relaxingThe weather has been absolutely beautiful here in the Midwest for about three weeks now and I have been spending most of my time outside or in the barn working on my micro-RV project. To that end I have not been keeping my blogging up to date. So, I am taking a little while off here at RJ’s Corner. See you soon…..

KoreaNorth Korea on Sunday accepted a South Korean offer for talks on reuniting families separated by war, but proposed separate talks on resuming lucrative tours to a scenic North Korean mountain in an apparent effort to link the two discussions.

SOURCE:  Koreas agree on talks to reunite families separated by war – CBS News.

I sure hope that this latest opening between North and South Korea is successful. That country needs to finally re-unite. They have been separated for 60+ years, mainly because of politics and superpower actions.  I love the fact that this latest conversation was started by the Red Cross. In my mind that is the way it should be. A neutral third party should be the mediator in conflicts such as these. When a superpower tries to do it there is usually just too much baggage involved. The question always seems to come up “what do they (the superpower) want out of this?” There is just too much suspicion involved and I imagine rightly so.

It would be great it the United Nations could do this but they, like our current government, are just too entangled in politics to be very effective in this area. That and the veto power by a few decidedly competing philosophies contaminates or at least dilutes most of their processes.

Maybe it was a good thing that we lost the Vietnam war of my generation. It allowed the re-unification of that country that is now one of our stronger allies. If only we had not gotten involved in Vietnam in the first place that might have happened even earlier and I would have still have quite a few of my friends around today.

Sometimes the best of intentions are just not good enough. We, the only current superpower, need to keep our noses out of  many things so that organizations such as the Red Cross can get things accomplished that we only manage to muddy up.

Gas Station“We never will have any prosperity that is free from speculation till we pass a law that every time a broker or person sells something, he has got to have it sitting there in a bucket, or a bag, or a jug, or a cage, or a rat trap, or something, depending on what it is he is selling. We are continually buying something that we never get from a man that never had it.”       Sept. 24, 1930       Will Rogers

Speculation seems to be where all the instant wealth is obtained in this country. It used to be that the cost of gas at your local service station was dependent on what the local owner paid for for it but now whenever a worldwide event happens gas prices seem to rise almost immediately. If there is some sort of uprising in the Middle East, and isn’t there always one, then gas jumps twenty to thirty cents a gallon.  There are just too many people in this country who try to make an extra buck or two by guessing the future instead of doing any real work.

Hedge funds are where many get rich now. It is all about buying and selling things that they don’t really have. Even the average guy with a few bucks in his pocket is lured into buying “futures”. Everyone is trying to make an easy buck off of something they don’t really have.

It is pretty widely acknowledged that speculation was one of the primary causes of the Great Depression during Will’s day. It seems that we are in that mode again and have been for quite a while. I know there are now regulations in place to reduce the possibility of a total crash but that still doesn’t calm my nerves much. I just hope what constraints we do have don’t get too watered down my the wing nuts in Washington any more than they already are. It’s bad enough that the average guy has trouble finding a decent paying real job in the country today, they don’t need their noses shoved into the dirt by all the speculators out there .

But I’m just a simple guy so what do I know….

LincolnHe reminds me of the man who murdered both of his parents, and then when sentence was about to be pronounced, pleaded for mercy on the grounds that he was an orphan.
Abraham Lincoln

A Little Humor For Saturday…

No Better Friends…

August 16, 2013

Basic RGB“No nation ever had two better friends than we have. You know who they are. They are the Atlantic and the Pacific oceans.” – Will Rogers, 9 April 1933

You know Will you are on to something here.  I know you were around when all the saber-rattling was going on in Europe in the early 1930s. I know you had at least a preliminary taste of what Hitler would bring onto that region but you missed out on the second war to end all wars. We tried to stay out of that one but our now Japanese friends insisted on coming across the Pacific, at least half way, to attack us.

But you are right in that the Atlantic and Pacific have probably kept us out of a lot of the trouble  those guys in the other side of the world seem to always be in. If only those Wright brothers had not invented the airplane we might still be able to live peaceably among ourselves. And of course, you would probably have lived a few more years to give us even more of your wit and wisdom. But then again there is that sticky black stuff we depend on so much over there… Why haven’t we stripped ourselves of that addiction yet??

