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Monday, December 31, 2012

$20 Billion of Pennsylvania's Teachers' Pensions Unfunded

The Pennsylvania Teacher's Pension Plan

From the Wilkes-Barre Times-Leader - 

When it comes to teacher pensions, Pennsylvania has the fourth largest unfunded pension liability in the nation, according to a recent report that argues the pension systems in most states are not only unfair to taxpayers, they also are unfair to teachers.

The National Council on Teacher Quality compared pension plans in all 50 states, looking at unfunded liabilities and other factors. Nationwide, the report estimates teacher pensions systems have almost $325 billion in unfunded liabilities. Pennsylvania makes up slightly more than 6 percent of that total, with an unfunded liability of $19.7 billion – equal to $1,563 for every man, woman and child in the state.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Merry Christmas from the Florida State Capitol

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Santa Left Two Cameras At The Everhart House

Sony RX-100 - the Most Advanced Pocket Camera

I must have been a pretty good boy - because Santa left a remarkably large piece of coal in my stocking. It is a black Sony RX100 camera. It is supposed to be the most advanced compact camera on the market. It takes pictures that rival the much larger DSLR cameras. It has a large lens and an even more impressive one inch sensor inside. Add to that a giant rear screen and an endless amount of programming features - I am looking forward to highlighting this web page with many interesting and different effects.

Since America is now buying more phones with cameras in them than other cameras combined - many people are settling for lower quality pictures in the name on convenience. This camera bucks that trend. Of course I would love all the features of the $5000 cameras that photographers carry on the sidelines at sporting events - but unless I have something that can fits in my pocket - I seldom bother to carry it. 

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Only in Tamaqua - Kid Arrested For Finger Pointing

Bradley's Country Store - Two Hot Rods

About 10 miles northeast of town is Bradley's Country Store. They make the most fabulous smoked sausage on site. Here I am sitting on the old wooden front porch enjoying a foot long smoke sausage and a 1955 Chevrolet station wagon. The sausage was all original - the wagon had a Corvette 350 engine in it.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Florida State to Play in Dallas Cowboys Stadium in 2014

ESPN and the Dallas Cowboys have tabbed Florida State and Oklahoma State for the 2014 Cowboys Classic and announced an extension of their agreement to bring a top college football game to the club's Cowboys Stadium on Labor Day weekend through 2024. The Seminoles and Cowboys will meet in prime time on Saturday, Aug. 30 in Arlington, Texas.
"We are pleased to be playing Oklahoma State and with the exposure the game will provide our program and our university," said Florida State Director of Athletics Randy Spetman. "I know that our fans will be excited about visiting Texas Stadium and the Dallas area. It is a football venue that is second to none.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

On This Day in 1907 - 239 Pennsylvania Coal Miners Killed in a Mine Explosion

The Worst Month in USA Coal Mining History

A coal mine explosion in Jacobs Creek, Pennsylvania, kills 239 workers on this day in 1907. Only one worker in the deep mine at the time survived the tragedy.
The Pittsburgh Coal Company set up the Darr mine on the side of a mountain near the Youghiogheny River. The mine was almost two miles deep and six workers at a time--most of whom were immigrants--would ride a wood bucket back and forth from the surface.
At about 11:30 on the morning of December 19, 240 workers were below the surface when a huge explosion rocked the mine. It was so powerful that homes in Jacobs Creek rattled and windows shattered. Thick black smoke poured out of the mine before the entrance collapsed. Mrs. John Campbell reported her observation, "My husband was about due for his dinner when the loud report came and I looked out the back door toward the mine. Instead of my husband, I saw a great cloud of dust and smoke pouring out of the mouth of the mine. It floated upward and disappeared across the river."
Joseph Mapleton, who was near a side entryway to the mine when the explosion occurred, was the sole survivor of the disaster. The victims died from a variety of causes: Some were crushed to death from the collapse of the mine, others suffocated and the remainder was killed in the blast itself. The precise cause of the explosion was never determined, but most coal-mine blasts are set off when a pocket of gas is accidentally ignited. Prior to the disaster, there was much talk among the miners about the prevalence of gas pockets in the Darr mine.

