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Friday, July 28, 2006

My Student Chuck Shuck is Going to Iraq Again August 21st

Well I am finally home at Fort Hood!!!! For 3 weeks anyways lol...............another change came down today and I promise I will not tell you another change unitl my feet actually hit Iraq............yes I said Iraq, I have to be in Iraq by the 21st of August so I think I might leave here like the 18th or so.........I have the orders in hand so it is for sure I am leaving............Many people have asked for my address, but I will not have one until I get over there because I am not sure where I am going (most likely Baghdad) just quite yet...............Tomorrow I am taking Gabe out to the lake at Fort Hood and we are going to do some vehicle searches and maybe even give out a few citations while we are at it (for no seatbelts)...........anyways have a great weekend, hope you and your families do something fun and keep praying for the soldiers overseas especially for my good friend SGM Wally Murrell who is with that Alaska unit that just got extended, he is one of th e best guys you will ever meet and fixing to retire after 20+ years of service to this awesome nation............Hope you enjoyed one of my special moments with Gabe caught on camera also......Chuck

Great Site to See Pictures of Tamaqua

Click on this headline to a wonderful gallery of Tamaqua pictures.

This picture is Lehigh Street where I lived as a boy. We used to wait on the corner at the left for our ride to church.

Lehighton Girl Going To Duke Univrsity

By ED HEDES from The Times News

Lehighton's Camille Dagorn has verbally committed to continue her athletic career and education at Duke University.
It's every athlete's dream to be able to continue their education and sports career at a Division I school, but more often than not, that dream never happens.

Lehighton senior field hockey player Camille Dagorn won't have to worry about that happening.

Dagorn, confirmed this week that she has verbally committed to continue her education and field hockey career at Duke University in 2007 back in February when she was offered a scholarship.

Duke University head coach Beth Bozman was more than happy to offer Dagorn a scholarship labeling her as "Duke's No. 1 offensive recruit for 2007"

John Kotchmar - Harry's Classmate Dies

A West Penn Township man was crushed to death at a construction site in Northampton County on Wednesday morning.

John Kotchmar, 59, was killed about 9 a.m. near the intersection of Newlins Mill Road in Palmer Township.

According to police, he apparently stumbled and fell beneath the tires of a dump truck while working on a sewer line project along Van Buren Road.

Kotchmar died at the scene and death was attributed to crushing injuries to his head and chest, Zachary Lysek, county corner, said.

John as a defensive end on the Tamaqua JV Football Team gave Harry his first "head slap" as he was coming out of the backfield to block - knocking Harry silly. He never recovered.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Latest on the Barn

It is certainly not as nice as Brad Johnson's place - but here are some shots of the work progressing in our barn. I would like to say this is how "the other folks" in Tallahassee live - but - what the heck - we share the same weather.

We hope to be completely done in a week or so.

Click on the headline for more pictures.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

For Sale - NFL and FSU Quarterback Brad Johnson's House

If you have a spare $4,000,000 - Brad Johnson is selling his Tallahassee home. He played both football and basketball at FSU - then led the Tampa Bay Bucs to the Super Bowl. Now he is leaving town.

Click on the headline for the rest of the story.

Indoor Football Coming to Tallahassee

AIFL - American Indoor Football League will be fielding a team in the Tallahassee Civic Center starting in February. This arena is less than a mile from our home.

The league has a signed a three year contract to share the Civic Center with the FSU Seminole Basketball Team.

The AIFL has teams in -
Daytona Beach
Miami Valley

Click on the headline to read more about the league.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Father Damien Tours Turns 40 - This is the Molokai Leper Colony Tour We Went On

Today the Father Damien Tours turned 40. This is a tour of the famous Hawaiian Leper Colony on Molokai. Click on the headline to read the full story from the Molokai Island Times.

Running a Car on Used Cooking Oil

Today in the New York Times there is a very good article on using used cooking oil to fuel your car for free. Thousands of people are doing it. I have been following this idea for a while. The owners obtain used cooking oil from restaurants that usually pay to have it taken away. Some owners also buy soybean oil at Sam's where the price of it is cheaper than gasoline.

