RJ's Corner

About Feedly…


I thought I would tell you a little about Feedly in this post.  I am probably cheating several of my blogging buddies out of view counts by using Feedly but it sure does make my daily views easier. Right now I have about 18 blogs that I always read the new posts.  Some, like me blog daily, some only once a week or so.  I don’t have to keep up with when they blog or go through my emails to discover that.  I just click on the Feedly button on my browser homepage bar. That  brings up a snapshot of all my unread posts from the list and if I want to comment I just click on the View Website button to do that.

As mentioned above the problem with Feedly is that if I don’t physically go to the website my view is probably not included in their statistics. I know I say I really don’t care what my stats are but even so I find myself frequently checking them out. It is just nice to see that xx number of people appreciate what I write. I guess I am vain in that regard but I kind of think I am not the only one. :)

If you decide to use Feedly to browse my posts I won’t hold it against you. But I would appreciate clicking on my website once in a while to let me know what you think.

Puttin Up Hay…

2015-09-28_10-21-28RJs Autobiography BannerIts been a while since I did a bio thing so I thought I would give you a little history lesson and  tell you about my time in rural America and specifically about putting up hay.  I know most people who have any idea of hay think of those big six-foot diameter bales that strewn around the countryside but in my day hay bails were smaller, much smaller. The picture at the right show how it was done in my day.  When the wagon behind the baler was full it was unhitched and taken to the barn and an empty one attached.

The bails were about 2x2x4 feet and weighed around 80 lbs. I spent one summer on a bailing crew. The boss of that crew owned all the equipment needed to make the bails and  he went around from farm to farm with his crew putting up their hay fields. As I remember I got paid $0.75 an hour to work in the top of 100+ degree barns.

2015-09-28_10-40-55Lets do another history lesson here.  Most of the old-time barns have now disappeared from the landscape. Almost all of them contained hay lofts where bails of hay were stacked to protect them from wet weather and to feed the livestock on the ground level. When I say stacked they were actually stuffed. Wherever there was a space big enough for a bale of hay it was used. That meant someone had to craw around in the very peak of the barn to put those last bails in place. In my crew that someone was me. I was the littlest guy on the crew at about 120 lbs.2015-09-28_10-41-20

My face would get as red as a beet in those upper reaches of the barns but I kept going anyway. Now I know that a heart anomaly was the reason for that redness. I thank the Lord that those days did not kill me as the potential was definitely there. 

My days as a farm laborer were limited to my junior and senior high school years but I for the most part remember them fondly and even at 75 cents an hour they helped pay for my first year at Purdue University.

Living On The Outskirts Of Hope…

2015-09-26_17-00-20I want to pen some final words about Pope Francis here. The title of this post is a recent quote from him that truly inspires me. There are just too many people in the world to who the very idea of hope seems unknowable. They live in such despair that all they can manage is just surviving day-to-day.   It is said that Pope Francis views the world from the Bottom up. I have never thought of it in those terms but it is an accurate portrayal of him and I hope to a certain degree myself.

Most of us, especially those of us living in the U.S. view life from a top down window.   We all dream of getting rich someday so that we can buy whatever our hearts desire.  We feverishly follow tweets from all the rich and famous people dreaming to be like them someday. We seldom take time to think about those living below us and in some cases very far below us.

I know that GOP congressional leader Paul Ryan’s hero Ayn Rand called empathy a scourge of mankind and that is probably how Mr. Ryan and many of his GOP friends view mankind. They seem to deem those that have nothing are just lazy people looking for free stuff.  Empathy is putting yourself in the shoes of those less fortunate than yourself. Many simply refuse to go there.

To see the leader of the biggest Christian organization in the world living with a bottom up view is inspiring indeed. I hope his empathy is addictive to all those millions who went out to see him recently.  I know that Catholic Services is one of the strongest and most active religious organizations out there. If only all of us who call ourselves Christians were actively involved in such services we might just live up to the expectations of our founder.



Ready, Fire, Aim….

2015-10-07_13-12-55Gen. John F. Campbell, commander of the United States forces in Afghanistan, told a Senate panel on Tuesday that the hospital was “mistakenly struck” as a result of a decision “within the U.S. chain of command.”

Doctors Without Borders, which has likened the bombing to a war crime, said the purpose of the investigation would not be to establish criminal liability, but rather to clarify the laws of war and the conditions under which medical teams can operate in situations of armed conflict.

Source: Doctors Without Borders Calls for Inquiry Into Kunduz Hospital Attack – The New York Times

Doctors Without Borders is one of my favorite organizations. Their donors give so much without expecting anything in return. That is very unusual in today’s world. When I heard that a U.S. military operation bombed one of their hospitals I was devastated. The statement above is endemic to my conception of military leaders.

the hospital was “mistakenly struck” as a result of a decision “within the U.S. chain of command.”  

