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Thursday, August 30, 2007

Tamaqua Gets "Blockbuster Video" Sort Of

From the Pottsville Republican

TAMAQUA - The newest DVD rental store in the area isn't a Blockbuster or a Hollywood Video.

It's a red vending machine at a local supermarket.

Called Redbox, it can hold more than 500 DVDs representing 70 to 100 titles, and if you're over 18 and have a credit card, you can rent new releases like Paramount's "Blades of Fury" for $1 a day.

"It's a pretty neat little self-service unit," Edward F. Zaboski, manager of Boyer's Food Market, 210 Cedar St., Tamaqua, where a Redbox unit was rolled in three weeks ago.

"I get home around 6 a.m., go up there for a quart of milk or hamburger buns and pick a movie up. I'll get anywhere between four or five, to sometimes seven or eight movies a week," said Gary J. White, 52, of Tamaqua.

Blockbuster Video doesn't share their enthusiasm.

"Anything that's going to be competing for consumers leisure activities is going to be looked at as competition," said Blockbuster spokesman Randy Hargrove, Dallas, Texas.

Hollywood Video started rolling out its own DVD kiosks in 2006, said Hollywood Video spokesman Andrew Siegel, Manhattan, N.Y. But Seigel wouldn't say the success of Redbox had anything to do with the company's decision to start using them.

"It's just an opportunity to better serve customers. We'll have 275 by year's end," Siegel said.

Redbox Auto, is determined to continue to expand into McDonald's restaurants and grocery stores including Smith's Food & Drug stores, Giant and Stop & Shop, the Redbox Web site states.

People can reserve titles by logging onto the Redbox site. Redbox started offering online reservations in September 2006, according to the Redbox Web site.

Redbox launched in 2002 with just 12 of its video vending machines. In 2004, Redbox deployed more than 100 automated DVD rental kiosks in nearly every McDonald's in the Denver, Colo. metropolitan area, according to the Redbox Web site.

It currently operates more than 4,200 kiosks, and with additions planned over the next few months it will surpass Blockbuster in number of locations, according to an Aug. 9 article in The Baskerfield Californian.

There are two in the county. The second is at Redner's Warehouse Markets, 350 Goldstar Plaza, Shenandoah. Others in the region are located at Redner's Warehouse Markets at 184 Market St., Nesquehoning, and 5471 Pottsville Pike, Leesport.

Redbox Automated DVD Rental, based in Oak Brook, Ill., is a subsidiary of McDonald's Corporation.

See a video of Redbox Video here -

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

I Am Considering buying an iPhone for Nancy

You may re-call that my oldest son was in line at Syracuse to be one of the first to have an iPhone. He is a usually level-headed research scientist. Before I buy anything - I run it by him to make sure I am not making a big mistake. But I really must seek advice elsewhere on this iPhone. Two months later - Drew's eyes are still glassed over praising his latest toy.

Now Lulu wants one. The problem is that we have a family plan with Verizon that goes on forever. And for the next 2 years - AT&T has an exclusive contract for the iPhone. But there my be help on the way.

A kid found a way to hack into the iPhone to make it work on other networks.

People are contending that Steve Jobs masterminded an even simpler iPhone hack that anyone can do. If he did - he is truly a genius. Isn't it strange the only loophole in the telecommunications law is that it is LEGAL to hack cellphones to work on any network?

Isn't it amazing that one of the most popular new products ever - now has a mystery about it - "Who will find the simple hack first."

When I was in New York City at the Glass Apple Store in July - I never experienced a feeding frenzy like the mess around the iPhone tables. It was 3 weeks after release - and there were maybe 20 lines of people waiting 5 deep to get a chance to "manipulate the iPhone."

It all reminds me of the "Paul is dead" spoof by the Beatles in 1967. Folks claimed that the Beatles were giving them clues about the death of Paul on each album - like - "the walrus was Paul." It was mysterious - clever - and legal.

Now Steve Jobs buries a "hack" in the iPhone for people to find. Meanwhile Apple gets tons of publicity - and sells tons of phones - and AT&T holds the bag for them.

