Sunday, October 31, 2010
NEW PHILADELPHIA - The Schuylkill County Coal Crackers' perfect season came to a crashing halt Saturday afternoon at the Simon Kramer Institute.
The local semi-pro football team's dreams of playing for a Colonial Football Alliance championship were dashed as the Coal Crackers were driving for a winning score in overtime of their league semifinal playoff game against York.
Instead, the Silver Bullets ended things when defensive back Zack Reider intercepted a Tim McFarland pass and returned it 85 yards for a touchdown to give York an 18-12 overtime victory.
During their unbeaten regular season, the Coal Crackers defeated York 43-22 in a Week 6 game.
"I saw the play coming, picked it off and ran as hard as I could," said Reider, who played high school football for York Suburban. "There was nothing but daylight. A dream comes true. My first pick for a touchdown ever."
Reider's big play ended the Coal Crackers' promising season, one in which they completed a 10-0 regular season and earned home-field advantage throughout the CFA playoffs.
However, Saturday's game was Schuylkill County's first since Oct. 9, and the layoff might have had an effect. The Coal Crackers were held to just 64 yards of total offense, and rushed the ball 21 times for minus-2 yards.
"Every time we had an opportunity to take momentum, we just didn't take it," Schuylkill County coach Tom McCarroll said. "We made more mistakes execution-wise today than we did our whole season."
The game featured two lead changes and two ties before the game-winning points were scored.
York (9-3) only produced 74 yards of offense, but got on the scoreboard first when Johnny Moore's 1-yard touchdown gave the Silver Bullets a 6-0 lead midway through the first quarter. The score came three plays after Zack Carrick returned a punt 76 yards to the Schuylkill County 2-yard line.
The Coal Crackers had several drives stall on downs after falling behind, but finally notched a game-tying score on a 6-yard run by James Emerson. Emerson's score was set up by a fumble recovery on the previous play.
The Silver Bullets regained the momentum by scoring a touchdown before halftime on a 14-yard pass from Gregg Murray to Terrance McClatchey to take a 12-6 lead.
York might have been able to make that score stand up the rest of the game with the way Schuylkill County's offense kept sputtering.
But the Coal Crackers' defense delivered in the third quarter when Anario Thompson picked off a Murray pass and returned it 40 yards for a touchdown that tied the game at 12.
The game remained tied into overtime before Reider ended the Coal Crackers' dreams with his interception return.
"I'm not going to make excuses. We executed all season," McCarroll said. "We had opportunities to make plays and take momentum. We just didn't finish. We didn't show up in a playoff atmosphere. But the organization has grown leaps and bounds and I'm very proud of that."
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Sunday, October 24, 2010
Saturday, October 23, 2010
Friday, October 22, 2010
Thursday, October 21, 2010
Yesterday Apple introduced their smallest laptop ever - the MacBook Air - with an 11 inch screen. It comes in two screen sizes - but the 13 and 11 - but the smaller one is the one that interests me.
Monday, October 18, 2010
The House returns to session today to consider the pension bill version passed by the Senate last week. House Democratic leaders have qualms about whether this version passes constitutional muster because it includes the fiscal office provision.
The overall measure aims to offset the immediate impact of a projected $4 billion cost spike starting in 2012-13 to meet obligations to current employees and retirees by the State Employees Retirement System and Public School Employees Retirement System.
For future employees, the measure would increase the vesting age need to be eligible for a pension from five years to 10 years, roll back benefits to pre-2001 levels, and increase the retirement age to collect full pension benefits to 65 for state and school district employees. The retirement ages now are 60 and 62.
Under the Senate-passed version, future employees would participate in a "shared risk" arrangement, meaning they would have to contribute more of their income to cover investment losses. Currently, any investment loss is made up by state government and school districts.
Sunday, October 17, 2010
For $420 - they will take you for a half hour ride. I was surprised at how many people forked over the money to do it - I guess the recession is only hitting 10% of the people. For a couple dollars they let you walk through the plane and take pictures.
You enter the plane through the nose door - go up a ladder - look into the nose gunner's turret - then into the cockpit. After that you walk along a catwalk between the twelve 500 pound bombs that it carried. After that are the two waist gunners. Finally before your drop out of the back door - you look down the long tunnel to the tail gunner's nook. It is terribly small like a coffin.
The plane is much smaller than you expect. The tail drags along the ground. We lost a lot of good men in these bombers. Imagine flying from England to Germany - during the daytime - in these big lumbering slow beasts.
Saturday, October 16, 2010
Lulu and I were invited to sit in the president's box today and got to meet the new FSU president - Eric Barron. Before coming to FSU he was a professor at Penn State for many years. The honor of sitting in the president's box is given to large donors and faculty that do something special - place your bets on which one we were.
Quite frankly - I was surprised at how often I watched plays on the monitors for more detail - must be my eyes.
