Rain, Rain, Rain

I am traveling through Florida to see my daughter and then to Texas to see my mom and sister. I will check in a couple of days. It has rained almost every day. I told Betsy (my daughter) if it did not warm up and would go right through St Augustine and on to the Keys so I can ride my bike!
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

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Down but not out

Capitalism is like the hungry shark waiting to devour any food it encounters. This may sound harsh, so let me explain. In the beginning, America was anxious to join the world industrial community. We had an abundance of resources and a literal boatload of manpower. European countries saw America as a great place to outsource due to the cheap cost of raw materials and labor. This worked well for us; we made lots of money and in less than a century, we became the manufacturing capital of the world. We made almost everything imaginable and sold it at what ever the market would bear. We were maturing and destined to become the most powerful country in the world. As we got richer, demanding an ever increasing standard of living, we failed to notice the industrial giants ( the big three auto makers to name a few) were quietly outsourcing some production to small poor countries around the world. This was insignificant at first but over time many individuals became insanely rich from the lower cost of production. Of course, it did not stop or slow down as an ever-increasing number of industries realized that they could make much more money by outsourcing their production.
Japan, with the help of a man named Demming, who we sent to teach the Japanese production techniques, quickly began to improve on our production procedures. Demming joked about the fact that America sent him to Japan with his theories on quality control because his country did not want to listen to him. The Japanese started with cars and quickly began making electronics, heavy machinery and anything else that would sell on world market at a cost lower than American goods. In the same fashion as our work force, the Japanese work force, which worked for pennies in the beginning, began to expect a higher standard of living. Can you guess what happened next? The Japanese industrial giants began to outsource to Asia!
This is the way Capitalism works! Do not misunderstand me, capitalism has allowed me to have a great life, better than most of the world’s population can even imagine. But this does not come without a cost to the environment and the rest of the world.
The predictable downside is that this type of expectation cannot last forever. Eventually the hammer has to fall. There comes a time when, much like England, we will fall from the ranks of world leaders to being just another country that has spent its capital. This is not the end of the line for us as a country, but we are going to have to accept a lower standard of living. We will not be the protector of the world or the leader of the world but just another player in a much larger game with far more voices chiming in.
Socialism does not work well either. We have witnessed how it inevitably leads to decreased production and the abuse of power. So what is the answer? Maybe the answer lies in a place between these two systems. It would seem that we are currently in the middle already. Many of our needs are managed by government regulated industries, like the power companies, the post office and Medicare, to name the big ones. We are now considering placing our health care under some kind of government control. I have to say, we will need to do something quickly or we are all going to become insurance poor. Health care seems like something we should all have access to at a reasonable cost so maybe government health insurance is an answer. Perhaps we as a country can find a place in the middle to take us into a new era as a great country. I sure hope so…

Shenandoah CC trip.

I met the team at 5pm on Thursday to depart from the university for High Point, NC. Five minutes after leaving the campus the front left head light went dead and that makes seeing at night much more difficult. I used the high beam sometime which only irritated the other drivers on the road. After a long six-hour trip we arrived at the hotel and quickly settled in for the evening. The next morning I spent some time on the phone trying to locate a bus garage that would replace the front bulb. I found one about 30 minutes away and left to have the repair made. The owner of the garage, Bo, was waiting outside. He quickly replaced the bulb and sent me on my way.
When I arrived back at the hotel, I collected the trash and headed over to the trash bin which was surrounded by a wooden fence and a gate. I opened the gate and went inside to deposit the trash. The wind blew the door shut and locked it from the outside. As I turned around I realized what had just happened…I was locked in the trash bin! I rattled the door a few times and then attempted to climb up, reach down the other side and unlock the door. Well, the door opened while I was hanging on; I fell to the ground, dropping my phone, which almost went down the storm grate, scratching two of my fingers and bruising the inside of my arm; great fun!

trash bin1
The evil trash bin
trash bin 2
The evil lock

I made my way back to the bus to take a quick nap while I was waiting for the team. When they arrived we made the short trip to the cross-country course to become familiar with the terrain. I waited in the bus while they fought the wind outside.
As the team approached the bus after their practice, I could see that the practice session had been a little muddy. It was not a pretty picture. Their shoes were mud covered and the back of their legs and up the back were streaked with brown racing stripes. Coach decided, due to the muddy conditions, they would return to the hotel and order pizza instead of trashing a restaurant.
That night I was going to the banquet to hear Billy Mills speak to the runners and coaches. If you remember, Billy Mills upset Ron Clark in the 10,000 meter at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. His talk was inspirational as he told the story that led up to his upset win in 1964. His rise from a poor Indian orphan to an Olympic Gold medal winner is legendary in the history of track and field. After he spoke I approached him to convey my admiration for his courage. We chatted for a while, got a picture of the two of us and said goodnight. He is a wonderful person with archives of great stories.