Apple Records and Apple Computers - a co-incidence - I think not.

I hope Lulu can hold out for a couple of months.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Trailing Spouse Turns Into Leading Spouse Playing with His GPS


One of my favorite things to do is travel. And being the trailing spouse of a busy traveling professor is a great life. Lulu travels all over the globe going to conventions - conferences - workshops - and teaching courses. And I go along to carry her bags.

Having a degree in Geography carries no weight when the trailing and leading "spice" are sitting in the front seat of a rental car. Unfortunately I can't be the map navigator and driver at the same time. Arriving at some strange city in the middle of the night on a plane - then picking up a rental car - and trying to find your way in heavy traffic - can be "stressful."

About a year ago - we bought one of the great marriage savers of all times. We bought a Garmin C320 GPS - or global positioning system. Yes - some of the new cars come with a GPS - but the GPS for the "rest of us" has become within the budget of a retired school teacher. Also - with touch screens - operating one is a breeze.

What does a GPS do? Very simply - it is a radio that receives signals from several government satellites 22,000 miles up in outer space. The satellites can pinpoint exactly where you are - how fast you are going - and draw a super accurate map of where you are. The GPS can tell you things like - where to turn - how long it is going to take to get to a destination - where the hotels are - the gas stations - restaurants - even the directions to Granny's house. You will never be officially lost again.

When GPS's came out many years ago - they were expensive - and you can still order a one in a new car for $2000 - but there are several nice ones on market from $200 to $300 now.

The Garmin C320 I bought last year cost $289. It has a nice 3 inch by 4 inch screen. You can use it as a handheld unit - but most people attach them to their cars' windshields with the included suction cup. I have used it all over the United States. You can even load the maps in of other countries. I have used it walking around Boston and New York City to "verify" my ability to navigate.

Often times - when Lulu and I disagree - we follow the directions of the GPS. One nice feature is if you miss a turn - the GPS will "re-calculate" and give you new directions.

One of my favorite uses of a GPS is when we are flying. Usually the flight attendant looks at me as if I were a terrorist - but usually they let me enjoy watching the plane fly over the map. You can even stick the GPS to the window with the suction cup. I take joy in telling folks things like - "that is Valdosta down there." I will never admit that I am tempted to leave the GPS on even when we are landing - to see if we fly over our house or see if our landing speed is really only 147 miles per hour.

Today - I received a newer GPS. It listed for $399 - but it can be purchased for as little as $254. The newer model is called the Garmin Nuvi 200. It has the same size screen as our old one. The big difference is the thickness of the new one. It is less than an inch thick - and can be easily placed in your pocket - great for walking trips.

This paragraph will compare the C320 with the Nuvi 200. If "techie" details bore you - skip this paragraph. The C320 holds all the maps on a one gig RAM chip. It can be connected to a computer through the USB port to load new software on it. The only exposed buttons on it are the on/off switch and the volume dial. Everything else is controlled by touching the screen. The Nuvi 200 has a lot of bang for the buck. The on/of switch is a small slider on the top. Although it does have a slot for a RAM chip - the US map is stored on a dedicated RAM chip inside. Besides directing you on the map - finding hotels - restaurants - addresses - the Nuvi can do much more. It has a world clock built in - where you can set several clock faces for different times zones. It also has a day/night map of the world that shows you when it is night time at Uncle Tom's house and not a good idea to call. It has a big screen calculator - a currency converter - a unit converter - even a place where you can view the pictures from your camera's RAM chip. One of the neatest features for me is that you can use it as a flash drive - by connecting it to your computer USB port. You can store computer files - pictures - and programs on it. If you put a 4 gig RAM card in it - it turns into a great emergency storage for tons of data. That is enough room for an entire encyclopedia.

Both GPS's work great - but Lulu always says - "one toy in" equals "one toy out." So tonight I will be putting the Garmin C320 on ebay - and that in itself is another story. So with a new GPS - the trailing spouse becomes the leading spouse - at least when we are in the car. Now if I can just get a chance to lead on the dance floor.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Nims Middle School Offers Free Computers and Internet to Homes of Sixth Graders

Families of Nims Middle School sixth graders are invited to an open house Monday to learn about the Digital Harmony project, which will provide new desktop computers, free internet access and online education programs in the homes of all incoming sixth graders. Nims Middle School is a few minutes from our home.

