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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

On the Road Again - Orlando - Boston - Providence - Stockbridge Massachusetts

Lulu was elected president of ASSL (American Association of School Librarians). For the next two years - it means lots of rubber chicken dinners - speeches - and meeting new people. Sometimes - I will go along.

For the next week - we will be on the road. Not only will we be staying in nice hotels - we will get to see family and even an FSU football game.

Yesterday - we drove a rental car from Tallahassee to Orlando. We are staying at the Orlando World Center Marriott Resort & Convention Center by Downtown Disney. It is the largest Marriot in the world with 2000 rooms so it has to have a big name. The FAME (Florida Association of Media Educators) Convention is here. Yesterday it was pretty empty - but today it will be swarmed with 800 school librarians all wearing their little different color tags to show their level of pecking order.

Lulu will be representing FSU's School of Library Science and also ALISE. By now you are getting tired of all this alphabet soup - but get used to it. It will go on for a couple years. Lulu's students from her London course will also be here making presentations about last summer's program and also about Project LEAD (there we go again with letters). I have barely gotten through 4 paragraphs without mentioning the PALM Center that Lulu directs - Partnerships Advancing Library Media.

Last night we went to Disneyworld - didn't spent much money. The Magic Kingdom was close at 5PM - but they were having a special Halloween Party there at 7 PM. I thought Halloween was October 31st - but everything is bigger and longer at Disneyworld.

We will be here in Orlando until Friday. Then we fly to Boston and drive to Providence to see JACK - he is not an acronym - he is our 15 month old gabbing grandson. We will stay in Providence a few nights - Lulu got tickets for the FSU at BC football game on Saturday. Yes - we still love the mercurial Seminoles even though there are 2-2 this season.

On Monday it is a night in Stockbridge Massachusetts and the state library convention there. After that - we are back to visiting with Jack - then we fly home to Tallahassee on Wednesday.

For the next two years - it looks like a lot of hotel rooms for us. It looks like "we" are going to be busy. No - nobody is paying for me to string along. I have to pay my own expenses. Every now and then a free chocolate cupcake finds it way back to our hotel room. But it is my duty to try to support Lulu any way I can - right now I just carry her bags.

Stay tuned.

Monday, September 28, 2009

New Tile Garage Floor

It is a good time to do household repairs. Material prices are down and contractors need the work. You know I have too much free time on my hands when I decided to tile the garage floor. Since we moved here back in 2004 - the garage floor was a mess. The concrete was cracked and covered with chipped red paint (I should know I did the red paint job). Whenever you approached the front of the house - the first thing you saw was a messy floor.

I got the idea to tile the floor while shopping at Lowes. On the clearance pile - there was some beautiful gray marble - yes marble - that was on sale for $2.25 a foot. After several days of trying to justify marble - the sales people at Lowes - my builder - and anyone else I talked to steered me away from the marble. It would have been the prettiest floor in town - but marble is relatively soft - is absorbs oil and stains - it scratches easily - and is a bit slippery when wet.

What really convinced me was when the Lowes salesperson tried to switch me to porcelain tile - even though it was much less at $1.25 a foot on sale. Porcelain tile is harder - the color goes all the way through - it is water proof - has a bit of texture on the surface to prevent slipping - and it is very easy to clean and care for.

When my neighbor Fred saw it - he said I was setting up a showroom for selling things on Craigslist. I did not think of it - but it is a good idea that I will use.

I did not do the actual tile installation - my neighbor Bill Gwynn's workers did the job. I installed the new baseboard - changed some wiring - painted the baseboard - and sealed the tile grout to make it waterproof.

I think we have the only garage with doors on each end. It used to be a carport when we moved here - but I could tell the openings were perfect for 7 x 16 foot doors. It is the only garage your can drive in and out without ever backing up.

We still have 3 cars and a scooter sharing a two car garage. Lulu drives her Dodge convertible - I prefer the Toyota truck or the Vespa. The Honda van sits waiting for guests - it is sort of like our station wagon for the airport.

