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Monday, November 30, 2009

BOWDEN's FUTURE ON HOLD - Monday Morning Blues in Seminole Nation

Every Monday morning Bobby Bowden has a luncheon at 11:30 for anyone that wants to pay $15 - have a great lunch - listen to Bobby talk about the game - go over game footage - and sometimes have a few personal words with Bobby while he signs a picture or ball. Son Keith and I went today - I took this picture - got a nice front seat.

Today - it was pretty sad. Besides having just been beaten by rival Florida this weekend - some folks are contemplating forcing Bobby into retirement. To compound the anxiety - tons of news camera were set up to possibly capture Bowden's swan song and resignation.

Bobby started off by saying that nothing has been settled. He discussed his future with President Wetherall and Athletic Director Spetman this morning and probably will have an announcement and press conference tomorrow. Imagine having such a monumental decision being made by a rookie athletic director and a president that was one of your football players who has already announced his own retirement.

Bobby had heavy bags under his eyes - but the weight of this decision had not affected his sense of humor. After being told that his team may play undefeated Cincinnati in a minor bowl he quipped, "I hope you all have a good time at that bowl - I may not show up."

Bowden has not had a losing season since his first season in 1976. His team currently has a 6-6 record needs a bowl victory to keep his string of 33 winning seasons intact. Besides two national championships - 14 ACC titles - 14 years of finishing in the top 5 in a row - his 1999 team was ranked number one from the first AP poll to the last - a record that can never be beaten.

Even though he had an interview scheduled for 1 PM - Bobby took 10 minutes to sign items for a long line of people - almost like a death watch. Each person was able to have a little small talk with him while he signed - a chance to brush up against history. Bobby signed a picture for Lulu and put me in a little playful headlock. I am 61 and gushed like a little boy .

My guess is that Bobby will announce that he is coming back for one more season (boy was I wrong here!) and that he will retired at the end of the 2010 season when FSU would have to pay Jim Fisher - his named replacement - a $5 million bonus - if not named to the top job. Who signed that stupid deal?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving From Sunny Tallahassee

We just finished dinner with Lulu's brother Jack and his daughters - Brook and Celeste. We also welcomed - Josh - Brook's boyfriend. Our son Keith's plane was delayed in Pittsburgh - he arrived at 4 PM.

Lulu cooked a turkey with all the trimmings following Pennsylvania Dutch recipes of her grandmother Dorothy.

For the rest of the weekend we will go to FSU sporting events and just enjoy each other's company. Nancy and the girls plan a 3:45 AM Black Friday mission. Jack and the girls will drive back to Virginia on Sunday - Keith will fly back to Washington on Monday - right after we go to the Bobby Bowden luncheon.

It 64 and sunny in downtown Tallahassee. Harry Thanksgiving to All.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Brandon Taylor Has "The Right Look" for China

Brandon Taylor is a friend of mine from my old hometown of Tamaqua. He graduated from Penn State last spring and took an internship in China. While on the job - he was offered a "real" job working for a daily newspaper that publishes in English.

Brandon's "look" is very popular in China - dare I say "with the ladies." He is a handsome man by our standards - and in Chinese culture other things from America beside the dollar are very popular.

On Sunday - Brandon was asked to pose for pictures at the airport. The picture above is from the photo shoot. I will not tell you anymore.

Bookmark Brandon's web page -

Brandon is the son of George and MaryRuth Taylor of Lehigh Street - Tamaqua.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Perfect Sports Weekend at Florida State - Noles Win 6

FSU teams had a fantastic sports weekend - lots of great home games.

On Friday night - girls volleyball - girls soccer - and girls basketball were all playing at the same time - 7 PM. Since the volleyball team swept Boston College - 3-0 - we were able to drive by the soccer field as the Noles were pinning a 3-2 overtime loss on North Carolina. At the Civic Center - we witnessed the end of a victory by the girls basketball over Stetson College - 101 to 35.