I hope someone “within the chain of command” is taken to task for this unnecessary death especially for doctors who volunteer to take care of the least of these.  We can’t allow the military leadership to decide when it is ok to kill innocents!

It seems to me, but what do I know, that too many within the military establishment are too focused on just getting the bad guys at any cost. They just seem to be ready-fire-aim type of guys. They call it “collateral damage” when they kill innocents in the process and somehow think that makes it ok.   The articles goes on to say that if we, the self proclaimed moralists of the world, think it is ok to destroy a Doctors Without Borders’ hospital that will allow everyone including those they fight so hard against to claim it is ok for them too.  I know Mr. Bush’s reasoning that torture was ok because we might save lives was against the Genova Convention too but I hope this incident doesn’t get included in the category also.

The Most Surprising Regret Of The Very Old

2015-09-26_11-33-28What do older people regret when they look back over their lives? I asked hundreds of the oldest Americans that question. I had expected big-ticket items: an affair, a shady business deal, addictions — that kind of thing. I was therefore unprepared for the answer they often gave:

I wish I hadn’t spent so much of my life worrying.

Source: The Most Surprising Regret Of The Very Old — And How You Can Avoid It | Karl A. Pillemer, Ph.D.

Fortunately for me personally I spend very little time worrying. It just seems to be something that doesn’t accomplish much. On the other hand my wife is an extreme worrier. I often say when she doesn’t have something to worry about she worries that she is not worrying enough. Until I read this article I didn’t realize that she, instead of me, was in the majority on this topic. She physically get sick before almost every one of our vacations by worrying about this or that.

Where she is a worrier, I am a planner or maybe a better description is dreamer.  I think about the future often and what I want to accomplish. I plan everything.  I was surprised to see that my planning evidently decreases worry. Here is a little about what the articles says about that:

Tip 2: Instead of worrying, prepare.

The elders see a distinct difference between worry and conscious, rational planning, which greatly reduces worry. It’s the free-floating worry, after one has done everything one can about a problem, which seems so wasteful to them.

Joshua Bateman, 74, summed up the consensus view:

If you’re going to be afraid of something, you really ought to know what it is. At least understand why. Identify it. ‘I’m afraid of X.’ And sometimes you might have good reason. That’s a legitimate concern. And you can plan for it instead of worrying about it.

Maybe it is because I try to be a “glass half full” person that I don’t worry as much as some.  Against all odds I try to see a good outcome for everything in life, even our politics.  Sometimes I am taken by surprise by some of the pessimistic things I see around me.  I recently mentioned to someone that when the time comes I plan on joining a continuous care retirement community so that I can maintain a social life when I am no longer mobile. The person who I was talking to said “I won’t do that because I might not get along with them and then would have to live with the conflict the rest of my life.”  I see the potential joy and that person see the potential dark side.

I hope I am able to keep a positive attitude as I grow even older than I am.  I personally experienced someone who became very spiteful in their final years. I hope I can see the joy in my life, whatever is left of it, instead of constantly seeing a dark side….



My Creative Side…

2015-08-01_16-31-26I seem to be ignoring my creative side lately in favor of other things.  I promised myself I would not do that so I will make an effort in the coming days to bring it back.  I believe that variety is the spice of life, no I don’t mean that in a sexual sense, but I also believe that creativity is a big part of living a fulfilling life.

I have recently taken on a project to put together a catalog of songs from my past that gave me insight into life or just gave me joy.  For some reason it struck me the other day that maybe my more frequent bouts of depression now are due to not being able to just sit back and listen to the music of my past.

One of the tragic things that I have discovered about my deafness is that I am no longer able to remember what musical instruments  or even music in general sound like! I watch someone playing the guitar and see the strings vibrate but just can’t remember what it sounds like. I can remember the cadence of songs but not the music.

2015-09-26_13-14-00I realize I can never listen to those songs now but I can still read the words and “sing” them to myself  and I do just that when I’m sure that no one can hear me. :)  I wail away to my own enjoyment.  I have carried  around the words of one of my favorite songs for several months now.  It is a song by Simon and Garfunkel entitled The Sounds Of Silence.  It is kind of ironic that I now can fully apprehend just what the sound of silence really is.

Anyway, I am attempting to gather many of the songs of my past and most of them are of the folk music variety.  Simon and Garfunkel, Bob Dylan, Peter Paul and Mary, Pete Seeger, and even Woody Guthrie.  But the list also includes some Beatles, Grateful Dead, Bruce Springsteen, and others but sorry, no Elvis or anything in that genre.   Since I went deaf in 1988 none of the singers today even register on my scale.  I have no idea what rapping is or why someone would want to play a record player backwards. Lady Ga Ga who I think is a singer is a total mystery to me as to why anyone is even interested.

I still have my record collection and am pulling it out now just to look at the covers. They bring back some pleasant memories.  I am sure I am biased but I don’t think anything today comes close to the songs of my youth during the rebellious 60s.





