West Virginia is the second worst High School system in the United States!

Well. let me be the first to thank you Mississippi. If it weren’t for you, we would be the worst school in the United States! One would think that this news would be upsetting to the general public and our state Board Of Education, but this is where we have stood for the last several years and very little has changed!

One reason stated for the poor status of our high schools is subpar quality of teachers. We can not get good teachers to come to the state or stay in the state. Some reasons cited are pressure of the job, insufficient salary and lack of mobility. Regardless of the reasons, we can not keep qualified teachers in our state. Throw on top of this that our local high school, Hampshire High, is 87th out of 113 schools in West Virgina!

DO YOU THINK WE HAVE A PROBLEM?! If you want to see the full article, below is the link.

US States Ranked From Least To Most Educated (reference.com)

I would like to congratulate the media on a job well done, NOT!

Congratulations media, you have managed to scare 1/3 of our countries population into not getting vaccinated! Every waking moment of the media is filled with additional information on the vaccine. We have heard the opinion of every doctor, every researcher, every anchor man, every anchor women, every politician and I am waiting to see the local sanitation departments throw in their opinion, who wants to get their mug on the TV. Did anyone ever think that too much information might just be TOO MUCH INFORMATION! You have managed to turn normal intelligent people into quivering gobs of doubt. Way to go media!

The Boogie Man

As a child I often wondered what was living under my bed. I can remember running into my room and leaping to the soft covers to avoid getting my feet too close to the dark area below my mattress.  Sometimes I even imagined hearing something under there. I recall one evening watching a TV show in which two red glowing eyes appeared in the dark. I was sure those were the eyes of whatever was residing under my bed. Well, as the years passed I forgot about the boogie man under my bed as he was replaced by scary things that were more tangible. There were always kids who had decided that harassing their fellow humans was enjoyable. We called them bullies and we have all met our fair share of them. My parents constantly reminded me to be careful of bad men who might kidnap me and never bring me back or cut me into little pieces. I was told repeatedly that I should never take candy from a stranger so as to avoid being kidnaped.  One day while watching TV I learned about a man named Hitler who was responsible for World War II and the massacre of millions of innocent people. Since that time I have learned of many individuals who would fall onto my list of boogie men. Today the news channels are filled with information about a group of boogie men who call themselves ISIS. (Remember ISIS?)
As I watch the world posturing and warning these groups of the consequences their action will bring, I am torn between the ideals of turning the other cheek or vengeance. These ISIS folks are bad people and are hurting good people. They may have their reasons that they believe make their actions proper but no man or group has the right to wreak such havoc on the people of this planet. Our history is cluttered with these types of boogie men who have been responsible for uncountable deaths and suffering. These are bad people and their ideas pass away with time but not before many have suffered.
So, how can we as a world/culture avoid these terrible people? What would have changed that lonely little boy who later in life led the Germans to their inevitable doom and genocide on a scale the world had never seen before? What drives these young Americans and others who to join ISIS, anxious to kill? What happened to Idi Amin that made him such an evil man? Was the fact that Napoleon was short the reason that led to all the pain and suffering he created? Despite these crimes against society, somehow, bombing a group out of existence does not seem like the right answer, yet it is the one we always rely on over and over.
Today’s world is a cauldron of corruption, starvation, overpopulation, wars, pollution and general chaos. It is hard to imagine how we as a world will move past all these problems. The world I hope to see in the future is a place where all people have at least the basic necessities of life and live in harmony with each other and nature. Many folks scoff at these simple ideals but I see them as a gateway to our survival as a species. Our options are becoming more limited as each day passes. If we hope to continue to inhabit this beautiful blue marble, we are going to have to demonstrate our intellect to mother nature or join the ranks of all the extinct species that have inhabited this tiny niche in the cosmos. The ‘Star Trek’ in me hopes we can find our way to a better world.

Air quality in Hampshire County schools.

Before I start, I want to be real clear that I have not been in a Hampshire County School for any length of time since my retirement 15 years ago. I have worked at the Deaf and Blind School as a substitute which is another story. Recently, a friend of mine asked me what I thought of the ventilation systems in our schools. I explained to him that if they are like the ones I experienced 15 years ago, I would be concerned in wake of the current Covid scare. I do have a small amount of knowledge concerning proper ventilation and air quality control and I know that the air quality 15 years ago was generally horrible! The question you and I need to ask is how much did it improve over the last 15 years? The county has had little to no money to do maintenance and the improvements needed to the air circulation systems which would be very expensive.

