RJ's Corner

A Pragmatic Government….

Malcolm Turnbull has vowed to set aside ideology and be “thoroughly pragmatic” in power as he urges business leaders move on from their past concerns about the dysfunction in Australian politics….

“I want to say to you tonight, emphatically, that the business of government is to get things done.

“Australians expect their elected representatives to deliver practical, commonsense policy to improve economic security and the general well​-​being of the nation.

“We need to be thoroughly pragmatic. We need to be open-minded and practical, business-like.

Source: Turnbull vows to set aside ideology for pragmatism | The Australian

A pragmatic government, I can only dream of such a thing for the U.S. We are so mired down in politics and unbendable political dogma that pragmatism seems utterly impossible. But is it really?

The new Australian leader seems determined to accomplish it for his country.

Even the new Speaker in the U.S. House of Representatives is spouting a level of pragmatism but I kind of think if it were to actually happen it would be totally drenched in conservative ideology that it would not even resemble the word.  I would love to be proven wrong.

Streaks Of Inspiration…


I embrace change, it is what keeps life interesting and challenging for me.  To that end I am adding yet another subcategory to RJsCorner. It is called “Streaks Of Inspiration” 2015-11-22_11-41-25and is found under the”About Life” category header above. I am approaching almost 3,000 posts here. Most are about my observations of daily life around this planet earth. But then there are some where an idea hit me almost like a streak of lighting. It suddenly appeared in my consciousness, often when I am in the show and allow myself to fully contemplate life. :)

Many of the posts that will be assigned to this new subcategory will be  personal insights but I will also include those from others that gave me an “aha” moment of pause. If I have gleaned any deep wisdom from my seven decades on this earth it will be reflected in this subcategory.

Being a wordsmith I take the choosing of the most appropriate words seriously, especially my category names. Lets look the origin of the “Streaks of Inspiration” title:

One of the definitions of “streak” is a sudden flash (as of lightning). That seems to be the main mode of inspiration for me. It comes as a sudden flash across my consciousness. It’s there and if I don’t grab on to it, it is quickly gone.  I think all of us have these types of flashes but sadly just let them flee back into the far reaches of our brain.

2015-11-22_10-10-29On to the word Inspiration. I love all six definitions of the word to the right. Each applies to one part of life’s circumstances. Inspiration is about creativity of which I strive for on a daily basis. I believe creativity only sprouts if you nurture it carefully.

A sudden intuition as part of solving a problem. This has always been a biggie to me even in my professional career. The best solutions to problems have always been in almost instantaneous flashes. I could find myself searching for hours only to find the best answer come in a sudden flash.

Inspiration in the theology mode is often the hardest to accept, especially if it goes against your current mindset. But I kind of think those types of inspirations is just God tweaking me with further understanding.

Arousing emotions – This one comes from external inspirations more so than any internal process. We come across just the right words to get us very emotional about something in our lives.  One of those sayings for me is:

“I don’t regret the things I’ve done, I regret the things I didn’t do when I had the chance.” – Unknown

These words remind me that I must grab opportunities when they are presented to me. Otherwise they are usually regrets later and I just don’t have a lot of “later” left in me.

That’s enough introduction for this new subcategory.  In the coming weeks I will be browsing through my previous posts to tag them for this topic. I will also be posting some new ones as they occur.

We all have Streaks of Inspiration.  I would love to hear some of your.

Deserving Its Own Real Estate…


I don’t know how many of you are like me but I just don’t buy into the latest gourmet trends of chefs stacking all my food on top of each other on my plate. It tends to taint the meal before I even start eating.  I end up spend minutes getting the mashed potatoes out of my asparagus and the entrée cleaned off before I can get my initial taste.  It just starts the meal out on the wrong foot for me.  To try to eliminate that added task I have made up the following card that I will insist the server give to the chef along with the order.  I haven’t used it yet so I will let you know what happens when I do.

But this annoyance does frequently bring up some pleasant memories of my grandfather who died more than 50 years ago.  He was a pig farmer born, raised, and died in Indiana. When he filled his plate for a meal all of the food was placed around the plate as was common but then he proceeded to take his knife and fork and cut everything up and then thoroughly mix it all together. Whenever anyone would say anything about this practice he would say “it all goes to the same place so why not start it that way”. Grandpa, and many old people including me now, was set in his ways. That was just the way he did it and no one could convince him to do it otherwise….

I’m sure some, I call them sheep, totally buy into the stacking trend as they do for most other trends and they probably “oh” and “ah” when the meal is presented to them. But for me meals are mostly about eating, artwork has little to do with it. I do appreciate a good piece of art on occasion but I just don’t want to mess with it on my plate. Does that make me eccentric? I don’t know or even care. :)


There is the sentiment that we can let the victims and families know we’re sorry for their loss, but those words fall on grieving, frightened and mostly, deaf ears. I am sorry about the loss of human life anywhere, but saying it to the internet has all the veracity of signing an office sympathy card, accompanied by those trite phrases we use, so that we don’t look like assholes. You’re in our thoughts. Wishing you comfort. Our prayers are with you. I don’t want to fill the air with my nothingness.


