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Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas From the Coal Regions of Pennsylvania

We had a wonderful Christmas Day here in Tallahassee. My friend Sally sent this authentic Christmas picture from the Coal Regions back home. How did Santa ever find his way without Rudolph? Merry Christmas to all my friends - old and new.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Bobby Bowden's Last Home Practice

Bobby Bowden and Seminoles take break for Christmas. Next practice will be at the Gator Bowl for his last game on January 1st.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Lawn Mower Parade in Havana Florida - While Pennsylvania Gets Buried in White Christmas

Yesterday - Lulu and I did two things. First - we listened to all the news about the "two foot" snowstorm back home. Then - we drove 10 miles north to Havana and enjoyed the Lawn Mower Parade and Christmas Festival.

Havana is an old tobacco growing town founded in 1903. It got its name from a special type of Cuban tobacco they grew. There are still plenty of old brick tobacco buildings - but many of them have been turned into antique and furniture stores. Most of the folks that live here now drive to Tallahassee for work - but the town still maintains mush of its old charm.

Yesterday's Christmas Festival was typical small town. Vendors lined the street selling food and crafts. The Lawn Mower Parade wound its way around the community. Locals make small floats and pull them down the street with their decorated lawnmowers. The parade was over in 20 minutes - but you could move just one block and see it come by again in the other direction.

It was sunny - about 60 degrees - and not a cloud in the sky. The clouds must have gone north for Christmas.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a goodnight.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Southwest Airlines Coming to the Panhandle

PANAMA CITY--DECEMBER 17, 2009-- Southwest Airlines just
announced that it will begin flying to Panama City, Fla., in
2010. Nonstop fares to four cities are just $49-$69 each

These limited-time introductory fares are up to $400 off
current fares on these routes.

These new routes coincide with the opening of the new
airport in Panama City and expand nonstop flight options
from northwest Florida.

The sale is for travel from May 23 to Aug. 13. Tickets must
be purchased by Friday, Dec. 18.

Fares on sale from Panama City:
- Orlando ... $49
- Nashville ... $69
- Baltimore ... $69
- Houston ... $69

To book directly through Southwest Airlines, click below:

Saving Tallahassee's Stewart's Pond

It's been over 5 years since Lulu and I moved to Seminole Drive to live near our friends George and Joel Dawson. We wanted an easy commute to campus and when this house went for sale - we bought it quickly.

To our surprise - the back of our woods-covered lot had frontage on Stewart's Pond. The lot was so overgrown - it was next to impossible to walk to the waterfront. Little by little - we cleared some of the underbrush - and now we have a nice view of our "Walden's Pond." In not too many years - I will be like Henry Fonda in the movie Golden Pond - not being able to find my way home from the shoreline.

Legend has it that at one time this land was owned by the Stewart Family. They had a plant nursery here and one of the empty lots on the pond is still owned by a Stewart. The plot layout was designed for most of the lots to meet in middle of the lake. So I guess you could say we have 20 neighbors that have land touching ours (in the middle of the pond).

You can imagine my amazement when I did a google search and found a story about  the pond. See it here -