I realize this is a boring story - but this is what a retired guy does for entertainment.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Way We Die Now

by Charles Dharapak/Associated Press posted in the NY Times

PORTLAND, Ore. —– In the last days of her life, Annabel Kitzhaber had a decision to make: she could be the tissue-skinned woman in the hospital with the tubes and the needles, the meds and smells and the squawk of television. Or she could go home and finish the love story with the man she’d been married to for 65 years.

Her husband was a soldier who had fought through Europe with Patton’s army. And as he aged, his son would call him on D-Day and thank him – for saving the world from the Nazis, for bequeathing his generation with a relatively easy time.

That son, John Kitzhaber, knew exactly what his mother’s decision meant. He was not only a governor, a Democrat who served two terms in Oregon as it tried to show the world that a state could give health care to most of its citizens, but a doctor himself.

At age 88, with a weak heart, and tests that showed she most likely had cancer, Annabel chose to go home, walking away from the medical-industrial complex.

“The whole focus had been centered on her illness and her aging,” said Kitzhaber. “But both she and my father let go that part of their lives that they could not control and instead began to focus on what they could control: the joys and blessings of their marriage.”

She died at home, four months after the decision, surrounded by those she loved. Her husband died eight months later.

The story of Annabel and Albert Kitzhaber is no more remarkable than a grove of ancient maple trees blushing gold in the early autumn, a moment in a life cycle. But for reasons both cynical and clinical, the American political debate on health care treats end-of-life care like a contagion — an unspeakable one at that.

Nobody was more frustrated than John Kitzhaber as the health care debate got hijacked over the summer by shouters and misinformation specialists. And no politician is more battle-scarred on this issue. He looks, at 62, still the Western man, with his jeans, his shag of gray hair, the face weathered by days spent trying to lure steelhead to the surface in the Rogue River. It has been his life work to see if at least one part of country could join the family of nations that offers universal coverage.

With his mother’s death in 2005, Kitzhaber lived the absurdities of the present system. Medicare would pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for endless hospital procedures and tests but would not pay $18 an hour for a non-hospice care giver to come into Annabel’s home and help her through her final days.

“The fundamental problem is that one percent of the population accounts for 35 percent of health care spending,” he said. “So the big question is not how we pay for health care, but what are we buying.”

He is not, he says, in favor of pulling the plug on granny. The culture of life should be paramount, he says, following the oath he took as a doctor. But Oregon, years ahead of the rest of the country, has talked and talked and talked about this taboo topic, and they’ve voted on it as well, in several forms. They found — in line with national studies — that most people want to die at home.

In addition, Oregon was the first state to allow terminally ill patients to take medications to end their lives. The fear was, Oregon would become a death magnet, drawing suicide tourists and put itself on a slope to euthanasia. But it has not worked out that way. Since the change in the law in 1997, only about 33 people a year with terminal illnesses have ended their lives by their own hand with a doctor’s prescription.

In last year’s presidential campaign, Kitzhaber tried to make health care the top domestic issue. After the campaign, he was on the short list to become President Obama’s secretary of health and Human Services. Now he’s running, next year, for a third term for governor.

He was appalled when Sarah Palin and Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa started stoking fears of nonexistent death panels. At last, public officials were talking about death — but only to scare the elderly and win political points.

More sensible voices have since joined the debate, asking how we reform a system that lavishes most of its benefits on a cure for the “disease” of aging. President Obama has talked about squeezing billions of waste, fraud and abuse from Medicare. But he has yet to admit the obvious: those savings can only come from changing the way the system treats dying people.

About $67 billion — nearly a third of the money spent by Medicare — goes to patients in the last two years of life. The need to spend less money at the end of life “is the elephant in the room,” Evan Thomas wrote in “The Case for Killing Granny,” the cover story in last week’s Newsweek. “Everyone sees it but no one wants to talk about it.”

