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Sunday, January 31, 2010

Pictures From The Everhart Bowl

Drew and Keith at the Duke/Georgetown game. Note the score. R took this picture of the president and vice-president. Can you tell which guys are the G men?





Click picture to enlarge.

Watching Basketball on Television - The Everhart Bowl

Married folks should have something in common - something silly to share their hours of relaxation. Lulu and I love watching college sports - particularly "Everhart" teams. We have quite a few. Lulu went to Florida State - Keith went to Florida State and Georgetown - Drew went to Duke and Miami. Thanks to Directv - any games we cannot see live - we can see on the tube.

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?

Friday, January 29, 2010

Coal Cracker Student Spending a Semester in Africa

One of my favorite families from "back home" is the Simchak's. I have had the pleasure of having almost every one of them in my classes at PVMS. Lexi is spending a semester in Africa and blogging about it. Click on "Coal Cracker" in the headline above to go to her web page.

I am looking forward to many great stories and pictures in the coming few months.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Tallahassee's Best Kept Secret - The Comedy Zone - Featuring Shaun Jones



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

This is the very first ad I have placed on my web page - free of charge


21 Things We're Learning to Live Without


What do you really need?
It's become a national question. With jobs and money scarce, consumers are taking inventory and tossing lots of stuff oncedeemed important into a humongous discard pile. To safeguard the essentials—a safe home and supportive community, the kids' education, Internet connectivity, sustenance for a pet—Americans are giving up lots of other things. Some sacrifices are painful; others bring surprise benefits.
To gauge America's changing priorities, I synthesized market research, business trends, economic data, and reports from hundreds of consumers into a list of things that many people seem to be significantly cutting back on, or living without completely. Here are 21 of them:

