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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Flying from Washington DC to Jacksonville Florida

Brunswick GA - is a major Southern port. Also - Jekyll Island is the home of the Rockefeller's and now a famous golf resort. Lulu's dad Jack used to golf there every winter.

Brunswick GA is the large white area to the right of the bridge.

We had a clear beautiful flight from Washington DC to Jacksonville FL on Wednesday. It was non-stop - about 1.5 hours.

When Lulu and I drove on our honeymoon to Miami in 1971 - the Interstate was not done. At the south end of that bridge used to be a roadside rest. We stopped there for some rest in our little Chevy Vega panel truck. The bridge in the foreground is US Highway 17.

For years we used to cruise down I-95 from Pennsylvania to Florida - sometime in car - many times in our bus.

Now I-95 zooms by in the background.

We Paved Our Street/Driveway

The vibrating roller is finishing off our new driveway/private street. That is our gray house to the right. No more dodging potholes to get into our garage.

The crew spent much more time prepping the base - the two layers of paving went very fast.

We own out to the middle of the street. Mike and Nancy Murphy own the other half here. Way down the end - you can see Carol and Fred Sanfilippo's new green house. Even though none of the street is officially on their property - they were the first to pay their share. Fred sat as a sentinel on his porch and to make sure everything went well. No one messes with Fred.

Ever since we moved to the corner of Seminole Drive and MorBihan Street 8 years ago - the private drive was in dire need of repair. Since is it a private road - I was under the impression that the 6 people that lived on it were "tenants in common." I thought we owned it as a group. It seemed impossible to get all 6 residents to agree on anything about the street. The pot holes got bigger and bigger because everyone could not agree on what to do.

After a little research - I found out that it was not owned by the group - each resident owned the street on their land - we just granted an easement of passage to the other residents. Since a majority of the residents wanted something done - we decided to take hold and do the job.

We got bids - interviewed contractors - worked a few deals - had meetings - took down some trees. On December 30th - we had a new street. And it is a beauty.

The Private Driveway/Street is about 20 feet wide and about 500 feet long. North Florida Asphalt gave us a nice discount from their bid. They started at 8 AM and were done at 2 PM. 8 men and about 8 pieces of equipment did a most professional job. We had bargained for 1.5 inches - but they generously laid down two layers that added up to well over 2 inches. Everything was leveled - cleaned - wet tarred - scraped - and paved - twice. All edges were feathered - all holes filled in with clean fill.

I paid the full price of $8000 - and almost all of the residents agreed to pay their fair share. Even though much of the street is on my property - they realized that they drove on it more than I did. We are very very happy with all of the co-operation.

We had a street party last night at our house. The street project has made a new bond among the neighbors on MorBihan Street.

A special thank you to David Pitcher - our friend across the street. Even though he does not live on MorBihan - he generously allowed all the residents to park in has backyard so their cars would not be trapped in the cul de sac.

I am sure this street will outlive all of us. The meager 1 inch layer street had survived 30 years - this one and the neighborhood spirit will last forever :-)

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Lulu and I Had a Whirlwind 6 Day Visit Up North

The Everhart Klan - front - Elizabeth Askew - Keith - Jack - Robin - Kate - Drew - back - Harry - Lulu

The Cox Klan - front - Lulu - Lori - back - David - Betty - Jackie

Best Friends - Harry - George - MaryRuth - Nancy

Christmas isn't Christmas without you. So at 6 AM on Dec 23rd - Lulu and I piled all our gifts in the back of the Prius and headed to Jacksonville where a non-stop plane had us in Washington DC at noon. Keith and his lovely girlfriend Elizabeth were waiting for us. Since Liz's dad was out of town for the holidays - we settled into his beautiful home for a few days.

On Christmas Eve - we met up with Drew and his family for dinner and to exchange gifts. The kids really added the excitement in Christmas that we all remember and love.

