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Friday, October 31, 2008

On the plane to Portugal

I am writing on the plane as we prepare for lift off.

Small world another guy - Ross Todd - lulu's friend - is also on the
plane going to the conference.

It is 3500 miles to Lisbon. At 500 mph it should take 7 hours.

It still seems like a dreaw doing this.

Lulu will do her stuff Monday. Then we have until Friday to explore.

We can assure that we already voted for Barack.

We will watch the holes game tomorrow with the Slingbox on our computer.

This plane has 110 volt outlets at each seat. Each seat has it's own tv.

We will post again on the other side of the pond.

Sent from Harry's iPhone.

We Stopped to See Jack on the Road to Portugal

Lulu is giving the keynote speech and a workshop in Lisbon, Portugal Monday. Since one of the best flights is from New York City - we decided to take a trip north to see friends and family before we "cross the pond to the continent."

Like every other trip for Tallahassee - you first have to visit Atlanta - so we got the early morning flight from Tallahassee. Next was a quick flight to Allentown, PA - our old hometown airport.

Lulu wanted to see her aunt in Allentown - so we rented a car and drove to see Aunt Ethel and Uncle John. After a quick lunch with them - we drove to Tamaqua and stopped to see Jean Freed - a best friend and another teacher enjoying retirement. After that LUlu wanted to see her Aunt Delores - while I visited Paul Dodson. Paul was my shop teacher and he built our cedar home from a kit in 1973.

Tamaqua - our lifetime home until 2004 - looks the same. Most of the people have to commute out of the area for work. Some still work in the mines - but now machines do the work of thousands of men. The town looks better after a new project to bury all the old overhead wires underground.

Next was a supper at Lulu's old homestead with many family members. Supper went way too fast and pretty soon we had to hop in the rental Jeep for the 3 hour drive to Syracuse. in many places there was snow along the highway in the upper elevations - but we arrived in Syracuse to 32 degrees and dry roads at 10PM.

Today we spent the entire day with Jack - our first grandchild. He is 4 months old now - and just a joy. We have not seen him since he was 2 months old - and it is a whole new ball game. We just had a wonderful family lunch downtown near the Syracuse University campus. Jack was well-behaved the entire time.

In about 2 hours - we will be winging it to the Newark airport where we catch our direct flight to Lisbon, Portugal. We will be flying all night. The Portugal Department of Education will be meeting us at the airport. Imagine that - a limo waiting for us. Lulu has come along way from commuting to Kutztown State College to get her library degree.

Next time I write will be after our arrival Lisbon. After Lulu's presentation on Monday - we will have 6 days to roam around. Just across the Strait of Gibraltar from Portugal is Morocco in Africa. Maybe we can catch a cheap flight to Casablanca.

"Here's looking at you kid."

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Jack at Four Months

EPA Gives Tallahassee First Award in Nation for Excellence in Site Reuse

EPA Gives City First Award for Excellence in Site Reuse - History was made again in Cascades Park today as the City of Tallahassee received the "Excellence in Site Reuse" Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Today marked the first time EPA has ever given this award, which recognizes the City's innovative and environmentally sensitive work to remove contaminants from the area so it can be developed into a world-class public park.

Cascades Park, located between Monroe, Gaines and Bloxham streets, and the CSX Railroad, was owned by the State from 1966 to 2004, when an agreement was signed between the City and State to return ownership of the property to the City. The park has not been available for public use for nearly 20 years due to contaminated soils on park properties after contamination was discovered in the late 1980s. In the late 1990s the City and State began work at the site to determine the extent of contamination, and in 2006 the City, now as sole owner of the property, contracted with WRScompass to remove contamination. The clean-up activities removed over 80,000 tons of contaminated soil.

Nancy passes this park on the way to work daily. It is just south of the Capitol - about 3/4 miles from our house.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Saturday, October 25, 2008

FSU Beats Virginia Tech 30-20

Lulu and I left the house at 3:00 PM for the game. We decided to take the Vespa Scooter because they let us park it right next to the stadium. It was a beautiful day - about 75 and sunny.

When we got to the stadium there were plenty of tickets for sale. The first pair I saw were on the 30 yard line - Section 35 - Row 11. Since the sun would be at our back - and the guy only wanted $10 each - We took them and went right into the gate and to our seats.

VT was winning 13-10 at the half but FSU opened it up in the third quarter - and held on in the fourth quarter for the 30-20 win. FSU is now back in first place in the Atlantic Division of the ACC. Wake Forest got beaten today and they dropped behind the Noles.

