This is before - the TV on a stand about one foot from the wall - taking up the entire bureau top.
The wall bracket is held by four 3 inch lag bolts. It is very important to get this bracket level. Also it is important to get the bolts into the wall studs. I did this with a stud finder and laser level.
Next you bolt the two vertical brackets to the TV. The kit included some very nice stainless steel bolts for this step.
The most difficult part of the job was feeding the wires through the wall. This particular wall was full of tightly packed insulation. I used a fish wire to pull the cables through.
Finally - the TV is mounted and wired. The DVR is placed on the bureau. The TV hangs within one inch of the wall. The chest of drawers can be easily moved and have a bare top now.
Next job - installing the articulating wall mount in the living room.
Monday, January 04, 2010
Friday, January 01, 2010
The pouring rain stopped at kickoff and the sun shone brightly on Bobby Bowden's last game.
At the end the score read 33-21 and most of the crowd stayed to see Bobby throw his hat to the band.
It will not be the same on the Nole sidelines next year. They are no longer the world power of yore. But worst of all - Bobby will be gone.
My family is enjoying the afterglow at the airport - trying to squeeze every second out of this wonderful day. Everyone made it safely. Keith's flight was canned. He is trying to get another. With a little luck - he will get a bump and we can hang on trying to keep "the amigos" together a few more hours.
Posted from iPhone.
Post Script - Keith caught the next flight out - was home in DC before we got back to Tallahassee. Drew also drove back safely to Bob's house in South Carolina. Lulu drove the last 100 miles and she had us safely in bed by 10 PM. What a wonderful start to the new year.
hoping for the weather to break.
2.5 hours to kickoff. We do not have to hawk tickets - it was rare -
but we bought tickets in advance.
iPhone has an App for this.
Temperature in the 60's. Partly sunny skies. The rains held back for the Gator Bowl Parade yesterday. Bobby's arrival in town in a garnet corvette reminded me a bit of Jesus's ride into town on Palm Sunday. You know something is wrong when the fans of both teams are roaring in appreciation of one man - Bobby Bowden.
The blue and gold garbed of West Virginia fans outnumbered Noles easily 3 to 1. Heck most of the Seminole fans were still at home watching other games on TV - but Jacksonville was jumping yesterday - hoping to set a crowd record that may stand in this town forever.
Lulu and I arrived in town from Hilton Head SC just in time for the parade. We bought seats along the parade route - we didn't want to miss Bobby's last hurrah. The parade lasted 90 minutes - Bobby and Ann's corvette let the way and new FSU President Eric Barron put an exclamation point on the end.
It is 7 AM game day now - Drew emailed to say he is on the road from Dr. Bob's house in South Carolina. Keith is on the way to the airport in DC to catch his flight. Lulu is primping here with me in our Marriot in Jacksonville. Each of us have a game ticket safely folded up in our wallets. We all plan to meet at "Woodstock."
FSU is a 3 point underdog today. It seems a bit generous for a 6-6 team playing a strong 9-3 West Virginia team. We have already heard that sweet tune "Country Road" a few too many times. I am sure the Mountaineers are just as tired hearing our "War Chant." By game time - both tunes will be unbearable to opposing fans.
Bittersweet is an overused word - but regardless the outcome of the game today - that is my feeling. Bobby has not had a losing campaign in 33 years - and today he has a very good chance of retiring with a 6-7 season record - his total frozen at 388 victories forever. Bobby's hero - George Patton died unceremoniously from a car wreck in Bavaria instead of on the battlefield. In the movie about his life - the last line he mutters is, "All glory is fleeting."
Keith and his blowoff shirt on Christmas.
Drew showing Jack's great grandparent Charlotte and Jack some videos.
Dr. Bob's new house and guest house near Hilton Head where we stayed.
Bobby Bowden leading the Gator Bowl Parade.