Rising US suicide rates…

2018-06-11_09-47-48It is sad to see that suicide is on the rise in the US. A couple of prominent people have brought it to the forefront. As noted below a part of the problem is the lack of proper healthcare here in America. It is hard to believe that over 45,000 people committed suicide last year alone.  The stigma of mental illness causes too many to not seek help when they are severely depressed and that is the major cause of it.

I go through some pretty significant periods of depression myself but never to the point of thinking life is useless or needs to end.  If I ever do get to that point I pray I have the strength to get some help.

John Mann, a psychiatrist who studies the causes of depression and suicide at Columbia University, said several factors have likely contributed to America’s rising suicide rate, including stress from the 2008 financial crisis and the current opioid epidemic. But they don’t tell the whole story.

“We have a serious, national problem in terms of adequate recognition of psychiatric illnesses and their treatment. That is the single most effective suicide-prevention method in Western nations. We’re missing most of these cases. That’s really the bottom line.”

The larger majority of suicide victims who have a psychiatric illness — nearly 3 in 4 Americans— are not receiving treatment at the time of their deaths.

via Rising US suicide rates could be connected to mental healthcare costs – Business Insider

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As far as I know, depression is pretty much a chemical imbalance in the brain and is, for the most part, a treatable condition. It is interesting to see that the most significant rate increases are in the middle, more rural part of the country. I wonder why that is? Maybe it is a signal just how depressed and fearful Trumpters are about their way of life? It is also interesting to see that California, Arizona, and New Mexico are among the lowest. Maybe it is the water 🙂

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Giant City Lodge

For this artsy Saturday, I want to give you a picture looking out the dining room window of the Giant City Lodge State Park in southern Illinois.  The park is not big and “Giant City” is nowhere to be found but it reminds me of Yellow Stone and other national park lodges. The CCC statues there is to honor all those who built the lodge in the 1930s.

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Three Kinds Of Men…

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It’s been a few days since I visited a Will Rogers quote, so I spent hours going through my archives looking for just the right one to say what I currently feel.  Well, actually, it took about one minute before I found one that grabbed me. But, spending hours just seemed more dramatical.

I am not so much lately but for most of my life, I have been an avid reader. Except for my initial introduction to this novels and such via the Hardy Boys, Steinbeck, London, and a few others I have just not been that interested in fiction. Instead, I leaned toward historical and when it wasn’t so dirty, political venues.  So, I guess that makes me one of the small group who learned a lot by reading.

Some of us learn by observation, but for the most part, people just can’t seem to learn via that mode. They gotta make the same mistakes as many in the past already have in order to know what to stay away from.  Learning for yourself as Will’s quote shows is pretty painful at times. No, I haven’t peed on an electrical fence but I saw a 600 lb bull do it and by watching the results it seems tragically painful.  🙂

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Works In Mysterious Ways…

2018-06-08_08-13-18.pngWhen I was a member of an Evangelical church the most often phrase I heard when its members couldn’t reconcile something recently happened with their beliefs in the bible was that “God works in mysterious ways, we just have to trust Him”. I always thought that was more of a cop-out than an explanation of the situation. But that is not the topic of this post.

It seems that these same Evangelicals put that phrase onto unexplainable actions of #CO3!  They say that he just needs to be trusted and we should disregard all the lies and gross exaggerations that come from this mouth in order to get the greater good that his presidency will provide. Again this is a humongous cop-out as far as I am concerned.

I was personally exposed to an extreme narcissist for a good part of my life and see the same things in #CO3. He emphatically believes that he is capable of doing anything and doesn’t have to put in the work to do it.  He proudly boasts that he basically sleeps through his daily briefing and he simply operates at a gut level and doesn’t need anything else. That is not a person I would put ANY trust in.  How can the Evangelicals put total trust in this very untrustful person is beyond my comprehension. That belief is doing as much harm to their religion as it is to our democracy.

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#CO3 = Current Oval Office Occupant

Troubles In The Past

2018-06-03_10-45-03.pngThis post is primarily about the book “The Soul of America: The Battle for Our Better Angels,” by Jon Meacham. He tries to offer historical context and a sense of proportion for our current times. While I have not yet read the book,  it is on my Kindle now, I have seen enough reviews to maybe entice you to take it up yourself.