An inquiry carried out after the disaster determined that the blast was the result of miners carrying open lamps in an area cordoned off the previous day by the fire boss. The mine’s owner, the Pittsburgh Coal Company was not held responsible but abandoned the use of open lamps after the disaster.

-From This Day in History

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Lulu and I Spent the Weekend at the Beach and Delivering the Honda Scooter to Its New Owner

The Honda 150 Scooter at its new home in Gulf Breeze FL.

Fred is the new owner of our 2010 Honda SH150i Scooter.

Fred and Janna came to Tallahassee last week and bought my Honda Scooter. They could not put it in their vehicle - so I volunteered to deliver it to for them - for a fee. They were very trusting because they paid me cash and left the scooter behind.

So Saturday - Lulu and I pulled out of Tallahassee at 9 AM - in Lulu's beach buggy van - pulling a trailer with the scooter strapped to the back. It was the first time we had the van on a long trip - it totaled 440 miles. 

FSU Lady Seminoles are 8-1 on the Baketball Court

Leonore Rodriguez

Alexis Deluzio

On Saturday evening the Seminoles cruised past Grambling State with a 96-60 victory. The No. 23 Seminoles are 8-1 on the year and remain undefeated at home 5-0. The squad used a 33-point explosion in the first seven minutes and 18 seconds of the second half to power them through to victory. Alexa Deluzio reached double figures for the sixth-consecutive game, scoring 23 points. It marked the 10th time in her career and second this season that she put up 20 or more points in a game. Two Seminoles recorded double-doubles as senior Chelsea Davis scored 16 points and snatched 11 boards while junior Natasha Howard had 14 points and 10 rebounds. For Davis, it's the second double-double of her career, while Howard recorded her 17th.

Tallahassee Home Wins Good Morning America Decorating Prize

Home in Southwood Wins Contest (last year's video)

The home of Derek and Courtney Whitis in SouthWood, which has been drawing spectators to its colorful and musical light display for weeks, has won the Good Morning America Big Bright Holiday Lights showdown contest.

Selected from three national finalists, the best house was determined by votes on the show's mobile app and Facebook page.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Christmas Lights and Cannoli Tour

They are on a bus for the Brooklyn lights tour.  Christmas lights and cannoli. For all I know - they could be on the bus to Atlantic City.

Cousins Lulu and Ruthann - Supper in the Big Apple

Lulu and Cousins Burn Up New York

Yesterday "the Cousins 4" took the ferry to Staten Island - I am not sure why - except maybe that it is free. This picture came from Lulu's phone about 7 PM last night.

She says the weather in New York City is about 45 and sunny. That is much better than the weather here in Tallahassee - 50 degrees - overcast - dark - dank - with an 8 MPH cold breeze. I refuse to dress and go out  :-)

I hope it warms up here for the holidays - "the Everhart 8" will be here.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Scientists May Have Finally Unlocked Puzzle of Why People Are Gay

Gay Couples Line up In Seattle to Get Married

Lesbians get it from fathers, gay men from mothers?

Take A Video Tour of the Space Station With Sunny Williams

Sunny Williams is a world record holding astronaut. Really most of her records were set out of this world. Click on the caption above to see the tour.

Lulu Is In New York City For 4 Days

Ruth Ann - Kathy - Lulu - Georgianne - Last Christmas

Lulu had to go to New York and New Jersey to visit some libraries. She likes to go north particularly around Christmas time. She gets to experience some cold weather and the pretty decorations of the holiday season. 

After a few days of work - her 3 cousins - Ruthann - Kathy - and Georgianne - join her and do the town together for the weekend.

A neat feature for me - I can follow along on the activity by way of the American Express Card. Every time Lulu spends some money on the card - I get a copy of the bill on my computer. Right now it is less than 10 minutes since she got into her rental car to visit a school library in New Jersey. Here is the bill.

American Express - Don't Leave Home Without It.

Lulu is an Avis preferred customer. When she rents a car - there is no wait nor any paper work to fill out. They leave the keys in the car for her - she just hops in and takes off.

Looks like she got a Jeep to fight the winter highways.

