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Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Natural Gas Future and the USA - Good News

By Fareed Zakaria, Thursday, March 29, 12:44 PM

No one could have predicted that oil prices would rise to today’s levels. Saudi Arabia’s oil minister, Ali al-Naimi, says they are irrationally high, pointing out that world demand is lower than the available supply and that Saudi oil inventories around the world are largely untapped. The “irrational” cause, of course, is fear of a war with Iran. But it would also have been unpredictable that a 47 percent hike in oil prices since November 2010 would not cause a major slowdown in the U.S. economy. One reason it hasn’t might well be the rise of shale gas.

By now, the basic facts are well known. It was only a few years ago that most experts were warning of an imminent shortage of natural gas in the United States. But thanks to the efforts of a small private company, Mitchell Energy, combined with a horizontal drilling procedure called hydraulic fracking, it has become possible to extract vast quantities of natural gas from shale, which this country has in abundance.

As with so many stories of American ingenuity, Mitchell Energy had a little help. In the 1970s, the federal government initiated the Eastern Gas Shales Project and funded dozens of hydro-fracking demonstration projects. The Energy Department pioneered a technique known as massive hydraulic fracturing, a key step along the way. It subsidized Mitchell Energy’s first successful horizontal drilling in the North Texas Barnett Shale region in 1991. Between 1978 and 1992, the federal government spent $137 million to develop these technologies.

Whoever gets the credit, the effects are widespread. The United States has 860 trillion cubic feet of recoverable natural gas, which would give the country 75 years’ worth of gas consumption at current rates. More important, the United States has become the world’s low-cost producer of natural gas. That fact is already changing the future of U.S. manufacturing. Companies such as Dow Chemical and Westlake Chemical are finding that low U.S. energy costs can mitigate the lower cost of labor in Asia — making it economical to keep and even build manufacturing facilities in the United States.

That might also help explain why high oil prices are not slowing down the U.S. economy as much as has been feared. Robert Hefner, a natural gas entrepreneur and author of “The Grand Energy Transition,” points out that the cost of heating 65 million American homes by natural gas has fallen $20 billion annually.

The environmental concerns are well taken. But the best studies out now — such as one by a committee that included the head of the Environmental Defense Fund — suggest that fracking can be done in a safe and responsible manner. Many of the riskiest practices are employed by a small number of the lowest-cost producers, a situation that calls for sensible regulation. Larger companies would probably welcome a set of rules, because they would want to follow best practices to protect their reputation and brand.

The age of natural gas will have geopolitical consequences. Until now, oil has been traded on a global market, but natural gas has been local. Because it is difficult to transport gas, countries with abundant resources and good pipelines get to set the price. Russia is able to demand up to $17 per thousand cubic feet from neighbors such as Ukraine and nations in Europe. The United States can produce natural gas for $2.50 per thousand cubic feet, and it has the world’s best and cheapest liquefying technology. Liquefied natural gas will create a single global market, and when long-term Russian contracts with Europe expire, Moscow will face a dramatic shortfall in revenue. We will move from a world in which a few countries — Russia, Iran, Qatar, Saudi Arabia — control the price and supply of natural gas to one in which this energy source is far more dispersed. (For now, Iran has access to none of the technology needed to capitalize on its resources.)

Oil is famously found in difficult, dysfunctional places — and oil may be the cause of those problems. The new finds of shale gas are not in traditional resource states. The largest deposits appear to be in China, with sizable ones also in Argentina, Mexico, Poland, Canada and Australia. The geopolitical ramifications of these deposits are many, but some things are clear: It will be a blessing for Poland to have its own secure energy source and not have to depend on the vagaries of the Kremlin.

The rise of shale gas is shaping up to be the biggest shift in energy in generations. And its consequences — economic and political — are profoundly beneficial to the United States.

Can the President Change Gasoline Prices? Ask Bill O'Reilly

Leonard Hamilton's Contract Situation at FSU

Leonard Hamilton earlier this month led the Florida State men's basketball team to its first Atlantic Coast Conference championship in school history, and the media named him ACC Coach of the Year for the second time in the past four seasons.
But Hamilton doesn't rank among the ACC's elite coaches when it comes to pay, according to a salary survey commissioned by USA Today.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Star Trek's George Takei Speaks at FSU

George Takei as Sulu on Star Trek.

His farewell at FSU Ruby Diamond Auditorium last night.