The voices of outrage come out in full force, relentless anger directed at them, at us, at anything that’s a moving or easy target. Presidential candidates fall over themselves trying to prove how many people they’d kill in response to this nightmare. Political ideologues and bigots of every persuasion grab hold of the pain and anxiety in vain attempts to support their own version of hate.


This is not my story. This is not my opportunity. This is not my moment on the stage. This is my time to listen, to learn, and to try to comprehend other people’s stories. I don’t stay silent because I don’t care. I stay silent because, at this moment, nothing I say will make as much difference as listening.

Source: A Wish for Peace…and Quiet | The Green Study

I wondered how I was going to do a post about Paris. I didn’t want to join all the hot-heads demanding immediate revenge. From past history I know that seldom works. We just get ourselves mired down in something that accomplishes little. I didn’t want to be part of that crowd.

Then I came across the post above on one of my recent Feedly feeds from The Green Study. I have to admit that I am envious of the way the blogger has wisdom beyond her years and even mine. The Green Study refers to the paint on the walls where she blogs. How simple can you get.  Here is a little about her from her “About” page:

I’m Michelle, a midwestern, middle-aged, middle manager of average height and IQ. I’m ex-Army, ex-Republican, ex-Seventh Day Adventist, ex-smoker and an ex-girlfriend several times over, with an obsolete college degree.

Yes, this is a time to just quietly sit by and give our condolences. Ranting accomplishes little except maybe for the GOP presidential wanna-be’s who are out in force trying to appease their base.

Thanks Michelle for showing me the way….

Pragmatism & Drugs in Prisons…

Banner PragmatistsI know the title above might be confusing to you right now but let me explain. If only we would follow the principle of  Occum’s razor and understand that most often the simplest answer is the best answer. But instead we make things more complicated than they need to be.  We just can’t seem to help ourselves.

2015-11-08_15-05-24This phenomenon came to the forefront for me while watching a prison documentary on TV lately. OK, first I guess I have to admit that sometimes I just get bored with the normal stuff on TV and turn into these types of shows just to pass the time.  MSNBC seems to have them on almost nightly now.  On one episode I watched recently the prison warden was complaining how difficult it was to keep drugs out of the prison environment.  He mentioned things like letters with pages glued together and drugs in the middle and books with drug laced glue in the bindings.  He was just so frustrated that he was not able to stop the flow of drugs.

My pragmatic side leaped up as I was watching him. It just seemed so simple a solution that I couldn’t see why he had not found it. If drugs are coming in the mail and from things from the outside why not just put a virtual wall between the inside and outside the prison?

  • If letters are so effectively laced with drugs then just copy them when they come in and give the prisoners the copies instead of the originals.
  • If drugs are hidden in books and such then instead of just passing them through into the prison system insist that the givers give them a list of items they want and the money to get them.  The prison personnel would then go shopping for the goods themselves and provide them to the prisoners.

These types of solutions seem rather obvious to me, why can’t they figure it out? Maybe one reason is because too many of us are just not inclined to think in pragmatic terms. Solutions to big problems can’t be that easy. Maybe we should be teaching courses in our high schools and colleges on pragmatism.

But then again the real pragmatic solution is to not put so many of our citizens in prison in the first place.  Why is the U.S. the number one incinerator in the world? Let’s fix the basic problems in our society and the peripheral ones will naturally go away. Regulating guns would be a nice first step… ;)

I Love Pragmatists…

Here We Go Again… Even Eighty Years Later…

Will Rogers 6Here we go again!  America is running true to form, fixing some other country’s business for ’em just as we always do. We mean well, but will wind up in the wrong as usual…   Will Rogers June 22, 1931

I seem to have been ignoring one of my heroes of late. It seems that my op-ed posts are taking over RJsCorner. I gotta do something about that. After all life isn’t always about what is happening in the world. In fact it is even pretty far down in a sane person’s priority list. But who ever accused me of being sane?? :)

Of course each generation thinks that everything that happens to them is the first time it has happened.  For those of us who are U.S. history nuts know, that is rarely the case.  But sometimes when I come across a new Will Rogers quote it really surprises me. I didn’t know that before my time the U.S. had a reputation for getting into foreign messes where they really didn’t belong.

But I kinda think we have gotten a lot better at it now than we did when Will was alive.  We just gotta find every possible way to expand our military budgets. We can never spend enough on our guns and such. We spend more on it than the rest of the world combined but that, given our pretentious nature, is still never enough. So, we search the world far and wide to see where we can get into trouble and as usual end up on the wrong side of most of it…

Thanks Will for the thoughts.  I promise I will not ignore you so much in the future.

I Love Pragmatists

Banner PragmatistsIt has been a while since I brought up a new category here at RJ’sCorner.  After seeing so many people stuck in one mode of thinking I have come to passionately embrace the concept of pragmatism.  Let’s look at its definition:


I like to think of myself as being a pragmatist.  All my life I have looked for solutions instead of alliances. I try to look beyond the labels.  A big part of pragmatism is logic instead of dogma.  With dogma you are told what you are to believe; with pragmatism you search out the most practical answer by questioning everything.  Dogma allows us to stay stuck in a rut with no practical way of getting out.