Monthly payments. Old mentality: I don't care about the price, as long as I can borrow to pay for it and I have enough income to cover the monthly payment. New mentality: I've already got too much debt, and the banks won't lend me the money anyway. Result: More cash purchases and a lot less financing of cars, furniture and other costly items. "The era of unbridled, debt-financed consumer spending is over, and the monthly payer is out of action," Eric Janszen, president of iTulip, a finance-advisory firm, wrote in Harvard Business Review last year.
Window shopping. Browsing used to be an acceptable pastime. But consumers have discovered that window shopping encourages them to buy tons of stuff they don't need. So now, they're shopping only when necessary, making a list and sticking to it, or skipping the mall in favor of online sites, where temptations are weaker. "I no longer spend a day at the mall when I'm bored," says Debby Abrams of Rising Sun, Ind. "I don't buy, rebuy, and rebuy again: Buy a lamp, buy one I like better and put the first one in the basement, then buy a third one and put the second one in the basement."
Bells and whistles. The technology arms race is slowing, with consumers gravitating to simpler gizmos like Netbooks, prepaid cellphones, and older, used electronics. Shaving features is obviously a way to save money, but some users also find the simpler devices a relief. "My cellphone is back to being just a phone and not my connection to the rest of the world via texting or the Web," says Dorothy Robson of Durham, N.C. "Simplicity is definitely the new thing. Now if we can get the government to be frugal, that would be great!"
Clutter. As Americans downsize, do more of their own cleaning, and look for stuff they can sell online, they're discovering tons of things around the house they can get rid of. After Russ and Deborah Merchant of Delaware, Ohio, moved into a smaller rental home in 2007, they dug out hundreds of items they had never used and didn't need. For a year, they gave away more stuff than they purchased. "We keep being amazed at how having less stuff, with no deprivation, actually gives us better quality of life," says Deborah Merchant. "We've gained emotional and spiritual maturity."
Cable TV. Many people are cutting back on pay-TV services or canceling them altogether, which saves $50 to $100 a month. As a replacement, some viewers watch free programs on Hulu or YouTube or make do with broadcast TV. Others are giving up television completely. "There's no money for cable TV, so my Internet does me for all my news and other entertainment," says Mariluna Martin of Los Angeles. "That's money saved, plus no TV means no blaring of bad news, fear-mongering, ad pressures, and other unpleasantness." Martin spends more time reading books and sipping tea at a neighborhood café. She finds that rewarding: "The changes I've had to make have made my life better. Things are simpler and healthier now."
A home phone. How many phones do you need, anyway? With cellphones ubiquitous, the home unit is becoming redundant. Internet voice services like Skype and magicJack slash the cost of calls but still provide most of the services that are available through the phone lines. Many people are reducing their cellphone service as well. Kathy Bowman of Joseph, Ore., figures she's saving about $800 per year since she replaced her cellphone with a prepaid Tracfone she mainly reserves for emergencies. Canceling a fax line to her home saves another $120 per year.
Privacy. Got room on the couch? To save on rent or mortgage payments, roommates are doubling up and grown kids are moving back in with their parents. Mark Hamister of Elyria, Ohio, says privacy is one of the many things he's given up as two of his grown daughters have moved back home, bringing boyfriends, pets—and a granddaughter. But he's not complaining. "We have learned to enjoy a simple, cost-effective, and minimalist approach to life by developing an appreciation for nature and family," he says. "Big, expensive toys and trips were fun before, but we really don't need them anymore."
Prepared foods. More people are cooking at home, and they're doing it with fewer premade sauces, marinades, dressings, and other ingredients. "Moms are back to basic cooking," says Chance Parker, a market researcher at J.D. Power & Associates. "They want to use fresh herbs and spices. It saves money, and it's more healthy." Patricia Tremblay of Dayton, Ohio, has given up her microwave as she's cut back over the last two years. She now cooks instead of zapping a premade entrée. "I've traded convenience for choice and done well, with the added bonus of weight loss and a sense of accomplishment," she says. "It's a great beginning that seems likely to stick."
Tupperware parties. Sales of Tupperware and other storage products are up, since people are cooking at home more and husbanding leftovers. But consumers still want the best deal, and they're skeptical of merchants—even if it's a friend or neighbor. "I flatly refuse to go to any 'home parties' where the hostess is selling candles, plastic ware, etc., and she gets free merchandise," says Lois Barber of Sandy Hook, Conn. "The stuff costs about three times what you would pay retail. My blanket excuse is, 'My sister sells it.' "
Packaged cigarettes. The average price of cigarettes is about $5 a pack or $45 a carton, which mounts quickly for regular puffers. Kicking the habit is the most obvious way to save money, but short of that, more smokers are buying small machines that let them roll their own smokes. "We learned to make our own cigs with a machine that cost $40," says one smoker. "We now save around $120 a month."
Lattes. The $5 daily coffee is always one of the first small luxuries to go. But more people are brewing at home. Sales of single-serving home brewing machines have soared.