Lets step back a little. In order for a classroom to be a productive place for kids to learn, it must have a regular flow of fresh air, suppling an ample amount of oxygen and removal of CO2. There are studies that prove that a well ventilated room will have better academic results than a poorly ventilated room. This is done by venting a percentage of the classroom air and bringing in fresh air from the outside. When done properly this raises the cost of heating or cooling a room because the outside air will have to be conditioned to match the temperature and humidity of the room.

In the past many of our classrooms had no forced air ventilation thus trapping everything that existed in the room, including dust, diseases, odors, molds and excessive CO2. In one situation I was aware of, the classroom had painted concrete block walls that we learned harbored certain types of fungus which caused a plethora of issues for teachers and students. In this particular room there was no moving air other than the occasional opening of the door.

With the return of students to the classroom, I raise this issue as a point of concern to the parents of our students. Hopefully I am totally off base and all our schools have been brought up to speed with modern air exchange systems. If I am right, your children will be entering a Petri dish of all the regular infections, but more important a new strain of covid that is particularly rough on kids. Another point of concern is the replacement of the air filters on a very regular basis. Proper filters could remove many of the potential infective viruses.

If our air control systems are inadequate, our children will not be safe. Masks will have little effect if the room air is contaminated. Social distancing will be ineffective if the air is contaminated. Bottom line, if you trap air in a closed unventilated room, kids and teachers are going to become infected!

My Achy Breaky back

Every once in a while I try to write something that might be helpful to us older folks. This is one of those times. If you know me, you know that I have had periodic issues with back pain. Generally, you would not be able to tell because I try to keep it hidden as much as possible. I have managed to stay active and I am extremely mobile for my age due to lots of exercising, inversion and stretching. Recently I was diagnosed with stenosis which is very common in us old folks. I talked to a few doctors who basically told me tough luck and do this stretch or this exercise and so on. Here is a picture of a persons loss of proper posture over time.

I decided to do my own research and found several newer approaches to this common condition. The first one I found is what I call a spine jack. It is literally a very small jack that is placed strategically in the spine to lift the bone off the nerve.

Here is a picture of a compressed spine.

This is what causes most of the pain in stenosis. Nerves hate to be pinched and when they are, it hurts! Below is a picture of what I call a jack, which is called vertiflex, that uses a device to lift the vertebrae apart.

Pretty amazing, I think. For people with severe stenosis this apparently relieves much of the pain and is a simple in and out procedure that is fully reversible.

I was told this was not the procedure for me by Dr Desai at a pain clinic in Washington DC. He explained that this was mainly for people who were in worse condition than I was. After saying this, he perked up a little and began talking about a new procedure called SPRINT Peripheral Nerve Stimulation, (PNS). He explained that it was a relatively new approach’ but they were having great success with the procedure. PNS required two small leads to be placed in the muscle system that helps keep the back erect. This is a very quick and relatively simple in-and-out procedure. Every night for 60 days you connect a small device to the leads and let it stimulate the muscle while you sleep. The idea of restoring the muscle to its original strength through stimulation is an old idea but a new idea to treat back pain. Again, he said that I would be a candidate for the PNS system but, he would recommend that I do a series of “NEW” exercises before committing to this procedure. We agreed and I went on my way with the idea in my head that I would return in the fall and have the PNS system placed in my back. As I was leaving, Dr. Desai suggested I read the book called McKenzie Method, Treat your own back pain. When I returned home, I ordered the book and in a couple of days it came in. I read the book but was not particularly impressed until I made it to the last section. Many of the exercises I had already learned and tried. Mr. McKenzie writes about posture and the need for good posture. When a person is young and has good posture, their ears generally line up above the shoulders. As we age and the muscles in the back weaken, our ability to maintain correct posture becomes more difficult. The ears gradually move forward in reference to the shoulders signaling the demise of one’s posture.