"A few months after returning to Tallahassee, having completed the trail on a snowy November morning at Springer Mountain, I sought to regain the peace of the Appalachian Mountains by revisiting a place of my boyhood. It was a scenic pond—Stewart’s Pond—a few blocks from my home and less than two miles from Florida’s capitol building. A nursery had once operated on the west bank; with the nursery’s closure, the area had returned to its wild state, covered only with tall pines, sabal palm, moss- draped maple, sweetgum, water oak, and fragrant willow and wax myrtle. The greenery and sweet aromas enfolded me as if in a pleasant embrace.
Stewart’s Pond would be my Walden, I thought, a haven of sanity close to home. Such places can be guideposts in one's life, like age-old landmarks of the walkabout. People around you change. You change. But some places don’t seem to change. When you return to them, you can see how far you’ve come since your last visit; you can glimpse a future direction.
Leaving the pond’s lush banks that day, small black-and-white signs greeted me: Lot 1, Lot 2, Lot 3. . . . A housing development would soon encircle the pond if action were not taken. Not hesitating, that very night I launched a campaign. Letters urging that Stewart’s Pond be saved were soon on their way to park officials, city commissioners, the newspaper editor, and environmental groups. I stuffed flyers into mailboxes and newspapers of people living in the area. I wrote or called anyone who might assist. I even contacted the pond’s owners, begging them to donate all or part of the area for a park, but with no success. Soon, however, my phone started ringing from people wanting to help. Television stations and other media became interested. The effort to protect Stewart’s Pond was underway.
The movement grew to where the issue was scheduled to come up before the Tallahassee City Commission. Commissioners would consider purchasing the pond and its immediate environs—twentyacres in all—as a nature park. Nervously, I readied myself for the meeting. I had done very little public speaking and none outside of school. My palms started sweating at the mere thought.
Just before the evening meeting, I flipped on the local news and watched, horrified, as footage showed a yellow bulldozer clearing the first lot along Stewart’s Pond. The machine’s shiny blade sliced into my heart. Time was running out, or maybe it was already too late? Chagrined, my father and I drove to the city council meeting. We took our seats on uncomfortable metal chairs while commissioners read through minutes of the last meeting and took up other issues. Only a handful of pond supporters were in attendance, people who lived within a block of the pond. Not exactly a groundswell of support.
When the commission chairman finally reached the agenda item, I was a wreck. I nervously stumbled to the podium, hands shaking, and was able only to blurt out my name, address, and a brief statement asking the city to purchase the pond and protect it as a natural oasis within the city limits. That was it. The bulk of my planned speech remained on paper.
Commissioners began to debate the item. Most agreed that the purchase price was too high— $400,000—four times the appraised value. Moreover, there were already other parks in the area, one being an algae-covered pond a mile away, where people contributed to the obesity of hybrid ducks by giving them generous helpings of stale bread.
The proposal was about to die when a soft-spoken woman, a few years older than I, stood up. “I’d like to speak on this issue,” she said. The mayor gave her five minutes. Glenda was her name. In a most eloquent, heart-filled voice, she spoke of growing up near the pond, of witnessing the destruction and development of many local green spaces, and of her sincere desire to protect this one place where she could bring her nieces and nephews to see natural Florida. Her words seemed to reach into my being and express everything I felt about the earth, about the importance of being close to nature, and about the need to preserve places like Stewart’s Pond for future generations.
I began to weep, loudly, right there in the meeting, unable to stop. My vision on the Appalachian Trail had filled me with purpose, but expressing or fulfilling that purpose was a different matter. The last time I had wept in public was at age seven when Bambi died on the movie screen. I leaned against my father, thankful he didn’t shrink away in embarrassment, while Glenda gave voice to the natural world. Her speech caused more serious deliberation among the commissioners, with one of them, a large man named
Ben Thompson, advocating for the pond’s purchase. Lifting up my tear-stained face, I felt a glimmer of hope.
In the end, however, Stewart’s Pond was just another oasis lost to the oncoming tide of “progress.” Through my tears, I vowed to become a better spokesperson for Mother Earth and not to let anxiety prevent me from speaking my heart. Maybe other Waldens were in need of rescuing."

I can't find who wrote it - but it is touching. All this about one mile from the Capitol building.

PICTURES - Stewart's Pond from our land.


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Shenandoah Makes The New York Times

