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Sunday, October 31, 2010

It Is Still Hurricane Season - Tomas Prowling Our Six

York Pennsylvania Beats Schuylkill County Coal Crackers - Semi-Pro Football

NEW PHILADELPHIA - The Schuylkill County Coal Crackers' perfect season came to a crashing halt Saturday afternoon at the Simon Kramer Institute.

The local semi-pro football team's dreams of playing for a Colonial Football Alliance championship were dashed as the Coal Crackers were driving for a winning score in overtime of their league semifinal playoff game against York.

Instead, the Silver Bullets ended things when defensive back Zack Reider intercepted a Tim McFarland pass and returned it 85 yards for a touchdown to give York an 18-12 overtime victory.

During their unbeaten regular season, the Coal Crackers defeated York 43-22 in a Week 6 game.

"I saw the play coming, picked it off and ran as hard as I could," said Reider, who played high school football for York Suburban. "There was nothing but daylight. A dream comes true. My first pick for a touchdown ever."

Reider's big play ended the Coal Crackers' promising season, one in which they completed a 10-0 regular season and earned home-field advantage throughout the CFA playoffs.

However, Saturday's game was Schuylkill County's first since Oct. 9, and the layoff might have had an effect. The Coal Crackers were held to just 64 yards of total offense, and rushed the ball 21 times for minus-2 yards.

"Every time we had an opportunity to take momentum, we just didn't take it," Schuylkill County coach Tom McCarroll said. "We made more mistakes execution-wise today than we did our whole season."

The game featured two lead changes and two ties before the game-winning points were scored.

York (9-3) only produced 74 yards of offense, but got on the scoreboard first when Johnny Moore's 1-yard touchdown gave the Silver Bullets a 6-0 lead midway through the first quarter. The score came three plays after Zack Carrick returned a punt 76 yards to the Schuylkill County 2-yard line.

The Coal Crackers had several drives stall on downs after falling behind, but finally notched a game-tying score on a 6-yard run by James Emerson. Emerson's score was set up by a fumble recovery on the previous play.

The Silver Bullets regained the momentum by scoring a touchdown before halftime on a 14-yard pass from Gregg Murray to Terrance McClatchey to take a 12-6 lead.

York might have been able to make that score stand up the rest of the game with the way Schuylkill County's offense kept sputtering.

But the Coal Crackers' defense delivered in the third quarter when Anario Thompson picked off a Murray pass and returned it 40 yards for a touchdown that tied the game at 12.

The game remained tied into overtime before Reider ended the Coal Crackers' dreams with his interception return.

"I'm not going to make excuses. We executed all season," McCarroll said. "We had opportunities to make plays and take momentum. We just didn't finish. We didn't show up in a playoff atmosphere. But the organization has grown leaps and bounds and I'm very proud of that."

Harry Note - This is the first time I heard of the Schuylkill County Coal Crackers football team. They play in New Philadelphia Pennsylvania which is about 10 miles west of my old hometown - Tamaqua PA. Story from the Pottsville Republican.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

I Pulled The Trigger - Just Ordered My New Airbook - Will Be Here Tomorrow

It has all come down to this! A laptop computer this thin and this light.

I just pressed "enter" on my macbook to order my new "airbook" - the latest Apple MacBook Air. Yesterday I went to Best Buy to see one and I was impressed. But I went back and forth in my head about a thousand times before I finally pulled the trigger. is offering them for $994. They offer overnight shipping for $4 - and no sales tax. So tomorrow at this time I should be typing away on my new toy.

What features do I like? I like the new glass screen - similar to the one on my ipad. I like the full-size keyboard - the magnetic cord - the magnetic clasp.

It has no hard drive spinning away - all storage is in SSD - simply a giant 64GB computer chip. So the machine is perfectly silent. This also keeps the machine cold - no wasted power to burn your lap. That also extends the battery life to an honest 5 hours. See - I am "saving the planet."

Since there is no hard drive to spin up to load programs - it boots up instantly. Open and close the computer - and it is on and ready to go - no waiting. When the computer is closed - it has a stand-by time of 30 days - without plugging it in.

The battery is lithium ion - which means it has longer user times - and 1000's of re-charges. This is the kind of battery found in the new Nissan Leaf electric car.

The entire computer weighs 2.3 pounds.

What doesn't if have? a big screen - a DVD player - a firewire port - a hard drive - a mouse.

