Lets get rich in America

For anybody who is planning on becomming rich in the near future, say 2015, and would enjoy a good laugh, this John Oliver video is a must see.

Happy new years and be safe tonight!


Let’s Not Trivialize God:

The definition of TRIVIALIZE.


transitive verb \ˈtri-vē-ə-ˌlīz\   : to make (something) seem less important or serious than it actually is

      Even though I am not a traditional religious person, I often tell people that I try to be a very spiritual person.  This does not mean that I believe in ghosts or invisible entities floating through the air, but it does say that I believe in the absolute magnificence and incredible complexity of the universe we live in.  To me, standing out on a starry night, staring up into a star-lit sky is like looking into the soul of God which leaves me breathless with its vastness.
When people trivialize God by putting him at the steering wheel claiming he is somehow involved with the day-to-day events that occur here on earth, it seems rather demeaning of my concept of God.  In fact, if God is everything and everywhere and sees all, that sounds very much like the understanding of the universe I subscribe to.
     I cannot tell you how many times I have heard people say that God protects them while they walk this earth.  This concept troubles me.  In other words, if I walk down the middle of a busy highway in rush-hour traffic because I am high on drugs or having an emotional breakdown, God will protect me?  NO, he will not!  Or if I drink too much alcohol, eat the wrong foods, get fat, God will not shelter me from some fatal disease.  This is particularly troubling to me:   When people become extremely ill or pass away, regardless of their age, God has a plan and they are part of it.  Seriously, by all popular understandings of God, he is an all-knowing and passionate being guiding us through the perils of life.  Why would he take a young, innocent person, or anyone for that matter, to the forever green grass of heaven?  Why would a loving God cause some of the finest people I know to suffer so much before passing?  These are all troubling questions that many of us struggle and find no answer to.
     So, let’s not trivialize the concept of God.  If you choose to believe in god, give him the credit he is due.  Don’t blame him for every bad thing that happens: personal or global disaster and on the other hand, don’t give him credit for every good thing.  Accept the fact that the universe is unfolding as it should and we are all part of a very large and complex scheme. God is not your co-pilot, nor, based on the driving skills I observe on our highways on a daily basis, would he choose to be.  You  are the one who determines the path you follow and how your life will unfold.  If God is the primary cause of all that happens in our life and on this planet, I have to assume that he often times cries over many of the decisions we make and He will allow us to make them and then expect us to deal with the consequences….good or bad. Remember, God helps those who help themselves.
To quote an old friend and fellow star-gazer “Live long and prosper.”

My Christmas story visited again…and again….and again…

This is one of my favorite stories and it helps me remember what Christmas is really about. If you read it last year or the year before, read it again and if you are new to my blog, I hope you enjoy this touching story. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! You can find Naotaka Maehara on Facebook. Maybe someday parents will sit around the fire and read this to there children…or maybe not…


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!

After Nao returned to Japan, his country suffered a massive earthquake and tsunami which Nao and his family survived with minimal damage. Based on his last message, he is anxious to hit the road again and explore another part of our planet.

Cuurently Nao is working in India as an engineer and is anxious to get back on the road.

What is forced pooling?


Contrary to what many believe, Forced Pooling is not a requirement that everyone in the neighborhood install a pool.  All kidding aside, Forced Pooling is a very serious issue!  Here in West Virginia our legislature is currently deciding if we, if West Virginia want to allow Forced Pooling to be passed into law.  So what is forced pooling?


If an oil/gas company wants to drill on or near your land, they may be able to force you to allow them to drill if they get a certain percentage of your neighbors agreeing to drill!  With the inevitable passing of this bill, because of the incredibly large amount of money being thrown at our legislators, a land owner will no longer have the right to decide what is done with the mineral rights on one’s property!   Yes, they could put up a drilling rig near your home!  So much for NIMBY legislators  (Not in my back yard) who are comfortable with drilling in other places that do not effect their own environment.

frack 2

Maybe this last election was more about oil/gas companies getting the right folks elected so that they could get forced Pooling Passed than it was about all the other stupid stuff that we were fed by the media. I think it is more than interesting that so near the election we are already talking about Forced Pooling.  The new guys have not even tried out their assembly chairs before forced pooling has become a major discussion point.

Anyone who is a student of human behavior knows that land owner’s rights are taken away little by little.  The best analogy to explain this is the slowly cooked frog.  If one places a frog in a pot of cool water, it will likely sit blisfully there for a long time.  Upon increasing the heat gradually way, the frog will slowly cook, never trying to escape before it heads to that great pond in the sky.  If that frog is placed in hot water, it will immediately jump out to live to eat another insect.  We humans are very similar to our frog.  If they take away our rights very slowly, some of us, will complain, but little will be done to rectify the situation.  When a disastrous situation arises suddenly, we jump into action to save the day.

