Tuesday, September 25, 2007
One of the nice things about living in the land of sunshine near a college campus is that friends and family are drawn to visit. We have sets of guests coming to visit for each of the Seminole home games. But the "bowl-like" atmosphere of playing Alabama in the Gator Bowl Stadium (Alltel) is causing a family reunion.
On Friday night - my sons Drew and Keith will be flying south to visit us and enjoy a family weekend. Our friends George and Joel managed to get a condo on Jacksonville Beach and they will pick up Keith late on Friday night. Also on Friday night - I will be picking up Drew here in Tallahassee. We will all get together (The Beatles plus two) around noon for the pre-game festivities.
Of course - there is always the problem of landing 6 tickets - but that has never stopped us before. We are usually lucky enough to find some outside before the game. This game has been sold out for months - so wish us luck. Game time is 5 PM and will be televised regionally by CBS.
Just like Cinderella - after the game my sons must move on. Sunday morning Keith will fly home to Washington and later in the day Drew will drive to Gainesville to give a presentation. And the "empty nesters" will head back to Tallahassee with their friends - George and Joel.
Hopefully my next story will be about the great tickets we landed - plenty of nice pictures - good food and fun at the tailgate party - and the afterglow of a Seminole victory for the long ride home.
Friday, September 21, 2007
In a past life - I was a school teacher. But I also owned a weekly newspaper. I realize all the work that goes into producing a newspaper of general circulation. It is the equivalent of writing a novel everyday - and getting it printed - and distributed in the dark hours of the night - so the readers have all the news they need fresh at the breakfast table. I dare say that the newpaper is fresher than the bread - coffee - milk - or cereal you are eating as you read the news.
I do notice that more and more that the daily newspaper sits on the coffee table as I read the Tallahassee Democrat on the laptop in my barcalounger. As my eyes get older and older - they require bigger type and brighter lights. With just one click on my MacBook - I can enlarge and brighten any story or picture I want viewing Tallahassee.com. Another neat thing about having the Democrat online is that with a few keystrokes I can respond to an editorial or new article - making me feel interactive with the community and important.
If you are reading this you know that I write a blog for the Paper. Doing that makes me feel that I am part of the community and that I matter. It also gives me the direct feedback that I need. I have a friend - Bob O'lary - who seems to enjoy this technology to the endth degree. He offers a brilliant and biting perspective as to what is going on in this town and its media. All for free.
In many towns - there is a love/hate relationship between the printed newspaper and news on the Internet. The newspaper folks realize that the future is electronic journalism. Some papers seem to be trying whatever they can to incorporate the Internet into their paper. But there is one big problem that it seems no one has found a solution. How does a newspaper make money in a medium where you give away the product for free?
A grand experiment just failed yesterday. The New York Times made a big change. For the past 2 years - they have been selling an exclusive news service. For $7.95 a month - readers could see almost the entire paper online. Yes - they offered a few stories for free - but for the "in depth" stuff - they charged a fee. Yesterday - The New York Times - cried uncle. They said from now on readers could see the whole paper for free. Now - readers can even search the Times archives for free. I love having the New York Times as a news source - and this decision was a great reason to celebrate. But to other papers that were hoping this would be the savior of their newsrooms - this ray of hope was extinguished and it saddened them. So it is back to the drawing board for an original thought - "How do we make money with our newpaper on the Internet?"
Bob Garbordi has been doing a great job with the Democrat and the blogs. He has encouraged folks like me to write blogs for free - to salve our vanity - and create reader interest. The back and forth banter between bloggers and readers has actually increased the sales of the newspaper. Still - it seems to be a finger in the dike holding back Ocean Internet.
People think that daily newspapers make money on newspaper general circulation sales. They do not directly. It costs much more that the 50 cents you pay for the Democrat to print this novel size tome. To make money just on newspaper sales - they would have to charge about $3.00 per copy and of course circulation would drop dramatically if they charged that much. The daily paper makes the "big bucks" by selling advertising. The higher their circulation - the more they can charge for advertising space.
To add another layer of competition - the classified advertisng department has taken a huge hit. Internet products like ebay and craigslist compete directly for folks selling their cars - furntiure - homes - tools - you name it. Newspapers get so paranoid about these net sites that I wonder as I type if this story will be published because the freedom of the press is only for people that own a press.
All that being said - it is an interesting time in the media business. I am enjoying my morning newspaper - satellite radio with Howard Stern - CNN on DirecTV - Comcast high speed Internet - free wireless from the Digital Canopy - US snail mail - - iphone - text messages - itunes store - Limewire - ebay and craigslist. It is an interesting time we live in. It is great to see the different media sources slugging it out. I am pretty proud of the Democrat holding its own in this battle. You have to admire any organization that can get The Trailing Spouse to do anything for free.
