Cars, Tandem ride with Dylan, upcoming triathlon, big ball and Valley Health

Last weekend my friend Vern came over and we removed the 2.1 twin overhead cam engine from of my 1991 Honda Prelude, which I might add has four wheel steering. As you can imagine, it was a large amount of fun if you black out the cuts, bruises and not so nice language directed at the car. This engine which has fiber reinforced cylinder walls and broken valves caused by a timing belt, will be replaced with a 2.0 with standard steel walls. So now you know as much as I do. If you have a rebuilt 2.0 steel walled Prelude motor siting around, give me a call. I am sure we can work something out.

Yep, that's an engine all right

Sue and I took Dylan for a five-mile bike ride. He hooped and hollered the whole way. He was not real fond of the uphill since Sue and I told him he had to pedal hard to help us make it up the hills but he loved the downhills. He calls it a ‘ journey’ whenever I take him for a bike ride. My friend Steve Bailes use to call it other things when I took him on a bike ride…

How fast can we go...

Since I am still unable to run very far due to my foot surgery, I asked Donna Brown, who is blind,  if she would like to do the triathlon on June 5th at Rocky Gap State Park.  We could find a person to swim the 1/4 mile with her and someone to run the 5K with her. I will use the tandem bike to ride with her on the eight mile bike part of the course. She quickly answered with a resounding YES. I am very excited to be able to do this with Donna and even more excited that I do no have to get into the 60 degree water!  Stayed tuned in for more on this.

I drove a group of fourth graders from Middleburg, Va. to Richmond, Va. on Friday and had a great time. We visited the Confederate Museum and then headed over to the ‘ hands on’  Science Museum.

It is refreshing for me to see a young (relatively young, he is 35 and climbing fast) teacher who is caring and has such a great relationship with his students and parents. Great weather, great company and great trip!

The kids had a ball...

Finally, I sent this letter to Valley Health. I thought some of you might enjoy it.

Dear Pat,

It strikes me as funny that Valley Health has consolidated almost every medical practice within 100 miles of Winchester and still can not coordinate its billing system. You send me along with my bill a notice that you want $100/month and two additional envelopes with bills to ValleyHealth. Would it not be practical to send these bills together? Just think how much more money your non-profit organization would save if you only sent one bill to each patient. Eight-four cents for my account and I assume you do this kind of nonsense all the time, times thousands adds up to a lot of money over a year’s time. Just think, you could probably put some more of that expensive copper up on the ceiling. Also, would it not be realistic to ask a patient to pay a portion of the entire bill rather than a whole bunch of bills? You folks are smart people, see what you can come up with.

In what way did you determine how much I should pay?

Did you audit my credit history or break into my house and check my banking account? What if you asked me to pay $100 on each of the three accounts??? This may come as a shock to you or maybe you are like most of us trying to make ends meet at the end of the month, but there is only so much money in the checking account. Snap out of it! Medical costs are over the top and rising, insurance costs are outrageous, salaries are down, deductibles are up and many of us are struggling to make ends meet!

By the way you can read this at

www.hampshirereview.com under Cosmic Charley’s Blog.

You all have a good day!

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How to fix public education

I have to assume that some individuals believe that public education is not broken, based on the fact that it continues on in its present form. Most of these individuals either have never been associated with a public school or simply refuse to acknowledge the obvious. What I am referring to is the continued dumbing down of an entire country. Leading the way in this process is the school system for reasons I will discuss.
To begin, we must explore how our idea for modern education developed. The answer is Henry Ford. Mr. Ford fine-tuned the concepts of mass production to make the first automobile for the average American. His idea was very successful and created a need for workers who could function in the laborious, tedious and sometime grueling assembly lines of his auto plants. It only makes sense that if you need workers to perform these jobs, why not let the school system train people to do simple, repetitive tasks for long lengths of time without voicing any opposition. Now consider the typical classroom- enter the room, take your seat, do as you are told, do not ask questions, perform boring tasks, graduate and enter the workforce. The budding American economy needed Mr. Ford in order to dominate the world economy. Henry made a lot of money, created jobs for millions so that many people could afford cars, but at what cost? I think, in hindsight, that Henry did more damage than good. His methods took the soul from American workers. No longer was a job supposed to be rewarding or God forbid, enjoyable. It was a job. You stood in one place, put one thingy onto another thingy all day until your mind became mush.
So with that little sermon done, I will get back to my initial purpose in writing this article i.e. How to fix public education.
1. GIVE AUTHORITY BACK TO THE TEACHER:
This does not mean allowing the beatings to begin. I have
worked with many teachers who had absolute control over
their classroom without ever touching a child. It does mean
allowing the teacher to make decisions regarding his
classroom. This includes discipline in the classroom, passing a class
and most important, the ability to function in a group setting
without affecting other students’ education.
In addition, teachers must be in control of the curriculum.
Schools should be allowed to develop their own programs
based solely on the needs of the children. All decisions in the school
should be based on a teacher vote.