Here’s To You Will…

August 15, 2013

Will Rogers CrashOn 15 August 1935, Will Rogers and Wiley Post were on their way from Fairbanks, Alaska, to Barrow, Alaska, when they encountered some heavy fog. Post knew they were near Barrow, but due to the conditions, was having difficulty spotting any landmarks. After spotting a small native camp near Walakpa Lagoon, Wiley Post landed the plane to ask for directions to Barrow. After Will and Wiley got out and stretched their legs, Clair Okpeaha, one of the natives, directed them towards Barrow.

Upon take off from lagoon, the plane began a steep accent, and banked sharply to the right. At approximately two hundred feet, the engine backfired and stopped. The plane tumbled downward, and struck the water, killing both Will Rogers and Wiley Post instantly.

The above quote comes from the Will Rogers Facebook page today. In my mind Will Rogers was one of the premiere statesmen of the twentieth center. His wit and wisdom helped many through the dark beginning days of the Great Depression. I mourn your loss even 78 years after the fact.

Stuck 1Several things have come together lately that take my focus to the decisions we make in our lives. With that in mind I am going to attempt a series of posts here at RJ’s Corner with the title above.

Every day we make hundreds of choices in our lives.  Many of them are things like what to eat, or when to go to bed.  I think most of us are pretty good at making those daily decisions. But I am convinced that many, including myself, are not so good at some of the higher level ones. We just don’t spend enough time thinking them through before we make our choice.  Being in my seventh decade of life, I have been through a gamut of choices. I will use this wisdom to reflect on how I did in that regard. In this series I hope you get some insight into your own travels and hope that you learn a little from my words.

The title “Don’t Get Stuck” should give you a pretty clear idea of where I imagine I am going with these posts.  The idea is to never think you are stuck with just one thing. There are always choices. Some might require stepping back a few steps to admit that you made a previously unwise choice and then going from there. Some might be having the guts to go forward into an unknown area.  Some might be better for you; some better for others. But, the choice is always yours.

I haven’t completely thought out this series yet so I don’t really know how it will conclude but I do have quite a few titles in mind.  In order to not bore you to death I will likely intersperse this series with my usual stuff.  I hope to learn a few things about myself along the way.  I would love to hear from any of you about possible  topics and also I would love to hear some of your stories in this area.  I very highly encourage you to ring in here.  If you don’t feel comfortable with letting others know who you are email me at rjscorner@live.com or comment as “anonymous”. I will break my rule about accepting those types of comments for this series .

Some of us in our senior years think that our choices in life have pretty much played out. I don’t believe that for a minute.  Some of us think that due to the roads previously chosen some choices are not now possible. I don’t believe that for a minute either. Come back on the days ahead to see where this series goes and help me move it along certain paths.

Be forewarned that I am not a professional in this area.  I am not a self-described lifestyle coach or anything like that.  I am just a simple guy who has made many choices in life; some of them pretty good, some not so good and am willing to share them with you in hopes that you and I  might learn something from them.

Never get stuck in your life thinking that you are out of options.

Flag of TexasTexas has always prided itself on its free-market posture. It is the only state that does not require companies to contribute to workers’ compensation coverage. It boasts the largest city in the country, Houston, with no zoning laws. It does not have a state fire code, and it prohibits smaller counties from having such codes. Some Texas counties even cite the lack of local fire codes as a reason for companies to move there.

But Texas has also had the nation’s highest number of workplace fatalities — more than 400 annually — for much of the past decade. Fires and explosions at Texas’ more than 1,300 chemical and industrial plants have cost as much in property damage as those in all the other states combined for the five years ending in May 2012. Compared with Illinois, which has the nation’s second-largest number of high-risk sites, more than 950, but tighter fire and safety rules, Texas had more than three times the number of accidents, four times the number of injuries and deaths, and 300 times the property damage costs…..

“The Wild West approach to protecting public health and safety is what you get when you give companies too much economic freedom and not enough responsibility and accountability,” said Thomas O. McGarity, a professor at the University of Texas at Austin School of Law and an expert on regulation.

SOURCE:   After Explosion, Texas Remains Wary of Regulation – NYTimes.com.

The source article above is about the fertilizer plant that blew up a few months ago and killed many people in the area.  But the primary stimulant for this post was another article that showed that Texas is the number one State when it comes to nursing home abuse. They get a solid “F” in that area. Plainly speaking, they just seem to be more interested some self-perceived independence than they are about the safety and security  of their citizens.  Especially those who can’t take care of themselves.