If that wasn't enough - Saturday noon Maryland was here to try to ruin Mickey Andrew's - the FSU defensive coach - home finale. With 3 minutes to go - the Terps took the lead - and the unfaithful Seminole fans streamed out of the stadium. A long kickoff return by Greg Reed - set up a 4 play drive that included two long runs by freshman quarterback EJ Manuel. The Noles won 29-26 and carried Mickey off the field. The irony of the whole situation is that it may have been Bobby Bowden's last home game of his career too.

We drove the scooter home in time to catch the end of Noles basketball game on TV. They were on the road spanking Mercer University of Macon GA - 89-50.

Finally - Sunday at 1 PM - the Volleyball team swept 3 games from the University of Maryland here. The victory was enough to win the ACC championship - first time since they were co-champs in 1992.

Summarizing - Volleyball - Womens Basketball - Soccer won on Friday
Football - Basketball - Saturday
Volleyball - Sunday
6-0 - weekend

I need a Monday morning to re-coup.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Tickets on the 30 - 40 Minutes Before Game - $10

Lulu landed nice tickets early. We wanted to see Mickey tribute. New uniforms. Cloudy but may get game in dry. Must win to keep bowl string alive.

Later notes - FSU had to come from behind in the last minute - 29-26. Mickey Andrews - defensive coach for 26 years - was carried off the field of his last home game. He said, "If the defense played as hard as they should have - they would be too tired to carry me off the field."

Last Tailgate Party of the Year - Must Beat Maryland to Get to a Bowl

Monday, November 16, 2009

While Lulu Conferenced - The Trailing Spouse Toured Manassas


Photos - City Hall is typical of the brick downtown of Manassas - You can still take the train from Manassas to DC - This is the rail junction that a Yankee capture would have shortened the war - Judith Henry house and grave (only civilian that died at battle) - Judith Hill House and memorial the soldiers built in 1865 - Stonewall Jackson statue disobeying the horse feet myth.

After 60 years of traveling and stopping at almost every brown sign I saw - I finally got to spend some time in Manassas - both the battlefield and town. Lulu was busy at the National Board Certification conference - and I was free to roam. Another reason to love Monday mornings is that the crowds that visit museums are low - and the Manassas National Battlefield was empty. All I had was beautiful weather - an expert tour guide - a peaceful silence with only the hint of the sound a breeze makes as it whistles through your hair and past your ears.

The Battle According to Harry -

The big deal about Manassas is that it was the first land battle of the Civil War. Northerners generally call it "The Battle of Manassas" because they were trying to capture the town that is 5 miles away from the battlefield. Southerners call it "the Battle of Bull Run" because they were waiting along Bull Run Creek expecting the Yankees to attack.

Up until this battle - everyone thought the Civil War would be over in a couple weeks. Most of the Northern soldiers had signed up for 90 days - and they were getting near the end of their stint without even firing a bullet. The troops on both sides were green and unorganized. Both sides even had "groupies" following them in wagons - ready to watch the battle like football fans.

Lincoln was being pestered to attack - so he had 36,000 men march out of Washington with a celebration and about 200 carriages of civilians in a caravan behind the troops. Just like Bush expected Iraq to be defeated with his "shock and awe" - Lincoln followed the same doomed plan. He expected the rebels to cut and run.

During the morning of the battle - at first the green rebels panicked and ran. But then Stonewall Jackson arrived with fresh troops held his ground and the fleeing troops rallied around him. After a few Union officers' mistakes - the Yankees retreated - and the "one month war" lasted 5 years.

The Yankees "advanced back" to Washington. The Rebels proved to everyone that they would not just crumble. The Manassas Railroad Junction remained a Rebel strong hold and road block to protect Richmond. Only 900 died at Manassas - compared to 60,000 at Gettysburg. But on July 21, 1861 - everyone was startled by the bloody rebel victory. America went on to lose 600,000 troops to battle and disease - more than any war before or since - even WWII. Lincoln had to resort to a draft because the war proved "unromantic." These soldiers were America's "Greatest Generation" until another one came along - and another one - and another one.