Christmas Day was spent at Keith and Liz's condo where we exchanged presents and enjoyed a fantastic lobster tail meal. We exchanged gifts and Nancy and I walked off the extra calories with a stroll by the White House through a quiet but chilly downtown Washington DC.

Next came 36 hours in the Coal Regions - good old Tamaqua PA. Lulu's mother is an excellent cook - and her turkey dinner for 14 was another masterpiece. It has been a long time since Betty and her 4 kids lined up for a group photo - but everyone showed up with bells on for Lulu's homecoming. We spent the night with Lulu's cousins Georgeann and Jim - you heard of them recently from the New York City trip. They have a lovely home in Owl Creek - Jim even waxed the shower stall and changed the toilet seat in the master suite just for us. He heard that his half-assed cousin was coming to town. I love their gigantic basement - a feature Lulu and I plan too emulate in our new home.

No trip home is complete without a stop by best friends' George and MaryRuth Taylor's Lehigh Street mansion. Most of our talk was of their son Brandon - a writer in China - and Michael scoring 28 points in a Penn State University basketball game. Norman Rockwell could not paint a better picture of an American family.

Next the rental Ford Focus headed north to Scranton to meet my sister Gail and her sweet school librarian daughter Susan Roberts. The Lackawanna Train Station Hotel was perfect for this most important Everhart family meeting. The perfectly restored old lobby was beautifully decorated and the piano man was playing Christmas tunes. Anything was fair game for that conversation. It was wonderful sitting at a table with 3 of the sweetest Everhart girls - wishing Judy - Robin - Sharon - and Kate were there - but maybe another time. It was foggy and rainy outside - about 40 degrees - but inside could not have been warmer.

At 2 PM - we piled into in the rental - and we started a 6 hour marathon from Scranton to Washington DC. Traffic was bad in some places and the 39 degree rain provided quite a bit of fog. A stop at the Schuylkill Mall in Frackville broke the trip up just enough. When we lived in Pennsylvania - it was our main shopping place and also the number one stop on the way home from following Drew and Keith's basketball teams.

After heavy traffic around Harrisburg and DC - we got to Keith's condo at around 9 PM. We talked - took a few pictures - then spent one last night in the Askew homestead - flying out of Washington National Airport around 8 AM for a short 1.5 hour trip to Jacksonville. A clear blue sky and 55 degrees greeted us back to our new sunny home. Lulu piloted our Christmas red Prius full of booty to Tallahassee at noon.

We pulled into the remote controlled garage to find the door to the kitchen locked - the Dawson's had locked us out before they left on a one week cruise. Of course our spare key was locked in their house - and our key to their house was locked in our kitchen. After 6 hours of gnashing our teeth - and several drinks at Logan's Road House - our neighbor Lee came home and had a key that we gave him 8 years ago. After 6 days and about 3000 miles of road work - we were home.

Since we are paving our street/driveway on Dec 30th - we decided to stay home from the Florida State/Notre Dame bowl game in Orlando.

Next trip Jan 1st - to Pasadena and the Rose Parade - then on to Hawaii until Jan 11th. For the holidays you can't beat home sweet home.

Christmas Day at the White House. We saw President Obama's helicopter taking him to the airport for his Christmas in Hawaii. We will be there Jan 3rd.

Lulu always wants library pictures. Here she is at Cabela's Gun Library in Hamburg PA

Jackie introduced the family to his lovely Southern Belle - Tami

Lulu is very proud of her student-athlete niece - Dana. She is 5th in her class and plans to be a pharmacist. That is 5th out of about 200.

David and his girlfriend Kelly spoon under their new Seminoles snuggy

A drive by the old Everhart chalet pleased Lulu. We raised a family of 4 in that cute little box of 1000 square feet

Cousins Jim and Georgeanne put the Everhart's out back in swaddling clothes lying in the manger

Harry and Jack exchanged presents. Jack "made" Christmas this year

Keith's Christmas tree was a true "Everhart Original." It was made of several highly finished wooden slats - tons of room for Lulu's extensive ornament collection. Note the real orange tree to my left - growing in their downtown Washington condo window.