If you are concerned about your rights to decide what you want to do or not do with your land and personal property, you better be contacting your legislature to express your feelings regarding Forced Pooling. Do not be like the frog who enjoys the heat and get slowly cooked.

hydrofracking mother nature

Dear Mr. Putin


You are a pathetic, puny, mean, power-hungry sociopath who has the potential of pushing the world into war.  With that said, I wish to offer my humble advice to your ‘nobleness.’  Despite the fact I am somewhat unclear why you wish to reunite former elements of the Soviet Union, I might have some advice that would help you in this quest; be nice!  Rather than sending troops and mouthing propaganda to your potential member, why not try to be gentle and understanding of the people who live there. Show them the potential benefits of being part of your country.

Now the second part of this idea:  Why not start being nice to your own citizens by creating a more understanding and caring government?  Here in America, we have numerous fast-food restaurants and their level of service ranges from crappy to incredibly good.  Take Chick Filet, for example.  When a customer walks into a Chick-Filtet he are greeted with smiles, a very clean environment  and very fast service.  If the food is not ready, it is brought to the customer.  While you are eating an employee will come around to each table and offers an additional drink at no extra charge!  Sometimes the owner will walk around to chat casually with the customers.  Now, across the street there is probably a Wendy’s, which has good food but lacks the service, the cleanliness, the extra drinks and the cordial feeling one get in Chick-Filet. So Mr. P, where would you eat?

I hope I have not lost you, Mr. P with my logic, but what I am trying to say is that you might have better results with this country-annexing-thing if you would appear to be the Chick-Filtet of countries rather than a Wendy’s.  Try being nice to your own people first!  Here in America everyone knows that the service at a Wendy’s is horrible so we try to avoid it if possible.  Do you see where I am going with this?  Maybe a little sugar might get you farther than all this vinegar you are so frequently showing others.  Its my opinion you would really prefer people to like and respect you so, this may well be is way to that end.  Good luck with that world-domination thing, and have a Merry Christmas!

Hampshire county schools could be some of the worst schools in the world!

I woke up this morning in a cold sweat thinking about the state of our local schools and then decided to write about it.  It is time for me, I believe, to again point to the obvious elephant in the room.  No jokes or smart-ass comments just the plain and simple truth!

It is apparent that there are some excellent teachers and a few good administrators in this county and they deserve mounds of credit for what they are able to do, but the simple truth is that we as a county are failing as a providers of education to our youth. This county can no longer afford to sit back and wonder what to do; time has run out.  There are success stories in our county, places where kids are excelling, but the end result of our thirteen years of ‘leading (children) from darkness’  has been a massive failure!  After all, the very word educations implies that our children are lead from darkness to the light of knowledge.

Here is our world-wide ranking


world scores 2

Don’t look for the good old USA at the top. Notice some of the countries ahead of us like Estonia or Viet Nam!  We are the last place country in math!

Now, how did we do as a state? Sorry, this data-set is not as pretty to the eye as the worldwide one, but it gets the point across.
Below are the state Rankings for Math and Science Education

Well Above Average
1 Massachusetts      4.82
2 Minnesota            4.06
3 New Jersey          4.04
4 New Hampshire 4.01
5 New York             3.94
Above Average
6 Virginia                3.73
7 Maryland             3.57
8 Connecticut        3.28
9 Indiana                3.28
10 Maine                 3.24
11 Florida               3.13
12 Illinois               3.08
13 South Dakota  3.08
14 Wisconsin        3.06
15 Colorado           3.04
16 Kansas              3.00
17 Kentucky          3.00
18 Vermont          2.93
19 Georgia            2.88
20 Washington   2.86
21 Utah                 2.85
22 Pennsylvania 2.80
23 Tennessee      2.67
24 Ohio                2.64
25 Delaware       2.60
26 Michigan       2.60
27 Oregon           2.58
28 Wyoming       2.58
29 Montana        2.53
Below Average
30 Idaho                 2.47
31 Texas                  2.45
32 North Dakota  2.40
33 Missouri            2.39
34 California         2.38
35 Rhode Island   2.38
36 North Carolina 2.34
37 Hawaii               2.29
38 Iowa                   2.25
39 Alaska                2.20
40 South Carolina 2.20
41 Arkansas            2.14
Far Below Average
42 Oklahoma         2.01
43 Nebraska          1.97
44 Nevada              1.93
45 Arizona             1.91
46 New Mexico     1.72
47 Alabama           1.60
48 Louisiana        1.59
49 West Virginia 1.58  Here we are way down here at the bottom of the far below average group!
50 Mississippi      1.11  Thank god for good old Mississippi!


So, do you ever wonder why no industries want to come to West Virginia?  Who would willingly bring their children to some of the poorest performing schools in the world?

Now, just when you think you cannot get any more depressed, let’s look where good-old Hampshire County stands in the state!