The last minute of his speech. Pronounce his name George Ta-KAY.

It was 7 o'clock last night and Lulu was in her office working on an online course - live. She was only 30 feet away from me - but when class is going on - no one is allowed to interrupt. All of a sudden I got an email from her saying - George Takei is speaking at FSU at 8.

I quickly showered and hopped on my scooter. I rushed into the auditorium to find the place crowded. I found a single seat in the sixth row - right in front of the podium. For the next 30 minutes I played with my iPhone listening to the students' conversation around me. At 8 - it was show time.

George Takei is famous for playing Sulu on Star Trek.

George was 5 years old when after the Pearl Harbor attack - all the Japanese-Americans from the west coast were herded into internment camps. He spent most of the war in a camp in the swamps of Arkansas. After the war he attended school in Los Angeles. He later got advanced degrees in acting at UCLA. He played several bit parts in movies and television before he got his big break on Star Trek.

I was an earth and space science teacher for 33 years - but never had interest in Star Trek. There were tons of Trekkies in my generation that enjoyed that stuff and took the TV show and movies very seriously.

After Star Trek - Takei became politically active - running for many local office in Southern California. For years - you did not hear much about him. Then in the 1990s - he went on The Howard Stern Radio Show. He became an activist for gay rights - coming out and eventually marrying his partner of 18 years. Howard loved his very distinct speaking voice and also his gay comedy. His career took off again.

100 nights a year he does speaking engagements with topics of prejudice - gay rights - and same sex marriage.

Last night George was very entertaining. He talked for 45 minutes of his time in the internment camp - his times on the show - racial discrimination - and finally gay issues. After that - he answered questions for 45 more minutes.

Tallahassee has a strong gay committee. The downstairs portion of Ruby Diamond Auditorium was packed with a strong delegation of the gay community included. Takei is a very good public speaker - enjoys making fun of himself - and humorously speaks about prejudice. He compares the way things were when he was a boy and how things are now.

Goerge Takei married his 18 year partner in California during the short period that the law allowed gay marriages there. There are 7 states where gay marriage is legal right now. California is no longer one of them.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Harry and Lulu Return to Disneyworld 40 Years Later

Harry and Lulu in front of the Haunted Mansion in Disneyworld. Coal Crackers like to say it is based on the Harry Packer Mansion in Jim Thorpe

During the Main Street parade this old gray headed guy enjoys a big drippy ice cream cone while he discusses a neat scooter chair with this proud owner

In EPCOT - there was a garden show featuring topiary - like these cars from Cars - Mater and Lightning McQueen.

My lovely princess where we danced until I turned into a toad

At Fort Wilderness my students used to enjoy this riding stable - so did son Drew

In Hollywood Studios - Woody is a big star

Tn the 1950's - Walt Disney was a leading proponent of space travel. Werner von Braun - the German scientist - used the Disney TV show to promote rocketry. Notice the thinly disguised Nazi V-2 rocket on display in a Disney museum.

In 1971 - Harry and Lulu eloped to Miami. They spent their first month of eternal bliss on the warm sandy beaches while planning their life together.

In 1972 - Harry and Lulu were celebrating their first wedding anniversary. They decided to relive their honeymoon in Miami. After spending the summer there working and attending both the Republican and Democratic conventions - they decided to visit Disneyworld for the very first time. It has just opened the previous fall - it was much smaller then - just the Magic Kingdom - a monorail - and two luxury hotels. They were driving a brand new 1972 Honda 600 sedan - the tiny 2 cylinder car without air conditioning. Imagine cruising down I-95 in 90 degree heat - no AC - and not much room either. It was capable of 50 miles per gallon and was able to get from Tamaqua to Miami on $8.00 of gasoline.

In 1972 - Disneyworld was like a dream. We pulled into the parking lot around 2PM and stayed until 11. Admission was less than $10 - that included a ticket booklet packed with ride tickets ranked from A to E. We only spent one day there - but were able to cover most of the attractions during that short time period. We spent that evening in Daytona - not at a hotel - they were out of our price range. We found an all night outdoor movie - admission was next to nothing - and we had a nice safe place to nap. As the sun rose at 6 AM - we headed north to Pennsylvania.