Drew got a telephoto lens for his iPhone - Lulu found an Apple gadget he did not have.

Below - Keith and Liz just got back from the Maui Invitational Tournament in Hawaii where Duke and Georgetown played. I wonder how Liz talked Keith into buying a Duke shirt. The shirt says - "Duke Champions"

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Taking Down Trees To Build A New Street - If You Build It They Will Come

This is the crane they used to take down our trees.

When is a street public or private? When the street needs repairs it is yours - when it is working fine - everybody uses it.

Our house is on the corner of Seminole Drive and MorBihan Drive. Six of us own sections of MorBihan Drive. It is 30 years old and in need of repair. We decided to just replace the street instead patching it. There are 6 homes along the street. Many of the neighbors paid to build the new street.

First - we had to take down two giant dead pine and oak trees on our property. Since the trees were aimed at several homes - we needed to hire a crane - Big Ben Tree Service - Scott Salter Owner. A crew of 5 professionals set up the crane and one guy rode the cable to the top of the tree. His job was to tie the cable to the top of the tree. As he cut off sections - the crane lifted off each section. As the tree was lowered - the other crew members trimmed the branches.

Finally - the stump grinder came in to chew away the two giant stumps. The whole job took about 3 hours. The street right of way is ready for re-paving.

This was a very dangerous job - it was done very professionally.

On Dec 30th - when we return from our Christmas excursion north - North Florida Asphalt will pave the street.

This guy would cut off sections of the tree and the crane would bring them down softly.

This photo shows how rotted the trees were. You could scoop out insides with your hands.

The stump grinder has a big wheel with teeth that chews away the stumps.

Finally - 3 hours later - trees gone - and all the mess cleaned up.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Real-Life ‘Rudy’ Accused of Fraud by S.E.C.

Daniel (Rudy) Ruettinger, whose story of making the Notre Dame football team despite his small size became the basis of the 1993 movie “Rudy,” was sued by the Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday in connection with a sports drink company, Rudy Beverage, that was meant to compete with Gatorade. The commission accused him and 12 others of running a pump-and-dump investment scheme in 2008 that reaped more than $11 million in illicit gains, DealBook reported. Mr. Ruettinger settled the charges without admitting to or denying the accusations, and paid $382,866.

From the NY Times

Thursday, December 15, 2011

UCLA Beat FSU in 3 Games - and I Am Glad I Did Not Drive to San Antonio

Florida State's ACC Champion Volleyball Team - 2001

Senior Rachael Morgan from New Zealand with Coach Chris Poole on Senior Day

An excellent UCLA methodically ended the Seminole girls' volleyball season winning 3 games straight in the best of 5 match. It started at 7 PM - each game took about 30 minutes - by 8:30 PM the Noles were done dancing - the clock struck 12.

The is the farthest that a Seminole team has gotten - one of the best 4 teams in the country. No other team in the Atlantic Coast Conference got this far.

Lulu was encouraging me to drive or fly to San Antonio. It is a 16 hours straight shot of 900 miles on I-10. Plane rides took almost as long circuiting thru Orlando - Miami - and Dallas. Place tickets were $1600 or 50,000 frequent flyer miles which I had. Boy am I happy I did not go now. If I drove - it was another 16 hours home. If I flew it was 3 days of touring around San Antonio until the Sunday flight home.

When the smoke clears both the team and fans will appreciate this season. The Noles had won the first 13 ACC games. Coach Chris Poole was not selected coach of the year - but he was certainly a good candidate.

Next year - the Noles have 4 blue chip recruits coming in. Everything appears bright for a repeat. I am sure Duke - North Carolina - and Miami will have lots to say about that.

UCLA goes on to play either Illinois or Southern California on Saturday.