Abolish The Fed…

The Fed put us in zombie ZIRP-land almost ten years ago by cutting short-term rates to zero. In ZIRP-land, senior citizens spend sleepless nights watching their wealth shrink as puny interest earnings fail to cover the cost of life. In ZIRP-land, stock prices twitch up and down, transferring wealth from the poor, old and financially unsophisticated to the rich and powerful.

Source: Column: We have met the enemy, and it is the Fed

I will admit that I haven’t thought this post out entirely but I , like so many other seniors, am tired of the feds putting my life savings in jeopardy. For almost my entire lifetime senior citizens who didn’t want to put their life’s savings into the risky stock market had an option to get a little less money in the bond markets.  That option has completed dried since 2008 and to a lesser degree for the last decade.  There is just no where that we can even hope to safely get even a pittance of interest on our hard earned savings. meanwhile the cost of living continues to rise, especially our health care costs.

I am one of the fortunate few who still has a fixed pension plan  because of my thirty years of working for the same company. That gives me a substantial monthly payment. Since I live a fairly frugal life that along with social security covers most of my expenses. The money in the 401k and other savings is for enjoying my final years and to provide some relief to a few charities after I leave this earth.  But watching it decrease due to the feds keeping interest at zero for so long distresses me but not nearly as much as those trying to live on other types of pension plans.

It just makes no sense to me to basically risk giving my savings to someone without expecting at least a little in return.  Interest rates have been at zero for long enough to realize that they don’t do any more good than the trickle down scheme did a couple of decades ago.

Quit putting the brunt of the load on the backs of us seniors and raise interest rates to a reasonable level.

About Marriage and Divorce from a Christian Perspective…

2015-09-25_11-00-13But lost in the uproar are the voices of Christians, some equally conservative, who disagree with Davis’ stance and worry that holding her out as a martyr will ultimately hurt the cause of religious liberty….

Brenda Wynn, the clerk of Davidson County in Nashville, looks to Romans 13:1 for guidance: “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established.”

“I’m obliged to follow the law of the land,” Wynn said. “I love the Lord, but I must follow the law.”

Source: Kentucky clerk case divides religious liberty advocates – Yahoo News


The bible I read shows Jesus to be anything but “conservative”. He was a radical in his times. He often went head-to-head with others especially those religious leaders who were using wrong-headed principles  in their religious teachings. He simply had no patience for those who got God wrong. One of my favorite books on this topic is by Shane Claiborne entitled “The Irresistible Revolution”. It clearly demonstrates that Jesus was a radical of his times.

One of the good things about the bible is that you can find words there that ease your pain and give you direction.  One of the bad things about the bible is that you can find words there to seemingly back up whatever belief you might have about many topics.

Why is a legal license to marry being so opposed by “conservative” Christians and not the legal document in divorce that allows marriages to end? Don’t Christians say that “what God has put together let no man separate”? If Ms Davis follows her version of religion isn’t divorce just as wrong as homosexual marriage outside the church?  Others call Catholics who don’t strictly follow all the church’s doctrine “cafeteria Catholics” but doesn’t this apply across the Christian spectrum.  Don’t all of us who align and practice only selected items found in their religious documents? In reality Christians get divorced at a slightly higher rate than the general population. Why aren’t the evangelicals screaming about that?


The Golden Rule – The Capitalist Version…


I think this editorial cartoon by Mike Lukovich says it better than I ever could.  The monied interests just have too much power in our national affairs.  That could be easily reversed if only ALL of us would simple vote.  How severe does the income inequality need to get before some of us realize that basic fact?

Under pressure from the right, House Speaker Boehner quits

who believe he was too willing to compromise with President Barack Obama and too frequently relied on Democratic votes to pass crucial legislation.

Source: Under pressure from the right, House Speaker Boehner quits | Reuters

I am very apprehensive about what is going to happen now that John Boehner is throwing in the towel in the House. I always viewed him as a good guy stuck in an impossible job.  Who replaces him will be critical to the nature of our country.

It is amazing to me how the three or four dozen GOP representative on the radical fringes of that party seem to be able to pull the rest of them in their direction! As Mark Shields said recently on a PBS Newshour broadcast these guys primary goal is to shut down government entirely. They see compromise as a dirty word. They see anyone who does not totally agree with them as the enemy. Everything is VERY black/white to them.  Why can’t the GOP control this group of government haters?

In some ways I would like to see Mr. Boehner replaced by one of them. That would give the potential voters in this country a good look at the politics of the Tea Party fringe. Then in twelve months or so when national elections are done they could be very quickly swept out of office and replaced by someone who knows the purpose of government. I say “potential voters” above because there are just so many in this country who fail to understand the power that they have.  I think we have the lowest election participation levels of any democracy in the world today.

There will be some trying times ahead. I hope we can survive them…

Goodbye John and thanks for trying and also getting the pope to America.


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