Rank (of 113)

This is a composite score.
Rank Change From 2012

1 Bridgeport High School                                       148.8
2 George Washington High School                      142.2
3 Van Junior/Senior High School                        134.2
4 Winfield High School                                          127.1 1
5 Shady Spring High                                               124.3
6 Hurricane High School                                       122.6
7 Fairmont Senior High School                            120.7
8 Pendleton County Middle/High School         120.3
9 Nitro High School                                                120.2
10 Morgantown High School                                117.8
11 Cabell Midland High School                             114.1
12 University High School                                     111.7
13 Paw Paw High School                                        111.3
14 Wyoming County East High School               110.5
15 Tyler Consolidated High School                     110.4
16 Wheeling Park High School                             109.8
17 East Hardy High School                                   109.5
18 Frankfort High School                                     109.3
19 Williamstown High School                             108.8
20 Liberty High School                                         108.7
21 Ritchie County High School                           108.0
22 Princeton Senior High School                       107.3
23 Jefferson High School                                     106.8
24 Sissonville High School                                  106.5
25 Tucker County High School                           106.2
26 East Fairmont High School                           105.0
27 Ripley High School                                          102.8
28 Westside High School                                     102.1
29 Magnolia High School                                    102.0
30 Saint Albans High School                              101.7
31 Oak Glen High School                                     101.5
32 Herbert Hoover High School                        101.4
32 Paden City High School                                 101.4
34 South Charleston High School                      99.7
35 Wahama High School                                      98.9
36 Weir High School                                             98.4
37 Keyser High School                                          98.1
38 Greenbrier East High School                         97.9
39 Pocahontas County High School                   97.8
40 Washington High School                                97.1
41 Musselman High School                                 96.7
42 North Marion High School                            96.5
43 Buffalo High School                                        95.0
44 Gilmer County High School                          94.6
45 Bluefield High School                                    94.2
45 Woodrow Wilson High School                     94.2
47 Martinsburg High School                              94.0
48 Clay-Battelle High School                             93.8
49 Grafton High School                                       93.5
50 Parkersburg High School                              93.1
51 Spring Valley High School                             92.6
52 Poca High School                                            92.5
53 Berkeley Springs High School                     92.3
54 Meadow Bridge High                                    92.0
55 Hedgesville High School                              91.9
56 Elkins High School                                       91.0
57 Liberty High School                                      90.6
58 Wirt County High School                            90.4
59 Capital High School                                      90.3
60 Cameron High School,                                90.1
61 Richwood High School                                90.0
62 Midland Trail High                                      89.9
63 Summers County High School                  88.5
64 Nicholas County High School                    88.4
65 Huntington High School                             88.3

66 Point Pleasant High School                       88.7

67 Brooke High School                                     87.5

68 John Marshall High School                        87.5

69 Moorefield High School                              85.7
70 Sherman High School                                  85.7
71 South Harrison High School                      85.6
72 Lincoln High School                                   85.4
73 Fayetteville High                                         85.3
74 Scott High School                                        85.2
75 Riverside High School                                85.1
76 Parkersburg South High School               84.3
77 Robert C. Byrd High School                      83.1
78 Pikeview High School                                81.9
79 Buckhannon Upshur High School          80.6
80 Petersburg High School                            79.3
81 Calhoun Middle/High School                   79.1
82 Philip Barbour High School Complex    77.9
83 Roane County High                                    77.9
84 Greenbrier West High School                  77.8
85 Wayne High School                                    77.7
86 Doddridge County High School              77.4
87 Man Senior High School                          77.3
88 Clay County High School                         77.0
89 Preston High School                                 76.8
90 Tolsia High School                                    76.8
91 Lewis County High School                      76.5
92 Ravenswood High School                        75.9
93 Tug Valley High School                            75.9
94 Mingo Central Comprehensive High    75.7
95 Valley High School                                   74.9
96 Oak Hill High                                             73.3
97 Braxton County High School                  73.1
98 Independence High School                    72.8
99 James Monroe High School                   72.7
100 Logan Senior High School                    71.5
101 Tygarts Valley Middle/High School    71.1
102 Webster County High School              70.4
103 Montcalm High School                        70.3
104 St. Marys High School                         69.6
105 Hannan High School                           69.0
106 Valley High School                               69.0
107 River View High School                       66.5
108 Lincoln County High School              66.1
109 Union Educational Complex              65.1
110 Hundred High School                          64.2
111 Chapmanville Senior High School     62.6
112 Hampshire Senior High School   60.4  Here we are way down here at the bottom!
113 Mount View High School                      50.7


Does this bother anyone!!!??? One of the lowest scoring countries in the world, second to the last state,  Mississippi!

I wonder if our students would score any better if we just let them stay home.  What is even sadder is that I will get very few responses to this blog, other than from a few loyal readers!  I guess it is hard to defend oneself when the data is so obviously damning, that we are an ineffective and failing school system!  If I were an administrator in Hampshire county, I would be headed to Bridgeport High School to see what in the world they are doing so right! How can their students score 2.35 times higher than ours?  The teachers are paid similar wages; I doubt their school buildings are that much better than ours and; they take the same standardized tests.  What we are doing is not working!  Something is so wrong that it defies logic to continue following the same course of action!…But we will.