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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The Honda 600 - The First Honda Car produced For USA Import - We Had One

1972 Honda 600 at
Proctor Honda - I am typing from the showroom

1100 pounds and 36 horsepower - this car is tiny

I am sitting in the showroom at Proctor Honda in Tallahassee - waiting for the service on our 2016 Honda Odyssey Van. We bought it one year ago and it has 12000 miles on it. I am in a pretty good mood because the service tech just told me that there is no charge for the 12000 mile service.

Another reason I like coming here is because sitting right in front of me in the showroom is a 1972 Honda 600. This was the first car Honda imported into the USA - a few year before the Civic. It is also the first brand new car that Lulu and I bought together.

1972 was a big year for us. We were married a year and Lulu graduated from THS. We bought a little travel trailer to live in while we started building our new home by the Bungalow in Tamaqua. Lulu also started commuting from Tamaqua to Kutztown State College - 40 miles each way.

In those days - my employer used to pay teachers their summer play in a lump sum to save postage stamps. We got a big check and proceeded to buy a new car. It was a new Honda 600 for $1525. It barely sat 4 people. It had a 2 cylinder engine - 4 speed - no AC - and no options were available but a radio.

The car weighed 1100 pounds. It had 36 horsepower. It was one of the first ones to have front wheel drive. It had 10 inch tires and disk brakes. It went from 0 to 60 MPH in 19 seconds. It topped out at 77 MPH and got 36 miles per gallon. We loved that little car - by today's standards it was not very safe.

The first thing we did when we got it was to drive it to Miami. It took us 2 days and $8 of gasoline to get there. When we got there - we rented a tiny apartment for $70 a month. It was really just a bedroom and bathroom on an enclosed veranda - but we loved it. We both got jobs right away - Lulu worked the service desk at K-Mart and announced the Bluelight Specials. I ended up selling cars for Honda. It was a romantic life for both of us - and we considered staying there. But at the end of August we drove back to Tamaqua and I went back to teaching and Lulu became a Kutztown Coed - where she majored in library science.

Life went on - we bought almost 80 cars since then. But that little Honda holds a special spot in our hearts. We visited Disneyworld for the first time in that car on the way home to Pennsylvania. To save money on that trip home - we stayed in the little Honda - on that humid mosquito filled night.

Tomorrow we will drive our new Honda van to Orlando to meet our good buddies Carl and Marylou at the Palma Maria for supper. Things have changed a bit - we rented an Embassy Suite in Orlando to relax after our dinner - and then drive home the next day.

Back on our first visit to Florida in 1971 - when we eloped - Lulu vowed to one day live in Florida. Little did we know back then - one day she would be a professor at Florida State University. And I would be carrying her bags.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Panama City Trip - Campers - Beach - Hofbrau House - Tiny Homes

Lulu liked this little lightweight trailer.
This diesel Freightliner was nice at $49k. 

Over the weekend we went to Panama City Beach for the holiday. It was sort of a bribe though. I wanted to see 4 campers I was interested in that were listed on Craigslist. Getting Lulu to co-operate - simply bribe her with the beach. We made the stops early and by 1 PM she was in the sand. 

The campers were all nice - but the motor homes were overpriced for their age and miles. The trailer was only two years old and well kept - it looked like new. The 3 motor homes were all about 9 years old and had on about 100,000 miles. They were priced from $49000 to $53000. 

The trailer is a 2016 Rpod by Forest River. they list at $16000 new. This guy wanted $10,500 for his - I offered $9000. We liked them all - but our hearts not into any one of them.

Let me explain our situation. We like having a camper to travel in - sleep in - use the bathroom. We are not big "sit around the campsite" people. We like to visit cities - museums - historical things - shop. We like to camp at parking meters. 

Also - Lulu is really good at getting top grade hotels at low prices. He FSU card gets her government rates - which are usually half price. She also shops the internet. When holiday hotel rooms at the beach were going for $300 - she got us a Hampton Inn for ⅓ of that.  Make no mistake about it - staying in a 5 star hotel room is ALWAYS better than a camper.

Finally - Lulu has me all over the world -and you can't drive a camper over the ocean - yet. For example - we will be in London the whole month of July. We just spent March in Spain - and last year we spent Feb-Mar-Apr in Germany. She has been named a Fulbright Specialist - which means we will be having 2 extended stays in 2 foreign countries in the next 3 years. Nothing worse than having a camper sit out front as a lawn ornament. So I am guessing - unless the perfect bargain comes along - no more campers for a while. 

This 2008 Pleasureway was $53k.
This 2009 Mercedes was $49k.

There bed in the Mercedes was electric.
This Freightliner was clean with 60k miles.

