The biggest conspiracy since bread, sliced or otherwise.

No longer the way to stay healthy

In fact, this on is all about bread!  Most people do not realize that we are the only creature on this planet that suffers from diseases like diabetes, heart disease and gout, just to name a few.  Do you think it might be related to our lifestyle and diet?  I think the answer to this is a resounding YES!  Let’s retrace a little human history.  Before we invented agriculture, we roamed this planet free of disease.  Of course, life was generally short due to ever-present dangerous conditions and day-to-day survival but evidence exists from fossil records that we did not die from any of our modern diseases. In stead we died from being eaten by a predator or getting an infection or freezing to death in a cold winter.  Most anthropologists think there were roughly a million of us around in the first million years.  Our numbers were low due to scarce food supplies and the dangerous environment we lived in.

This type of lifestyle continued for many million years until a very smart human (sarcasm) discovered that we could survive by eating grains, and more important, we could grow this grain in large amounts!  Thus, you have the beginning of the agricultural revolution.  This was a great thing for human-kind because now there was much more food available and it could be stored for the winter to sustain man through frigid weather.  Something else also began to happen.  People became heavier; yes, these were the first obese people on the planet. Most attributed this to increasingly more availability food, but today many are now starting to believe this may have been the beginning of our move to the heftier side of life.  There have been numerous studies (the Mediterranean diet) on isolated groups of people who have no heart disease, no diabetes or no obesity.  Many of these studies have been done with possible predetermined outcomes selecting cultures that do not eat meat with little or no heart disease as well as cultures that eat mostly meat but are never the less very healthy.  I think the answer is too close for us to see, i.e. that we lack sufficient impartiality.   Every culture in the world that have adopting the modern way of eating has developed the same diseases that plague us.  The one food that seems to becoming an ever-increasing part of our diet is processed food.  Remember when grandma and grandpa had eggs and bacon for breakfast almost every day of their long and healthy lives?  Maybe they were closer to being on the right track than we think.

Another way to look at this is from the vantage point of power.  In order to have a large workforce or army one needs a way to feed many people at the same time.  It is very difficult to feed a large number in the more primal non-processed way.  So those in power learned that they could feed lots of people by replacing good, natural foods with processed food made from grain.  Using this agricultural breakthrough, those in control could massively increase population as to have a big army and large workforce.  This worked well when the average age of humans was in the 40s but now that we are living much longer so that the effects of this type of eating are showing themselves.  The average male graduates from high school weighing around 150 pounds.  Eating what is considered a good diet filled with whole wheat grains and carbohydrates, he will gain at least one pound per year during his lifetime.  If he is careful about what he eats, by the time he is 50, he will weigh about 180 pounds.  Since a sedentary man quits adding muscle after his mid 20s, all he is adding is fat. Couple this with the increased tendency to develop high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes, life is no longer fun after his 50th birthday. Check this chart out on blood pressure statistics in America.

Age Men (%) Women (%)
20-34 9.2 2.2
35-44 21.1 12.6
45-54 36.2 36.2
55-64 50.2 54.4
65-74 64.1 70.8
75 and older 65.0 80.2
All 31.8 30.3

Note that men and women between 55 and 64 have a 50% chance of high blood pressure!  That means that if doctors and pharmaceutical companies have their way, half  of us Americans over the age of 50 will be taking blood pressure medicine! If this does not strike you as strange, I think you are missing the point.

Folks, this may come as a surprise to many, but you are being hoodwinked.  The big food companies know what is going on and they know what is causing the health problems in our country. TV is telling you how to eat but your health is the last thing they are concerned about!  Please do not just take my word for this!  Do your homework!  Read!  Read!  Read!  If you are one of the many Americans who are watching your waistline grow, your blood pressure rise and sugar levels climb, take action!  Take the time and effort to learn before it is too late.

If you want to learn more about this new approach to eating, go to and read what Mark Sisson has to say.

You can also search out the words Primal Diet or Paleo diet and to see very similar advice.

If you are on one of the many cholesterol medicines, check out this site.

It is never too late to start eating right, so get on board today!

Hampshire schools close to the bottom

The recent article in the Hampshire Review about Hampshire county schools regarding their low academic position relative to other schools in the state needs to be clarified.  There are several ways to look at this. One is to see it as a percentile which places us thenat the bottom  20% level.  If we were in a class ranking of 100 students, we would be below 80% of our classmates. If the nuns at the Catholic school I attended, as a the fourth grader were giving Hampshire schools a grade, it would be a D relative to other schools in West Virginia.

