Our first biker from Mexico, a new age man

Gonzalo de la Pena Andreu contacted me through Warmshowers.com,  a site set up to help bicyclists find a safe place to stay or a tent site (depending on the weather) while trekking across our country. I cannot fully express the enjoyment our family has realized through this organization. Gonzalo is our most recent visitor, and just like all the others who have spent time in our home, he was a wonderful person with many good stories to tell about his adventures on the road. His life is reflects well a whole new culture that is developing in our world. With new technology, a person is no longer tethered to any one state or, for that matter, any country. As a graphic designer and webpage creator, Gonzoalo is able to bike around the country, stay as long as he likes at any one place and carry his job in his backpacks. All he needs is a wi-fi or a cell phone connection and so he can be at work anywhere he wants. He just spent some time in Pittsburgh then decided to travel to Washington, DC.  His first idea was to leave Pittsburgh at 6am and arrive at our home at 6pm. When he told me this, I suggested nicely that he was delusional. After several emails he decided that I might be right and therefore left from Uniontown instead of Pittsburgh which cut 60 miles off the 150 mile trip. Still, this is a very mountainous journey so and I was a little concerned for his safety since he would be arriving in the dark. To make matters worse, it started to rain when he reached the Romney mountain. At 6:30, in the dark and rain, I put the bike rack on the car and headed into Romney to see if I could find him. I did, only 4 miles from our home, wet and tired and anxious to get off his bike.

When we arrived at my home I suggested he take a warm shower, no play on words intended; and then we sat down for some enchiladas that Sue had made for our Mexican guest. It was a great evening, and the road stories flowed like water in a stream. Eventually the night began to have its effect on us so we retired for the evening. Gonzalo asked if he could spend an additional night if the rains continued; of course, we enthusiastically said yes!  The next day Gonzalo sat down at the kitchen table to spent several hours working on computer stuff and fixing my old laptop which he graciously did. It was a laid-back day, I worked in my shop, he worked on the computers and quickly the sun was gone. We all sat down for another great dinner and wonderful conversation.

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The next morning I made some oatmeal while we discussed Gonzalo,s route. Soon after, he proceeded to load up his gear and strap it onto the bike; goodbyes were exchanged, pictures taken, promises were made to return someday and the time for departure was upon us. He mounted his bike, said one last goodbye and headed down the driveway. In a moment he was gone, ready to tackle treacherous West Virginia roads.

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Memorable moments and interesting people pass through our lives every day but most of the time we never even know they exist. Gonzalo was one of these persons. I have said this so often that it now feels like preaching, life is about people! It is not about cars, houses or any other thing one may buy. People are often disappointing, rude and uninteresting but there are so many great people out there waiting to exchange ideas with us. There are so many wonderful and meaningful experiences to be had with unlimited numbers of people in the world. The more different they are, the more potential for learning. Over the last three years we have had three pre-Christmas guests who have been fantastic: one from Japan, one from China and one from Mexico. What could be a better time of year to open our house up and make new friends!?

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Apologies

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!

Technology running wild!

Technology is knock-your-socks-off amazing!  Just recently I learned that my blog is being read in over 30 countries around the world!  For a person born in 1950 this is quite a thrill.  I was pleased that so many in this country took the time to read my ramblings from Hampshire county, let alone in Russia and China.  I am not sure if this means that they made a mistake and hit on my blog by accident or they really intended to read my stuff and guess I will never really know.  This brings me to my most recent concern, technology running wild.  Our world is being dominated by technology in every nook and cranny of our lives.  I  enjoy immensely many of the activities that I can do through this technology.  Cell phones have allowed us to be like Dick Tracy and stay in constant contact with everyone, no matter where we are.  The cell phone, which almost everyone can afford, gives us near total access to any other person in the world, as well as access to a data base that is larger than any of us can imagine!  This new technology is currently bringing down dictators, changing governments, allowing people to be heard around the world, literally changing the geopolitical landscape of the earth!  This may be the answer in helping us fight against the ever-increasing power of the corporate world.  The old movie, ROLLER BALL, painted a bleak picture of a world where when the individual becomes irrelevant and every aspect of life is controlled by large multinational corporations.  This is not my idea of a brave new world.

So where is this new technology going?  What will it be like in 20 years?  How will it change the world?  We can only guess at these answers, and many folks are currently doing just that.  All the major breakthroughs have been achieved.  The rest of it is a matter of refining and determining other areas in which we can use this technology .  An example of this is the automobile which was invented almost 340 years ago.  The first working steam-powered vehicle was likely designed by Ferdinand Verbiest, a Flemish member of a Jesuit mission in China, around 1672.  It was a 65 cm-long scale-model toy for the Chinese Emperor, that was unable to carry a driver or a passenger.  Everything since that invention has been only improvements, which have been impressive and immense, to say the least.  Alan Turing is widely regarded as the father of modern computer science for creating the first working electronic computer in 1936.  Since that time, growth has been exponential.  The fact is, we will continue to expand this new technology until we exhaust its potential; this is what we do as humans.  The question is, in what way will this technology permeate  our lives over the next 20 years?  How will it change basic human behavior?

I am not complaining about this new wave of computational power because I love it, but I am growing concerned with the direction it is taking.  We humans have the tendency to always go overboard in almost every thing we do; our current trend seems to bear witness to this.  Although cell phones have created a world of increased communication, they have also created a world of less direct human interaction.  Just talking to someone on a cell phone used to be the craze, but now we have reduced human conversation to a whole new language we call ‘text.’  When one texts, a brief message is sent that is read by the intended person.  There is no interaction, no human contact, no real conversation.  Things that may not be said in normal conversation when confronting an individual can be texted.  Communication throughout its evolution has been about direct interaction between two individuals.  This began to erode with the invention of the written word, followed then the telephone, and now will be changed even more with the advent of texting.  Many science fiction writers have written about a sterile world of the future where people stay in their cubicles and only interact with others through their communication ports.  Is this where we are going?

So where are we going?  Is technology the key to a better world where people can live in peace and harmony, or is it the proverbial doomsday device that will bring our species to its knees….only time will tell!