Search This Blog

Saturday, July 31, 2010

My Best Tamaqua Friend Visits His Son in China

Day 1

Day 11

George Taylor's son Brandon has been living and working in China for a year. For the last couple of weeks they had a great time together - Dad making sure things are okay - and Son proving to Dad that he has really grown up.

Having two grown sons and a two year old grandson - I know the effort that George has put into raising his family. He and Mary Ruth did a splendid job with Brandon - and younger son Michael is on that same path. I know how my eyes well up every time I put my kids on planes - and they are only traveling a couple hours away. Imagine the mixed feeling that a 8000 miles plane ride over the North Pole churns up.

George has written an excellent page about the trip/ See it here - - or click on China in the Title above. I was unable to stop reading right up to the tears at the airport.

I focused on two photos though. First day - last day. Things seem to change - even in just 11 days.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Whirlwind Tour - London to Paris to London in 18 hours

It is Friday night midnight on the continent - and we are having an afterglow. We just spent 18 hours - Lulu's class - Marylou - Jean - and me.

It all started by catching the Eurostar train thru the Chunnel to Paris at 5 AM. The train was fantastic - quiet - smooth - on time. When we got to Paris - we took the Metro and a bus to the Louvre. From 9:30 -11:30 - it was finding Venus - David - and Mona Lisa. While the students were in the museum - I was scalping extra tickets and Lulu and I were having coffee with Marilyn Kaye.

Marilyn and Lulu were professor buddies at St. Johns University - now Marilyn lives in Paris and writes teenage books.

From noon to two - we went on a dinner cruise up and down the Seine. The weather was great and the wine flowed easily.

While we were getting ready for our river cruise - a bus rolled into the river right behind our boat.

Next it was up the Eiffel Tower - for pictures - pictures - pictures - followed by a cab to the Arch of Triumph and the Champs Elysse for major league shopping.

Most of the students decided to stay for the weekend and after checking into their hotels - we all met for a sun setting on the Notre Dame Cathedral.

At 9 PM - our train left the Gard du Nord (North Station) - the busiest train station in Europe - and we were back in our London flat by 11 PM. Note that Paris is one hour ahead of London.

Lulu's experiment was a huge success. Everyone enjoyed themselves - no one got lost - and we did everything as planned. Next year - it might be improved by hiring a van instead of buses - subways - and taxis. That would save time - shoe leather - and the students could leave their bags in the van instead of lugging them around. The time saved could be spent at other attractions.

The Golden Girls do Paris

Clear skies made pictures of the Eiffel Tower easy

Harry shows the French how to do a montage

The Seine River from the Eiffel Tower looking downstream west to the Atlantic

The Eiffel Tower from our river boat

Mary Lou in front of Public Assistance Hospital next to Notre Dame

Notre Dame Cathedral in setting sun

We left students here and came home - they stayed for weekend

The girls buying real designer purses - sure

Statue of Liberty replica on island in river

Parked bus rolled into water - no one inside

French urinal in cafe where I paid 4.70 euros (about $5) for a 12 ounce coke.

Marilyn Kaye - Lulu's buddy from NYC - now lives in Paris and writes full time

Entrance to Louve where I scalped 2 extra tickets

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Tickets to Billy Elliot

The Victoria Theatre sells the entire front row and half of the second row as restricted view. This simply means children cannot see the actor's feet. The tickets are rather limited and sell out quickly for 20 pounds - one third the price of the standard seats. People sitting behind us and next two us had paid 60 pounds per ticket. We bought our tickets two days before the show. My seat was at the very end of the row and I had a fantastic view. You could see the sweat flying off the actors. Also - I was able to peer directly into the orchestra pit.

They are very strict about taking pictures due to the flash disturbing others. Most people heed the directions - but one lady in front of us was challenged - the guard made her show him the pictures and delete them. Shame on her.

The Golden Girls Going to the Show

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

London Visit is Not Complete Without a Visit to Billy Elliot and Spencer

Me - Jean - Lulu - Marylou after the show with the theatre in the background

For me - a trip to London is not complete without a pilgrimage to Victoria Theatre and Billy Elliot. This show has one almost every award in the book and has been running for over 5 years and still packing the house nightly.

Simply - it is a story of a boy living in the coal regions of England. There is a strike in the coal mines that has the village in a turmoil. Meanwhile Billy wants to be a ballet dancer. You can imagine all the contrasts in that story.

The play reminds me of my life back in the Coal Regions of Pennsylvania. My Dad was a coal miner and went on strike a few times. I was also a union school teacher and had the "pleasure" of sitting out a strike that closed our school for 60 days in 1985 - the same year the play was set.