From NY Times

SHENANDOAH, Pa. (AP) -- A police chief ordered held without bail on charges he tried to cover up the fatal beating of a Mexican immigrant by white teenagers was named in a 2006 lawsuit that claimed police beat to death a Hispanic teenager, then made it look like a suicide.
Police Chief Matthew Nestor was never charged, but the allegations contained in the suit, in Tuesday's indictment and in other civil claims depict a police department with pervasive hostility to minorities and a penchant for using excessive force.
Police ''acted as feudal warlords in this coal town community that people were afraid of,'' said attorney John Karoly, who represents the parents of 18-year-old David Vega in their federal lawsuit against the borough. Karoly said he wasn't suggesting police were abusive to everyone, ''but I would say the pattern certainly starts to appear that minorities took the thrust of their abuse.''
The suit names Nestor and Capt. Jamie Gennarini as defendants, as well as the borough of Shenandoah. The officers have denied wrongdoing. A civil trial is scheduled for next summer.
Nestor, 33, and two other officers were charged Tuesday with orchestrating a cover-up as the FBI investigated the fatal attack on Luis Ramirez by a group of high school football players. Gennarini and Nestor were indicted separately in a scheme to extort money from illegal gambling operations.
On Wednesday, Nestor was ordered held until trial at a bail hearing in Wilkes-Barre. Judge Malachy Mannion called Nestor ''clearly, unequivocally a serious danger to witnesses in this case.''
At the hearing, a federal prosecutor alleged that Nestor drove a cooperating witness in the extortion investigation to an isolated area and ordered him to strip down before returning him unharmed to his home.
The officers pleaded not guilty before a federal magistrate in Wilkes-Barre and Gennarini and the other two officers were released to home confinement.
A third federal indictment charges teenagers Brandon Piekarsky and Derrick Donchak with a hate crime in connection with the July 2008 attack on Ramirez, 25, an illegal immigrant from Mexico. Donchak and Piekarsky have an initial court appearance scheduled for Tuesday. Their lawyers did not return phone messages Wednesday.
Donchak and Piekarsky were previously charged in state court with Ramirez's death.
Piekarsky was acquitted in May by an all-white jury of third-degree murder and ethnic intimidation; Donchak was acquitted of aggravated assault and ethnic intimidation. Both were convicted of simple assault. Piekarsky is scheduled to be released from jail Thursday. Donchak remains locked up.
Early in the Ramirez investigation, Schuylkill County prosecutors determined that they had a serious problem with the Shenandoah police, District Attorney James Goodman said Wednesday. No Shenandoah officers were called to testify at the trial.
''We determined the police did not do their job and they were partly involved with this cover-up,'' said Goodman, adding that he asked the Justice Department to investigate the force.
''It was pretty troubling and it obviously caused problems with the prosecution in the case and made the case more difficult,'' Goodman said.
Police in this blue-collar town of 5,000, about 80 miles northwest of Philadelphia, face other accusations of wrongdoing.
Gennarini and Capt. Raymond Nestor -- the father of the police chief -- arrested David Vega at his home shortly before 8:55 p.m. on Nov. 28, 2004, while responding to a report of a domestic dispute, according to court documents.
''While in police custody ... Vega was beaten to death and then hung from the bars of a holding cell to make it appear as if he had committed suicide,'' the lawsuit said.
Vega was pronounced dead at 10:50 p.m.
His father, Carlos Vega, said Wednesday that he had no doubt what happened to his son. Vega, a retired chef who moved to Shenandoah 19 years ago, said he's afraid to leave his own house for fear of the police.
''A big group of Spanish people moved into Shenandoah, and they didn't know how to react to that,'' said Vega, who was born in New York and is of Puerto Rican descent.
''Were they fair to us? No. They're fair to their own kind. The outsider always had to pay.''
An autopsy conducted by the county coroner determined Vega's son committed suicide, but Karoly said the coroner accepted Matthew Nestor's explanation that Vega's bruises had come earlier as he resisted arrest. A second autopsy arranged by the family confirmed Vega ''suffered extensive, massive injuries consistent with a profound beating. ... The defendant did not die of hanging,'' the suit said.
Vega had a new girlfriend and was meeting with military recruiters about earning money for college, Karoly said.
''He had everything to live for,'' he said. ''The kid was on top of the world and had no reason to commit suicide.''
Nestor's attorney insists otherwise, writing in court papers: ''The only credible independent evidence to date establishes that David Vega committed suicide.''
Nestor faces yet another lawsuit, this one filed by a Shenandoah man arrested by the chief and another officer on a drug charge March 11.
David Murphy Sr., who is also represented by Karoly, claims Nestor and another officer made him turn over his prescription blood thinner at the police station, then refused to allow him to take his evening dose. Nestor also punched Murphy in the back, where he had recently undergone spinal fusion surgery, the lawsuit said.
The officers left Murphy in a holding cell overnight. He ''started to experience severe pain in his chest and arm ... but there was no one in the station to hear his cries for help,'' the suit said. He passed out; Karoly said he suffered a heart attack. He spent four days in a hospital.
Murphy, who is black, claims Nestor threatened to kill him if he filed suit.
The chief told Murphy he would not ''make it out of the Shenandoah jail alive ... that (he) would end up like that Mexican who 'hung' himself,'' the suit said.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

FSU Girls' Volleyball Season Ends in Minnesota - Elite 8

Last night was Lulu's faculty Christmas party. Too bad it was scheduled for the exact time that the Seminoles would be playing in Minnesota on their quest of a national championship. We set the "tivo" to record the game - as we left the party - everyone that cared already knew that FSU was already eliminated. Everyone but us.

We got home and quickly changed into our lounging clothes. Lulu had two beers at the party - so I was sure she would not see much of the match because she looked way too comfortable on the couch. We flipped the game on.

Through the luck of the draw - Minnesota was going to be playing in their hometown and on their home court - even though they had the lower seed and season record. The temperature was zero outside - and 4 games later - FSU was frozen. Minnesota moves on to the final four and a trip to Tampa this Thursday.

Lulu  napped through much of the match - FSU tried hard - and they joined three other schools for the elimination trip home. The team is young and they have gotten a taste of the big time.

FSU ended with a 32-3 record. The game was dominated by Minnesota 6'6" freshman Tabitha Love. She was a one woman picket fence denying FSU many points. She also had 22 kills of her own. That is her on the right in the photo above.

FSU loses 4 starting seniors  that can say, "Here's looking at you girls.....we will always have Minnesota." A strong nucleus returns that looks forward to something greater.

Elite 8 - not too shabby.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Last Polka

Brits Finally Design Flat Plug for Their MacBooks

Most of the appliances in England run on a 220 volt system. Their plugs are usually big clunky items. A user can have a nice flat laptop like an AirBook - but the almost fist size created a large lump in their computer bags.

The new plug folds flat - when opened and twisted - it converts into a three prong 220 volt plug that is very safe and does not require an adapter.

Note that most outlets on the walls in England have a switch turning the outlet off before you plug and unplug and item. Higher voltage plugs tend to arc more than American ones. 220 volt systems require much thinner wire.