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
See more photos on her blog by clicking on "Grandma" above.
You all remember Doris and Elias Meneses. Doris is from Tamaqua but has lived near Miami for 35 years. Her daughter - Debbie - just had a son. ALEXANDER ELIAS RUIZ.
It is hard to believe that I am writing stories about our friends being grandparents. Grandparents seemed just so darn old - about 15 minutes ago.
Saturday, September 15, 2007
"There's something good everyday in the Tallahassee Democrat. Sometimes you just have to search for the one great thinker," Pace
It is a long time since anyone used those words in a sentence about me.
Click on the "Nothing" in the headline above to see the article in "Tallahassee Tea Party."
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
We have been touring around town on our bikes.
Keith works for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. He is an economist and he monitors power companies throughout the country to make sure they are obeying the rules of trading power on the national grid. So far this year - he has traveled to Seattle - LA - Denver - Detroit - Lansing - New York - and now Atlanta. His office is in Washington DC - next to Union Station.
Monday, September 10, 2007
I do not like labeling people - but I always do it. I like to say that I describe them - not label them. I was an Earth Science teacher for 33 years. I am in favor of conservation - wisely using our resources - but I often find that "greenies" - there I go labeling people again - only want to conserve when it fits their description of what should be saved and what shouldn't be.
As an "earth scientist" I have gotten tired of folks telling me that they want to "save the planet." The earth has been around for 5 billion years - and we as humans have hardly scratched the surface. The deepest diamond mines are only a couple of miles deep - and the good old earth is 8000 miles thick. When people tell me they want to "save the planet" it reminds me of a log going down the river with a bunch of ants on it. Each ant probably thinks he can steer the log and decide where it will go and what happens to it. But the log just keep moving with the river current.
When I talk about "greenies" it is the affectionate name I give to folks that have moved to Florida - built their homes - got everything just the way they wanted it by not being so conservative. Now they want to close the state to "foreigners" and not allow anybody to change anything because the "greenies" like it just the way it is. Usually the "greenies" want their taxes kept low by being subsidized by the taxes of others that moved into Florida just a few years later. This is one of the "reasons" that 3 people can live in 3 houses that are exactly the same - lined up on a street - with tax bills of $1000 and $2000 and $3000. It doesn't sound too fair to me.
The other day I was walking through the neighborhood and was commenting how nice a newly built home was next to a person's house. The person I was talking to lived here about 5 years.
The unhappy neighbor said, "This was the Garden of Eden before they built that house - where it blocked my view of the lake."
I said, "Didn't you have the chance to buy that lot before they built the new home?"
Unhappy neighbor said, "Yes but they wanted $55,000 for it. I offered them $10,000 if they would never build on the lot."
I said, "Surely you jest. What fool would accept that deal?"
Unhappy said, "Well - it was the Garden of Eden - and they destroyed it."
I said, "You know - it was the Garden of Eden before you built your house here - FIVE YEARS AGO."
Unhappy said, "Want to come in and see my $55,000 kitchen?"
Sunday, September 09, 2007
Saturday Night in Tallahassee - Florida State dropped behind the University of Alabama at Birmingham by 14 points after one half. Fortunately for the 85,000 cranky fans - the Noles came storming back to win by 10 points. They are now 1-1.
The game started at 5 PM. Lulu and I left home on the scooter at 4:15 - bought tickets outside the stadium for the 20 yard line seats - Row 23 - for $10. You can see our view from the seats in the picture above.
I wore the pith helmet to keep the sun off my head - but by 5:15 - we were in the shade and I had ot keep the hat on because I had a sweaty "hathead."
Normally - I do not wear loud clothing - but Nancy was on a yard sale expedition in the morning - and bought the shirt for $1.00. She even laundered it and ironed it before the game. So it looks like I will be wearing this shirt to every game from now on - I have to get my moneysworth :-)
I am having a good time. I am in Byron GA on I-75. I have gone 185
miles with 88 more to go.
I am getting wireless from a Days Inn - free.
The van is great - I have been keeping it at 65 and staying in the
right lane - I have time to kill.
The bike rack is great - tight - quiet - soft for the bikes.
Traffic is very light.
GPS says I will get there at 12:46.
I will pick Keith up at the airport then.
Tuesday, September 04, 2007
The crowd at Clemson was really excited - and it seemed there were very few fans wearing garnet and gold - and even fewer empty seats. We were feeling pretty happy that we did not make the drive to Clemson without tickets.
FSU has hired an almost entirely new expensive coaching staff - with virtually only Bobby and Mickey Andrews back from the good old days. The first half looked as if nothing changed from the Jeff Bowden Era. A confused looking Seminole team quickly had fallen behind by 21 points at halftime.