Fast forward to 2012. This weekend we enjoyed 3 days in 3 different Disney parks - EPCOT - the Magic Kingdom - and Hollywood Studios. We stayed in a Hilton Hotel right in Disney Village that Lulu found on Priceline. We are Florida residents now - and Disney offers locals a $99 three day pass. Now we are driving a Toyota Prius - it even beats the old Honda mileage - getting 55 miles per gallon. It is quite a bit more comfortable. We carry cell phones and laptop computers. like the first time - we are traveling alone.

Between that first trip in 1972 and today - we have made tons of trip to this magical place. Most of the trips were with my students and in my green bus. One time I even chartered a jet to fly 150 kids to Disneyworld for a day. I must have been more brave or more foolish - but to my surprise I never lost a kid. We stayed in cheap hotels - fancy hotels - camp grounds - and even at a friend's house. In 1980 - we moved to Orlando and stayed a whole year while Lulu earned her masters. That was so much fun - we did it again 8 years later when she worked on her doctorate. So you can see Disney and Florida has special meaning to our family.

Hopefully our next visit will include our kids again - and our grandkids. Disneyworld is for kids - it is just so much more fun showing it to others.

I am typing this from on the road - halfway between Orlando and Tallahassee. Lulu is a professor now at Florida State University. She has a class to teach tonight from 6 to 8. From where I sit - I can see her gabbing away - into her computer screen. I am sure the first thing she told her students was - guess where I am - on the way home from Disneyworld.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Friday, March 23, 2012

Keep You Eye on the Falcons Going By - One of My Favorites from the Past

1963 Ford Falcon Ranchero

Back in 1963 - almost 30 years out of high school - my Dad bought his very first NEW car. It was a light blue Ford Falcon wagon. I learned how to drive on that car and took my driver's test with it. Today I bought a 1963 Falcon - same color - but this one is a little pickup truck. It has an 800 pound payload rating.

I found this one of Craigslist about 70 miles east of Tallahassee. So Wednesday I drove the Prius over to see it. The owner is the electrical engineer for a small retirement community. He built the car for his son to take to college. The son needs money now more than a hot rod.

I would like to say that the truck is restored - but it is more of a hot rod. Instead of the little 100 horsepower six cylinder engine - there is a Mustang 302 V8 engine in it - pushing out 265 horsepower. The engine has a few chrome parts on it - it is connected to a top loader 4 speed transmission with a Hurst shifter. It has headers pushing dual exhaust through two Flowmaster mufflers.

The car rides smoothly and quietly on the highway. One forgets how it was to drive with no power steering - no power brakes - and no air conditioning. Do you remember the little movable vent windows? That was our air conditioning. The tires are new and the it has the little chrome baby moon hub caps and chrome trim rings on the wheels - this was before mag wheels.

The Everhart's owned 6 Falcons - 9 if you include the Mustangs and Mavericks - the same basic car with a different body. My Dad liked Fords and Falcons were cheap. One time Lulu and I bought a junker Mercury Comet wagon - it was simply a Falcon with chrome dash knobs. We never registered it and used to ride around the stripping roads between the deep holes. I remember pushing it over a cliff - only to have my friends Matt and Timmy shimmy down the edge to take the engine out and hoist it to the top. They then went to vo-tech school and rebuilt the engine and put it in Matt's car. We were all experts working on a Falcon 6.

I am not quite sure what I am going to do with it - I guess I can always run for lumber. Honestly - I will probably sell it when the vanity wears off.

Since it is 50 years old - I can put an antique plate on it.

The car cost $1898 new. Supposedly it is worth $9000 to $32,000 in the NADA book.

The seats are not stock - they used to come with a bench seat that sat three people across. They didn't have seat belts then - but the one does now.

The 1988 Mustang 302 V8 has been "cobra-ized" a bit. It has an electronic ignition - an Edelbrook carburetor - and bits of chrome here and there. It is amazing how few wires and hoses are under the hood. The engine bolted right into the old mounts - there seems to be plenty of room.

It has a new paint job on it - I did the magnet test all over the body and it is all metal.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

An Evening With Rick Steves at FSU Auditorium

This is a blurry iPhone picture of Rick Steves at FSU's Ruby Diamond Auditorium tonight. I was surprised the place was packed at $35 a head to the travel guru.

Lulu loves to watch Rick Steves as he travels thru Europe. He has become a conglomerate of travel products.

For three and half hours he kept the crowd happy with his travel banter and funny stories. He also had a message to give about travel - mainly if Americans traveled more - they would not be so uptight and frightened about the world.

