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Monday, November 21, 2011

Occupy Tallahassee

Next Electric Car Coming From GM - Chevy Spark


The Chevy Spark is currently offered in Europe with a 4 cylinder engine. About this time next year - Chevy will introduce and all-electric version of that same Spark. It will be tagged 2013 model. It seats 4 people with a small hatchback.

Keith And Liz Send Aloha

Keith with his favorite ice cream - pineapple flavored Dole Whip.


The Hoyas and Dukies are playing in the Maui Invitational - so Keith has been planning for months for this big week. Keith and liz flew from Washington to Los Angeles to Oahu on Friday. They spend a couple days in Waikiki - then it is off to Lahaina on Maui.

They have been visiting all the old family haunts from when Lulu used to teach summers at the University of Hawaii in Manoa Valley. The visited Haleiwa and Kailua on the North Shore. They also had a family favorite - Dole Whip - at the Dole Plantation.

We wish them good aloha.

Tickets for the Maui Invitational - and their Aloha necklace.


Liz enjoying a tropical drink or two at Roy's - one of Keith's favorite places to eat.


Cellphone picture of some sunshine time at Waikiki.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Garbage In Equals Garbage Out - I Got A New iPhone 4S


Something old - something new - my iPhone 4S on left - the old iPhone 3GS on the right. Garbage in - Garbage out.


I just got my new iPhone 4S. Fedex tried to deliver it yesterday and they came back again today with my latest toy. The first thing I wanted to do is transfer all my old stuff from the old iPhone over to the new one. That is the garbage I am talking about.

The phone arrived at 2:07. I hooked my old iPhone up to my mac. I told iTunes to back up my old phone. Then I hooked the new iPhone 4S to the computer and said download backup. By 2:12 all my information - addresses - phone numbers - apps were on the new phone.

I was ready to make my first phone call. I pressed one button and told "Siri" the girl in the phone - call Drew. She replied I am calling Drew's mobile phone. And it worked.

Apple seemed to always have a better way of doing things.

Then at 2:15 - I was writing an ad to sell my old iPhone on craigslist. I am trying to sell my old phone in the same day. No - I do not sell stuff to friends.


The iPhone has a much better camera - it also takes HD quality video. This picture is the first picture I took with the new iphone.

Nov 19th - I sold my old iPhone on Craigslist for $150. Also sold Lulu's white one to the same guy.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Herman Cain On Libya


Is this the best we can do?

Supreme Court Agrees To Rule On The New National Health Insurance Law

The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear a challenge to the 2010 health care overhaul law, President Obama’s signature legislative achievement. The development set the stage for oral arguments by March and a decision in late June, in the midst of the 2012 presidential campaign.

The court’s decision to step in had been expected, but Monday’s order answered many questions about just how the case would proceed. Indeed, it offered a roadmap toward a ruling that will help define the legacy of the Supreme Court under Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.

From The NY Times.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

End of Democracy

A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves money from the public treasury. From that moment on the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most money from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy followed by a dictatorship.

I am Sad For My Friend George - And All My Other Penn State Buddies - They Did Not Do Anything Wrong

Best friend George - newspaper editor - and his son Brandon - writer for a newspaper in China - both Penn State journalism grads - lament over the Penn State saga

Harry's Note - My friend George and thousands more unfairly suffer over this mess. George wrote this editorial in the local paper. His wife Mary Ruth is a PSU alumni - and son Michael is a student there too.

by George Taylor

I'm wearing one of my Penn State logo dress shirts to work today, not because I want to be a target of snickers or snide comments. I'm wearing my Penn State logo dress shirt to work today to honor the people at Penn State who still know how to do the right thing.

Last night, Penn State's Board of Trustees fired both university President Graham Spanier and head football coach Joe Paterno. Although I'm sure we do not have all the details behind the alleged Jerry Sandusky sex scandal (and we may never have the whole story), I think the board did what had to be done.