Here is a recent chart on math and science scores on a state by state basis.

Science and Engineering Readiness Index data compiled by Statistical Research Center at The American Institute of Physics Posted 7/11/11

Now remember, here in Hampshire county we are one of the lowest scoring counties in the state.  Couple this with the fact we are one of the lowest scoring states in the country and one of the lowest scoring countries in the developed world and you might begin to wonder what is going on.  How far to the bottom?  That means we have some of the worst schools in the country, forgive me, I mean world!

I keep thinking of the old limbo song, HOW LOW CAN YOU GO?  It sounds to me that we need a major housecleaning to correct this problem.  I hate to repeat myself but I am going to say it again!  It all starts in the classroom with the teacher!  Class-time-on-task is essential to learning.  You should not interrupt class on a regular basis for anything unless it is extremely  important.  We need to reevaluate where we are, where we are going and where we have been academically.  Our students go to school to learn to love learning and develop basic skills to survive in the workplace which is for all intent and purpose a world workforce.  In fact, many American companies are hiring students from other countries because they do not feel our students have the training, thinking skills or work ethic they need!  I was told by a prison educational specialist that some companies would rather hire a GED (General education Degree) student than a high school graduate because there was some assurance that they know basic skills.  Our kids do not go to school to watch or play ballgames, have club meetings or anything else that often interferes with the learning processes.  Instruction time is a sacred, a special time that belongs to the teacher, no one else!  For the last 35 years I have watched the rights of teachers being eroded by bureaucrats, politicians, administrators and parents and who often have little or no training in the field of education, but who wants a piece of the action.  In what amount to a slow and methodical diminishment of the rights of the teaching profession, we have seen a devastating erosion of our public education system.  As it stands now, many of our public schools are academically in ruins with no sign of any changes in the near future!

While I am up here on the soap box, I want to bring one more point to this conversation.  TESTING!  I have said it before and will say it again and again until I die or someone actually listens!  There is no merit in testing kids to the point that where we are today.  Our kids are not a huge science experiment for which we are trying to collect as much data as humanly possible; they are our children!  I have talked to teachers who claim that some students spend as much as one day out of five testing!  This is insane!  Do the math; there are 36 weeks in a school year.  If a child spends one day a week testing, that is 36 days a year which is at least five weeks of school.  These are some of the same people who want year-round school calendar!  So, by dropping our testing down to two or three days a year, we can add almost five weeks of instructional time to the year!

How long do we have to fix this?  How far down in the world ranking do we have to fall before we decide that educating is JOB ONE!  This is not about paying our teachers more money but empowering them to teach the children, allowing people who are trained to teach,the authority to do their jobs.  I have known many teachers in my life so I am convinced that with proper supervision and guidance, most of them can be good teachers, if not great ones.  Again, this means: let teachers do their job, and if they are not, develop a process to retrain them or remove them!  We are becoming a third world country due to the poor education a majority of our schools provide!  I for one have enjoyed our past status as number one but I fear our reign is ending.

Doctor Betsy is getting married!

This is what Betsy saw from the helicopter

Betsy Ileen Streisel has announced her intent to marry Thomas Edward Eanes.  No date has been set yet.  I believe it will be this coming spring.

Taking a ride on the love boat

Times like these catch parents off guard and force our minds to recall memories of our children growing up.  I keep thinking of my little girl riding her pink and blue bike down the C&O canal with a look of determination on her face that has shined through to this very day.  That was a long day for Betsy, riding almost 70 miles on her bike but resolute to make it to the end of the ride.  She was a fourth grader at the time!

Three years ago she decided to pursue a dual degree in Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy. Today she has her degrees and missed the deans list by 1/2 of a percentage point.

Now she has made another decision, to marry Thomas.  I am sure she will take the same passion for creating a successful marriage that she has taken in all her  endeavors. She will be a great wife to Thomas and a loving parent to our grandchildren.

I remember the fear that consumed me when I broke the big question to Betsy’s mother  35 years ago but with hard work and love we have a good marriage and now we get to witness the marriage  of our daughter.  We are not total rookies in this  ‘children getting married’ department, because we have a  son Scott, who has been married for four years and is doing well.  Just recently, they informed us that they have figured out how to make grandchildren!

I just want to take this moment to send publicly our congratulations to Betsy and Thomas and may their marriage and life be as spectacular as ours has been.

Warm Showers

Bikers dream of these days.