It will be interesting to start concentrating on pragmatism on some of my posts.  I don’t know exactly where this will go but that is also part of pragmatism. You don’t have a predefined path. After careful thought you go with what is practical and what works the best for any given situation…

I Love Pragmatists


Mount Trashmore… A Consumer Driven Society..

2015-09-21_08-16-22One of the things that we first-world countries have basically wrong in my opinion is that we must be a consumer driven society. Everyone buying and consuming more and more each year is the bedrock of our economic system, especially here in the U.S.

Over my seven decades on this earth I have accumulated literally tons of stuff that I really didn’t need or actually, didn’t really want.  I bought it because it was the “in” thing to do. I bought it because the marketeers convinced me that I had to have it.  Yeah, I am human too and fall for the same things I seemingly so loath in others. :)

As my income grew from poverty to upper middle class my consumption constantly increased. I can’t tell you how many things I have thrown out in my life, not because they were worn out but because I just lost interest in them or maybe they had just lived out their planned obsolescence or something new just came along. I now  seem to be at one of those milestone places in my life where I want to shake things up.  As a result I am currently shedding “stuff ” in my life.  I have hundreds of books on the shelves behind me.  I am throwing almost all of them out along with all that obsolete technology stashed in the cabinets below them.  I am contributing to the height of my local Mount Trashmore.

But I kind of think it was not as bad in my childhood as it is now.  I know I sound like that old person who laments for the “good old days” but I have to speak my mind. There are just so many what I consider frivolous things today that are considered essential that I would never have dreamed of in my youth.

  • Every child’s teeth have to be perfect. Parents spend thousands of dollars on making sure that their kids have exactly the same teeth as all the others.
  • While we are on the subject of teeth now it seems that everyone’s teeth must be the purest form of white or you will be shunned from society.  So we spend hundreds each year on things to bleach them out.
  • It is not good enough to just have a kitchen with a working stove and large enough sink.  Now we have to update our kitchens on a regular basis. It used to be granite, cherry and stainless steel but now after a half-dozen years or so that is no longer acceptable.
  • In my day if you had a nice green backyard you were considered lucky.  Now you HAVE to have a fire pit, an outdoor dining room, and a large deck costing thousands of dollars.
  • And then there is the clothing fashions, especially for women.  Don’t get me started on 7 inch heels; they are the  most ridiculous thing on this planet!

It seems the marketeers tell us what to do and almost all of us jump to their demands. We must spend more and more in order to keep our country great!  Ironically now, instead of lamenting about what we don’t have, so many of us mourn the fact that our lives are just too complicated. But we still almost religiously go on and on to the next new fad.


You Don’t Have To Be Busy All The Time….

2015-11-04_08-58-20About Life BannerOne of the things that I learned the hard way during my years of retirement is that you don’t have to be busy all the time. I just couldn’t seem to wrap my mind around the idea of just having “down” time where I literally did nothing. No work, no thinking to any degree; just sitting alone with myself.   The Quakers call this “centering down”, some call it meditation, I just call it being alone with myself.

There are so many who say that time is rushing by and out of their control. My wife and I watch the TV show House Hunters when we eat our lunch. In that show there are many who move from one part of the world to another seeking a “slower lifestyle”. They say that things in their lives are just moving so fast that they have to get away.  But in reality no matter where you live you still have the same 24/7 as the place you left.  Time doesn’t slow down, only the activities you fill it with changes. I have learned in my old-age wisdom that you don’t have to chase a slower lifestyle around the globe, you can find it wherever you are.

Since I have no kids or grand kids I am only speculating here but it seems that kids today have a lot more scheduled activities than I did when I was a kid. “Soccer Moms” is a term that revolves around this phenomenon where one parent spends hours a day driving their kids to one event or another.

In my day my “events” were running around the neighbor visiting my friends and just hanging out. Sometimes we might get together for an ad hoc baseball game or whatever but it was not a scheduled thing.  It just kind of happened. Today it seems that parents, or maybe it is the kids themselves, think they have to fill their days with constant activity.  Looking back I kind of liked my down time where I could do nothing but maybe lay on my back in the yard and just gaze at the stars above.  There seemed to be many more stars in my youth than there are now but that is getting off topic.

When I was in the corporate world, especially 1980 and after,  I was constantly being told I have to do more with less. In the last ten years of that life I  saw my co-workers getting laid off one after another and was told I had to take on their work responsibilities because they would not be replaced. The mantra then was “Doing More With Less”. That jingle never appealed to me or I suspect anyone else except maybe the bosses who sang them.

In my retirement years I have once again learned how to just do nothing. As in my childhood I have again discovered that you don’t have to be busy all the time. In fact doing nothing once in a while has a calming effect that nothing else seems to provide.  Cutting off the thinking and doing nothing isn’t as easy as it sounds but it is worth the effort in order to maintain your sanity in this insane world we live in now… :)

Artificial Intelligence… and the Second Industrial Revolution


HAWKING: The outcome will depend on how things are distributed. Everyone can enjoy a life of luxurious leisure if the machine-produced wealth is shared, or most people can end up miserably poor if the machine-owners successfully lobby against wealth redistribution. So far, the trend seems to be toward the second option, with technology driving ever-increasing inequality.

