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Monday, October 31, 2011

Jay Leno Drives a Volt

Jay Leno has a lot of vehicles -- more than 100 convertibles, cars and motorcycles. But the vehicle that plays the most active role in his daily life, getting him to and from the set of "The Tonight Show" is his Chevy Volt. Why? For starters, as of September, he had yet to fill his gas tank since December 2010, even after 10,000 miles.

Leno doesn't see the Volt's all-electric competitors changing anytime soon. "I have a 1909 Baker Electric, and it goes 80 to 100 miles on a charge. The brand-new Nissan electric goes 80 to 100 miles on a charge," he said. "But the idea is electricity is like sex. People have no compulsion about lying about if it doesn't do what it's supposed to do.

You would think that Leno, given his salary, would not be concerned about saving pennies at the pump, but he seemed downright enthused about the mileage. "You get the first 40 miles free," Leno told Ad Ageon the phone from his office on the NBC lot in Burbank, Calif. "So when I go to work every day that's 28 miles, and I plug it in at work. Then I go shopping, run errands, pull in the driveway; that's 40 miles so I plug it in. It's pretty amazing because you can actually check that on the computer on the car."

"I like electricity when I need it and gas when I need to use it. With Nissan, you need two cars, one to get around town and the other to go on long trips. With the Volt, you don't. You can drive to San Francisco. It's just that after 40 to 50 miles — OK, you have a gas car again. It's silly to throw 150 years of internal combustion out the window. We don't dislike the engine. Let's come up with a better fuel. And until we do, let's do this hybrid thing. You can't do much better than that."

Florida State Pounds NC State - 34-0

FSU scores early on the quarterback option.

Lulu was on the road to Minnesota for an AASL convention. I was home alone - game was at noon - and it was still only 60 degrees and breezy. I was tempted to stay home and watch it on TV.

At 11:30 - I pushed the scooter out of the garage - and away I went. There were hundreds of tickets for sale outside the stadium. This is what a 4-3 record will do to "loyal" FSU fans. A lady split a pair and gave me one for free. the ticket was on the goal line - 6th row.

I was at my seats at 10 minutes to kickoff - and the place was only 1/3 full. FSU fans always arrive late because there is no beer for sale in the stadium. About have way through the 1st quarter - FSU was ahead 14-0 - and the stadium had filled up to supposedly 72,000.

My seat was good and I got a few neat pictures from there.

I got text from George and Joel Dawson - saying they were going to watch the game on my TV - they did not get ESPN2. At half time - I was alone - decided to go out to the scooter - and ride home for the second half. the weather improve to 70s and the cloud disappeared. It was a good ride home.

I watched the rest of the game with friends at home.

This Thursday - Florida State plays a night game at Boston College.

My seat gave me a good view of the bench and the "Golden Girls."

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Father of CitiCar - Electric Car Dies

Bob Beaumont, Who Popularized Electric Cars, Dies at 79

In the NY Times Today

Bob Beaumont, who thought every home should have an affordable electric vehicle in its driveway and sold more than 2,000 of them, the tiny, trapezoidal creation known as theCitiCar, decades before General Motors and Nissan came up with their own versions, died on Monday at his home in Columbia, Md. He was 79.

The cause was emphysema, said his daughter, Dina.

In the 1960s, Mr. Beaumont was so inspired by the battery-powered lunar rover and so appalled by the nation’s insatiable appetite for oil that he sold his Chrysler-Plymouth dealership in upstate New York to become a carmaker himself. Just as the Arab oil embargo was ending in 1974, the CitiCar — eight feet long, 1,100 pounds and shaped like a cheese wedge on a golf-cart chassis — began rolling out of a factory in Sebring, Fla.

The car, a two-seater with a price tag under $3,000 — about half the price of an average car at the time — was initially met with skepticism, particularly given its top speed of 26 miles an hour. Mr. Beaumont added two more batteries, allowing it to reach nearly 40 m.p.h., and sales took off.

“Everybody heard about what we were doing in Florida,” Mr. Beaumont told Baltimore City Paper in 2008, “and they came flocking to us like we were the salvation of the world.”

The company, which he called Sebring-Vanguard, soon became the sixth-largest carmaker in the United States, though well behind the Big Three, American Motors and Checker Motors. In three years, it sold 2,206 CitiCars (that’s the number Mr. Beaumont remembered, his daughter said, though other reports give figures slightly higher or lower).

But the CitiCar was dogged by questions about its roadworthiness, particularly after Consumer Reports declared it inordinately noisy, unreliable and generally “foolhardy to drive.” Mr. Beaumont successfully defended the car, whose body was encased in the same type of plastic as a football helmet, against bureaucrats in Michigan who wanted to ban it from public roads: he attacked it with a baseball bat, then suggested he test whether a Ford owned by one of the officials would withstand a similar test.

Still, in 1977, with the safety questions lingering and with oil cheap and plentiful again, Sebring-Vanguard went bankrupt. Another company bought the design and continued building a similar model, which it called the Comuta-Car, for several more years. About 4,400 of those cars and their derivatives, including a postal delivery Comuta-Van, were sold.