Still, that does not mean I can't be on the verge of tears as I write this.

Joe Paterno was head coach throughout my undergraduate and graduate days at Penn State beginning back in 1967. I never met him, but we did pass in the halls of Rec Hall when I was there for a racquetball match and he still had an office in that building.

He was head coach when our oldest son, Brandon, went through Penn State starting in 2005.

Brandon had been selected as a "Free Spirit" by the Freedom Forum and attended a week-long journalism program in Washington, D.C., his senior year in high school. The Freedom Forum also honors adults. When Joe Paterno was named a "Free Spirit" the next year, Brandon wrote him a little note congratulating him from a fellow "Free Spirit." Brandon also thanked Paterno for making his freshman year at Penn State so special. That was the year Penn State football made a come back and almost had a shot at a national championship with the exception of a last-second loss at Michigan.

Paterno had responded to Brandon's note and invited Brandon to talk to him since both families vacationed at the same New Jersey seashore town. That talk never happened.

Once during a Penn State-Ohio State game, our youngest son Michael, who was then in sixth grade, said he hoped "JoePa" would still be coaching when he got to Penn State. I laughed then, thinking that would never happen, but it did. Michael is a sophomore at Penn State this year.

Last spring on the day of the annual inter-squad Blue and White game, Michael and a few of his friends somehow were walking to Beaver Stadium and, unbeknownst to them, were in front of Paterno's house when he pulled up in a white Mercedes. They pleaded with Paterno to pose for a photo with them and despite that fact that it was Blue and White game day and he was very busy, the old coach let them take the photo.

And so today I am sad. I am sad because the leadership of Penn State, Paterno included, has let me and every Penn State fan and alumni down. In an effort to perhaps protect a former assistant coach (obviously not worthy of protecting), and the football program, Paterno, Spanier and everyone else in the leadership chain of command, has placed a dark cloud over thousands and thousands of fans and alumni.

I am sad that Paterno's coaching career has had to come to such an end. I am sad that all the good this man has done for Penn State and college football will be overshadowed by a very bad decision to remain silent.

When I heard the decision to fire Paterno last night, I immediately lost all interest in attending this week's big football game with Nebraska. Suddenly it just didn't matter. Michael and I had planned to go to the game, but I called Michael and said I didn't think I wanted to go. Today, I've changed my mind. I need to be there Saturday as does every Penn State alumni in person or in spirit to show our support for the school, the board of trustees and a team that has had nothing to do with this terrible situation.

I am disappointed and saddened by all that has transpired these last few days, but I'm still proud to be a Penn State alumni. I hope Brandon, and eventually Michael when he graduates in two years, can feel the same way.

And that is why I wear my Penn State logo shirt to work today, because there are still people at Penn State who know how to do the right thing.

We are … Penn State.

Friday, November 11, 2011

FSU Boys Basketball Opens With Win Over Jacksonville - 79-76

A surprisingly good crowd showed up on Veterans Day - 11-11-11 - to see the Noles outscore the Jacksonville Dolphins 79-63.

Lulu and I scored a nice pair of seats - on the foul line in the 5th row form the floor - $10 each.

The next game is University of Central Florida on Monday at home at 7 PM.

First Half Stats are in black - second half - red.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

If Oprah Can't Do It - It Can't Be Done



Here is Oprah after losing 67 pounds of fat. There is 67 pounds of fat in that wagon.

Oprah could not even lift 67 pounds of fat.

Oprah gained back all that weight. Will Harry?

When Oprah retired - Lulu lost one of her best friends. Next to "All My Children" - which was cancelled - I think Lulu watched more Oprah than anything. To prove it - we have a DVR full of missed episodes that she guards with her life.

I only remember one Oprah show distinctly - and according to the surveys taken - it has been ranked as the top Oprah show of all time.