Source: Highlights from Stephen Hawking’s Reddit AMA: ‘Women’ are the most intriguing ‘mystery’ – The Washington Post

I’m not a fan of Stephen Hawking, he just seems to be a guy who dreams up stuff that is impossible to verify. Just because you can’t be proven wrong doesn’t make what you say right.  But his words above are insightful but not unique to Mr. Hawking.  I recently read a book entitled Machines of Loving Grace – The Quest For Common Ground. It is about automation and the two completely different approaches  to it. I will be getting into the book and quotes from it soon but wanted to mention it during this post.

There weren’t any blogs or 24/7 reporting during the first industrial revolution but if there were I’m sure many would be lamenting how all the farm jobs were disappearing and how fearful they were about the future. Change, especially sudden change is a very traumatic thing to many of us then and now.

Replacing humans with robots started more than fifty years ago and it now expanding at an exponential rate.  It will soon be that any job that simply requires repetition will be done by robotic means. This phenomenon started out with physical activity and is now quickly moving into the intellectual area.  From blue-collar to white-collar with no end in sight. Where there was once a good paying job in industries such as auto, and office work they are now replaced by robots  and computers who work twenty-four hours a day with no breaks.

I personally think that eventually this will be a good thing. Humans will be rid of the mind numbing work of the past and can then move on to more creative and productive endeavors. This revolution could also cause the family unit to be stronger than it has been in a century. Recently we have farmed out the care giving and moral education of our children to others so that both parents could work at providing income for the family.  Now with robotics doing much of the day-to-day work there will be no need for double income so a permanent care-giver can once again be the norm.  Another possibility is for a 30 hour work week.

Of course this all hinges on how the gains due to robotics are distributed.  Will it go to the stake holder or the remaining workers.  Right now the top 1% are getting a very inordinate share but that doesn’t have to be the case. Unfettered capitalism naturally favors them but if proper regulations are put in place things could quickly change to even out the distribution of the gains.

I have high hopes that, even though I won’t be around, things will be much better in the future than they are now. We will be more educated, informed, and diligent citizens. We will reign it the capitalistic greed that is inherent to our current system.  Yes, I am a dreamer…. and if you are going to dream why not dream big positive things… :)

Poor Little Rich Kids…

RJC - Best of the best BannerI know I shouldn’t nominate myself for the best of the best list but when I ran across this post from October 11, 2011 I couldn’t resist.  It seems it is even more applicable today than it was four years ago.

This excerpt from a Wall Street Journal article peaked my senses. It seems the rich, who we give massive tax breaks,  are aware that their kids will probably blow through their inherited wealth after they are gone.  What a bind to be in!  I bet they take all this planning and  trustees as tax deductions. It seems very ironic that while most of us are just trying to stay out of the poor house, and in any other house at all, there are those who worry about the other end of the spectrum.

Instead of “cleverly written trusts” and “carefully chosen trustees” how about just letting them make their own way in life like the other 98% of us do? Who knows, maybe Paris Hilton would even be a productive member of our society if she had not inherited so much of granddaddy’s wealth. :) Up until recently (the 1980s that is) the government taxed wealthy estates so that a significant part of the accumulated money could go back for the common good.  Our country was even established around the ideas that aristocracies are a drain on society. They thoroughly renounced the European version when we formed our country. In fact it was not long after our revolution that the French also rebelled against their aristocracy in a very bloody fashion.  So how is it now that we do so much to retain our version of aristocracy that makes up the top 1% of our population but controls almost 50% of the country’s wealth?

OK, here I go again with the “Walters plan” for accumulated wealth.  I know we can’t force the super rich to allow their children to make their own way in the world. But let’s treat the money they pass on to their children as “income” and therefore subject to the usual income taxes.  To me income is income no matter where it comes from. If you get money that you didn’t work for and you haven’t paid any taxes on  it is still considered income to you. Another part of the “Walters Plan”  is where we establish a more equitable income tax structure. Don’t tax the billionaires at a lower rate than the people who empty their trash. Let’s set a level of tax free income so that a person can get the basic necessities and then tax everything else at a certain rate and with no tax deductions. These big tax loop holes that congress seems to endlessly write for the rich, and for many others for that matter,  are one of the reasons we are in the deficit hole we are in.

But what do I know.

Question Everything…


Don’t worry, your brain won’t overheat

It is as simple as that…..

Why America is Falling Behind the Rest of the World??

2015-10-04_12-02-35The authors collect many previously published rankings, and the picture that emerges, however, is sobering:

1. Median household income Rank of U.S.: 27th out of 27 

2. Education and skills Rank of U.S.: 16th out of 23 countries  

3. Internet speed and access Rank of U.S.: 16th out of 34 countries

 4. Health Rank of U.S.: 33rd out of 145 countries

5. People living below the poverty line Rank of U.S.: 36th out of 162 countries

6. Children in poverty Rank of U.S.: 34th out of 35 countries surveyed

7. Income inequality Rank of U.S.: Fourth highest inequality in the world.

9. Life satisfaction Rank of U.S.: 17th out of 36 countries

10. Corruption Rank of U.S.: 17th out of 175 countries. 

11. Stability Rank of U.S.: 20th out of 178 countries.

12. Social progress index  Rank of U.S.: 16th out of 133 countries

Source: Why America is Falling Behind the Rest of the World | TIME

We might be the only military super-power left in the world but when it comes to the welfare of its citizens we sadly trail dismally  behind much of the rest of the world. I wonder why we are only mediocre when it comes to so many things.

