Surreal NYC

I am an old country boy at heart so when I visit NYC it seems like a different world to me. I have put together a few photos that make that city seem like a beehive.  There is the nest which contains thousands of cells, the worker bees and of course the Queen bee.

What do you think? Can you see the connection?

The NestWorker BeesQueen Bee

It’s Important To Take A Stand.

I am a fiscal conservative. That makes me a man without a party. The one steady thing I admired about the Republican party, at least until recently, was that they didn’t like debt.

“If you were against President Obama’s deficits, and now you’re for the Republican deficits, isn’t that the very definition of hypocrisy?” Senator Rand Paul said as he held up passage of the budget bill for a few hours — perhaps until he realized that the definition fit him, too, since he had voted for the tax cuts that will blow up the deficit.

Source: The Republicans Have Become the Party of Debt – The New York Times

Rand Paul is a maverick who stands up for what is important to him but even he is not beyond hypocrisy.

Sometimes I get tired of waving the absurd military spending in this country but it needs to be said again and again. We in the US make up about 5% of the world’s population but spend more on our military than the rest of the world combined!! Where other countries spend for the well-being of their citizens we spend much of those resources to overwhelm the world with our military might.

I hope that the Post Trump Republican party can eventually return to their roots of fiscal conservatism but I kinda think given the Pennsylvania election this week they have damaged their brand so severely even that would not prevent their destruction.


Turn Your Wounds Into Wisdom

2018-03-08_09-02-43I get weekly quotes from iHearts143Quotes to help me understand life. This one particularly got my attention. It might seem strange to some but I have often said that  I am a better person because of my deafness. What I mean by that is that through the challenges I have faced because of my deafness has made me much more aware of those who struggle in life. My empathy factor went up several orders of magnitude because of my deafness.

I have come to realize that my inflictions and afflictions (ha) add to the quality of my life. I was poor growing up but didn’t really know it. But because I was poor I have more empathy for those who struggle to keep their head above water.

We all face wounds in our lives and if we turn off the self-pity they produce and try to learn something from them we are better, wiser as a result.

Dispelling Myths vs Reimaging

2018-03-06_13-24-11.pngYesterday’s post was all about spin and how we too often try to reimage something because makes us uncomfortable.  It was primarily about the fact that we need to dispell the myth instead of just re-naming the condition.  Today I want to talk about why this topic is so important to me.

As I have often said, being deaf is a major part of my life but it is not what I am about.  I almost never say I am a deaf man but instead say I am a man who is deaf. There is a critical difference between the two. If I allow my deafness to define my life then what I am doing is to make it the central focus. Instead, I will define myself as:

  • A follower of Jesus
  • A creative person
  • A history buff
  • A person who enjoys adventurous things
  • An avid writer/blogger
  • An avid photographer
  • A teacher of coping with challenging circumstances

Somewhere far down the line would be deafness. In the area of deafness, I strive to teach others who might be just starting their journey that they are not alone and that their deafness does not have to define them or limit them to any extent.  Yes, it places challenges in their life but nothing that can’t be overcome.

I don’t think things have changed that much when it comes to medical authorities giving a person who is suddenly deaf, resources to cope. The hearing professionals in my day simply said: “We can’t help you anymore so, goodbye”.  I was left on my own to figure out where to go from there.

2018-03-06_13-27-06.pngAnother reason I am generally against reimaging is Google. If I want to learn something about this topic would I google “deaf” or “sudden loss of hearing”? I don’t think there is any disagreement as to that answer.  When I went deaf in 1988 the Internet was in its infancy. There were no major news sites and Google was decades away.  America-On-Line (AOL) was just starting out. I struggled for weeks trying to find anything I could use to help me cope with becoming deaf.

Now with the Internet, if I know the right terms and they haven’t been reimaged I can find a myriad of sources of information about any topic.  I hope that there are some who google “deaf” that happen to be pointed to RJsCorner and learn a little from my experiences with deafness.   Most importantly, I hope they learn that they are not alone out there. I struggled with that cruel idea for quite some time!

