Search This Blog

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Christmas In Paris With The Kids

Just like Santa - we came to Paris from the North Pole -
with presents

After six months in China away from family - we flew to Paris for Christmas. 

Saturday started simple enough - breakfast in our Beijing flat - then a taxi to the airport. Lulu had found two $800 round trips to Paris! They were Beijing to Paris - non-stop - on Air France. The flight was a short 10 hours - almost 8 hours spent over Russia. Our Boeing 777 was packed but Lulu somehow weaseled and empty seat next to me and it helped make it a pleasant flight. Since Air France is a sister company of Delta - we were able to go in the Sky Lounge - and also will get Delta miles for the trip. 

Taking off in China - our plane traveled northwest on a Great Circle route that took us near the North Pole. Essentially - we were going around the world - the wrong way. After months of Chinese food - we chose the French dishes - one of beef and mashed potatoes - heaven for me. Our Boeing 777 has a really neat map system that gave you several options of tracking your flight. 

Lulu slept a little but I stayed up the entire 10 hours - we arrived in Paris with the sun still up. It was very quick through customs. Since there is a general strike in France - we had booked a private car to take us into town. A black Citroen arrived - loaded our bags - and the ride into town was quiet and pleasant. In short time we were at Keiths (my apostrophe key is broke) apartment. More about the apartment later. 

We played with the kids - had a light supper - and enjoyed hearing the latest. Lulu and the kids made some scratch cookie dough for the cookie workshop the next day. Then it was bath and bed time around 7 PM. Just an hour later Lulu and I were also skidding to a halt. We were in bed by 8 PM. We dozed off to the FSU Seminoles playing USF on TV. 

Around 3 AM - I was wide awake wondering who won the FSU/USF game. Lulu had recorded it so we watched it thru. The Seminoles won! They had trailed twice by 13 and 10. At the end they came storming back with a stifling defense and won 66-60. The are now 11-2 and ranked 19 in the nation. 

Keith has fiberoptic internet with speeds of 900 MBPS! That is the fastest I ever used. It is great for sending videos and watching our TV from home. We sure missed that in China. 

I am wide awake - so I figured I would post a story - about this big adventure. 

We left 14 degrees and wind in China. The worst part so the trip was from our building to the curb hoping we would get a cab. All of a sudden Lulu broke into a sprint - she saw a lone cab coming - he stopped - we were at the airport in minutes. We checked 4 bags and relaxed in the lounge. We touch down in Paris to 53 degree temperature. I taught weather for 33 years - and I was hard to convince the kids that it could be warmer in Paris than Beijing - when Paris is much farther north. 

Son Drew and family will fly in soon. The Everhart 10 will rock the Christmas Week together in Paris - France!

10 hours - 5000 miles - 7 time zones

We sailed northwest - then southwest

All those Russian cities - I knew very few

8 hours over Russian makes me a spy

4.5 hours to go - 2300 miles more

We were so far north - Moscow was south. 

Pilots view - 473 MPH - 36,000 feet -
7 miles high

Over water a short time - Poland on Left -
Sweden and Denmark on the right

Over Germany - Netherland on right  - even London
Luxembourg on left - Paris in sight. 

Monday, December 16, 2019

Monday Morning Snow Day in China

Our 6 months visit to China is winding down. Lulu has been teaching at Beijing Normal University under a Fulbright Scholarship. She teaches graduate classes in library science. The university has provided an apartment just off campus on the 10th floor. We came here in August and will go home to Florida in January. 

It has been fun but we are looking forward to returning home to normalcy in Florida. We miss our friends and family. 

The weather has been mostly good. We have had 2 mild snowfalls. We also had a few days of smog. We look forward to the pristine air and water of Tallahassee. 

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Forrest achieving on and off the court for FSU

FSU point guard Trent Forrest is set to graduate in less than four years with a 3.46 GPA and a bachelor's in sports management Friday. RYALS LEE/FSU ATHLETICS

Curt Weiler
Tallahassee Democrat USA TODAY NETWORK – FLORIDA
Trent Forrest has achieved a lot on the court in his Florida State basketball career.
The senior point guard has played a crucial role in the rejuvenation of the FSU basketball program. He’s come up big in FSU’s deep runs in the NCAA Tournament runs in each of the last two seasons while catapulting his way into the Top 10 in the program record books in career steals (181, eighth) and assists (371, 10th).
If Forrest plays in 34 games this season, he’ll surpass former teammate Terance Mann for the most games played in program history.
While accomplishing great feats on the court, Forrest has also been ahead of schedule in the classroom. He’s set to graduate today with his bachelor’s degree in sports management. He’ll do so with a 3.46 GPA and in less than four years considering he arrived at FSU in the summer of 2016.
It’s a plan that has been in the works dating back to his high school career in Chipley.
“In high school earlier, in ninth or tenth grade, I didn’t really think I would be in college classes in high school,” Forrest said.
“I had good grades so my teachers and advisors, they went ahead and just put me in those AP classes and I kinda did good in them. It just kinda went from there. My junior year, I had a couple AP classes and then senior year, I had another AP class and I dual-enrolled that year so that put me ahead. When I got here, I was already ahead