His show is basically a slide show of people pictures as he travels through Europe. He also talked about packing and finding deals for hotels - food - and attractions.

It is so nice to go to a show and be home in 10 minutes.

Please Stop Apologizing


THIS week, Robert De Niro made a joke about first ladies, and Newt Gingrich said it was “inexcusable and the president should apologize for him.” Of course, if something is “inexcusable,” an apology doesn’t make any difference, but then again, neither does Newt Gingrich.

Mr. De Niro was speaking at a fund-raiser with the first lady, Michelle Obama. Here’s the joke: “Callista Gingrich. Karen Santorum. Ann Romney. Now do you really think our country is ready for a white first lady?”

The first lady’s press secretary declared the joke “inappropriate,” and Mr. De Niro said his remarks were “not meant to offend.” So, as these things go, even if the terrible damage can never be undone, at least the healing can begin. And we can move on to the next time we choose sides and pretend to be outraged about nothing.

When did we get it in our heads that we have the right to never hear anything we don’t like? In the last year, we’ve been shocked and appalled by the unbelievable insensitivity of Nike shoes, the Fighting Sioux, Hank Williams Jr., Cee Lo Green, Ashton Kutcher, Tracy Morgan, Don Imus, Kirk Cameron, Gilbert Gottfried, the Super Bowl halftime show and the ESPN guys who used the wrong cliché for Jeremy Lin after everyone else used all the others. Who can keep up?

This week, President Obama’s chief political strategist, David Axelrod, described Mitt Romney’s constant advertising barrage in Illinois as a “Mittzkrieg,” and instantly the Republican Jewish Coalition was outraged and called out Mr. Axelrod’s “Holocaust and Nazi imagery” as “disturbing.” Because the message of “Mittzkrieg” was clear: Kill all the Jews. Then the coalition demanded not only that Mr. Axelrod apologize immediately but also that Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz “publicly rebuke” him. For a pun! For punning against humanity!

The right side of America is mad at President Obama because he hugged the late Derrick Bell, a law professor who believed we live in a racist country, 22 years ago; the left side of America is mad at Rush Limbaugh for seemingly proving him right.

If it weren’t for throwing conniption fits, we wouldn’t get any exercise at all.

I have a better idea. Let’s have an amnesty — from the left and the right — on every made-up, fake, totally insincere, playacted hurt, insult, slight and affront. Let’s make this Sunday the National Day of No Outrage. One day a year when you will not find some tiny thing someone did or said and pretend you can barely continue functioning until they apologize.

If that doesn’t work, what about this: If you see or hear something you don’t like in the media, just go on with your life. Turn the page or flip the dial or pick up your roll of quarters and leave the booth.

The answer to whenever another human being annoys you is not “make them go away forever.” We need to learn to coexist, and it’s actually pretty easy to do. For example, I find Rush Limbaugh obnoxious, but I’ve been able to coexist comfortably with him for 20 years by using this simple method: I never listen to his program. The only time I hear him is when I’m at a stoplight next to a pickup truck.

When the lady at Costco gives you a free sample of its new ham pudding and you don’t like it, you spit it into a napkin and keep shopping. You don’t declare a holy war on ham.

I don’t want to live in a country where no one ever says anything that offends anyone. That’s why we have Canada. That’s not us. If we sand down our rough edges and drain all the color, emotion and spontaneity out of our discourse, we’ll end up with political candidates who never say anything but the safest, blandest, emptiest, most unctuous focus-grouped platitudes and cant. In other words, we’ll get Mitt Romney.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Jim Thorpe is Buried 15 Miles East of My Hometown - Tamaqua PA

From the Washington Post today.

PRAGUE, Okla. — Funerals, like weddings, can be messy family affairs. Not everything goes according to plan. Emotions run high. Even pleasant people can be tense.Few people who met Patsy Thorpe — third and most difficult spouse of Jim Thorpe, that primordial American athlete — accused her of being pleasant, in particular Thorpe’s children from previous marriages.So when she pulled up to her husband’s in-progress Native American funeral service at a farm near here on the

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Coda - A Very Interesting Electric Car - Made in America

Click on Coda in title to go to their web page

This is an interesting electric car for many reasons -

1. It looks normal.

2. Is cost $30k after federal rebate.

3. It has an honest range of 125 miles.

4. Battery temperature control system.

5. Seating 5.

6. Made in Los Angeles.

7. 10 year battery warranty.