John Kitzhaber, M.D., politician, and son who watched both parents die in a dignified way, cannot stop talking about it. His parents’ generation won the war, built the interstate highway system, cured polio, eradicated smallpox and created the two greatest social programs of the 20th century — Social Security and Medicare.

Now the baton has been passed to the Baby Boomers. But the hour is late, Kitzhaber says, with no answer to a pressing generational question: “What is our legacy?”

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Sunday Afternoon Volleyball - Florida State Comes from Behind to Beat Notre Dame

It took 5 sets - but after being down 1 - 0 and 2 -1 - the Lady Seminoles won the final two sets to send the Irish to the airport with the loss.

Lulu and I were surprised with the size of the crowd at the game today. I guess a 10 - 1 record and a visit of the Fighting Irish will do that.

After the football team posting a solid win at BYU last night - and now a volleyball victory over Notre Dame - our next big event is University of South Florida coming to town next Saturday. This is the first time the schools will meet on the football field. We expect the green and gold to have a long string of fans making the 4 hour trip up from Tampa.

With the soccer team only losing one game so far - the fall sports season is showing some promise.

Lulu and I took the truck because "it was too hot" for the scooter :-(

Noles Plaster BYU - This is from the Provo Newspaper - 54-28

Cougars handed a good old fashioned whupping

Jason Franchuk - Daily Herald | Posted: Sunday, September 20, 2009 12:00 am

BYU linebackers coach Barry Lamb lingered behind the locker room, consoling a young woman who was livid that fellow student section members were mocking her.

How dare this proud Cougar fan even think of trying to rally her team Saturday night, stand up and cheer for goodness sake, while all sorts of folks in the sold-out crowd were busy breaking a couple of ankles to flee the bandwagon during a 54-28 loss to Florida State.

Hard to blame either side for how it felt, actually.

Some had to feel like the magic was going to come sometime. A top-10 ranked team doesn't win 18 consecutive home games and usually go down without a belief that the night will wind up special.

And the other 99.9 percent at LaVell Edwards Stadium?

They knew of what Lamb pontificated. It might have been a rare home-field embarrassment, but it was still easy to spot.

"That was just an old-fashioned fanny whooping," he said.

That one was so bad, it was hard to even act hurt.

The mood around BYU's post-game cave wasn't upbeat, but it also was not down in the dumps like last year's first blowout loss to Mountain West Conference rival TCU in October that dashed those painfully elusive BCS hopes.

Beat Oklahoma in a landmark event and thump Tulane, put this season on the perfectly smooth track -- and then this?

It was surprising at how ... what's the word? ... matter-of-fact the Cougars were about this.

Trailing so big, for so long, definitely played a role.

Head coach Bronco Mendenhall spoke of being "frustrated" but also coolly noted that BYU started 1-2 the two years he's won MWC titles.

Lamb was hardly the only coach able to let loose with a little smile, knowing that brooding wasn't going to stop Florida State's offense.

Defensive coordinator Jaime Hill offered a smirk, more awestruck than pained, when saying just how exasperating it was trying to stop Florida State's quarterback.

"The thing about the Ponder kid, every time he got in a third-and-medium situation," Hill said, "he would just take off and run. And we could not get him."

That Christian Ponder was something. And his effort was something to ponder.

Defensive coaches on BYU's staff agreed that the Seminoles -- after a 1-1 start, including last week's 19-9 struggle with Jacksonville State -- let him loose. Things they'd never seen before on film.

Eighty yards in 11 plays for a score on the game's first drive, and never letting up.

He converted 12-of-15 attempts on third downs.

"Some of those, he was getting by just maybe one yard or just barely to the marker. We were trying really hard. He just wore us down," Hill said. "And we tried everything. I mean, everything. We threw it all at them."

BYU failed at "gap containment," getting pushed most plays at the line of scrimmage. A far cry from the Oklahoma effort.

The sense of urgency to be physical and finish off plays was lacking, surprising for a home opener in such a critical and high-profile contest. Even Mendenhall couldn't explain it.