Why do I want one? My present MacBook will be out of warranty in April. This airbook is the latest and greatest toy on the market. Sometimes smaller is better.

What if I don't like it? I can return it in 30 days. I can sell it on Craigslist.

I will post plenty of pictures when I get it tomorrow morning

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Seminoles Find A Way

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Being forced to play without two of its top players, the 24th-ranked Florida State University volleyball team managed to pull off a thrilling 3-2 (19-25, 21-25, 25-21, 25-20, 15-13) victory in comeback fashion over conference-leading Duke on Sunday afternoon at Tully Gym.

The "Paint it Pink" match turned out to be a memorable one, as the Seminoles (15-6, 7-4) charged back from a 2-0 hole to pull off an inspired victory. FSU did not have junior outside hitter Visnja Djurdjevic for the second consecutive match, and talented junior right-side hitter Rachael Morgan also could not play due to a foot injury.

Filling in FSU's glaring holes was junior outside hitter Jekaterina Stepanova, a Riga, Latvia, native who played one of her best matches of the season. Stepanova recorded a team-high 20 kills and shouldered the offensive load for a depleted Seminoles squad. She also added 12 digs for her fifth double-double of the season. Stepanova had a comparable performance on Sept. 10 against Kansas State when she amassed 20 kills and 17 digs, but with the circumstances at hand, she arguably had her top performance of the season today.

"Kate was a two-time All-American at the junior college level. She's found out that it's a huge difference at this level," head coach Chris Poole said. "We knew Kate was very talented, and she's been trying to find her game and her confidence. Today I think she found those two things."

Stepanova's 20 kills tied for the second-most this season by a Seminole, trailing only Djurdjevic's 21 kills against Boston College last weekend.

Senior outside hitter Stephanie Neville turned in another impressive performance, totaling 16 kills, a .429 hitting percentage and five blocks. The Cambridge, Ontario, native had only one error in 35 total attacks, and has posted double-digit kills in her last three matches.

Senior Jenna Romanelli reached a milestone in her fulfilling career, becoming the 10th player in school history to record 1,000 career digs when she dug a ball in the fourth set that was set by Patricia Figueiredo and killed by Neville. Romanelli finished with a season-high 26 digs, and now has 1,008 for her career.

Playing a vital role in today's victory was freshman middle blocker Ashley Neff. The Kennesaw, Ga., native broke out with nine kills, a .438 hitting percentage and tied fellow middle blocker Lauren Young for the team lead with six blocks. Also contributing well was sophomore Fatma Yildirim, who had nine kills and eight digs.

"Physically and emotionally we had so many different adversities," Poole added. "Sometimes you'll have a player out with an ankle or some other injury. We're dealing with a death for someone on our team as well as other people with injuries. It's like we're being hit with one big swirl. I don't think I've ever had a win of this magnitude when battling so much adversity."

The fifth set swung in the favor of both teams at different instances. FSU held a 3-2 lead on a kill by Stepanova, but Duke came back with three consecutive points, highlighted by back-to-back blocks to take a 5-3 lead. Yildirim and Stepanova responded with kills to tie the set, but Duke would eventually take a 9-7 advantage on a kill by Christiana Gray.

After Duke took a 12-10 lead on one of Sophia Dunworth's 22 kills, FSU called a much-needed timeout. The intermission ignited a rally as Stepanova and Yildirim recorded consecutive kills, and a crucial block by Neville and Neff gave the Seminoles their first lead since early in the set. Becci Burling's kill tied the match at 13-13, but a Neville kill and an exciting match-ending block by Neff and Yildirim gave the Seminoles the win.

FSU's win marks its third straight victory over Duke, tying for its longest streak in the all-time series. Both wins in 2009 also came in five-set thrillers. The victory gives FSU its best RPI win of the season thus far, as the Blue Devils (17-4, 9-2) came in with the seventh-best RPI in the nation. The Seminoles now boast five Top-50 RPI wins this season, according to the latest ratings.

"Everyone played uptight Friday," Poole said about his short-handed team's Friday night loss to Wake Forest. "Each individual was trying to make up for Visnja. Instead of each individual making up for her, I wanted each one try to do a little something better for the team. Today each player contributed and that is why we got the win."