  • We are by far the most affluent country in the world but our life satisfaction is no better than the middle of the pack.  I guess, as the old saying goes money doesn’t buy happiness.  The very socialistic Scandinavian countries top this category.
  • Given our almost unregulated capitalist system it is not too surprising to see that median income is so dismal. Yeah we have more than our share of the super-rich but the guy in the middle just can’t seem to get a break anymore. That also explains the children in poverty one.
  • The health one is obvious. Most other first world countries have affordable  and more comprehensive single payer healthcare.
  • Internet speed kind of baffles me. We invented and perfected it but so many of our citizens are either blocked out of it or are creeping along at agonizingly slow connections. I am one of those because I am in a rural/low density area that doesn’t generate enough profits for the suppliers to upgrade our connection.
  • I guess we are pretty good in the corruption category; we are only the 17th highest there.  But if we included our election process where money buys power we might move closer to the top.

Now don’t get me wrong here. I believe the U.S. is the best country in the world but we sure do have a lot of room for improvement in so many people issues.  If only we could get rid of all that gridlock in our nation’s capital and our obsessive fear and the resulting gross military spending we could probably do a better job of attacking these things. But that will never happen until those who cling to the GOP label expel the radical fringes of their party…

Today, Today, Today…

Today I start my seventh decade on the earth. If my genes prove true it will likely be my last. That is a sobering thought that puts me in a mood of reflection. The end is certainly near; I can see the light at the end of the tunnel but no, I am not ready to “go to the light” just yet. :)

My SelfieIn some ways accepting my mortality is refreshing.  I know that sounds kind of morbid but just hear me out.  Whatever inhibitions I might still carry around need to be tempered if I hope to have fun in my final decade.  I am not going to make a practice of it but I did recently take a “selfie” while at West Baden Springs and am bashfully presenting hit here. OK, I have my favorite cold season hat on so you can’t see my bald head and my goatee does cover up my turkey neck so vanity is maybe one of the traits I need to get over. But I do really like both the hat, which was a present from my wife, and my goatee so I will keep both.

I think I need to be done worrying about my worth in this world. I have probably accomplished just about all I have in me. Maybe in the final years I need to  let go of those guilt feelings of not having done enough to justify occupying space on this earth and can therefore move on to more peaceful thoughts.  I finally realize that it’s time to just sit back an enjoy the ride from here on out. But doing that easier said then done, especially for me…

Happy Birthday To Me!!!

Five Years….

RJs Autobiography BannerI spent a very enlightening part of my life between the years 1965 and 1970.  Those were the years I was at Purdue University supposedly learning how to be an engineer. It was there that  I was first exposed to the diversity of life. I met people who were very different from me. For the most part those experiences made me a better person. On this post I want to concentrate on a few of those I encountered during those years.

KnuteMy first dormitory room-mate was a high school classmate. He got married at the end of the first semester and was replaced by Knute.  Knute was a Norwegian and spoke broken english.  He worked his way over to the U.S. from Oslo Norway on a freighter and that was impressive to me.  I later learned that his father owned the freight lines but that only slightly stained the story. :)  Knute loved to party,  I never actually saw him study much.  He came over with a half-dozen or so buddies. They exposed me to people from other countries for the first time. After that final semester of 1965 Knute went over to live with his friends in a rented house.  I don’t know if he ever graduated or just partied his way through college. Six of one half-dozen of the other I imagine.

Bob-2Bob was my room-mate for the final four years. We got along very well.  That was very important when you understand that unlike today we shared a 10 x 12 foot room so getting along with your room-mate was critical to your sanity. When we graduated a group of us vowed to get together five-year later on our graduation date but I didn’t make it there for whatever reason. I don’t know if any of them did or not?  I lost track of Bob and have been unable to find him in the forty years since.  I wished I had done a better job of keeping track of folks from those years. I would be interesting to discover what Bob made of his life and to just reminisce about the good old days at Fowler Courts residence hall and dorm kitchen where we both worked throughout those years.

Ohh GinnyAnother very memorable person during those years was Ginny. I admired her on several different levels. She was the secret love of my life.  I did date Ginny once, we went to a campfire/cookout with several friends. One of the main regrets of my life is that I never told her how I felt about her. I was just too shy around women and the emotions I felt for her were very new to me. Ginny also worked in the dormitory cafeteria where I became the head waiter.  Ginny was a year or two behind me and when in my senior year it came time to recommend my replacement I chose her. But… there had never been a female head waiter there before and the management just didn’t see that as being the time for one. I often wonder how my life would have changed if I expressed my feelings towards her. Don’t tell my wife but I still think about her now and then.

These three were just a small sampling of the friends I made at Purdue. I will likely talk about others in future posts.

