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Saturday, May 31, 2008

Our Seats

Addendum - Lulu Finds Sex in the City

Just when I thought I made it through the trip without seeing that
movie Lulu discovered a little theatre less than two miles freon
campus in Sayville.

I am typing this as the credits roll.

it is 7pm on Saturday night - do you know where your parents are?

Sent from Harry's iPhone.

The Trailing Spouse Does New York City in Search for "Sex in the City"

Lulu was a professor for St. Johns University in the Big Apple before she was lured to Florida State by the wonderful Tallahassee sun. For ten years she commuted 150 miles from upstate Pennsylvania to the Queens and Long Island campuses. It was a very nice time in our lives.

Before that tenure - I hated everything about New York City. In our hometown in Pennsylvania the population was divided - Yankee fan or Yankee hater. The tales of crime in the city filled our evening news. Everything in Manhattan seemed so expensive and there was always a "con" going down.

Lulu used to supervise library interns all over the city. She learned how to get around in the city and we developed a flavor for the life. She had the best of both worlds - she made a New Yorker salary and was able to live in a coal cracker lifestyle back home.

Lulu still does an occasional workshop for St. Johns. Every summer she is beckoned back to enjoy a few days of New York "summer in the city" to visit her roots. This trip she planned to co-incide with the opening of "Sex in the City" - a movie about girls living the high life of Manhattan style - fashion - and sex. For the past couple of weeks - I was planning ways to get out of going to that movie.

Yesterday was opening day of the film. We spent the day just bopping around the city. Fortunately or unfortunately - every ticket for the film was sold out in every theatre. The city was just filled with young ladies in all states of dress - cueing up for the big event. They actually started showing the film at midnight - and every seat was taken.

Instead we enjoyed visited the "Body Works" exhibit - an impressive series of displays of real human bodies in various poses and views. Everything was perfectly preserved and colored to highlight even the smallest nerves - arteries - and veins. It was a very informative two hours. The school groups in the city reminded me of the times when I was the tour guide.

After a day of subways - buses - museums - shopping - eating - and people watching - we boarded our express train back to campus on Long Island.

One of the saddest moments of the trip was when we stumbled onto the memorial of TWA Flight 800 - it is not too far away from campus - on the beach at Smithpoint. You may recall in 1996 that a Boeing 747 had just left JFK Airport on its way to Paris when a fuel tank mysteriously exploded killing everyone. Our little hometown of Tamaqua PA deeply mourned this event - Amy and Kyle Miller - two of our brightest and best were on that flight. Amy served on the very same school board that I did. Kyle managed the hardware store in town. They were going to celebrate their fifth anniversary in the Eiffel Tower. The sobering reality of their names on that memorial forces tears to your eyes and makes one contemplate how truly fragile life is.

So we have experience bothed joy and sadness on this venture. When one leaves the front door of your home - you never know what adventure awaits you. Lulu really enjoys her trips back to her old territory in New York City - and the Trailing Spouse enjoys carrying her bags.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Our Nephew Tyler Captured This Awesome Rainbow

Tyler Ansbach - the son of Lulu's sister Lori - took these wonderful pictures of a rainbow with his cell phone. The pictures were taken back in the hills of Pennsylvania where Lulu and I spent our childhood and the first 33 years of our marriage.

The white house in the picture is Lulu's childhood home.

Tyler can be reached at this address - The pictures are for sale.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Trailing Spouse Follows Lulu from Ocala to Tallahassee to Washington - And Finds His Grandfather

Lulu is reading grants for the federal government. After spending four days in Ocala this is a chance to enjoy the museums of Washington and see my son Keith.

After spending his freshman year at FSU - Keith became a Georgetown Hoya. After graduation - he stayed in Washington - working for When Lulu started working at FSU - we convinced Keith to come back to Tallahassee and earn a masters degree in International Affairs. This landed him a job with the feds back in Washington. Without too much detail - Keith carries a badge and lays heavy fines on cheating companies.

Getting to see Keith is always an added bonus when going to DC. He is a sports nut - so tonight we will see our old "hometown" team - the Philadelphia Phillies - playing in the new stadium against the Washington Nationals. The game is the excuse - but the real fun is just being with him.

Yesterday - we all walked around town. We saw the new World War II Memorial. It is very impressive. It claims a very valuable and strategic spot on the mall between the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial. If you remember Washington in the 1940's - this spot was occupied by a rambling set of buildings used to administrate that war. It is appropriate that this spot was selected for the memorial.

One of the highlights for me was the computer kiosk on the memorial site. It allows you to search through all the folks that died in WWII. While I was in the restroom - "never pass a restroom" - Lulu did a search - and when I returned she had the information about Roy Shartle Everhart on the screen. It startled me.