This time Marylou and Jean were here to see the show for their first time. We had great seats in the second row. A new blonde Billy was playing the lead.

But the big highlight for me was seeing Spencer again. Spencer is a guy that has gone to the play every week for 5 years! Last year - we sat next to him and enjoyed his coaching on what to look for in the play. I even did a story about him and put his picture on my web page. When we saw Spencer - I yelled out his name and he knew who I was right away. He had his play bag with him and even had a copy of my web page with him! So we took another picture and I am writing another story.

Spencer has to be the biggest expert on Billy Elliot. He has seen the play at least 250 times. I hope he is getting VIP tickets.

Jean and Marylou loved the play - they did not know what to expect and were blown away by story - music - and talented actors.

This is Lulu - Spencer - me and the beard - last year - 2009

Spencer and Harry - tonight - 2010

Waiting for the bus on the way home after the show

In Britain they call scaplers "touts"

Alighting the taxicab on the way to the theatre

The theatre crowd

My Web Page Story from June 26, 2009 about Spencer - last year.
Sitting next to us in the front row was Spencer. Billy Elliot has special meaning to him. Spencer has attended every Thursday night show for the last four years! Even though he also saw the matinee a few hours before - simple math (4 years x 50 weeks) has him attending 200 shows. He just loves the show. Every now and then he would give me a nudge and show me where to look to not miss the special action. Not since Nancy's cousin attending over 100 Barry Manilow concerts have I met such a rabid fan. He was wearing his Billy Elliot shirt - carrying his Bill Elliot bag - and showing us his collection of signatures and playbills. He made the night extra special for us.

Off With Your Head at the Tower of London

Lulu's class at the Globe Theatre

I plan to attend this law school

This scooter guy is practicing for his taxicab test - they train 3 years

The Tower Bridge is name after the Tower of London Castle - not from its own towers - taken from the Tower of London

Lulu and Harry inside the Tower of London in front of Queen's House

These are the tools used to "Off with his head!"

This is the castle called The Tower of London

The crown jewels were kept in this building

Every day Lulu takes her class to two major events. Sometimes I catch half.

Today was the Tower of London. It is a major castle in the middle of town - where england stores all the crown jewels. It was first built around 200 AD - and has been used ever since with additions. It used to be an arsenal for all the weapons and gun powder. It was a royal residence and the queen still has a home there. It was a prison - they used to behead people there. Henry VIII had Ann Boleyn lost her head here. 12 people in the 1900s were shot here. Now it is full of tourists.

We went early in the morning - so it was not too crowded - but by noon there were lines all over.

After the Tower of London - we crossed the Tower Bridge and walked along the river to the Shakespeare Globe Theatre. Then we crossed the Millenium pedestrian bridge and came home.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Rescue at Westminster Abbey and Tower Big Ben

At noon today - there was a dramatic helicopter pickup in downtown London. They were not in a big hurry - either the guy was stable or dead. I got some video of the takeoff but I am having trouble uploading it to my web page.

The white building in the background was where Churchill has his bunker during the war
Note the time on the Big Ben
To the far right of the helicopter is Westminster Abbey off the page
The clock was striking 11:45 when they took off

Monday, July 26, 2010

Our Day At Hampton Court

Julie Andrews visited Hampton Court with me

Henry VII made a special guest appearance

The First Wedding

Without his iPhone - Harry can't tell time

This is Lulu's 3rd London Class

Renegade - FSU's Mascot Goes on Every Trip

About 12 miles upstream on the Thames from downtown London - is Hampton Court - Henry VIII's favorite palace. One can hop on the train with their subway card and be our there in a half hour. Every year Lulu's class goes there and I tag along.

This is the home where Henry VIII married many of his 8 wives. He also decided that England would leave the Catholic Church here after they refused to let him divorce his first wife - Catherine.

Harry Opened a Business in England

FSU Linebacker Arrested - Some Things Change - Some Things Stay the Same

On Sunday, July 25, 2010 at approximately 11:00AM, the Tallahassee Police Department responded to 224 Hayden Road (Stadium Place Apartments) in reference to a reported auto burglary. Upon arrival, a witness explained she went outside after hearing a car alarm and banging noises. Initially the witness did not observe anything unusual. The witness heard a second car alarm, this time observing a suspect entering a 2007 white Toyota SUV. The witness observed the suspect leave in a white vehicle bearing a Florida State University tag.