It is generally believed by most of us that the troubles in the past are never as contentious as our current troubles. Anyone who studies history knows that is many times just not the case.   “Nostalgia”, which too many of us use to gauge the past, only remembers the good things and conveniently forgets its problems. Of course, that is especially true for those who hang onto the “Make America Great Again”.

I look forward to reading this book as Jon Meacham is a writer that I could only dream to be. In the book, he dedicates six chapters covering things from Appomattox to Trump to show that we have withstood serious troubles, like the current times, many times in the past. After I read the book I am sure I will be giving you multiple posts on its contents.

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The Top Ten…

No, I’m not going to have a countdown of my top ten list but I did just establish a new set of categories entitled “My 10 Pillars” in the header menu here at RJsCorner to reflect the new direction I recently took for this blog. They are not in rank order as each is just as important to me as the other.

In the past, many of my posts were political in nature but since that venue is now totally in the gutter I have for the most part chosen a new track. I know this is not the first time I have mentioned my 10 Pillars and it does now have its permanent place in my “About” menu but I now want to celebrate its official kickoff via this post.

Here are My 10 Pillars:

  1. canstockphoto1528334.jpgThink for Yourself, Question Everything.
  2. You are not alone.
  3. Adversity builds character.
  4. Embrace Change.
  5. Break down myths that put people in suffocating boxes.
  6. Never Stop Learning or Growing
  7. Live & Let Live.
  8. Be humble, be honest, be committed.
  9. Don’t lose yourself in your fear or anger as it will destroy you.
  10. Treat everyone with respect, even those who don’t treat you likewise.

These ten items are the foundations of who I currently am and how I try to live my life day-to-day.

Starting now, I will include these categories in my daily post info. If I have the time, primarily in the winter months I will be cataloging my archive posts with these new categories so that you can more easily find them in the future.

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$1,000 Dinner!

In Will Rogers’ day during the Great Depression soup kitchens were where millions got their daily meal if they got one at all. I know a thing or two about soup kitchens as I volunteered in one for over eleven years. It was a very rewarding and eye-opening time for me

I am not a “meat & potatoes” guy, but $1,000 for dinner seems pretty excessive. I guess if you are a billionaire or a CEO it probably only means an hour or so of work.  The new remodeled Eleven Madison Park restaurant is now charging that and reservation are made months ahead!

2018-02-25_10-39-16.pngEleven Madison Park shut down last summer for a massive remodel in the wake of Daniel Humm and Will Guidara’s flagship topping the World’s 50 Best Restaurant list for the first time. The new Eleven Madison Park reopened in October with a new look and a new menu. Now, in 2018, that menu will cost a little more. According to Eater critic Ryan Sutton, the restaurant is raising its prices by $20 to $315 for its tasting menu, meaning a dinner for two with wine will cost $1,067, after tax. The restaurant cites rising labor and food costs as the reason for the price hike.

via Michelin Star Per Se, Eleven Madison Park, Chef’s Table Raise Prices – Robb Report

When I see these sort of things I immediately think of how many meals that would serve in my soup kitchen! I can’t help it, that kind of opulence just drives me up a wall.  But since I am just a farm boy from the Midwest I probably don’t understand the satisfaction that a $1,000 meal would give me.

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(WS) As Goes California…

For as long as I can remember California has been at the forefront of every significant social change.  All change in this country just seems to seep into the west coast and then dredge across the country until eventually, all those Northeasterners have adopted it. The Southerners seem to always be the holdouts until they finally are forced into it.

Here are some words from the New York Times to show you that California is doing it again. They are teaching us how to reinvent ourselves in the Post-Trump era.

2018-06-04_18-53-02.pngThe new California, back from years of financial trouble, has the fifth-largest economy in the world, ahead of Britain and France. Since 2010, California has accounted for an incredible one-fifth of America’s economic growth. Silicon Valley is the default center of the world, home to three of the 10 largest companies in the world by market capitalization.

California’s raw economic power is old news. What’s different, just in the past few years, is the combination of its money, population and politics. In the Trump era, the state is reinventing itself as the moral and cultural center of a new America.

California doesn’t just oppose Mr. Trump; it offers a better alternative to the America he promises. While Mr. Trump makes hollow promises to states ravaged by the decline of the coal industry, California has been a leader in creating new jobs through renewable energy.

