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Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Remember Saturn 5 on Dragon Manned Launch Day - Teaching Earth And Space Science

Saturn 5 Rocket to Moon - 1969
Spacex Dragon - Manned Rocket to Space Station - 2020
ROCKET LAUNCH DAY - The big launch is today at 4:33 PM. It really flashes me back to the summer of 1969 - when I was a student at Kutztown - taking 15 credits about space science. I was working as a life guard 5 hours a day in Tamaqua - and driving to Kutztown for two classes a day in the morning. I was driving a brand new 1969 VW - cost $1649 - long low payments. I really needed a good car that summer - with work and school. At the end of the season - in August - I drove that VW to Woodstock with Bob LeMaster and Bob Rowan. Also in August at the end of the life guard season - I drove the VW to Miami Beach. My friend Richard Kantor went along to split the gas money. It was a 30 hour trip then - all along Route 1. We did stop at Cape Canaveral to tour the space station. I would have given anything to stay there to work for NASA - but I had a year of college left to do. 

I met Lulu that summer at the swimming pool. We started a two year romance that ended up with eloping in 1971 - to Miami Beach. We got a hotel there on the beach for $8 a night - and just enjoyed touring around Miami and swimming in the surf. There was a big planetarium in Miami and I dreamed of just staying and doing planetarium shows - I was certified to do that. Kutztown had a program called Astronomical Instrumentation and I was in that program when Apollo landed on the moon. 

The Saturn 5 Rocket was essentially a big dumb booster powered by liquid fuels. It was designed by Nazi Doctor Werner Von Braun. It has less computer power than a standard cellphone. But boy did those boosters thunder your guts when it left the earth. NASA tried to make it seem possible for normal human flight - but the laws of physics will always make is very dangerous. Today - we are doing essentially doing the same thing - using a tremendous amount of fuel to get objects into earth’s orbit. 50 years I was teaching how it would get easier and easier - but it has not. 

Maybe it was because I was 21 - and so full of pee and new knowledge - bravado. Now 50 years later - it seems more risky and dangerous than it did back then. NASA was America’s blonde haired wunderkind. It could do no wrong. After burning up 3 astronauts on the launch pad in Apollo 1 and two full Space Shuttle crews - we know poo happens. 

In 1970 - I had a student Peter. He loved science so much that he took there of my courses. He was very motivated. We lost touch after a few years. I had wondered what became of him. 50 years later we made contact on the internet. We exchanged life histories. He became an engineer and worked on building the International Space Station. He also bought and flew a helicopter - which included a very serious wreck. Today he lives near Huntsville Alabama - where spaceships are made. It is also where Werner von Braun used to live. Pete has all sorts of radio equipment and he is following the space launch intently. 

It was fun teaching earth and space science all those years. I had lots of maps - pictures - movies - models - and trips. In the 1980s - we added computers. Kids loved that stuff. Growing up in coal country in Tamaqua - there were very few really good jobs. Being a teacher was one of them. When the rocket blasts off today - all that comes racing back. 

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Doohan iTank Electric Scooter

Doohan iTank
I really enjoy riding my Vespa Scooter. It is fast - quiet - smooth - dependable. It is just approaching its first 1000 miles. But I have always wanted an electric one. I had one way back in 1975 - but it was not practical - slow and short range.

The Doohan iTank seems like a nice combination for an old rider. It has the added stability of two front wheels that articulate like a Jeep for off-read riding. This also adds braking and stability - something older guys need. It has 3 big disk brakes that are controlled hydraulically - not by cables.

It goes about 40 MPH with a range of 50 miles on a charge. You just plug it into a 110 volt outlet for a full charge in 6 hours.

It can easily haul two adults. The batteries can be charged in the scooter or taken out and charged in the home. The price is listed at $3500. Supposed there ia a company connected with Tesla - renting them out in Vegas.

Saturday, May 09, 2020

Graduation at FSU

She is so busy with other projects - like China - Germany - and her new book - sometimes I forget that Lulu is a full professor at Florida State University. She teaches classes like everyone else. So yesterday she participated in the spring graduation program a bit. Using live Internet - students and faculty celebrated the spring graduation. The professors dressed up in their caps and gowns and saluted their students. It is not the same - but it was very nice.

Lulu will not be teaching in London this summer - but no one else will be at the FSU Study Centre there. She will be doing a little grant work from home - the rest of the time we will be waiting for the plague to lift. This has not stopped Lulu from planning some new exciting projects. She keeps going and going.

Since Lulu started at FSU in 2004 - most of her classes have been taught online and at the graduate level. I have had the pleasure of seeing Lulu teach FSU classes back home from - Germany - Australia - France - Hong Kong - Iceland - New Zealand - Scotland - England - Italy - and Greece. Sometimes we frantically were searching out a free Internet connection to squat on minutes before class started.

No one knows when the plague will lift. Until a vaccine is found - we will enjoy things from the safety of our home. We miss the kids. Lulu had a trip scheduled to London and Paris for May - but it was cancelled by the airline. She was going to take her sister Lori to see the kids and tour Europe for the first time. There will be plenty of time for that later.

Congratulations to graduates all over. I am sorry the plague has rained on your parade.

Friday, May 01, 2020

Lovely Lulu Discovers Thinning Shears

Our Amazon thinning shears - $12
AFTER - Harry after the shearing - 72 is not pretty
I did not have a haircut since January when we arrived home from China. The plague has had us under quarantine. One thing about being an old man - hair grows everywhere - even from my teeth. I could not stand it anymore - so we went on Amazon - and ordered a pair of thinning shears. They are scissors designed to cut only some of the hair - leaving some a little longer to blend in.