Approximately an hour later, the owner of the Toyota SUV contacted the Tallahassee Police explaining she had located several of her stolen items in a trashcan at 253 Hayden Road (Seminole Legends Apartments). Additionally, the victim explained she observed a white vehicle similar to that described by the witness.

Officers responded to 253 Hayden Road and observed a credit card and piece of paper belonging to the victim lying on the floorboard of the white vehicle. Officers continued the investigation, leading to the arrest of 20 year-old Nigel Carr.

Lulu's National School Library Tour Makes the Tallahassee Democrat

Exclusive from the Tallahassee Democrat

FSU professor on tour across the nation promoting the importance of libraries

By Christopher Kelley

Nancy "Lulu" Everhart, an associate professor at Florida State University, has decided to take an almost yearlong tour of some of the nation’s best libraries in an attempt to promote their impor tance.

As the new president of the American Association of School Librarians, her desire is to show the public what good, successful libraries look like.

“If the general public gets to see what outstand ing school libraries look like, they will want them for their own children and all children,” Everhart said. “I hope that this
will ultimately encour age support by legislators by funding school librar ies and school librarian positions.”

Everhart promotes that successful libraries depend on qualified, professional staffing, broad band Internet access, and up-to-date technology.

“It all starts with the
person,” Everhart said. “(Qualified librarians should) integrate the school library program in all areas of the school curriculum and support student learning.”

Everhart will be on the road for roughly nine months, visiting 35 successful school libraries throughout the country. She plans to leave early in September.

Marcia Mardis, an assistant professor at FSU and coworker of Everhart’s for the last two years, shares Ever hart’s passion.

“This is a time where school libraries are on the chopping block for school budget situations,”
Mardis said. “(Nancy’s) the first AASL president to do something like this — she really wants to find out the nuts and bolts of what they’re dealing with, so we can develop a professional strategy.” Everhart still needs donations to help fund her trip, and would be glad to sport logos of businesses that support her cause.

“Libraries are great equalizers,” Everhart said. “Every child — in fact, every citizen — can use (them) in our country. Libraries are democracy itself.”

If you want to donate or learn more, visit out

As the new president of the American Association of School Librarians, her desire is to show the public w hat good, successful libraries look like.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Jean and Marylou Took Us to "Jersey Boys" for the Matinee

This is a picture of the Jersey Boys from my seat. I had the camera hidden in my lap.

I don't know how they did it - but at 3 PM Sunday - Marylou and Jean had us in the front row to see Jersey Boys - the show about the history of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. It is a spectacular show - with a very solid stage band that kept the story moving nicely.

The Four Seasons were an American Band - like the Beach Boys - that got steamrolled by the Beatles and the British Invasion. They did produce a string of number one hits in the early 60s. The play focused on the band's life on the road - romances - and their difficulty in paying off large debts to the mafia and the IRS. Their love songs were the background music for American Romances around 1962.

After the play we had dinner nearby - then shopped thru Chinatown - and walked home.

Our guests - who never get jet lag - slept to noon.

Marylou wanted a picture of me with this cluttered Vespa.

Lulu said this guy was important

Dragon cakes in Chinatown

Kennedy Took Jackie to Paris - and I Accompanied the Golden Girls to London

Marylou - Lulu - Jean - "The Golden Girls" - strolling along the Thames. In the background is Big Ben - Parliament - and the London Eye

Marylou Zimmerman and Jean Freed are here - and the Tamaqua Branch of the LaLeche League is on European Tour.

In the 1970s - each of these ladies had a college degree and two kids - and were living in the Coal Regions of Pennsylvania. They formed a play group supposedly for the kids to play - but I think it was really that they enjoyed raising a glass of wine together. Now 40 years later - each has one married kid and one single - and each is a grandmother.

We are really happy they are visiting us in London - it is nice to see the three of them together again. For the next 10 days - I will show the French what "montage" is all about.

Fiat Coming Back to America

This is the sporty Abarth version of the Fiat 500C

Large doors for entry and egress to front and back

Note that the top slides down the rails leaving sides intact

This pink one in London showroom draws a crowd

This is the original Fiat 500 from the 1950s. 2 cylinder air-cooled rear engine

Fiat bought Chrysler. They want to invigorate the small car sales in the USA. They decided to go retro and introduce the Fiat 500.

After WWII - Fiat made a small sedan called the 500 because of the small under 500cc two cylinder engines. The economy after the war called for very low priced cars that got excellent gas mileage.

Lulu has fallen for the new Fiat 500C. It has an electric sliding roof - is very small like the Mini and retro VW. It seats 4 - is about 10 feet long. The doors are tall enough that access is easy for gray heads to egress.

The cars will be in America this fall.