8. Quick charge 220 volt system and slower charge 110 volt system.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Florida State Seminoles Arrive in Nashville for the NCAA Tournament Opener

Written by Jim Lamar of the Tallahassee Democrat

NASHVILLE — A traveling party that numbered 114 people and included members of the Seminole Sound band and the Golden Girls made it obvious that this was no ordinary road trip.

But the Florida State men's basketball team did everything possible to make sure the 70-minute, non-stop flight to Nashville did nothing to distract from the business at hand.

From the comfort of their first-class seats on the Delta-chartered airplane, players slept or watched movies on their various portable electronic devices. (Senior guard Luke Loucks used the 70 minutes of free time to complete an essay for his "Sport in Media" class that is due this morning.) FSU coaches sat 20 rows behind the players — buffered by student assistants and team managers, support staff, administrators and a handful of boosters — watching game film of St. Bonaventure on their laptop computers. At one point, FSU coach Leonard Hamilton leaned across the aisle to grab assistant coach Corey Williams and say, "These guys are good."

Even as the group arrived in Nashville and headed directly to the Downtown Sheraton hotel — just a block or two away from the strip of bars and "honkey tonks" that helped earn the nickname "Music City" — players and coaches continued to keep their focus on the business end of this trip.

"It's a little bit different flying with the band and the media and the Golden Girls," Loucks said. "It's usually just the team and the support staff. Obviously there is a little more excitement in the air. But I think all of us guys are focused in that this is a business trip and we're here for a basketball game."

That basketball game tips off at approximately 2:45 p.m. on Friday, leaving the team a chance to absorb some of the Nashville atmosphere. A short break at the hotel gave players enough time to freshen up for a team meal at a restaurant in the downtown area that specializes in "Southern and country" cooking.

Afterward, the team returned to the hotel to continue mental preparations for Friday's game. A film session was scheduled as was a review of scouting reports.

That helped snap the players back into work mode, especially after a wild two days that followed the victory over North Carolina that clinched FSU's first ACC championship.

"With the veterans we have on this team, everyone knows what to expect in this tournament," Loucks said. "We'll be focused and ready to play."

Finding that focus hasn't exactly been the easiest of tasks the last few days. More than 100 fans showed for a special send-off celebration for the players and coaches on Wednesday and the buzz on campus has been even stronger.

"It's been crazy," senior guard Deividas Dulkys said. "We're trying to refocus. There is a lot of excitement still around campus. Everybody keeps talking about it. But you go to practice and try to stay focused and remember the task is to win more games."

FSU players will take part in an open practice session today at Bridgestone Arena, the site of Friday's game, from 2:15-2:55 p.m.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Florida State Wins the ACC Basketball Crown - We Were There

Click lower right corner to enlarge video

This is the final play of the game and the party afterwards

This is the presentation of the trophy.

As we were jumping up and down behind FSU's bench - confetti and streamers falling all over - yeah FSU is the ACC champion - but we still have to drive 5 hours to get home. It reminded me so much of our trip to the Orange Bowl in 1994 when FSU won the Football National Championship. Even though we had great seats for cheap - we still had to drive 24 hours home to Pennsylvania.

Honestly - when we left Tallahassee Thursday morning - I never expected to win the championship. In the next three days - the Noles had to play Miami - Duke - and North Carolina. The championship always has to go down Tobacco Road. Things always have to be in their favor. The Seminoles are a bunch of misfit toys. They would have to beat National Champion Carolina and National Champion Duke - two teams filled with blue chipper athletes - choosing the easiest path to the NBA.

So when Lulu insist that "we be there" - I decided to make the most of it. I could enjoy the trip in my "new" Prius - visit a few brown sign historic sites - stay in a fancy hotel - and spend some time with Lulu's brother. The weather in Atlanta can't be that much worse than Tallahassee.

The sun shone brightly on the Georgia Capitol Dome and the Seminoles on Sunday.

On the way up - we decided to take the back roads of Georgia to see Jimmy' Carter's Plains home and Franklin Roosevelt's Warm Springs retreat. The Prius pleased us with 55.5 miles per gallon - but the best part of the car is its silence. You can talk at a normal speaking voice and not be drowned out by engine or tire noise. The weather was fantastic - 70 degrees and sunny all the way - great for walking around the two quaint little isolated tourist venues. We had the places to ourselves and your mind can wander back to those historic times when presidents spent lots of time among the people.