“He laid the pathway; he was just about 30 years too early,” said Peter Crisitello, who owns a 1977 CitiCar and organized a caravan of about a half-dozen of them to Mr. Beaumont’s home for a four-day gathering of enthusiasts in 2009.

After the CitiCar was discontinued, Mr. Beaumont moved to Maryland to run a used-car dealership and to lobby Congress to promote electric vehicles. In the 1990s he began a venture called Renaissance Cars and designed a battery-powered sports car, the Tropica, that was far more elaborate than the bare-bones CitiCar. For various reasons, it did not catch on; fewer than 25 were ever built.

Robert Gerald Beaumont was born on April 1, 1932, in Teaneck, N.J. After high school, he served for two years in the Air Force before studying business at Hartwick College in Oneonta, N.Y.

He left college before earning his degree to work at the Chrysler dealership in Kingston, which he later bought and ran for about 20 years. Despite having a wife and five children to support, his daughter said, he believed in his vision strongly enough to sell the dealership.

“Financially it was a big gamble, but in his heart it wasn’t,” Dina Beaumont said. “Recently we realized how many of those CitiCars are still on the road today. They’re still running, and we’ve never heard of a fatality or any serious accident.”

Friday, October 28, 2011

Harry Bought Another Truck

17 inch wheels and V6 engine.

I bought another truck - this is the 4th one in the almost 8 years we are in Florida. Each time I have driven the trucks about 2 years - cleaned them up - and sold them for a small profit. Lulu no longer complains when I bring another truck home. This time she did not even come along to pre-approve it.

The truck was purchased about a month ago. I did not want to introduce it until I had the truck bed tonneau cover painted and installed. It was all part of the deal.

It is a 2001 Ford F150 Sportstruck - whatever that means. It has a 200 HP V6 engine and 4 speed automatic transmission. It has 111,000 miles on its 10 years of existence. It has power windows - power door locks - alarm - AM-FM-CD - tile steering wheel - bucket seats with console. It is supposed to get 22 MPG - we will see.

The trucks looks like new inside and out. It has just been painted. It has new wheels - brakes - tires. The bed liner and bed cover are stock.

My last Ford truck was a V8 with 4 wheel drive. This one is almost 2 feet shorter than that one. It is not a mini-truck - but closer to one than the last one. It has the tow package on it capable of towing 5000 pounds. This will be kept at the garage at 1816 Seminole Drive. It will come in handy when we build the new house.

Lulu drove it and approves. She likes it for yard sales and going for plants for her gardens.

It has a step side bed. Top can be removed for hauling big stuff.

It has 2 wheel drive only. It has the world's largest locking trunk.

It is in excellent shape for 111,000 miles.

The interior has gray cloth seats and a console. There is not big seat - saving about 2 feet of length.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Harry Gets To Meet President Obama

If you are a little near-sighted - like Harry & Mr McGoo - our steward on TAMI Airlines - flying from Rio to Sao Paulo in Brazil looks a bit like our 44th president. It was a one hour flight - but they had time to serve us all a meal and a drink. Not bad service for a crew of 2.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Are You in the Top 1%

If you made $343,000 a year - you were in the top 1%. You also made 17% of the country's wealth in 2009 and paid 37% of the income taxes.

That means a single filer who made $343,927 or more in 2009 is in the top 1 percentile. A married couple with two kids and combined earnings of $343,927 or more also was among the top earners in the country. The 2009 figures are the latest the IRS has tallied.

The 1.4 million Americans in the IRS' top taxpayer category in 2009 reported nearly 17 percent of all the country's taxable income. From those filers, the IRS collected $318 billion or almost 37 percent of all the individual taxes paid in 2009.

If you made $32,000 - you were in the top 50%.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Na Na Na Na Hey Hey Goodbye

From the NY Times today -

Paul Leka, a songwriter and producer who worked with many recording stars but who was best known for writing the chanting chorus of “Na Na Hey Hey (Kiss Him Goodbye),” a No. 1 hit in 1969 that was reborn in the 1970s as a sports arena anthem, died on Oct. 12 in a hospice near his home in Sharon, Conn. He was 68.

The cause was lung cancer, said his brother, George.

Mr. Leka made his name in the Tin Pan Alley tradition, writing or arranging songs for other people. He wrote and produced “Green Tambourine,” a No. 1 hit in 1967 for the psychedelic soft-rock band the Lemon Pipers; signed REO Speedwagon to its first record contract; and produced four of Harry Chapin’s albums, including 1974’s “Verities & Balderdash” containing the song that was Chapin’s lone No. 1 hit, “Cat’s in the Cradle.”

In 1969, Mr. Leka was helping a longtime friend from Bridgeport, Conn., Gary DeCarlo, fill the B-side of a single he was recording for Buddah. With Mr. Leka on keyboards, they started with a song they had written years before, a bluesy shuffle called “Kiss Him Goodbye.” But it filled only two minutes of playing time, and to make sure disc jockeys would not play it — instead of Mr. DeCarlo’s A-side — they decided to add a chorus to stretch it to four minutes, beyond the time limit of most radio formats.

