The new kid in town, Mr Computer

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There is a new kid in town who is competing for control of many aspects of human existence.  So that we can give him/her a personal touch, I will call him/her CALI (Computer Aided Life Intelligence).  Ever since man bit into the proverbial apple, he has been in the control seat.  He decided when he wanted to go to war, how much he wanted to pollute the environment, how crazy he wanted to drive, at what temperature his refrigerator should be, how much soda he wanted in his cup, and countless other day-to-day decisions.  Well, I am here to tell you we are on the verge of a new age when man will, very subtly at first, and completely so, in the distant future, be governed by CALI.  You may know CALI by another name: the computer, the internet, the cloud or maybe even the boss.  This heartless, soulless entity is creeping into every aspect of our lives.  With the use of special glasses, CALI has even entered the sacred bedroom with interactive video capabilities that might push our current notions of sex to the back burner.  Our cars will, in the not too distant future, be driven by CALI, and we will just be passengers along for the ride.  I wrote about this a year ago.  I believe that CALI could save hundreds of thousands of lives every year so that auto accidents would be an historic footnote soon to be forgotten.  Of course, nothing is perfect, and occasionally someone would have a car accident and maybe even die, but that would be rare.  When someone does die in a car wreck, it would be front-page news, and everyone would talk about the horrific consequences of a computer mistake with little regard to the fact that before CALI, millions of people were maimed or killed in auto accidents.

I love my computer and my smart-phone has become an indispensable part of my lifestyle, but I feel increasingly uncomfortable with the current and potential direction these technological marvels will take us. When I walk down a street I watch a majority of folks’ total attention glued to their phone, oblivious to the happenings of the world around them.  I remember the old days when folks would observe happily the world in all its complexity and beauty.  It almost seems as if the on-line community, which is nothing more than an extension of CALI, is doing anything it can do to suck up every valuable spare moment of free time we have.  There is little time for many people to think or dream if they are constantly bombarded with text messages, You Tube videos and video games.

Computers have become an integral part of human communication.  It all began when people were able to talk on the telephone, then morphed into the sending of emails and then was followed by texting. Now, we have numerous versions of digital communication including Facebook, twitter and many others. It has become hip to not talk to your fellow-man in person but to send a message through some type of digital interface.  Face-to-face verbal communication is an important part of human behavior so that it is hard to picture the world without it, but I believe that is where we are going.  One example of newer technology is the refinement of computer speech recognition.  Lately I have received phone calls from what is referred to as ROBOCALLS that are computers mimicking human conversation quite well.  Sometimes it takes a few moments to determine that it is a computer talking to you rather than a human voice. You can have some fun by saying random things to the computer and confusing it; usually this leads to the termination of the call.  Another area that is evolving rapidly is the use of artificial intelligence in warfare.  For me, this is by far the scariest scenario I have run accross.  Imagine computers making decisions about what to attack or blow up.

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So couple all these ideas with our increasing dependence on computers and the advent of artificial intelligence, and we earthlings are quite possibly on the verge of a brave new world.  This makes one wonder just where our world is headed.  There are numerous sci-fi renditions of the outcome of these new technologies.  The truth is, no one has any idea where we are going, or if it is a good or bad direction.  We can only imagine what the future holds for us, and anyone who says differently is only guessing.

How Frontier Communication controls my life

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I just attempted to check my email and spent a long time waiting for one lone picture to download.  While I sat there contemplating my life, married to Frontier, I wondered what other people with functional internet must be doing with their spare time.  I have told most of my internet-savvy friends who live out of Frontier’s domain not to send me any YouTube videos, attachments, photos, documents or anything that requires even a small amount of bandwidth or speed.  I purchased a BlueRay disc player a while ago so I could download movies from NetFlix and, guess what happened?  Yeah, you guessed it, my internet was too slow to download movies.  If I were to become ambitious and wished to start a company, I would not be able to use my computer in the Frontier network because it is far too slow.  If someone wanted to send me a large file, they would have to find another way to get it to me, like maybe The Pony Express or the USPS, both of which might be faster than Frontier.

Many sites, which are now located in the CLOUD (that means, everything is kept on another server rather than your own) require decent data speeds to operate properly.  All of our banking, retail sites and informational sites are located in the cloud which makes it easier to keep them secure.  This also makes it harder for us Frontier customers to access them.