The collaborative Digital Harmony project, spearheaded by Tallahassee Commissioner Andrew Gillum, is designed to expand internet access in the community and give Nims' students another tool to help them academically.

Back in 1992 - I received a grant from the State of Pennsylvania to purchase several computers and modems that the students could borrow to take home to use. With the modems - they could log onto the computer in my classroom. They could download classroom information - leave messages for other students - and upload homework assigns - at the "breakneck" speed of 2400 bps.

In 1985 - Nancy received a $30,000 grant to provide students in the MMI Prep School with computers - software - modems - and bags. They could log into research databases at speeds up to 300 bps.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Fall Sports Begin - FSU Beat TCU in Volleyball 3-1

It is a busy time in Tallahassee - the kids are back - and the sports begin. Nancy and I just got home from the volleyball match where FSU beat TCU. FSU has a new sensational player - Mira Djuric - from Serbia. She has 18 kills and 16 digs tonight - leading the team.

The next home game is September 14th against Miami.

Friday, August 24, 2007

I Ordered a New Garmin GPS

I ordered a new GPS on yesterday. It is the Garmin Nuvi 200. I will use it to replace my Garmin C320 that I have been using for a little over a year.

When I reviewed the Garmin C320 last year on my blog - Darrell - Wayne - George - and Jay - each purchased one on my review. I will compare the Nuvi 200 with the C320.

First - both of them have the same screen and use the same software. They are the same length and width - but the Nuvi is less than an inch thick - so it is easy to put in your pocket. The Nuvi battery functions for 5 to 7 hours - so there is less need to operate with the power cord dangling. The Nuvi also has the ability to show pictures from your camera - it has a world clock - it has a calculator - money conversion. It weigh 5 ounces. The Nuvi comes with the 2008 map package.

The Nuvi retails for $400 - but Amazon is selling it for $269 - no tax - no shipping fee. My old Garmin C320 will probable sell for $160 on ebay.

If you do not have a GPS and you are considering one - the Nuvi is a great GPS at a great rpice. If you are happy with your Garmin C320 - and you do not need to carry it around in your pocket - stick with it.

When my Nuvi arrives - I will review the features here.

Darrell - my buddy - says the Garmin C320 is not that good. On his recent trip north - whenever he would get the name and address of a hotel off the Garmin - there were no room available. He also said the GPS did not work in the Holland Tunnel - and when he got out of the tunnel he made a wrong turn - and hit a bus. His son says that the GPS was great - they would have been "lost" many times without it.

George told me that his Garmin C320 has his address wrong - it shows him living about 100 feet north on Seminole Drive.

When trying to find my friend Ernie's place near Tampa - the GPS had us driving out in a corn field - I guess the maps were not updated - or Ernie lives in a cornfield.

In my case - I often have Nancy arguing with the GPS usually with the GPS winning. I find that the GPS is more accurate when I use the British man's voice than the American girl's.

iPod Nano and iBook Laptop For Sale

My son Drew is selling an ibook laptop mac computer and an ipod nano mp3 player. The ibook is used but in excellent condition - the ipod is unused - still in the box.

See the ebay sales here -

iBook g4

red ipod nano

or here -

and here -

Do Black Quarterbacks Get A Fair Shot at FSU

This was a blog to the Democrat today concerning FSU picking Weatherford over Xavier Lee as the starting quarterback.

You do have to wonder when you consider that Xavier Lee was Mr. Football in the State of Florida and the highest rated palyer Florida State recruited 3 years ago. The only player recuited that was considered among the top 10 in the country. Weatherford was not as highly regarded.

Add to this the experience of Anquan Bolden who was a great player at FSU and the pros as a receiver, but does anyone remember he too was Mr. Football in high school football in Florida and was recruited as a quarterback. Then there's Dvontry Richardson, also recruited as a quarterback, who is now being moved to receiver despite the accolades he as has received for his quarterbakcing ability.