Seminoles Advance to Elite 8 After An "Overtime" Win Over Kentucky

For Lulu - George - Joel - and I - it took our TV plugged into the computer to produce a watchable game from 0 degrees Minnesota in 45 degrees Tallahassee. But the hot and cold Seminole girls rallied when it counted to beat Kentucky in the 5th set that included 3 match points.

KY jellied the first set - then FSU captured numbers 2 and 3. KY evened it in number 4 - so everything hinged on a short 15 point tiebreaker set. The scored in that 5th set was knotted at 15-15 - but the winner had to win by 2 points. FSU was in this position once before in one of their only 2 losses this year. It was in Gainesville against those nasty Gators. This time the Noles prevailed - and hearing that Penn State eliminated the Gators was a just reward.

Tonight the Seminoles must play Minnesota on their home court to advance to the final 4 in Tampa next week. Minnesota moved to tonight's game by beating Colorado State after the Seminoles game on the same court.

Lulu has booked hotel rooms for Tampa next weekend. The favorite to win it all is Penn State University. They are on a 59 game winning streak.

Go Noles!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

A Penny For Some Thoughts About John Lennon

I bought a book on for a penny. It is called "Lennon Revealed" by Larry Kane. That is Larry Kane - K - A - N - E - not Larry King. If you lived around Philadelphia PA you know that Larry Kane is a famous news anchor from the city of Brotherly Love. The local cable company piped his shows into our Valley for 30 years before the rest of the nation caught on to Cable.

Kane wrote the book in 2005. It must have not sold too well because Amazon must have a truck load left to offer the book for one cent - that is one cent and $3.99 shipping - still a super bargain.

People that watch Larry Kane think of a straight-laced friendly news man that shared the anchor desk with Jessica Savich and Joan Dinnerstein. You would hardly think of him as an expert on John Lennon of all people. But Larry prides himself as being the only newsperson to travel with the Beatles and attend every one of their concerts. He rode the Beatles' Lockheed Electra L-188 and had the pleasure of entering their personal life for a few weeks and become a lasting friend.

Clearly the founder and leader of the Beatles - John Lennon personified their image as true rock and rollers. He could be as nasty as a seaman - like his father Arty Lennon - or as personable and charming as any mother should know. Genius and bi-polar are two words that would most easily describe this martyred icon.

The book covers Lennon's life from starting the band while in secondary school. It reviews the days in Hamburg honing the craft - then the mercurial rise to be the most famous rock and roll band of all time. But most of the book deals with the breakup of the Beatles - John's marriage to Yoko Ono - his "lost weekend" with May Pang - and the re-birth of his career right before he was shot in front of his apartment in New York City.

The story focuses on his miserable effort to be a father and husband to Julian and Cynthia - and glamorizes his effort to have a nuclear family with Sean and Yoko. It dispels myths that he and Paul McCartney did not get along - even hinting at a possible reunion of the Beatles snuffed out with the tragic shooting.

A discussion of a homosexual encounter with Brian Epstein and Lennon possibly causing the death of his soulmate Stuart Sutcliff - were glossed over at best.

Having just visited Lennon's home in Liverpool and the Beatles Museum there last summer - the book was a very interesting read to me. It was ironic that I finished it on December 8th - the anniversary of the terrible day in 1980 - when John was killed. The book was published in 2005 and Kane includes many interviews with people that dealt with Lennon - mostly from the post-Beatles era. It is particularly intriguing to review the efforts of the Nixon Administration attempting to throw him out of America - claiming their reasons were a marijuana bust in London - not because of Lennon's strong following in the anti-Vietnam war movement.

The book includes a DVD of interviews - many of them including Larry Kane to prove he was really "that close" to Lennon and the Beatles. Just before Lennon's death - he left his home in New York City and took the train alone to Philadelphia for a weekend fund raiser with Kane at his TV Station. Lennon marveled at the warm personal welcome he received from the city and worked the telethon for 3 days - even doing the weather report on the evening television news. John was awakening from a "lost decade" and truly was enjoying himself not being the "blue meanie."

Then it was all over.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Florida State Girls Basketball Ranked Number 7

The FSU Women's Basketball team is now 8-0 on the season and is taking a week off for final exams. Noles will get back on the court on Wednesday, December 16th at UCF, taking on the Golden Knights.

BTW, it is never too early to start preparing: UCONN @ FSU on Monday, December 28th at 7pm! Mark your calendars!