So many times FSU's running backs, blockers and Ponder just wanted it more, and they bounced off tacklers to get every little scrap of field position. A lot of extra yards added up. There were other times they simply had superior athletic ability. And then the second half was full of times when they made BYU panic.

"The game isn't just about the scoreboard," Lamb said. "It's about momentum. And I don't think (FSU) ever relinquished it."

BYU tried to take it away from FSU's offense. Different coverage packages. Dropping numerous men to guard the middle of the field.

FSU had so many answers, leaving BYU with so many more questions.

They start in the heart of the defense -- up the middle.

Nose tackle Russell Tialavea is likely out with a severe knee injury, the dreaded ACL tear that would end his season. Middle linebacker Matt Bauman suffered a less severe knee injury, but was not as effective wearing a brace. Free safety Scott Johnson was out the entire night with a concussion.

The Seminoles went outside, true, but they controlled the inside and everything forward.

BYU has tried to build from the middle and out, and to lose so many important pieces of that philosophy is surely a big reason why the coaching staff just couldn't be destroyed. The odds were just too stacked against them with such critical losses. And, then, they've all been around long enough to know that some games go really good and some go woefully awry.

A bad night, albeit at a really bad time.

Perhaps if the season ends with only one loss, the Cougars will look back and regret the night they lost by 26 points at their place.

But that's another story to be considered way down the road.

Right now it's worth wondering if this team sounded OK because things really will be, or if this one's going to stick around for a while.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Out With the New - In With the Old

The Miata is gone. The new owner drove it away today. It will remain in town - purchased by a local "older" couple. Lulu drove it for 7 years and only put 16,000 miles on it. We brought it to Tallahassee on a trailer from our home in Pennsylvania. One less connector to our coal regions past.

We replaced the Miata with a clone of Lulu's 1986 Dodge 600 convertible. She drove a Dodge like this for 12 years - except this one is even nicer. Although it is older than the Miata - the Dodge only has 11,000 miles on its odometer. It was a collector car - and the mileage was authenticated. This Dodge has the turbo package which a more powerful turbo engine - larger alloy wheels - sport suspension - a digital dashboard - leather seats - and a premium radio.

Ironically - Lulu's vanity place came on the same day of the car sale. The Seminole plate has "AASL" written on it. Lulu is the president-elect of the American Association of School Librarians.

To me - it means - a space in the garage for my truck.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Dana Ansbach - Lulu's Niece - Finishes 4th in BIG Cross Country Tournament

SCHUYLKILL HAVEN - Not even a wrong turn could stop Tamaqua sophomore Amber Carroll from winning her second straight 'Canes Invitational cross country title.

Carroll said that miscue cost her about 15 seconds, but she still cruised to victory Saturday morning at a drizzly, soggy Rotary Field.

She completed the 3.1-mile course in 20 minutes, 47 seconds, the conditions and wrong turn preventing her from matching last year's time of 19:51.

No matter, Carroll still produced a comfortable victory over runner-up Nicole Dunlap (21:00) of Tulpehocken and third-place finisher Alyssa Miller (21:08) of Schuylkill Haven in the 61-runner field.

All three qualified for the PIAA Class AA Championships last season. Carroll medaled with an 18th-place finish.

"That's real cross country in the rain and the mud,'' Carroll said with a laugh. "It's hard. It's slippery. You just have to stay focused and keep your balance.''

Adding Dana Ansbach's fourth-place finish and Colleen Rorke's sixth to Carroll's first, Tamaqua repeated as team champions with 35 points. Pottsville (93) placed second; Schuylkill Haven (102) took third.

Dana is a sophomore at Tamaqua High School.

Iphone Gone Faster that a Speeding Bullet

Lulu lost her iphone last night at the football game. Just like the movie - gone in 60 seconds - the phone is gone never to be recovered.

It was pouring during the whole game. Lulu put her iphone in her raincoat chest pocket to keep it dry. When going to the restroom - it fell out of a hole in the pocket. She came back to her seat and re-traced her steps.