There is also the story of Fabian Walker who sat behind everyone's favorite quarterback Chris Rix for a number of years before transferring to Valdosta State, where he promptly quarterbacked that team to a national championship.

Of course there is Charlie Ward, the ONLY black quarterback to really have the opportunity to consistently start at FSU. Despite a rocky start, everyone knows the story about FSU's first heisman trophy winner. What many don't know is that it took a great deal of lobbying by an assistant coach to get Charlie that opportunity to play.

I'm a white alumni and fan of FSU who really wants them to return to greatness of the 90s. I hope this decision has been made strictly on ability and performance with both quarterbacks having an equal opportunity, but the pattern of whats happened with black quarterbacks at FSU makes me wonder if that is really happening.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

This Guy is Playing College Football at Age 59 - I am 59

AP Sports Writer from the Tallahassee Democrat
ALPINE, Texas (AP) -- Mike Flynt was drinking beer and swapping stories with some old football buddies a few months ago when he brought up the biggest regret of his life: Getting kicked off the college team before his senior year. So, one of his pals said, why not do something about it?

Most 59-year-olds would have laughed. Flynt's only concern was if he was eligible.

Finding out he was, Flynt returned to Sul Ross State this month, 37 years after he left and six years before he goes on Medicare. His comeback peaked Wednesday with the coach saying he's made the Division III team's roster. He could be in action as soon as Sept. 1.

Flynt is giving new meaning to being a college senior. After all, he's a grandfather and a card-carrying member of AARP. He's eight years older than his coach and has two kids older than any of his teammates.

"I think it was Carl Yastrzemski who used to say, `How old would you be if you didn't know how old you were?' I'd be in my late 20s or early 30s, because that's how I feel," said Flynt, who has made a living out of physical fitness. "That's been my approach to this whole thing. I feel that good. I'm just going to find out if I can perform and make a contribution to the team."

A longtime strength and conditioning coach at Nebraska, Oregon and Texas A&M, he's spent the last several years selling the Powerbase training system he invented. Clients include school systems and the military. His colorful life story includes being the son of a Battle of the Bulge survivor and having dabbled in gold mines and oil wells - successfully.

Flynt's life was supposed to be slowing down this fall. With his youngest child starting at the University of Tennessee, he and Eileen, his wife of 35 years, are planning to take advantage of being empty-nesters for the first time.

Instead, they've moved to this remote patch of West Texas so Flynt can mend an old wound and, he hopes, inspire others.

He became emotional discussing his goal of "helping a bunch of young men to make up for those guys that I let down." Then he laughed about the reality that fellow Baby Boomers are getting the most out of his comeback.

"People are kind of in awe. They keep comparing me to themselves and where they are physically," he said. "If I can help anyone out by what I'm doing, then it's all worth it."

Flynt's position is still being determined, but he used to play linebacker. Wherever he lines up, he'll likely become the oldest player in college football history. Neither the NCAA or NAIA keeps such a statistic, but research hasn't turned up anyone older than their mid-40s. And even those are rare, for obvious reasons.

"I told him he's an idiot," said Jerry Larned, who coached Flynt at Sul Ross in 1969 and counseled him at the start of his comeback. "I said, `Gosh, dang, Mike, you're not 20 years old any more. You're liable to cripple yourself.' He understands all of that. But he has a burning desire to play. ... He is in great physical condition. He still runs a 5-flat 40 and bench presses I-don't-know-what. He's a specimen for 59 years old."

Back in the day, Flynt was quite a player.

In 1965, he was on the first state championship team at Odessa Permian, the high school featured in "Friday Night Lights." He was offered a partial scholarship at Arkansas when the Razorbacks were among the top teams in the land, but instead went to Ranger Junior College.

He wound up at Sul Ross in 1969. An NAIA school then, the Lobos were in the Lone Star Conference with East Texas State, which at the time had future NFL stars Harvey Martin and Dwight White, and Texas A&I, which was starting a two-year run as national champs. The highlight of Flynt's two years at Sul Ross was sticking A&I with its only loss in '69.