In other news, the Noles have once again reached new heights: they are now ranked #7 in the nation, according to the Coaches Poll released on Tuesday. They remained #12 in the nation, according to the new AP Poll.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Gator Bowl Sold Out in Two Hours - Hottest FSU Ticket Ever

By Corey Clark
Democrat Staff Writer

It's the hottest ticket in the history of the Gator Bowl.
And perhaps even the hottest one ever in the Bobby Bowden Era – including all of those Games of the Century and national championship contests from the 1990s.
When a legend retires, people want to be there to say "goodbye."
"This is unbelievable," said Rob Wilson, Florida State's Director of Communications.
In less than 24 hours since the West Virginia-Florida State matchup became official on Sunday evening, the Seminole ticket office had over 17,000 "ticket requests." Florida State is allotted 13,500 tickets.
The Gator Bowl itself, which is responsible for selling the 50,000-plus tickets that aren't given to the participating schools, sold out on Sunday night in a record two hours.
"The interest in this game has been overwhelming and has surpassed all expectations," said Dan Murphy, Gator Bowl Chairman.
From Florida State's perspective, FSU Director of Ticket Operations, Patrick Martin, said he could only remember one day that even approached Monday in regards to bowl ticket sales.
In 1998, the Seminoles were ranked fourth in the nation heading into the final weekend. But Miami upset UCLA and Texas A&M stunned Kansas State in the Big 12 Championship Game and just like that, Florida State had been vaulted into the Fiesta Bowl, where it would play No. 1 Tennessee for the national championship.
That 24-hour period is the only one even remotely comparable to the one the Seminole ticket office just experienced on Monday.
"It's been insane," said Jerry Kutz, Vice President of Marketing and Communications for Seminole Boosters. "It really has."

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Noles Going to Gator Bowl to Play West Virginia

Seminoles have played in 4 Gator Bowls - won all of them. Bowden played his first bowl game there in 1982 - beat West Virginia. Their opponent this year - WV. This will be Bowden's last game. I bought 8 tickets - just in case.

John 11:35 - Jesus Wept

Stop Going Green

To really save the planet, stop going green
By Mike Tidwell
Sunday, December 6, 2009
Washington Post

As President Obama heads to Copenhagen next week for global warming talks, there's one simple step Americans back home can take to help out: Stop "going green." Just stop it. No more compact fluorescent light bulbs. No more green wedding planning. No more organic toothpicks for holiday hors d'oeuvres.
December should be national Green-Free Month. Instead of continuing our faddish and counterproductive emphasis on small, voluntary actions, we should follow the example of Americans during past moral crises and work toward large-scale change. The country's last real moral and social revolution was set in motion by the civil rights movement. And in the 1960s, civil rights activists didn't ask bigoted Southern governors and sheriffs to consider "10 Ways to Go Integrated" at their convenience.
Green gestures we have in abundance in America. Green political action, not so much. And the gestures ("Look honey, another Vanity Fair Green Issue!") lure us into believing that broad change is happening when the data shows that it isn't. Despite all our talk about washing clothes in cold water, we aren't making much of a difference.
For eight years, George W. Bush promoted voluntary action as the nation's primary response to global warming -- and for eight years, aggregate greenhouse gas emissions remained unchanged. Even today, only 10 percent of our household light bulbs are compact fluorescents. Hybrids account for only 2.5 percent of U.S. auto sales. One can almost imagine the big energy companies secretly applauding each time we distract ourselves from the big picture with a hectoring list of "5 Easy Ways to Green Your Office."
As America joins the rest of the world in finally fighting global warming, we need to bring our battle plan up to scale. If you believe that astronauts have been to the moon and that the world is not flat, then you probably believe the satellite photos showing the Greenland ice sheet in full-on meltdown. Much of Manhattan and the Eastern Shore of Maryland may join the Atlantic Ocean in our lifetimes. Entire Pacific island nations will disappear. Hurricanes will bring untold destruction. Rising sea levels and crippling droughts will decimate crops and cause widespread famine. People will go hungry, and people will die.
Morally, this is sort of a big deal. It would be wrong to let all this happen when we have the power to prevent the worst of it by adopting clean-energy policies.
But how do we do that? Again, look to the history of the civil rights struggle. After many decades of public denial and inaction, the civil rights movement helped Americans to see Southern apartheid in moral terms. From there, the movement succeeded by working toward legal change. Segregation was phased out rapidly only because it was phased out through the law. These statutes didn't erase racial prejudice from every American heart overnight. But through them, our country made staggering progress. Just consider who occupies the White House today.
All who appreciate the enormity of the climate crisis still have a responsibility to make every change possible in their personal lives. I have, from the solar panels on my roof to the Prius in my driveway to my low-carbon-footprint vegetarian diet. But surveys show that very few people are willing to make significant voluntary changes, and those of us who do create the false impression of mass progress as the media hypes our actions.
Instead, most people want carbon reductions to be mandated by laws that will allow us to share both the responsibilities and the benefits of change. Ours is a nation of laws; if we want to alter our practices in a deep and lasting way, this is where we must start. After years of delay and denial and green half-measures, we must legislate a stop to the burning of coal, oil and natural gas.
Of course, all this will require congressional action, and therein lies the source of Obama's Copenhagen headache. To have been in the strongest position to negotiate a binding emissions treaty with other world leaders this month, the president needed a strong carbon-cap bill out of Congress. But the House of Representatives passed only a weak bill riddled with loopholes in June, and the Senate has failed to get even that far.
So what's the problem? There's lots of blame to go around, but the distraction of the "go green" movement has played a significant role. Taking their cues from the popular media and cautious politicians, many Americans have come to believe that they are personally to blame for global warming and that they must fix it, one by one, at home. And so they either do as they're told -- a little of this, a little of that -- or they feel overwhelmed and do nothing.
We all got into this mess together. And now, with treaty talks underway internationally and Congress stalled at home, we need to act accordingly. Don't spend an hour changing your light bulbs. Don't take a day to caulk your windows. Instead, pick up a phone, open a laptop, or travel to a U.S. Senate office near you and turn the tables: "What are the 10 green statutes you're working on to save the planet, Senator?"
Demand a carbon-cap bill that mandates the number 350. That's the level of carbon pollution scientists say we must limit ourselves to: 350 parts per million of CO2 in the air. If we can stabilize the atmosphere at that number in coming decades, we should be able to avoid the worst-case scenario and preserve a planet similar to the one human civilization developed on. To get there, America will need to make deep but achievable pollution cuts well before 2020. And to protect against energy price shocks during this transition, Congress must include a system of direct rebates to consumers, paid for by auctioning permit fees to the dirty-energy companies that continue to pollute our sky.
Obama, too, needs to step up his efforts; it's not just Congress and the voters who have been misguided. Those close to the president say he understands the seriousness of global warming. But despite the issue's moral gravity, he's been paralyzed by political caution. He leads from the rear on climate change, not from the front.
Forty-five years ago, President Lyndon B. Johnson faced tremendous opposition on civil rights from a Congress dominated by Southern leaders, yet he spent the political capital necessary to answer a great moral calling. Whenever key bills on housing, voting and employment stalled, he gave individual members of congress the famous "Johnson treatment." He charmed. He pleaded. He threatened. He led, in other words. In person, and from the front.
Does anyone doubt that our charismatic current president has the capacity to turn up the heat? Imagine the back-room power of a full-on "Obama treatment" to defend America's flooding coastlines and burning Western forests. Imagine a two-pronged attack on the fickle, slow-moving Senate: Obama on one side and a tide of tweets and letters from voters like you.
So join me: Put off the attic insulation job till January. Stop searching online for recycled gift wrapping paper and sustainably farmed Christmas trees. Go beyond green fads for a month, and instead help make green history.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Gator Bowl Says Bobby Will Coach Last Game There