I listen to West Virginia politicians talk about the need for businesses to come to West Virginia and then wonder what would motivate a company to come to a state with one of the worst education systems, worst internet accessibility and worst infrastructure in the entire country.  Yeah, that’s where I want to put my company!  I hope you understand I am being sarcastic. Sometimes I wonder what these people are thinking; better yet, if they are thinking….

I have hurt myself again

I have always been told: when one plays real hard he/she will eventually get hurt.  Lately I have been working (playing) very hard here at the homestead.  I had to move about 150, 80 pound blocks and dig out by hand several tons of dirt and rock along the house footer to fix a pool waterline leak.  I envisioned the dirt falling in on me and burying me in a self-dug tomb but noooo; that would have been too easy.  Next, I have just purchased over 2000 pavers so I can finish the driveway; they are calling out my name!   As part of my agenda I’ve replaced the pool liner which suffered from the wrath of my grandson last fall when he decided to pole vault on said vinyl liner.  Throw into this mix, repairing the pool surface which became damaged from the monsoon season we just emerged from.  Then nature decided to throw some voodoo at me when one of those damn, invisible ticks took a bite out of me and gave me Lyme disease.  So, after all of that stuff, I picked up a canoe, hurt my back and should the gods continue to plague my life, I may require surgery to fix it.  It was quite humorous to watch me maneuvering around on my cane.  It reminds me of an old riddle I once heard: What moves around on four legs, then two and finally three?  The answer is-a man.  When he is a baby he crawls on all four, when he is a man, he walks on two and when he is old, he uses a cane.  I guess I am in the old man stage now.  Hopefully, I will recover.

I have learned not to make stupid statements like, “What else can go wrong?”  The last time I said that, a big rock came up from a truck in front of my car and broke the windshield, so that is something I will keep to myself in the future and never think those words again.  Needless to say, I am a little worried as to what else could happen to me. Life has a way of surprising us with good and bad things that one never would have expected.  After writing all those scary,  doomsday blogs over the last few weeks, I thought I would just go out on a limb and write about my crazy life in hopes of providing a little humor for yours,  in case some of you are experiencing a little down luck.  It is our nature to find humor in the pain of others, so I thought I might share a few of my struggles with you in the hope of improving your day.

Good news!  I received a shot in my back that has help me recover from the back injury.  In fact, I started feeling better right away.  I don’t need that old cane anymore.  So, if you think about me, think positive thoughts and maybe my body will absorb them and recover quicker and you will have the joy of thinking that maybe you helped some poor old guy.

May the force be with you!

My letter to President Obama about The Affordable Care Act.

Dear Mr President

I would like to begin this letter expressing my boundless admiration for the job you have done as President.  I have been in constant praise of your even temperament in the face of unrelenting personal attacks and constant barrages launched at you and your administration from the right.  I have told many of my friends that I am in awe of the way you handle these attacks, much like Kane did in one of my favorite TV shows, Kung Fu.  Sometimes I even think you may have grown up watching that show, as I did, and adopted his life view.

So I am writing this letter with mixed feelings and hope you understand why.  Your work in getting the Affordable  Care Act enacted will go down in history as one of the most important acts in our country’s history!  As I see it, it is the beginning of moving our country into the modern world with affordable medical care for all, along with most developed countries.  I know that this program is in its infancy and needs continued improvement, but there is a particular aspect of this program that worries me more than others: the cost that this is placing on the middle class.  As I talk to my friends and neighbors who are paying, in my opinion, much too much for their private health insurance, I am seeing a trend that is very disturbing.  The cost of insurance for these individuals is approaching levels that are simply beyond their reach. For example, today I talked to a friend who is a  farrier who must purchase his own health insurance for his wife and himself.  He has a $2500 deductible and is paying $1347 a month!  He told me that he has never met the deductible and so is paying out-of-pocket for all his medical needs!  I asked him if a higher deductible were applied, would it help?; he said emphatically, “NO.”  You and I, Mr President, who are on government insurance programs, do not experience this problem as so many like him do.  My friend, although he continues to find the money to make these payments, is being stretched close to his financial limits.  I am talking about middle class America, not the Trumps of the world. I feel certain you would agree with this.