We are going to miss two FSU games while we go to Portugal. Next game we attend will be the Boston College game. Our friends form Daytona Beach - John and Bonnie will be spending the weekend in the barn. We will go to the game with them. Nancy has been invited to sit in the President's Box for this game.

Before the game there was a flyover of 4 giant Chinook helicopters. They were low enough to scare small children.

With the Seminoles winning - a lot of fans are jumping on the bandwagon again. Ticket prices will go up.

Great game seats

30 yard line
Row 11
Sun at our back
$10 each

Friday, October 24, 2008

Nancy Awarded Another Big Grant - $750,000

Click on the headline for full story and picture.

The Florida State University College of Information, along with its partners--the New York University Research Center for Leadership in Action and local school districts--received a $754,755 research grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).

Nancy Everhart, an associate professor in the College of Information, is principal investigator of "Leadership in Action: School Library Media Specialists for the 21st Century: Leaders Educated to Make Difference," funded by the IMLS Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Lulu and I Voted This Morning

Today is the first day of voting in Florida. Since Lulu will be doing a presentation in Portugal on Election Day - we wanted to be sure we voted before we left.

Some folks do not like to say who they voted for. I am not sure why. I do know that Barack Obama got two votes today - well I am really sure about one. I am not trying to encourage anyone on how they should vote. We all have our reasons why we select one candidate over another.

I had my mind made up a long time ago. I was against Bush and his war - his wasting our money and kids in a war to enrich Bush - Cheney - and their friends. All of the other bad moves by Bush just re-enforced how I felt. The same Republicans that supported Bush are now behind McCain.

Today - I also voted for almost every women candidate on the ballot. I figured that men have goofed up this country enough. I would have written-in Hillary except that would be like a vote for McCain. It is too important to defeat Bush's policies. He has made such a mess of this country.

Back north I was registered Republican. I was a Republican Committeeman and was also elected to the Board of Education - refusing to cross file - and carrying Republican only behind my name. The Republican Party promised a balanced budget amendment to the Consitution - instead they ended running up the biggest deficits and debts ever.

I believe in living on a cash basis - never spending more than you earn. Neither a borrower nor lender be. Towns - counties - and states do just fine having balanced budgets. Someone once said, "A democracy is doomed once the people realize they can vote themselves a dole from the treasury." We have been living high on the hog and charging the bill to our kids.

The policies of George Bush made me change parties. It seems that McCain and Palin are more of the same. Governor Palin is a popular and pretty lady - but most of her issues are opposite mine.

I find it ironic that we have given President Bush a free pass on all the messes he caused - lying us into a war - letting us be attacked by terrorists - $10 trillion of debt - spending like a drunken sailor - plundering the earth in the name of freedom. Bill Clinton provided surplus budgets - started paying off the debt - and defended allies without sacrificing our kids and cash.

We have lived in Florida and Pennsylvania our entire lives. I like to think I know the people in those states. Neither candidate can win without those two states. I am afraid that many people being polled are saying they will vote for Senator Obama because they are embarrassed that they are racists. This can be enough to change the outcome. I hope I am wrong. Also - most of the polling only questions people on their home phones. Many folks have chosen to carry cell phones instead of having home phones. This makes the polls in my mind - tainted.

So at nine o'clock we walked into the court house across from the Capitol of our great state and voted early.

Most editors enjoy writing the classic, "vote for anybody - just vote." I encourage voters to stay home. That way my vote has more clout. If there were only 3 voters - I would only have to convince one other person to vote my way. If 1000 people vote - I need 500 other people to vote my way - my vote is not as valuable. So - if you want to vote - do it - if not stay home and make my vote count more.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Email from Nigeria (Portugal) Offers Lulu Opportunity

Lulu got an email last week from a foreign country - not Nigeria - but Portugal. I am sure you have received emails offering you part of a fortune if you just give up your bank account number for a large deposit to launder some money.

Lulu has written a book entitled, "Evaluating the School Library Media Center." It deals with methods for schools to determine that their libraries are doing a good job of serving the school's needs. She has written numerous articles about the subject and travels all over doing presentations and workshops on the topic. I have gotten my nickname - The Trailing Spouse - by carrying her bags to these events.

In order to check the authenticity of the email - she researched the person and department. It all seemed legitimate so she emailed back saying she would do the workshop. She outlined her fees and they quickly replied thanking her for accepting at the last minute.

They also asked if she would deliver the keynote speech - in English of course. It must be really flattering to have an organization think so much of you that they would make this offer from having, "just read your book."

Since Lulu insisted that I come along to carry her bags - she booked two plane tickets through New York City. There is a non-stop flight form Newark to Lisbon. Since we are going to travel - we might as well visit friends and family back home in the Northland. We have never been to Portugal - nor neighboring Spain. We will have 6 days to explore the Iberian Peninsula.