We arrived in Atlanta to a very nice hotel suite - downtown - an easy walk from all the action. We parked the car in the underground lot - and never saw it again until it was time to go home.

Lulu and I had a quiet walk through Olympic Park right before tipoff. Just on the other side of the CNN building was an arena packed with 20,000 fans - mostly Tar Heels.

The Seminoles first game was against a good Miami team that had just beaten them a week ago by about 10 points. On a neutral court it was a toss-up. Lulu found cheap - though high - seats on Craigslist for $22 each. After sitting there for 5 minutes - we decide to find some lower closer seats. We settled into some seats at half court behind some guy from Virginia Tech that looked and acted like Larry David from the "Larry David Show." The whole first half he whined on about what a horrible coach Leonard Hamilton was. I had promised Lulu I would NOT hit anyone on the trip - even if he was an old bald bespectacled Hebrew - so I shut up. He left before Hamilton's FSU team trampled Miami - the team that eliminated his Hokies. One down and two to go. We realized that FSU would have to beat Duke and Carolina within 24 hours to win this tournament. Hopeless I thought.

It was around midnight when we got back to the suite. We were all so tired and drained - we fell asleep immediately. Jackie and Tami had the living room - we had the bedroom in this old hotel. We had windows on two sides in our corner room - but the windows were painted shut - to prevent any Carolina fans from jumping out.

Saturday morning - we had a nice breakfast - and had plenty of time to kill before the evening games. Lulu and Jackie decided to go to an early game - I guess to scout out the opponents. While they were at the game - I got an email from an FSU friend - a very good friend. He said he had two spare tickets in the FSU session for the rest of the games. He would leave them at the "will call" window for me - FREE. Since the tickets had $90 face value - it quickly added up to a $360 savings. This trip was now making more sense to me - $$$$$. Maybe I shouldn't tell Lulu about the tickets and just sell them.

Yes - FSU beat Duke - unexpectedly. As we crawled into bed after a late supper of Varsity chili hot dogs - chili hamburgers - onion rings - french fires - and orange soda - visions of possibly winning this thing appeared in our heads. We all slept well - and were up early. The breakfast room in our hotel was packed. We decided to do a little needling of the Miami fans that were giving us crap two days ago. These are the guys that told us Bernard James's kick looked a little wide right. They would spend the rest of the weekend and their money watching all the other schools play.

On every trip we go - Lulu likes to visit a library. this was across the street from our hotel.

A note about tickets. All tickets are sold in booklets of 6 tickets that cost about $300 - $600 depending on the seat location. It seems that Duke and North Carolina are given favored treatment because most of the fans were from those two schools and had the best seats. The sidelines were mostly people wearing blue - the redheaded step children wore their colors in the end zones. That was okay because when Duke and North Carolina were losing to the Seminoles - it was very easy to identify their blue backs as they left the arena early. None of them wanted to stick around and join in any reindeer games with Rudolph when it was all over.

The big game was set for Sunday at 1 PM. Jacki and Tami had left for home - she had to work the next morning early. We had a pair of fantastic tickets in hand. We took a nice quiet walk through the Olympic Park and had the place to ourselves - a little picnic snack before the big one. At game time - we walked to our seats - nice - but in the end zone - second level. The game started and FSU built a small lead. We noticed 6 seats right behind the bench - surely they needed our support. We bolted. What was nice about the arena is that no ushers were challenging seat snipers. You were able to sit in a vacant seat - if the person came with a ticket you got out. By the time we got down by the FSU bench - 4 of the 6 seats that were empty were gone. But right in the middle of the player's families and girlfriends - there were two empty ones. We excused ourselves and moved in like we belonged. We had bright FSU shirts on and Lulu even had her giant flag. We sat down - took pictures and enjoyed the action. We were in with the "in" crowd.

This picture shows our view from the seats behind the bench. Just to the left of Bernard James's shoulder you see our friend Brandon Mellor. He is wearing the garnet and gold shirt - covering the game. You can read his take on

The place was filled with about 90% Carolina fans - maybe 3% Seminoles - and the rest cheering against the Tar Heels - Dukie fans in street clothes. The Duke fans quietly admitted they were happy to lose to FSU yesterday so they would not lose to Carolina today. They reluctantly cheered for the Noles that beat them twice this year. The deck was really stacked against the Noles.