On a more practical and current note, the present belief of many middle Americans is that the Affordable Care Act must be eliminated or replaced.  Much of this fear and uncertainty emanates from the enormous expense middle class individuals are being forced to pay.  At this point in time I understand there is little you can do to correct the problem, but this will certainly be a hurdle that Secretary Clinton will have to navigate in the coming years.  It would also make a great political opportunity for her to use her many skills to address.  I understand that you may very well never see this letter; nevertheless it is my hope that you may, because I believe your heart is always in the right place. I feel that you believe that Americans deserve to have much better health care at a price that will not do damage to their life-style, their sense of security and the well-being of their family.

I am sending this letter to you as well as posting it on my Blog, which is found in our local newspaper at http://www.hampshirereview.com under blogs and Cosmic Charley.  Again, thank you for doing an outstanding job as President of our great country.  I will miss you and your family.

Monsanto, roundup, cancer and grass fed beef, is there a connection?

About two years ago I decided, with the help and encouragement of my son, to become gluten-free.  This has led me to an alternative approach to eating that has changed my entire outlook on diet.  Several months after becoming gluten-free, I noticed that my enlarged prostate, along with all its life-altering effects was no longer a problem.  I also lost almost 15 pounds in a little more than two months.  As to the long-term effects, I think they are more difficult to identify but I feel strongly that there will be benefits.  Maybe as I approach senior citizenship, I will experience more benefits of this style of eating.

During this adventure I discovered what many refer to as either The Caveman or The Primal diet.  The primary belief in both of these diets is to only eat things that come from the earth, nothing altered by man and chemical free.  We sometimes call this organic, but that word is abused routinely by the food industry.  One particularly important and essential aspect of these diets is the requirement to use grass-fed as opposed to corn-fed beef.  Being the skeptic I am, I failed to see the importance of eating meat that was grass-fed which is what I intend to explore in this story.

Most of the meat consumed in this country and the rest of the world is raised or ‘finished’ on corn and grain.  This is contrary to the natural evolutionary eating habits of these animals.  Cows and other grazing animals are designed to eat grass, not grain.  Recently I met a former student of mine who is involved in the meat industry.  She shared her observations gathered at a meat processing facility, sometimes referred to as a rendering plant.  What she passed on to me was rather disturbing. When beef is grass-fed, all organs and other meat are red and appear normal; when the cow is grain-fed, the meat and organs are discolored and do not have the same natural appearance as grass-fed meat.  I had read this in a couple of books but took it with a grain of salt.  Now, someone who has personal experience with this is confirming what I learned from my reading!  For  the last several weeks this idea has been festering in my brain.  Several days ago I was reading an article called: ARE GMO’S TOXIC?  Slowly, during the next few days, the pieces fell together for me.  This is a tricky piece of logic, but I think I can get through it clearly enough to make sense.

*Almost 40 years ago Monsanto began producing ROUNDUP, its product is used to control  weeds.

*Near the same time genetic research progressed enough to create ROUNDUP READY  seeds.

*With this advancement, fields could be sprayed with ROUNDUP to eliminate weeds and in a few days seed could be  planted with Roundup ready seeds which were bred to be resistant to the killing effects of Roundup.

*This is called NO-TILL farming which reduces erosion and any disruption to the soil. At first, This seemed like a great idea at Monsanto and to farmers.

*Someone figured out that farmers could save money by spraying crops with ROUNDUP before harvest to eliminate  weed residue in the harvest.

*The amount of ROUNDUP used on a crop has proliferated over the years due to the increasing resistance of weeds and the increasing reliance on herbicides.

*The active chemical in ROUNDUP is GLYPHOSATE which has recently moved onto the ‘possible carcinogenic’ list.

*The allowable levels of GLYPHOSATE in food recently has recently been increased by government agencies.

*Along with being a herbicide, GLYPHOSATE is an endocrine disruptor and an antibiotic.

*GLYPHOSATE has been shown to accumulate in all organs of the body, animal and human.

*ROUNDUP is used on corn, grains and other crops which are fed to animals used for human consumption and fed directly to humans.

*Despite the fact that meat has been a staple of human diet since the beginning of human time, meat has become the bad boy at the market, because it has been implicated in many major human diseases, most notably heart disease.

*Current acceptable levels of GLYPHOSATE in meat has risen to 400 parts/million which is considered high by critics of Roundup.