Billy Mills
The legendary Billy Mills and me
coach
Coach Marrocco taking care of business

The next morning we all met at the bus and left for Guilford University for a day of reckoning. The course was still muddy and there were standing pools of water and deep mud pits at various points in the course. At 11:00am the starting gun echoed through the crowd and the ladies were “off and running.” As they passed the first 200 yards, I watched as the SU team had three runners in the top 10. The excitement was short-lived as the slow muddy course began to take its toll on the lady SU runners. They ended up 10th out of 27 teams, which is respectable, but they had loftier goals in mind.

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Jennie Ott -All State Runner

The men started out strong as well and succumbed to the soft ground which one runner said was worst than running in beach sand. They ended up 16th out of 24 teams which was not what they were looking for.

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Josiah Reston- top runner for the men

As in all sports events, every competition is a learning experience and this was no exception. I think they are all looking ahead to next year for another chance. I hope I get to see it.
Picture of Josiah Reston
During the time between the two runs, I saw Billy Mills standing along the fence chatting with a lady. I walked up and joined the conversation. He told me he was a long-standing republican but he had campaigned for President Obama. He said that the President has done more for the American Indians in 10 months than any president in recent history, at no cost to the American taxpayer! He added that he has not met President Obama yet but hopes to in the near future. The movie about his life is called RUNNING BRAVE which is a great movie to see!
With the races over and the awards given out, it was time to begin the long drive home. Traffic was light, weather good and we cruised down the road and made it home by 7:00pm.

I am working on an article about Capitalism which I think is good. I will post that in a few day. Sue and I are going on a walk-about, (we are using the car) to visit many friends and relatives and finally to have Thanksgiving dinner with our daughter, Betsy, in Florida. I will let you know how it goes.

Have a great Thanksgiving!

The Decker Creek Trail

My son Scott called the other day to asked my wife and me to come to Morgantown to look at a house they were thinking of buying. Of course I said yes, so we made plans to head for Morgantown.  I went to the computer to check the weather for the next day; 72 degrees and mostly sunny.  Wow, sounds like a bike ride to me!  I called up our friends Steve and Terry to ask them if they wanted to go with us. The house viewing was scheduled for 4pm so we had most of the day to ride in on our tandem and make the appointment.

steve terry
Steve & Terry...Ready, Set, GO!
sue, charlie bike
Charlie & Sue...I'm Charlie, the one on the right...

Steve mentioned The Decker Creek Trail which starts in Reedsville, WV and goes 18 miles to Morgantown.  We needed someone to take us back to our car after we reached Morgantown, and Terry’s father was willing to do that for us, so we had a plan! We left for Reedsville to find the beginning of the trail. My Garmin (which I refer to as Emily), suggested that we travel from Romney to Reedsville via Route 50;  Oops!  Not a fun ride through the mountains.  I have said many times that Route 50 is one of the few roads that on some turns one can see his own taillights in the rearview mirror.  Anyway, we finally made it to the trailhead, unloaded our bikes, and started towards Morgantown.  What a beautiful trail as it wound through the West Virginia mountains along an abandoned train route!  The entire trip to the center of town was 18 miles, and not more than 100 feet of it were up hill. At one point we coasted for almost 4 miles without pedaling the bike.  My wife, on the back of our tandem, thought this was the best bike ride she had ever been on.

vally health shirt
How about that for advertising, Jeff?
stev water
Steve playing in the water...as usual.

After arriving in town, we learned that there is a bus that takes bikers from Morgantown to Reedsville several times a day so that one can ride back. What a great idea! Someday we may do that.
After arriving we contacted my son by phone and made our way to his house and waited for him to come

coke holes
Coke ovens of West Virginia

home from work.  When he arrived, we quickly piled into his small truck and found our way to the house they were thinking of buying. It was a lovely house and both my wife and I gave it an enthusiastic thumbs up.
With that done we headed over to Terry’s parents where a great

limestone
Lime stone production along the trail

meal was waiting for us courtesy of Terry’s mom. After dinner we talked for a while, reloaded the bikes, said our goodbyes and began our drive home.

What a great day, spending time with our friends, our son and his wife and enjoying the great weather and scenery on our bikes!

Tomorrow (Thursday), I am driving the Shenandoah Cross Country to Greensboro NC for the regional CC meet.  I hope I get to meet Billy Mills, the Olympic 10,000 winner.  I may get a picture with yours truly.

Confused

I find myself confused on the very day that health care reform made a large stride towards being a reality. I have read about the new health care plan, listened to the newsmen place their various spins on this issue, and talked to anyone who was willing to discuss this topic. I still find myself wondering where we as a nation are going.
I know that we as a country need to care for our people.
I know that money should not be the sole consideration as to who gets health care.
I know that we can not continue paying so much for health care.
I know that health care executives and CEOs make too much money.
I know insurance executives make too much money as well.
I know that the government can turn gold into manure.
I know our country is going deeper and deeper into debt.
I know the Chinese lend us billions of dollars to support our lifestyle.
I know Americans in general get too little exercise and eat poorly.
I know doctors pay too much for liability insurance.