Simply put - Oprah goes on a diet. She hires all the best cooks and trainers that money could buy and she loses 67 pounds - yes - 67 pounds. After all that fanfare - she gains the weight back. Whenever weight gain comes up - I would use my old worn out quote, "If Oprah can't do it - it can't be done." With all the queens horses and all the queens men - she couldn't stop turning to Humpty again. Like all of us - Oprah is a product of her genes. She was just destined to be fat.

On my all-time favorite episode - Oprah comes on stage in a tight black pair of jeans - she looks fantastic. Then she pulls out a red Radio Flyer wagon with a giant bag of fat on it! The bag is huge. Oprah tries to lift it up and can't do it. To think she had been walking around with that much fat wrapped around her waist is truly amazing.

When I retired in 2003 - I weighed 223 pounds. After 33 years of having two ice cream cones for lunch a day - I had a big pot belly. My logic was - my Dad had a big belly - my Mom was heavy - even my sons were showing signs of the same Everhart disease. Since Oprah could not beat the disease with all her money - how could I possibly succeed on a teacher's pension.

Last year - my friend and neighbor Shirley Wiegand retired. Shirley - from Wisconsin - loves all the great food that state has to offer. She has a wine cellar - and if you want a really good party - you invite Shirley. She will bring a case of "the finest stuff." She won't be miffed if I say she was portly.

When Shirley retired from being a law professor - she was worried that she would have a hard time filling her life with something meaningful. According to the Oprah rule - we never expected her to do what she did. In a matter of a year - she lost 70 pounds. Now Shirley is not a tall woman - so this is an extremely great accomplishment. She did not join a gym and she certainly had a lot more time to eat. But here she is looking fantastic.

By now I weighed 217 pounds. Yes - it was less than the 223 pounds I weighed when I retired - but those 6 pounds were probably lost because of living in a hot climate and wearing less clothes - or a bad scale :-)

I talked to my doctor - and he said - "Harry - if you eat less than 2000 calories a day - you will lose a pound a week." I told him that I do not eat much - he repeated "a pound a week."
Some people say "before" and "after" pictures do not look like the same person. You are not supposed to look like the same person. This picture is Shirley zip lining in Costa Rica last year.

This is Shirley now. The pictures show her being active. She and Wayne love to hike.

So I asked Shirley what was her secret. She said there is no secret - you must eat less and exercise more. She told me how she cut down on food and drink and how she walked a lot. But then - she said something - "Tap and Track."

Shirley - Lulu - and I are iPhone junkies. We carry our Apple iPhones everywhere - and use them for everything except maybe toilet paper.

"Tap and Track" is an iPhone app - or program. It costs $4.00 - and one of the biggest bargains since the $15 marriage license I bought 40 years ago. It is simply a "balance sheet" for a "food budget." When I say food budget - I mean how much food and exercise you put into your body.

You start by entering your height - weight and age. Then you enter your degree of activity - in my case "lightly active." It then told me - you are obese. I was 5'11" - 217 pounds - 63 years old - retired - and obese. It simply said - if you eat under 2000 calories a day - you will lose a pound a week.

"Tap and Track" has a database of almost every food ever devoured. As you eat something you tap and track it into your food budget. Then it tells you how much you ate and how much you have left for the day. But what is even neater - it has a list of every activities. When you do one of the exercises - you get extra calories to eat that day. An example - if I walk 40 minutes - I burn 300 calories. That is equivalent to two McDonald's ice cream cones.

On days when I want a big meal - or get invited out to eat - I take on some extra exercise to balance the food budget. As long as I keep my budget balanced - I will lose a pound a week - my doctor promised that - and Tap and Track verified it. If you fall off the wagon one day - there is always another day tomorrow.

The Results.

On September 21st - I started using Tap and Track. Every time I ate something - I put it into the iPhone. When Lulu is on the road or at work - I would lilt around town checking out the over 300 restaurants we have in Tallahassee. My first surprise was Kentucky Fried Chicken for lunch. I ordered a chicken breast - my weakness. Tap and track said KFC breast = 585 calories! Yikes - with mashed potatoes - gravy - corn on the cob - rolls - I hot 1200 calories for one lunch. Wow - I thought this was going to be impossible.