2. Testing should be limited to once a year and should be
straight forward, scored on a simple percentage basis;
NO fancy statistics or curves, just good old fashion
information about the level of the child’s achievement.
Some subject test should be used to determine if a child is
competent in an area. An example would be Math and English,
where proficiency should be proven before moving on to a
higher level. One test a year would suffice and would
save the school system millions of dollars  per year.

3. The classroom must be a sanctuary of learning. With almost
NO exception there should be no interruptions of instructional time. This includes announcements, sports and numerous activities that occur in the modern school system. If the faculty as a group decides to have an activity during academic time, it should be decided by a vote of the faculty requiring a 75% approval.

These three recommendations would transform ANY school into a successful academic environment in just a few years. What is more important about these guidelines is that they cost NOTHING!
Many people believe that we must compensate our teachers more for their work. There is a lot of truth to the point that higher wages would bring more people into the profession. After teaching for 30 years, ending with a salary equivalent to a beginning teacher’s salary in other states, I have to agree that improved salaries would be a welcome improvement. ON the other hand, creating an environment where teachers feels empowered and treated like a professional is a change we can do for almost nothing.
Obviously this is something I am very passionate about, such that I hope this article creates some worthwhile discussion from my readers.

The big adventure

For years I have offered bikers (the pedal kind) a place to stay when traveling through Hampshire County. The other day my son stopped and talked to a biker heading west, towards Augusta WV. After a short conversation he called us at home and informed us we were having company for the evening. Sue and I added a little more food to the dinner, straighten up the spare room and waited for him to make it to Augusta.
When he arrived in Augusta, our son Brian met him on route 50 and lead him back to our home. We all introduced ourselves and sat down for dinner.
It became apparent that Tom was an exceptional young man. He has one more year of school at WVU at which time he will be a certified science teacher. Having taught science for 30 years, the conversation took off quickly. We talked about educational philosophy, the state of schools in this country, where he might decide to teach and numerous other topics. It was great fun for me talking shop with such a bright young mind.

Tom is heading for California on his bike. In order to do this he will have to travel 3000 miles over two mountain chains, the planes and one big desert. He plans to travel on route 50 the entire trip, which I tried to talk him out of. He was steadfast in his vision of taking route 50 the whole way. It will make him a stronger person before he reaches the Pacific Ocean.

Tom relaxing after a hard day in the saddle

If you want to follow Tom’s journey you can at

http://tombicycleblog.blogspot.com/

I am on my last leg of finishing my final article on Education which is titled, HOW TO FIX PUBLIC EDUCATION. Stayed tuned!

Take me out to the ball game

Not as though I have not spent enough time driving in the last few months, but I went back to work and drove 40 Hedgesville Little Leaguers to the Baltimore Orioles vs the Boston Red Socks on Sunday. It ended up being a great game with Baltimore upsetting the many Boston fans while beating the Red Socks in the tenth inning.
I love baseball and played it years ago. I guess I am from the old school of baseball thinking. Here is the situation: eighth inning, tied 2-2; Baltimore has bases loaded with one out, a fast guy on third and a .180 hitter at the plate. BUNT! Even Boston thought they were going to bunt! Nooooooo, swing away and end the inning without scoring a run. I was excited, anticipating the suicide bunt that was about to happen. I turned to Sue and said, “Get ready. You are about to witness one of my favorite plays in baseball.”
I guess this is just another example of the changing world around us. Bunts don’t make the evening news; home runs do. Even baseball, which has managed to remain somewhat pure throughout the last 80 years, has sold its soul to the media gods. Or maybe it is the idea that bunting is too sissified for today’s beefy professional athletes. Anyway, it was a great game, but it would have been better if they would have won with a suicide bunt in the eighth inning.

On another note, some folks have asked me when my final article on education, “How To Fix Education”, is coming out…the answer is real soon. I am working hard on it.