George and Joel went home to a 10PM bedtime - but Lulu and I stayed up. Our sons - Keith and Drew - were together in Syracuse for the game. Although they graduated from Georgetown and Duke - they are still two of the best Florida State football fans. The cellphones were quiet all night because there was nothing to celebrate.
FSU came out in the second half and scored 18 straight points - but they couldn't score 7 more and lost by 6.
The jury is still out on this club - did the rest of the ACC get good - or did FSU become mediocre - time will tell.
Regardless - Bobby Bowden has done miracles for this town and school and he deserves to coach as long as he can. It may hard convincing a few of the spoiled fans that Bobby created.
Sunday, September 02, 2007
By Rob Pegoraro from The Washington Post
Thursday, August 30, 2007; D01
Laptop design has advanced a great deal over the past decade, but a few things still generally hold true: Batteries won't last through a cross-country flight, and affordable laptops weigh too much.
This is supposed to be the most innovative part of the computing business. But too many portable machines are designed with no more attention to detail than the average desktop.
Not every manufacturer is stuck in this rut: Apple's well-crafted machines have been gobbling up market share, even though the MacBook and MacBook Pro cost more than many other laptops.
Manufacturers of laptops that run Windows complain about having to compete in a commodity market yet fail to make their machines less of a commodity. They ship machines built from the same components, add the same mediocre programs and hope that some glossy paint will make the results stand out.
Consider this week's news that Acer will buy Gateway. Could you tell one brand apart from the other? Over the past 10 years, what has been Acer-esque or Gateway-ish about either firm's machines? Very little.
So long as this persists, it's going to be hard to recommend one PC vendor over another. But you can still pick out a good laptop if you shop by features, not brand.
Please don't start with the processor, even if most ads yammer on about clock speeds. Any model sold in the last few years is fast enough for just about all home tasks.
Instead, the most critical number for a laptop is its weight. Five pounds should be manageable, but six gets uncomfortable quickly. The power brick often adds almost a pound.
Weight figures can be hard to find -- at Sony's Web site, you must read a fine-print PDF -- but they can quickly narrow your selection. The lightest laptops have 12-inch screens, which many people find too small for day-to-day use. But a 15-inch screen usually pushes a laptop's weight past six pounds.
When a laptop offers a choice of batteries, its listed weight will usually be based on a standard battery that won't last as long as you want.
The default batteries on a Dell Inspiron 1520 and an HP Pavilion dv2500t, for example, kept them running for only 2 hours 9 minutes and 1 hour 52 minutes of DVD playback, respectively. Higher-capacity batteries can extend those times but add bulk and weight.
A MacBook's standard battery, meanwhile, lasted 3 hours in the same test, and a Toshiba Satellite U305 ran almost as long.
Most of the other key factors to consider in a laptop are identical to those on a desktop -- but on a laptop, it's harder to upgrade an inadequate component.
So when you ponder hard-drive sizes, buy too much of it. Sixty gigabytes won't cut it, especially when most PCs use some of that space for a backup copy of Windows. Get at least 80.
Don't skimp on RAM, the other kind of memory used for running software. You need at least a gigabyte, but get two if you use Windows Vista or if you're buying a Mac and plan to run Windows on it using a program like Parallels Desktop.
Other advertised features in laptops affect their utility only at the margins. Any new laptop should include a CD burner, although some of those can't burn DVDs, making it harder to back up your data. Gamers should look for a "non-integrated" or "discrete" graphics card with a separate stash of memory. Memory-card slots help in copying photos from digital cameras. Bluetooth wireless aids in connecting some cellphones.
All laptops now include WiFi for wireless access. The faster 802.11n WiFi on some laptops is worth an upgrade if you have a busy home network. But don't bother with mobile broadband receivers for the expensive data services of such carriers as Verizon Wireless or AT&T.
Note that Macs omit dial-up modems, which most people no longer use.
If you want free tech support in a hurry, ask a computer-savvy friend. Otherwise, you'll have to pay for your help in a per-incident fee or in time spent on hold (or, if you have a Mac, in line at the Genius Bars in Apple's stores).
The most important part of any computer can be the software it operates on. But this gets little attention from firms besides Apple: Its Mac OS X and iLife multimedia programs offer an ease of use and elegance absent in Windows.
Cheaper PCs come with the Basic edition of Windows Vista, which lacks many of Vista's advertised features.
And then there's the third-rate, third-party software on many laptops. Memo to the computer industry: AOL isn't the fastest-growing Internet service. And Napster and Yahoo aren't the most popular music sites. These programs are like the stickers on most laptops -- they're not there because of customer demand, but because the manufacturer made a few bucks by including them.
If more vendors focused on making money from their real customers -- say, by following the example of Dell, which lets buyers decline many of these extra programs -- they might find that their customers can tell them apart.