The 25%….

While 80 percent of mainline Protestant pastors see Pope Francis as a true Christian, only 58 percent of evangelical preachers agree.

Source: Do Pastors Trust Pope Francis on Theology? New Survey Reveals How Preachers Responded When Asked if the Pontiff Is a True Christian | TheBlaze.com

I am going to use the polling above as an example for this post but not its focus.  There just seems to be about 25% of the population on the extreme right fringes in the U.S. that are pretty much distrustful of everything and everyone else. It seems that they almost hate the other 75%.  Maybe they are just so stricken with fear that everyone is suspect of something they deem bad. They hate the change that is happening around them daily, especially when more potential adversaries are allowed to invade “their” country. I wonder just how many of this 25% are the same people in all the various scenarios? I imagine that the core is pretty high.

In poll shown above from evangelical pastors about 25% of them don’t think the Pope is a genuine Christian. They view him as either the anti-Christ or hopefully something a little less hateful. I know that there are several christian denominations who despise the leader of the Catholic church no matter who he is. I’m sure a large part of this negative response is from those particular groups.

What can we do to help this 25% of our population get over their fear of change and  almost everything else? That seems to be the fundamental question at hand.

  • Is there a way to convince them that change is not their bitter enemy?
  • Is there a way to show them that their “good old days” were not as good as they now imagine?
  • Is there a way to get them to love their neighbors, even those who might not be like them?
  • Is there a way to convince them that the money they pay in taxes is necessary in order to maintain an orderly and civil society?
  • Is there a way to get them to see that the income inequality occurring today is hurting our country?
  • Is there a way to get them to see a brighter future?
  • Is there a way to get the religious among them to see that their version is not totally right and all the others totally wrong?
  • Finally, is there a way to get them to be less fearful of almost everything?

This is a serious list of issues that plague too many in our country and will likely take years to even begin to improve. Until that time it is up to the rest of us to not allow this relatively small minority to take us down with their negative beliefs.  We need to understand and even empathize with their fears no matter how unreal they are but not be overcome by them.

I am That Wise Guy

TWiG 1

uRV And Lake Patoka…

I have talked several times about my micro-RV (uRV) that I spent three years fabricating.  This post will be the first pictures of it. These were taken on the third shakedown trip to Lake Patoka in southern Indiana.  The cap on the back was purchased when I had my custom furniture making business. It was used to deliver my creations throughout the Midwest. It sat on a concrete pad for five years after the business was closed and then resurrected to give me something to do during my boredom times.

I was inspired to make uRV by the John Steinbeck book Travels with Charley: In Search of America . Steinbeck is one of my favorite authors and in the early 1960s he took a similar vehicle called Rocinante on a road trip around the U.S.  I have always dreamed of doing that in at least a limited way.

The inside (pictures of that later) is a cozy 35 square foot floor and has a 67 inch height which is just right for my now shrunken frame. I was once 5’10” but compression fractures and osteoporosis lessened that height considerably. But that is a story for another time. The night was chilly (lower 40s) but the small portable heater was more than enough to keep the inside comfy.

Below are some outside pictures of uRV showing all the stickers I have collected to date.  The back is my “attitude” wall where I give opinions about life.  The sides are about  inspiring saying and places I have visited over the years (but not necessarily in uRV).

Lake Patoka is primarily a fishing lake that looks kind of like a spider with many legs. It has a huge campground that is mostly empty this time of year.  RV camping is a new thing for me but even after my third time I am getting hooked on it. My three trips to date have  been overnighters but hopefully next Spring I will be spending a few multi-day trips in Indiana and surrounding States. My wife is not a camper so I do this by myself; it is the “alone” time that all of us need once in a while.

Here are the pictures. Click on any one of them to see the larger gallery:


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.

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 Knowing…

I went to quite a few “summer camps” during my corporate career. These were multi-day seminars most often in the summer to teach me one thing or another about how to do my job better.  They were rah rah sessions to keep me excited about what I was doing. Some of them were worthwhile, some were just boring. But since the company paid all the expenses and they were a welcome change from the day-to-day office.

One of the summer camps I remember most vividly was about discovery. The cubes below stick with me almost thirty years later:


  1. Obviously you know what you know. These are things that stick with you for periods of time. For instance you know your birth date and some of us even know our wedding anniversary. These are things that we know and we know that we know.  Some are essential to our lives.
  2. Then there are things that you know that you don’t know. For instance I know that I don’t know much of anything about nuclear physics or biology.  These types of things I trust other to know so I don’t need to.
  3. The third category is the one that most often gets us in trouble.  Some these things we think we know but we really don’t. These include many of the reasons for our various prejudices.  We think all people of color are to be avoided.  Our knowledge in this cube is faulty due to our limited exposure to the topic or maybe an ingrained belief drilled into us by others.
  4. The fourth cube is where discovery, creativity and insight come from. We just don’t know what we don’t know. For some that is as far as it goes.  But for others it is a realization that we have much to learn.  The way to turn this cube into a positive is to be open to possibilities that we have never been exposed to.  It means actively thinking outside the box.  I pride myself in keeping box number 4 front and center in my daily life. I am open to possibilities I never knew existed.