Guilt. Keeping up with all the latest trends and technology takes an emotional toll. "When I could afford it, I always felt pressured to buy the latest software and gadgets," says Kathryn Husby of Plantation, Fla. When job and health issues curtailed the family income, she and her husband cut back to bare necessities. That meant she didn't have to learn a new set of buttons or menu options every year; she just kept pressing the same familiar buttons on the old model. "I'm happier than I've been for many years," she says. "I feel like I'm in charge of my life instead of multinational corporations telling me what to consume."
Extra calories. Some Americans say they're eating less to save money and drinking more water or doing other things to suppress their appetite. Restaurants are hurting as people eat out less, but some diners are trimming the check instead of scotching the entire outing. Some strategies for lighter eating: Going out for lunch instead of dinner, sharing entrees, skipping appetizers and side dishes, and turning restaurant leftovers into one or two at-home meals. A few restaurant chains, like Panera Bread, the Olive Garden, and Buffalo Wild Wings, have even managed to gain business by offering high-quality food at slender prices.
Newspapers and magazines. It's bad news for the publishing industry, but millions have canceled subscriptions to print periodicals and started getting free news and information online (which is probably where you're reading this article!). The trend may be strongest among tomorrow's consumers, otherwise known as teenagers: A study by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that kids between 8 and 18 spend just 38 minutes a day with some form of print media, down from 43 minutes in 2004. That's out of a total of 7 hours and 38 minutes they spend every day using some form of media.
Healthcare. A forced reduction in healthcare coverage is probably one of the most crushing effects of a weak economy, as the unemployed and others without insurance make drastic trade-offs to cut costs and get by. Millions of Americans are forgoing doctor visits, abandoning medication, ignoring problems, and simply hoping they don't get seriously ill or hurt. "I don't go to the doctor as often," says Debby Abrams. "Aches and pains work themselves out. I have some neurological thing going on in my left thumb right now, but I'm going to ignore it and attribute it to aging rather than go to a neurologist."
New gifts. Regifting is a time-tested practice—but there's always room to refine your strategy. Linda Amicucci of Tenafly, N.J., holds a "treasure party" with a group of friends after Thanksgiving every year to swap recyclable gifts. "We bring all the unwanted, unused items in our house that could be used as gifts or were given to us as gifts throughout the past year," she explains. "We swap items, since a gift received last year during a grab bag cannot be regifted in the same social circle. But in a different social circle, it's a brand new gift!"
New cars. It's no secret that new-car sales plunged to levels 40 percent lower than the peak in 2006. But many buyers who have traded down to a used model are surprised at the quality of the merchandise. "I have found that many people take really good care of their cars," says Jay Bailey of Phoenix, who's currently shopping for a used SUV. "You can find cars that have over 100,000 miles that have been maintained so well that you can easily get another 100,000 miles out of them." Many other car shoppers apparently agree, one reason used-car prices have actually been rising, with some models hard to find.
Comfort. Thermostats all across America are going lower in winter, higher in summer. After losing his job last year, Phil Landry, a Florida software salesman, analyzed his use of utilities, among other things, and decided to shave costs by setting the temp at 86 in the summer. "Every once in awhile I'll lower it to 84," he says. "But as long as you're not running marathons in the house, 86 is OK." Carrie Chiarenza, an Army officer who is based at Fort Hood, Texas, and is currently serving a yearlong tour in Iraq, takes supershort "combat showers" when she's at home, and she applies other tricks learned while living in the field. "Never leave any water running if you don't have to," she says. "So when lathering hair with shampoo, water comes off. Same thing with hand washing. Sometimes the task takes longer, but it helps the environment, and my utility bills."
A daily commute. If you're unemployed, obviously there's no job to drive to, one reason the number of vehicle miles driven has dipped to 2004 levels (and traffic on some of the most congested highways has eased). Telecommuting increased during the recession as well, and more people say they're riding bikes or walking more to save on gas costs—or a gym membership.
Fancy dates. Online dating services like Match.com are growing, but courtship is a bit of a comedown these days. Discount-dating advisers suggest cooking at home instead of eating out, looking for free performances, browsing at bookstores, going hiking, and exploring yard sales (yes, yard sales). And some discouraged singletons are sitting on the sidelines, waiting for better times. "I am not dating," says one woman who recently lost her job at a financial firm in San Diego. "Who will want to date an unemployed female?" Still, she says, "I am determined and motivated to survive this recession." And date again.
Debt. Who needs it? "I have learned that it takes little time to run dangerously high credit card balances," says Tom Poirer of Lowell, Mass., "but an inordinately long time to pay it back. I have learned to deprogram myself from the consumerist mayhem." Many Americans seem to agree. Total credit card debt is about 7 percent lower than it was a year ago, and Americans have paid down more than $100 billion in credit card loans and other types of revolving credit since October 2008. We may ultimately end up with less stuff. But at least we'll be able to afford what we have.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Florida State Beats Harvard - 98-54