As the game wore on and FSU built a 13 point lead - the Carolina fans sat on their hands. Could it be possible that this team of misfit toys could beat the 10 NBA lottery draft picks on the Tar Heel Team? Nah - they were just saving their energy for the final stretch when FSU would crumble. Surely they owed the Noles something for embarrassing them by 33 points in Tallahassee. That could never happen again.

Near the end Carolina had a rally - the fans had plenty of energy saved up and they really rocked the arena. The FSU Golden Girls seemed to help stave off the onslaught. But the hearts of the FSU Renegades did not crumble. They got the rebounds - hit the foul shots - and were not denied. When the smoke cleared - and the streamers and confetti fell from the sky - the Noles were the REAL ACC Champions. For the first time since they joined the premier basketball conference 20 years ago - they were wearing the basketball crown.

The baby blue fans were out of the arena in an instant - all that was left was a rag tag band of FSU fans and a few ACC officials that begrudgedly stuck around to hand out awards - their work done for another year of living off the sweat of these young men that ended up with a hat and a t-shirt.

There is always hope - but with 6 seniors - and only one McDonald's All-American on the team - I doubt that Leonard Hamilton will adjust the headband on the crown. Duke or Carolina will probably get it back next year when they move the tournament to their backyard in Greensboro. Life will go in Tallahassee.

Walking to the game - Lulu is posed before our Residence Inn hotel. Our windows are on the 13th floor - good luck for the Seminoles.

For one shining moment - the Florida State Seminole sits on the throne of basketball's most storied conference. Dick Vitale and the other talking heads have already been making excuses - how Duke and Carolina have bigger fish to fry down the NCAA road. Surely the wheels will turn and nature will arrange things in the proper order and the Noles will go back to playing to an empty house in Tallahassee. Or will they?

Me - I'll be waiting for an ACC Championship ring to appear on ebay.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Sitting Behind Seminoles Bench for the Big Game

Florida State in the ACC Championship Game

It is a little tiring hearing about how Florida State is a football school. The fans of Duke and Carolina are used to having everything their way. They get the best seats in the arena - they get to pick the city where we play - it seems they get to pick the best restaurants - hotel - decorations - cars - and bling. They do not like some little upstart basketball program from "the land of the misfit toys" to come to town and challenge their supremacy.

It is tiring to hear Dick Vital and the rest of the talking heads going on about the 20 or so McDonald All-Americans wearing Tar Heel and Devil blue.

Back when FSU was 9-6 after getting pounded at Clemson - everyone was ready to leave the sinking ship. The race baiters had a chance to pick on Coach Leonard Hamilton because his six senior team had not gelled into the fighting force that it became later. When the Noles beat North Carolina in Tallahassee - they loved calling it a fluke. Then when the Noles went to Duke and won the game at the buzzer - it was just luck. But things have changed.

Leonard Hamilton has molded a determined force in his own image. Leonard raised himself up from a dirt farm with grit. He got his degree through basketball - was a player - and even spent some time in the NBA. He has been named Coach of the Year in both the Big East and the ACC. He finds players in the strangest places - Lithuania - the Air Force - Tallahassee Community College - and even gets some after they graduate from other colleges.

This team has been a a joy to watch. 6 seniors are going to graduate on time - they are in the swan song of their basketball career. Some of them hit hard times - like the a high school dropout - the one that spent some time in prison- the two that played at other colleges - the Air Force veteran and war hero - and several others that are too short or too light to play in the big leagues.

The announcers will go on about the Dukies and Tar Heels that will go first in the NBA draft. They will complain when the FSU fans storm the court and knock over their microphones. They will talk about how FSU fans are only concerned about Wide Right. The scalpers are complaining that tickets that would bring $300 for a Duke/Carolina Championship will only bring $100 to see the Cinderella Noles.

Lulu has had this hotel room for two months. She was hoping her sons could get here to enjoy the championship with her. It would have been very easy to sit at home and watch the action on our big Sony with its Directv DVR. But we stayed the course - the like our Seminoles. Brother Jackie from Virginia made the 6 hour drive to share the joy. But Lulu has her hotel room key in one hand and her Florida State Flag in the other.

On Friday we took crap from Miami fans. They said Bernard James's kick was a little "wide right." Then we had to watch the game from the end zone because the prime seats were filled with fans in blue along the sidelines. But as the final buzzer went off - half of those blue shirts were in their cars going up I-85. Those left in the light blue are very uneasy.