Unfortunately there are some that absolutely refuse to even consider cube four exists. They are stuck in their current circumstances and refuse to acknowledge any other possibilities. Most often their lives are dark and often negative. They are anti almost everything unknown to them.

Question everything and always think outside your box.

I am that wise guy

TWiG 1


It’s The Journey, Not The Destination… Well Sort of…

2015-09-07_16-12-12I have been in a “wise guy” mood lately, thus the title above.  I am coming up on 70 years of age and when you get that old some of us reflect on how we got here, and why.  My wife is not one of those but I am. She seems so content to just do the same thing day-after-day, year-after-year with no desire for any change. She is just not a dreamer or ponderer as I am. Like so many other things we are opposites in that regard. They (whoever “they” are) say opposites attract and I can certainly testify to that in my marriage. But that is not meant to be the main point of this post.

I am a dreamer, planner, ponderer, or whatever you want to call it. I am always thinking of the future and how I might make it better than the present, or maybe just hoping that it will be better.  Pondering the future has just been who I am throughout my life. In my younger days I absolutely needed to get away from everyone for moments of meditation. When I was in college sharing a 10 x 15 dorm room with a roommate I would frequently go out in the middle of the night to my favorite place on campus, which was along the railroad tracks out by the airport, to just be by myself and think about the future. I had to have time alone I guess in the same way that I had to have the next cigarette in those days. I broke the nicotine addiction twenty plus years ago but, good or bad, didn’t do likewise with my dreamer instincts.

I realize that if genetics have anything to say about it I am facing my final decade on this earth. The dreaming space is being compressed more and more as each day passes. One mini-epiphany I seem to  be having lately is that I got to quit some of the dreaming and just start accepting each day as it comes.  Don’t get me wrong, dreaming has made my life more fulfilling and rewarding than it might have been.  It has driven me to take chances that I might not have otherwise taken. I definitely do not look back on my life and say “I wish I had dreamed less”. But I sometimes do regret not taking enough actions to more completely fulfill my dreams. I let too many of them just disappear in the mist of my life.

2015-09-07_16-12-49I kind of see the absence of dreaming, planning, and pondering as defeat.  It seems if I cannot look for more  in my world than I have now I am just spinning in place waiting to die.  One of the downfalls of dreaming about the future is that I probably haven’t spent quite enough time just appreciating the present.  This late in my life I have come to understand that in the overall picture of life it’s about the journey and not the destination.

I am “That Wise Guy”

TWiG 1

The Miracle Of Life…


Without formal education there is no prosperity but with curiosity there is also no prosperity.  It’s not an either/or situation. But Albert never said it was…

RJ The Factory Worker…

RJs Autobiography BannerThis is the second in a series of posts about automation and humanity. This one is about my personal experiences with work that has certainly been taken over by a robot. I won’t be getting into the philosophical side of this paradigm shift here. That will wait for a future post.

2015-09-06_08-54-57I was fortunate enough to be able to pay my own way through college with a minimal amount of loans. Dad  as a single parent just didn’t have the resources to help me.  He was busy surviving week to week.  My mother, who was then married to a rich lawyer was too focused on herself to have much left for anyone else. She offered no help for me.  To pay for college I applied for several hardship scholarships but since Mom was wealthy they were all rejected. So, to get through college meant I had to work as much as I could and I did just that.

I was fortunate enough to get a job for four of the five summers in a small factory next to the sand casting place  where Dad worked. Uncle Harold, one of Mom’s brothers, was the time-keeper there and that was enough to get me in the door.  Since I didn’t have a car being able to travel the forty plus miles to Indy everyday with Dad was my path to a job.  The job paid about $1.50/hr.  It was a union job so I ended up giving part of that wage to Jimmy Hoffa for the privilege of working there.

The job entailed for the most part drilling the same holes in the same type part thousands of times.  To state it as simply as I can, it was mind numbing!  The only thing that allowed me to do it was I could drift off into a dream world and my hands would do the job without much mental activity.

Being a union job every task had a certain number of parts that you were expected to drill in an eight-hour shift. I found that the required number of parts meant I had to work at a snail’s pace. It was boring but I needed the pay.  My last summer there I got so bored I decided to say “to hell with the rate, I’m going to do the number I want”.  The first day I did that I ended up doing 250% production!  It didn’t take long for others around me who were for the most part full-timers to warn me to slow down as I was ruining the job for them.  To say it mildly they were pissed that I showed “management” that the rate was actually agonizingly slow.  I was not given a job during my fifth summer and I’m sure that was the reason. Even Uncle Harold couldn’t make that happen.

Henry Ford by paying so much for assembly line work revolutionized factory work.  He made it possible for an uneducated man to have a middle class life.  That was unheard of before him.  But, assembly line work and any other repetitive work was mind numbing. Today robots for the most part have replaced all those jobs and that trend will continue to increase in the future.   I think eventually, after the shock has worn off, losing those jobs to unthinking machines will be celebrated….

