Small brainstorm

I just figured out why so many people were upset that Bernie Madoff took their money. (You have to wonder about giving money to a guy with that last name)  The bank system just ripped off the American taxpayer for billions of dollars and no one went to jail, yet old Bernie is put way for a long time. I think the key to this mystery is…Bernie ripped off the rich folks, not the average guy on the street! Did anyone at ENRON go to jail? You can take that to the bank!

There’s gas in them there hills

This is our new Marcellus well in Augusta

Since the states were created, West Virginia has been on front line of being used and abused. It all started with the mass clearing of timber from our virgin valleys.  Shortly after, we began to mine coal and created huge stretches of baron land that was neither fit for man nor beast. In more recent history we found some oil and gas pockets relatively near the surface. Now we have learned that Hampshire County is on the fringes of what may be one of the largest gas fields in the world. Yahoo!  We are all going to be rich!  Whoa boy, don’t let the cart get ahead of the horses. My high school physics teacher had a banner in the front of the room that has stuck with me, it said, “YOU DON’T GET SOMETHING FOR NOTHING”.  I have learned over and over that this simple saying could be the most important set of words in the survival of our species.  Everything we do has environmental repercussions.  Whether it is throwing a plastic bottle into the trash, digging massive holes in the earth or dumping  enormous amounts of toxic trash into landfills, the air or the streams and oceans, it all has an impact on our planet. And the problem is that this planet is our home!

Now back to the current gas issue.  In order to get this gas from the earth, they are going to have to drill down about a mile into the earth into the Marcellus shale and then use a process called fracking to get the gas to leave its comfortable home embedded in the rock.  This process of fracking has the potential to create some serious problems for the people living within a couple of miles of the drill site.  When they do the fracking, they use as much as 300 tons of extremely toxic chemicals to cause the ground to release the gas and this process can be repeated as many as 18 times.  Much of this chemical is left in the earth with the potential to move into the ground water.  On top of this, if the drill hole encounters gas pockets while drilling to the Marcellus shale, that gas has the potential of entering the groundwater.

As one of my friends said, “Yeah, I can sell the gas rights and make a lot of money then move somewhere else or I could choose not to sell the rights, and stay where I am”.  Everybody has their own agenda and in our culture having money seems to be one of the most important measures of success; but at what cost?  As a parent, one of my biggest concerns is that my children be given the potential to have an enjoyable life.  How can I do that if the earth beneath our feet is destroyed or made inhabitable, or the water is no longer drinkable?  The people of Hampshire County are going to make a difficult decision in the near future.  I hope that they spend the time to learn the total implications of allowing the oil companies to drill into the earth near their home.  Remember, you don’t get something for nothing, there is always a price.

The horrific reminds us of the good around us:

The shooting of an American congresswoman, her staff and bystanders should help us remember that this is the exception to our way of life. Even though the news empire would like us to think that the entire population is capable of this types of violent, senseless crimes, we must remember that this kind of insane behavior is the exception to the rule rather than the norm. I doubt if very many people know a person capable of this kind of violence, yet the medias have made us feel as though  they are all around ready to attack or take our kids at any given moment.

I think we need to focus on the many good things that occur rather than the occasional horrific event.  This is much harder than one thinks.  We seem to be drawn to the bad stuff.  If a person was helping an older individual cross a busy highway, and right down the street was a terrible accident, guess where the crowd would migrate to?  Let’s face it; we are much more interested in the horrific event than the kind act of helping an old person. Heroes have to survive some kind of ghastly encounter to be considered heroes.  If they do not survive very cold water, fire or something dangerous, we tend to overlook their heroics. They certainly never make the news.  If someone is threatening to jump off a building, a crowd quickly assembles to witness the spectacular demise of one of their fellow humans. In fact, there have been instances of a crowd yelling incentives to the jumper to do it!  This does not look good on our resume.  We are better than this and we need to look around to see the good things going on in our world.

Yes, we need to mourn the loss of these people and yes, we need to demand justice on the offender but we do not need to fall into the dark cave of fear that has been heightened by the media and some political figures. I would estimate that at least 95% of the people on earth are good people at heart and willing to help their fellow-man if the situation arises. Maybe the key to this problem is to follow one’s heart rather than the crowd.  Germany taught us what following the crowd can result in.

The Electronic Dumb Age:

I became very upset when I touched the unlock button on the magic key and the door did not unlock; oh my, what would I do?

We had just flown in from Florida to see my daughter Betsy graduate with a doctor’s degree in Physical Therapy.  Even though it was a short flight, we were all tired and ready to be done with the two and one half hour drive home from the Baltimore airport.  It was very cold; the car was  in a parking  garage so I had to take a transit bus to it.  When I arrived where I had left my car, it was dark and the wind was howling as I began to search for it.  I pressed the button on the key to make it beep but could not hear anything so I continued to move around the garage trying to locate my vehicle while pressing the key.  Soon after I saw the car and moved towards it continuing to press the unlock button as I approached.  The car sat there dead showing no emotion as I approached. No lights, sounds or any signs of life emanated from the auto.  As I close to the car I continued to press the button and then began panic.  I said out loud, “How am I going to open this car?”  At that time I looked down at my hand and realized I was holding a key; not just any key but the key to my car!  Just how stupid and completely reliant on high tech gadgets have I become that I did not even think of opening the car with the KEY!  Now I am not the brightest bulb in the pack but I figure I am at least a little above average so I wonder how many folks of lesser illumination have left their car without realizing that they held the key in their hand.  You may have recently heard about the woman who set her new mobile home on cruise-control and went back to get a drink?  Needless to say, the vehicle wrecked so then she sued the RV company and WON!!

Consider of all the gadgets and services we have that allow us to think less and less.  We use smart credit cards to buy everything.  We never do math in our heads unless the battery dies in our calculator.  No one can make change!  Many people do not remember any phone numbers since they are all stored in their phone.  I only have to say a name to my phone and it dials itself.  My GPS keeps me from getting lost or reading a map.  My TV prevents me from doing any serious thinking.  My car tells me when to change the oil or get service.  All this stuff is great but I am worried that if we live by the old adage, use it or lose it, we may be losing the use of our minds.  Long time ago we had to work very hard just to stay alive by hunting, gathering wood or tilling the ground.  Now manual work is almost a thing of the past.  Because of this, we go to gyms and workout just to keep some semblance of muscle tone.  So, is the next step to go to mind centers where we work our brains to keep them functioning at some reasonable level?  Maybe one could get a dual membership for brawn and brain workout.  If you have not seen the movie WALL-E, you are missing the future determined by our current course. If you want to see a scary comedy about how the world may look in several hundred years, see IDIOCRACY.   Either way, keep exercising the body and the brain and maybe we can have a few folk around who know how things work in case everything quits working.