Friday, October 15, 2010
I can't ride down Tennessee Street without stopping by the Honda garage. Every since we bought our first Honda 600 car in 1972 - a 2 cylinder version - I have been a fan of their engineering - practicality - and price. I currently own a 2004 Honda Odyssey van and a 2009 Honda Ruckus scooter. Drew is still driving around the 1997 Honda CRV that we bought new.
The Honda Hybrid two seater is called a CRZ. It reminds one a bit of the old Honda Del Sol - and the Honda CRX. It is a short stubby car that only holds two people. When Drew used to own a Honda Del Sol in Miami - one time we tried to ride with three people in it. It barely got us from the airport to his condo. It was so tight that I ended up walking across the street to rent another car for the rest of our visit.
The latest little Honda- the CRZ costs between $20k and $24k. The one in the picture had a window sticker of $22k that included a dealer added markup of $2000. The one in the showroom had a CVT automatic transmission - but it is also available with a six speed manual. When both the electric and gasoline engines are kicked in together - it pumps out 123 horsepower. In the hybrid normal mode the EPA rates it at 39 MPG.
With only two seats - this is a very specialized car. It limits the market to under 21 and single - or middle age crazies wishing they were in that first category. The performance leaves out any chances of being successful in street racing. Honda expects to sell 15,000 of them a year - I doubt it. I expect the model to be gone in 5 years. To compare it to the old CRX which was 1800 pounds - or two the old Del Sol that could be purchased with a 160 HP engine - is silly. The new Honda CRZ is absolutely obese in comparison at 2500 pounds.
A major mistake Honda seems to be making is they have been doing away with the sunroof. The Honda Fit is one fantastic car except it has no sunroof available - ditto the Honda Insight Hybrid - and now the CRZ. Honda offers little for the sun worshippers - no rag tops - no hardtop convertibles - no t-tops - and now three models with no sunroofs.
Thursday, October 14, 2010
It had to happen. Tallahassee recently installed computer meters on every home. They could now monitor your electrical usage from the main office and bill you without manually reading your meter. This opened up a lot of options. They can tell when you are using a lot of power and when your usage is just a little dribble.
They are now offering customers to switch over to a "nights and weekends" discount plan.
Currently - they charge us 12 cents a kilowatt hour for power. For that 12 cents you can run a 100 watt bulb for 10 hours - 100 watts x 10 hours = 1 kilowatt hour.
Under the new plan - they would charge you only 8 cents an hour for any power you use after 7 PM until 7 AM the next morning. But electricity you use between 7 AM and 7 PM would cost 22 cents a kilowatt hour. Power used on the weekend would only cost 8 cents per KWH.
Why would they do this? A power company must build enough power plants to be able to cover the peak power usage time. That is usually on a hot summer weekday afternoon - when the air conditioners are zooming and the factories are busy with machinery. At night and on weekend the power usage drops way down.
A home owner can save money by transferring their usage to evenings and weekends. Things like doing the dishes after 7 PM = running the washer and dryer - heating water at 7PM. My friend Carl Zimmerman back home in Pennsylvania that has electric heaters full of bricks. At night he heats the bricks on cheap power - and in the day a fan blows air across the bricks to heat his home. you still use the same amount of power - you just transfer the time you use it.
I have been pesting the City of Tallahassee to do this for some time. But now that I am retired and home all the time - I wonder if I could benefit by it. We have an electric heat pump/AC to heat our home. We have a tankless gas water heater.
According to the city - 65% of home owner usage is done during off peak. If you could transfer 5% more usage to off peak - you could save money.
Monday, October 11, 2010
We just got home from a Bob Dylan Concert at the Civic Center about one mile from home. It was a pretty night - we first had supper at Andrews 228 downtown - then walked to the arena from there.
It all started a month ago when I was sitting at the breakfast table in various states of dress. Lulu and I have breakfast every morning face to face - usually over cereal and juice and the Tallahassee Democrat spread out all over the table. Lulu read, "Bob Dylan to be in town next month - tickets to go on sale at 10 AM." It was 9:30 - so I pulled on some shorts - hopped on the scooter - and was in the ticket line in 3 minutes. I got to the window - and picked some excellent seats. They were $50 - so I bought 8 - figured always can sell extras.
We wanted to take two of our best friends - the others I would sell on Craigslist - hoping to make a few bucks. The closer the concert came - the lower I had to drop the price. Finally - this afternoon - just 3 hours before showtime - the phone started ringing like crazy. I had already sold them - some for face value and some at a $10 loss.
We went to supper at 5:30. When we got to the arena - there was a long line of people - some with canes - some with walkers - and some with those little electric chairs (not the killing kind). Bob Dylan is 69 now and this crowd was not much younger.