The Ultimate Hype…

Not being a sports fan in any regard it is amazing to me how so many seem to blindly follow the superstar sports jocks in this country. I guess he is becoming very “old-school” now but Micheal Jordan was probably the epitome of this trend. I know Mr. Jordan was a basketball player for some professional team and I guess he was very good at putting a ball through a hoop suspended ten feet in the air.  As a result he is now probably a billionaire.

Before he pierced his ears and put in ear rings no man, especially a manly man would ever have considered wearing ear rings.  Mr. Jordan, like many of us, was genetically predisposed to baldness so when he started losing his hair and decided to just cut it all off, suddenly millions followed suit whether they still had a full head of hair or not.  It is amazing to me just how sheepish we are when it comes to our sports figures. We claim to be a nation of free-thinker but these trends seem to say something quite different.

I don’t know how long ago Mr. Jordan retired but he is still a dominant figure in today’s marketing schemes and none as glaring as Hanes underwear.  I’m sure he has a multi-million dollar annual contract with that company.  Of course we know that every manufacturer is constantly looking for that “edge” that will allow them to dominate their industry.  Hanes has chosen Micheal Jordan and a rather idiotic scheme called tagless underwear as their big advantage.

2015-09-04_16-17-14The story goes something like this.  You are out with a really hot date and suddenly your T-shirt label comes loose. If your date sees it she will likely scream and run off in a panic. But Micheal Jordan is there to save the day. He pulls off the label and throws it away before your date freaks out. He then tells you to get underwear that don’t have the dreaded labels attached.  Of course you have to rush to the store and get an abundant supply of “tagless” underwear.  Even with the fast-forward capabilities of TIVO I have seen this commercial hundreds of time.

I accidentally bought three pairs of boxer shorts from Hanes and came to discover that labels actually do serve a valuable purpose. Without a label it is difficult to quickly determine which is the front and which is the back of undershorts especially when you put them on in a semi-sleep mode.More times than I care to remember I put them on backwards. No, they didn’t stay that way. I might be old but I am not senile. :)  I need those labels that Micheal tells me to get rid of. So now when I buy underwear I take a second look to make sure they are not Hanes…

Actors and Athletes seem to somehow have a trance over so many in the country. I just don’t understand why they blindly follow their every move.  Maybe we are a nation of sheep after all.

Am I A Philosopher ???

I have been thinking lately about just what a philosopher is and if I might be one?

2015-09-04_11-41-11Let’s study this topic some. Philosophy is most often thought of as a high-browed occupation . When most of us who are at least educated in the fundamentals think of philosophy we think of Aristotle, or Plato.

Wiki says Philosophy is: the study of the general and fundamental nature of reality, existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind and language and breaks it down into several sub-fields of Philosophy of history, Philosophy of language, Philosophy of law, Philosophy of mind, Philosophy of religion, Philosophy of science, and Philosophy of Philosophy called Metaphilosophy

Does any of this stuff describe me? I am definitely not high-browed; you would insult me to call me that.  I am definitely not studied in any of the sub-fields.

When I googled “modern-day philosophers” a rather long list came up. The youngest on that list was born in 1905. So at least according to some of the “experts” its been a hundred years or so since we have had a “real” philosopher.  Maybe I should be looking elsewhere for just what a philosopher is. Let’s go to the  plain old dictionary definition:

the rational investigation of questions about existence and knowledge and ethics 

Using this I can personally see all kinds of modern philosophers. That list certainly includes on of my heroes Will Rogers.  I think Garrison Keillor is probably included here. Do you need to have a formal education to put the label philosopher as a tag to describe yourself?

2015-09-04_11-23-04One of my prime philosophies in life I got from Albert Einstein when he said “Question Everything”. That seems to be a core quality of a philosopher. I try to be rational in all my writings. I think most times I am successful but sometimes not. It seems that most of my questions are around how we exist on this earth and especially how we treat each other.  I got a lot of thoughts on that topic.

Questioning conventional wisdom or knowledge is also towards the top of my agenda here at RJ’sCorner. To me conventional wisdom is what keeps so many of us confined to the small box that has been put around us by others and especially by ourselves.  Conventional wisdom is almost always backward looking. It seems to often stifle creative thought.

Ethics, well that is another thought.  It is about things based on the idea of right and wrong.  The problem is whose right and wrong are being used.

So, I think I am a pretty good match for the dictionary definition of philosopher. Maybe I am a “country bumpkin philosopher” or maybe just a “backwoods philosopher”. Maybe I could call myself a “Jack-of-all-trades philosopher”?  I will have to think about this a while before I come to any conclusions but up front I think I deserve the title philosopher at one degree or another…


RJC - Best of the best BannerThis is another post in the “best of the best” category. This time it is about my favorite western fort.  Bent’s Old Fort was a commercial fort not a military one. For those of you who are old enough to remember the TV mini-series Centennial this fort was the foundation of the early parts of that series.  They have done a fabulous job of recreating what was probably there originally. I can almost feel the presence of those past trappers and native Americans to traded there.

Bent’s old fort is located near La Junta Colorado which is quite a distance from any interstate highway so it probably doesn’t get the visitors that it really deserves.  But if you want to understand the early years of the west you should visit there. I have been there twice and plan on going again in the not too distant future.


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