Click on the headline above to read the article in the New York Times.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

My Student Chuck Shuck and Gabe Going to Afganistan

Hi Guys...........Hope you guys are all having a great weekend........mine has been hot and long ha ha, Training here ended today and we leave Tuesday morning........Now the big question is, what dog has made the cut, as we know Doki was the dog I came here thinking I was taking with me and Gabe was the dog that just couldn't pull it togther........well.......after 11 days of great training in a very hot and humid desert Gabe prevailed over Doki......Doki failed a very hard test today about 4 am while searching a roadway and was givin a NO GO to the next stage.......he has not adjusted well to the heat here and did not want to work, the other day he ran from me while searching an area and ran back to the trailer and would not come back...........Gabe has done a complete turn around and has done a outstanding job.....I am still leaving on the 12th of August for Afganistan and will keep u all updated as I get info.......Thanks again for your support and I really enjoy all the e mails.......I have enclosed a pic of Myself and Gabe in case you forgot what he looks like, as for Doki, he will go to a new handler here in like 4 weeks and start a new 4 1/2 month course...........God bless you and your family, our troops overseas and the United States of America
Chuck and Gabe

Thursday, July 20, 2006

What does the Barn Look Like Right Now?

At 4PM this evening - our barn looked like this. Mayfair and Wesley Head are painting it. Wesley painted our house last year. They do an excellent job. Wesley comes to the job with a ladder - a can of paint - and a brush. He does the whole thing by hand and never uses masking tape. When shopping for anything - one looks for quality - service - and price. Usually you are lucky if you get 2 out of 3. With the Heads - we get all 3.

Today We Jumped the Biggest Hurdle of the Barn Project

We had a busy day today with the barn project. Everything had to be coordinated perfectly - a back hoe digger - laying the pipe - having the city do the sewer tap - have the building inspector examine the pipe work - then back filling the entire project.

It started at 8 AM and went to 4PM. Our front end loader operator was excellent. He was able to caluclate the grade as we went. He saved us hours of time. Then Keith and I had cleared the pipe for the sewer tap - then the city workers installed the tap - then the inspector came and passed our work - then the front end loader filled in the ditches and graded the lot.

Note the dark red clay soil. We made the sewer tap 8 feet underground. The clay was difficult to dig in - even with a pick and shovel. It was such a relief when the inspector said "okay - cover it up."

All that is left now - is the drywall upstairs - installing the bathroom fixtures - laying the wood floor - painting the interior walls - and completing the outside painting. We can do all the rest ourselves with no "hold ups" from the city.

Hopefully the barn will be done in time for our visit from the Taylors on August 11th.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Sorry to Neglect My Page - Busy Working on Guest House

Keith and I have been busy working on the guest house. We are in the home stretch.

Tomorrow - Thursday is a big day. We will be laying the sewer pipe and the city is tapping us onto the main line. It will require much coordination of material - back hoe digging - manual labor - inspections - and covering the pipes. Hopefully at this time tomorrow night it will all be done.

After the sewer pipe - we are home free.

Right now the painters are working on the outside of the barn. Keith and I are doing the inside walls in the workshop with 1/2 inch plywood. We are 3/4th done. After that we will paint the plywood. Then the downstairs is done and we will start to put our chelves in and organize our junk.

We have purchased all the bathroom fixtures. The builder will do the drywall in the guest house ands install the bathroom fixtures.

Next - Keith and I will lay the laminate hardwood floor in the guest house.

Finally - we will rent a ditch witch and bury the power cable from the house to the guest house.

We have our first guests scheduled for around August 10th.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Kate and Nate Came to Visit Keith

Keith's good friends - Kate and Nate drove over today to visit him from Jacksonville. That is Nate's boyhood home. Kate and Nate are going to be married in Chicago in early August. Keith is going to be one of Nathan's groomsmen.

Nate and Keith were good buddies at Georgetown. Keith visited Nate when he worked a year in Germany. When Nancy and Keith flew to London for a weekend - Nate also flew to London from Germany to visit with them.

After the wedding - Kate and Nate - will be going back to school. Nate will be in law school and Kate will be in business school at the University of Chicago.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Safely at Home in Tallahassee

We left San Diego at 1 pm - and got home in Florida at midnight. Nancy rode first class - don't ask - and I rode coach - three rows behind her.

It was fun using the GPS all the way across the country. I was able to see Phoenix - Albuquerque - Amarillo - Oklahoma City - Little Rock - The Mississippi - Memphis - Nashville - Chattanooga. From Atlanta to Tallahassee - we flew over Americus - Albany - Thomasville - Cairo.

We landed at 160 mph.

It was a fun 8 days in California - but it is nice to be back in Florida.

Nancy lost 3 hours of her birthday due to changing time zones.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Last Sunset in California

It has been fun sharing the last 8 days in California with you. From the joys of the 4th of July fireworks over the USS Reagan - to the hopelessness of getting my laptop stolen - to the soul searching at the Nixon Museum - I hope you enjoyed it as much as we did.