While Mr. Trump plays the racism card, California pulls in immigrants from all over the world. For California, immigration is not an issue to be exploited to inflame hate and assuage the economic insecurities of those who feel displaced by the 21st-century economy, it’s what keeps the state economy churning.

Source: Opinion | The Californization of America – The New York Times

While #CO3 promises to make coal jobs come back when that is virtually impossible, California is creating a vast number of jobs in renewable energy for the future.  I think they have a winnable strategy to just ignore what #CO3 is doing and go about doing what is good for America.  While much of the rest of America is fearful of minorities being the majority, it has already happened in California and they are celebrating that fact and welcoming ever more.

I just pray that a figurehead for the California success comes on the scene prior to 2020 to show us the way to REALLY make America greater.

As goes California, so eventually goes the nation. Or, at least in this case we hope so.

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#CO3 = Current Oval Office Occupant

The Orange Beast

I know, there are probably several of you out there who might not agree that the photo below is beautiful. But, for a guy who made plastic models like this one in his youth, seeing the real thing in my old age is beautiful indeed. So, for this artsy Saturday, I give you the American Hotrod.

Elwood Car Show

Tit For Tat…

 “Congress is deadlocked and can’t act.” I think that is the greatest blessing that could befall this country. 

-Will Rogers (Weekly Article #59, January 27, 1924)

2018-06-06_07-30-09.pngI just can’t understand how the leadership of the Republican party can blame the Democrats for not getting anything done this year.  Come on Mitch, you guys control everything and still can’t accomplish the daily chores necessary to keep the country running. All you have managed to do so far is to take healthcare away from millions and pass a budget-busting tax cut for the wealthy.  You personally need to take responsibility for your lack of leadership but of course, that will never happen. You are simply too much like the current leader of your party who refuses to EVER admit that he that he is not perfect or made a mistake. Even if obstruction is keeping you from passing legislation, can’t you remember you personally invented the current definition of obstruction just a few years ago during the first years of the Obama administration? A tit for tat is hell, isn’t it?

But in reality, as Will says, your inability to do anything is perhaps the greatest blessing that could befall us.  Keep up the lack of work guys, at least until we can replace you with someone who will put people instead of party first.

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Being Afraid of Minorities… Why??

canstockphoto8131990.jpgFear is what drives far too many of us in the US right now.  The majority of the most fearful live in the less populated rural areas of the country. You only need to look at the red/blue map to see that reality.  Here are some causes as I see it of this inordinate fear:

For many of these folks fear is due to just not knowing others different than themselves. Due to their isolated conditions, they just have a much smaller worldview than many of us.

Education is another factor. Almost twice as many urban Americans have college degrees as rural Americans. 

Another statistic is that many more in rural areas than urban end up living their lives close to where they were born.

I personally am part of several minority groups.  As a result, I am not afraid of the barbarians at the gate as I am one of them to many of you.  I want to tell you who are afraid of being a minority that in some ways is a very freeing thing. It helps you relate to all those you once feared. It gives you an additional dose of empathy. It makes you a better Christian if that is your flavor of spirituality.

The Urban/Suburban ratios are quickly changing and if the rural folks don’t widen their worldview they have the distinct possibility of becoming irrelevant in tomorrow’s world. When they realize that the barbarians at the gate aren’t really barbarians, after all, they will have happier and less fearful lives. Don’t we all want that?

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Good Judgment

Good judgment comes from experience and a lot of that comes from bad judgment Will Rogers

canstockphoto29834965.jpgIt’s time I put out a post on the new quote in the header above.  I think experience and wisdom often go hand in hand and as Will says learning from mistakes is a big part of it.  I personally think I can remember more details of the things I got wrong than the things I got right.

Due to my Aspie characteristics, I made a lot of social mistakes. Looking back I can see where opportunities were presented to me that I just wasn’t aware of at the time. People giving me hints that they wanted to have a relationship with me if I would only agree. I was a wimpy kid who simply couldn’t believe that anyone would be interested in me as a person.

Not standing up for myself was another place where I learned from my mistakes. I simply let too many people take advantage of my naivete.  Looking back I can see where I was a pretty gifted guy and quite a few people took credit for things I did. I just didn’t realize at the time it was happening.

My mistakes in the past have taught me the good judgment I now have.  It is not that I can go back and relive those times, but at least I try to use my current good judgment on today’s circumstances.  Maybe this is another example of  “Wisdom is wasted on the elderly”. I don’t know.