Flynt was going into his senior year in 1971 when he got into a fight that was far from his first. School officials decided they'd had enough and threw him out of school. He earned his degree from Sul Ross by taking his remaining classes elsewhere.

"I actually grieved for more years than I can remember the loss of that senior year," said Flynt, who'd been a team captain and the leading tackler as a junior. "What really got me was I felt that was MY football team and I had let them down. ... I don't know if I ever got over it, but I finally learned to live with it."

Then came word of a reunion of former Sul Ross students from the 1960s and '70s. Randy Wilson, who has been best friends with Flynt since they met as college roommates in 1969, talked a bunch of his former teammates into using that event as an excuse to get back together.

During several days of reminiscing, Flynt's pain became fresh as ever, especially when one of the guys said their '71 season went down the drain without Flynt.

That's when he told them of his remorse. And, he added, "What really gets me is that I feel like I can still play."

"You might as well give it a shot," Wilson told him. "The worst thing that can happen is you get your head knocked off and come home."

When Flynt returned home to Franklin, Tenn., his wife wasn't as fired up by the idea.

"I feel like I'm married to Peter Pan," she said.

It took time to accept that instead of joining their daughter at Tennessee's home opener she would be watching her husband hit kids one-third his age.

Eventually she came around. They've sold their suburban Nashville home and are now living in Alpine, a town of about 6,000 residents near the Big Bend National Park, a three-hour drive from the nearest major airport.

"I told her, for me to know that I can do it and not do it would be worse than losing out the first time," he said.

A devout Christian, Flynt sees many religious undertones to his story. He also believes it touts the benefits of strength training.

"People have asked me, `Mike, what is the fountain of youth?' Well, it's strength training that builds muscle, increases bone density and burns calories," he said. "It's the one thing you can do in your 90s and benefit from."

Just to be clear, Flynt won't be playing football in his 90s.

He'll be out of eligibility then

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Rich Man, Poor Man or A Tale of Two Gary's

While back at home in Tamaqua - I was dining at a restaurant on Broad Street. I stumbled upon this store front - and realized that it was the boyhood home of Gary Miller. We all know Gary now - but I knew him back when....

Gary spent the first 18 years of his life in this apartment above his parents' dress store. If you wanted top drawer women's clothes - you shopped there. Gary's family made up the "0.05% minority" in this gentile coal mining and railroad town. So it is not unusual that he was selected the best dressed boy in high school.

Gary left town for the Big Apple - the apparel mecca of the world - New York City. He made his fortune marketing high end clothing to the beautiful people.

A couple of years ago both Gary and I retired and moved to Florida. After being apart for 30 years - we connected on the internet. And now - we live about 500 miles apart in this long state. I am in Tallahassee and Gary is near Miami on the other end of Route 27.

Gary has extended his hospitality to us many times. He has even returned the favor and visited Tallahassee. Gary lives in a gated community - I won't brag about how exclusive it is - but the sign on the wall outside says - luxury homes range from one to five million. By the way - Gary's daughter Morgan likes being around Dad so much - she bought another mansion about 200 yards away.

So take a look at the pictures of Gary's homes - then and now. Whenever you talk to Gary about back home - he is so proud of being raised in Tamaqua. I nominate him as the most successful guy in the THS Class of 1966.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Safely Home After 5 Day Visit Up North

It is 9 AM Tuesday - just waking up after a whirlwind trip north. We originally went back to Pennsylvania for a wedding but extended it to so much more.

It started out by leaving home on Thursday around 9AM. We drove our Honda Van to Jacksonville - about 3 hours away. Why fly from Jacksonville - when there is an airport 5 minutes from our house? Price. Southwest Airlines was having a sale and Nancy bought tickets from Jacksonville to Philadelphia for $49 each way.

The trip started out well - when the airline offered us a bump - that is they offered us a free flight and $500 in vouchers if we would give up our seats and take a later flight. Usually we take the bump but Nancy was eager to get North - so we declined. You know the Everharts have gone "mainstream" when they turn down a bump. So that was the first highlight - turning down a bump.