The last 4 years have been fun watching Rachael Morgan - an outstanding young lady from New Zealand. Each year she got better and better. Imagine leaving everything you know on the tiny island country of New Zealand - half way around the work. She seldom got to go back home - and everything is different here. I can't imagine being 18 years old and having that happen to me.

Here is her web page about being a student and ballplayer at FSU from the Land of Down Under.

You can click on the headline to go to Rachel's web page.

Florida State in the Final Four Tonight

It never happened before - an ACC team in the volleyball final four.

Tonight FSU plays UCLA at 7 PM in the San Antonio Alamo Dome. The game will be shown live on ESPN2.

Florida State is led by 4th year coach Chris Poole. He came to Tallahassee from his alma mater - the University of Arkansas. In that short time - he has led the Seminoles to their 3rd straight NCAA appearance. Once they made the sweet 16 - once the elite 8 - but this year's final four appearance is a whole new stage.

Nationally - not much is expected from the 12th seeded Noles. But they will probably be every underdog's favorite as they have to get lucky just two times.

A special thank you for Penn State stepping aside after winning 4 national championships in a row. Also powers Hawaii and Texas are on the sidelines.

We will be glued to the TV at 7 tonight hoping Cinderella's clock does not strike 12 tonight. Go Noles!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

My Lovely Wife Was on a Committee To Honor Outstanding School Librarians - Caroline Kennedy was Honoring Speaker

That's Lulu in the middle with Caroline Kennedy to the right. Lulu was on the committee to select and award outstanding school librarians. The President's daughter was the main speaker - she has been very instrumental in raising funds to support school libraries. The event was sponsored by the New York Times in Carnegie Hall.

Lulu spent last week in New York City. She was on a committee to select and present awards to outstanding school librarians for the New York Times. The activities took place at Carnegie Hall. I always thought Lulu would someday play there someday :-)

The committee honored all librarians. Out of 10, three school librarians were chosen.
The event was at the New York Times headquarters.

After the ceremony Lulu met her three cousins - Ruthann - Georgeann - and Kathy. They enjoyed shopping in the Big Apple - some shows - and just acting silly. They spent 3 nights on Broadway together.

Later Liz and Keith visited and they all went to the Duke basketball game at Madison Square Garden.

You may remember these pictures of "Sweet Caroline" better.

Do You Thank Someone When They Stop Kicking You in the Privates

Last year Governor Rick Scott of Florida took away $1381 per student from a state budget that was already spending less per student than any other state in the USA. The is the same Rick Scott that spend $70 million of his own money that he received when his hospital company was convicted of stealing millions of dollars from Medicare. Folks are still wondering how he stayed out of prison over that - then somehow he wins an election and we make him the governor.

Now he proposes a budget that will increase the education funding $59 per student and he is expecting praise from the parents and teachers.

I am ashamed of many of the senior citizens in Florida. All that many of them worry about is getting their Social Security and Medicare - selfishly neglecting the youth. They could not care less about the education of their own grandchildren. The "greatest generation" is being followed by the "greediest generation." It would be interesting to see what percentage of the people over age 60 are also in the top 1% of annual income. These are the people that praise Governor Scott and will probably re-elect him in 2 years. Kids don't vote.

It reminds be of the hazing problems at Florida A & M where they beat a student to death. After beating the students into submission - they make the kids say, "thank you sir - may I have another?"

Monday, December 12, 2011

Cinderella Florida State Seminoles in the NCAA Final Four Volleyball Ball

Florida State makes their first trip to the Final Four ever.

The Seminoles are certainly worth the price of admission - they play for free in Tully Gym. It is nice for the Tallahassee Democrat to be able to write about championship possibilities at this time of year.

The clock has not stuck midnight yet and the Cinderella Seminoles will continue dancing another week.

Number 12 seeded FSU beat the Number 5 and 4 seeded Purdue and Iowa State to advance to the Final Four in San Antonio at the Alamo Dome. Their next game is Thursday night as a play UCLA. If they win that game - they are in the national championship game on Saturday night.