“I started writing while I was sitting at the piano, going ‘na na na na, na na na na ...’ ” Mr. Leka told Fred Bronson, the author of “The Billboard Book of Number One Hits.” “Everything was ‘na-na’ when you didn’t have a lyric.” Mr. DeCarlo added the “hey hey.” They chanted the chorus at the beginning and end of the original song, and as an added poison pill left the dummy lyrics in.

The record company decided to release it nonetheless as the A-side of a 45 by Steam, a fictitious group name the two men invented for the record. The song reached No. 1 in late 1969 and enjoyed a happy radio life span. Then it came back.

School Without Computers

From the NY Times today.

The chief technology officer of eBay sends his children to a nine-classroom school here. So do employees of Silicon Valley giants like Google, Apple, Yahoo and Hewlett-Packard.

But the school’s chief teaching tools are anything but high-tech: pens and paper, knitting needles and, occasionally, mud. Not a computer to be found. No screens at all. They are not allowed in the classroom, and the school even frowns on their use at home.

Schools nationwide have rushed to supply their classrooms with computers, and many policy makers say it is foolish to do otherwise. But the contrarian point of view can be found at the epicenter of the tech economy, where some parents and educators have a message: computers and schools don’t mix.

This is the Waldorf School of the Peninsula, one of around 160 Waldorf schools in the country that subscribe to a teaching philosophy focused on physical activity and learning through creative, hands-on tasks. Those who endorse this approach say computers inhibit creative thinking, movement, human interaction and attention spans.

The Waldorf method is nearly a century old, but its foothold here among the digerati puts into sharp relief an intensifying debate about the role of computers in education.

“I fundamentally reject the notion you need technology aids in grammar school,” said Alan Eagle, 50, whose daughter, Andie, is one of the 196 children at the Waldorf elementary school; his son William, 13, is at the nearby middle school. “The idea that an app on an iPad can better teach my kids to read or do arithmetic, that’s ridiculous.”

Mr. Eagle knows a bit about technology. He holds a computer science degree from Dartmouth and works in executive communications at Google, where he has written speeches for the chairman, Eric E. Schmidt. He uses an iPad and a smartphone. But he says his daughter, a fifth grader, “doesn’t know how to use Google,” and his son is just learning. (Starting in eighth grade, the school endorses the limited use of gadgets.)

Three-quarters of the students here have parents with a strong high-tech connection. Mr. Eagle, like other parents, sees no contradiction. Technology, he says, has its time and place: “If I worked at Miramax and made good, artsy, rated R movies, I wouldn’t want my kids to see them until they were 17.”

While other schools in the region brag about their wired classrooms, the Waldorf school embraces a simple, retro look — blackboards with colorful chalk, bookshelves with encyclopedias, wooden desks filled with workbooks and No. 2 pencils.

On a recent Tuesday, Andie Eagle and her fifth-grade classmates refreshed their knitting skills, crisscrossing wooden needles around balls of yarn, making fabric swatches. It’s an activity the school says helps develop problem-solving, patterning, math skills and coordination. The long-term goal: make socks.

Down the hall, a teacher drilled third-graders on multiplication by asking them to pretend to turn their bodies into lightning bolts. She asked them a math problem — four times five — and, in unison, they shouted “20” and zapped their fingers at the number on the blackboard. A roomful of human calculators.

In second grade, students standing in a circle learned language skills by repeating verses after the teacher, while simultaneously playing catch with bean bags. It’s an exercise aimed at synchronizing body and brain. Here, as in other classes, the day can start with a recitation or verse about God that reflects a nondenominational emphasis on the divine.

Andie’s teacher, Cathy Waheed, who is a former computer engineer, tries to make learning both irresistible and highly tactile. Last year she taught fractions by having the children cut up food — apples, quesadillas, cake — into quarters, halves and sixteenths.

“For three weeks, we ate our way through fractions,” she said. “When I made enough fractional pieces of cake to feed everyone, do you think I had their attention?”

Some education experts say that the push to equip classrooms with computers is unwarranted because studies do not clearly show that this leads to better test scores or other measurable gains.

Is learning through cake fractions and knitting any better? The Waldorf advocates make it tough to compare, partly because as private schools they administer no standardized tests in elementary grades. And they would be the first to admit that their early-grade students may not score well on such tests because, they say, they don’t drill them on a standardized math and reading curriculum.

When asked for evidence of the schools’ effectiveness, the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America points to research by an affiliated group showing that 94 percent of students graduating from Waldorf high schools in the United States between 1994 and 2004 attended college, with many heading to prestigious institutions like Oberlin, Berkeley and Vassar.