and now I’m graduating in (three and a half) years so it paid off for sure.”
The benefit of being from Chipley, only about 90 minutes west of Tallahassee? Forrest expected a big crowd of supporters in attendance for Friday’s ceremony.
“I have 20 graduation tickets right now. ... it’ll probably be a good bit of family and friends there,” Forrest said earlier this week.
None of them may be prouder than his mother, Barbara Lee. Due to her displeasure for traveling, she didn’t complain about the fact that her son fell in love with the nearby Seminoles during his recruitment.
“It was indeed such a blessing,” Lee told the Democrat.
“I did not try to interfere. I pretty much just left it up to him because I didn’t want him, down the road, to say he missed out on anything or my intervention and helping him make a decision may lead to regret. I just said you decide where you want to go, we’ll pray about that and see if we come up with the same thing and whatever you want to do then I’m supporting you with whatever your decision is.
“When we went over for his official visit. I was really pleased with all of the things that they had to help them as far as academics, personal life...It just seemed to be the total package.”
At their busiest, Forrest’s school days -- jam-packed with class, studying, projects, workouts, practice and film study -- can exceed 16 hours of constant work.
His mother credits his intrinsic work ethic that has allowed him to perform so admirably on the court and in the classroom.
“With Trent, it just came real natural. To this day, I’m amazed at his discipline academically as well as his work ethic with sports and all,” Lee said.
“He still studied, you know, he put the time in studying and preparing for tests and different things, but it really did come naturally for him.”
Forrest also credits the ideals instilled into him from childhood about the importance of education. He believes this has played a role in him being an ACC Academic Basketball Team honoree in each of his first three seasons with the Seminoles.
“Sometimes (my family is) more proud of that than anything I do on the court because they stressed to me that’s one thing no one will be able to take from you is your education,” Forrest said.
“My family, they’re very proud of me graduating and all the academic awards I have received.”
Lee is equally proud of the things she hears about Forrest from FSU fans each time she visits Tallahassee.
“It never fails when I’m at FSU that someone comes up to me and asks if I’m his mom and just compliments him on how humble he is and how respectful he is,” Lee said. “That makes parents really proud because I knew what he was here, but sometimes kids, they tend to change when they leave home and that has stayed with him.”
Forrest’s head start and early graduation will allow him to get a jump start on a Master’s degree even though he didn’t redshirt and will spend just four years at FSU.
Forrest was admitted to FSU’s highlyregarded Master’s in Sports Management program -- rated the best in the country byCollege Choice -- and will complete one semester of graduate classes in the spring before pursuing his professional career.
“It’s definitely hard to get into,” Forrest said of the program.
“You have to have the right GPA and then have the right references for people to help you get in. It’s definitely a hard group to get in, but our advisors and even having (FSU basketball coach Leonard Hamilton) on my side kind of helped me with that.”
He won’t finish his Master’s before leaving, but he plans to complete it gradually over his professional career through online classes.
That will give Forrest a boost on his post-playing-career plans. He wants to stay around basketball and follow in the footsteps of a few FSU graduates like Jeff Peterson, assistant general manager for the Brooklyn Nets, and Luke Loucks, player development coach for the Golden State Warriors.
“Either GM or coach, just something to keep me around basketball definitely would be the plan.”

Friday, December 13, 2019

Tokyo Japan Is Over The Top Different

The Buddhist Temple on campus
I love these tiny vans - they sit 2-2-2

It is 9 PM Friday night - our last night in Tokyo. We have been busy busy. Lulu did two presentations on Wednesday and Thursday. The rest of the time we toured on foot and train. Our Hotel Mets was in Yokohama - about 12 miles south of the Royal Palace. Three days we took the train from Tsurumi to  Tokyo Station. 

I have so much to say about Japan. Again - I remind you - spending 5 days in Tokyo and commenting about Japan is like visiting Tamaqua for a week and thinking you know about the USA. We really liked everything we saw. Japan is very different than China and the USA - heck it is different than anywhere I have ever been. Tokyo has a very high standard of living. Everyone is working - they dress very professionally - and everything is so well kept. 

We have never seen a train/subway system like this. I have never seen cars so densely packed with people. But yet it is quiet and comfortable. No one talks on the train. The trains are fast - smooth - on time - clean - and the latest technology. The trains have big windows and they are all spotless inside and out. The floors are very clean. You cannot find litter anywhere. No graffiti. 

The shopping is over the top. There are so many high quality stores - packed with intricate goodies - food - clothes - toys. Prices are much lower in China - but the goods seem to be a higher quality for sale. 