It is a wide open field thanks to perennial power Penn State being knocked out early along with Hawaii and Texas being gone. FSU's 4 year coach Chris Poole is a cinch to be voted as Coach of the Year leading the upstart Seminole this far in such a short time. An athletic administrator told me that he is the best FSU coach - bar none.

The Seminoles usually play their home games in on-campus Tully Gym that on a good night holds about 150o people - and the admission is free. Compare this to the happenings in Hawaii where the Wahine draw paying crowds of 10,000.

It is a 900 mile drive over Interstate 10 from Tallahassee to San Antonio. It is very tempting to hop in the Prius to make the 18 hour jaunt.

As a Number 12 seed - the rest of the volleyball community doubts that the Noles will make it past Thursday night. Seminole fans are gushing over their new ACC Champions and are making room for another National Championship trophy that the Gators can break into the FSU Hall of Fame to steal. The Gators have plenty of time since they fell out of the field last weekend.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Florida State Volleyball Team Beats Purdue and Advanced to the Elite 8 - Plays Iowa State Tonight

FSU advanced to the Elite 8 of the NCAA Volleyball Tournament with a 3-1 win over Purdue last night - scoring the last 8 points in the final game - to come from behind.

Tonight they play Iowa State at 9:30 to hopefully advance to the Final Four next weekend.

FSU is the tournament 12 seed - highest seed to advance so far. 2 favorites - Penn State (who won the championship the last 4 years) and Hawaii (who lost in fornt of a home crowd of 10,000 last night) are OUT.

Iowa State will be tough - they are a 4 seed - Purdue was a 5 seed.

You can watch tonight's 9:30 at on your computer. I am surprised at the HD quality. You can go there now and watch last night's game too.

Friday, December 09, 2011


All but taboo in the United States 50 years ago, cremation is now chosen over burial in 41 percent of American deaths, up from 15 percent in 1985, according to the Cremation Association of North America. Economics is clearly one of the factors driving that change.

The percentage of bodies that are cremated has risen steadily for years, for reasons ranging from spiritual to environmental. But a recent study shows that the increase has accelerated during the downturn, and many funeral home directors say they believe the economy is leading people to look for less expensive options.

The disposition of Ms. Kelly’s remains cost about $1,600, and that total included a death notice, a death certificate and an urn bought online. It was a fraction of the $10,000 to $16,000 that is typically spent on a traditional funeral and burial.

Although state cremation rates vary widely, from 13 percent in Mississippi to 73 percent in Nevada, every state has experienced an increase since 2005.

A process called bio-cremation uses chemical rather than fire to dispose of the body.

From the NY Times

Thursday, December 08, 2011

2010 Country Coach Magna 630 Veranda Pikes Peak - $495000

Iran Has Our RQ-170 Sentinel Drone

You are looking at the drone that kept watch over Osama Bin Laden's hideout. President Obama was able to watch live video footage sent form this aircraft.

The Sentinel is small stealthy pilotless aircraft. It probably has has one small T34 jet engine and no weapons. The US uses them all over the mideast to spy on other countries. They replace the famous U2 piloted by Gary Powers as he spied over Russia during the Cold War.

Last week - our government claims - that we were using a Sentinel to spy over Afghanistan - when it went out of control. Iran claims they shot it down - yet the trophy they are showing has no damage. At any rate - they have it - and we lost one.

The Air Force is claiming the TQ-170 is not our best technology. It is simply a small jet platform equipped to carry cameras and other spy equipment. I can't imagine our country ever flying over Iran on purpose. :-)

It reminds me of the German ME163 Komet.

The Komet was a small rocket powered aircraft the Nazis used to shoot down B-17 bombers over Germany. It launched off a small trolley left behind during takeoff. It was able to fly over 600 MPH - way faster than anything in the 1940s. It had one cannon carrying about 40 rounds - and it only carried about 8 minutes of fuel. After it did its damaged - it powerlessly glided back to the base landing on a center skid. It was quite an aircraft for being flown 70 years ago.