It is not official yet - but it appears that Bobby Bowden will coach his last game again West Virginia - a team he coached long ago. Details have not been worked out yet - but it is pretty certain.

Lulu and I seldom buy game tickets in advance. One time - in 1986 - I ordered 40 Orange Bowl tickets in advance. I ended up going to Miami with my family to sell the tickets at a "discount." Never again - I vowed. Since then we have attended scores of games and bowls with ticket ranging from $5 to $20 (some free) - purchased outside the stadium at game time.

But this time it is different. It is Bobby's last game. For 20 years - it seems he has been a member of the family. He has provided excitement and entertainment that has been a common bond. Sometimes - the kids did not agree with us about many things - but we all gathered for Seminole games.

One time Santa left tickets in the kids' stockings and they were able to go to the Fiesta Bowl in Phoenix on their own. Another time - the boys and I drove from Pennsylvania to Miami to sit in $10 sideline seats to watch the Noles beat Nebraska for a national championship - then drive back home in time for school. We watched the Noles in NYC perform an 8 play goal line stand to clobber Kansas. We would drive to a Philadelphia bar to watch Nole games on a big screen before we had satellite TV. In 1988 - the kids broke their piggy banks to buy their own season tickets to see the Noles. Lulu and Keith got degrees at FSU.

Bobby is a Christian man and ordained speaker. Our claim to fame is Jack. Jack Everhart our grandson is named after Jack Robinson - his great grandfather. Bobby Bowden to this day claims that Reverend Jack Robinson saved him. He told me that personally. He said he wanted to be just like Jack - and he is. We are very proud of that.

Things will be different in the Everhart House. To be on the safe side - we bought 8 sideline seats for the Gator Bowl game. We paid list price.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Saving Money Going Green in Tallahassee

Many folks think they are doing something noble when they buy a hybrid car or recycle newspapers - but usually they lose more time or money than they save.

But there are some very simple ways to "go green" in Tallahassee and save some money in the process. Presently - the city is offering an energy challenge between neighborhoods. A few months ago - city hall asked people to sign up for the contest. Simply put - they compare your energy use from a year ago with your consumption today.

We live in Woodlands Drive near Myers Park. I signed up - and am proud to say - as last reported - our neighborhood is in first place.