I learned from Dr. Desai that a specific group of muscles helped a person maintain good posture. His PNS system would strengthen those muscles promoting correct posture. So in my mind, I had to correct my posture. One of the exercises recommended in the book is what I call the soldier exercise. You must stand like a soldier for 30 seconds with you head back, chin tucked, shoulders back and as erect as you can possibly make yourself. You can go to this site and see some other exercises in addition to this one.

https://www.healthline.com/health/mckenzie-exercises#sitting-flexion

You can also do this as a motion exercise going from the improper posture to the full soldier stretch 20 or 30 times per session or when ever the mood strikes you. The one contention I have with Mr. McKenzie is that he refers to all his exercises as stretches and I protest that they should be considered strength exercises. It is my contention that in order to keep the back erect, one must maintain muscle strength. Yes, these are also stretches’ but I believe it is the loss of muscle strength in specific muscles that causes poor posture.

So, it has been several months since my visit and I am happy to say that the pain is becoming much more tolerable. I do my soldier exercise many times a day and I am noticing that I can stand without leaning for longer periods of time. In the end, as old age takes its toll, I may subject myself to the PNS procedure, but right now I am still in full motion, running, biking and swimming with no pain. I hope this is helpful to the many folks who suffer from back pain.

A kinder, gentler nation/world

I watched with interest this morning as the news talked about a young champion female tennis player who pulled out of a large tennis tournament due to personal issues, and, god forbid, refused to talk to the media. She was fined $15,000 for that! Turned out that she is suffering from depression, apparently brought on by stress of being a professional athlete.

There is no doubt that professional athletes face an exorbitant amount of social and personal pressure in their profession. This young lady faces the media on a regular basis, who can often be relentless in their pursuit of a story.

I started this article several months ago and got busy and forgot to finish it. Now we have a young Olympian pulling out of the 2020 games at the last moment. But this time things are different. She was honored for her self-preservation.

I understand that the media is an essential column in the structure of a free society that keeps watch on the powers that make so many decisions, but I am having a hard time understanding the insanity that we call sports media. There seems to be no middle road in their quest to inform us. One athlete is condemned, fined and basically told to suck it up and another is praised for her strength and conviction.

In the media’s quest for the big story, or possibly an award, there are no boundaries. Just yesterday I saw an article that was trying to add fire to the young gymnast story with lines like, there is more to this story. HOLY CRAP, of course there is more to the story! Do we really need to delve any deeper into a young athlete’s life? She is a young girl/woman who has devoted her childhood, or better said, lost her childhood, to an extremely demanding sport so that we can see her fly effortlessly through the air and preform feats most of us can only dream. In today’s society we have become obsessed with taking young athletes and using up all their childhood time to become professional athletes. Whether it be gymnastics, football, basketball or any sport, there is no place in the middle, with the expectation that they will all become professional players. This is so ridiculous, it pains me to say it. but this is true.

I have written much about our abuse of children and our inability to allow them to grow up like children should. I have said many times that I would not want to be growing up in todays world. The world has become so complex and demanding, it is having an enormously negative effect on our homes and children. Yes, progress is good, but we need to allow our children to be children if they are to grow up into productive and socially healthy people. We need to make the world a kinder and gentler place for everyone, especially our youth!

The little thing that make a difference

John McDermott  gave me a book that changed my life called Siddhartha.  Emily Fairbanks taught me to play ping pong.   A older driver at Greyhound did pushup while doing a handstand which taught me age did not matter.  Miss Stocking taught me to enjoy writing in the 8th grade.  Miss Fairbank taught me to enjoy everyday of my life.  Mrs. Boone taught me math could be fun.   Tom O’Brien taught me I could tackle any problem.  Steve Bailes taught me to laugh whenever possible.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if I could remember all the people that helped make me!

Life is such a fleeting thing.  We bounce around like a pool ball on a table wondering when we will encounter a sidewall or another ball.  Around every corner is a new adventure if you are willing to take the first step.  Every smile is a potential new friend and or new venture.  The people we encounter during this journey are the essence of our lives, the very texture of the fabric of life, the part that makes every step meaningful.  

How many times have we heard, enjoy everyday of you life, or today is the first of your life?  So I will say it again for you, ENJOY EVERYDAY OF YOUR LIFE…and, TODAY IS THE FIRST DAY OF THE REST OF YUR LIFE!  One person, one ticket, one ride, enjoy it and especially enjoy the people!