This is the main screen from Tap and Track. This was after breakfast today

Slow but surely - the weight is coming down.

Examples of some exercises - tap one and it take calories away.

Type in a food - and it finds the food in the database - even from restaurant menus.

Here is an example of some of the stuff I ate that day.

I weigh myself every morning when I wake up.

So with the help of Tap and Track - I kept eating my favorites - but less of them. With the Tap and Track as constant encouragement - I ate less. I saved my calories for supper and evening snacks. It felt great to be knowing that I had extra calories left. I knew I would lose a pound a week and still have that midnight snack.

It is as simple as that. I went from 217 to 199 in 6 weeks. After about 2 weeks - Lulu noticed the difference in me. So she started. Girls get cheated - they can't eat as much as men without gaining weight. Tap and Track gave her 1300 calories a day to lose a pound a week.

After a year of traveling - visiting 35 states in 35 weeks - plus Germany - England - France - Brazil - Australia - New Zealand - she gained 20 pounds. She felt terrible and as hopeless as I had felt. But in 4 weeks she has lost 12 pounds - yes - 3 pounds a week.

It is not how much you lose that is important. It is the downward trend that matters. We both weigh ourselves every morning when we wake up (we weigh less then because of breathing out water all night.) Yes - it goes up and down - depending on the last time you went to the bathroom - but the trend is in the right direction.

I did not want to announce this at the beginning of my quest because if I failed - I would look hopeless. But this morning I broke 200 - and that is a mile stone. I have not weighed under 200 pounds in 25 years. I went from a 38 inch waist to a 34 inch waist. Losing 17 pounds is like carrying around a bowling ball all day.

My energy level has gone off the chart. No - I have not taken any drugs. No I have not had any liposuction. That comes later :-) Yes - in some areas - your skin gets loose and you do not look like a teenager - but you get tons of compliments.

Yesterday - I did 4 hours of yard work - non-stop. I could not do that before. Imagine my surprise when Tap and Track said I could eat 2400 extra calories if I wanted because of that work! I didn't do that - but had an extra slice of pizza - 200 calories - for supper.

I am now halfway to my goal. Once you reach your goal - you get more calories to maintain it. When I get there - and I guarantee you I will - the Oprah hard part comes along. Keeping your weight down - requires a lifestyle change. I can honestly tell you that I am not hungry. I can also tell you that my exercise routine has not changed much - maybe 4 walks of 40 minutes a week. What will help me sustain my weight is how darn good I feel. I can bend over better - my balance is much better - my stamina is great. The other day a lady complimented me for running up the steps at the stadium. It is always a great to get compliments from the ladies :-)

Stayed tuned for naked pictures - when I reach 180 pounds :-)


With All The Terrible News Out There - My Troubles Seem So Minor

Monday, November 07, 2011

It Can Happen Anywhere

I am so sorry that one guy can do this much damage to so many good people. Penn State is still one of the finest colleges in the country. You just have to join the rest of us and realize that when a "few athletes of Bobby Bowden's players cheat on a music test" or a "Miami booster buys some football players a hooker" or "USC buys a Heisman trophy winner an SUV" - it happens everywhere. It is something impossible to control. Your just try your best.

I love Pennsylvania and all it stands for - I like to tease PSU fans but we have alumni in the family :-)



My impression of Happy Valley will not change a bit. I will cheer for PSU every time they play Notre Dame :-)

I guess the worst part of it is - is that PSU fans were always running around laughing when hardships happened to other schools. It could never happen at State College they said. Now the world is going to want a little schadenfreude.

I think Joe - Spanier - and a few others will lose their job over this. Joe should have personally gone to the cops - not hand it off to someone else. Spanier knew everything - he will be running for a golden parachute. Sandusky is a sick piece of crap - I would rant about him more but then people would remind me that Lulu was 16 when we eloped - 40 years ago.