There is a Real Twist in This Rape Story

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Merry Christmas From Tallahassee

The stockings are hung by the chimney with care - except Santa will be bringing Kate's for her first Christmas.

I just put Lulu on a plane to New York City. She will be gone for 5 days - she is on a committee at the NY Times to select the American Librarian Awards. The presentations will be at Carnegie Hall. Lulu is excited to meet the other committee members - including Sweet Caroline Kennedy - yes the President's daughter.

While in the city - several family are going to visit with her and stay over a bit. First it is cousins - Georgianne - Ruthann - and Kathy. The will go to a show together and shop. Then Keith and Liz will taking Lulu to the Garden to see Duke play the University of Washington in basketball.

Before Lulu left - we rushed out to by a real Christmas tree - first time in years. Last time we had one - sister Lori got us one for our last Christmas in the chalet in Tamaqua.

Harry is home alone for 5 days.

Average US Woman Weighs 160 Pounds - Wishes She Were 138 Pounds

According to the results of a November 2011 Gallup poll of 1,012 adults across the country, the average male weighs 196 pounds, and the average female weighs 160 pounds. These numbers are nearly 20 pounds more than they were in 1990. As weight has increased, so has American's ideal weight. Men, on average, wish they weighed 181 pounds, and women say 138 pounds is their ideal weight.

When comparing the numbers of actual and ideal weights, Gallup found that today the average man weighs 15 pounds more than his ideal, compared with 9 pounds in 1990. The average woman weighs 22 pounds more than her ideal today, compared with 13 pounds in 1990. So as American's ideal weights have increased, so have the numbers on the scale. A reported 64 percent of men and 68 percent of women are currently over their ideal weight.

I went from 217 down to 196 in 8 weeks. My goal weight is 180 pounds. I am the average weight of a US man - and my weight or goal is 1 pound less than the average US Man's.

From SHAPE Newsletter

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

FSU Beat an Undermanned Team from Charleston Southern

FSU upped their record to 6-3 with an impressive win over Charleston Southern. You may recall that we played their football team in September too. It seems that major college sports teams desire to play the minor small colleges to fatten up their record - so they can ticket a ticket to a "magical" bowl game or a spot in the NCAA 64 game tournament.

Our 8-4 football team was selected to play in this year's Champs Bowl (the old Citrus Bowl in Orlando - that was once the Tangerine Bowl) again a mediocre Notre Dame squad. Lulu and I will probably drive our Prius down for that game with a ten dollar bill and a copy of the ten commandments in our pockets - breaking neither. The Prius can cover the 500 mile round trip on one tank of gas. So playing patsies to fatten up the schedule works for Jimbo Fisher too.

The Noles coasted to an easy win after leading by as many as 30 points in the first half. Subs were played - like the mercy rule - to finish with a 76-51 score. Things got really sloppy in the second half and many of the announced 6200 fans left early with 10 minutes to go.

Lulu can I got free tickets from our friends Paul and Michelle.

The Seminoles lost 3 games in row before last night - losing to an 8-0 Harvard team - then pushing national champion Connecticut to an overtime loss - and finally losing big at Michigan State big. The Noles have no victories over ranked opponents.

The next game is Dec 11th again UNC Greensboro. Lulu will be in NYC Carnegie Hall presenting an award to some outstanding librarians - but I will probably take the scooter over and get a free ticket outside the arena. I can't believe the face value on last night's ticket was $16.

Above is the game program featuring a picture of Ralfi Portuondo. For each game they offer a free program with a player's picture on the front - that matches the picture on the game ticket. Ironically - every player got to play last night except Ralfi. The top players got to choose to be on the programs for the Duke and North Carolina games - the only two games that sellout at the Civic Center.

Friday, December 02, 2011

America's Happiest and Saddest Cities

According to a report in "Mail Online" - an online news magazine - Florida has 3 of the saddest cities in the country. Although the 3 cities have over 300 days of sunshine a year -the report is based on - high unemployment - suicides - and the number of antidepressants consumed.