Following the 10-minute intermission after the second set, FSU rode the offense of Neville and Stepanova in attempting to come back from two sets down. Neville recorded six kills in the frame, while Stepanova had five as FSU jumped out to a 12-6 lead on a kill by Neff. The Seminoles were able to combat Duke's rally, as Young and Stepanova recorded a crucial block late in the set to make it 23-19. Following another kill by Neville, Burling had an attack error to end the set.

The fourth set started off like the first two, with Duke taking a quick 5-2 advantage. FSU then ran off four consecutive points that were highlighted by kills from Neff and Neville. The set featured several lead changes, but the turning point came when FSU won five consecutive points to break a tie and take a 20-15 lead. Young then stepped up with back-to-back kills to give the Seminoles a 22-16 lead, and a service error by Nailah Waterfield tied the match at 2-2.

FSU's hitters were given plenty to work with today by setters Duygu Duzceler and Figueiredo. Duzceler had 28 assists and 12 digs for her third double-double of the year, while Figueiredo added 24 assists and seven digs.

The Seminoles begin a crucial four-match road trip, beginning with two matches next weekend at Virginia Tech and Virginia. FSU takes on the Hokies on Friday, Oct. 29, and plays the Cavaliers on Sunday, Oct. 31.

FSU begins next weekend in a tie with Georgia Tech for third place in the Atlantic Coast Conference standings. Both Duke and North Carolina are two matches ahead with 9-2 conference records.

Florida State Volleyball Comes From Way Back to Beat Duke 3 - 2

This is the final exciting point in the FSU/Duke Volleyball match

The match started out with Duke easily winning the first two games. FSU was without their best two players - one hurt and one on personal leave - her Dad died. But all of a sudden in the third game they came to life. After FSU won the next two games - it all came down to a 15 point tie breaker match with Duke jumping out ahead 8-6 - but when the smoke cleared - the scoreboard said FSU 15 - Duke 13. And FSU won the series - 3 games to 2.

After the volleyball game - I scootered over to the Civic Center to see the girls' basketball team manhandle the University of Alabama (Huntsville) by a score of 122 to 58. The Seminoles landed some very big recruits and have the majority of last year's NCAA tournament team returning.

It was a great day to be a Seminole fan.

These two teams are part of the reason that FSU finished Number 5 in the Director's Cup last year - awarded to the college that has the best overall sports program. That was the highest that Florida State ever finished in that competition. Both guys teams advanced into the NCAA playoffs.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

What If Juan Williams Said This?

Are you following the firing of Juan Williams by National Public Radio? He was fired because he said that he gets nervous when someone gets on the plane with him dressed in Muslim garb.

He did not say this.

"Look, Guys, I'm not a bigot. You know the kind of posts I've written about the civil rights movement in this country. But when I get on the bus, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in hip-hop garb and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as muggers, I get worried. I get nervous."

Friday, October 22, 2010

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Home Alone - Lulu is Touring in Illinois and Indiana - the Trailing Spouse Stayed Home

On Tuesday - I put Lulu on a plane to Chicago. She is visiting two schools on her Vision Tour - Valparaiso in Ohio - and Naperville in Illinois. After that - she is spending two days in Chicago at the ALA headquarters.

While she is away - I am prepping the lot down the street to build the new workshop/garage. It took quite a while to tear down the two brick storage buildings and haul all the trash away.

Tomorrow - I will post pictures of the site.

Late Saturday night - I will pick Lulu up at the airport. She has been flying so much that Delta gave her a gold medallion. That means she gets lots of free upgrades. She flew to Chicago in a first class seat - and has already been schedule to fly first class home.

After our long flights home from Australia and the jet lag - I can vouch that too much travel can be worse than not enough.

Before the 16 hour flight from Sydney to Los Angeles I had the pleasure of a full body search - also a tear down of my carry-on bag. They had detected explosives on my bag - must have picked up some fertilizer dust in New Zealand. I didn't even have a turban on.

Apple Releases New Miniature Laptop - the MacBook Air

Yesterday Apple introduced their smallest laptop ever - the MacBook Air - with an 11 inch screen. It comes in two screen sizes - but the 13 and 11 - but the smaller one is the one that interests me.

The case is machined from one solid piece of aluminum. The screen and touchpad are made of glass. It retains many of the old great features like the magnetic cord and magnetic clasp. They have eliminated the mechanical hard drive for storage and replaced it with flash memory - everything is stored on a solid state chip. This has increased the battery life to 5 hours and standby time to 30 days. There is no warm-up time to start - you open it and it is ready to go.