I can go on forever about the cars and streets. I was surprised at how civil the traffic was. There were very few bikes or scooters. There might be a restricted zone that keep many cars out of downtown - with a big fee. The street are perfect- no pot holes - cracks- bumps. The sidewalk are beautiful. Well maintained and lots of gardening. There is no challenge between cars and people in the walk/no walk signs. 

Tokyo population is about 13 million - which is 11% of Japan folks. It is amazing what Japan does with this arch of islands. Most of it is jagged mountains - very little farm land or fuel. When I was a kid - all the cheap manufacturing goods came from Japan. But they graduated from that. China is our big importer now. 

In my opinion the best cars in the world come from Japan. They are the easiest to maintain - and last so long. I estimated 90% of the cars I saw were Toyota. We saw very few Hondas - my favorites. Toyota makes a black cab that is really nice. It is not as good looking as the new London cab. I simple love the little vans and trucks in Japan. They cannot bring them to America - because they do not pass our safety laws. Another safety thing - most cars are removed form the highway by the time they hit 40,000 miles - they are very strict on engine emissions - if they engine flunks the test - they are removed and sent to America. America loves Toyota engines with only 40,000 miles on them. In America - Hondas and Toyotas are stolen so much - to pluck their engines - and other parts. 

German cars are nice too - but they are more costly to maintain - we did not see many of them here - maybe some Porsche sedans - not many Mercedes. In China - they make Mercedes right there. 

Lulu had a great presentation at the Tsurumi University. Because Lulu is paid by Fulbright - she is not allowed to accept a fee. The guest schools provide hotels - Fulbright pays Lulus travel. I pay mine. You all know what a tightwad I am - several of the schools offered as much as $2000 as an honorarium. Lulu turns it down out of hand. She explains that she is being paid. 

After her lectures here - we toured the Buddhist Monastery and Temple on campus. I never saw anything like that. They spend their whole day praying and cleaning. They sleep and live in spartan buildings. We got to go in. A monk took us on a tour. We saw a Buddhist service. Drums - bongs - incense. 

We knew coming in that hotels - transportation - and food - in Japan were expensive. Lulu shopped a lot but bought very little. 

The weather was better in Tokyo than Beijing. It was up and down here. We had 65 yesterday and sunny -  and a high of 45 today. One day was shirtsleeves - the next day a heavy jacket. Beijing has worse smog. Both cities are making strong efforts to clean up the air and water. Everyone drinks bottle water in China - too much lead in the water. We see no bottled water here in the hotel - etc.

We came here on Air China - a communist government jet. It was only about 20% full. It was smooth - and the food was okay. They flew with the first class cabin almost empty. In the USA - they would move guests up to first class. 

There is a shop here that makes scratch cream puffs - like Wenzels used to make. they bake the puffs - then fill them with cream right in front of you. We used to get them in London - Beard Papas. They go for about $1.70 each. We had them  two nights. You can have chocolate - white - or yellow filling. 

The Imperial Palace is on an island right downtown. This is where the Emperor lives. It is a walled island. It is said that at the end of the war - General MacArthur did not go in the Palace. He stood outside and said the Emperor will come out - he did. Tokyo was heavily bombed during the war. Today - by treaty - Japan does not have an aggressive army - just a small defense force. Almost 80 years later - USA keeps a big force here. 

We measure countries by their Gross Domestic Product - the total of all their goods and services. USA is number 1. China is number 2. Japan is 3. Germany is 4. It seems that a way to get ahead is to go to war with the USA and lose. USA will then come and give your foreign aid to rebuild you and you flourish. Someone should tell Vietnam they should have let USA win :-)

We fly home to Beijing tomorrow at 2 PM - the flight is 3 hours. This is the last side work trip for Lulu. 

The Japanese Congress - called The Diet

Our host in the beautiful subways

Our hotel lobby

The station to Tokyo from our hotel room

In restaurant -
this guy left his computer
phone and bag for 20 minutes.

Train to Tokyo from Tsurumi

Tokyo Train Station

The Palace

Moat around Palace

Imperial Garden

This guy was famous and signing 
VIP tour of Diet Library -
their Library of Congress


Quiet clean subway

Cream Puffs

Lulu taught here

Notice curved chalk boards

Campus Temple

Child care wagons

Monastery Van

Monks hand wipe walkways

Monk beds

Monk quarter - paper windows

Monestary Wood

Painters on campus

Neat little trucks

Dean of library schools took us touring

Drive on left - escalator on left

In the stacks of National Diet Library

VIP tour of Diet Library

Really neat Honda Trikes

Sibuya Square - Times Square

Note how clean streets are

Filling my cream puffs

Just like Wenzel doughnuts

I wanted to go here -
but it was 500 miles
away - 4 hours

Olympics in Tokyo this summer

Palace downtown

High end candy

Underground subway shopping

I love this McDonalds
Toilet! Clean
Warm - Bidet

In the bathroom

Entrance to a subway

Neat subway sofa -
I could live there

Shopping at night

Little electric folding bike

Above bike - $900

Casino - men playing games