For 60 years - I knew next to nothing about this man - my real grandfather. My Dad refused to talk about him because he left my grandmother with four kids under age seven and he disappeared. They were living in a coal company house and the company was going to throw them out on the street - until someone agreed that my seven year old dad would be "indentured" to work in the mines. With help from Cousin Bob and the Internet - we found out that Roy had died at sea during the war. He worked in the engine room of the USS Norlandia that was torpedoed off the coast of the Dominican Republic on July 4, 1942 - six year before I was born. All of this seemed so surreal. To see his name on that screen on the WWII memorial wells up hidden emotions. Maybe he wasn't such a bad guy after all.

Enough of that - I have four days to enjoy the city and my son. My mom used to say I had "gypsy" blood in me. The Everharts just love to go and go and go. Nothing has changed. Keith travels in his work all over the country. Lulu makes sure I get to go all over the world. Our little coal cracker family is spread out all over the country.

Next time we will see Keith is in England in July. This summer Lulu is teaching a course at the FSU Center. Keith has saved up plenty of vacation days to visit. And the Trailing Spouse will carry Lulu's bags. And you will follow along here.

View of Rhode Island Ave from our Washington hotel

Sunday, May 18, 2008

On The Way to DC

Busy week. Sitting on plane in Atlanta. Lulu has work in DC. Four days
to visit Keith. We will see Phillies in new Nats stadium.

Spent ten hours at home in Tallahassee between trips.

The life of a trailing spouse. I carry her bags.

Ready for takeoff.

Sent from Harry's iPhone.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Trailing Spouse Spends Three Days in Ocala

Lulu has a convention in Ocala - so here I am sitting in hotel room in this Central Florida town. I guess the sessions have something to do with school libraries - but my job is essentially to drive the van - carry the bags - find breakfast - and provide evening entertainment.

Whenever we drive downstate - the big choice is "the backway" or "the interstate." If we drive down one way - we usually come back the other way. This time we chose Route 27 south. It never fails when I am sitting on the porch of the State Capitol and gazing down Apalachee Parkway - I announce, "You can take Route 27 all the way to Miami." Even as you gaze down the road you can see it gently make the big bend south.

We are started out going down Saint Augustine Road to imagine traveling in the old days through this beautiful North Florida country. About 10 miles outside of town - it changes back into Route 27. The afternoon traffic was very light - sometimes you could not see a car in front of you or behind you. The gasoline prices edge close to $4.00 a gallon - I wonder if Americans have changed their driving habits yet as the price moves ever upward. It hasn't changed our choice of vehicles because we saw very few compact cars or motorcycles - mostly big SUVS - trucks - and campers. I cringed when a motor home went by towing an SUV. I thought,"At 4 miles per gallon and $4.00 per gallon - it is costing that guy a buck a mile!"

Three hours and 175 miles later we are in Ocala. To my surprise the convention is at a hotel along I-75 - not downtown.

After a night of checking out the swimming pool - eating supper at Cracker Barrel - and sleeping in a strange bed - Lulu is up early. She dresses and rushes off to meet her fellow librarians. That leaves me a whole day to enjoy touring a new town. Not many people can get excited over touring Ocala - but away I went.

First - I went to the downtown square to find a "local place" for breakfast. I was not disappointed  at Richard's on Silver Springs Boulevard. They only serve breakfast and lunch - it was full of gray headed "early birds" and "snow birds." They were a noisy crowd - I guess because they have to speak loudly to hear each other.  The food was hot - fresh - fast - and almost everyone was having the "special" which included a beverage for $5. 

After that - I visited Silver Springs hoping I could take Lulu back there after supper for a discount admission. Unfortunately - they close at 5 PM.

The next stop was the Appleton Civic Center and Art Museum. For $4 - I toured this beautiful museum alone - senior discount. It reminded me of the Getty Museum in California - they must have a big endowment to pay the 20 or so guards that watched the place. All of the art was unprotected - for closeup viewing. 

After years of zooming down I-75 past the Don Garlit's Drag Racing Museum - it was time for a visit. There were a total of 4 cars in the parking lot on this hot breezy spring day. Inside - you are amazed at the number of cars and the excellent displays. Walking around alone - the displays seem to whisper memories of your past. Just like old music - each car reminds you of "what your were doing" then - like an old Vietnam flashback.  

After that - it was back to the hotel room - I am supposed to have supper planned for Lulu. There is a car show on the square downtown - in front of Harry's Restaurant. All along I thought the restaurant in Tallahassee was named in my honor when we moved to town. To my chagrin - I find out that it is another chain. 