The above are the facts and the chain of events as I see them.  No doubt someone will wish to rebut them, claiming that there is insufficient concrete data, and they would be right.  There is no absolute data at this time because these types of environmental pollution are insidious and work very slowly on living beings.  What you do with this information is obviously up to you, but it seems that there is a strong connection between meat consumption and human disease, and maybe, just maybe, that is due to the much higher levels of GLYPHOSATE in our meat and other foods!  Maybe the consumption of grass-fed meat as an alternative is a good idea!  Maybe it is the GLYPHOSATE that is causing all the problems.  As always, we are the guinea pigs participating in one of many long-term experiments that we did not sign up for.  Based on the data, I think eventually GLYPHOSATE will be removed from the food chain because public sentiment will grow exponentially or someone will win a lawsuit or two against Monsanto.  This will happen after many millions of people will suffer in a wide variety of ways.

Here are a few charts showing a possible relationship between GLYPHOSATE and various serious diseases.  This is indeed scary! If you click on Google images and write GLYPHOSATE graphs you will see many more graphs correlating this chemical to various human diseases.

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Now that you have this information, what can you do to protect you and your family’s health?  You can begin by writing your representatives and letting them know your concerns.  We need GMO labeling on all products and a major push for the eventual removal of ROUNDUP from the environment!  At present, you need to switch over to products that are GMO free.  I can remember stories of people drinking DDT and washing themselves down with it to demonstrate how safe it was to humans, Ha Ha on that!  You can see this video on YOU TUBE if you would like.  This is a war!  Monsanto is one of the richest companies on the planet and plans on staying that way even if it means inflicting great human suffering!

West Virginia, the raped state.

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Come one, come all, to the great mineral resource sale of the century!
Yes, come to Wild Wonderful West Virginia where you 
can cut it down, dig it out of the earth or punch holes through our 
fresh water supply in search of cheap natural resources. Over the last 
100 years,West Virginia has witnessed the destruction of its beautiful 
countryside in every way possible.  It would seem as if our leaders have 
turned their heads in response to the continued egregious abuse of our 
beautiful state. Our story begins about one hundred years ago when 
someone discovered that our state was a virtual wonderland of large 
virgin woodlands.The northeast industrial giants (the Rockefellers et al),
came here in large numbers anxious to harvest the rich abundance of 
hardwood and softwood trees that carpeted our mountains.  They used every
technology available to denude the land. The remaining abandoned 
deforested land required many decades to reforest. This destruction of our
forests continues even today but to a lesser degree.  At the same time 
our forests were being devoured to meet this nation's need for wood for 
homes and public buildings, coal became the primary source of energy 
for an emerging industrial revolution. Coal was an ideal source of 
large amounts of BTU'sand was relatively easy to extract from the Eastern 
Appalachian Mountains. The first large deposits of coal were abundant and 
nearthe surface. As time passed, the easy coal was used up and the deeper,
harderto get coal became the target as the destruction of the land and 
water continued at an ever increasing rate. Even today we can drive 
through the wastelands that cover much of our state and see the results
of the pillage. Gas and oil were discovered near the coal fields, so 
West Virginia soon became a source of oil for the industrial machine. 
Natural gas, which was simply burned off in the beginning, soon became 
itself an energy source. One good thing about oil andgas mined in the past 
is that there was very little site-based pollution from
the mining process.  That is not to say that the burning 
of these fuels does not produce large amounts of CO2 which is ushering in 
climate change,but the destruction at the site was minimal. 
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  Today we have a new threat to our state: the extraction of natural gas.
In the past we simply drilled a hole into the earth and the gas came out.  
Today we use a new process called hydro-fracking which has the potential 
of destroying our water supplies. Gas companies are canvassing the state 
buying up mineral rights tosecure areas that have the potential to produce 
large amounts of gas.  This is where it starts to get interesting.  Our 
legislature is toying with (with unprecedented pressure from the energy 
companies) the idea of taking away the landowners' rights and invoking a 
system known as 'group forced pooling.' Under this program, gas companies 
can force land owners to give up their mineral rights even when they own 
those rights. 
fracking
Compounding the land owners problem is this: the gas 
company can drill horizontally in any direction with little 
regard to property lines and mineral rights, thus, the landowners have 
virtually no protection from the gas corporations; additionally they may 
have their water sources contaminated and deemed undrinkable, leaving their 
property unusable. I guess the real issue here is money and the wealthy 
gathering it up in any way possible.  If that means destroying our beautiful 
state, then it's a done deal. When it comes to natural resources, there are 
no laws that can stand up against the industrial giants and their multitude 
of lawyers. To industry, laws are simplythings that need to be changed over 
time to allow them to sell us what we have been taught we so desperately 
need. Maybe If we all were a little more interested in the preservation of 
our planet and a little less interested in the plethora a junk we acquire, 
our world would be a cleaner place to live and at the same time we could 
preserve the natural beauty and resources of our state.