This Electric Car Got 400 Miles On A Charge

Check out this story about an electric car that went 400 miles on a charge -

Model S Owner Tops 423 Miles on a Single Charge

By Zach McDonald · December 11, 2012
Model S Record Holders
David Metcalf and his son Adam are the first to drive a Tesla Model S more than 400 miles on a single charge.
A University of Central Florida researcher and his 12-year old son have become the first ever to pilot a production electric vehicle over the 400-mile mark on a single charge. David Metcalf and his son Adam achieved the feat this weekend after a 423.5-mile journey through Florida lasting nearly 17 hours.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

FSU Volleyball Seniors Played Last Match

Internet Speed Test - Comcast offers 30MBPS for $70 A Month

Do you have good internet service? Does it take downloads forever to show up. Does you email go out fast?

In 1985 - Lulu wrote a grant to sent up email service to her school. We started out with dial-up phone service. You used to hook your computer to the phone line with a modem - it took pictures forever to download. I remember our first modem being a 300 BPS speed (Bytes Per Second)

Then in 1990 - I got a grant for my school to be able to send Mac Computers home with kids in shoulder bags with a small 1200 BPS modem. Students could dial into my school computer and exchange email and download files.

Around 1995 - we got our first cable modem and were able to get "lightning" speed Internet access from Prolog - a division of Service Electric Cable in Pennsylvania.

When we arrived in Tallahassee - they offered free wi-fi Internet service if you were close to the Capitol. At home - we bought Comcast Cable Internet for $60 a month. Last month we decided to upgrade our service. For an extra $10 - our service went from 15 MBPS (megabytes per second) to 30 MBPS. 

Every now and then I do a speed test to see if my provider is giving me what I pay for. In the speed test above - you can see that I am getting 35 MBPS download speed and 6 MBPS upload speed. They are delivering a faster speed than I am paying for. To be able to use that speed - I had to buy a new modem that has 3.0 settings.

My Old School - Panther Valley - Without Teachers Contract

Panther Valley High School - Summit Hill PA

From 1970 to 2003 - I was a science teacher in the Panther Valley School District. Pennsylvania had just given teachers the right to unionize - negotiate contracts - and strike. Memories fade - but for most of the years that I remember - the union had 100% membership. I had participated in a few strikes to bring about contract settlements. I remember one strike around 1985 - last about 50 days. Even holding classes on Thanksgiving and New Years Day - we were not able to make up all the days before the drop deadline established by the state. Teachers were able to strike whenever they wanted without warning. Later - the state required teachers to give the district 24 hours notice. Finally - the law was weakened to limiting the strike length to a time when strike days could be made up before June 30th.

In a few strikes - it was hard separating my loyalties. In Tamaqua - my hometown - I was on the board of education - sometimes serving as president. In Panther Valley - I was walking the picket line and running the gauntlet of unhappy taxpayers after union meetings.

Under the old rules - teachers were able to win competitive wages - excellent medical insurance coverage - college credit reimbursement - and only dismissal for "just cause" as determined by an arbitrator.

With the current economic depression/recession - negotiations have calcified. The bargaining has been submitted to a fact finder. 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Talking Bout My Girls - 2012 FSU Volleyball

2012 FSU Volleyball Team  28 Wins 4 Losses.

FSU Volleyball finished with a 28-4 record - 18-2 in the ACC. They also won every regular season game at home. Last year the girls made it to the final 4 - this year not so far - they beat Hofstra in the first round and lost to Purdue in the second.

Two Cool House Movers

Stone's Home Movers literally move homes.

Today while driving to work - Lulu saw some guys about to move a house over by FAMU. She sent a text mail to me saying I might want to see the move. Little did I know what I was in for.

Stone Home Movers was moving this house today over by FAMU.

Johnny Stone has been moving houses for 40 years.

I met Johnny Stone. He has lived in Sneads all his life in his boyhood home. He and Paula and son JP own Stones Home Movers. I asked Johnny if he wanted to move a house for me - he said, "Let's go see it." In a minute we were at the brick house. Like everyone else - Johnny complimented me on the beautiful lot. We discussed where we would move it. He crawled under the house to see the supports. He said nothing is easy in the house moving business - but this was a very straightforward job - lift - turn - build foundation - drop.

