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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

My Friend and Neighbor Bill Built This Mansion 2 Doors Away From Us

Bill Gwynn - my neighbor - my friend - builder - author 
The open concept second floor looking east
The house is so big - this picture was taken from far away on another roof

Last year - Lulu and I bought and tore down a house and built our dream home. We realized that normal real estate advice is to never make your house the most expensive in your neighborhood. We are both in our 60s and have lived a life of not following the rules. For 30 years - we raised our kids in a chalet of 1000 square feet. Sometimes we paid the price for doing it our way - but most of the time we ended up dumb like a fox.

Bill Gwynn has spent his entire life in Tallahassee. He has been a builder for many years. I have had the pleasure of working with him on my former home - workshop - guest house - pool - and driveway. He is an artist working with block and concrete construction. He is the only man I know that does concrete work in his sandals.

The Taj Mahal in India is a mausoleum built by a man in 1632 to honor one of his 3 wives when she died in childbirth of her 14th baby. She must have been very special because he spent the equivalent of $800 million on the structure that today draws 4 million visitors a year.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Sold This Armoire On Craigslist

I just love buying and selling things on Craigslist - and meeting the people that are selling or buying.  Yesterday - a woman called and was interested in this armoire. We had it in our old house and really did not need it here. 

When talking to the buyer - it is a small world. It turns out that her daughter was one of Lulu's students. She recently earned her Master of Library Science and was just hired as a librarian at Disneyworld. It's a small world after all!


Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Dawsons Flying To Desert Southwest

George and Joel Dawson
I just dropped George and Joel Dawson off at the airport. They are on their way to the deserts of the Southwestern USA. They enjoy taking pictures - and will be doing that in Zion National Park - and Bryce National Park - among other places.

You can see photos of their extensive travel at -

Fatherland - Why Do You Make It So Hard - Clean Diesel

The Clean Diesel Beetle
Eberhard is a German name - my ancestors anglicized it when they came to America and settled in Pennsylvania. They were called Pennsylvania Dutch - but I learned much later it was short for Pennsylvania Deutsch - Pennsylvania German. I was born in a Pennsylvania Dutch farmhouse pasted on the north side of the Appalachian Mountains in West Penn township. For 6 years I was steeped in the Dutch lifestyle - my Dad trying to make a living off 10 acres and 40 hours a week in a coal mine.

When it came time to go to college - it was over the Blue Mountain to Kutztown State Teachers College Normal School. We referred to our football team as the Fighting Amish and enjoyed trips to the local farmer's market to enjoy their wonderful simple foods - mostly meat and potatoes. 

When it came time to buy a car - a 1956 VW Beetle convertible with 36HP - got me back and forth over the mountain - sometimes at 30 MPH. I was always attracted to classic plain and simple things - a Lindal Cedar Home Kit - button down shirts - and Apple computers. 

I had heard all about World War II - and lived through the History Channel Era of "All Hitler - All the Time." I had watched a country that we broke up into 4 pieces - to prevent another war - re-unite and become one of the world's top 3 powers again. They did this with both arms tied behind their back. 

During the war - a German U-Boat sunk the USS Norlandia of the coast of Haiti - and killed my grandfather - Roy Shartle Everhart - before I was born. Although he had more than enough of living the life of a coal miner - and left a family of 5 in a company home high and dry - he has long been forgiven by me - but never by my father. 

Lulu has recently been awarded a DAAD Fellowship by the German government. They are paying for her to study in Berlin for 3 months next year. They are getting me as a bonus. We are working hard to prepare for our stay in the Fatherland. We have already rented an apartment in Berlin - and are busy inviting friends to come to stay. I am guessing 95% of the people in Germany involved in World War II are gone. I have been doing my best to warm up to the people - now this.

Volkswagen - the world's number one car manufacturer - has been caught cheating on the emission tests of their "clean diesel engines." For the last 6 years - they have been selling cars and bragging about how efficient they are. It has been hard to believe that the diesel technology - which has historically been so dirty - could be engineered to be environmentally friendly. In 1984 - I owned a Cadillac diesel - easily the worst car I ever had. Not only was it a dog - it was noisy - smelly - and belched black smoke. The only thing good it had going for it was a giant fuel tank. Some folks I knew used to even burn home fuel oil in those engines to avoid the 50 cent a gallon road tax. But just the same - diesels had a bad rap in America. In Europe over half of the cars burn diesel.