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How did I get inside this old body

I have to give Mark Twain credit for the quote in the title above. Something happened recently to make this quote “How did I get inside this old body”  jump in front of me.  In my youth, when I visited my grandmother the thing I noticed first was the line of pill bottles that were on her dresser.  She seemed to always be taking her medicine.

2018-05-28_15-56-44.pngFast forward to today, and given the fact that one of the most lucrative businesses to be in is pharmaceuticals,  it is no surprise that many people over 60 have medicine cabinets that dwarf my grandma’s. My myriad of pills started in 2006 just after I turned sixty.  I had a “heart event”. I didn’t know that is what it was at the time as no one in my immediate family ever had heart problems so I just didn’t consider it a possibility.

After a visit to the stent lab, I was given three prescriptions to help prevent another event. I have been taking them for twelve years now. But eventually, those three meds grew to seven I take now!

Getting to the point of this story, it seems my health is controlled by pills now! Recently my blood pressure has been lower than normal and when I mentioned that to my PCP she recommended cutting my blood pressure meds in half to see if that would help the problem. So now, in order for blood to flow through my veins in the correct manner, I have to take the correct amount of pills! I wonder how long I would last if I just quit taking any of them?

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We Are More Alike Than Different

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This post is about a recent report on the PBS Newshour about Senator John McCain.  I want to start off with a heartfelt belief that, unlike some of my viewers, I believe many and probably most of our representatives in Congress are well-meaning and compassionate people who are trying to do their best. John McCain is certainly near the top of that group. Yeah, they too often get caught up in the politics of their party and don’t speak up, and more importantly fail to vote their conscience when they should. The reason for that is that our present system is now skewed towards extremes so the middle ground in America sees an out-of-touch system.

Getting back to Senator McCain, I think all of you know he is dying from brain cancer. They always say that a “dying-breath declaration” is probably the most truthful words spoken by many of us. Here are some words from him that could be classified as such:

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Shared values are what has made our country great. I think most of us realize that fact but are just too fearful of the future to keep that belief as a foundation of our republic.  The next real leader in our country needs to make us realize that fact. We are more alike than different in so many regards but somehow have managed to shrink back to a tribal mentality where anyone who isn’t our friend is our enemy.

I will finish this post with Mr. McCains declaration:

We are more alike than different

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(WS) I Don’t Need The Annoyance Anymore…

canstockphoto2945108.jpgI have pretty much given up on the hope that those who are part of the Radical Right/Fear tribe will ever really understand my view of the world or that I will understand theirs.  All we seem to be able to do lately is to scream at each other across the red/blue abyss that separates us. Is that a fruitful way to spend the rest my life? Maybe it’s time go down a different path? That is the thought in this post.

We, in the United States, used to have a common bond but that seems to be fracturing now. There are two basic mentalities that currently dominate.

Red Tribe – There are those whose primary emotion is fear of the unknown. Fear of scientific advancements, fear of automation, fear of strangers, and especially fear that their way of life might be changing.  This group wants things to remain static. They welcome new products and services that make their life easier but still fear the technology that made them possible. They fear that their loss of majority status will mean others will lord over them as they have done over others in the past. Finally, they fear that their religion is losing prominence and therefore relevance in the world.

Blue Tribe – There are those who see one of the most basic things in life is “change”.  They are constantly looking for ways to do things better. They recognize that change often brings on apprehension but it also brings on much-needed progress.  They celebrate technological advances that help us live longer more fruitful lives. They believe that diversity is at the core of the success in our country.  They don’t fear the future but instead embrace it and the challenges it brings.

I think these two groups have always been around but the Us vs Them mentality is so dominant now.  Will we ever be able to fill the deep divide between us?

Getting back to my personal story, I am in my eighth decade now so I have decided to drop out of this war of different moralities and let those younger than me fight it from here on out.  I will continue to provide insight that my years of experiences have provided but I will no longer be a soldier in this war.  I will continue as I always have to vote at every opportunity but I will no longer try to convince those who I see as unconvincible.

My new mantra in life is “One day at a time” and each day is simply too valuable to waste on those adamantly opposed to the moralities that have driven my life. I pray that those who have many more years in front of them than behind take up the mantle I am dropping for I fear the consequences if they don’t…

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