Last week I was freezing as I walked around the Harvard campus - as Lulu was at the ALA Convention.

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.

Shower Head - Green or Greedy - Republican or Democrat - How Far Can Political Correctness Go?


The Trailing Spouse just returned home from a one week stay at the Westin Hotel in Boston. Either someone has a great sense of humor or our world has gone wacky. Every morning when it was shower time - I certainly had a chuckle.

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

8 Days In Boston - But Best 3 Days With Jack



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

On Train - Going to See Jack

We just bought our tickets 5 minutes ago. $12.00 to Providence on
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

Quincy - The Town of Presidents - Home of John Adams and John Quincy Adams


The Adams Home closed for the winter.

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.

The weather was nice - maybe 45 degrees - but the sun was setting and it was cooling off. It was time to catch the train back to the hotel where I could watch the FSU Seminoles beat Virginia Tech in basketball.




This is the back entrance to the home of both presidents. Note the Sears "weather beater" paint.


Adams Academy was built on the birth site of John Hancock. Hancock was the president of the colonies and first signer of the Declaration of Independence.

The granite building behind the house was once the presidential library.


John Adams (Number 2)

 John Quincy Adams (Number 6)

Fenway Park in Winter - Just One Month from Spring Training in Florida


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."

This street would be the west side of the stadium.


I sneaked into section 35 for this picture of the "green monster."


This would be the south side and the first base line.

Section 35 - place of the video

This door surrounded by the world series logos was too tempting.

One of many world series logos before Babe Ruth was sold to the Yankees.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Revere Beach


Four miles north of downtown Boston is Revere Beach. This is the view
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

Faneuil Hall Market

videoI had lunch here - now off to Revere Beach- then to Fenway Park.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

On the Train to Providence and Jack

The South Station in Boston is close to our. Hotel. Both of them are
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
battery.

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

Diggin the Boston Trains - Reminds Me of London



Pictures - Some of the trains look more like buses - this is the view of our hotel and convention center from the train station.

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.

Boston "T" Train - $15 a Week - Unlimited Use

\
The best $15 bargain in Boston.

8 Days in Boston




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

Trailing Spouse Leaves Freezing Tallahassee for Even Colder Boston

After 10 freezing nights in Tallahassee - the Trailing Spouse has a chance to get out of town. The American Library Association convention is in Boston - and Lulu invited me along to share in the festivities. So with camera - computer and iphone in hand - we took a cab to the airport this morning at 10 AM for a flight to an even colder place. We will spend the next 8 days in Beantown with a couple of excursions to Providence to see grandson Jack.
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

Our Old IPhone Sold In Less Than Two Hours on Craigslist



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.





Lulu is at a Conference in Leesburg VA near Washington DC



Lulu is at a National Board Certification Conference at a resort near Washington DC. From her hotel resort window you can see the Blue Ridge Mountains. The resort is so big - that she does not have to go outside for 4 days. Lulu is the chairman of a committee that is writing the federal standards of the National Board Certification Test for school library media specialists.

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

Noles Versus Virginia Girls


Very old crowd - must be the prices

PS - We were losing at halftime - came storming out after halftime - won the game 68-50 - after holding UVA to 16 points in the second half.

Tallahassee Set Record Electricity Use

Tallahassee has its own power company - Talquin Electric. Talquin stands for Tallahassee/Quincy - the towns on each side of the power plant.


Supplies Adequate to Meet Increased Demand - The City of Tallahassee's Electric Utility set a record winter peak load of 596 megawatts (mw) this morning between 7 and 8 a.m. The prior record winter peak load was set on January 24, 2003, at 590 mw. City Electric Utility officials attribute this morning's peak load record to the sustained cold temperatures during the week and the return of students to classes in Tallahassee after the holiday break. Weather forecasts indicate continued low temperatures through the weekend.