Paula handles the paperwork.

I told Johnny about Lulu and how she is much younger than me. Johnny chuckled as he said he had one even younger. Then I met Paula. They showed me a scrapbook of buildings they have moved. Compared to some of these - our brick house is little. 

Tomorrow Johnny is going to give me a bid. I hope it fits in our budget. I hope it can justify keeping Ray's old house in one piece. 

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Seminole Beat The Maine Black Bears 91-59

Lulu and I went to the Sunday 4 PM contest between FSU and Maine. I guess the odd start time was caused by ESPNU carrying the game on TV. We left home at 3:25 because we did not have any tickets. Standing outside with ticket fingers in the air - it is hard to believe it is a December day. It was sunny and in the mid 70s. Few people were coming to the game because it was too nice to spend the day inside. 

Someone told me that parking is difficult around the Civic Center even on "light" games. They have a giant lot - but it is reserved for boosters. The lot was nearly empty - but they were turning away paying customers. In 2004 - when we moved here - FSU issued Lulu a parking card. You use it to get into lots reserved for faculty. There is a lot by the law school across the street where we usually park when we take the car. It has maybe 50 spots - usually there is room if we show up 10 minutes before tipoff. I did not realize how valuable that pass is. When we drive the scooter - they allow us to park at the bike rack by the Civic Center - free.

Someone gave me 1 free ticket - I gave it to Lulu and she went inside. About 5 minutes later - a nice couple gave me a free pair of tickets. No - I did not sell the extra ticket. I went inside - and Lulu was sitting in the middle of an empty section at half court. For the whole game we had 3 empty rows to ourselves. We were in our seats with 18 minutes until tipoff.

The Noles came out sluggish - but by halftime they were up 20. In the second half - Coach Hamilton emptied the bench. 

It is hard to believe this is the same team that won the ACC Championship last year by beating Clemson - Duke - and North Carolina in 3 straight days. We lost 5 seniors that got lots of playing time - but they did all graduate. We have recruited several blue chippers - but it is going to take time. The Noles are 5 - 4 now - winning some games over tough talent - then losing to South Alabama and Mercer College. 

One interesting player is Boris Bojanovsky. He is a freshman from Serbia that is 7-3. I like to call him Bojangles - he does dance - has great footwork for 7-3. He has a nice skyhook too. We get quite a few athletes from Serbia - it seems like half the volleyball team is from there. Maine also has 7 players from overseas - although some are just across the border in Canada.

Honda 150 Sold Yesterday

Yesterday I sold this 2010 Honda SH150i Scooter. The buyer came all the way from Pensacola to see it - 200 miles away. He took it for one ride - and started counting out the cash. The scooter has 1085 miles on it.

We have two scooters - the Honda and a Vespa. Lulu likes the Vespa better - easier to stand up - easier to handle - for her.

Notice the tile floor in our garage. We did that about 4 years ago. My buddy George Dawson teases that I did it to make a sales showroom for Craigslist stuff.

Saturday, December 08, 2012

The True Meaning of Hanukkah

Have a Happy FSU Hanukkah!


WHEN my brother was in kindergarten, where he was the only Jewish student, a parent organizing enrichment activities asked my mother to tell the class the story of Hanukkah. My mother obligingly brought in a picture book and began to read about foreign conquerors who were not letting Jews in ancient Israel worship freely, even defiling their temple, until a scrappy group led by the Maccabee family overthrew one of the most powerful armies in the world and won their liberty.
The woman was horrified.

Friday, December 07, 2012

Cimarron - FSU's New Mascot

Let's hope the NCAA does not get mad at FSU again. You may re-call a few years back the NCAA tried to stop Florida State from using the nickname "Seminoles." They said it was disrespectful to American Indians - you know the Native Americans that we gave the misnomer "Indians" because we claimed they were from India.