Some fans will just use this as an excuse to dump Joe - something they wanted for 15 years. Now they have a "legit" reason.

This will not affect the football fans. They will continue to ride their motorhomes to Happy Valley and watch the games. They love the ritual. Maybe ticket prices will drop - but I doubt it.

They took 10 wins away from Bobby Bowden and handed Joe his all-time winning record when a few players cheated on an online music course test. Heck - they banned Pete Rose from baseball for life because he bet on his own team to win. What do you get for covering up a crime like this?

Don't you wish it was just a bunch of players getting drunk or stealing iPhones? or getting free shoes.

Let me go back and re-read this before I post it. I do not want to offend any friends.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

FSU Girls Clobber Florida Southern 98-46

The 14th ranked Florida State Seminoles wasted no time in opening the season with a 98-46 victory over Florida Southern of Lakeland Florida.

The 2:00 game was played before a relatively good crowd since the doors were open to free admission.

The Seminoles only lost two players to graduation last year - and there is only one senior on this year's team - 6 feet 4 inch Forward Cierra Brevard from Sandusky Ohio.

I scanned the game program - the following four pictures give the basics about the team.




Tin Can Campers Come To Florida Capitol

What a beautiful sunny and breezy Saturday morning at the Florida Capitol. It was a great day to see the Florida Tin Can Camper Club and their old time campers.

In the 1920s and 1930s - people from up north in converted Mode T campers would drive to Florida for the winter for sunshine and warm sand. They would come around this time of year and then go home in time for Easter. They were called tin can campers because in those days there was no fast food restaurants and few motels - thus the name Tin Can Campers.

This is a 1964 Airstream Bambi. Today they cost about $40,000.

This is the inside of a 1950 Shasta Trailer.

This dinette reminded Lulu of our old 1977 Scamp that we took on a 30 day trip across the country from Pennsylvania to California and back. My Dad, Lulu, Drew and me.

This shasta was pulled by a very rare 1959 Chevy (Batman) El Camino.

This polished aluminum camper fit on the back of a pickup truck.

These old campers bring back a lot of good memories for Lulu and Harry.

Each camper tried to be more authentic than the next. Their setups include old furniture and household appliances.

This old Chevy truck faces the front of the old Capitol - now a museum.

Hours of polishing and buffing went into making this aluminum bullet shine.

Andy Rooney Died Yesterday

Andy Rooney died yesterday. He was 92 years old. He was a fantastic writer but was known mostly for his commentary at the end of the "60 Minutes" news show. He ended that show every Sunday night as the stopwatch approached 8 PM.

Just one month ago - Andy did his last show. Sometimes - I would miss the start of the show - but seldom would I miss the last few minutes - Andy's minutes. He checked into the hospital for an operation and never came out.

I bought and read several of Andy's books. I liked and remember many of the things he said. He affected my life greatly - he reminded me of my Dad. He despised bullshit.

Losing him and Steve Jobs in such a short period deeply saddens me. I wonder if Andy liked Steve Jobs.


Andy wrote for Stars and Stripes during World War II.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Neat Way To Get Back At The Big Banks


The big banks have gotten America into this financial mess. Here is a little easy way to get back at them. Besides - pulling all your accounts and joining a credit union - this one just feels good. When banks send you all this junk mail to apply for credit cards - they include a pre-paid envelope. They only pay for the envelopes that are used - like 25 cents an envelope. Take those envelopes - stuff them as full as you can - put a message inside to them. Then mail the envelopes. Not only do the banks have to pay by weight - the post office gets a needed boost. I always love plans that do not cost me anything - but I get my point across.

I Just Ordered the New iPhone 4S - When I Read This I Looked in the Mirror


by Sam Graham-Felsen



On Black Friday in 2009, I said goodbye to my iPhone. And when Steve Jobs’ successor announces the newest version today, I’m going to ignore the whole spectacle. Or try to, anyway.