Of course, that figure may not be surprising, given that these are students from families that value education highly enough to seek out a selective private school, and usually have the means to pay for it. And it is difficult to separate the effects of the low-tech instructional methods from other factors. For example, parents of students at the Los Altos school say it attracts great teachers who go through extensive training in the Waldorf approach, creating a strong sense of mission that can be lacking in other schools.

Absent clear evidence, the debate comes down to subjectivity, parental choice and a difference of opinion over a single world: engagement. Advocates for equipping schools with technology say computers can hold students’ attention and, in fact, that young people who have been weaned on electronic devices will not tune in without them.

Ann Flynn, director of education technology for the National School Boards Association, which represents school boards nationwide, said computers were essential. “If schools have access to the tools and can afford them, but are not using the tools, they are cheating our children,” Ms. Flynn said.

Paul Thomas, a former teacher and an associate professor of education at Furman University, who has written 12 books about public educational methods, disagreed, saying that “a spare approach to technology in the classroom will always benefit learning.”

“Teaching is a human experience,” he said. “Technology is a distraction when we need literacy, numeracy and critical thinking.”

And Waldorf parents argue that real engagement comes from great teachers with interesting lesson plans.

“Engagement is about human contact, the contact with the teacher, the contact with their peers,” said Pierre Laurent, 50, who works at a high-tech start-up and formerly worked at Intel and Microsoft. He has three children in Waldorf schools, which so impressed the family that his wife, Monica, joined one as a teacher in 2006.

And where advocates for stocking classrooms with technology say children need computer time to compete in the modern world, Waldorf parents counter: what’s the rush, given how easy it is to pick up those skills?

“It’s supereasy. It’s like learning to use toothpaste,” Mr. Eagle said. “At Google and all these places, we make technology as brain-dead easy to use as possible. There’s no reason why kids can’t figure it out when they get older.”

There are also plenty of high-tech parents at a Waldorf school in San Francisco and just north of it at the Greenwood School in Mill Valley, which doesn’t have Waldorf accreditation but is inspired by its principles.

California has some 40 Waldorf schools, giving it a disproportionate share — perhaps because the movement is growing roots here, said Lucy Wurtz, who, along with her husband, Brad, helped found the Waldorf high school in Los Altos in 2007. Mr. Wurtz is chief executive of Power Assure, which helps computer data centers reduce their energy load.

The Waldorf experience does not come cheap: annual tuition at the Silicon Valley schools is $17,750 for kindergarten through eighth grade and $24,400 for high school, though Ms. Wurtz said financial assistance was available. She says the typical Waldorf parent, who has a range of elite private and public schools to choose from, tends to be liberal and highly educated, with strong views about education; they also have a knowledge that when they are ready to teach their children about technology they have ample access and expertise at home.

The students, meanwhile, say they don’t pine for technology, nor have they gone completely cold turkey. Andie Eagle and her fifth-grade classmates say they occasionally watch movies. One girl, whose father works as an Apple engineer, says he sometimes asks her to test games he is debugging. One boy plays with flight-simulator programs on weekends.

The students say they can become frustrated when their parents and relatives get so wrapped up in phones and other devices. Aurad Kamkar, 11, said he recently went to visit cousins and found himself sitting around with five of them playing with their gadgets, not paying attention to him or each other. He started waving his arms at them: “I said: ‘Hello guys, I’m here.’ ”

Finn Heilig, 10, whose father works at Google, says he liked learning with pen and paper — rather than on a computer — because he could monitor his progress over the years.

“You can look back and see how sloppy your handwriting was in first grade. You can’t do that with computers ’cause all the letters are the same,” Finn said. “Besides, if you learn to write on paper, you can still write if water spills on the computer or the power goes out.”

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Seminoles Beat Maryland 41 - 16

Lulu is in Chicago meeting - so I had to goto the game alone. I always like watching FSU play Maryland because one of my former students lives near the campus - he also got his masters degree at UMD.
Ticket face value is $45. That is not the worst of it. The owners pay $6000 for a special parking spot every year. They have been doing this for 40 years. I forgot my camera or I would have some nicer pictures.

I left the house at about 2:30 for the 3:30 game. I figured to stop by the tailgate party my friends have. when I got there they were already breaking down the food. That is good because I only had 858 calories left on my food budget for the day - and I had 9 hours to get thru.

Next I drove my Vespa scooter over to the stadium. It still amazes me that the cops allow me to go right into the stadium parking where the Golden Chiefs park. I locked up the scooter and went to buy a ticket.

I held one finger up for a 3 minutes - and two very nice ladies offered me a ticket on the 50 yard line for $20. I agreed to $10 - and had no intention of sitting with the ladies. When I got inside and saw how really good the seat was - I sat down. The ladies came by and saw me. they started gabbing an insisted I stay with them. They have those seats for 40 years. I was really on the 50 yard line - Row 41.

Since FSU has lost 3 games - tickets have gone from $600 I paid for 5 together for my family to see the Oklahoma game - to $10 for Maryland. FSU fans are very fickle. Three losses and they want to change the whole coaching staff. My buddies - George and Joel emailed me to say they got two tickets for free.