It has a full size keyboard and the touch pad is huge. It weighs under 3 pounds.

Prices range from $1000 to $1600 - depending on the screen size - flash storage size - and processor speed size.

The configuration I am interested in is the 11 inch screen - 64 gigabytes of storage - $999. They are available at Apple stores right now - yesterday our Best Buy did not have any displayed.

Monday, October 18, 2010

New Law Considered Today to Change Pennsylvania PSERS Pensions

This law will affect future pensioners - but not those already on pension - like me. Back in 2003 - a window opened allowing people to retire at age 55. This plan closes that window.

The House returns to session today to consider the pension bill version passed by the Senate last week. House Democratic leaders have qualms about whether this version passes constitutional muster because it includes the fiscal office provision.

The overall measure aims to offset the immediate impact of a projected $4 billion cost spike starting in 2012-13 to meet obligations to current employees and retirees by the State Employees Retirement System and Public School Employees Retirement System.

For future employees, the measure would increase the vesting age need to be eligible for a pension from five years to 10 years, roll back benefits to pre-2001 levels, and increase the retirement age to collect full pension benefits to 65 for state and school district employees. The retirement ages now are 60 and 62.

Under the Senate-passed version, future employees would participate in a "shared risk" arrangement, meaning they would have to contribute more of their income to cover investment losses. Currently, any investment loss is made up by state government and school districts.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Liberty Belle B-17 Bomber Visits Tallahassee

Liberty Belle revving up to fly at Tallahassee today.

Looking back tunnel to tail gunner turret.

Waist gunner and belly ball turret.

It carried 12 - 500 pound bombs.

Pilot and co-pilot seats.

Nose gunner and bomb site.

Nose art.

Ball turret on belly.

Tail gunner spent hours cramped back there.

I entered bomber through small door.

Crowd was allowed to tour plane - some paid $420 to fly for half hour. They said it was noisy - and full of vibrations.

You may remember the movie about the Memphis Belle - a B-17 bomber that flew 25 missions bombing Germany during WWII. There were 12,000 bombers made just like it but just a handful are still flying. The Liberty Belle was built in August of 1945 - right near the end of the war. A group of flyers have restored it and fly it all over the country as a flying history book.

For $420 - they will take you for a half hour ride. I was surprised at how many people forked over the money to do it - I guess the recession is only hitting 10% of the people. For a couple dollars they let you walk through the plane and take pictures.

You enter the plane through the nose door - go up a ladder - look into the nose gunner's turret - then into the cockpit. After that you walk along a catwalk between the twelve 500 pound bombs that it carried. After that are the two waist gunners. Finally before your drop out of the back door - you look down the long tunnel to the tail gunner's nook. It is terribly small like a coffin.

The plane is much smaller than you expect. The tail drags along the ground. We lost a lot of good men in these bombers. Imagine flying from England to Germany - during the daytime - in these big lumbering slow beasts.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

FSU Scrapes By Boston College 24-19 - And We Got to Sit in the President's Box

Lulu and her friend Christie in the front row.

We watched the band from up on the roof.

The window was open and the monitors were on 5 second delay.

VIP parking lot A sticker for the car.

Florida State Football improved their record to 6-1 today as they barely got by Boston College 24-19. Quarterback Christian Ponder threw three inceptions in a row followed by a fumble - but near the end the defense clamped down and insured the victory.

Lulu and I were invited to sit in the president's box today and got to meet the new FSU president - Eric Barron. Before coming to FSU he was a professor at Penn State for many years. The honor of sitting in the president's box is given to large donors and faculty that do something special - place your bets on which one we were.

While watching the game in the President's Box - almost any food and beverage is available. This was the second time we have watched a game from there. Yes - the seats are far from the field - but you do have comfortable chairs to watch the 4 hour games. Also - during inclement weather it is ideal. In Tallahassee - we have plenty of wet games and hot games - sometimes even some cold games - but today the weather was perfect and we had the windows wide open.
Quite frankly - I was surprised at how often I watched plays on the monitors for more detail - must be my eyes.