With all that about diesels - you can see how surprised and delighted I was that my Fatherland and Volkswagen were able to clean up the terrible diesel. In my heart - it held out hope that someday we could have another oxymoron - clean burning coal. After the White Sox rigged the World Series in 1919 - a kid looked up at his favorite player - Shoeless Joe Jackson - as he left the court house. "Say it isn't so Joe."  Well it is. 

Volkswagen was caught and admitted they did it on purpose. They have rigged 11 million cars with a computer program to pass the emission tests - but only when the test machinery is hooked to them. Other times - they are spewing out harmful gasses - 40 times as bad as the test standard. The US is going to fine them over $30,000 per car. This could ad up to an $18 billion fine. This does not include any lawsuits that the buyers will file. 

When I had a Prius - I would run around and brag smugly about getting 50 miles per gallon. I would enjoy teasing my green friends about how they were big polluters. Now - I am even more over the top - driving a Nissan Leaf that uses no gasoline. I plug it into a regular power outlet and it goes 70 miles a day for "free." They figure I am getting the money equivalent of 120 MPGe. 

Can you imagine how all of these VW diesel buyers feel - paying the extra money for a diesel engine - thinking they are "saving the planet" - and now they find out they are the biggest polluters of all? I can see them lining up at the offices of ambulance chaser lawyers - getting ready to get their pound of flesh. 

We have found a new standard for the word arrogant. I can just see the engineers sitting around the table in Wolfsburg. Helmet says to Diesel - "you have to think outside of the box - we don't really have to cut emissions - we just have to pass the test." Diesel answers back - "Americans will believe anything."

Friday, September 18, 2015

We Drove To Optimum RV In Ocala To See This 2016 Coachmen Orion Camper

2016 Coachmen Orion - on a Dodge Chassis
Lulu and I love traveling. Right now - most of our travels are overseas - but we have visited almost every state by driving. We also like to go back home to visit our kids and family. So we are always on the lookout for that perfect ride. 

We have had about 10 motorhomes - trailers - buses - and converted buses. Each one seemed perfect -   but usually ended up sacrificing ride - economy - comfort - utility - for one over the other. 

We want a camper that is dependable - small enough to park anywhere - good gas mileage - a comfortable bed - a ready bathroom - and climate control. Campers that worked up north cannot compete with Florida's oppressive heat. Something wide enough for a big bed - has a hard time fitting in a parking spot in downtown Boston. The perfect motor home - which we have not found - would have a big enough battery to run an air conditioner all night without using a noisy generator. 

The electric bed drops down from the ceiling.
It is plenty big - 60 x 80 - very nice mattress.
The ladder to get up there is horrible - it hurt my feet.
In a perfect world you would not need a ladder.

The camper we drove yesterday in Ocala comes very close to that ultimate. This is a brand new 2016 Coachmen Orion. It is 24 feet long - 8 feet wide - and 10 feet tall. It has a 280HP V-6 Dodge engine that supposedly gets 17 MPG. It has a full bathroom and full kitchen. Its best feature is a queen size 60 x 80 bed that electrically drops down from the ceiling. 

We took the Coachmen for a long drive around Ocala. It is plenty powerful with its 280HP Dodge engine. It was also very quiet - good for a hard of hearing guy. Lulu drove it and loved the handling. The cabin was roomy - the seats leather. A really great feature is 3 rear facing cameras. You can see all around the unit. You never have to worry about someone in your blind spot passing. 

The windshield is big - with no large bed overhang above - visibility is better than most cars. It is the first camper I drove that has front wheel drive. The body is very plain - large flat fiberglass sides - it should be excellent for keeping clean - this unit could have used a bath though. If it was not so late - I would have gotten out a hose to "test wash" it. 