I loved the Freightliner cab.
On the way home we stopped at a Tiny House development just west of Tallahassee. They remind me of cabins at the state park. They have full bathrooms - little bedrooms - kitchenettes in the living room.  They are cute - but are like living in a camper that does not move. You better build them in the right place.

I would like to have my builder Gary put a couple in our back yard. There is a big market here for AirBnB cottages - with the sporting events - etc. Lulu says I can have 2 but they must include a pool. Shot down again. 

Tiny Houses
They remind me of cabins in the Poconos

A Danger to the World It's Time to Get Rid of Donald Trump

A DER SPIEGEL Editorial by 

U.S President Donald Trump
Donald Trump is not fit to be president of the United States. He does not possess the requisite intellect and does not understand the significance of the office he holds nor the tasks associated with it. He doesn't read. He doesn't bother to peruse important files and intelligence reports and knows little about the issues that he has identified as his priorities. His decisions are capricious and they are delivered in the form of tyrannical decrees.
He is a man free of morals. As has been demonstrated hundreds of times, he is a liar, a racist and a cheat. I feel ashamed to use these words, as sharp and loud as they are. But if they apply to anyone, they apply to Trump. And one of the media's tasks is to continue telling things as they are: Trump has to be removed from the White House. Quickly. He is a danger to the world.
Trump is a miserable politician. He fired the FBI director simply because he could. James Comey had gotten under his skin with his investigation into Trump's confidants. Comey had also refused to swear loyalty and fealty to Trump and to abandon the investigation. He had to go.
Witnessing an American Tragedy
Trump is also a miserable boss. His people invent excuses for him and lie on his behalf because they have to, but then Trump wakes up and posts tweets that contradict what they have said. He doesn't care that his spokesman, his secretary of state and his national security adviser had just denied that the president had handed Russia (of all countries) sensitive intelligence gleaned from Israel (of all countries). Trump tweeted: Yes, yes, I did, because I can. I'm president after all.

Nothing is as it should be in this White House. Everyone working there has been compromised multiple times and now they all despise each other - and everyone except for Trump despises Trump. Because of all that, after just 120 days of the Trump administration, we are witness to an American tragedy for which there are five theoretical solutions.

The first is Trump's resignation, which won't happen. The second is that Republicans in the House and Senate support impeachment, which would be justified by the president's proven obstruction of justice, but won't happen because of the Republicans' thirst for power, which they won't willingly give up. The third possible solution is the invocation of the 25th Amendment, which would require the cabinet to declare Trump unfit to discharge the powers of the presidency. That isn't particularly likely either. Fourth: The Democrats get ready to fight and win back majorities in the House and Senate in midterm elections, which are 18 months away, before they then pursue option two, impeachment. Fifth: the international community wakes up and finds a way to circumvent the White House and free itself of its dependence on the U.S. Unlike the preceding four options, the fifth doesn't directly solve the Trump problem, but it is nevertheless necessary - and possible.
No Goals and No Strategy
Not quite two weeks ago, a number of experts and politicians focused on foreign policy met in Washington at the invitation of the Munich Security Conference. It wasn't difficult to sense the atmosphere of chaos and agony that has descended upon the city.
The U.S. elected a laughing stock to the presidency and has now made itself dependent on a joke of a man. The country is, as David Brooks wrote recently in the New York Times, dependent on a child. The Trump administration has no foreign policy because Trump has consistently promised American withdrawal while invoking America's strength. He has promised both no wars and more wars. He makes decisions according to his mood, with no strategic coherence or tactical logic. Moscow and Beijing are laughing at America. Elsewhere, people are worried.
In the Pacific, warships - American and Chinese - circle each other in close proximity. The conflict with North Korea is escalating. Who can be certain that Donald Trump won't risk nuclear war simply to save his own skin? Efforts to stop climate change are in trouble and many expect the U.S. to withdraw from the Paris Agreement because Trump is wary of legally binding measures. Crises, including those in Syria and Libya, are escalating, but no longer being discussed. And who should they be discussed with? Phone calls and emails to the U.S. State Department go unanswered. Nothing is regulated, nothing is stable and the trans-Atlantic relationship hardly exists anymore. German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel and Bundestag Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Norbert Röttgen fly back and forth, but Germany and the U.S. no longer understand each other. Hardly any real communication takes place, there are no joint foreign policy goals and there is no strategy.
In "Game of Thrones," the Mad King was murdered (and the child that later took his place was no better). In real life, an immature boy sits on the throne of the most important country in the world. He could, at any time, issue a catastrophic order that would immediately be carried out. That is why the parents cannot afford to take their eyes off him even for a second. They cannot succumb to exhaustion because he is so taxing. They ultimately have to send him to his room - and return power to the grownups.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Sunday Morning At Panama City Beach - Don't Tell Me To Suck In My Gut - It Is Already At Full Alert

Names are confusing - This is Panama City Beach - FLORIDA.
It is a separate place from Panama City - FLORIDA -
and Panama City - PANAMA.