Gameday! We are in the President's Box for Today's Game with Boston College

Friday, October 15, 2010

Honda Introduces a Two Seater Hybrid

The 2011 Honda CRZ Hybrid - two seats - no sunroof - only 123 HP - 39 MPG

I can't ride down Tennessee Street without stopping by the Honda garage. Every since we bought our first Honda 600 car in 1972 - a 2 cylinder version - I have been a fan of their engineering - practicality - and price. I currently own a 2004 Honda Odyssey van and a 2009 Honda Ruckus scooter. Drew is still driving around the 1997 Honda CRV that we bought new.

The Honda Hybrid two seater is called a CRZ. It reminds one a bit of the old Honda Del Sol - and the Honda CRX. It is a short stubby car that only holds two people. When Drew used to own a Honda Del Sol in Miami - one time we tried to ride with three people in it. It barely got us from the airport to his condo. It was so tight that I ended up walking across the street to rent another car for the rest of our visit.

The latest little Honda- the CRZ costs between $20k and $24k. The one in the picture had a window sticker of $22k that included a dealer added markup of $2000. The one in the showroom had a CVT automatic transmission - but it is also available with a six speed manual. When both the electric and gasoline engines are kicked in together - it pumps out 123 horsepower. In the hybrid normal mode the EPA rates it at 39 MPG.

With only two seats - this is a very specialized car. It limits the market to under 21 and single - or middle age crazies wishing they were in that first category. The performance leaves out any chances of being successful in street racing. Honda expects to sell 15,000 of them a year - I doubt it. I expect the model to be gone in 5 years. To compare it to the old CRX which was 1800 pounds - or two the old Del Sol that could be purchased with a 160 HP engine - is silly. The new Honda CRZ is absolutely obese in comparison at 2500 pounds.

A major mistake Honda seems to be making is they have been doing away with the sunroof. The Honda Fit is one fantastic car except it has no sunroof available - ditto the Honda Insight Hybrid - and now the CRZ. Honda offers little for the sun worshippers - no rag tops - no hardtop convertibles - no t-tops - and now three models with no sunroofs.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Tallahassee Offers Nights and Weekends Discount Electric Prices

It had to happen. Tallahassee recently installed computer meters on every home. They could now monitor your electrical usage from the main office and bill you without manually reading your meter. This opened up a lot of options. They can tell when you are using a lot of power and when your usage is just a little dribble.

They are now offering customers to switch over to a "nights and weekends" discount plan.

Currently - they charge us 12 cents a kilowatt hour for power. For that 12 cents you can run a 100 watt bulb for 10 hours - 100 watts x 10 hours = 1 kilowatt hour.

Under the new plan - they would charge you only 8 cents an hour for any power you use after 7 PM until 7 AM the next morning. But electricity you use between 7 AM and 7 PM would cost 22 cents a kilowatt hour. Power used on the weekend would only cost 8 cents per KWH.

Why would they do this? A power company must build enough power plants to be able to cover the peak power usage time. That is usually on a hot summer weekday afternoon - when the air conditioners are zooming and the factories are busy with machinery. At night and on weekend the power usage drops way down.

A home owner can save money by transferring their usage to evenings and weekends. Things like doing the dishes after 7 PM = running the washer and dryer - heating water at 7PM. My friend Carl Zimmerman back home in Pennsylvania that has electric heaters full of bricks. At night he heats the bricks on cheap power - and in the day a fan blows air across the bricks to heat his home. you still use the same amount of power - you just transfer the time you use it.

I have been pesting the City of Tallahassee to do this for some time. But now that I am retired and home all the time - I wonder if I could benefit by it. We have an electric heat pump/AC to heat our home. We have a tankless gas water heater.

According to the city - 65% of home owner usage is done during off peak. If you could transfer 5% more usage to off peak - you could save money.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Just Home From A Bob Dylan Concert at the Civic Center

We just got home from a Bob Dylan Concert at the Civic Center about one mile from home. It was a pretty night - we first had supper at Andrews 228 downtown - then walked to the arena from there.

It all started a month ago when I was sitting at the breakfast table in various states of dress. Lulu and I have breakfast every morning face to face - usually over cereal and juice and the Tallahassee Democrat spread out all over the table. Lulu read, "Bob Dylan to be in town next month - tickets to go on sale at 10 AM." It was 9:30 - so I pulled on some shorts - hopped on the scooter - and was in the ticket line in 3 minutes. I got to the window - and picked some excellent seats. They were $50 - so I bought 8 - figured always can sell extras.