Back in the 60s - I bought 12 of Bob's albums. He was the poet of our time - his words were both baffling and beautiful at the same time. He is the perfect example of, "the writer - makes the money - and the singer - makes the song."
One of the main reasons I went to Woodstock NY was that Bob Dylan had a home there - and we were hoping to see him there. Lulu's Mom refused to allow her daughter to go along with me - imagine that.
Since then - Bob has made 61 albums and 58 singles. I have not purchased one since 1969. I have been to other concerts recently - some in the civic center. Although his band has some of the best musicians - things sounds garbled to me. I could not understand a word - I took out my hearing aids - a little better - but could not make things out. I imagine I am not the only grayhead in the crowd that did that.
I was hoping for, "Mr. Tambourine Man," "Blowing in the Wind," "Times They Are A Changing," "Don't Think Twice." I would have even settled for, "Quinn the Eskimo." No luck. He only played two or three songs that I knew - and they did not sound a bit like his records - full of instrumental asides - and overbearing solos by the band. I feel a bit like the time Bob blew off the Newport Folk Festival and showed up "electrified."
But heck - Bob is 69 now. He was in Orlando last night and will be in Birmingham tomorrow night. He has to pace himself. At his age - the concert started at 7:30 - no warm up act - he played for about two hours - most of the time with a Hammond Organ for balance to lean on. He did a few harmonica pieces - and also did some guitars/microphone spots.
Bob enriched my life - I am not complaining about the show - but we all get old. I am glad I showed up - paid my $50 - and saw a true icon of my time. He protested the Vietnam War before it was fashionable. He just wrote and wrote and wrote.
$50 times 6000 seats would be about $300,000 for 2 hours of work.
Finally during the encore - he started into a tune - which when I was a kid was about a 1/2 hour long. Most of the folks in the arena did not recognize it until the chorus - but finally there was something to sing along to. The lights went up - everyone got a really good look at Bob's face for about 5 seconds under his broad brimmed hat. Then the lights went down - and Bob was gone........"like a rolling stone."
Sunday, October 10, 2010
Saturday, October 09, 2010
Brett Favre Allegedly Sent XXXX Photos to Jenn Sterger - You Remember Her - the Original FSU Cowgirl
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — The NFL says it is reviewing allegations involving the Vikings' Brett Favre, who the website Deadspin says sent racy messages and photos to a former sideline reporter while he played for the Jets.
League spokesman Greg Aiello said Friday, "We are reviewing the matter," when asked about reports that Favre sent voice mails and photos to Jenn Sterger.
Asked about the website report on Thursday, Favre, now with the Minnesota Vikings, said, "I'm not getting into that."
The Vikings and Jets play Monday night in New York.
See video here -
Thursday, October 07, 2010
I love riding motor scooters. I have had one ever since 1965 when I bought my first Honda 50 Cub for $225 brand new. I have been hopelessly addicted ever since. I like the freedom to park anywhere - the bugs in your face - the wind in your hair. Please - no comments about helmets. Getting 100 miles on a gallon of gasoline does not hurt either.
Wednesday, October 06, 2010
Left Sidney Australia at 11 AM - Arrived Home in Tallahassee at 7 PM - After 19 Hours of Flying - All in the Same Day
Tuesday, October 05, 2010
Sydney is a pretty city - it has a big harbor full of busy boats. The Opera House sits out on an island and is a photographers delight. The bridge arches high over the water - and people can walk up the high rails to the top. We may try it in the morning.
We do not have Internet in our hotel - so we are typing on macs at the apple store. It is a three story affair right on the George Street. It is almost 8 PM Tuesday here - and we have not had our supper yet. So I guess this is the last night in town. We have had a splendid 3 weeks.
The only thing that could make this better is getting "bumped" on the way home.
Monday, October 04, 2010
Sunday, October 03, 2010
Driving Up the West Coast of New Zealand - Then a Mining Museum - Now We Are Spending the Night at Hanmer Springs
We are spending the night in Hanmer Springs in the Alps of New Zealand. Today we drove from Graymouth - up the west coast to Westport. That stretch of highway is considered one of the top 10 ocean drives in the world. In Westport we visited a coal mining museum.
The museum was mainly about a coal mining town called Denniston 2000 feet up in the mountains. The only way to visit this town was via a 4 mile long gravity railroad inclined plane. Coal cars coming down the mountain pulled the empty cars up the mountain. All supplies and people went up and down via the inclined plane that operated 88 years until 1967. The mine closed and the town rotted. It reminded me of the Switchback Railroad and the towns in Panther Valley.
After that - we drove east into the Alps for about 3 hours to Hanmer Springs.
Tomorrow - we will swim in the hot springs - then will drive back to Christchurch where we will catch a plane back to Australia. then the long trip home.
Saturday, October 02, 2010
Typical one lane bridge crossing the alps