Tag Archives: penn state

Family, food and football — a very nice Thanksgiving weekend!

It’s Sunday evening of the Thanksgiving weekend, and Mrs. Poolman and I are just “chillin.’”

We had a very nice weekend. My sister, brother in law and recent-law-school-grad nephew came down from Greenville, South Carolina for the weekend, and we all had a great time.  Maggie is the middle of my three younger sisters, and the only of my sibs within a reasonable driving distance.

Mrs. P and I both took Wednesday off to shop, clean and generally get ready for the weekend. Company arrived on Thursday. Both our children and their significant others came over and contributed to the feast. We spent the day “visiting” and watching a little football. Dinner was all the usual – turkey, gravy, dressing, mashed potatoes, vegetables, etc. Son-in-law made the pies. Poolboy contributed about 20 pounds of mashed potatoes. Yummy!

We have two adult children, both of whom also have other family commitments. It’s interesting that we have absolutely no problem coordinating holiday schedules with one of the families. With the other, it’s nearly impossible. Every holiday becomes a minor drama. I think the major issue is the other family cannot organize their own lives, which makes it impossible to coordinate with someone else.  A while back, we got frustrated with the whole deal. Now, we stake out our meal time and plans well in advance and just let it be known, so they can work around it, or not, as they will.

On Friday, we drove downtown and walked around River Street and the historic district.

The World War II memorial in Savannah's River Street

We stopped into one antique-salvage-junk store. My sister and both bought an interesting looking old window frame.

We'll see what I can do with this.

I’m not sure what I’m going to do with it. I may print up some individual family photographs and mount them behind the glass in each frame. I’m not a really “craftsy” person, so we’ll have to see how it turns out.

For Friday dinner, we cooked a low country boil (shrimp, potatoes, sausage and corn.) It broke up the non-stop turkey and turkey and ham sandwiches.

On Saturday, we watched football from lunch time to bed time. In our group, we had alums of Penn State, South Carolina and, of course, Florida. We were one for three on the day. How the Gators held FSU to less than 100 yards of total offense, and still managed to lose by two touchdowns is just amazing.

The Steelers are on Sunday Night Football. Maybe they will bring our weekend effort up to .500.

Back to work tomorrow. It hasn’t been the most exciting of weekends, but it was a very good one all the same.

What a difference a year makes!

Last year this time, I was moaning and whining about my class of 5th grade CCD (religion classes for kids who do not attend a Catholic school) students.

Last year’s class was quite a handful. When I was asked to come back and teach again this year, Mrs. Poolman reasonably asked me if I had lost my mind. I agreed to return for year #7, and I’m glad I did.

This year’s class is a large one – 25 students on a full night. And they have their moments, both individually and as a group. There are at least two boys, whose mothers tell me, are ADHD but they are trying to deal with it without using meds. I applaud the effort, but it can make Wednesday nights interesting.

Overall, this is a nice group of kids. They are active and full of energy, but I have been able to keep them more-or-less focused and engaged on whatever we are discussing at the time. They are full of questions, occasionally to an extreme.  Sometimes we have had to arbitrarily cut off discussion simply because the “what if…?” questions just become outlandish.

For the most part, I don’t really mind it. We don’t have a strict schedule of topics we must follow from week to week. So if they want to talk about something that is vaguely related to Catholicism, religion, God, morality, or just issues they encounter in their daily lives, we run with it.

Last night was interesting. When I arrived, the director, Pamela, handed me a sheet of paper with seven or eight guidelines to teach the class to help them avoid becoming abuse victims. (Think Penn State.) I went over these guidelines (good touch, bad touch, etc.) with the class, and then the lid came off the can of worms.

It was obvious this is something they have discussed with their parents (as they should) and their friends. Everyone had a question or a comment. It was active and rowdy, and while there were many times when three or four students were trying to contribute simultaneously, the comments and questions were all related to the main topic. What I expected would take five minutes ran on for 35 minutes, and could have gone to the end of the class.

I have an outstanding co-teacher, who is also the mother of one of the students. She is “the bomb.” She isn’t really interested in doing much teaching, but she actively participates in the discussions and is a major help with “crowd control.”