Last night we experienced a beautiful sunset. While shooting pictures of the surfers during twilight - it reminded me of one of Keith's posters called "Endless Summer." In the movie "Endless Summer" a couple of young men travel around the world looking for the perfect wave. Retirement has been an "Endless Summer" for us.

....And today - July 12th - is Nancy's birthday. She can be reached at -

Our Visit to Nixon's Birthplace - Boyhood Home - Museum - and Grave

Today Nancy and I enjoyed a visit to the Nixon Library. Richard Nixon was born in Yorba Linda, California. His dad built their home from a mail order kit. It was a cottage with about 800 square feet including a small 10 x 12 loft room where the 4 Nixon boys slept in 2 double beds.

Nixon's dad attempted to grow oranges and lemons on 20 acres of land. After a few years - they moved out selling the farm.

Nixon later went to Whittier College where he became class president and student body president. He had been offered a scholarship to Harvard - but could not afford to go there. After Whittier he accepted a scholarship to Duke Law School.

After Duke - Nixon returned to Yorba Linda and worked with a law firm. He later ran for Congress from California - and built a reputation "chasing communists." Eisenhower selected him to balance his presidential ticket - and he became Vice President of the United States.

In 1960 - he lost the presidential bid to John Kennedy by .1% of the vote - some say the election was stolen from him. Two year later - he ran for Governor of California - and lost. Many folks thought his career was over.

But just as Phoenix rose from the ashes - in 1968 Nixon ran for president and he won. In 1972 - he was elected by the biggest landslide - winning in every state but Massachusetts.

In 1974 - under the threat of impeachment - he was the first president to resign.

He lived on for 20 years - dying in 1994,

He will be remembered for opening up relationships with "red" China and ending the Vietnam War.

The Museum is a wonderful place to visit. It is done in a folksy motif - emphasizing his accomplishments. It does devote a whole room to the Watergate Scandal that forced his resignation.

Baby Boomers can't help but relive their formative years as they visit the exhibits. Richard Nixon is a tragic hero. I do not think he approved or was even aware of the Watergate Break-in. He had the 1972 election locked up early and did not need any "secrets" from Watergate. Unfortunately - he did take part in a coverup - and his political enemies were able to reverse his landslide victory in 1972 - with his resignation in 1974.

Nancy and I drove to Washington in January of 1973 - to see Nixon's swearing in for his second term. We slept in the car that bitter cold January night. We were guests of Congressman Gus Yatron - meeting with him and warming up in his office before the ceremony. We will never forget the look on Nixon's face as they played "Hail to the Chief" for him. It was a different time then - after the ceremony we were leaning on the presidential limo - waiting for the President to come out of the Capitol after lunch for his parade to the White House. I re-call running my hands along the side looking for "bullet" dents from when Kennedy was shot at in the same limosine.

  • More Nixon Museum Pictures
  • Tuesday, July 11, 2006

    Nancy's Cousin "Mauled" by Bear

    Some of you may remember Nancy's cousin Dale Titus. He is a former teacher and football coach at Tamaqua. His son - Dale - is stationed with the Navy in Alaska. These pictures are of the son and his bear.

    According to Nancy's brother Jack - When we were in Wildwood Aunt Ethel told us that Dale was out in the woods somewhere around his house and was attacked by a bear. Forunately he always carries a pistol with him and he drew it in time to shoot the bear before it killed him. He said in the remote area of Alaska where he lives you don't go outside without a weapon. He was very lucky.

    A Beautiful Monday at the Reagan Museum and Downtown Los Angeles

    Last night we stayed near Thousand Oaks - near where Ronald Reagan lived. They have built a spectacular library and museum on a mountain overlooking Simi Library. They also have the old "Air Force One" in a airy indoor display.

    After the museum - we drove the freeway to center city Los Angeles. In downtown - we visited the City Hall of "Dragnet" fame. Nancy also had to explore the Los Angeles Public Library. We visited the central market for lunch.

    At 5:00 PM we decided to join the infamous LA Rush Hour Traffic. We set the GPS for our hotel in Yorba Linda - and just followed the arrows on the screen. It was about 30 miles to our hotel in traffic that was bumper to bumper - 5 lanes across going each way. It was stop and go most of the way. It took us a little over an hour to cover the 30 miles.

    Tomorrow morning we will visit the Nixon library and birthplace - then head south to our hotel in La Jolla for our last night in California.