I made a few changes in our home to try to save money - I mean - energy. I have taken advantage of several incentives offered by the city. Basically - I did three things:

1. I added a foot of blown-in insulation to my roof. The city has a program that pays for almost the whole job. I ended up paying roughly $200 to dramatically increase the R-value of my roof.

2. I replaced a giant old electric water heater with a new highly-efficient tankless gas water heater. The main reason I replaced it was because our old water heater was about 90 feet away from our bathrooms. It used to take forever for my shower water to heat up. Now my tankless Rennai gas water heater hangs on the side of the house right next to our showers. I now have piping hot water instantly - no longer wasting a lot of cold water going down the drain. The city also gave me a $675 cash rebate for replacing the water heater. It ended up costing about $500 out of pocket for this high quality of life improvement.

3. I replaced all of the windows on the house. Our home was built in 1980 and it still had the cheap spec windows in it. Not only do these new windows save from heat loss - they look great - tip in to clean - and can be opened both on the top and bottom. The federal government gives a tax credit up to $1500 for replacing windows. My total cost was $1000 out of pocket for 10 windows.

They were the major changes. I also installed gas logs in my wood burning fireplace - bought a new refrigerator - a new dishwasher - and new energy efficient washer/dryers. I needed them anyway because the old ones were shot - but again the city gave me a cash rebate per appliance.

One of the neat things about Tallahassee's utility web page is that you can look up anybody's energy use - and how much they pay for water - sewer - electricity - gas.

Anyone can go into this web page -
and look up anyone's utility bills and usage. If you have a neighbor that is always bragging how "green" he is - you might enjoy showing him how much energy he is using compared to you.

The following charts show my cost and usage comparing Nov 2008 to Nov 2009 usage. I am sure there are many other factors that changed my usage. Maybe we weren't home as much in 2009 as 2008. Maybe the weather was better in 2009 than 2008. Maybe the cost of energy dropped from 2008 to 2009. As they say - "your mileage may vary."

My total utility bill dropped from $341(Nov 2008) to $238(Nov 2009) - roughly $100 less - roughly a 30% savings. The changes on the roof - windows - water heater - cost about $1700. That means in 17 months - they should pay for themselves. If the energy rates go up - they will pay back sooner. After that - I am making money. Not only do I save money - but the improvements made my home nicer to live in.

Our gas bill went for $45 to $21. The gas consumption went from 1800 to 700 cubic feet.

Our electric bill went from $205 to $137. We went from 1222 KWH usage to 979 KWH.

Our water bill went from $15 to $10 - from 6600 gallons to 3500 gallons.

Our sewer bill went from $38 to $30 and the usage went from 12300 gallons to 6100 gallons.
Our home is 3BR - 2BA - about 2000 square feet. We have a two car garage - a pool - a hot tub - a separate guest house and workshop. It is just two of us living here - although we have lots of guests.

I enjoy helping the environment - but I enjoy saving money even more. There was no magic to all this - you can do it too. Kermit the Frog said it was not easy being green - I guess he never lived in Tallahassee.

Bowden Retirement Issue of the Tallahassee Democrat

The Democrat did an excellent job covering the Bobby Bowden Retirement. Click on this story title to go to the Democrat

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Bobby Bowden Retires

Picture - Good Company

From the Tallahassee Democrat -
Florida State University Head Football Coach Bobby Bowden announced Tuesday that the Seminoles’ upcoming bowl game will be his last game. Bowden, who will complete his 34th season as coach at Florida State, will coach the Seminoles in the bowl game and finish his career as one of the winningest coaches in the history of major college football.

“The bowl game will be my last game as head football coach at Florida State,” said Bowden. “It’s been a great 34 seasons.

“I’d like to thank my wife Ann and my family for their love and support. There were a lot of nights when I was on the road and not at home at the dinner table. We all know that’s part of it.

“I’d also like to thank the coaches and their families who helped build the program into something that is special. You can’t have a successful program without players and we have been blessed to have young men who are winners both on and off the field. I want to thank them and their families for committing 4-5 years of their lives to me and to FSU.

“Finally, I’d like to thank the University and FSU fans who have supported the Florida State program. We’ve got one more game and I look forward to enjoying these next few weeks as the head football coach.”

Bowden was named National Coach of the Year six times (1979, 1980, 1991, 1992, 1996 and 1999), and a national award presented by The Fellowship of Christian Athletes bears his name. He led Florida State to national championships in 1993 and again in 1999, the latter being the first team in the history of the Associated Press poll to go wire-to-wire ranked No. 1.

Wetherell, who will retire from the presidency of Florida State when his successor is installed as president — perhaps within a few months — said Bowden’s “sterling personality and character” personified Florida State University.

“Bobby Bowden is not only one of the most outstanding college football coaches in history but also a great man who you would want as a mentor to your children,” Wetherell said.