It was a clear blue sky day - temp in the 60s. I wore Keith's old FSU stadium jacket and was happy I did. When the sun went down - the temp dropped into the 50s. I was really warm and I think that 20 year old jacket looks pretty cool. No one has one like it.

I was in the stadium 30 minutes before kick-off - plenty of time to gab with the regulars around my seat.

The Noles jumped out to an early 17-0 lead. Then it happened - one of the FSU player put a dirty hit on Maryland's fantastic quarterback - knocked him out of the game - it everything else was pretty anti-climatic.

The score ended up 41-23. FSU actually ran the ball pretty well. they have a young stable of running backs led by James Wilder Jr. You may re-call that his Dad was an outstanding NFL player - playing for the local Tampa team. The son is a crowd favorite - just like Dad.

After the game - I quickly got out of the stadium - onto my stead - worked my way thru the cloud - and was home in a flash. The police had reversed Pensacola Avenue - and I had a free shot all the way home.

I got home around 7:30 - and Lulu is still in Atlanta on the way home. She has been listening to the game on the Internet radio in her phone. At 11 o'clock I will pick her up at the airport. She will be tired - but not tired enough to not watch the game on our DVR.

It was a pretty good day - easy ride in and out of the stadium - $10 spent on a seat - avoided buying junk food at the snack bars - enjoyed the fresh air - and a pretty easy victory - that has the Noles at 4-3. In a period of 15 days they have gone from number 5 in the nation to being off the rankings. But a win is a win - it all looks the same with the pollsters rank the teams. This is what it is like living a mile or so form Doak Campbell Stadium and Bobby Bowden Field.

Next week NC State is here - and this time Lulu will be in Minnesota. She said this year was not going to be as busy as last year - sure.

Friday, October 21, 2011

On Way Home From Brazil - I Spent A 12 Hour Dreary Layover in Miami

The Orange Bowl used to sit here when FSU won the National Championship for 1993. Now they are building a domed baseball field for the Marlins.

This is the old medical school building now in the middle of Jackson Medical Center where Drew went to school.

I was at the Bayside Shopping Center and for a second I thought this was Drew's old Honda parked there.

Where the big yellow build is - was a small cottage where Lulu and I lived during the summer of 1972. It is in downtown Miami.

Johnny Rockets - normally a booming place on South Beach. I ate my breakfast alone.

This is Miami South Beach. Street lights were still on due to the rain and clouds.

Usually a busy beaches - sometimes with topless bathing - today I was alone.

My rental car in front of the Avalon - Miami South Beach. Parking is usually impossible there.This is The Roney - right on the beach - where Drew lived while going to grad school.

Lulu and I spend New Years Eve at Johnny Rockets for the Millennium - 2000.

Miami Beach is one of my favorite places in the world. Probably it is a toss up between Miami Beach - London - and Hawaii. Today I had 12 hours to visit a few old haunts and jog old memories of good family times in the tropics.

Lulu - still in Brazil found a cheap rental car for me - and even though it was rainy and windy and dark outside - I turned the car east toward the beaches. As it got lighter - the sun never appeared due to the dreary skies- I could see the palms trees - the empty sand - and the churning waves. The hotels were still quiet - the rain kept the street restaurants pretty empty. I had breakfast at Johnny Rockets - one of our favorites in the Art Deco region - alone. I visited all the old places where we lived. Miami Beach now has free Internet - sponsored by the city. I was able to send pictures and messages home. The hours flew by - I did not want to miss by flight back home to Tallahassee - so time to came quickly.

Here is the rest of the story -

Miami Beach holds many fine memories for us. It started in 1969 when my sister Gail won a vacation auction. It was a free hotel room on Miami Beach for a week. My neighborhood buddy - Richard Kantor - yes we always called him Richard - went along with me. We drove my first new car - a 1969 navy blue Volkswagen Beetle non-stop from Tamaqua PA in 30 hours. It was non-stop if you do not count gasoline and food stops - but we took turns and kept driving. We had a car top rack and foot lockers strapped up there so we could sleep in the VW on the go. Richard was a pretty big guy - and I re-call him getting several "Charlie Horses" from the cramped back seat area. This was before the Interstate Highway System was complete and we followed US Route 1 most of the way.

Two years later - 1971 - Lulu and I eloped. I bought a 1971 Chevy Vega panel truck full of our stuff if we could never come back. We spent a month in Miami Beach in The Fountainhead - do not get it mixed up with the Fountainbleu. Both were on Collins Avenue - one is in the heart of town - the other was called Motel Row. After a month of fun in the sun - we headed back home - got an apartment in downtown Tamaqua. I went to work east and Lulu went to school west - high school.

In 1972 - Lulu and I spent my summer teacher pay on a 1972 Honda 600 - a little car with 2 cylinders and no air conditioner. We drove that minicar 1300 miles on $8 worth of gasoline to Miami Beach. We rented a little apartment in downtown Miami - attended both the Republican and Democratic Conventions - and got jobs. I sold Honda cars and Lulu announced the Blue Light Specials at Kmart. We returned back to the Valley for the fall - I continued teaching at Panther Valley. Lulu commuted to Kutztown State Teachers College to become a school librarian.