They did not offer us $10,000,000 if we would just give them our bank account number and allow them to transfer hidden wealth out of their country.

Their latest reply, "We are very glad you have accepted to come to Portugal and participate in our Conference/Seminar. Yes, of course, both the keynote and the workshop could be in English. We are trying to have translation."

Right now - we are on the hook for $1600 in plane tickets. I will keep you posted as things progress. Hopefully - we will be enjoying 6 days in Portugal and I won't moaning about buying beers for 12 Euros.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Trailing Spouse and Noles Survives 5 Inches of Rain and $12 Beers

Lulu and I were already in South Florida for a visit to some of her students. Since we could see the Dolphins Stadium from our hotel window in Hollywood - we stuck around an extra day to cheer on the Noles against rival Miami. It was a beautiful sunny and breezy week - we figured it would be a great night for a game - even if we were playing the dreaded Canes.

After 4 days of beach weather - we woke up to rain pelting on our slanted windows. This was a herbinger of what was to come. We figured it would clear before the 3:30 game time and it did.

Just in case - on the way to the game Lulu insisted we find a dollar store and buy cheap ponchos. She has been right on this before so I paid the two dollars as we waded back into traffic.

As usual - we did not have any tickets - so we drove to the stadium at about 2 PM. I wished we would have walked because parking was $25 at the stadium. Moths flew out of my wallet as I counted out one dollar bills. The parking lot was festive. There were plenty of tailgating Hurricanes and a surprising number of Seminole flags and tents. One forgets that not all FSU fans live in Tallahassee. The banter between fans in orange and fans in garnet was mostly light-hearted.

About 30 minutes before game time - it started to rain hard. This is a very good sign for someone without tickets. Lulu and I walked to the ticket area - and both of us held up two fingers. We looked like refugees for a 60s peace rally. We must have been a sorry sight - because after a while a high school coach with a Hurricanes shirt on walked up and offered us a ticket for free. You had to go through the complimentary ticket line with him. Why not - Lulu went along with him. After a few minutes - a guy with a Noles jersey offered a single ticket for $20. When I told him that Lulu and I drove down from Tallahassee - he gave it to me for free.

Lulu and I rendez-voused - on the "other side." It was like going through the Berlin Wall - the way they frisked you there - separate lines for men and woman. Quite frankly - I would rather being frisked by the cute lady in the next line than the surly guy that did me. I notices there was one area that he did not frisk on old men. Good thing because that it where I stored my 4 bottles of coke. As planned - he did not touch me there. I could have fit a nuclear bomb there - this gives new meaning to "having a package." It was a good thing because beers in the stadium were $12 - more on that later.

We went up to the third level - it was still raining pretty hard as we circled that infinity spiral walkway. Lulu wanted to sit on the 50 yard line on the Noles side - but we got our numbers crossed and came out on the Canes 50. We saw two seats near the rail - it was 7 minutes before game time but we took a chance on those seats staying empty. We lucked out. No one ever came to claim those seats along with the other orange seats 20,000 empty seats in the stadium.

The rain was steady - but we were dry and warm in our thin layers of clear plastic. We smiled at each other smuggly. We were at the "big game" - in great seats - for free - unless you count the parking.

In a moment two skinny young ladies sat next to us. They seemed friendly and innocent enough. One turned out to be the Trojan horse. During the whole game - this 100 pound young lady that sat next to me - stood and screamed for the Canes the entire game. I thought she would tire out quickly. It was not just your regular yell - but a high pitched perfect high C note the whole game. Due to my poor hearing - I am not supposed to be able to hear that frequency. But it was like a miracle cure - I could hear again!

Enter the beers. This young lady half my wieght proceeded to buy and drink several of these giant quart size beers. They must have been medication for her throat because she did not miss a beat or an octave. She was a human siren. The guy on the other side said that she does this every game and it never ends.

At halftime she left - she stayed away through much of the third quarter. I thought she passed out somewhere. But she came back - this time holding two giant cups of confidence. I told her I missed her and asked her how much the beers cost. She said $12 a piece. I told her that two beers would use up my allowance for the week. She said she had to give the vendor $30 for two beers or he wouldn't respect her. My head exploded.

During the second half - FSU was frittering away a 21 point lead. I was convinced that this young lady was single-handedly stealing this game from the Noles.

Some unknown guy came to sit next to "the screamer." You could tell that they had never met before. First - he would high five her with every play. Then it turned to pecks on the cheek. After that - it turned to him pouring a few inches of her beer into his empty cup when she put her drink down. At a dollar an inch- this was highway robbery. Just when I thought she was too drunk to realize - she starting holding her drink. Smart girl - but he left.