Word has it that they are painting the lines on the highway tomorrow. Maybe I will sit around and watch the paint dry.

Bowden film kicks off Tallahassee Film Festival

Reprinted from Today's Tallahassee Democrat

George Butler's 'The Good Fight' debuts at FSU

By Mark Hinson

As coach Bobby Bowden might say, "Dadgum, that was a good little movie."

Nearly 200 film and football fans turned out on a rainy Thursday night for a sneak peek at a new documentary about Bowden and the Seminoles football team during the stormy 2006 season. The movie, tentatively titled "The Good Fight," kicked off the inaugural Tallahassee Film Festival at Florida State's Student Life Cinema.

"I've got great affection for this city and the Bowden family and the Seminoles team," "Good Fight" director George Butler said before the screening. "People were unfailingly polite to my crew."

The documentary takes viewers into weight rooms, locker rooms, practice fields, the Bowden home and more for an intimate look at one of the most famous college football programs in the country.

"If you walk down a street in New York, where I have an office, no one will know who Bobby Bowden is," Butler said. "I think this film will change that forever."

Butler's other films include "Pumping Iron," which launched the career of Arnold Schwarzenegger.

"I think it captured (the FSU football program) very well," Seminoles team chaplain Clint Purvis said after the movie. "I loved it. I think he's a talented director."

"You don't have to be an FSU fan to love that film," FSU alum and lobbyist Brecht Heuchan said. "I don't know Bobby Bowden personally but I feel like I do after that."

Butler said he hopes to have the film finished and ready for theatrical release in eight months. He said he's still going through the 300 hours of footage he shot between 2005 and 2006.

The Tallahassee Film Festival continues its run today and Saturday with more than 50 movies being shown in venues around town. Many of the screenings are free. (See today's Limelight for full details.) The festival also includes a special "Starfest" Downtown GetDown that runs from 6 to 10 p.m. today on the Adams Street Commons and is free to the public.

Monday, May 12, 2008

The Trailing Spouse Loses Buddy to Professor Musical Chairs Game

Lulu was just awarded tenure. So was my buddy DeeBee. It should be a
joy-filled time around our cracker home - but it is bitter sweet.

After living in the same place 55 years - I had to leave friends and family
behind to come to Tallahassee. I am not used to that and quite frankly - I
have not made a lot of friends here in town. DeeBee was one of them.

DeeBee is the "coffee baron" at Lulu's office. He is always at the office
when many of the other professors are off on their adventures doing research
- managing projects - or presenting at conventions. Sometimes to the neglect
of his personal life - DeeBee has held the fort down. He has often been seen
on Sundays in his office with his Border collie mix affectionately referred
to as his "tenure-dog." Two years ago DeeBee was selected "Faculty Member
of the Year" by the students. More recently he managed to teach a course
online while recovering from prostate cancer surgery.

In the traditional college professor world - one gets promoted by being an
excellent teacher. Increasingly, in many of today's colleges, one must add
bringing in grant money and getting books and articles published.

Unfortunately, due to local current economic conditions - veteran professors
have not gotten a pay raise in a few years. Their salary has fallen way
behind the inflation rate. In order to attract top new faculty members -
most colleges offer new professors higher salaries than veteran staff
members. So if a professor wants a pay raise - he must apply to other
universities and weigh the salary offers. It is like a free agent in
baseball - get what you can - when you can.

DeeBee just accepted an almost 50K pay increase from one of two universities
he received offers from. He accepted the offer from a state school located
in another deep-south state. Granted, we have an apples-to-oranges
comparison as the raise reflects a 12 month salary versus the current 9
month salary as an assistant professor. He has signed the offer sheet and
informed the Dean that he will be gone on July 1st. Lulu's department is
astonished - not at the offer - but to be losing DeeBee. Just like that I
will be losing a buddy - one of the few that I have.

DeeBee and his family of five just did major renovations to their home. His
wife and kids love Tallahassee. The kids are outstanding students and his
wife DeeBee2 are a perfect fit into the community.

This is a way of life for professors that wish to advance. It seems like no
one is an expert unless they are over 100 miles from home. So add another
to brain drain list that is occurring throughout FL.

Lulu has been on the "tenure" merry-go-round two times. She received it from
a college in New York City 10 years ago - but had to run the gauntlet again
at FSU. When FSU recruited her - they offered a generous salary. We pulled
up our roots of 50 years in Pennsylvania and moved to the town and school
that we love. But as the Florida economy remains stagnant - and already
other colleges have come calling with fantastic pay raises - I am afraid
that this has become a way of life. I spent my entire life within 10 miles
of the place I was born. This is a club I am reluctant to join.