The 28th Amendment

Your call…

I have decided that our country, the United States of America, aka, the USA, needs one more amendment to propel us further into the 21st century. This amendment would ensure that we continue on our current course towards the total subjugation of the American public. This amendment would assure that we can, if we choose, allow our children, before the age of 12, to murder hundreds of thousands of people, rob banks, destroy cities, wreck cars or even decimate planets and waste away their precious childhood doing this, all in the name of entertainment. For the sake of simplicity, because we do not want to confuse anyone, we will call this amendment, number 28, THE RIGHT TO BECOME AND REMAIN STUPID.

Before you stomp off to punch a hole in a wall or buy a new video game, let me finish my thought. If you have never experienced a modern video game, you are in for a major surprise! Remember PONG or PACMAN where you could waste away hours, or maybe days, moving some inanimate object around the screen? Those were the good old days. Now we have games with amazing graphics, sound and plots that generally rely on violence to gain a following. When I mention violence, let me give you some examples: gun shots to the head with the brain parts splattering all over the place, knives that cut people in half allowing the player to witness in detail the internal organs of the victim, and my favorite, the victim is thrown onto spinning knife that dissects the body into small pieces. Now if that doesn’t sound like fun to you, what does? This sounds like the perfect entertainment for our children.

A couple of days ago I listened to a woman on talk radio explain that children should have the right to decide if they are vaccinated or not. I was so mad I was yelling at the radio! Let me calm down….Ok, so what does this have to do with video games? I’ll tell you. If we as a country are going to continue down this path, we better buckle up and prepare for a bumpy ride. This is just two examples of the major stupid stuff we do. I could go on for pages but we all know that if the average American reads one paragraph of an article, we are lucky.

So, write your representatives and anybody else you can, and tell them, YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO BECOME AND REMAIN STUPID! Don’t let them take this right away from you or you might take your magic sword and slice them into little pieces!


Trump is the tip of the iceberg

If you have taken the time to watch the current destruction of the Trump empire, you have to ask one serious question. How deep does the iceberg go? Donald is being attacked by the New York court system for his many fraudulent activities. By running for president and winning, his empire moved from the back financial alleys to the proverbial microscope. There is little doubt that his corrupt empire should be scrutinized and prosecuted, but I can’t help but wonder if he would have ever been a target if he had not become president. My second thought is how many other Trumps are out there abusing the tax systems.

Most my friends think I am a liberal and that is mostly true but, this is not, and should not be, a political attack. The problem is it was brought on by the political system, not because he is a crook.

I do not think it would be a stretch to say that abuse of the tax system is massive! Most of these abusers stay out of the limelight to avoid what Trump is going through.

I have heard many Trumpers say that the liberals are attacking Trump because they do not like his positions. I am going to have to agree with this idea. If Trump had not become president, he would probably still be doing all his illegal stuff and nobody would care, including the federal government.

So there you have it, Trump is showing us what’s really going on with his abuse of the tax system. You know if you tried doing some of the things Trump has done, you would end up in jail whether you are a Democrat or a Republican.

So, I would like to thank Mr. Trump for bringing to the light just how deleterious our system is. Now our corrupt congress with all their fingers in so many tills, has to somehow fix this system. At this point, I can’t help but mention the fox watching the hen house. Somehow that seems real appropriate.

Funerals

I am attending a funeral of a friend who passed away far too soon. He was doing what he loved to do, helping people. Seems a neighbor asked him to look at their cloth dryer which was not work properly. Being the wonderful guy he was, while looking at the dryer, apparently his hand slipped and he received several hundred volts at high amperage. As I drifted through the room I heard many stories of his kindness and willingness to help other people. People talked about his smile and his pleasant nature and his desire to help. We weren’t close friends by any measure but I new him and actually helped him put a roof on his dads house several years ago. He was a good person and a friend to many.

As I listened to all the kind statements used to describe him, I wondered how many of these people expressed their feeling to him when he was with us. I have been to many funerals and listened to many wonderful things said about a person who has passed and it has always haunted me, wondering if these feeling were expressed to this person while they were alive. I believe in the hustle bustle of everyday life we tend to forget to tell those special people, just how special they are.

I have decided, whenever it is possible, to tell my friends just how special they are to me. I think this simple act could make the world a better place for all of us if we all join in.