Most of Tallahassee's power comes from burning natural gas. Three years ago - the city voted on building a power plant 50 miles away that would have burned coal. Coal won the election but town council overruled that vote - go figure. Also last year - another company wanted to set up a power plant in town that would have burned wood waste. the waste would have come into town by train right to the site. Council voted that down. Meanwhile - we are setting records for electric use - go figure.

Florida State's New Football - Jimbo Fisher



The Seminoles have a new head coach - Jimbo Fisher. He was introduced to the public yesterday. Here is a picture of his young family taken in his new office.

Fisher was never a head coach - he bounced around as an assistant at many schools. After being the offensive coordinator for the national champion LSU Tigers - he was hired by FSU as a coach-in-waiting. His contract stated - if he were not made head coach by January 2011 - the school had to pay him $5 million. The board of trustees decided not to wait that long - they forced Bobby Bowden into retirement a year early.

My personal opinion for the reason FSU "fired" Bobby now - is that I believe they were afraid he was going to have a banner year next season with most of his team returning. Then they would have and even harder time firing him. So after 33 straight winning seasons FSU fired the goose that laid the golden eggs.

As a true Seminole fan - one must give Fisher the benefit of any doubt. Fans must be reminded that they are fans of the school - not just the coach. If Fisher winds the first 5 games next season - the fans will forget about Bobby's firing. they have been spoiled here by Bobby - winning is all that matter now.


Installing a TV Wall Mount

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

Got Two Tickets Outside For Free

video

Playing Texas A & M Corpus Christi.

PS - FSU won 94-54. The rest of the games are ACC games. No more cupcakes. FSU is ranked Number 20 in the polls.

We Will Always Have Gator Bowl 2010

 

PHOTO - Keith - Lulu - Drew - Harry - Still Crazy After All These Years

It is Monday morning - 9 AM - everyone is back at work. Keith flew back to DC. Drew flew back to Providence. Nancy is in her office working for FSU. I am sitting in front of the fire - 34 degrees outside - thinking about the past two weeks.

The Gator Bowl was fantastic - of course it could have been absolutely miserable if FSU lost Bobby's last game. But they didn't - so an era ends on a high note. Make no mistake - it is absolutely terrible the way FSU fired Bobby Bowden after 33 winning seasons. They are trying to spin it as a mutual thing - but it wasn't and Bobby Bowden told us several times he wanted one more year with this excellent returning team. But as Drew said - we are loyal to Florida State - not one man. It is not the fault of FSU - the decision was made by a board of trustees and a retiring president. It is all over. Bitterness won't help. Go Noles!

Thanksgiving and Christmas are two great family holidays. Too bad they fall just one month apart. It would be nice if we celebrated them about 6 months apart. Our next big event is June 20th - Jack' second birthday. This year the party will be at Dr. Bob's house in South Carolina - that is good for us - just a 5 hour drive away. Between now and then - we will be making a few trips north to see everyone.

Wednesday - Lulu flies to DC for a few days to work on a federal project. Then a week later - Lulu and I fly to Boston. She will be at the ALA Convention and I will take a train down to Providence to see Jack.

This year has a few highlights coming up. We spend a month in London this summer. Lulu was also invited as a keynote speaker at an Australian Convention. Lulu's grand tour of the American School Libraries will begin. Drew and Robin will be making their next move after Robin finishes her doctorate. Keith continues his job in DC - new apartment and relationship with Liz in Washington. Everyone is healthy and we have so much to look forward to.

The more I look at the Gator Bowl on Jan 1st 2010 - it is a beginning rather than an end of an era.

Friday, January 01, 2010

FSU Wins - Bobby Ends Career On High Note




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.

Rain Stopped

All four of us made it safely. Picture from our seats.

Sitting in Parking Lot. For Gator Bowl

It is 10:30 AM. Raining. I am sitting in the van with Lulu and Drew
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.

All Roads Lead to Jacksonville - Everhart's Gather for Bobby's Final Game



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."


PICTURES -
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.