    The pictures are - Harry with Ronnie at the museum - Air Force One (707 version) - Los Angeles City Hall - Los Angeles Library - and Nancy in the main hall of the LA Library.

    "You Have the Right to Remain Silent" - Why is Harry at the Police Station?

    You may recall that last year when Nancy and I went to Asia - we bought a used "beater" Mac Ibook for the trip for $300. We figured if anything happened to it - it would be no big deal. Boy I wish we were that smart this year.

    Last week I got a brand new Apple Macintosh Mac Book Laptop. It was really neat. So neat - I brought it along on the California trip. On Thursday disaster struck. Somebody swiped it.

    When we woke up in the morning - the internet in our hotel was not working. So I decided to take my laptop with me to the convention center to get "online." I then carried it around all day. At 6:00 pm - Nancy and I went to a sidewalk cafe to have supper before the 7 pm show at the convention.

    Usually when we sit down to eat - I keep the laptop right in front of my face. But this time - I don't know why - I put it resting on my foot under the table. What a big mistake. As they said in the movie - "it was gone in 60 seconds." Wait - it gets better.

    After the original discovery - and panic - we gave the eating place my name and phone number - just in case someone finds it. Fat chance.

    At 9:30 pm - we were back at the hotel and my cell phone rang. It was a girl that said she had my laptop. She wanted a "ransom" to return it - I am not kidding - $300. A little voice in my head said, "If you vant to see the Lindbergh Baby ever again - you vill pay the money." That would have been a bargain. So I tried to arrange a "rendez-vous." She called me 4 times from 4 different pay phones. What compounds the problem was that we were on different sides of the city and I did not have a car.

    We contacted the police - and arranged a "drop" in our hotel lobby. I am not kidding. I was the "pigeon" holding the bag in the lobby - and the cops were stationed behind the check-in desk. Then I got another call - saying she wanted to make the exchange at the Middletown trolley station.

    Now the police called in 2 plain clothes officers. Nancy and I piled into the car and off we went to the trolley station to set up the "sting." When we got there it was almost midnight - and Harry the "sacrificial lamb" was left on the train platform alone while one officer was far down the tracks - and the other officer was in the car with Nancy.

    Every episode of Dragnet - Adam 12 - Highway Patrol - Mod Squad - and Car 54 - were spinning through my head. As each train came to the platform - I expected Popeye Doyle to pop out of the train and start shooting.

    I wish I had a better ending - but after an hour or two - we ended the "stakeout" and went back to the hotel and went to bed. The girl never showed up - never called again. So my brand new computer is gone forever.

    Probably that girl is reading this story using my laptop to read my blog - only in America.

    Monday, July 10, 2006

    Nancy Shopping For Drugs in Mexico

    An example of some of the drug prices in Mexico. Keith uses Claritin for hay fever. At home it costs about $1.00 a pill. In Mexico - it was $10.00 for 100 - same dosage.

    Just Returned from Santa Barbara and Solvang

    We are staying in a Hyatt in Thousand Oaks. It is right along Highway 101. You may remember that road from the song "he wore a black leather jacket with an eagle on the black...... and who was the terror of Highway 101."

    Today we drove north on Highway 101 to Santa Barbara and Solvang. Highway 101 is not an interstate highway but it usually has 4 or 5 lanes in each direction. About 40 miles west is Santa Barbara - an upscale beach town with a pretty shopping area. Another 40 miles north is Solvang. Solvang is a town settled by Danish people in 1910. The entire town is full of Danish bakeries - restaurants - windmills - and Danish people. One of my favorites was a museum with 85 vintage motorcycles - all of them completely restored.

    Solvang was featured in a recent film called "Sideways." There are about 50 wineries in the area - and lots of people go there for the "free samples." Solvang was one of the few highlights of the film.

    In Santa Barbara - a groups of veterans have set up "Arlington West." It is a replica graveyard with crosses for each troop that has been killed in Iraq. Along the edge are also some signs showing famous George Bush actions and quotes on those dates. 2500 crosses make a riveting impression on one's mind. All of them killed in Bush's war to make his buddies rich. Shame on us for letting this happen. "Bring 'em on." Rant over - back to the trip.

    Saturday Drive from San Diego to Hollywood and Beverly Hills

    We ate at Mel's Drive-In across the street from Hollywood High School. Harry James found his star on the Walk of Fame. Nancy "shopped" on Rodeo Drive. Nancy has been watching Ruth Warrick on "All My Children" for 40 years. All the way up the San Diego Freeway - the median was full of these red and white flowers.