“Every true Seminole fan appreciates all that he has done in service to the university and all that he has accomplished for its football program — two national championships, 12 ACC championships, 14 straight seasons among the Associated Press’ Top Five, two Heisman Trophy winners and a Rhodes Scholar, induction into the College Football Hall of Fame — but more than that, he has been an off-the-field mentor to so many young men looking to their future.”

Wetherell, who was one of those young men, said he hopes Florida State’s Athletics Department will plan a celebration and recognition for Bowden during next year’s football season.

In his own tribute to Bowden, Wetherell said:

“Bobby Bowden has served as our head football coach and inspirational ‘friend-raiser’ for more than 30 years. He led our football program to unprecedented success and established it among the nation’s elite for many years. He set records of achievement on the field that will probably never be equaled.

“Bobby Bowden contributed in many ways to the overall success and advancement of a young and growing university, and the entire Bowden family is also a major part of this success story.

“I played for Bobby Bowden 45 years ago, when I was a young man, and he was an assistant coach under Bill Peterson.

“The bond between player and coach is strong enough, but our relationship forged even more powerful bonds as we worked hard for the university’s advancement. With me and other presidents, Bobby Bowden helped raise public and private dollars to build some of the most impressive athletics facilities in the nation and to bring additional recognition to Florida State’s academic achievements.

“Millions of Americans could see the good work and academic contributions of our university through the window of national television —a window that winning football teams provide for their institutions.

“Bobby Bowden, in many ways, became the face of Florida State. It was his sterling personality and character that personified this university. And because his influence was so powerful, we were able to advance far beyond what many of us ever dreamed.”

About Bobby Bowden...

Born : November 8, 1929 in Birmingham, Ala.

High School : Woodlawn High, Birmingham, Ala.

College : Howard (now Samford) 1953

Collegiate Football Experience : University of Alabama (QB), freshman;
Howard (QB), sophomore-senior

Graduate Degree : Peabody College

Wife : The former Julia Ann Estock

Children : Robyn, Steve, Tommy, Terry, Ginger, Jeff

1977 Southern Independent Coach of the Year
1979 National Coach of the Year (ABC-Chevrolet)
1979 Southern Independent Coach of the Year
1980 National Coach of the Year (Bobby Dodd)
1983 Inducted - Florida Sports Hall of Fame
1986 Inducted - Alabama Sports Hall of Fame
1987 Region II Coach of the Year
1991 National Coach of the Year (Walter Camp)
1992 Neyland Trophy Winner
1993 ACC Coach of the Year
1996 National Coach of the Year (Home Depot)
1997 ACC Coach of the Year
1999 National Coach of the Year (Home Depot)
1999 National Coach of the Decade Finalist (Home Depot)
1999 ESPN College Team of the Decade (any sport)
2006 Inducted - National Football Foundation and College Football Hall of Fame
2008 NCFAA Contributions to College Football Award

• Second winningest coach in major college football history with 388 career coaching victories
• The only coach in the history of Division I-A football to compile 14 straight 10-win seasons (1987-2000)
• Coached the Seminoles to consensus National Championships in 1993 and 1999
• His 1999 National Championship team is the first in college football history to go wire-to-wire as the Associated Press’ No. 1 ranked team
• Set NCAA records with 11 consecutive bowl victories (1985-95) and 14 straight bowl trips without a loss (1982-95)
• Ranks first among active coaches for winning percentage in bowl games and has led the Seminoles to 27 straight bowl games – the longest current streak in the nation
• Has guided FSU to 30 bowl appearances in 33 seasons, including 27 straight
• Since 1993, Florida State has played in the national championship game five times (1993 Orange vs. Nebraska, 1996 Sugar vs. Florida, 1998 Fiesta vs. Tennessee, 1999 Sugar vs. Virginia Tech, and 2000 Orange vs. Oklahoma)
• Since the inception of the BCS in 1998, FSU has reached one of the BCS bowl games six times
• Patriarch of the first father-son duo to lead Division I-A programs, let alone to lead them at the same time
• National Citizenship Award (Fellowship of Christian Athletes) named after Bobby Bowden in 2004

1954-55 Assistant Football Coach/Head Track Coach at Howard (now Samford)
1956-58 Head Football Coach and Athletic Director at South Georgia Junior College
1959-62 Head Football Coach at Samford College
1963-65 Assistant Coach (Receivers) at Florida State
1966-69 Offensive Coordinator at West Virginia
1970-75 Head Coach at West Virginia
1976- Head Coach at Florida State

1:15 p.m.

Florida State University President T.K. Wetherell told the Tallahassee Democrat this afternoon that he is hopeful that legendary football coach Bobby Bowden will remain with the university after announcing his retirement later today.

According to Wetherell, Bowden may assume an emeritus position and help FSU with fundraising.

Wetherell also confirmed that FSU hopes to be invited to play West Virginia -- where Bowden also coached -- in the Jan. 1 Gator Bowl in Jacksonville.

Bowden will coach in the bowl game, Wetherell said.