All the other teams that had Indian names - changed them to something else - like the Redmen from St Johns became the Red Storm - whatever that means.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Old Tamaqua Bank Gets Restored Clock

The First National Bank on Broad Street in Tamaqua was where I opened my first savings account in 1956. Every time you would deposit some money - they would write it in your bank book. Every 3 months they would add some interest. When I opened the account - the banker took me in the safe - and let me hold $5000. That was enough for 3 new cars then. The vault also had a movement sensitive alarm - sort of like the clapper. The banker clapped his hands and the alarm sounded

The bank turned into the Miners National Bank and then closed. It is now the headquarters of the Tamaqua Historical Society.

Don Serfass took this picture today at 4 PM of the restored old clock. Here is his caption.

The working, chiming, musical, illuminated stained glass & bronze 1911 Tamaqua First Nat'l. Bank clock was unveiled just about 4 p.m. Thurs. Dec. 6 2012.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Installed New Batteries In My Golf Cart

The new batteries are Trojan T1275's. Each one holds 250 amp hours. There are 4 - 12 volts batteries in a series to run the 48 volt motor.

Golf Carts are like the little electric cars you used to get for Christmas. They have an electric motor - a speed controller - and batteries. When your Christmas presents said "batteries not included" on the box - it was usually 4D batteries required.

I wanted an electric car - but could not justify $40,000. So this golf cart is a poor man's electric vehicle. I do not consider our Prius to be electric because it also has a gasoline engine that charges the batteries. This cart is very quiet - no exhaust - no need to fill the tank - just plug it in.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Does Northern Illinois (12-1) Deserve the Orange Bowl - Does Wisconsin (8-5) Deserve the Rose Bowl

Jordan Lynch QB - rushed for 1771 yards and 19 touchdowns. He has also passed for 2962 yards and 23 touchdowns.
For teams like Northern Illinois, so much has changed in the last decade when it comes to the respect of mid-major teams.
The Huskies (12-1) have surprised many college football fans and have found themselves in the Orange Bowl on New Year's Day to face Florida State.
Growing up in nearby Sterling, I remember the last time NIU was in the BCS discussion.
Harry says - In my opinion - all the teams knew the rules. NIU did not break a rule. It is nice to spread the money around. It will certainly create interest. After all - the 4 major bowls are just beauty contests now. Only the Notre Dame/Alabama game means anything at all. The rest are just money for the big wigs. 

Sunday, December 02, 2012

FSU to Play Northern Illinois University in the Orange Bowl

Moving on up - to the big time - we finally got a piece of the pie. MAC Conference schools are all cheering about splitting a BCS Orange Bowl paycheck.

North Illinois is 12-1 - losing only to Iowa. They are currently a 7 point underdog in the Orange Bowl to FSU. The Seminole have stunk against the mob's point spread - their record is 11-2 - but against the point spread they are like 2-11.

The Orange Bowl will be played in Miami Gardens on Jan 1st. The Everhart 8 will be watching it on TV together in Tallahassee.

The whole country will be cheering against the Noles in this game. Fans will be rooting for David to beat Goliath.

FSU Is Playing Mercer College Today - the Noles Lost

We got these seats for $5 each outside. We are just across from visitors bench.

Added later - Mercer College beat FSU 61-56.

FSU is 4-3 - lost 3 home games this year - more than they lost all of last season. It is unusual for a team to win 4 on the road and lose 3 at home. Watch out - number 7 Florida Gators come to town Wednesday.

Florida State Crowned ACC Football Champions

Stubhub is a good gauge of how important a football game is. Look at the prices that tickets to the championship games of the SEC and ACC were drawing.

Some of the people in Tallahassee were at Tully Gym watching the FSU volleyball team get eliminated in the NCAA playoff. More of them were downtown for the Winter Festival and Parade. The rest of us were at home watching their beloved Seminoles on television playing the 6-6 George Tech team for the ACC championship.  Very few made the 8 hours drive north to Charlotte to see the football game. The stadium appeared half full on the big screen.

Lulu's brother Jackie was there. He drove 2 hours from his home in Virginia because it was a cheap date. He was able to get 2 VIP tickets - a parking pass - and a Renaissance suite within walking distance of the stadium for under $100. He kept beckoning us to come up - but after an 11 day trip north last week - we chose the volleyball game.