Someone told her they saw two guys pick it up and run out of the stadium. I doubt they were running to the lost and found department. We checked there - no luck.

We called the phone a few times - but no one answered. Finally - when we got home - we called ATT to shut the phone down. It felt like putting a favorite pet "to sleep."

With all the good things that have happened to us - this is minor. A hardship is a hardship - but in the big scheme of things - this is just a blip on the radar screen.

The Noles won - and so did a couple of guys that have probably put a new chip in the phone - jailbroke it - and are running up a big phone bill calling Nigeria or France.

Funny - we hauled that phone all over Europe this summer with no trouble - and we lose it less than 2 miles from home.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Lucky Noles Win 19-9 in the Pouring Rain

We left our house at 5 PM. We decided to take the truck because we already had some heavy rain and the skies were black. The crowd was light - we parked near our regular tailgate spot - everything was quiet. By 5:20 - we had walked to our favorite ticket begging spot. Tons of tickets were for sale. We were turning down tickets on the 40 yard line for $5. Finally - we landed a pair on the 50 - for $5 each.

By 5:30 we were sitting in the stands watching the festivities and remarking how empty the stadium was. At kickoff I am guessing there were 40,000 in the seats - in a stadium that holds 85,000. Then it started to pour. Luckily we brought raincoats - ponchos - and a bag of drinks and food. Lulu even had paper towels packed to wipe off our seats.

At halftime Lulu went to the bathroom and her iphone dropped out of the raincoat pocket. By the time she traced her steps - someone said they saw two guys find her phone and take off.

In the second half the rain slowed down but Jacksonville State didn't. They took a 9-7 lead and it lasted forever. With 2 minutes to go we were losing 9-7. Then like lightning - FSU score two touchdowns and the gun went off with FSU up by 10 - but the game was never that far apart. In fact - with one or two breaks - we would be coming home with long faces.

We walked back to the truck - pulled out at 9:30 - and were home by 9:40. Noles fans were quiet - feeling very lucky to get out of there alive. For a while - it looked like an 0-11 season was possible. JSU was supposed to be a cupcake - Division I-AA school. Things are not good at Florida State. Fans no longer have Jeff Bowden to blame for the poor offense - and the defense looks even worse.

Next Saturday we have to go to Utah to play a top 10 team that beat Oklahoma - Brigham Young University - in their territory. They have a really strong passing game - and a bunch of big lineman - just back from doing their missionary work.

This week was ugly - one wonders what next week will be like.


Half hour before game

$5 seats on the 40

We drove over at 5 and parked by post office

Were in seats by 5:30

Rain stopped

Our fans are spoiled

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Alligator captured in Allentown PA - Talk About Global Warming

From The Morning Call - our old hometown paper in Tamaqua PA

Allentown police and animal control officers captured a 5 1/2 - to 6- foot-long alligator that had been sunning itself on a bank of the Jordan Creek in Allentown.

The alligator, which suffered two minor lacerations during the capture, will be taken to a reptile farm by reptile enthusiast Gary Lee of Emmaus.

No one was injured during the capture. Allentown Police Captain Stephen Mould said police were called by a passerby who saw the alligator on a bank of the creek inside Jordan Park at 12:30 p.m.

The gator appears to be 10 to 15 years old, Lee said. It could have grown to be about 14 feet long, he said. It appeared docile and possibly did not pose a threat to anyone, Lee said.

Mould said one officer stood ready with a shotgun, but essentially officers used tactics they've seen on Discovery Channel.

"In 20 years with the department, I thought I saw it all," Mould said. "Until today."

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Family Gala Weekend Ends With Last Second Loss to Miami

Keith and his girlfriend Liz came to Tallahassee for a weekend of fun and hopefully a season opening victory for FSU.

The Meneses Family drove 9 hours from Miami to cheer on the Hurricanes and their Canes gave them something to celebrate as they left on their long drive home at 4 AM on Tuesday morning.

