I owe an apology to the those who  have taken the time to read my blog for not spending as much time in front of the keyboard as I normally do.  Quite honestly, I have been a little busy.  I now have four home-bound students I am attempting to teaching math and science to and remodeling my wood shop. These two tasks, along with the multitude of other life’s chores, seem to gobble up the days much too quickly.  A lot has happened over the last couple of weeks: we have survived another election and, contrary to the beliefs of many, the world has not yet ended ( maybe that will be on December 21).  Our nation is watching the Middle-East teeter on the brink of full-scale war.  The ice cap is melting faster than anyone thought was possible.  The United States is approaching something the news media have dubbed the Fiscal Cliff, what ever that means.  If congress does not get off its lazy, over-paid, all too comfortable, life-time appointment arse and do something, we will probably go into another recession!

All that behind me, we are heading into the Christmas season, a time of joy and treating ones fellow man like you give a dam.  The stores have begun their sales blitz even earlier than last year so now we even have a new shopping day called BLACK MONDAY when any you can go to any store and get in a fight over some dumb piece of merchandise.  No longer are we restricted to BLACK FRIDAY when we too often behave like cave-men and cave-women.  Who says society is not evolving?  I marvel at the adds on TV.  Over the last couple of years I have seen more and more ads suggesting that we run out and buy a new BMW or some other expensive car as a Christmas present!  I want to know who can afford to buy a $50,000 to $100,000 car as a Christmas present?!  Wow, I remember when Christmas was about making gifts or finding that perfect little item that was inexpensive, but made someone happy!  Now we have to buy someone a car to make them think we love them!  I keep waiting for someone to tell me to buy a house for a loved one or maybe an island off the coast of Florida.  I am pretty sure this ever-increasing need to spend money to show love cannot continue forever.  This gives me considerable pain since I asked for a Porsche for Christmas this year.

I just wanted to let you know I am still alive and have several writing pieces that I have started on but have not finished that you will get to read in the near future.  I have to get them done before December 21 or they will be lost forever.  I also want anybody who feels certain that the world is going to end on 21st to please write me into their will so that their possessions will go to someone who deserves them, me.  All money should be sent using direct deposit in case the mail quits running. HO, HO, HO!

Awakening the sleeping giant

Today was a beautiful day, the sun was bright, the sky was brilliant blue and the temperature was perfect.  I started out the morning with my standard Saturday morning workout, eight 50 meter sprints in the pool, eight 30 second sprints on the exercise bike, eight 30 second sprints on the treadmill followed by 40 pull-ups in intervals of eight.  My good friend Rich accompanied me in this ordeal.  After working out, I headed home to take my traditional post workout nap of 30 minutes but was interrupted by my other good friend Steve who wanted to go for a bike ride.  I never turn down a bike ride when the weather is so good, so I said yes.  I asked him if we could meet in an hour and he agreed.  This gave me time to take a short nap before loading up the bike and meeting him in Slanesville.  Of course, I over slept a little before waking to the tolling of the school house clock on the wall.  Realizing I was late, I quickly dressed for a bike ride, loaded the bike and made my way quickly to our meeting place.  I was only about 10 minutes late which was about perfect for Steve, who has never been on time in his life except when he was born!

We mounted our bikes and ventured down Springfield Grade road towards Capon Bridge.  After several miles we found the road that Steve wanted to explore.  It was called Saw Mill Road which should have given me a clue as to the fact we were heading into the bowels of West Virginia.  We were hoping to find our way back along the river but that never happened.  After riding three or four miles back this road, up and down several small mountains, we found ourselves at the top of a mountain with very steep sides.  The only real option for a logically thinking person would have been to turn around and head back the way we came but my mind has never and will never work that way.  I am one of those people who if they came to a wall in the woods, would have to, I repeat, have to, climb over it or find some way around, over or under it.  It is as if there is a caged person in side of me that feels that he must find a way out.  I have very little control over this other person who lives in me!  I quickly surveyed the surrounding steep hill side and then began to explore parts of the hill, trying to find a way down to the valley that lay ahead of us.  Steve stood near the bikes, never moving, shaking his head no as he watched me explore the area around us.  He knew that the other me was in full control and that other person was convinced we were heading down that hill side. After a short time I returned and pointed out the possible course we could follow to the bottom of the hill.  Steve quietly said NO, I am going back the way we came up.  I looked deep into his eyes past the fear of being killed or maimed traveling down that steep hill till I could see the resolve that was based on past experiences of biking with me.  So many times before we had taken the path of greatest resistance, the path that few follow only to find ourselves somewhat lost in the woods.  Because of this behavior Steve often referred to me as Deartrail, which I learned to live up to.  Seeing Steve’s resolve to not get lost brought me back to reality, and we, two old guys, beaten back by fear of Mother Nature, headed back down the road we came in on. Still, the crazy guy in my head had his moment, even though we did not travel down the road to nowhere, and it was great.  I hadn’t heard from him in a while.