Carolina hopes to avenge the 33 point loss they suffered in Tallahassee on national television. Coach Roy Williams abandoned his team on the court as he rushed off to save his own embarrassment - before Coach Hamilton reminded him - "Coach ---your team."

Through all of this - Coach Hamilton has been a model of class and dignity. He has been a role model for his team and all the other teams and fans at FSU.

Carolina has all the weapons to clobber FSU today at 1 PM. We will be in our end zone seats - hoping to witness something special. 5 or 6 of these Tar Heels will end up in the NBA. We are hoping to side track them for one day - just like the 5 or 6 Dukies that will make millions in the NBA. We are just hoping they will be hanging one less banner in the Dean Dome and the Seminoles will be wearing their ACC Championship rings for the rest of their lives.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Empty Section Next to Us

Our Comp Tickets For Today - 200 Level - FSU Section

We Are Staying in the Rhodes-Haverty Building in Atlanta

The Residence Inn Atlanta Downtown is a 21-story hotel tower occupying the former Rhodes-Haverty Building at 134 Peachtree Street NW and Williams Street in the Fairlie-Poplar historic district of downtown Atlanta, Georgia. The building was designed by Atlanta architects Pringle and Smith. At the time of its construction in 1929, it was the tallest building in the city, and remained so until 1954.

The building and the district are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Lulu booked it because it was close to the Arena - it has free wifi - free breakfast - and free happy hour.

Free Tickets for the Rest of the ACC Tournament

A good friend who works for FSU just emailed to say he has two extra free tickets for the rest of the games. The seats are in the FSU section. He is leaving the tickets at the Will Call Window for us.

We are really happy because today's tickets are going for high prices because both Duke and UNC are playing in the double header. First game - NCSU versus UNC. Second game - Duke versus FSU.

Tomorrow's championship game will be between the winners of today's games. Then we drive home.

Friday, March 09, 2012

We Moved Downstairs to Here

Halftime duke 31. Vt 26

Added later -

Duke won the first game - FSU won the second game by 10. they play each other tomorrow. The winner of that game is in the championship - probably playing Carolina on Sunday.

20 Minute To Dukies Game

That is the Dumies down there

More News From Atlanta and the ACC Tournament

I took this picture last night from our seats for the VATech and the Miami games. They both advanced to play today. We bought those seats for $15 each - face value $43 each. In advance tickets for the whole tournament is $250. It includes a ticket for each of the 6 sessions. If your team loses the first day - you are stuck with all those extra tickets.

This is the Georgia State Capitol from our suite at the Residence Inn on the Peachtree Plaza. It was just raining but now the sun broke thru. We are about 4 blocks from the arena and the Olympic Park.

Lulu scored 4 cheap tickets for tonight. Duke plays VT and FSU plays Miami. She found the tickets on Craigslist. We had to ride 7 miles north on the subway to pick them up at Lenox Square Mall. She got 4 seats together - up high - for $22 each - face value on them is $60 each. Since Jackie and Tami are coming - we wanted 4 safety seats together. We will try later for better seats - and sell these if we are successful. Then she spent her "savings" on two new pair of shoes.

These two guys were commenting on the game down in front of us.

Lulu just texted me to say she got into the Carolina game for $10 - then moved down behind the bench because no one is checking.

Lulu Lands 4 Tickets for FSU and Duke Games Today

We are at Lenox mall. Nancy landed 4 tickets together. Front row. For session 4. Both the Duke and FSU games. She got them for $22 each. They are $60 face value. Front row but upper deck! Scalpers were asking $150 each last night for them. We can always move down or sell them if we get better tix. Jackie and Tami are coming - Jackie is LuLu's brother.

Lulu Just Hooked 4 Tickets for Duke and FSU Games Tonight

We are on our way to pick up tickets. Scalpers were asking $150 each for tickets to tonight's double header with Duke and FSU playing two games.

She landed 4 tickets for a total of $90. They are the worst in the house - way up -but at least they will be a good safety ticket. Jackie and Tami are coming fromVirginia. We will sell them if we get better tickets.

We must take the subway out to a mall to pick them up.

Bernard James - Wide Right

At the ACC Tournament - a Miami fan told me that Bernard James should try out for the FSU football team. His kick appeared a little wide right.