We may not be teaching the kids everything we are supposed to, but hopefully, they are learning something important. And we are having a good time.

Like PSU needs more bad news!

I’m the only one in our family of five siblings without strong ties to Penn State. Three of my four sibs and one brother-in-law are alums and, pretty much bleed blue and white. They have all been shocked and devastated by the events in State College this week.

The students there aren’t helping the university’s image. This video caught my eye because I spent 27 years in the TV news business. Stories of accidents with live microwave news vans are legendary. They usually involve raising the antenna mast into an uninsulated power line. (My last company had an intensive training and certification program to try to avert just that kind of very dangerous accident.)  There are the occasional cases of older vans without a cut-off safety switch where the driver drove off with the mast up and ran under a tree branch or overpass. That is never a good thing.  I don’t think I was ever seriously concerned about one of our vans being “flipped” on a college campus.

That’s pretty ugly.

Ode to a green Gremlin

I ran across one of those on-line “top ten” lists the other day. This was the top-ten worst automobiles, broken down by time periods. As scanned the list, sure enough, there it was, the 1970 AMC Gremlin.

In the fall of 1970, I was a freshman in college, and living at home. It was time to replace the family car, which up until this time had always been a full size station wagon. With two children driving (my brother and I) and a third coming up shortly, my parents decided rather than getting one large car, they would buy two small ones. I remember us walking into a Ford dealership, and when no one spoke to my father in what he considered a reasonable period of time, turning right around and walking back out the door.

My parents must have seen this ad. Note the back window on the nearest car -- no hinges or release handle. Why are these people so happy?

The next stop was the American Motors/AMC dealership. We had owned a number of “Ramblers” as I was growing up, so this was a brand we were familiar with.  When my father told the salesman we were interested in looking at Gremlins, the salesman replied, “Oh, a Gremlin!” His jaw dropped when my father replied, “No, TWO Gremlins.”

We drove off with two Gremlins. The first was very “stripped down” by today’s standards. It had automatic transmission, but that was pretty much it. No radio, no AC, no carpet, no power anything, etc. However, that Gremlin looked like a luxury car compared to the second one. Painted metallic green, that baby was as spare as you can get. The salesman told us that AMC wanted to be able to advertise a Gremlin for less than $2,000 and so they had one model that was stripped to the bone. It had a black vinyl interior and a “three on the tree” standard transmission with a clutch that took about 50 pounds of force to depress. No radio. “Two-fifty air conditioning” – roll down two windows and go 50.  Here is the real kicker – to cut cost, they eliminated the back seat. There was just this big empty well behind the front seat ands the rear hatch-window did not open.

Imagine it's dark metallic green, with a thin white "racing stripe."

This became my primary car for the rest of my freshman year and when I was home from college in Florida over the following three years. A couple of years later, when I was a senior at Florida and my brother and his girl friend were students at Penn State, the Nittany Lions were in the Orange Bowl. We talked my parents into letting the three of us drive the “stripped down” Gremlin from Pittsburgh to Miami for the game. The idea being they would drop me off at school in Gainesville after the game. That was an interesting trip. With no back seat, we piled our bags in the back. Either my brother or I would sit-lay-sleep on the stack of luggage.

About a year after I graduated, I was working in Jacksonville for a TV station that paid well in experience but almost nothing in wages. I was without a car and got around by bumming rides with friends and roommates, and doing a lot of walking. My parents offered me the stripped-down Gremlin. I jumped at the offer. Within a few months, I moved to a station in Mobile where they did not have news cars. We were expected to drive our own cars and were paid mileage. For more than three years, I drove that Gremlin all over South Alabama and the Florida Panhandle covering news. That black vinyl interior and “250 air conditioning” worked well in the Gulf Coast summers. (Not!)

Mrs. Poolman and I were married by this time and she drove a new Toyota Corolla hatchback.  That was our “nice car.”

Just before we left Mobile, we came across another car and sold the Gremlin to a high school kid.

As I look back on it, that car was a cantankerous beast, but we did spend a lot of time and miles together. I’m glad to see she is now getting the recognition she justly deserves.