We left Jacksonvile at around 2 PM and arrived in Philadelphia at 4 PM. Nancy had a rental car booked with Alamo. We got a very nice car - a Pontiac G6 - except for one thing - it was bright highway yellow. Everywhere we went - folks would gawk and comment about the color. There was no hiding in this car.

We pulled into the home of Dan and Ann Novey in Fogelsville. What a beautiful new home they have. Their 3 kids grew up with our kids and they are all gone and successful. Bridget has her doctorate in audiology from Duke - Brad is an eye surgeon - and Courtney is a physical therapist. Ann still teaches first grade at Tamaqua - and Dan has been the Assistant Superintendent at a Parkland for 4 years. Since we had not visited them in almost 4 years - and passed them up on several previous trips - we turned down the bump to see them. And the visit was truly worth it.

We spent Thursday night at Nancy's old homestead. The weather dropped into the 50s at night and only reached the 70s in the day. The weather was a nice change from the 100s we were having in Florida.

All day Friday we spent visiting old friends. Jean Freed's kids are grown up - and Jean has done some really nice things with her home. Daughter Jamie works in the fashion industry in New York - and Jody is married and has a son. Jean has a dog and a pool and they keep her busy. She will teach and coach tennis one more year at Tamaqua and then retire.

On Saturday morning - we had breakfast at the Tamaqua Diner with the Taylors and Jean. The Tamaqua Diner has been renovated in an early 50s motif and is very nice. The food is still great and the prices still seem out of the 50s too. After breakfast - Nancy went to a wedding shower for her cousin's daughter. It gave me a chance to sneak off for lunch with Charlie Depuy and Jay Hoffman - two dear friends that worked with me for over 30 years at the Panther Valley Middle School. Jay is retired - but Charlie has a few more years to go. His kids are grown - Amy is a pediatrician - and son Charlie is an accountant. Jay is getting ready to drive his motor home to all the Penn State games. When Jay retired - he had over 360 days of unused sick leave. At 180 days a school year - he could have taken 2 full years off sick - and gotten full pay. But a person that saves up 360 days would never do that. In a twist of fate - Jay is the only person I ever knew at work that had a sick day challenged by a principal - but that is typical PV. :-)

Saturday afternoon - was wedding time - the real reason for our trip. Nancy and Bussey Jones were two of Lulu's high school classmates. Their son Ryan - a Villanova grad and electrical engineer - was marrying Liz Frace - her Mom was the former Beth Rarick - a childhood neighbor of Nancy in New England Valley. The wedding was in Zions church in town - and the reception was at a country club in Ashland. Ryan is an engineer for PPL. Liz finished first in her nursing class at the University of Florida - yes - she is a Gator! They will live in Harrisburg.

At the wedding reception we sat with several of the kids' teachers and Nancy's fellow workers at Tamaqua. John Bachert - Tom Bonner - Suzy Bonner - Sally LeMasters - Ruth Perilli - and Joe Perilli entertained us. The Perilli's son was one of my students that went on one of my trips to Florida - the one where my bus broke down and we came home on a Greyhound bus. Yes - it seems everyone in the Valley is connected somehow.

We didn't drink anything at the party because at 9 PM Saturday night - we left the reception to drive to Syracuse to stay 2 nights with Drew and Robin. Drew is a doctor now doing research at the medical school in Syracuse. Robin has about 2 years left before she is finished her PhD in clinical psychology. They have a cute house on a street near the campus. It took us about 3 hours of driving our yellow race car to arrive there after midnight.

On Sunday morning - a trip for Nancy to Syracuse is not complete with some "dumpster diving" at the Syracuse China Outlet. They have bins and bins full of odd lots of china. Once again - this stop is a barometer of our visit north. All that was left was to figure out how Nancy would get her booty home.

Sunday afternoon included a trip to Skaneateles - a beautiful little resort town on the northern end of one of the finger lakes. The water in the lake is so clear and clean that Syracuse uses it as their water supply without needing to add chemicals.