Warm Showers is an organization that helps bikers (the pedaling type) find places to stay as they trek across the country.  Through Warm Showers we have met many neat people over the last several years.

Don & Taylor

This past Thursday we took in two tired bikers, Don and Taylor, who were on the last leg of their cross-country ride.  If I remember correctly, they had been on their bikes for almost 60 days.  We had a great evening talking trails and routes as they prepared for the last two days of the trip.  Washington, DC was the final destination, where they would spend a couple of days sightseeing before being picked up by their sister for the ride home to North Carolina.

Cruising around DC on a bicycle built for two

It is that time of year again, time to load up the tandem bike and go somewhere for a ride.  Sue and I decided to tone it down a little this year (after our amazing trip to Nova Scotia last year) and headed off to Washington, DC to see the sights.  As you may have noticed, the weather had been terrible for several weeks, but we decided we were going anyway. We arrived in DC on Monday afternoon and checked into our hotel, which thanks to a good friend, was the Omni Shoreham, a real nice place to stay and then took a short walk to the zoo. Washington zoo is one of my favorite places in the city, and it is free!  The rain had stopped and the temperature was comfortable which allowed us to have a great time seeing the animals.  Even though I enjoy going to the zoo, it troubles me seeing those wild animals locked up in cages for our viewing pleasure only.  The large lions and apes appear to be so unhappy, restricted to their tiny piece of land, unable to  roam about the way they were meant to.  Maybe someday we will come up with another way to satisfy our need to see these glorious beasts in person.

Back at our hotel we settled in for a good night’s sleep so we would be ready for our bike ride to Mount Vernon in the morning.  Bright and early we were up and ready to go.  The weather was questionable, but we decided it was now or never, so we rode our bike to the Rock Creek Parkway and began our 20 mile journey along the Potomac River, over the Washington Bridge,  past Arlington Cemetery, right under the Washington National Airport approach, past the city of Arlington and through the beautiful green countryside that leads to George Washington’s home.  After about an hour and one-half ride we arrived at Mount Vernon,  paid the $15/ticket to get in and spent the next several hours learning about our nation’s first president.  He was an incredibly talented man, which was evident from the beautifully laid out and landscaped farm that has been restored to its earlier grace.

George and Martha's house
Hanging with George, Martha and the kids

Invigorated by this great stop, we mounted our trusty tandem and began our journey back to the hotel with several planned stops on the way.  The first was Arlington Cemetery where so many of our fallen and the greatest president of my lifetime, John F. Kennedy, are laid to rest.  Although I have been there several times, I still suffer recounting the amount of sacrifice our men and women have made.  Mile after mile of tombstones adorn the land.  It is a place that every American should visit at least once in a lifetime to help us focus on the true price of war.

So many lives....
John F Kennedy, The one who could inspire.

It was getting late and daylight was slipping away, so we jumped on the bike to ride the five miles on the Rock Creek Parkway Trail to our hotel.  By the time we were close to the hotel it was dark, and our bike was not equipped with a light so it was a little scary.  During that short time in the dark we witnessed hundreds of joggers who apparently got off work, joined a group and did some kind of relay races on the trail.  The competition, though friendly and spirited, was somewhat intense but enjoyable to watch.

Back at the hotel we called it a day quickly so we could continue our adventure the next day.  The following morning we decided to use the subway to navigate the city.  We bought an all-day Metro pass for $9.00, boarded the RED LINE and zoomed over to Chinatown.

What is left of Chinatown

Chinatown was a little disappointing because most of it has been taken down and replaced with newer buildings.  A short walk from Chinatown we found the National Building Museum which I had never heard of before.  It is a HUGE building and the word HUGE is inadequate to fully describe the size of this building!  Take a look inside.

Look closely and you will see me next to the column.

Next, we ventured over to the Post Office Museum which was really nice and FREE.  From there we traveled past several large government buildings including the Senate Building (where I hear nothing happens), The Supreme Court, The House Building, around the Capitol and finally over to one of my favorites, the Botanical Gardens.

Me and the woman
Library of Congress
Supreme Court
Botanical Garden-orchid

The day was getting away from us so we marched over to the National Art Museum and did a one-hour quick tour before they announced that the building was closing.

It was time for dinner so I took Sue to the wharf (the best fish in town) which sort of looks like a scene from the apocalypse.  We bought two crab cake dinners for a total of $25 and found a place in the grass to enjoy our dinner.

