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Saturday, May 31, 2014

FSU Boys And Girls Both Lost In The NCAA Playoffs Yesterday

Oregon beat FSU softball - and Georgia Southern beat FSU baseball. The girls were shut our 3-0 and the boys were shutout 7-0.

They are both down to their last loss now - one more lost and they come home. The girls are playing in the World Series in Oklahoma City. the boys were heavy favorites to win the regional playoffs here at home.

After these two teams - all that is left for this spring is the NCAA Outdoor National Track Meet.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Tamaqua District 11 Baseball Champ Two Years In A Row

From The Republican.

ALLENTOWN - First came the water cooler shower of Gatorade.
Then, moments later, a Matt Roberts-delivered shaving cream pie to the face.
As his team cheered loudly and watched with glee, Tamaqua coach Jeff Reading could only smile.
A total team effort had his Blue Raiders celebrating a District 11 Class AAA baseball championship for the second straight season.

Now Mimi Is In Canada

One of Lulu's former students - Dr Mimi Johnson - is in Canada at a library conference. This is her first visit to Niagara Falls. She says it is still pretty cold up there. She will be flying back to her professor job at the University of Alabama today. Mimi is an expert on school library media centers. She has completed 3 years as an assistant professor. Time flies. 

Who can forget the wonderful wedding scenes from "The Office" at the Falls. My niece Suzie - also had her wedding there on the Maid of the Mist.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Shelby America Cobra 289 - They Make Them in Las Vegas - We Are Going There in 3 Weeks

Shelby Cobra 289.

No sun visors - no wind up windows.

You had to reach inside the window to open the door. No AC.

This is a Shelby Cobra. In 1962 - Carroll Shelby took a British AC Bristol body - and dropped a Ford 289 V8 in it. Less than 1000 were made. They immediately became the benchmark for sports car performance. At the time - one could be purchased for $6000. 

A few years later Shelby started putting Ford 427 engines in the same car. They were tuned to 450 horsepower. Imagine that in a car that weighed only 2800 pounds. The Chevy Corvette could not come close. 50 years later - the car holds up well.

In 1962 - I wrote to Carroll Shelby about the car. I was in 9th grade. He sent me a typewritten specification sheet. I have saved few things in life - but that is one of them. That and my 1969 Rolling Stones ticket. 

An original car in excellent condition gets over one million dollars on the auction block. Now Shelby America in Las Vegas is making cars using the same plans. 

The only thing that changes - the price is $70,000.

I will visit the place in 3 weeks.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

FSU Pitcher National Player of the Year

I love watching her pitch.

She just pitched and won back to back games in a double header against Michigan. FSU had to win both games to go to the World Series.

Waldrop Named USA Softball National Player of the Year

May 27, 2014
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. ( -Florida State softball junior pitcher Lacey Waldropreceived an enormous national honor on Tuesday when she was named the USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Year, announced tonight by the Amateur Softball Association of America (ASA) and USA Softball.
Waldrop becomes the first Seminole to win the national honor since former softball legend Jessica van der Linden was named the USA Softball Player of the Year in her senior season in 2004. Waldrop, who hails from Chester, Va., established herself as arguably the most dominant pitcher in the nation in 2014.

Tickets For the Notre Dame at Florida State Game This Fall

Here comes the next "game of the century." Notre travels to FSU this fall for a football game. The Seminoles are the national champions - ranked number 1 in the nation - and "may" have the Heisman Trophy winner - Jameis Winston playing :-)

Wekkend hotel rates start at $500 and go up from there. 

You can still buy season tickets for 6 games for $240 total. If you wish to buy them - I would be happy to sell the extra tickets for you.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Sweet Home Tallahassee

We just got home - two good flights - George picked us up at the airport.

The house is good.

Our Mine Tour at Glace Bay - Nova Scotia

I will publish his name later. This miner gave us an excellent tour of the coal mines under the sea in Nova Scotia. Our ship docked at Sydney and we drove a rental car about 15 miles to the mines. 