So that is how a retired school teacher gets his "jollies" - while his breadwinner wife makes the donuts. Every day is a new adventure - some better than others. Today's was really nice.

Good Morning From the Virginia Piedmont

Lulu's National Board Certification conference is being held at the Landowne Resort near Leesburg VA. While she is "board certifying" I plan to be reliving "The Battle of Bull Run" - the first land battle of the Civil War. This is the view from our 8th floor hotel room looking northwest. One can barely see the front range of the Blue Ridge Mountains through the morning haze. The Manassas National Battlefield is about 10 miles south of our hotel. In 1978 - 1980 we used to motor through here when we had the tour bus. It was all rolling empty fields and hills. Now look at it.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

5 Days in Washington

Picture 1 - Lulu - Keith - Liz - at the courtyard in front of their apartment.

We got to Washington DC by noon on Saturday - just in time to watch the FSU at Wake Forest football game with Keith. It was also the first time we were in Keith's new condo/apartment. The apartment is on the 6th floor of the California House on California Avenue. The neighborhood is stocked with foreign embassies. It is about 3 blocks north of the Dupont Circle.

After the game - we had supper with Liz - her father and her brother - at a local pizza parlor.

This morning we had breakfast at an outdoor cafe around Dupont Circle. After we browsed a street farmers' market nearby - Lulu and I left for Lansdowne Resort - the site of her conference. We will be there until Wednesday afternoon. While there Lulu will help write the National Board Certification Standards for school library educators.

The Lansdowne Resort is about 30 miles west of downtown Washington - near Leesburg VA. It is near the Manassas battlefield where Disney attempted to set up a historic Disneyworld - but failed. While here - I plan to meet Steve Simchak for lunch - go to a Georgetown Hoya basketball game with Keith - and visit the National Park at Manassas (The Battle of Bull Run). The National Air Museum is out here too - I might go to see that again.

Keith and Liz's condo/apartment

Hillary Clinton's home nearby

The Italian Embassy nearby

Keith's kitchen

View of National Cathedral from Keith's balcony

Friday, November 13, 2009

Billy Elliot - NYC - We Did Not Get In

Lulu at the NJASL Convention.

In Time Square - they have blocked off an area for pedestrians. It has tables and chairs in the street for relaxation.

Clinton NJ on the Raritan River. It is about 30 miles from our hotel in New Brunswick.

Old steel bridge where Main Street crosses the river into the old downtown. Lulu used to pass by this town on the way to work in NYC every week - and never stopped there.
The river drops over a 10 foot waterfall here - the mils was used to make a variety of products. Before electricity - water power was the main source of energy. Drive belts ran from the water wheel to the machinery.


There was a bus directly from our Hilton in New Brunswick to the bus terminal in Manhattan. Rather than take the car - fight traffic - pay for tolls - and parking - we took the $9 bus. It was a good idea because traffic into the city at 6 PM was heavy.

When we go to the city - we hurried up Broadway to the Billy Elliot Show. All that was left at the box office was premium tickets at $200. Since we saw the play in London three times - we passed on the high prices tickets. We stood out in front of the theatre until 8 PM - hoping someone would have extra tickets. One lady offered me single ticket - but when I said I needed one for Lulu too - she withdrew the offer. We did not see anyone else selling tickets - although I held up two fingers for about 20 minutes.

We spent the rest of the evening walking Broadway - loitering in Time Square - and having supper at the Hawaiian Room. Dinner was good - and the Maui Mama's tasted a lot like Hi-C Hawaiian Punch.

At 10 PM we rushed back to the bus - catching it just in time for the 40 minute ride back to the hotel.

The weather was not too bad - about 55 degrees and later a little bit of a drizzle. The coast is being punded with waves up to 20 feet from tropical storm Ida moving up the coast. I thought it would keep people home from an evening in Manhattan - but I was wrong.

Harry trying to get tickets for the show - no luck.