Since Florida is the pill mill for the country - many of the prescriptions written in Florida are probably consumed in other states.

Tampa - St Petes - and Miami are 3 of my favorite places to visit. Lulu would love if part of her job were in Miami so that we could visit there more often.

Click on the headline for the full article.

Honda Shows Neat Concept - Battery with Wheels

The Tokyo Auto Show included a neat electric concept vehicle - the Compo. It is an electric scooter that is also a large lithium battery pack. It can used as a standalone scooter - but also can be inserted into the Honda Mico electric car. It also can used as the a power supply for camping or powering your home during an emergency.

The battery can be charged at home - inserted into the scooter and/or the auto. No details were available about the amp hours or the range. Lithium batteries hold twice the power in half the size of a normal lead-acid battery.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Mitsubishi Introduces The 2012 Miev "i" to the USA

They already have this car in England and France called the Miev. It is already used as a rental car there. It is an all-electric 5-door 4 seater car that is only 12 feet long. The car has a range of 50 to 100 miles. You simply plug it into a standard power outlet at home. Overnight it full charges the battery. You can purchase high output chargers that fully charge the battery in 30 minutes.

This car will qualify for the $4500 tax credit on your federal income tax. The price will be around $42,000 US dollars - making it $37,500 after the tax credit.

Florida A & M Campus Is A Mile From My Home - This Morning At Breakfast I Get To Read This in the NY Times

It is nice living in a capital city with several college campuses nearby. It provides tons of positive entertainment. Just when you think nothing could happen worse to a campus town than what happened at Penn State and Syracuse - a murder of one of the top students at "your school" happens.

The drum major of the world famous Florida A & M Marching 100 - is murdered by members of the band on the band bus after their biggest performance of the year. All in the name of "initiation." He received a ritual beating by "fellow" band members for no particular reason accept to enjoy sadism under the guise of being admitted to the club.

President of the University Ammons - circled the wagons and fired the band director - a man that his been constantly bringing the hazing problems to the president's attention - but nothing was done.

You know you hit the big time when you knock the Penn State scandal out of the headlines of the New York Times. Here is our story in today's New York Times -

Student’s Death Turns Spotlight on Hazing

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Before they even arrive at Florida A&M University here, the freshmen who are hand-picked for the famous marching band know all about the hazing, an unsanctioned tradition that goes back decades.

In the ultracompetitive atmosphere of the Marching 100, as the band is called, the verbal, emotional and physical pain that is doled out is viewed as an extra source of pride and strength among the relatively small number of band members who participate in hazing, former members say.

Punching, paddling, slapping and forcing band members to eat certain things, do certain favors and endure verbal abuse for mistakes is part of the code, carried out by subgroups within each section: “The Clones” in the clarinet cluster, for example, and “The Soulful Saxes” in the saxophone section. Drinking is seldom involved, former members say, and much of the hazing is voluntary.

“A lot of people who come to the band come expecting these things,” said Phillip Stewart, 29, a former university drum major who said hazing was part of a subculture within the band. “They think that in order to be amongst the best and to be accepted they have to do certain things. This isn’t true.”

But those decades of tradition — a longtime concern of the university administration — are now the focal point of an investigation into the death of a drum major 10 days ago, and the reaction so far has been significant.

The band’s longtime director, Julian White, has been fired, and four separate investigations have been ordered, including one by Gov. Rick Scott, who asked the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to step in, and one by the university president, James H. Ammons. The marching band has been suspended from performing indefinitely.

The death of the drum major, Robert Champion, 26, also raises a perplexing question: Why was a drum major — a campus celebrity whose position reflects outstanding leadership skills and talent — being hazed, if that is what in fact contributed to his death? No cause of death has yet been determined but the Orange County Sheriff’s Office in Orlando, where Mr. Champion died, said it suspected that hazing was involved.