All of the mines closed in Nova Scotia in 2001. There is plenty of bituminous coal there - but the market prices are too low to justify mining it. Mining was done with a deep elevator shaft. Then the miners rode an electric train about 5 miles out under the sea. They mined by the conventional room and pillar method - leaving pillars of coal to hold up the roof. They used drills to plant the dynamite charges - then they shoveled the muck into coal cars and were paid by the car. Later - they used saws and automatic mining machines - like big chain saws. 

Our guide worked as a miner for 40 years. He said that he had a little black lung - but it was not bad. He did walk with a cane. He was short - so it was easier for him to walk around in the low quarters. He was about 5 feet 5 - he said he was 6 feet 4 when he started  :-)

When he started out about how miners lived in company houses - shopped in a company store - I became emotional. But when he talked about kids being put in the mine when their Dad's health failed - that was too close. When my grandfather ran away - my Dad was indentured to work in the mine - to keep their company home. Dad worked from 1934 to 1959 - 25 years - in the Number 8 Mine in Coaldale. He was a very smart man - he had a chance to go to Girard College in 1934 as an orphan. When the neighbor's car was leaving to Philadelphia - Dad stayed on the porch. I always thought - what if.

The museum had a cute little miner's village - including a fantastic tiny restaurant. It reminded me of the Heisler's Waffle House - but in coal miner motif. 

Mining always intrigues me. I studied Earth Science for 40 years - and but for chance - I could have been sentenced to a life of dark wet hard digging - and an afterlife of wheezing with black lung. 

The book and movie - Pit Pony - were made about these miners in Canada - under the seas. Ellen Page as a child of 11 starred in the TV series.

Our guide - on the contrary - was waiting for the mines to open again. Even though he was 70 something - he said he would love to go back to work in the mines under the sea.

With no income or sales tax, New Hampshire does rely heavily on property taxes

New Hampshire typically ranks among the wealthiest and healthiest states in the country, but, according to gubernatorial candidate Jackie Cilley, the Granite State boasts one distinction that isn’t as complimentary.

In a candidate forum last week in Nashua, Cilley, a former state senator, took aim at New Hampshire’s tax structure and, specifically, the property tax, which she claimed ranks among the nation’s highest.

"We have the third highest (property tax) in the country," Cilley, a Barrington Democrat, told the audience gathered Monday, July 16, 2012 at Nashua City Hall.

"That is not the way to fund a government," she said.

On its face, the claim seems feasible. New Hampshire is one of nine states in the country without an income tax. The Granite State is one of five without a statewide sales tax, and it’s one of only two, along with Alaska, without either.

This leaves New Hampshire legislators leaning heavily -- too heavily, according to some -- on property taxes as a revenue source. But are the Granite State’s property taxes really the nation’s third highest? We decided to look at the numbers.

Currently, New Hampshire is one of 37 states to charge property taxes at both the state and local level.

Because the local taxes vary from town to town or county to county, it’s difficult to identify a total state property tax rate. Instead, tax analysts determine property tax rankings based on the average amounts collected from each taxpayer.

And, based on 2009 data -- the most recent available -- New Hampshire property taxes do rank among the country’s highest.

From Politifact

Concord - Boston - Atlanta - Tallahassee

After breakfast we will leave our hotel in Concord. We are driving a Mazda 3 rental car to Boston Airport. Then we fly with Delta on our free companion ticket to Atlanta and then Tallahassee. So we have two chances to get volunteer bump tickets. If everything goes as planned - we will be home at 6:30 PM.

We travel light - and carry our bags on the plane with us. they way if we are bumped - we have all our stuff. Some airlines do not like to bump people with checked bags.

If we get bumped - we would spend a night in Atlanta. It is worth it for two free airline tickets. Wish us luck.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Walking The Streets of Concord NH On Saturday Night

New Hampshire State House

Concord and New Hampshire are famous for having the first Presidential Primary every 4 years. 