In 2007 I was one of those people who obsessively monitored MacRumors.com for iPhone scuttlebutt, then waited in line for hours and bought one the first day it came out. At the time, I was working on Barack Obama’s digital campaign team in Chicago, and I was wide-eyed about the iPhone’s potential to empower the grassroots. A volunteer, I imagined, could pull up a map and find five doors of likely voters to knock on; or share streaming videos of Obama speeches at local diners and farmers markets—or even collect credit card donations at rallies. It would be easier than ever to change the world.

Indeed, the iPhone changed my life. Before I got my iPhone, rushing to the airport was a harrowing experience; after, it was actually kind of fun. I could check in en route to my flight and instantly get my boarding pass, use the extra half hour to find a cheap but critically-lauded Mexican place in my destination city. I was never bored. Whenever I came to a red light or a long line, I reflexively reached for my iPhone. The Terminal 3 waiting area became the most interesting place in the world.

I could easily spend three straight hours on my phone without even noticing. If I’d spent three straight hours watching TV, I would be disgusted with myself. But I was convinced that the Internet was more edifying than television—even though most of my online diet consisted of gossipy garbage—because it was “interactive.” I couldn’t possibly be a zombie, because everyone knows zombies don’t comment and share.

Yet it was nearly impossible for me to sit through dinner without reaching for my iPhone. Even when my wife was in the middle of telling me something important, I couldn’t resist peeking at that tiny screen under the table to find out whether a high school acquaintance liked my latest status update. “What is so important?” she demanded, and I knew I had no good answer.

Soon after another iPhone-related argument, I traveled to Turkey to give a presentation about my experiences on the Obama campaign and about how tools like the iPhone could be used to build a movement. But for all my talk about the liberating power of technology, I was beginning to see how imprisoned I was by it . On the long flight home, my iPhone on airplane mode, I began reading Henry David Thoreau’s Walden. It was one of several dozen classics that I’d downloaded for free in a fit of literary quixotism, then ignored.

I was almost embarrassed by the degree to which Walden felt directed toward me. I was particularly stung by his withering take on news junkies: “Hardly a man takes a half-hour's nap after dinner, but when he wakes he holds up his head and asks, ‘What's the news?’ as if the rest of mankind had stood his sentinels ... Pray tell me anything new that has happened to a man anywhere on this globe,” he wrote in 1854.

And when I came across his famous verdict—“Men have become tools of their tools”—I felt like an enormous tool.

The next morning, I was in Boston with my family for Thanksgiving. Jetlagged and jarred by Thoreau, I woke up at 5 a.m. I got a bike out of my parent’s basement, took out my iPhone, and looked up directions to Walden Pond.

When I arrived, I read Walden’s most celebrated lines: “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life.” I thought about how it’s become fashionable to pooh-pooh Thoreau as a weak-willed hypocrite who lived a short walk away from civilization and had his mother deliver food to his doorstep. Many of these Thoreau skeptics dismiss critics of technology as curmudgeonly alarmists. Of course, I was one of those people.

I read on: “I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life...”

No matter how impure Thoreau’s experiment in simple living may have been, there was something undeniable in his suggestion that we often have to strip convenience from our lives to feel alive. The iPhone had certainly made my life easier, but had it made my life better?

First thing the next morning, I went to the AT&T store. I had to explain several times that I didn’t want to trade my iPhone in for a newer model, or a Droid, or anything with the Internet. I just wanted something that would allow me to make calls. The sales clerk looked at me with an expression that read: “Who gets something worse on Black Friday?” I walked out with a ridiculously unsleek '90s-era Nokia that my friends still tease me about.

Since then, I haven’t become a Renaissance man or a soulful motorcycle mechanic, but my daily life has improved. Commutes are no longer opportunities to catch up on email or Twitter, so I’m reading books again. It feels a little like getting a new contact lens prescription: Things that were blurred together feel sharper and more distinctly colored. And of course, I’m no longer engaged in half-conversations with the people in front of me and half-conversations with the Internet.