Finally - with one minute left and the Canes within 2 points - the heavens opened up. It poured harder than I ever felt before - but we kept dry in our "dry cleaner bag" quality rainwear. The Noles held on.

The parking lot was flooded - we were up to our ankles in the warm sloshing mess. Most Nole fans expected a different ending - and were relieved that the swamp was just water.

The sportscaster after the game said we had 5 inches of rain as I sank into a steaming hot bath at our hotel. We got back without incident even without the aid of traffic cops. Fans had already started turning into a game for the ages. The Seminole slide seemed to start on a rainy Thursday in Louisville - maybe this storm will awaken the dynasty ghosts.

The Seminoles won the game - we drove 10 hours home with smiles on our faces - tomahawk chopping cars all the way up Route US27. We were happy that the Noles hung on for the victory. But whenever I think of that game - I will always wonder where that skinny girl put $72.00 worth of beer. I guess the same place I put my four 25 cent Cokes.

Lulu asked me to remind you that I really made up the part about sneaking Cokes into the stadium - that would be wrong. Fans are obligated to buy their drinks in the stadium to support the Miami Hurricanes - even if beers are $12.00 each.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

This Tallahassee Crowd Cheered as Joe Paterno Passed Bobby Bowden

Last week when Joe Paterno passed out Bobby Bowden as the winningest college coach - we attended a big celebration in town. No - we weren't at the home of a local Gator fan - we were at Hobbit Hoagies near Park Avenue where the Northwest Florida Chapter of the Penn State Alumni meet.

Every Saturday - the groups meets to watch the Nittany Lions play football on the television. They have a large loyal membership. When I wrote the article about the weather delay at FSU's opening game - Larry DiPietro wrote to me and invited me to their meeting. We were having house guests - two teachers from West Palm Beach. They are big Penn State fans so we thought they would enjoy the meeting with the PSU Alums and swapping stories.

Check their website at -

Back when I taught in the Pennsylvania public schools for 33 years - I enjoyed the good natured ribbing from all of the Penn State grads in the faculty room. The ratio was pretty unbearable - about 35 PSU fans to 1 FSU fan - me. Lulu had gotten her doctorate at FSU in 1990 - and we have been staunch Nole fans ever since. Lucky for me - in the 1990's Florida State was hot - and Penn State was not and fans were going through a few years of "fire JoePa - he's too old."

At first -when we entered the bar with our Seminole game shirts on - the locals reminded us that most of the tables were reserved for the Penn State Club. When I reminded them that we were all born and raised in Pennsylvania - and that we were invited by Joey Dee - they let us join in any reindeer games. Anyone transplanted in Tallahassee from Penn's Woods would enjoy listening to the old Pennsylvania dialect as they share a Yuengling or two.

Our two house guests - Matt and Allison - are special to me. Years ago - they were students in my 7th grade Earth and Space Science classes in the coal regions of Pennsylvania. They became friends for life when they wrote to Bobby Bowden and asked for a signed photo for my birthday. Even in 7th grade - they were pretty smart students. Every year they make the 7 hour drive up from the Gold Coast to see a Seminole game and visit their old school marm. Matt got his teaching degree at Penn State University.

Unfortunately they saw a disappointing game where Wake Forest tacked its third loss in a row on FSU. But it was fun seeing them cheer for Joe Paterno and the Nits as the near-sighted old English professor from Brown University became the winningest college coach of all time. And they celebrated in Tallahassee.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Trailing Spouse Gets 1500 Miles Per Gallon

Lulu is on the road again. She takes me along to carry the bags and chauffeur her around. First - there is a convention in Orlando. Then - she is visiting interns in Fort Lauderdale. Lucky for us - the Seminoles are playing Miami this Saturday and we can help the Noles on the road. While Lulu works - I continue my quest for the perfect ride.

When Lulu was enjoying the Florida Association of Media Educators Convention in the fancy Gaylord Palms Resort - I was trekking to Tampa and Clearwater to ride an electric bike. The seller claimed that it could go 20 miles per hour with a 40 mile range. I was skeptical - and just had to try it.

There are two dealers - Jim Mills and Gerry Christie - in Largo and Tampa - that are marketing the electric bike. At first appearances - it looks like a Honda scooter with lights - turn signals - and the plastic fenders and body. But a closer looks reveals bicycle pedals and a big battery pack in the footboard.