The Capitol Building is tiny compared to most states. At 8 PM it was locked tight for Saturday night - but the last time we were here - the legislature was in session. We walked right in the building - no metal detectors - etc. We went right to the gallery - sat down and listened to debate. Their motto is - live free or die - and their government is open. 

At 8 PM on Saturday night - it seemed like the sidewalks were already rolled in. Even the CVS was closed. We found a nice little Italian place that had a dinner for 2 special for $8 including drinks. No sales tax. Our hotel is on the main street about 1 mile from the Capitol. Tomorrow we will take I-93 - which is right outside our hotel - to Boston Airport. 

Cruise Day 8 - Saturday - Cruise Ended in Quebec

The last evening on the ship in Quebec was a little melancholy. It was like the least day of summer camp - you have to return to the real world. You will probably never get to see these folks again. If you ever return to - Quebec - Sydney - Halifax - Bar Harbor - Boston - it will not be the same at "the first time."

Lulu and I travel light now - we each had one bag. We packed them - went to breakfast - then walked off the ship onto another adventure. 

Today we did some shopping in Quebec. Then we got our rental car and drove to Concord MA. We are staying in a Residence Inn Suite for tonight. Then tomorrow we catch our flight home from Boston. Residence Inn's are great - giant apartments - free wifi - free breakfast - free parking - all for $85.

Nick said - "We will always have Paris" - at Casablanca. Lulu and I will always have Quebec - Paris without the attitude. Quebec is one of the cleanest and safest cities in the world. It is very romantic. Restaurants were reasonably price too. American dollars are worth 10 cent more there.

One last food note - we were at the buffet last night - Lulu saw a couple New York Strip Steaks on the grill. She asked about them. The host said we could have had strip streaks for every meal - cooked to suit. Of cruise I answered with - one - medium. 

I am not an egg man - but this shows you some of the variety of the food - this morning.

Theis Quebec Christmas store was over the top.

The Noel Shoppe was just down the street form the Frontenac Hotel. We rode the electric mini bus around down again this morning. 

Friday, May 23, 2014

Cruise Day 7 - Friday - All Day in the City of Quebec

We spent all day today walking around Quebec. I have to add Quebec to our list of top cities visited - right up there with - Venice - London - Athens - Paris - Rome - Munich - Rio - Havana - Honolulu - NY - Miami and Washington. It barely reached 60 today - but it was sunny and windy. 

Quebec is on two levels - river level - and high on the bluff. This whole area of Canada is solid granite - and the locals put it to good use. Many of the buildings are solid stone blocks. 

There is a tiny electric bus that circles the area going up and down the bluff. For $2 you can ride forever. We also rode the inclined plane up the face of the cliff. It reminded us of Pittsburgh. 

We had lunch at the 1640 Restaurant. While enjoying a 4 course meal for $15 - the free wifi let us know we got an offer on our 1607 Seminole house. If they buy it - we would be happy to welcome new neighbors to our neighborhood. We love being so close to everything right downtown - next to campus.

We are sitting in the cruise terminal now next to our ship - free wifi. Our ship stays in port tonight - tomorrow we will get off at 9 AM - get our rental car - and head toward Boston. We plan to spend Saturday night in New Hampshire - then fly home. 

Lulu said this is Josephine Baker - I doubt it.

These buildings date from the 1600s - all granite.

More 1600s buildings.

Beautiful sunny Quebec.

The is Quebec along the river.

Notre Dame Church. In 1608 - Quebec was founded here.

Inside Notre Dame Church.

I wonder what this means in French.

For $2.50 you ride the included plane to the top of the bluff.

The Frontenac Hotel sits high above the city.

If I were staying here - this would be the place.

The 1640 Restaurant - the red roof one - we had lunch there - really nice and reasonable.

From the Citadel - a selfie trying to show our ship behind Lulu's head.

A protest in front of the Quebec Capitol.

I am not sure what they were protesting - but they looked and sounded pretty. 

I liked the colorful protestors flag. You can the wind was strong.

The boardwalk and step up to the fort - our ship in the background.