 

Helping to save the world by recycling all your stuff.

Recently I made a new friend who recycles 95% of all her trash.  I was so impressed that I began the process of recycling all of mine.  When you think about it, although it’s not as easy or convenient as tossing trash into the trash can, recycling is the environmentally responsible thing to do.  Glass and plastic bottles, cans, paper, cardboard, magazines, newspaper, plastic bags and even kitchen scraps are all recyclable if you know what to do with it.  It took several months to get all my ducks in order.  First, I needed a special container in which to place all my biodegradable things, such as food scraps. Here is a picture of the item I purchased on-line, a stainless steel container that I place all my kitchen scraps in and then take to the compost pile every couple of days or when needed.  This keeps one from placing biodegradable stuff in the trash which only invariably stink up the house. It has a special lid with a filter that allows it to breathe without having the odor of food scraps escaping.  The resulting compost pile dirt is great to use to add to vegetable and flowering plants as soil conditioner and fertilizer.

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Picture of canister

In addition, I needed several trash containers to place all the types of recyclable waste.  I have mine in the kitchen where it is convenient but you can place them anywhere, such as in the garage, basement or shed.

Picture of trash cans. The non-recyclable trash can is not in the picture.

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In to addition to all of this I needed to be educated on how to do everything properly without having stinky decaying waste sitting around my house and yard.  With this in mind it is important to always rinse out anything that is being saved for recycling.

Below is the process I went through to decrease my trash footprint. I hope many of you join me in an effort to help save our world from trash.

Trash can #1

Here are all things that can not be recycled: metal and plastic lids, plastic storage bags, hard plastic packaging, #3, 4 & 5 plastic containers and other non-recyclables.  If you’re really conscientious about recycling, this trash can should take a long time to fill up with non-recyclables, and then has to go out for regular trash collection or transfer station drop-offs.

Trash can #2

All paper items that can be recycled: cardboard, newspaper, office paper, magazines and catalogs can be recycled at the old hospital grounds in Romney on Wednesday and Saturday from 8:00 am till noon.  Some of this paper can be used as kindling in your fireplace or wood stove.

Trash can #3

In this container you can place all your metal cans, which will be taken to a recycling center out of the area.  If you wish, you can take your aluminum cans to the Slanesville Ruritan on Saturday mornings from 8:00 am till noon where you will be paid a small amount for them.

Trash can #4

All #1 and #2 plastics can be placed in this container.  Some recycling centers require that the #1 and #2 plastics be separated.  In order to be a recyclable plastic, the opening must be smaller than the container; water bottles are OK; margarine tubs are not.

Trash can #5

This can is reserved for glass containers which usually needs to be separated by color (green, brown, clear) at the recycling center.  No light bulbs, mirrors or broken glass is accepted.  Fluorescent light bulbs can be recycled at Lowe’s stores.

In addition, plastic grocery store bags can be recycled at the stores where you get them.

If you make the effort to recycle, you’ll find that you have very little actual “trash” each week, and may find that you don’t need to pay for trash collection at your house, but instead can make occasional trips to the trash transfer station in Romney.

One of the closest places for Hampshire Countians to take their recyclable is Penn Mar Recycling at 975 Kelly Road, Cumberland, MD.  There are also recycling facilities in Winchester, but they may be only available to Frederick County residents or by obtaining a permit.

The Hampshire County Commission is working on starting a comprehensive recycling program for county residents, as required by a referendum that was passed in November, 2014.  The initial phase is the paper/cardboard recycling available at the old Hospital grounds in Romney.  Currently, a recycling center is being developed at the Regional Jail property in Augusta, using a $120,000+ grant received from the WV State REAP program.  Hopefully, this program will eventually expand to include all recyclables, enabling all Hampshire County residents to recycle.  This will be our small part in saving the world, one piece of plastic at a time.