On Monday morning - our time had passed too quickly - and we headed south. It started to rain and temperatures dropped into the 50s. We stopped in Honesdale to see my sister Gail. She is a nurse there - and lives with her daughter Suzie. Suzie has a log home - and several very active dogs. Gail is doing great - and I won't say her age but she has always been 6 years older than me. Gail often performed the duties of a mother to me - when Dad was at the mine and Mom was at the mill - and we were left home on the farm in the early 50s. She has always been a good friend we could rely on as we grew up - especially after Nancy and I married.

From the Poconos to Philadelphia was a 3 hour drive through an overcast - rainy - day in the 60s. Before we went to the airport - we visited the Italian Market in South Philly for supper - where Rocky and Invincible were filmed. We also visited the three new stadiums - homes of the Phillies - Sixers - and Eagles.

We got to the airport at 5 PM with plenty of time to return the "yellow bird" to the rental company. Alas - no bumps were offered on the trip home. Due to weather - our 7 PM flight did not leave Phildelphia until 11 PM. We got into Jacksonville around 1 PM - and drove the Honda Van home at 4:30 AM.

While we were away - Keith had paid a 4 day visit to our home. He was returning from Michigan to Washington and was able to schedule his flight through Tallahassee - long story leave it to Keith. He enjoyed a long weekend in the tropics - going to the beach - using the pool - driving the scooter and sports car - meeting old college friends - and just hanging out in 100 degree weather.

The trip was great - if I had a choice - I might change 4 things. First - I would have taken the $500 bump in Jacksonville. Second - I would have preferred the rental car in any color but bright yellow. Third - it would have been better if we didn't have the 4 hours rain delay in Philadelphia Airport. Fourth - we would not have missed Keith's stopover in Tallahassee. Aren't we Americans jaded when we even highlight such silly things on an otherwise perfect trip?

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Terrell Buckley Joins FSU Staff

With the Jim Thorpe Award and All-American honors on his resume, Terrell Buckley embarked on what became a 14-year journey in the NFL in the spring of 1992.

Buckley also left Florida State following his junior season with 2 1/2 years worth of classroom credits and a conviction to eventually earn his undergraduate degree. The school's all-time interceptions leader began the task of chipping away at the hours he needed to graduate while a member of the Miami Dolphins during the spring of 1996.

Distance-learning classes through FSU and those taken at Nova University and community colleges added up. And Buckley is now a semester away from earning his degree. Back on the Florida State campus where he attends class and serves as an assistant student-manager, Buckley is poised for one more big play - graduation on Dec. 15.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Landscaping with the "Dot Com Sodders"

The trailing spouse decided to try his hand at landscaping. Is there a better way to learn about the locals and the neighborhoods than working with the land? Also – one finds out that things are not always as they appear.

You may re-call – we bought a home in downtown Tallahassee about 3 years ago when I retired from teaching and Lulu started “professing” at FSU. The house had promise – great location – on a little lake – and a pool just like Lulu wanted. But by far its best quality was it was so close to campus – Lulu could walk to work if she had to.

The grounds were overgrown with trees and bushes. The thicket was so dense that the lawn refused to grow and whenever I tried to mow the little bit of grass we had – I would raise up a dust storm.

First things first – I bought a chain saw – chipper – pickup truck – and stump grinder and proceeded to remove about 200 trees – bushes – stumps and roots. Being in a green town like Tallahassee – we did raise a few grumpy looks from the neighbors. But the last 3 owners of our house “let the yard go” – and it had become an eyesore.

Don’t get me wrong – we still have about 100 trees – but compared to before – our property looks like it just joined the national guard and got a buzz haircut – leaving on the sideburns.

A landscaping project is like a symphony. One has to contract excavators – concrete men – graders – sprinkler crews – and finally a sodder.. Each one has to do their work exactly on a daily schedule or you have workers backed up – waiting – and costing money. Also if everyone is not done in time for the sod truck – the bare ground lies open to erosion – and the sod rots in a pile.

So one week in July it went like this. Monday – Gary the backhoe guy ripped up the old driveway. Tuesday – Bill the concrete guy laid the forms for the new driveway. Wednesday – we poured the driveway. Thursday - Dave the grader shaped the lot and hauled away several truckloads of overburden. Friday – a crew of 10 guys installed the sprinkler system. And finally Saturday – Dustin and his crew put down 8000 feet of sod.

