Our not so kind local banks

I had convinced myself that the greed and corruption of the large national banks where not an issue with our local banks.  I have written in past blogs about the huge salaries and large bonuses that the bank executive are receiving.  Our local banks deal in smaller amounts of money so I have to assume that their execs do not make millions of dollars.  But they are guilty of a less noticeable practice that adds considerable earnings to their bank accounts. Check these charts out.

A friend of mine, who is currently unemployed, like so many Americans, told me of a practice of his bank that makes me wonder if greed has not crept into the local banks as well.  Recently he made a mistake in his checking account and inadvertently wrote two checks with insufficient funds to cover both of them; these checks were posted the same day!  The bank ran the larger first check through which created a deficit, generating a $22 fee.  Then they ran the smaller check through, which would have cleared if it had been run first, causing a second fee of $22!  HO HO HO, Merry Christmas!  Now my friend has a total penalty of $44 instead of $22.

It is hard to know how many times a day a bank practices this kind of Tom foolery, but I am sure it amounts to a lot of extra revenue!  Dear banks, this is your community; we are the people who make your job and business possible; we are your friends and acquaintances.  Why would you not take the time and have the interest to help a person avoid this kind of double whammy?  Everyone is hurting from the worst recession in a long time!  Wouldn’t it be Christian or just plain good to help people when you have the opportunity to do so?   The person who made this mistake is unemployed, not the best accountant in the world, and makes mistake as we all do.  Why not help him out a little?

Merry Christmas

And have a Happy and prosperous New Year!

My new friend

Naotaka Maehara arriving in Augusta

The other day my friend Steve Bailes called me up to ask if I would be interested in housing a young man from Japan for the evening.  He is riding his bike across America, having left from Vancouver 70 days ago.  He was coming from Clarksburg and would arrive on Saturday if things worked out. I agreed, and contacted Nao (pronounced NOW which is short for Naotaka Maehara) by email to invited him to stay with us for the evening. He replied that he would like to stay with us Saturday evening.  The next two days were interesting as I stayed in contact as much as possible via e-mail. If you remember, this past Wednesday and Thursday we experienced our first major snow fall of the season so Nao was right in the middle of it with the continental divide directly in front of him. To make a long, involved story shorter, he made it across the mountains to our home by 4pm on Saturday.  I quickly suggested he take a bath to get warm. He agreed and headed for the bathroom.  About an hour later he emerged, hungry, relaxed and anxious to get to know us.  Steve had asked if he could come over and meet Nao so I suggested that we do dinner ; at about 6pm Steve and Terry arrived.  It was one of those magical evenings that happen so rarely. We talked, exchanged stories and ate until we were ready to pop.  Nao turned out to be charming, pleasant and a very gracious guest.  I will remember the evening for a long time.  With my fading memory that could be months from now.   After dinner, us guys went down stairs to give Nao’s bike some tender loving care, which it needed badly. We reattached the front racks, cleaned and oiled the chain, pumped up the tires, and gave it a quick inspection.  Later Nao and I went upstairs to spend almost two hours planning his route to New York City. He was ready for his journey to continue in the morning. After I went to bed, Sue stayed up until midnight talking with Nao about who knows what.

Resting after dinner

Relaxing after dinner

The morning came; Nao had several bowls of cereal and began to ready himself and his bike for his journey to New York City where he was scheduled to arrive on December 23. We created a Skype connection so that he could contact us with his computer, if needed.  Shortly thereafter, Nao headed down the driveway.

After Nao had left, we found a note in his bedroom.  In the note was a twenty-dollar bill.  At first I considered getting in the car and catching him to give back the money but after reading the note I decided not to.  This is written in Nao’s own words.  He has only been learning English for three years. I’m impressed!

“I met woman in that time. (before he met us)                                                              She listened my serious talking and gave this $20 to me. She gave money and I received money.  And also I received her kindness.  She said, “I can’t help you now, but use this money and stay in hotel. I want you guys receive this $20.  I mean it is not a staying fee, it means a woman’s kindness.”

I will keep this twenty and pass it forward when the time comes. Experiences like this one only intensify my belief that life is about the people you meet and the memories  you take from those meeting.  My only hope is that someday I will get to see Nao again!

An Analytical LOOK at boobies


The Blue Footed Boobies don't mind showing their chest.



This topic has intrigued me since somewhere around my 13th birthday. The intensity of my feelings on this issue has amazed me. Boobies are a delicate issue to handle (no pun intended) and I hope to approach it in a sensitive way so that I will have to use my very analytical and creative mind to help the female population understand the complex emotional train-wreck that is referred to as the “male psyche.”

With all that said, I will begin.  It is my belief that boobies have had an enormous impact on society throughout human history.  As a starter, how many times have men been distracted by a woman’s cleavage and wrecked or caused others to wreck.  If you are a man, how many times have you been distracted by the sight of mesmerizing cleavage?  Men, in general, are very susceptible to the sight of a woman’s breasts.  There is something in our evolutionary history that makes the male brain unable to avoid the occasional glimpse.  Women have learned to capitalize on this inherent weakness and have gone to great lengths to accentuate this part of their anatomy.  With the use of specially designed shirts, blouses and bras they are able to create a sense of mystery and intrigue which only intensifies the male eagerness to see more.

What is the point of all this?  Nature usually does not waste its time and energy on this type of behavior unless there is a reason.  Maybe there is a relationship between a woman’s ability to reproduce and the size of her breast.  After all, there is a relationship between breast size and estrogen level, and since estrogen is the key ingredient to being female, this seems logical.  Since reproduction is nature’s primary concern, one may conclude there is a relationship.  This leads us to the conclusion that men are hard-wired to observe woman’s breast which in turn may lead to other activities to help ensure the continued procreation of the species.  In addition, women are programmed to display their breast in order to attract men and reproduce.  I know many women who would argue this point, but one walk through a mall on a warm spring day will convince most anybody otherwise.