It is a pretty day at the pier. Lulu loves the beach. I carry her bags - and her tent. This time we parked at the mall and walked across the street. We will enjoy two hours here then return to our hotel to clean up - then go home. 

Lulu is already in the water. Where are the cousins when you need them?

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Jim Fogarty and Paul Gimbel - A Visit With My Two High School And College Buddies

Two Tamaqua deejays spun a few tunes for me.
Note the custom mechanical jukebox.
Two Coal Cracker Corvette owners.
One time Jim said to me -
Can your imagine me in a van?
I drive a Honda van.
I was sitting in the Tamaqua Train Station with Lulu and her aunt Dolores. Suddenly I got a message from Paul Gimbel. He said he would pick me up and we would go to lunch. Perfect. When he arrived - he announced we were going to Jim Fogarty's house for lunch. Jim's wife Mary Beth offered up a great lunch and we accepted.

Paul and Jim are legends in Tamaqua. The 50s - 60s - and 70s - belonged to them. They were some of the brilliant people that chose to live and die in the Tamaqua Area. They paid their dues.

Jim Fogarty sat behind me in many of my high school classes. Paul Gimbel took over that role at Kutztown State Teachers College. They were a big part of my life. Some of you may re-call - they also entertained Tamaqua on weekend as DJ's at WSVB-FM in Dutch Hill. They were full time colleges students but came home to Tamaqua on weekends to provide 12 hours of live programming every Saturday and Sunday. The skills they gained served them both well as educators. Paul was an Communications teacher at Lehighton. Jim was a principal at Schuylkill Haven and eventually the director of the Schuylkill County School System.

Jim has a beautiful home. We sat in his basement man cave for a few hours and just relived the past. We played records - talked cars - and reviewed our lives. Everything picked up right where we left off almost 50 years ago. We talked about our kids - and even some grandkids. There was no agenda - just stream of consciousness - from three 70ish old school marms.

Everyone has a success icon. To Lulu - it is a cement pond in the back yard. To coal cracker guys - it is a Corvette in the garage. Jim has a beautiful 1966 Corvette roadster in his basement. It is in better than showroom condition. Not be outdone - Paul showed me a phone picture of his 1964 red Corvette. Jim graduated from THS in 1966 - Paul in 1964.

Jim and Mary Beth's home is beautiful. But things that impress me would not get a second look from others. What impressed me most was Jim's heating system. He has a tiny furnace that runs on propane gas. The are 10 pumps and copper manifolds that send hot water to different places. Each room has a 3 inch concrete floor with copper tubes in it. Each room has its own thermostat. But the best part is zones running under the outside sidewalks and driveways. The heat melts the snow and ice of a Pennsylvania winter. No need to break your back shoveling snow or falling on an icy sidewalk. Jim always did/does a thorough job.

At our ages - you never know which visit is your last one. But you know - this one was a perfect ending. I love seeing these guys and hearing how things turned out.

Paul - my chair - Jim
He who has the most toys wins.
Can you imagine me in a Corvette?

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Another Gary Shiver Well-Built Home

My old crew - Joe Shiver - Gary Wayne Shiver -
Gary Shiver - home owner Brian
Large plantation porch - metal roof
It has been 3 years since Gary Shiver built our home. He only builds 3 or 4 a year. He never advertises - he gets jobs by word of mouth. He has been doing it this way for 40 years. What a business model!

This home is being built in northeast Tallahassee. Brian - the owner - is a computer technology specialist. He came to Tallahassee from Seattle. He found out about Gary Shiver from other customers. He checked out our web page at -

Gary's homes are all custom homes. The owners do the planning - Bill Richardson puts it down on paper - and Gary and his crew builds on a handshake. After 3 years - we are amazed at how well thought out our construction is. We discover neat little details all the time. 

Brian's home is one story with spacious high ceilings. It is built on a tall concrete slab. It has a giant separate garage and its own well. The garage holds 4 cars. 

The house has a metal roof with SucraSeal foam insulation. It will not have gutters and has wide eaves for runoff. 
4 car garage 
The Side of the house facing the garage - note
the private double deck -
indoor and outdoor

The garage has a side door for yard tools
They plan a pool
Joe Shiver is a saw expert. He does most
of the cutting - down to 1/32nd of an inch
A nice big glass door to the big open living room
Look at this living room
The master bedroom has a wood ceiling -
also glass door outside
Note the skylights
Note the overlapping metal roof

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Country Home in Tamaqua's New England Valley Sold For $38,000

House sold for $38,000

Original Story read by over 6000 people

Harry Note - My friend and former student Ben Turrano is a Realtor. He showed this house to us in January when we visited family in Tamaqua. I wrote a story about it - the story that became my top read story on my web page - over 6000 hits. I have been writing on this web page since 2005 - 12 years of active publishing.