It all went without a hitch – each contractor hit their time window perfectly.

But as I said above – things are not always as they appear. Near the end of the project – we got to know James Parker - Dustin Clenney – and Stephen Middleton – our sodders. During the day they reminded me of Clark Kent – the mild man and reporter – as they sweated thru the day throwing sod. I found out that DC Landscaping is their day job. At night – they turn into supermen – they are starting up a budding “” company. They have a website called “” – it is full of “how to” videos. It is similar to YouTube – except it has a definite southern flavor. Their page even has a request box for videos that people need.

They cover things as mundane as “how to change the oil in a specific car” to “how to connect a DVD player.” I was a bit surprised that they did not have “how to install St. Augustine sod.”

It is always interesting being a new homeowner in Tallahassee – meeting new people everyday. Folks here seems to have two sides – what they do for work – and what they do for play. If you take time to scratch the surface – people love to tell you about what is on their mind.

And if you happen to be cruising down Seminole Drive – and you gaze upon a fresh new lawn – think about Dustin, Stephen, and James – who have dreams of being Bill Gates – but right now they will settle for being the “Dot Com Sodders.”

Check their web site at -

Friday, August 10, 2007

New Vespa - Half Scooter - Half Sports Car - 100% Dynamite

I dropped by the Vespa Shop today to look at the bikes. It is always a fun thing to do - check out the new stuff - and talk shop with the owners. This is the place where I bought my Vespa 150.

All of a sudden - there it was - in my favorite color. The Vespa MP3.

I have been reading the reviews on it - but nothing prepares you for the look of this thing. It has two front wheels and one back one. What that does for stability and handling is amazing. Tests show it as one of the most comfortable and high performing scooters made. It has a 250cc engine and three disk brakes.

When you drive into a corner it tilts just like a regular scooter. But when you pull up to a stop sign or park it - the front wheels lock up - so you never have to put your feet on the ground. Your feet and legs are protected by a large shield. The seat looks like it would easily hold three people - I could see families of 5 riding this scooter in Thailland.

The price - about $8000 - but don't look at it as a motorcycle - think of it as a high performance sports car - then the price is a bargain. Now how can I justify this to Lulu?

ADDED NEWS FLASH - Vespa announced they are making a hybrid of this scooter and also the LX50. You will be able to choose to run on electric - gas - or both at once for faster pickup.

The Taylors From Tamaqua Came For a Visit

George - Mary Ruth - Brandon - Michael -- the Taylors came to visit us in sunny Florida. They picked the hottest week of the year to come to see - Tallahassee - FSU - and the Area.

They flew into Jacksonville from Philadelphia because the airline tickets were only 1/3 the price of flying into Tallahassee. They rented a Toyota van - and drove over an empty I-10 to see us. The boys got first pick and chose to stay in the guest house. The parents stayed in our guest bedroom in the house.

Here are a few things we did - toured Florida State University - toured the Old Capitol Museum - went to the 22nd floor of the New Capitol to see the town - went shopping - went to the movies - rode bike down to the coast on the St Marks Trail - went to Wakulla Springs for the jungle cruise - spent a day on the Panama City Beach swimming in the 88 degree water and getting burnt - swam in our pool - went on walks - toured a few houses - and shared old times together.

They left on Wednesday to drive to St Augustine. There they toured the oldest town in America - saw the Fountain of Youth - and even were lucky enough to see launching of the Space Shuttle. They made it home Thursday.

George and Mary Ruth lived just down the street from us in Tamaqua. He is the editor of a local newspaper - she is a teacher at Tamaqua High. Brandon is a journalism student at Penn State - Michael is a basketball player at THS.

The best part of the visit was just hanging out together - swapping ideas and stories. It is hard to name our best friends - we have so many really good ones - but very few times do a pair of couples having so much in common and both the husbands and wives are good friends too. This is the case here.

Yes - next week we are going to Tamaqua for a wedding - and yes - we will see The Taylors again there - but it was fun showing them our new world here. We hope they come back again and again - next time a visit in the winter would give them a taste of Florida at its best.