Back in 1971 - Lulu tried to cut my hair once - to terrible results. I ended up taking it down to a buzz cut with dents. But now that Lulu's eyes are better - and I am really desperate - I figure that the only difference between a good haircut and a bad haircut is a month.

The worse part was getting Lulu used to opening the shears before she moved back from my head. If you back out with the shears closed it hurts as it plucks the hair. She got good at that about half way through. I kept reminding her to only take 1/4 inch - but I could see 2 inch long hairs falling like white snow.

I honestly think she did a good job - and could probably get better if she wanted to. She seems to like what she did - and you know me when it comes to a bargain.

BEFORE - You can't buy color like that
BEFORE - I may look like a Q-tip - but it is all me
AFTER - Harry the red neck

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

My Summer of 1968 Car - A 1960 MGA Twin Cam

1960 MGA Twin Cam - just like mine

In the summer of 1968 - I had just finished my second year at Kutztown State College. I was a broke college student - and took a job working at a Jewish Camp in the Pocono's. I was the canoeing trip counselor making $800 for 8 weeks. Of course my parents thought it was good to get me out of town. When the job was over they paid me all at once. I never had that much money. You would think I would have spent it wisely. I paid $650 for an MGA Twin Cam.

My car looked just like this restored one - same color - same wheels - same top. 

It is easily the prettiest car I ever had. The Twin Cam engine was a limited edition. They only made 2000 in 3 years. They built enough to qualify to race it at LeMans. It only made 115 HP but it was a very light car and was capable of 147 MPH when tuned to race. I remember getting it up to 110 MPH once right before it burned a hole in a piston. I learned really quickly how much a $650 sports car really costs you. It cost $235 to replace that piston - after spending weeks trying to find one. 

The car had 4 disk brakes - way ahead of its time. It sounded great and had a poor heater. It did not have seat belts or head restraints. One thing I really liked - you could hand crank start it. I would do that in crowded areas and in 1968 - it drove the old guys wild. I got lots of stories from guys and their old Model T's. 

My friend visited yesterday in his MG Midget. It certainly jogged the good times - and bad times. 

I drove it in 1968 and 1969. The next summer after 3 months of being a life guard at the Bungalow Pool and meeting Lulu - I bought a brand VW beetle. I went from 110HP to 50HP. That summer I took that Beetle to Woodstock and Miami Beach in August. 

Knock off disk wheels with disk brakes

What a pretty body

The Twin Cam engine looked like a V8 - but it was just a 4. 

The Twin Cam badge - a status symbol

Nancy's New Book Will Be Released in September

My lovely wife Dr Nancy Everhart is a professor of library science at Florida State University. Her latest book is being released this September.

Nancy started her career as a school librarian in the Tamaqua Public Schools. She went on to be a professor in library science at St Johns University in New York City for 10 years. When I retired from teaching - she was recruited by FSU - and in 2004 - we started our new life in Tallahassee.

In January - we just returned from a 6 month stint in China - where she was a Fulbright Scholar teaching at Beijing Normal University. Three years before that we spent 3 months in Berlin where she was a DAAD Fellowship Scholar at Humboldt University. We have spent 8 summers in London and 7 summer in Hawaii where she taught summer courses in library media.

A rolling stone gathers no moss.

Everhart Book on Amazon

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Today JP Visited With His 1963 MG Midget

JP took this picture with the drone

My friend JP owns an MG Midget. Today he visited. We sat on the porch - at a distance - and had take-out lunches. It was such a pretty day - great weather for this tiny convertible.

In 1964 - one could buy a Midget for $2400. It weighed 1600 pounds and had 60 HP. This gave it a top speed of 80 MPH. The top was a frame that you would snap on a canvas cover. The windows were sliders - there were no door handles.

This car was produced during the years of the Beatles invasion. If you look carefully you can see a British flag on the side of the car. In 1963 I was 15 years old and eagerly waiting for my chance to drive. When I went to Kutztown State College in 1966 - there was a sports car dealer there - and I would visit the showroom often. Even though the car was $2400 then - in 1970 I signed my first teacher contract for $6500 a year. When I did graduate I bought a brand new MGB - for $2950. It was like a half year of salary.

A heater was an option - no roll up windows

Monday, April 27, 2020

I Just Sold This Roaster For $20

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My grandmother - Bertha Hontz - was a wonderful lady. We called her Mammy. She married Roy Hontz after her first husband Roy Everhart died. But my biggest memory of Mammy was her making a cooked lunch for my sisters and I while we attended Tamaqua Schools. In those days she lived on Broad Street in Tamaqua - and kids used to rush home for lunch every day from school. I went to North Ward School - the red Junior High on Broad Street - and the old High School on High Street.

Mammy's favorite kitchen appliance was a Roaster like this one. Hers was the floor model that wheeled around on coasters. Westinghouse made them. Mammy cooked everything in hers. I loved the steamed buns for hot dogs and barbecues. I guess the roaster has been replaced by the "modern" crock pot. 

My friend Joan has a whole bunch of household items she wanted to sell. She is cautious about people coming to her house - so I am selling them for her. I have my own little showroom in our detached garage. A lady came all the way from Quincy to buy the roaster. It turns out she is a public school teacher too.