There are, of course, inconveniences. I had to buy a printer for my boarding passes. I hand-write driving directions or text them to myself. If I’m in an unfamiliar neighborhood or a new city, I actually have to do some planning before I bolt out the door. And when I get lost and am too embarrassed to ask a stranger, I have to call my wife, who has an iPhone, for directions.

One of the hardest things to get used to was being unable to instantly share my awesome and horrible experiences with my friends online. Now, I write down my impressions in a notebook, and by the time I get back to a computer, they rarely feel like must-tweets. I’m forced to slog through the tedium of waiting, to wrestle with dull passages and slow scenes, to grapple with confusing and sometimes scary situations on my own. I’m able to savor an idea and allow it to gestate.

When I had an iPhone, the Internet was no longer a destination; it was on me every day, like a piece of clothing I put on first thing in the morning. When I get tempted to return to that life, I ask myself: Do I really want the Internet to be something I feel naked without?

I still covet the thinner, faster, lighter iPhone 5. But I’m sticking with my boring little Nokia.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

This Is Where I Taught For 33 Years

Amy was one of my best students. She lives in LA now.

Wayne And Shirley Got A Neat Trailer - An Alite

Stoltzfus - pronounced "stolts - foos" is a Pennsylvania Dutch Amish name.

Wayne put the top up in 30 seconds for me. Inside is a king size bed and standing room.




Wayne and Shirley just spent a few weeks in NYC - she flew on to Mexico to meet here sisters - Wayne drove home. What surprised me is what he brought along. In Pennsylvania - they bought an Alite Trailer.

Alite is a good name for it. The trailer is shaped like a be "A" - sort of like a chalet. It is also very light - according to the one video it is only 350 pounds. It folds down to travel flat - but in 30 seconds - the top is up and the king size bed inside is ready for camping.

Wayne and Shirley both retired this year - and it is hard to find them home. With the new camper - I expect we will even see less of them.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

STANLEY FISH Wrote This For The New York Times Today

Last week my colleague David Brooks made a request I couldn’t refuse. He asked people over 70 to “write a brief report on your life so far, an evaluation of what you did well, of what you did not do well and what you learned along the way.” Well, here I am, reporting in.

My father was an immigrant from Poland, a taciturn, massive man who began with nothing and became a major force in the plumbing and heating industry. Once when I locked myself in the bathroom because I had done something bad — I had either set a fire under the gas tank of a car parked in a vacant lot or pushed my baby sister’s carriage off the porch with her in it, I can’t remember which — he knocked down the door with a single blow of his fist. My mother was a volatile woman with a fierce but untutored intelligence and a need to control everything. She and I were engaged in a contest of wills until the day she died after having, willfully, refused treatment for congestive heart failure.

We were far from well off — I still remember the $8 secondhand bike I got as a birthday present; I loved it — but we were, like everyone else we knew, upwardly mobile, and that meant college, even though no one in my family had ever been there. I was not bookish; I spent most of my time playing sports badly, playing cards a little better, and lusting after girls and cars. But I was lucky and that, I believe, made all the difference.

My first and decisive bit of luck (in addition to having parents who wanted their children to succeed) was to have had Sarah Flanagan as an English teacher in high school. It was the time when adults were asking me a terrifying question: “What are you going to be?” or, in another version, “What are you going to do with your life?” The implication was that I was not yet anything and that, unless something happened quickly, my life would come to naught.

What happened was that Miss Flanagan told me, not in so many words, that writing papers about poems was something I was good at, and since I was desperate to be good at something, I took what she said to heart and began to think of myself as someone who could at least do that.

My next bit of luck was to have had Maurice Johnson as an English teacher at the University of Pennsylvania (one of only two schools that admitted me). Johnson was an urbane man of dry wit who offered me a model of what the academic life might be like, if I could only learn to dress better and develop a taste for irony. (To this day I never get it.)