We wanted to take two of our best friends - the others I would sell on Craigslist - hoping to make a few bucks. The closer the concert came - the lower I had to drop the price. Finally - this afternoon - just 3 hours before showtime - the phone started ringing like crazy. I had already sold them - some for face value and some at a $10 loss.

We went to supper at 5:30. When we got to the arena - there was a long line of people - some with canes - some with walkers - and some with those little electric chairs (not the killing kind). Bob Dylan is 69 now and this crowd was not much younger.

Back in the 60s - I bought 12 of Bob's albums. He was the poet of our time - his words were both baffling and beautiful at the same time. He is the perfect example of, "the writer - makes the money - and the singer - makes the song."

One of the main reasons I went to Woodstock NY was that Bob Dylan had a home there - and we were hoping to see him there. Lulu's Mom refused to allow her daughter to go along with me - imagine that.

Since then - Bob has made 61 albums and 58 singles. I have not purchased one since 1969. I have been to other concerts recently - some in the civic center. Although his band has some of the best musicians - things sounds garbled to me. I could not understand a word - I took out my hearing aids - a little better - but could not make things out. I imagine I am not the only grayhead in the crowd that did that.

I was hoping for, "Mr. Tambourine Man," "Blowing in the Wind," "Times They Are A Changing," "Don't Think Twice." I would have even settled for, "Quinn the Eskimo." No luck. He only played two or three songs that I knew - and they did not sound a bit like his records - full of instrumental asides - and overbearing solos by the band. I feel a bit like the time Bob blew off the Newport Folk Festival and showed up "electrified."

But heck - Bob is 69 now. He was in Orlando last night and will be in Birmingham tomorrow night. He has to pace himself. At his age - the concert started at 7:30 - no warm up act - he played for about two hours - most of the time with a Hammond Organ for balance to lean on. He did a few harmonica pieces - and also did some guitars/microphone spots.

Bob enriched my life - I am not complaining about the show - but we all get old. I am glad I showed up - paid my $50 - and saw a true icon of my time. He protested the Vietnam War before it was fashionable. He just wrote and wrote and wrote.

$50 times 6000 seats would be about $300,000 for 2 hours of work.

Finally during the encore - he started into a tune - which when I was a kid was about a 1/2 hour long. Most of the folks in the arena did not recognize it until the chorus - but finally there was something to sing along to. The lights went up - everyone got a really good look at Bob's face for about 5 seconds under his broad brimmed hat. Then the lights went down - and Bob was gone........"like a rolling stone."

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Florida State 45 - Miami 17

They went down to Miami - underdogs - ranked 23. Came back ranked 16. Record is 5-1 this year.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Father and Son

Brett Favre Allegedly Sent XXXX Photos to Jenn Sterger - You Remember Her - the Original FSU Cowgirl

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — The NFL says it is reviewing allegations involving the Vikings' Brett Favre, who the website Deadspin says sent racy messages and photos to a former sideline reporter while he played for the Jets.

League spokesman Greg Aiello said Friday, "We are reviewing the matter," when asked about reports that Favre sent voice mails and photos to Jenn Sterger.

Asked about the website report on Thursday, Favre, now with the Minnesota Vikings, said, "I'm not getting into that."

The Vikings and Jets play Monday night in New York.

See video here -

50 Year Anniversary - I Would Swear This Picture Was Taken in Our "Parlor"

This picture is in today's Times News - Tamaqua's newspaper. The room looks just like my childhood parlor. Velour sofa - doilies - big end tables - lamp shades. The only difference is our lamp holders were black.

Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Hope Sr. recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. They were married on Oct. 1, 1960 in Zion Lutheran Church in Tamaqua. Mrs. Hope is the former Mae Frye, daughter of the late Emma and John Frye of Quakake. She is a homemaker. Mr. Hope is the son of Lorene Hope and the late Robert C. Hope of Tamaqua. He is employed by Hope's Collision and Towing of Tamaqua.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Honda Ruckus

I love riding motor scooters. I have had one ever since 1965 when I bought my first Honda 50 Cub for $225 brand new. I have been hopelessly addicted ever since. I like the freedom to park anywhere - the bugs in your face - the wind in your hair. Please - no comments about helmets. Getting 100 miles on a gallon of gasoline does not hurt either.

Lulu and I love driving our Vespa to football games and parking with the front wheel pressed up against the brick walls of Doak Campbell Stadium. Did I mention that parking is free for scooters?