Our friends Joel and George Dawson had a room her for the winter festival - but their flight was cancelled.

Cruise Day 6 - Spent Whole Day on Ship Going Up Saint Lawrence River

Thursday Night Dinner - Surf and Turf on the St Lawrence Seaway


Today we aren’t making any stops. It is all-day engorge day. It is hard to explain the food situation on a cruise. It is even harder to figure out how they can possibly make a profit on a cruise when they serve endless amount of all the wonderful stuff to eat.

I consider myself working class. I was brought up by a coal miner and a millworker. They worked really hard to put food on the table for our family of 5 growing up. I remember when it was a special treat to buy a big bag of potato chips from the mobile grocery store that stopped by our farmhouse every week. Picking up a six pack of Staff soda at Ginetti’s Grocery and putting it on the counter was heaven at 5 cents a can.

Now Mom and Dad are gone – my sister Gail is gone – and sister Judy is a grandmother who could be a great-grandmother within a year or so. But nothing says middle class better than over eating – that is- being to afford to eat anything you want – as much as you want. It seems that now we are paying more to avoid eating than what we spend on groceries.

Lulu did some serious Internet searching to find a cruise where we could use some almost expired free plane tickets – and also visit a place we have never been. Since in Florida it is already over 90 degrees on some middays – it would be nice to sample other weather. She found the cruise to Maine – Nova Scotia – Prince Edward Island – and Quebec for under $400 for 8 days.

Each time we cruise – the calculator is running full speed in my head. How in the world could they ever make a profit on a cruise where they serve such great unlimited food. I pride myself in having lost 30 pounds over the last 3 or 4 years – but when it comes to a cruise I succumb to the old “getting my money’s worth” mentality. At first I fight it hard – vowing to stick to 2000 calories a day. That is my magic number. With a little exercise every day – I can actually lose a pound a week at that number.

At home – Lulu makes all the meals – and I clean them up. Whatever I want – Lulu can make it the way I like it. She gets joy leaving the table knowing she never has to do the dishes. We have nice meals – she serves things that a nourishing – tasty – but she keeps the calories down. We both have barometers in our heads telling us when to stop – and when to go for our daily 2 mile walk.

Some people would say it is simply greedy to eat so much food simply because you can. With my semi-active life style – I certainly do not need a lumberjacks breakfast of 4 eggs – 4 pancakes – 4 bacon – and so on.

The food on this cruise has been splendid – the variety is endless – the preparation and presentation rivals anything I have ever seen. This is not a put down of our regular meals – this is just so over the top. Every cruise has been this way. We have been on over 5 but under 10 – they blur together.

At the end of this article I will list all the different foods I have eaten on the cruise – I will ask Lulu to add things that she had that I didn’t.

You can eat 3 ways. First they have a sit down formal supper. You can sit alone or at a table of 8. You can make a reservation for a certain time – or you can just walk up at the dining room. Although you do not have to – Lulu like to wear a dress – I put on a coat – sometimes a tie. A printed menu gives you about 6 choices for each of the 4 courses. It takes a little longer – but the ambience and presentation are over the top. Service is top drawer.

Next – you can eat at the extensive buffet. We do this usually for lunch – but you can have every meal there. This is the ultimate variety.

Finally – you could eat every meal in the privacy of your room. You simple put a checklist on your door knob and they will deliver anything you want. We have done this for breakfast on 4
Mornings. Lulu loves ot be awaken by the smell of hot coffee and this is heaven for her.

At each port – we travel shore – and have enjoyed shore food. But in many ports – the ship is so close – we choose to come on board and have lunch for free.

Lulu conservatively estimates that each of these meals at a medium quality restaurant would cost $30 per person. 20 meals times $30 would be $600 a person. That is just the meals – not the very nice rooms – the entertainment – or the actual transportation.

The employees on the ship are mostly from Eastern Europe and Asia. I have no idea what they are paid but I doubt that they receive minimum wage nor they are protected by the 40 hour work week.