Here are the results - the house sold from a person reading about it on my web page.

Ben wrote this to me. I asked him if I could publish his letter. He said okay - but do not publish the buyer's name. Here is the letter -

Good morning! 
I was just waking up as I heard you and Lulu hop in the car and begin your trek homeward. I peeked out the window as you hopped in the rental car.

I was sorry to have missed you this trip but hope to connect again in the near future.

Wanted to thank you for the Blog article on Lori's old house, it connected me with a buyer from the Valley who ended up buying the house for $38,000 cash and plans to rehab it for his son, daughter and new grandson. He is in construction and estimates the home needs between $20,000 to 30,000 in repairs and upgrades - materials costs only as he is doing his own labor where possible. He seems pleased with the house. XXXXXXX from midway between us and Heislers on Valley Road. His son XXXXXXX saw the facebook share of your blog and called me setting things into motion. I asked if he knew you as a student, and he did not - the information simply came to him through social connections. Amazing media. I should have offered to take you to lunch as a thank you. Next trip perhaps. 

Real Estate is picking up as it typically does this season, but prices in the Tamaqua area continue to be depressed - even disappointing. Soon to be known initiatives should help stem the tide of economic decay. At times I don't know whether Tamaqua is a patient on life support or has been zapped back from death... I do know the heart is good and that's the key. 

Lots of spring and summer projects ahead of me. Want to plant a garden and begin demolishing that shed in back of the house for the replacement. Know that if we make it a studio guest house, you and Nancy will always have a place to stay during your visits. Perhaps a close alternative to her old bedroom a few points of GPS data removed.

I'd like to make some headway on the 65 Beetle this year as well as get my dads 37 Buick running. He has it so close, I think only a carb and master cylinder are needed. Sadly he never drove it in the 4 years he owned it before he died.

Melanie has some ideas for outside which include a firepit, new bilco door for the basement and man door on the garage. I may have to put windows in the garage too. At 90 years old - those things look as if they'll fall apart if we get a good storm.

Best as always to you both. Safe journey today and always.
- Ben

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Melissa Johnston - Receives Top Research Award

Melissa Johnston - left - one of Lulu's top doctoral students is now a professor at the University of West Georgia. She recently got the award for top research at her university. Melissa is an expert on school libraries. She previously taught at the Universities of Kentucky and Alabama.

Friday, May 12, 2017

David Funeral Home - Tamaqua PA

Our buddies Dick and Jan Davis used to run this funeral home. It is on the banks of the Schuylkill River in Tamaqua PA. The last time we visited town - we considered buying it interning into a Bed and Breakfast. It is a very nice building with lots of promise. 

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Tuesday - Lulu and I Enjoyed EPCOT Together

In EPCOT - the entrance to the World Showcase

In England - we loved the British Revolution.

We had a big week scheduled for Disneyworld. Disney offered great discounts to Florida residents - $49 for hotel rooms - and $138 three day passes. Then - we had a funeral to attend in Pennsylvania. We had the choice of canceling the Disney visit -and flying from Tallahassee. Instead we chose to do the Disney trip and fly to Tamaqua from Sanford FL.

So we enjoyed Disneyworld Monday and Tuesday. Then we flew north leaving Disneyworld at 4 AM Wednesday. We got to Allentown at 9:30 and Tamaqua at 11AM.

Wednesday night the viewing was at 6PM and Thursday the funeral was at St Jerome Church at 11:00. Lulu delivered the eulogy. Then we had a dinner at Trinity Church. Now we are at Lulu's old home - she is napping away - she can relax now a bit and try to enjoy the visit.

When we return to Central Florida Saturday - we will go back to Disneyworld to finish our visit.  Then we head home to Tallahassee Sunday.

Disney's gardens are top drawer

We visited China and a 360 degree movie

One of my favorite shows is - The Lion King

Lulu is right at home in Germany - particular with a brat and
pretzel - Sauerkraut - and grapefruit beer

This German band says something to us

Germans love their model train yards.

This garden train yard is exposed to the weather all the time.

The 7 dwarfs in flowers.

Snow White - who is the fairest of them all - Lulu.

I want to build 2 guest houses - this could be one.

In England - the British tea garden.

Alice was  in England.

There was a rock concert here just 10minutes ago - see video.

This could be our second guest house - in Canada.

Lulu loved Niagra Falls in Canada.

Front and back.  I love that girl.