The main cabin is beautiful - black out shades -
leather seats and sofa with seat belts -
nice flat floor - but ceiling is low from overhead bed

The back fiberglass is flat - small trailer hitch -
rear view camera - window in bathroom

Streamlining helps gas mileage -
also helps with quiet inside - no big overhang like
a Class C has - they call this a B+

Lulu and I like Dodges - we have had many -
when they separated with Mercedes they
designed this chassis

Nice large rear door with electric step - Lulu
would like stepping out during Mardi Gras

Full rear bathroom with shower - toilet - sink -
large mirrors - and giant clothes closet

Shower is 4 piece fiberglass unit with power vent

Behind that mirror is a giant closet

Well appointed Dodge cabin

Plenty of step in room - better than most
Class B's

Monday, September 14, 2015

George and Joel Open The Edison Restaurant at Cascades Park

George and Joel Dawson at the bar -
 in the background former Mayor Marks

The Edison has several eating areas - inside
and out - overlooking Cascades Park

The Edison - a new restaurant in the new Cascades Park in downtown Tallahassee - had a soft opening for VIP guests yesterday. The establishment is in the shell of the former city power company - thus the name Edison. 
Although the restaurant sits smack dab in the middle of the city's newest beauty spot - many citizens are upset that a friend of the mayor got a sweetheart deal that included the city paying for millions of dollars for the restoration of the building and furnishing specifically for this business. 

Of course - it will be the first place we take new guests - it is less than a half mile from our home. Tallahassee has over 500 places to eat - it is a tough competition. There is a joke in Tallahassee that people visit a restaurant twice - once when it opens - and then once when it announces that it is closing. Then they complain how much they miss it when it closes. 

George and Joel Dawson are well known folks in the Tallahassee community and the Woodland Drives neighborhood adjacent to the park. They are the reason that we chose this area of town to live.  We have known them for over 25 years - we used to stay with them when visiting town for football games - and we attend lots of FSU events with them.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Noles Beat USF By 20 - Two Tickets For Total of $10

The view from our seats at Doak

We left home when the rain stopped at noon.

We parked in the lot by Wescott Hall. We walked one mile to the stadium. 

Lulu got a ticket for free and went in right away. 20 yard line about 13th row. 

I gave a guy $10 for a ticket and came in and sat with her. 

We had the ponchos on for the first half. Second half we undressed - took off rain suits. 

We did not buy and food or drink. Had a bag of cashews with us. 

It end of game we walked back to the car - the one mile took 20 minutes. From that parking spot we were home in 10 minutes - traffic was non existent going east on College. Waited one light at Monroe St. 

Email was a little better in the stadium - but not good by any measure. 

We listened to the post game on the radio home - I swear they were talking about a different game than we were at. They said Cook has 200 yards. 

Too many penalties. 

GT - Lousiville - Clemson - Miami - Florida - I predict we will lose 4 of those 5 games. 

Still it is a 20 point win. Auburn needed overtime to beat Jacksonville State at home. Enough of this Western SEC being the super conference. It seems everything is about money - I am glad I only gave $10 to the cause today. 

Sunday, September 06, 2015

You Know You Are Getting Old When You Do Not Go To a Seminoles Game Just 2 Miles From Your Home

Last night at 7 PM - we were all dressed up and ready to hop on the scooter to go to Doak Campbell Stadium. Just as we were about to open the door - Lulu got a text from FSU - the game was postponed for lightning. The sky to the west of our home was dark - and thunder was rolling all over. It had not rained - but it sure looked like we were in for a gully washer.

We sat in the living room watching other games. The game was to start at 8 PM - it was pushed back to 9 PM. The little map and weather scroll was lighting up the TV. As the game kicked off at 9 PM - we both strolled into the bedroom to put on our evening attire.

By halftime - we were both dozing off.

Saturday, September 05, 2015

Probably Get In For Under $10 Tonight - Texas State

This Could Be The Perfect Motor Home - 2016 Coachmen Orion

The 2016 Dodge Coachmen Orion Class B+
The 2016 Dodge Coachmen Orion is a Class B+ motor home just released. It has so many nice features it is astonishing. 

First off - it is on a Dodge front wheel drive chassis with a V6 gas engine. It gets 17 MPG - but still has 280 horsepower. When we were kids - a Corvette did not even have that much power. It is 24 feet long. It has a trailer hitch to haul 3000 pounds. 

It has seats with belts for 7 people. It also has beds for 4 people. It has a full private bathroom - and a full kitchen. The neatest feature inside is a big electric bed that drops down from the ceiling. The sofa also turns into a bed. Seats pivot forward to have 4 captains chairs. All the seats and sofas are leather.