I feel as if I am too well informed. This would be an easy problem if I were uninformed. If I listened to the Fox channel’s rendition of the facts, I would quickly decide that any health care bill is bad. If I listen to MSNBC, I would vote for any health care bill proposed. If someone can address all these issues, I would love to hear it!

American Greed

Recently, due partly to the talk of a new health plan and the recession,  I have been hearing much discussion on salaries in general. Depending on whom you listen to, doctors make too much money, teachers are overpaid, lawyers rip you off, and the list goes on and on. With all the interest in salaries, I decided to do a little research for my own information. I found a couple of web sites that seemed legitimate and studied the data. Below is a list of the average salaries for a select group of professions. I used 10 years as the level of experience for no specific reason other than consistency.

Accountant- $80,000 to $159,000 per year

Doctor- $127,000 to $180,000 per year

Dentist -$97,000 to $175,000

Lawyer- $80,000 to 150,000 per year

Nurse- $48,000 to 70,000 per year

Pharmacist- $84,000 to 111,000 per year

Physical Therapist- $60,000 to 80,000 per year

Professor- $57,000 to 87,000 per year

Psychologist -$61,000 to $97,000

Class room teacher-   $42,000

Now with that in mind, check out the following information
from this site.

http://swz.salary.com/salarywizard/layoutscripts/swzl_salaryresults.asp?hdSearchByOption=0&hdSearchByOption=0&hdKeyword=Chief%20Executive%20Officer&hdJobCategory=EX01&hdZipCode=&hdStateMetro=&hdGeoLocation=U.S.%20National%20Averages&hdJobCode=EX05000001&hdJobTitle=Chief%20Executive%20Officer&hdCurrentTab=&hdNarrowDesc=Executive%20and%20Management

I was unable to download this image so you will have to go to the site above to see the bell curve of CEO salaries.

The following list is of Financial CEO salaries.

salary charts of ceo
salary charts of ceo

http://www.aflcio.org/corporatewatch/paywatch/ceou/top100.cfm

This is from the web site for the list above.

If one uses the average salary of a doctor, $180,000/year, and divide it into the average salary of a CEO of a major company based on the Bell curve from the second web site, $671,600 divided by $180,000 , one gets a salary of almost four-times that of a doctor. If one look at the salaries one of a big bank CEO.s like State Street, whose salary is reported to be $73,000,000, that salary is more than 400 times then the average salary of a doctor. Put differently,   1,825 additional school teachers could be hired on his salary alone!.
The President of the United States receives $400,000,  plus an additional compensation of $170,000 for travel and other expenses, making a total of $570,000. The President is considered one of the most important people in the country and the world. If he were to be paid as much as the CEO we talked about earlier, we would have to multiply his salary by 128. How absurd that the head of a bank makes 128 times the salary of the president of the United States!

I hope this bothers others as much as it bothers me. Is it possible that the CEO of a bank is so irreplaceable that he can ask for so much money? What makes this even more unbearable is the fact that “we the people” ,  were forced into bailing out major financial institutions because those who are supposedly irreplaceable ran the banks into the ground! To add insult to injury, many of the banks are presently using bail-out money TO PAY BONUSES and TO LOBBY CONGRESS!

If you want a simple answer as to what is the major problem our country has to deal with…it is greed! The rich are getting obscenely richer and the  poor are getting demonstrably poorer. This is a fact and can be seen using various credible sources.

Shenandoah men and women’s cross country team places 2nd in conference

I drove the Shenandoah Hornets to their regional cross country meet…

Have you ever been so close to something but not able to reach it? This is what Coach Marrocco feels like as the coach of the cross county team at SU. For several years the SU team has placed second to the conference bullies, the Christopher Newport Captains. Coach felt that this was the year to break the spell, and his teams came close to doing it.

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Coach

As I watched the men finish their 8 km run I began cheering as the first 3 places were won by the SU men. My excitement began to wane as the 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, and 10th runners were from CNU. SU followed with the 13th and 15th place runners. In cross country scoring one counts the top 7 runners and the lower total score wins the race. Simple math gave SU 34 points while CNU won the match with 30. The upside of this story is that SU will bring everybody back next year: CNU men, you are in trouble! Get ready to vacate your thrown. The men have one more chance to break this spell in two weeks at the regional meet in North Carolina. The men were lead by, Josiah Renton in first, Kyle Gutierrez, second, Jake Garcia, third, Timothy Robinson, thirteenth, Nicholas Denman, fifteenth and Travis Bridgeforth, twenty-fourth.

IMG_0099

The ladies also placed second to the Captains with a score of CNU 23 to SU’s, 45. Running fourth for SU was Jennie Ott, Amy Smith, 8th, Roni Frye, 9th, Tracey Swope, 10th, Justine Hastings, 14th, Brandi Sobanko, 15th and Kristen Melton 27th.

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The ladies also have a chance to beat the Captains in two weeks at the regional meet in North Carolina. I know they will be looking to revenge.

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