Lulu loves to entertain and all of the above plus Wayne and Shirley had a raucous pool party at noon before the Monday night game. Great food and drink was punctuated by games of volleyball - basketball and badminton that kept the pool stirring. No one seemed to mind that the pool heater failed and they were required suffer the 78 degree pool water.

At 5 o'clock the smoke cleared as the crowd piled into the van - and headed for a tail gate party on the prime spot we staked out that morning at sunrise. Joan and Curt brought along more goodies and we all settled in for the 3 hours of hype before the game.

Near game time - I turned down 4 seats together for $25 each. I was so sure that tickets would be plentiful. After a half hour of holding up 4 fingers - I did not see one person selling 4 together. After about 15 minutes of Lulu giving me the evil eye for turning down the 4 seats together - I landed two pairs of tickets exactly on the 50 yard line. The first pair were $35 each and in row 46. That was not bad since the face value of tickets this year is $65 - highway robbery. As the missing man formation of 4 jets went over - I landed a second pair on the 50 yard line in row 63 for $25 each. We were all set.

The stadium was rocking like I have not seen in a long time. They announced the paid attendance at 81,000 in a stadium that holds 85,000. I did not see anyone paying over face value for tickets - but there were a lot of people outside with fingers in the air - buying tickets at kickoff. One of the things that keeps ticket prices low is that in Florida - anyone can openly buy or sell tickets at whatever price the market will support. The only worry is counterfeit tickets - I have not seen any yet - but I am sure there are some. Each ticket is scanned as you enter the turnstile.

The game was exciting - back and forth with 6 lead changes. It ended on the 2 yard line with an incomplete pass and Miami fans roaring.

On Tuesday - we took Liz and Keith to Wakulla Springs on the Jungle Cruise and then lunch at the Riverside Cafe on the Gulf. The day flew by and pretty soon it was time to take them to the airport. Just like that Lulu and I were empty nesters again.

This was the first time we met Liz. She is pretty - funny and very bright. She graduated from Duke and Princeton - but was such a good sport buying an FSU garnet and gold shirt for the game. She works and lives very close to Keith in downtown Washington DC.

The weekend went way too quickly. As I get older - the FSU wins and losses do not mean as much to me. Lulu still gets all wound up after a game - and insists on watching the recording of the game right away. Now - to me - football weekends are simply a good time to gather family and friends together in a common cause.

Next month - we all plan to meet in Boston for the FSU at BC game. Drew - Robin - and Jack live in Providence a few miles from Boston - so we all plan to do it again there. Lulu has a few speaking engagements there - we are lucky to have an FSU event nearby.

Pictures - Harry - Lulu - Liz - Keith by the pool. Liz - Keith - and a gator at Wakulla Springs Jungle Cruise. Keith and Liz at the tailgate. The Meneses Family came a long way to cheer their Canes.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Florida State 2 - Penn State 1

Last night we went to a soccer game on campus. Number 10 Penn State came to town to test the Number 5 ranked Lady Seminoles. Since Keith was in town - we drove to campus to see the games. There was a full crowd mainly because admission is free. The Seminoles scored first - then PSU scored one late - followed one minute later by the winning Seminole goal.

We dedicated the game to our Number 1 Lions fan - Sally Bair.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009


1. I have the right to a monthly social security check.
2. I have the right to be provided socialized medicine.
3. I have the right to pretend that this free ride comes out of the social security trust fund even though no such fund or money exists except in the minds of my politician friends.
4. I have the right to pretend that I paid for this even though I have received much much more than I paid.
5. I have the right to pretend that the government owes me and pays these costs even though taxpayers know that they are forced to pay.
6. I have the right to pretend that young workers owe me this free ride.
7. I have the right to have my government friends steal the money from young workers to provide me my free ride because young people owe me.
8. I have the right to prevent the young taxpayers from investing their social security taxes for their future because their tax money needs to be used to pay for my free ride.
9. And last but not least, I have the right to pretend that I am a responsible conservative even though I am a socialist who actually believes that I deserve my free ride.