One only has to watch TV or go to the movies to see the continual use of women’s breasts to sell items or attract viewers; these commercials are primarily directed at the male gender.  In the past breasts were covered or hidden from view because, I have to think, this was a way to keep men from thinking too much about sex.   I once read in a bicycle magazine that men think about sex 80% of the time they are riding a bike!  I am not sure this is all together true; it may be higher…I know I enjoy riding my bike!

The Europeans have adopted a much more liberal point of view on this topic.  It is no big deal for a woman to show her breasts in many parts of Europe, e.g., The French Rivera.  I am told this approach de-empathizes the whole fixation towards a woman’s breast.  Since it is no big deal to see them, people do not get all worked up when they do.  I do plan a visit to Europe some day to see if I can reorder my tendencies.  It may take several years to re-program my thinking but I think it will be a noble and challenging effort on my part



20 1/2 years of school

Dr. Paris, the president of the university, giving Betsy her degree

Yesterday, Betsy, our daughter, walked across the stage to accept her Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from the University of St. Augustine in Florida.  There are no words to express our pride in her accomplishments.  As I watched the ceremony it dawned on me that Betsy had been in school for 20 and 1/2 years!  Thirteen years of public school, four years of undergraduate study, two years of graduate study and one and one half years to get her doctor’s degree.  That is a long time to be in school!  Enjoy the photos!

Scott, Betsy and Brian, our three kids
The graduate
The whole clan
Dylan and Aunt Betsy
Betsy, Cody and Vania, fellow graduates and Betsy's good friends


It takes a community to raise a child.  Thanks to everyone who has been a part of Betsy’s life.

Dancing with a supernova

After over 30 years of trying, my wife finally got me to a dance class. We learned the waltz, the two-step and several others I have already forgotten. At this point I am not even sure how she got me to the class.  She had mentioned it several times over the last week and I just smiled figuring she would forget.  Tonight she told me it was too late and we were not going. In my mind that was a victory so I went back to the living room to watch how the stock market had done today. Just before dinner she announced that she was going to the dance class. I responded that she had said she was not going at which time she informed me that she had changed her mind. I asked her who she was going with and she said in a menacing voice, you!  I was a little taken back with her forcefulness but also impressed at the same time. So we headed for class.  I felt awkward just walking into class and dreaded the actual dancing that would soon take place.  There were five couples including us and we all floated around the room like giraffes on ice skates; stepping on each others feet and trying to keep count as our instructor cheered us on telling us how well we were doing.  I know she was lying and wondered how she kept a straight face during all this chaotic motion in the room.  To make matters worse, my good friend who trains with me for triathlon was right next door, so I know he is going to tell all the guys.  My reputation as a jock will be forever tarnished.  In their eyes I will forever be a dancer.  Well the evening zoomed by and we even had a little bit of fun but do me a favor and don’t tell anyone I said that.

Video Games and Fall

Over the last couple of weeks I have watched nature put on a spectacular show of color. A pear tree in our front yard is still an amazing shade of yellow as it fights to keep its leaves a little longer.  Most of the trees have lost almost all their leaves as they prepare to sleep for the winter.  I guess, as one gets older, an appreciation of life’s incredible diversity and beauty become more apparent even as our eyes get weaker.

I recently heard a man speak about the ever-increasing advance of technology into our lives over the last 50 years.  I could not help but think of my grandson, whose whole existence, in his mind, is playing video games.  Several days ago the two of us were taking a walk through the woods when I asked him to look at the trees to see all the incredible colors of the leaves.  His response was, “Can I play Battle Force when we get home?”  I know he is only five so I should not expect him to enjoy or appreciate the beauty of nature, but his total dismissal of what we were seeing struck me as sad.  As I walk through the mall or most any other place I see people texting or talking on their phones more and more.  Driving, I see the same thing.  I enjoy saying “hi” to people I do not know or holding doors for others, but many times they fly through the door without even an acknowledgment that someone held the door for them because they are on their phones.

I have wondered how this will all play out in the future.  Some say we will have a small device implanted in our heads that will allow us to access the internet, check our e-mail, make or receive a call, read our text messages or even check without a credit card at the store.  At that point we may have no reason to talk or interact with anyone other than through technology.  Picture this, you see a friend at the store and instead of stopping to talk to him, you use the device in your head to send him a text.  Human interaction could be reduced to anything that can transmit over the airways!   One of the biggest complaints we hear about young people is their inability to interact with others!  No wonder, when one can bury his mind in a video game for hours on end rather than talk to someone because it requires a small amount of effort, he can simply send them a text.

I started this piece a week a go and now I look out my window and the trees are bare.  Today they are rocking in the pre-winter winds waiting for the snow to settle on them.  It is still a beautiful site.  It is my hope that my grandson will some day be able to see nature in its incredible splendor.

A few weeks ago I wrote a blog on people touching your junk at the airport. A friend of mine sent this cartoon which I thought was very funny.

Tax cut for the rich

I wonder how many people in our little county of Hampshire, West Virginia need to worry about paying taxes for income over $250,000.  But I bet almost every US Senator has to worry about it and guess who is making the decision.

I have an idea!  Lets make the senate exempt from this tax and maybe they will pass it.  Just joking but maybe…


After 7 and 1/2 years of school, of which the last three were full-time, my daughter BETSY ILEEN STREISEL will be done with her classes at about 10:30 am this morning. She will have a BS in Exercise Physiology, a Masters in Occupational Therapy and a Doctors in Physical therapy! Our family is so proud of her! If you Know Betsy, contact her and congratulate her on a job well done.