When we got home - after about 24 hours of off and on sleep - I finally had the energy to go get the scooter.

It is not fast unless you think 43 MPH is fast. There are no gears - it is powered by a minute 50cc engine that turns the back wheel by a rubber band - CVT belt (continuously variable transmission). Just twist the hand grip and go. It has a push button ignition that uses the generator as the starter - so it is the quietest start imaginable.

I love it - the simplicity - the bare bones - the quiet - the big tires for off road - the Honda quality - the price. A new 2011 Ruckus retails for $2499.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Does the Coriolis Effect Make Drains South of the Equator Spin the Other Way?

Every year when I taught the Coriolis Effect in my classroom - it would never fail that one student would claim that drains south of the equator spin the other way due to this effect. While it is true that storms in the Northern Hemisphere spin counterclockwise and storms spin clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere - the same forces do not affect small items like a toilet or sink drain.

To prove this - I made the above two videos in our hotel "Down Under." What you do not see is that I was able to change the faucet's flow direction. So I was able to make one sink bowl flow both clockwise and counterclockwise.

The way the water drains in a toilet or sink is caused by the shape of the bowl and the direction the water jets into the bowl.

And you thought I had too much time on my hands before - or my mind was in the toilet.

Left Sidney Australia at 11 AM - Arrived Home in Tallahassee at 7 PM - After 19 Hours of Flying - All in the Same Day

Sydney Harbor from the Harbor Bridge early this morning

Harry and Lulu - not fishing at Sydney Harbor

The world famous Sydney Opera House - last night.

This morning at 8 AM - Wednesday - Lulu and I were walking over the Harbor Bridge in downtown Sydney Australia. We wanted the bird's eye view of the harbor before we came home. We returned to our hotel - caught the train to the airport - and by 11 AM we were on our plane home.

The Boeing 777 has a range of 10,000 miles and it easily made it to Los Angeles in 13 hours. We had seats in the exit row - but I did not get much sleep. My mind was flying as fast as the plane. In Los Angeles - we caught a Boeing 767 - and were in Atlanta in 4 hours.. Finally - in Atlanta we caught the shuttle to Tallahassee and were in town in an hour.

We traveled three weeks - spent time in 7 hotels - and 4 countries if you count Hawaii :-) We carried four bags - two were carry on - two were checked. We had with us 2 iphones - 2 macbook laptops - 1 ipad - 2 cameras - tons of chargers - adapters - and cords. We did not come close to losing anything - always double checking the hotel rooms and planes. But finally - on the cab from the airport to our house - my cell phone slipped out of my sweat pants pocket. Luckily we called the cab company - and the driver had found it. He was a fellow iphone user - he said he has found over 40 of them so far. He brought the phone back an hour later. His name is Neils - From now on - he is our Designated Driver.

So we were home in our house on the same day - Wednesday - that we left Sydney - with everything - even my iphone.

You could buy coal in a bag at the gas station on Christchurch - New Zealand

I filled the rental car gas tank twice. One time I paid $60 for about 30 liters of gasoline. That is roughly $2 a QUART - or $8 a gallon. Diesel fuels was only $1.20 a liter or about $5 a gallon. You can't pay at the pump with a credit card.

Back in the USA

We had a good flight. We are in LA early. 13 hours from Sydney to LA.

We had a big exit row but no wifi. Lot of movies.

Two flights to go.

Harry's iPhone

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Typing From Apple Store by Sydney Harbour - Australia

Lulu and I are in Sydney for the night. Tomorrow we make the long flight back to Los Angeles - 16 hours I think.

Sydney is a pretty city - it has a big harbor full of busy boats. The Opera House sits out on an island and is a photographers delight. The bridge arches high over the water - and people can walk up the high rails to the top. We may try it in the morning.

We do not have Internet in our hotel - so we are typing on macs at the apple store. It is a three story affair right on the George Street. It is almost 8 PM Tuesday here - and we have not had our supper yet. So I guess this is the last night in town. We have had a splendid 3 weeks.

The only thing that could make this better is getting "bumped" on the way home.

Monday, October 04, 2010

EARTHQUAKE Finally - After All These Years of Teaching Earth Science

After 33 years of teaching about earthquakes - I finally experienced one. Last night - about 9:21 PM - we are lying in bed - watching TV - and using our laptops. All of a sudden the large glass sliding bath door started banging. Then the bed started shaking. I quickly woke up a drowsy Lulu and we were riding the waves. Simply - it was like a train going by outside the window - but without any noise. It reminded me of the shake on a ship when the propeller bites into the waves. It lasted about 40 seconds. For the rest of the night - I was sleeping very lightly - like a surfer waiting for the next wave.