Let’s work together

It is becoming increasingly apparent that the American people are going to re-elect President Obama to a second term. His opponent, Mitt Romney, despite enormous support from the wealthy corporate world and six years of campaigning, will go down in defeat, in my opinion.  Many of my conservative friends are convinced that the future of our country is dire under the leadership of President Obama.  There is no doubt that this country faces many difficult obstacles in the coming years, and I must admit that some of them are very scary.  The Middle East is in disarray, partly from our past history of trying to effect change that is more beneficial to us than the people in the region.  The federal budget is consuming our country like a black hole consumes a planet.  Our public school system is crumbling beneath our feet.  Many of our congressmen have joined the group of wealthy bureaucrats who spend more time worrying about their personal wealth and being reelected than doing what is right for the country. Our social safety nets, like social security and medicare are gobbling up our economic resources at an alarming rate.  The truth is that these problems have been heading our way for over 50 years and were dropped into President Obama’s lap less then four years ago!  Not only did he inherit a major recession brought on by corporate greed, but also faced a divided congress that was and is incapable of making decisions, that would lead us out of this downward spiral.

Wow, that was depressing!  The truth, as I see it, is that our country became great on the backs and hard labor of our forefathers and their forefathers.: men, women and children who worked in mines 12 hours a day or worked in one of Henry Ford’s factories for next to nothing, with no benefits or job security in what could be extremely dangerous conditions. There was no safety net when one became too old or too sick to work, and unless the family could take care of you, you became a homeless person left to waste away on the streets until you passed away or froze to death.  During these times a few individuals became richer that anyone had ever imagined possible, while the average American lived badly from day to day.  There was little difference between this and the Pharaohs using slave labor to build the pyramids!  This is what the corporate world would have, and often did foster, if it were not for the emergence of unions which allowed the poor to have a voice and to take a small amount of the wealth and disperse it to hard-working Americans.  In today’s world unions have often lost their way and sometimes no longer serve the people they represent, but in the past they played an integral part in the development of the middle class.  Enough with this boring but essential history because I am sure many of you already knew this from watching the Friends on Fox channel.

In summary, President Obama did not create this nightmare but he inherited a dynamic near catastrophic situation which is going to take decades to fix, not three years.  His response to these problems are right on target.  We must fix the very thing that allowed us to rise to greatness, the education system, so that we can again be the innovators and creators of new technology.  Without Americans who are properly educated, we as a country will fall off the proverbial cliff to become a second class country with little to no impact on world affairs. When Steve Jobs met with President Obama before he died, he told the president this: if there was one thing he could fix, it would be our education system so that American industry does not have to go overseas to find competent workers.  Finally, health care for everyone!  I hear so many people ranting about what has become known as OBAMACARE.  The most important fact here is that before OBAMACARE our medical costs were growing at an exponential rate and were becoming an ever-increasing economic burden on our country.  The problem, as usual, is a small group of people, who we know to be the insurance companies-not doctors-getting extremely rich from a system meant to keep people healthy.  OBAMACARE is health care for everyone, not just the ones who can afford it.  Sure, it is expensive but as a Christian leaning nation, isn’t it our responsibility in the eyes of God to care for our brothers and sisters?  Finally, who do you think pays for the people who do not have health care, WE DO in the form of higher rates and fees.

So, let’s get together behind our President and work together towards being a better country.  After the election, we can shake hands and find some mutual place in the future where we would all like to be.  If we do not come together the results will not be good for any Americans regardless of who is president.