Luck followed me to Yale graduate school (where I was admitted, I was told, as an experiment; Penn was a bit below Yale’s standards) in the form of three of my classmates, A. Bartlett Giamatti, Richard Lanham and Michael O’Loughlin, men of enormous learning and literary sophistication who gave the gift of their friendship to a rube from Providence, R. I. Many years later, when I met another classmate at a professional meeting, she exclaimed, “Who would have thought back then that you of all people would make it?”

The crowning piece of luck — I am still speaking only of my professional life — was to enter the job market in 1962, when higher education was expanding and everyone I knew had at least three offers at good schools. (We thought this moment would go on forever, but it never came again.) I chose U. C. Berkeley, in large part because my first wife was willing to go there, and found myself in a department becoming more prominent by the day; all I had to do was go along for the ride.

So that’s what I did well. I arrived at places at the right time and had enough sense to seize the opportunities that were presented to me; and that continued to be the case in a succession of appointments, book projects, administrative positions, even the opportunity to write for this newspaper, which came about one day in 1995 when out of the blue someone from the Op-Ed page called and asked if I would write something. As usual, I didn’t have the slightest idea of what to do, but I said yes anyway to this newest piece of luck.

What I didn’t do so well, and haven’t yet done, was figure out how to be at ease in the world. I noticed something about myself when I was married to my first wife, an excellent cook and hostess who knew how to throw a party. My main job was to dole out the drinks, which I liked to do because I could stand behind the bar and never have to really talk to anyone. (“Do you want ice with that?”) My happiest moment, and the moment I was looking forward to all evening, was when the party was over and failure of any number of kinds had been avoided once again.

If you regard each human interaction as an occasion for performance, your concern and attention will be focused on how well or badly you’re doing and not on the people you’re doing it with. This turned out to be true for me in the classroom, on vacations, at conferences, in department meetings, at family gatherings, at concerts, in museums, at weddings, even at the movies. Always I have one eye on the clock and at least a part of the other on whether I’m doing my part or holding my own; and always there is a sigh of relief at the end. Whew, got through that one!

It may be unnecessary to say so, but this way of interacting or, rather, not interacting does not augur well for intimate relationships. If you characteristically withhold yourself, keep yourself in reserve, refuse to risk yourself, those you live with are not going to be getting from you what they need. So my first wife didn’t get what she needed and neither, in her early years, did my daughter. Typically, I escaped to work and a structured environment where the roles are pre-packaged and you can ride the rails of scripted routines without having to display or respond to actual feelings.

I’ve tried to do better in my second marriage, and I have done better with my daughter now that she is an adult who draws sustenance from other sources and doesn’t need everything I don’t have to give. But I’m still overscheduling myself and trying as hard as I can to make sure that I have absolutely no time for thinking seriously about life, never mind reporting on it.

And what have I learned along the way? Three things, closely related. The first is that people are often in pain; their lives are shadowed by memories and anticipations of inadequacy, and they are always afraid that the next moment will bring disaster or exposure. You can see it in their faces, and that is especially true of children who have not yet learned how to pretend that everything is all right and who are acutely aware of the precariousness of their situations.

The second thing I have learned is that the people who are most in pain are the people who act most badly; the worse people behave, the more they are in pain. They’re asking for help, although the form of the request is such that they are likely never to get it.

The third thing I have learned follows from the other two. It is the necessity of generosity. I suppose it is a form of the golden rule: if you want them to be generous to you, be generous to them. The rule acknowledges the fellowship of fragility we all share. In your worst moments — which may appear superficially to be your best moments — what you need most of all is the sympathetic recognition of someone who says, if only in a small smile or half-nod, yes, I have been there too, and I too have tried to shore up my insecurity with exhibitions of pettiness, bluster, overconfidence, petulance and impatience. It’s not, “But for the grace of God that could be me”; it’s, “Even with the grace of God, that will be, and has been, me.”