While you are on the ship – you simply forget about your every day world. There are no worries about your home – your job (what job?) – your cars - your town – and politics. Your connection to the real world is limited.

While on ship – Internet is very expensive – about $1 a minute – more than enough to keep you from wasting your life on line. The connection is slow – it has to go by satellite. In port – you can get free wifi – yesterday I was even online from my deck chair in Charlottetown. We found fee wifi in each port. Television on board is different. There are a few channels by the cruise company talking about places to visit. We have a bland form of CNN World – Fox News – and MS-NBC. I do watch CNN at home but I think the other two are absolutely wacky. Both sides are slanted to ridiculousness.

Strangely enough – I can see the New York Times on my laptop on board the ship. I have been subscribing to the Times for the last 5 years for $15 a month. I can’t see anything else on my computer here – but I can read the paper – everyday – for free. It is just enough to make it feel like home.

There are tons of other activities on board you can do with your family. There is a well stocked library that offers and extensive collection of free DVD’s. But there are swimming pools and hot tubs galore. There are sunning decks inside and out. There is a gym – a basketball court – a walking track – a child care center – bars – stores – casinos – cooking classes – on and on.

In the evening there is a live theatre and a movie theatre. There must be about 8 musical bars – from the piano man – to dancing – to trivia.

There are additional charges for alcoholic beverages and gambling. They have slot machines – black jack – roulette – and poker tables. Lulu plays the slot machines. She ejoys penny machines. You can use cash or just insert your room key. The winnings or losings go on the tab. She started out with $10 the first night and I think her kitty is down to $4 now.

Since alcohol is a big money maker – they do not want you to bring bottles on board. If you do – they charge you a corking fee when you bring it on board. You do pass thru an ray machine – but it does not catch everything – a pint of Canadian Club properly placed goes right thru. I guess they are not as cautious on gray heads.

They do have duty free shops on board to buy alcohol – perfume – clothes – jeweltry – food stuffs.

In each city we have enjoyed a day in port. Boston – Bar Harbor – Halifax – Sydney – Charlottetown – Quebec. When the cruise is over – we will take a rental car back to Boston from Quebec. Then we will fly home Sunday on our companion fair with Delta Airlines. Of course we will hope to be bumped off our flight – to get a free reward ticket for volunteering.

Here is  list of the foods I can remember eating –
Prime rib
Beef brisket
New York strip steak
Flank steak
Mashed potatoes
Baked potatoes
French fried potatoes
Hot tea
Iced tea
Bread stick
Bread roll – must be 10 different kinds
Macaroni and cheese
Turkey with stuffing
Blueberry soup
Honeydew mellons
Bread pudding
Cherry cobbler
Soft serve ice cream
Hand dipped ice cream
Dole Whip (Hawaii ice cream)
Chocolate pudding
Butterscotch pudding
Corn chowder
Clam chowder
Sweet rolls
Sweet bread
Toast – several kinds
Rice pudding
Salads – many
I will have Lulu list more here –

Several forces are fighting at meal time – first – everything looks and tastes so good – second – it is all spread out there and nothing stopping you from picking anything you want. Third – the middle class desire to get your money’s worth. It is like that gambling song – you will have plenty of time to count your calories when you get off the ship.

It is fun to see Lulu relaxing – she loves her job – but it is always on her mind. She always seems to be working or planning work – or writing up her results. Here she loves the shows – taking a walk – taking a nap – going for a dunk in the hot tub – not being on the computer.

In 3 weeks – we have to go to Las Vegas. She has an ALA convention there – I will have to suffer through 100 degree temperatures and carrying her bags to the Paris Hotel. A couple of our Coal Cracker buddies – Jan and Dick Davis will spend some time with us there.

We Love the City of Quebec

We are in downtown Quebec walking around 3 hours. The weather is nice. The city is beautiful. It was founded in 1608. It is the capital of Quebec. Almost a national capital. It is Paris without the attitude. I love the French Chateau architecture. So many pretty shops and winding streets. We just rides tiny electric bus and an inclined plane. What a great spot for a romantic honeymoon. We will spend today here then tonight on the ship then tomorrow here. What a pretty finale to a wonderful cruise.