Holding up two fingers did not help - no tickets to be found. 90% of the ticket holders for Billy Elliot were women.

In the afternoon - while Lulu was presenting at the NJASL convention - I drove to Clinton NJ to meet with my old friend George Taylor. George drove over from his job in Bethlehem PA and we had lunch. Clinton is a pretty little old river town - complete with bridges - waterfalls - mills - waterwheels - and tons of tourist shops. Today - it was not every busy - but George and I had a a nice lunch and gabbed about life back home - and Brandon's (his son) adventures in China.

Saturday morning - we will get up early and make the 4 hour drive to Washington DC. We will watch the FSU football game with Keith at his new condo/apartment. We will stay in Washington until Wednesday where Nancy will be at a conference and I will be in DC visiting with Keith and my "third son" Steve Simchak who also works there.

Wednesday we fly back to Tallahassee from Washington.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Who Flies North to New Jersey, New York City, and Washington DC in November?

I am typing this as Lulu and I are winging our way over South Carolina on a one-week sojourn to the North Country. Delta is offering free wifi internet on the plane as a promotion - so I have the joy of another hour on the Internet :-)

Lulu is speaking at the convention of the New Jersey Association of School Librarians in New Brunswick. After that we will have a little time in New York City - then drive to Washington DC for a conference there. While Lulu is busy Friday at the convention - I intend to meet my old friend George Taylor for lunch somewhere. George is the editor of a newspaper in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania and not too far from New Brunswick. He just emailed to say we could meet in Clinton, NJ.

On Saturday - we will drive from NJ to Washington - hopefully getting to son Keith's apartment in time to watch the FSU at Wake Forest game at noon. If FSU loses this game - there is no chance of getting into a bowl game - first time in 31 years. FSU will be playing with a quarterback making his first start of the season due to a season ending injury to the regular quarterback - Christian Ponders.

While in Washington - I plan to meet with Steve Simchak - one of my favorite former students. Steve is the director of technology for a federal agency - not too bad for a kid that claims the only computer training he has is from Mr. Everhart's seventh grade science class. Steve and I will discuss hard drives over lunch.

Lulu's conference is near Dulles Airport and the new Smithsonian Air Museum. We will stay there until Wednesday - then we fly home.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Noles Beat Duke 3 Games to 2

FSU is 22-2 after a very tough match with ACC second place Duke.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

My Student Chuck Shuck - Completes Drill Sargeant Training This Week

The best part of being a retired teacher is hearing from former students. Chuck Shuck wrote this to me today -

My entire body aches, but that is because the last 5 days of drill sergeant school is level 1 combatives. This morning, I had the honor of competing for the Leadership Award for Drill Sergeant Class 16-09. Although I did not win (6 points seperated 1st place from 5th place), I was still honored enough to be 1 of the 5 out of 85 Drill Candidates Competing for this award as you are chosen by your fellow NCO's. I will receive my Drill Sergeant Hat and Badge 2 days early at the Platoon breakfast on Tuesday and I have chosen not to attend graduation because I wanted to be back at Ft Hood on Thursday for a memorial service for a hero dog team that gave it's all in Afganistan last Sunday. They will never be forgotten. Becoming a Drill Sergeant is one of the greatest things to ever happen to me. Some of you all have followed my journeys to Iraq and back 3 times and now I cannot wait to begin this 18 hour a day journey with you all ha ha Please keep in your nightly prayers all Soldiers deployed and say an extra one for the men and women of my BDE, the 89th Military Police BDE. I was blessed for the past 7 years to have such great Leadership within the 89th MP BDE and I wish I could thank each one of those Leaders in person. This BDE and the 720th MP BN knows how to take care of Soldiers and I hate to be leaving the team, but I will be back in 2 years when my time on the trail is done. I start my PCS leave on 7 Dec and will be moving to MO from there with all 3 of the big dogs in tow ha ha. Take care and God Bless you all and your families and may he continue to bless us, His American Soldiers!!