In today's energy crunch people are shunning cars that gobble lots of gasoline and returning to subcompacts that go much farther dollar per dollar. 30 or 40 miles per gallon is considering very economical. What if you could buy a vehicle that gets 1500 miles per gallon? This electric bike delivers the equivalent of 1500 miles per gallon!

I drove to Tampa to visit Gerry - he markets the electric bikes on his web site - Gerry was waiting for this "doubting Thomas." He opened the garage to reveal a row of colorful bikes. He said, "Take your choice - we're going for a ride." I picked a pretty navy blue one - he got on a green one - and away we went. I was riding an electric bike - just like that.

The bike is perfectly silent. There is a magnetic electric motor inside the rear hub that pushes the bike along just like the Wedway train in Disneyworld. It quickly speeds up to 20 mph as you twist the hand grip throttle. Since the ride is so quiet - your senses doubt the 20 mph speedometer. A few looks from startled pedestrians convince you otherwise. Not until you pass by a school radar sign with the big numbers are you convinced that you are going that fast.

We drove on back streets - bikes paths - bike lanes - some sidewalks - and main streets. This little bike reminded me of the Energizer Bunny - it kept going and going. I expected Gerry to turn around after a few miles but he kept going west. The bike's shocks absorbed most of the bumps. Just as I expected to turn back - Gerry shot across the bridge to Clearwater. I followed. We stayed in the bike lane most of the way as cars passed by. The little fuel gauge stayed in the full green range the whole trip. We had already rode 15 miles when we stopped at a small park to give the bike a closer look.

The bike does not have a license plate or tag. According to the Florida Light Electric Vehicle Act - a bike with an electric motor does not need to be registered as long as it goes less than 20 mph - has functioning foot pedals - and a motor below 400 watts of power. You have to be 16 years old to drive one but you do not need any kind of driver's license at all. This opens up an entirely new market of owners needing transportation but not having a driver's license. Gerry talked of a guy in Lakeland weighing 275 pounds driving one 30 miles to work - plugging it in - and driving 30 miles home. He lost his driver's license due to a DUI conviction.

I love bikes and scooters. I have a couple Schwinn's and also a Vespa. It is fun getting around - but not spending a bunch of money. Since I am hard of hearing - I like quiet. I also do not like the odors from exhaust. Those things are elegantly absent when riding this electric bike. After Gerry explained the bike in detail - we returned to his garage after another 15 miles. The dashboard speedometer was a steady 20 mph with the "fuel" gauge showing full all the way.

I can't tell you how impressed I was with this range. Back in 1975 - I owned an electric scooter. It went 15 mph for about 15 miles. Sometimes on hills back in Pennsylvania I got stuck without enough power to get home.

After 30 miles - my butt was getting a little sore - and I had another appointment - but I would bet that this little bike would make it to 40 miles on a charge.

After that exciting stop - I drove on to Largo to visit the importer - Jim Mills. It was his original idea to import this bike and his enthusiasm for the idea is amazing. He has been importing them for almost 3 years - under the name of He has them shipped directly from Shanghai, China to Tampa - 64 to a container.

I did not tell Jim that I visited Gerry. I wanted to hear his presentation and compare it to what I knew from the ride with Gerry. Jim showed me what the bikes looked like in the crates. He even opened a crate to show me the assembly required and how easy it is to prepare. He also showed me his spare parts inventory and bragged about his 90 day warranty. He ships them directly to customers and coaches them through the final assembly - pedals - mirrors - and front wheel.

The bikes are recharged by plugging them into a standard 110 volt outlet. You can fully charge one in about 3 hours. It costs pennies for a full charge - when you calculate the cost compared to gasoline - it amounts to 1500 miles per gallon.

I can think of many uses for this electric bike. Since Lulu is always taking my Vespa to campus two miles away - one would be good for her. Right now I am sitting in my van typing this story in Fort Lauderdale. I could be riding one of these bikes up and down the "boardwalk" on Hollywood Beach. As per state and federal law - this electric bike can go anywhere a regular bike can. Back home I could run to the store for milk and bread and haul them home in the three enclosed compartments.

I could pick the bike up and put it into the back of my van - no gasoline or oil leaks - the batteries are sealed gel. Supposedly - you can get three years out of a set of batteries that cost about $150 to replace.

The electric bike costs $1200.

You can see lots of pictures of the electric bikes on my web page at - I may just buy one and do a few follow up stories to test the durability. I was very impressed with the honest 40 miles per charge range.

There are 5 colors - blue - red - green - orange - and silver. The red one would easily pass for FSU Garnet. A couple of Seminole head stickers on the side would be a sweet ride from our house to Doak Campbell Stadium at game time where free parking in the bike rack awaits.