“I vow as the president of FAMU that Robert’s death will not be in vain,” Dr. Ammons said Wednesday at Mr. Champion’s funeral in Decatur, Ga.

The church was packed with 500 mourners, including many band members and Dr. White, who also spoke at the service. Promising to “end hazing on the campus of FAMU,” Dr. Ammons told mourners that he would introduce his own brand of R & D to the university, “and I don’t mean research and development; I mean respect and dignity.”

Mr. Champion, a hard-working clarinet player, tried out twice before being selected as one of six drum majors in the spring of 2010. He died just hours after marching on the field at the Florida Classic, a football game between Florida A&M and its longtime rival, Bethune-Cookman University.

He collapsed in a bus parked at an Orlando hotel, where the band was staying. It was evening, and the buses should have been locked, Dr. White said. After interviewing band members, he said, it appeared that Mr. Champion had been punched repeatedly by a small group of band members on the bus as part of a hazing ritual, then vomited and passed out. When others in the bus could not revive him, they called for an ambulance. He died a short time later at a hospital.

His parents have hired a lawyer and said they planned to sue the university to prevent such a thing from happening again.

“It’s kind of a ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ culture,” said Christopher M. Chestnut, the family’s lawyer. “No one’s shocked. Everyone knew it happened.”

Dr. White, a tenured professor who was been at the university for four decades and became band director in 1998, has also hired a lawyer, saying he had done everything he could to stop hazing over the past two decades.

Hazing is not uncommon among marching bands around the country and has been a longtime practice at historically black colleges like Florida A&M. The university, whose enrollment is roughly 13,000, has had its share of serious hazing incidents. Two students were beaten or paddled so forcefully they suffered acute injury, one in 1998 and the other in 2001.

To back his claim of trying to end hazing, Dr. White released documents this week showing letters of band suspensions dating to 2001 that he had issued to dozens of students and correspondence with university administrators and the university police. He also held workshops for students and meetings with freshmen, created an anonymous reporting system and issued routine admonishments, among other things.

A few weeks before Mr. Champion’s death, Dr. White suspended 26 trombonists and clarinetists from the band for hazing in October and November.

Bria Hunter, a clarinetist, was repeatedly punched in the legs so badly this fall that a leg bone was broken and a knee damaged, her parents told WXIA-TV in Atlanta on Tuesday. The Tallahassee Police Department is now investigating her case.

Dr. White sent letters regarding the 26 recent suspensions to university administrators and the university police. Although he was director of the band, he said, he lacked the authority to suspend or expel students from the university or cancel major marching events, the sort of harsher punishment that he said he had sought over the years.

The Marching 100 is the marquee organization at the university — the equivalent of a powerhouse football team — and is crucial in raising money for it and attracting new students. It has performed at events like the Grammy Awards and the Super Bowl and was scheduled to play at Carnegie Hall. The band has 375 members this year.

In an interview, Dr. White said of the recent suspensions, “I would have liked the administration to terminate the students," and he added that he had made such a recommendation to the university’s vice president, its dean and other officials. “They did not do that,” he said. “We need to be stronger in our punishment.”

While some say that as band director he should have asserted greater control, others, including Ms. Hunter’s parents and former band members, have rallied to Dr. White’s defense, saying he was hypervigilant about hazing.

“Dr. White has been trying to champion eradicating hazing from the band for years,” said Timothy A. Barber, a former head drum major who graduated in 2003 and is now the executive director for the Black Archives History and Research Foundation of South Florida. “He took a strong stance. But it goes underground. It happens away from campus, at night. You can’t control it.”

Monday, November 21, 2011

Occupy Tallahassee

Next Electric Car Coming From GM - Chevy Spark

The Chevy Spark is currently offered in Europe with a 4 cylinder engine. About this time next year - Chevy will introduce and all-electric version of that same Spark. It will be tagged 2013 model. It seats 4 people with a small hatchback.