FSU won 21-15 - but the game was not decided until the last minute when Carlos Williams intercepted a pass for FSU and returned it to the 4 yard line where the Noles ran out the clock. 

The Seminoles shot out to an early lead 14-0 and later seemed comfortable at 21-9. But the tempo of the game changed. It seemed that the Noles were more concerned with running out the clock than attacking the Ramblin Wrecks.

Although Coach Jimbo Fisher is proud of his 11-2 season and an ACC crown - locals seem more concerned with the way he frittered away the lead in his 2 losses at NC State and home against the Gators. Many of those victories came over weak ACC sisters and even weaker out of conference scheduling of second division patsies. The word is out that AD Randy Spetman was given a one year contract because of the poor scheduling. 

Jimbo seems to be only concerned with a "win is a win" attitude. He seems to want a job in the SEC conference - and will take an offer at Tennessee or Auburn - whichever one comes calling. This was his year.

The SEC championship game played to a sold out Georgia Dome - where tickets were selling for several hundred dollars. Alabama came from behind to beat Georgia and will play Notre Dame in the NCAA Championship game in the same stadium in Miami where FSU will play Louisville as a warmup game a few days before. Louisville will become a member of the ACC in 2014.

The Orange Bowl provides a very fat check that must be divided among the ever growing list of ACC basketball schools looking for football money to keep them going.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Purdue Beats FSU Volleyball - 3 sets to 2 - Season Is Over

It was catch up all night at the Boilermakers won the first match. FSU responded by winning the second - but Purdue captured the third. The see-saw match had the Noles catching up in the fourth - but  the kids form West Lafayette scored 9 straight points to make it close. Finally - the happiness was over -  we lost the fifth and final match of the season 15-11.

Our team is losing 7 seniors - 4 of them are from Europe.

So far this weekend soccer went down - now volleyball. What is left is the ACC championship football game - and them two basketball games tomorrow.

0-2 so far for the weekend - 2 big ones - NCAA playoff losses - one and done.

My Motorhead Buddy Mark Wrote This Story in Today's Tallahassee Democrat

The faithful old gal gets a reprieve

A 5.0 Mustang still favored over Fiat, Viper

he sexy Italian tried to seduce me. Others did their best to catch my eye.

Oh, I was tempted. After all, I’m not getting any younger, and to be honest, neither is she.

But in the end, I’ve decided to keep the old gal.

2012 Seminoles

FSU Girls Volleyball Beat Hofstra 3 sets to 1 last night. Since they played at home - we were able to attend.

They advance in the NCAA Playoffs today at 4:30 when they meet Purdue. This will probably be the last home game for several FSU seniors. If they win this round - the regional round will be played at Purdue in West Lafayette - Indiana. If luck is on their side - it will be back to the Final Four will held in Louisville - Kentucky.

Last year FSU advanced to the Final Four where they lost to UCLA. Last night the team was wearing warmup shirts that proclaimed "Unfinished Business."

4 of FSU's top players are from overseas.

We have tickets for today's match against Purdue.

Florida State Loses in Overtime - Penn State Wins and Advances to the National Championship Game

Tiffany McCarty scored her final goal last night as FSU's all-time top scorer.

It was another sad ending for Coach Mark Kikorian and his Seminole soccer team. Last night they played Penn State in a rain soaked game in San Diego. The winner would go on to play for the NCAA national championship.

Penn State scored early in the first half - and held onto the 1-0 lead all night. But with 40 seconds to go Tiffany McCarty scored to send the game into overtime. Penn State regrouped and scored the winning goal one minute into the extra period.

Florida State goes home as one of the top 4 teams in the nation. They lose 7 seniors. McCarty becomes FSU's all-time scoring leader.

Smog Kills 4000 People in London

Smog Blamed on London Chimneys

When you roam through London you see thousands of chimneys - some home have as many as 12. It seems strange that none of them are smoking. Heavy smog began to hover over London, England, on this day in 1952. It persists for four days, leading to the deaths of at least 4,000 people. Although all the coal burning fireplaces and chimneys remain - London has banned the burning of coal as a heating sources in homes.