In 1976 - with Nancy pregnant with Drew - we spent our last "alone" trip. Since we owned the newspaper in Tamaqua - we had Thanksgiving at home with the family - put the newspaper to bed - and flew from Lehighton to Philly in a small chartered plane to catch our jet to Miami. In Miami Beach - we stayed in our honeymoon motel - which miraculously turned into a "lower class" place. We spent time visiting our friend Doris and taking our first trip to Key West. Key West was heavenly - and we quickly decided we could live there. I remember thinking that we were paying three times for that night - the mortgage back home - the hotel room in Miami Beach - and the motel room in Key West. I wonder if Drew enjoyed that trip as much as we did.

In 1979 - when we owned a bus - we planned a vacation in Miami over the Presidents Day break. With my Mom and Dad - and our two babies - Drew and Keith - we drove south for a few days of sunshine. We did not have a hotel - and all the inns were full for the holidays. A phone call to our friend Doris Hollenbach Meneses got us two nights on her living room floor. My Dad loved that February time in the sun. On the way home - I remember the thermometer reading 32 degrees in Jacksonville Florida and the bridges icing up. We hit a blizzard and got stranded in an armory in South Carolina. We spent the night on the gymnasium floor - with several other motorists wrapped in GI wool blankets. They carried us inside wearing ice creepers. It took us two more days to get home.

In the 80's and 90's - we enjoyed trips to the Orange Bowl on New Years Day. Many times - our family would pile in the car - or Lulu and I would carry the boys onto the planes in their baby blankets for free rides. The stewardess looked the other way when they would see sneakers sticking out of the blankets. Lulu loved the Orange Bowl Parade and the beach. I just loved doing things together as a family in warm weather.

In 2000 - when Drew graduated from Duke - he was offered a fellowship by the University of Miami to get his doctorate. He rented a condo right on the beach just a few miles from where our honeymoon hotel used to stand. 5 years later - he had his PhD. I really admired Drew - going to a strange city alone - working hard for 5 years at the medical school - and keeping his eye on the prize. On the Internet - we talked with MiamiMan2000 every day.

In 1991 - Lulu got her doctorate at Florida State. We always vowed to live in Florida someday. When I retired - Florida State recruited their "prodigal daughter" to return as a professor. In 2004 - we moved to Tallahassee. But Miami Beach still is one of the neatest places on earth to us. Yes - even better and Rio.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

New York Times Reports Profit

The New York Times Company continued to attract paying subscribers to its flagship Web site in the third quarter, bolstering a new revenue stream that has helped offset a decline in advertising revenue.

The company, which reported its earnings for July through September on Thursday, posted a profit of $15.7 million, compared with a loss of $4.3 million during the third quarter last year.

The Times now has 324,000 paid subscribers to the various digital editions of the paper, including e-readers and its Web site, compared with 281,000 at the end of the second quarter.

I pay $15 a month to read the NY Times on line.

From The Times.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Dr LBG Johnson Attends Induction Of Her New President At Kentucky

Just two years ago Melissa was working in an elementary school. Now she is an Asst Professor at UK. Note the beautiful garnet and gold cap and gown - she is one of FSU's finest. Just a couple months ago she wore that gown at her own graduation at FSU. We expect big things from this little girl.  

Harry's iPhone

Sent from my iPhone

Greetings From Miami Beach

I have been flying all night from Sao Paulo BRAZIL to Miami FLORIDA - 8 hours in all. I was lucky to be able to get an earlier flight and avoid a long circuit from Brazil to Miami to Dallas to Tallahassee. I have a straight flight from Miami to Tallahassee at 7 PM tonight. That gave me 12 hours to roam around Miami Beach - the city where Lulu and I eloped to - the city where Drew lived for 5 years and got his doctorate - and the place Doris Hollenbach Meneses came to right out of high school in 1972 and married her sweetheart she met when they were working at Sears.

Miami Beach is magical to us. It has great weather - beautiful beaches - lots of entertainment - and wonderful memories. I have to tell you I like Miami Beach better than Rio de Janiero - even though both places do not speak English. Here - the water is much warmer. Both places have ladies sun bathing topless. But this place is only a 9 hours drive from Tallahassee.

In the 2000 Millenium Celebration - Lulu and I spent the night on South Beach - watching the biggest fireworks display ever to that time - and hoping all the PC's would crash. The fireworks were so close that our shirts were full of scorches from the blasts.

I have a rental car and another 9 hours to spend here. It is raining and a bit windy - but at least it is warm - 80 degrees according to the rental Ford Focus's thermometer. The sky is obscure - like a typical tropical storm.

One neat thing - Miami Beach has free wifi - sponsored by the city. I just pulled over to use the computer - and there it was. I signed up - got a logon and password - but it said that it is free.