Friday, September 04, 2015

My Son Rode The New Coaster at Knoebels Grove

This coaster is new this summer. It is very quiet. 8 people at a time ride it. It goes straight up and straight down. It also does 2 loops and does a slow barrel roll. It cost $3 to ride.

My son is in the back row on the far side - he said the most disconcerting thing is going straight up like a rocket. The coming down was easy.

National Champions 3 - Third Ranked Texas A&M 1

Tonight we went to see the National Champion Florida State Seminoles Soccer Team play Texas A&M at 7 PM. It was 90 degrees at game time - but a pleasant breeze mad it bearable.

The Aggies scored the only goal in the first half. The Seminoles recovered in the second half scoring 3 quick goals. There was a nice crowd - admission is free - quite a few football fans came to see the girls play.

About 3 years ago - they scraped with field clean - leveled it all out - and planted new turf. It would make a beautiful lawn. The stadium shares a common concession area with the softball stadium.

FSU is 4-1 this season - losing a 4-3 game to the Gators at Gainesville. FSU is currently ranked 5th - Texas A&M was ranked 3rd - until tonight.

FSU had players from Ireland - Iceland - Germany - and Finland. All 15 FSU players played except for one. The guy sitting next to us - drove all the way up from Cape Canaveral to see his All-American freshman daughter play - no luck. He kept insisting that the team needed fresh legs in there.

Our Week At Knoebels Grove With Our Friends And Family

The Everhart 8 in Elysburg PA last week

Knoebels Grove is a time warp amusement park in Elysburg PA. It was founded by the Knoebels Family in 1926 - and they still own and operate it. The philosophy is very simple - free admission - free parking - free shows - and free museums. There are plenty of park benches around for the old folks to watch the kids have a good time. They have camp grounds and cottages available for rent. There are lots of big shade trees - the area was the center of the Pennsylvania Lumber Industry for centuries. 

If you want to ride the rides - you pay per ride - sometimes they have a hand stamp bargain period - but not on weekends. Rides cost from $1 to $3. They gave me a discount of 10% for buying $150 worth of tickets at once. those tickets pretty well paid for all the rides of our family of 8 - try doing that at Disneyworld. The kids went pretty well non-stop.

For $1400 - Lulu and I rented a cottage for a week. The cottage had 5 "bedrooms", 2 bathrooms - 5 full size beds and a pull out couch. We invited family and friends to come and stay as long as they wanted. We had campfires every night - and had visitors every day except Wednesday. We used the grill to cook for 14 of us at one stint. Our cottage - called Pine Crest - was about 100 yards up a small hill from the Phoenix Coaster. At night it was quiet - you could hear the coaster and the train until 10 PM - closing time.

Riding A 52 Year Old Ford F100

1963 Ford F100
Back in 1973 - when Lulu and I were building our kit house at 221 Catawissa Street in Tamaqua PA - we bought a 1963 Ford F100 Pickup. It was already 10 years old at the time and we paid $575 for it at Kovich Chevrolet on Center Street. It was red - had a 3 speed on the column shifter - and a 292 V8 engine. It was a nice truck - but as soon as the house project was over - we sold it.

Yesterday - I drove 45 miles to Bainbridge GA to see this 52 year old version of that truck. Robert - the seller - wants $2900 for it. It is a nice truck considering that it is 52 years old. It started up pretty nicely and drove well. It has power steering and automatic transmission. The 352 cubic inch V8 is not the original - but it was smooth and solid - and the new mufflers made it quiet. It did not blow any blue - black - or white smoke out of the exhaust. The body and frame were pretty strong - few signs of rust. The windows were all intact and the rollups worked. The turn signals did not work.

Thursday, September 03, 2015

Top 10 Rock Videos of All Time - The Animals Do - House of the Rising Sun

I generally do not post stuff that is not my own stuff. But this rock video was way ahead of its time. I love Blues songs - this one certainly had legs. There is lots of smooth basic camera work.

The Animals were part of the British Invasion of the 1960s. The Beatles - The Rolling Stones - The Who - The Kinks - The Animals - the Dave Clark Five - Who did I miss?