This morning when I woke up - I quickly checked the internet for any earthquake reports. Here is what Lulu found -

So it is official. We are official earthquake riders. It was center about 10 miles west of town - 5.2 on the Richter Scale.

Our apple pod hotel room where we rode out the quake

Christchurch New Zealand - cathedral and chess

Headquarters of the world famous "All Blacks" rugby team - famous for their Maori dance

Lulu swimming in 100 degree Hanmer Springs - with snow on the alps

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Driving Up the West Coast of New Zealand - Then a Mining Museum - Now We Are Spending the Night at Hanmer Springs

100 degree hot pools in Hanmer Springs - New Zealand

8 different pools of varying water temperature - note Alps in background

Our suite overlooking Hanmer Springs

The coal mine museum in Westport about Denniston

New Zealand's west coast drive is beautiful - desolate - rocky - cold water

West coast is rocky - gravelly - nice waves - mountains down to sea

We are spending the night in Hanmer Springs in the Alps of New Zealand. Today we drove from Graymouth - up the west coast to Westport. That stretch of highway is considered one of the top 10 ocean drives in the world. In Westport we visited a coal mining museum.

The museum was mainly about a coal mining town called Denniston 2000 feet up in the mountains. The only way to visit this town was via a 4 mile long gravity railroad inclined plane. Coal cars coming down the mountain pulled the empty cars up the mountain. All supplies and people went up and down via the inclined plane that operated 88 years until 1967. The mine closed and the town rotted. It reminded me of the Switchback Railroad and the towns in Panther Valley.

After that - we drove east into the Alps for about 3 hours to Hanmer Springs.

Tomorrow - we will swim in the hot springs - then will drive back to Christchurch where we will catch a plane back to Australia. then the long trip home.
Driving through the Alps - lots of two lane roads - one lane bridges - few cars - lots of sheep

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Watching the Seminoles on the Streets of Downtown Graymouth - New Zealand

Watching the FSU Seminoles in the back seat in Graymouth - New Zealand.

We found free internet as the fog lifted in Graymouth

Glacier fed lake while crossing the alps in New Zealand. Up one side and down the other

It is Sunday morning at 9 AM - and we are on the main street in downtown Graymouth - New Zealand - watching the Seminole football game on our ipad in the back seat of our Subaru 4x4. In New Zealand - they are pretty stingy with their wifi internet. Hotels charge by the megabyte used - it can run to over $30 in a night. So when we find a nice strong free signal - we pounce on it.

Last night while out to supper - we stumbled across this free signal - so we came back this morning to watch the game. It is a nice strong signal - so we are watching the game while both Lulu and I are on the internet with our macbooks. We can answer email - and read the newspaper - just like back home while we watch the game. Every now and then we can send each other an email.

Yesterday - we drove from Christchurch on the east coast to Graymouth on the west coast. Christchurch is about the size of Hazleton while Graymouth is more Tamaqua sized. North of Graymouth is the old coal region of New Zealand. They used to sell soft coal overseas - but the market died out for it - sound familiar?

99% of the roads here are two line. Because of such sparse traffic - and an effort to save money - the bridges are one lane - one very narrow lane. In some cases - you share that very narrow bridge with train tracks - that is - you ride right on top of the rails.

The scenery over the alps is breathtaking. Glaciers - steep sided valleys - streams of melt water - full of carried rocks and boulders. You seldom see other cars - and three cars in row is a traffic jam.

Gasoline is about $8 a gallon - so most people drive small cars with standard transmissions. I am doing a little better with driving on the other side of the road. It is fine on highways when you just stay in your lane. At intersections - you are always overthinking it - they have lots of traffic circles which are not bad. Since I am blind in my left eye - I find that I have much better vision sitting in the right side - especially yielding the right of way to people on my right. The left side is Lulu's responsibility :-)

We will spend tonight up in the alps crossing back over to the east - maybe at a place with hot pools at Hanmer Springs. Then Monday night - back at Christchurch - Tuesday night in Sydney Australia - and finally that marathon flight home.

Typical one lane bridge crossing the alps