I told Sue that one of my favorite memories from past visits was seeing the Reflecting Pool from the Lincoln Memorial after dark.  We began the long walk past the Washington Monument, past the now empty Reflecting Pool; they decided to fix it last year.

The Reflecting Pool was now a large rectangular area filled with gravel, mud and tractors.  Despite the lack of a this attraction, it was a beautiful evening;  looking back at the Monument and the Capitol should evoke a genuine pride on our country.  Not far away is the Korean War monument, truly a remarkable sight in the evening!  A group of bronze, six-foot soldiers appear to be advancing.  It is an amazing exhibit and in the dark one almost feel as if it is really happening right in front of your eyes!

One of the soldiers at The Korean War Monument.

Tired after walking almost eight miles with Mother Nature threatening to drop an immense amount of water on our heads, we quickly began our return to the nearest subway station, Foggy Bottom.  As we took the escalator deep into the earth we could see behind us that the rain was beginning to fall.  We boarded the train and were whisked away to a block from our hotel.  Our bed was a welcome friend that evening after walking so many miles; dream-land was not far away!

The following morning we lay (check this spelling on lay)  around the hotel for a while, packed up and called the porter for our car, loaded up the tandem and began our journey home, Making a quick stop at the Iwo Jima Monument,

Imo Gima

stopping off to see Sue’s Aunt Polly and Uncle Ed in Arlington.  We are already planning our next year’s trip to DC. It is such a great city to visit with so many things to see; it may take us several years to see it all.

I don’t have to drive to Winchester for a great meal:

On Saturday I spent the day in Berkley Springs helping a friend redo a roof on a house he is refurbishing.  It was a long day, and I was hungry and feeling the blahs as I was driving home.  I had heard there was a new restaurant in town.  Get ready for this, it is in Slainsville, West Virginia, and is called the Main Street Grill (!__pizza) .  I decided that I would stop to check the place out.   I have said for many years that having a successful restaurant is an easy concept, coupled with a lot of hard work.  Well, my old friends Matt Stotler, Jack Bender and their wives seem to agree.  The service was excellent, the place was clean, the food was fantastic and the prices were very fair- all it takes to run a successful restaurant!

If you get the urge to have a great steak or one of their many other selections, stop by and give it a try.  I am sure you will not regret it!  Tell them Charlie sent you.

Important people in our lives

Too often we do not tell these very special people how much they really mean to us.  We live our lives assuming that these special folks know how important they are to us.  At the same time, we frequently wonder to ourselves if we are appreciated to our friends and family, or if our existence means anything to them. Children go through life complaining about their parents and pointing out about their shortcomings, and very infrequently do they sit down to tell their parents how truly grateful they are for the many sacrifices and love that were  given them.  I understand that this is the way most people are and I am ready to accept this until I go to a funeral or learn that someone is facing a life-threatening situation. Out of the blue, this person is ready to spill his guts to let everyone know how much this person means to him.  I do not want to count the times I have witnessed a person sobbing uncontrollably at a funeral, and know for a fact, they never said a kind word to the person when the person was alive!  If I gave into impulse, I would go up to them and scream in their ear, “Why didn’t you say these things when he/she could hear you!?  It’s too late now!  They have seen the light and split the scene!”

I have several theories as to why this happens and would be happy to share one of them with you.  My idea is that the-beyond-reasonable behavior at a funeral is mainly rooted in guilt because he treated this person horribly and now is unable to repair the damage.  This is so profoundly sad.  Not only does the person feel horrible for his behavior, he has to spend the rest of his life knowing that he will never be able to make amends.  If you are banking on the heaven scenario, you might not be in the same condo when or if you get there.  Moreover, if you treated a person badly while here on earth, that might be grounds for not getting a pass through golden gates!

One facet of life that makes it so interesting is knowing that at any moment you could be out of here.  You could trip down the stairs or get something stuck in your throat.  Have you ever read the statistics for automobile deaths?   Life is a gift to each of us.  It is a second-to-second contract.  There are no guarantees.

So here are my suggestions for improvement:

Treat people the way you would like them to treat you all of the time.

Tell people right away when you are thankful for something they have done for you.

Send cards a thank you card to let people know you care for them and are appreciate their goodness.

Call people you have not talked to in a while.

Say “hi” to people on the street, even if you do not know them.

I remember a scene from an old Star Trek show when Spock’s body was inhabited by an alien psychic being.  The alien’s first comment was how lonely it was to be human, totally separated from peers and only able to communicate with words. I think this is an important message for all of us to ponder.

Have a good Day!