I will upload a few pictures later when I get better light.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Last Day In Sao Paulo Really Nice - I Fly Home At Midnight - Tonight

This is the Museum of Modern Art in downtown San Paulo.
Lulu is busy at her conference - the weather is really nice - so I decided to do the town. I used cabs to get between points of interest to save time - and this is a really big city.

First stop was the Museum of Football. Soccer is a way of life here - I would swear a ball falls out as afterbirth when these kids are born. Watching pickup games here - kids look like college all-stars in the USA. The museum is in the catacombs of the Muncipal Stadium. It has lots of multi-media activity. There are lots of pictures linking different players to different period happenings in the world.

Brazil has won the World Cup five times. They also host the World Cup in 2012 and the Olympics in 2016. The world is going to be seeing a lot of this booming country.

After that - it was a cab to the Museum of Modern Art. It is a very modern building in the heart of downtown. The building stands up on a set of 4 stilts that are about 50 feet high. Lulu said during Mondays - a farmers' market is set up there. But the best thing about Tuesday is that the admission was free.

Although it is called the Museum of Modern Art - I thought most of the painting were historic in nature. There were several paintings by Picasso - Cezanne - Rembrandt - Velazquez - Monet - Van Eyck - Van Gogh - Matisse - Degas - Dali - Renoir. The painting were within 2 feet of your nose - and their was no protective glass. You could really examine them.

The cab ride home was through a lot of traffic. The streets are narrow and the traffic moves very fast. It is very common to shift lanes quickly cutting off other drivers. I swear that such tactic would cause lots of fistfights in the USA. Also - there a re many cycles and scooters that "split lanes" - with two lanes of traffic the motorcycles used the "lane" between the two cars. In America - that would make many people angry - I could see people opening their doors for sport. Here - it is a way of life.

I fly at midnight - Lulu stay and extra day for a presentation. Then she is off straight to Chicago for some ALA meetings. She won't get home until Saturday - too late to go to the Maryland at FSU football game. She hates missing those games.

Sao Paulo - San Paulo - St Paul - San Palooo - take your choice. It is the biggest city in Latin America. Things are booming here - the recession seems to have passed this country by. The world might want to look here to see what they are doing differently than the rest of us. I would not prefer to live here than the USA - but you can learn something from everyone.

This is the main street in San Paulo.

There are lots of cars in the city - but these human powered carts still do a lot of work. The brakes is a board with a piece of tire under it.

In the Soccer Museum - I thought this guy holding they yellow card was funny.

This is inside the Municipal Stadium in San Paulo.

In the museum store - they sold plenty of Arsenal garb - the team form London is very popular here.

The stadium is made of poured concrete that looks like poured concrete. No effort was made to smooth the rough edges in construction.

When I took this pictures - the old trucks were used by the farmers. There was a big farmers' market behind me.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Old VW Van Still Made in Brazil

We are in Sao Paulo BRAZIL's biggest city. They took Lulu on a tour of several schools today. She is here to help them set up school libraries.

To me - the best part of the story is the VW Van. They are still making this old Generation 2 Kombi. You may remember the hippies running all over the USA in these underpowered people carriers.

Lulu's tour was in this microbus shown above. They can be purchased with up to 12 seats. The top is raised about 9 inches to give more headroom. They also have a water-cooled engine now.

Supposedly 2012 is going to be the last year they are made here. The new laws require ABS brakes and air bags - this little van will not survive the crash tests.

This is a private school bus.

Miami Firm To Patent Wireless Electric Car Charging

MIAMI — Car Charging Group Inc., a provider of electric vehicle charging services, has announced that it has filed two sepa­rate patents for inductive wireless EV charging.

The first patent is for an inductive charging station in the form of a parking bumper, which will charge EVs in parking lots and garages.

The second is to be
used underneath the road to charge EVs while they are driving. Both patents provide for a process that allows EV drivers to power and pay for their charging services wirelessly in an automatic, seamless trans­action.

“We’ve patented two inductive EV technologies that will revolutionize the EV and EV charging indus­try,” said Michael D. Far­kas, chief executive offi­cer of Car Charging Group.
“The first is a charging station designed to look and act like a parking bum­per that will charge the EV wirelessly when the car tires align with the parking bumper. EV own­ers will not have to plug in, nor will they have to interact with the charging station to pay for it — the billing will also be done wirelessly and automat­ically. Essentially, your car will charge from the moment it parks with no effort whatsoever on the part of the EV driver.”

“The other technolo­gy, which will take time to commercialize due to its costly implementation, is an inductive wireless charging system embedded underground,” said Far­kas. “User-friendly induc­tive charging will facilitate the widespread adoption of electric vehicles. Going to the gas station will be a thing of the past.”

Car Charging Group pro­vides
EV charging stations to property owners and managers at no charge, and conversely does not pay fees or rent to the prop­erty owners of the loca­tions offering our charging stations. The firm retains ownership of the charging stations and remits a por­tion of the proceeds gen­erated to the respective locations’ owners.