Free Quebec!

We just landed in Quebec. Will be here two days. 53 and partly cloudy. It is a pretty city.

Tomorrow we drive south. We will fly home from Boston Sunday.

We have been lucky with weather. Some fog. Very little rain. Nothing below 40.

Ship is full 1400 guests. 700 crew. Veendam is a nice size. Food has been tops. Entertainment has been "entertaining".

The crowd is old. Few children. Only a couple scooters and canes. Mostly retired. In summer it would be a better mix.

Out to explore the city of Quebec now. God save Napoleon.


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Cruise Day 5 - We had a beautiful day in the 70s and sunny at Charlottetown PEI

Here I am right outside our state room on deck - with free wifi. I am blogging from the deck.

Is is 3:30 PM - our ship does not pull out of port until 5:30. I am on the deck overlooking the Charlottetown Harbor and Port. I found a fews wifi signal so I thought I would catch up on my web page.

So far on our cruise - we have been lucky with Internet. Every town has had free wifi at the cruise terminal - along with many restaurants in town. On the ship - while at sea - it is expensive. They charge $1 a minute for slow service. We do not use it. Through some strange miracle - I can receive the wifi New York Times all of the time - day or night. I do have a pay subscription to the NY Times for $15 a month - but to get it on ship is a treat.

Today was the nicest day on shore to date. The temperature climbed to near 70 - and it was sunny - very hot in the sun. It felt like a miracle because when we pull dingo port - it was so foggy - you could not see 100 feet.

In the 1700s and 1800s - Charlottetown was one of the busiest places in Canada. In 1865 - they met here to from a confederation of all the separate provinces. It is sorta like their Philadelphia. Although PEI is an island - it is now connected to mainland Canada by a 9 mile long bridge.

We left the ship twice today. First we left at 9 AM to tour the Province Capital Building. Since downtown is very close to the dock - we went back on board for lunch - for two reasons. First - the food is free - and second - they were having a local treat - mussels. Lulu wanted the mussels. After lunch we went back out to shop and visit the cathedral. The weather has a big influence on how you rate a visit - but this is a sweet town. I could return here - but it would be in July or August. The island has beautiful white sand beaches - but the water is COLD.

The Duncan Cathedral in Charlottetown


Welcome to Prince Edward Island - 50s and sunny.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Cruise Day 4 - Sydney NS - We toured a Coal Mine Under the Ocean

We just completed a cool foggy day on Cape Breton Island. It is the eastern part of Nova Scotia. Lulu had a rental car available to take us to the Historic Mine Museum eats of the town of Sydney at a place called Glace Bay. Up until 2001 - they had been deep ming coal since the 1700s. It felt so much like home in the Coal Region of Pennsylvania. They deep mined soft coal here - going down in a shaft and then out under the ocean about 6 miles. Although the mines are closed 13 years - the retired coal miners keep a museum and mine shaft available for tours. 

Sydney is a small town on a great harbor east of Halifax. It was really foggy today - but the temperature was in the 40s.

Jameis Winston was there looking for crab legs and lobster

Our Holland America ship Veendam pulled in around 9 AM. There is free wifi in the cruise terminal and I was able to post several stories and check my email.

This shaft goes out under the seat.

There was a blast here once that killed 300 men.

There wis still plenty of coal in the mine.

Lulu was taking care of the "pit ponies." they lived underground all the time.

Harry seldom raised a pick in anger - but he is still the Florida Coal Cracker.

Note the lunch pail with the rat waiting for food. 

Our tour guide mined for 40 years - and hopes the mine opens again some day so he can mine again.

Lulu thought it was too cold and wet.

This cage took the miners down 800 feet - then rails took them horizontally under the seas.

I doubt that miner's had panini buns.

Lulu had a lobster club sandwich.

It is 4:05 PM here now - our ship leaves at 4:30 PM. It was a great stop - next stop is Prince Edward Island tomorrow.