Texas has always been a very confusing State to me. The mentality there seems to be all about bravado.  In order to avoid confusion here is the definition I am using for bravado: a pretentious, swaggering display of courage.  Synonyms –  brag, bluster, bombast. Many, including their most recent U.S. Senator are just too pretentious (I am trying to be polite by using this word) for me.

Texas just seems to be the ultimate dichotomy.  They are a glowing example of opposites. On the one hand they probably have more Christian mega-churches than any other State and they scream the loudest when it comes to certain Christian principles but they are also the execution capital of the world.  If they really held to their Christian principles they would understand the concept of  their bother’s keepers.  But instead they repeatably try to  repeal a health care law that would provide healthcare to 30 million of their brothers and have nothing to replace it with. They just seem to have no understanding of being a good Samaritan really means.

They elect the most radical of radicals to represent them in Washington.  Are the people themselves actually that much distanced from the rest of us.  Texas just plain confuses me? At times I kind of wish they would go off and form their own country as they frequently threaten….

Living Longer…

August 13, 2013

RIPI have come to a realization lately that these stories of all us old people living longer is a bunch of phooey. Here I am finishing up my second year of being on Medicare and when I read the obituaries in our local small town paper I see lots of people who are much younger than I am. That fact has kind of startled me and warned me that my years on this earth might be shorter than I have planned. You never know.

At our ages if we show up in tomorrow’s obit it probably wouldn’t bring a big surprise to anyone especially to those younger folks who are currently taking over the country.  Some might even be relieved that one less person is on the Social Security entitlement program. But I have been told by all those statisticians that I will live considerably longer than my parents and grandparents due to all the advanced technology and stuff.  I am a planner, I have always been a planner and I am planning on living another dozen years or so but maybe the big guy upstairs has different plans. :)

In reality I think the biggest voice in the “living longer” stuff are the financial planners.  The more they can convince you to put aside and let them manage, the bigger their income. I was told I would require 90% of my pre-retirement income in retirement.  In reality the number is more like 60%, maybe even lower.  I admit that we are living more frugally than before but we are also living more satisfyingly.

In the end (pun intended) we will go when we go. None of us have a big part of that date. Yeah, we can maybe stretch it out a few more months if we spend hours a day at the gym and eat nothing but alfalfa sprouts but who really wants to do that?  I kind of think my DNA and genes have a more prominent role in how long I live.

Like it or not, admit it or not, as we get over a certain age our bodies start to deteriorate. That is just the normal scheme of things. Some like to delay the process with various creams and other snake oil type things. But in reality we all die sooner or later. I think those of us who are reconciled with that fact live a more comfortable and soothing life. Those who battle it to the end are doing just that; battling it to the end. I don’t want to be in that camp. Some day I will wake up to read my obituary in the paper. That is just the way it is……

Planning…

August 12, 2013

planning“Plans get you into things but you got to work your way out.” – Will Rogers, 25 June 1931

Be careful you might just get what you plan for. I seem to have to learn that lesson over and over again through my life. I am a planner to my soul. When I was six years old you could often find me out on the dewy grass on a summer night staring at the stars and wondering/planning what my future would look like.  And for the next sixty years I have continued to the same thing.

In my very early years I played out scenarios, even though I did not know that was a word back then, on where I might be heading. But one of the most fundamental problems in my life is that I have never seemed to come to a final conclusion about my fate. I seem to still be stuck in “what do I want to do when I grow up” mode. So,  I guess I am a pretty good planner on the non-foundations things but not so good at the more important stuff. Maybe I am a more serious procrastinator than I am a serious planner.? :)  I have probably made thousands of unplayed plans in head throughout my life. But, there were many that happened; some good and some not so good.

Looking back over the last six decades, I am very glad that I am a planner. It made me excel in some areas of life, particularly the information technology field that I chose as my second career. Without good plans software turn into “garbage in – garbage out”.  In some areas my plans have gotten my into trouble from time to time. I found, like you said Will, that I had to work my way out.  Sometimes my plans were just too grandiose; but most times  they were just not challenging enough to encourage constant growth.

In my senior years I have learned to back off a little with my obsessive planning and just let things happen.  I currently have a project of turning my 20+ year old truck into a micro-RV. This is a long term and unplanned project. I do what I feel like doing on any particular day. I have learned that free styling has its advantage sometimes. I try to live in the moment more than I have at any other time of my life. Maybe I will get into less trouble that way. Who knows??