The company estimates that 40 million plug-in elec­tric
vehicles, such as the Nissan LEAF, Chevrolet Volt, Fisker Karma, Tesla Model S, Ford Focus EV as well as many others, are expected to be on the road in the years ahead, mak­ing the development of a network of charging sta­tions critical. Car Charging Group launched its operations nationally in Septem­ber 2009 and is looking to expand its operations internationally, the com­pany said.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Girl From Ipanema Is A Real Person

The real girl from Ipanema - she is about 65 now. Brazil has excellent plastic surgeons.

Tall and tan and young and lovely
The girl from Ipanema goes walking
And when she passes, each one she passes goes - ah
When she walks, she's like a samba
That swings so cool and sways so gentle
That when she passes, each one she passes goes - ooh
(Ooh) But I watch her so sadly
How can I tell her I love her
Yes I would give my heart gladly
But each day, when she walks to the sea
She looks straight ahead, not at me
Tall, (and) tan, (and) young, (and) lovely
The girl from Ipanema goes walking
And when she passes, I smile - but she doesn't see (doesn't see)
(She just doesn't see, she never sees me...)

The song made millions of dollars - but Pinto made nothing from it. She later opened a dress shop - the song writer's heirs sued her for using "Girl from Ipanema" as the name. She won in court.

The song was inspired by Heloísa Eneida Menezes Paes Pinto, a fifteen-year-old girl living on Montenegro Street in the fashionable Ipanema district in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Daily, she would stroll past the popular Veloso bar-café, not just to the beach, but in the everyday course of her life. She would sometimes enter the bar to buy cigarettes for her mother and leave to the sound of wolf-whistles. In the winter of 1962, the composers watched the girl pass by the bar, and it is easy to imagine why they noticed her—Helô was a five-foot eight-inch brunette, and she attracted the attention of many of the bar patrons. Since the song became popular, she has become a celebrity. The song received a Grammy Award as record of the year in 1965. From wikipedia.

Brazil Took Major Steps To Be Energy Efficient - Who Is Laughing Now?

The old VW Van (still built here new) is a very popular vehicle made in Brazil. It has been upgraded to a water cooled engine and the roof is raised a bit to make more headroom.

Thanks to some very smart planning - Brazil is not suffering many of the financial problems that the rest of the world is having.

Back in the 1970's when the Arabs held the world hostage with the "first" energy crisis -Brazil decided to play to their strength. They have a virtually unlimited supply of sugar cane - so they decided to run their cars on alcohol made from that plant. They make their auto fuel from the same source of their number one drink - Cachaça - sugar cane moonshine.

For years - all the cars in Brazil have been engineered to run on ethanol - a mixture of gasoline and alcohol. The cars can run on pure 100% alcohol - or any other combination of gasoline and alcohol. They call it full flex fuel. Presently - the national blend is 25% alcohol and 75% gasoline. When the market changes - they fluctuate the percentages. Presently ethanol costs about 3 Reile a liter - which comes out to about $6.00 a gallon.

There are other benefits of running on alcohol - like less pollution - less engine maintenance. Also - your mileage may vary. But the biggest benefit is that they are not at the mercy of the oil barons.

When you pull into a filling station here - you are not allowed to pump your own fuel. You can have a choice of pure alcohol - ethanol in the standard 75/25 blend - diesel fuel - and also natural gas. Yes - that is the kind we use in our back yard grills.

We hired a guide on Saturday to show us the sites and give us a little local flavor of Rio. He drove a small Chevy - made in Brazil. He had two tanks in it - one for ethanol - and one for LNG - liquefied natural gas. He starts the car up on ethanol - then flips a switch to run on natural gas. Mainly - he does this because LNG is 40% cheaper. So his car is sort of a hybrid - that runs on two different fuels. Also - LNG is a much cleaner burning fuel - you can even run the engine indoors - like with a forklift.

The guide took us to the filling station and we filled up with LNG. He had a large gas bottle behind the back seat. In America - you are not allowed to have LNG containers in an enclosed space. But here - it is normal - and our driver said they do not have gas explosions.

Ironically - after all of these conservation decisions - Brazil has discovered giant reserves of oil and gas off their coast. In the next few years - they will turn into major petroleum exporter. No wonder the depression isn't affecting this booming nation.

This VW can run on gasoline - alcohol - or any mixture of the two.

The guys in the red are filling station attendants. You are not allowed to fill your car. they also check the oil - the tires - and clean the windows.

This car is filling with LNG - Liquefied natural gas.

This tank holds several gallons of LNG. The conversion costs about $1300. But the owner gets back about $700 off his property taxes for using it - each year. He also pockets the 40% less the fuel costs per gallon.

Another car filling up with natural gas. Natural gas is the cleanest burning fuel except for hydrogen.

You can buy ethanol (75/25 blend) - pure alcohol- natural gas - diesel fuel.

Volkswagen manufactures cars and truck right in Brazil - like this wrecker truck. It was fun seeing VW tractor trailers.