Closing up this two-part post, we need to do whatever we can to dispell myths that have grown up around too many topics. We can’t let just give into myths and let them stand as somehow being insurmountable. Dispelling myths is an underlying reason for RJsCorner even if I don’t directly say that enough.



Disney World on Flickr

Just a short note to let you know that I just put my Disney World album on Flickr. You can’t say that you have really seen America until you see Disney World.  Click here to see my offering.

Disney World 2016-15

Reimaging, Spin, Spin, Spin

Too many times we simply don’t like the name for something and to fix that we give it a new often indistinguishable name. Don’t like the word retirement, give it a new name. Give it a more positive spin. Call it the third trimester of life. Maybe that will offset the negative connotations associated with this time in life. Spin, spin, spin…

On a lighter side, job titles seem to be at the head of the reimaging wave. So many people have impressive sounding titles for the same old jobs. I have come to the conclusion that employers know that reimaging job descriptions is less expensive than paying more money for the work. Let’s look at a few:

Transparency Enhancement Facilitator – used to be called window washers.

Director of First Impressions – used to be called receptionists.

Beverage Dissemination Specialist – used to be called the bartender

Field Nourishment Consultant – used to be called waiters

Asset Financial Analyst – used to be called accountants

Spin, spin, spin…

2018-03-06_11-16-45.pngFinally, getting serious and to the main point of this post, one of the possible reasons for reimaging is that the current name has too many myths going against it. One of those I am intimately familiar with is “deaf”. Too many people still think “deaf and dumb” when it comes to anyone who has lost or never had the ability to hear.  Yes, there is a small percentage of this population who never manage to become accomplished at reading, writing, or speaking. A significant majority of that particular group were born deaf to deaf parents and were never encouraged to move beyond their deafness, in fact, many celebrate it!

There are about 46 million people in the US who have serious or profound difficulty understanding the spoken word.  About 35 million (80%) of those are or could be helped to one degree or another with hearing aids, cochlear implants, and other technological devices. But what about the other 12 million or so?

About 6.5 million (54%) are senior citizens who have lost their hearing due to aging factors.

About 5 million (42%) are people, like me, who lost their hearing as adults or at least after they became accomplished in the spoken word.

The last 0.5 million are people who were born deaf or became deaf at an early age. Of that group, about 0.1 million never learned to read, write, or speak beyond the fourth-grade level. In the past being born deaf was often due to oxygen tents and other medical procedures. Those mistakes have almost disappeared today and so has the born-deaf population.

Summarizing, the vast majority of the deaf population are anything but dumb. Many are college graduates and almost all have lead productive lives.

Instead of inventing new names for that 98% of the current deaf population we should all, especially those of us who are deaf,  be educating those who are “dumb” on this subject.

If I weren’t out of room on this post I could make the same argument for those with autism. Instead of reimaging the word, the general public needs to be better educated on the subject.

Tomorrow I will talk more about why the topic of labels is so sensitive to me.

Religion And Global Conflict

It is becoming more and more recognized that religious beliefs are and have most likely always been one of the primary sources of conflict in this world.

Here are some words about the underlying reasons for this:

2018-01-24_09-05-50“Religion often becomes the master variable,” Harris says. “It provides a unique reward structure. If you believe that the thoughts you harbor in this life and the doctrines you adhere to spell the difference between an eternity spent in fire or one spent on the right hand of God, that raises the stakes beyond any other reward structure on earth.”

Tribal tendencies are natural for humans who need groups and community to survive. But the driving forces behind especially alienating, fundamentalist beliefs are a combination of nature and nurture, experts say.

via Tribal Divisions Created by Religion Most Harmful in Global Conflict, Experts Say | Best Countries | US News

Personally, I have always struggled to fully understand why religion has such a strong hold on so many. The quote above helps me understand that a little better.  I am just not one of those people who believe things without proof as most religions demand.

What will it take for religions to finally come to agree to coexist in the world today? That is the major question at hand.  When will they accept that everyone has a right to believe in the god of their choice or no god at all? Thomas Jefferson understood that early on and thankfully at least the concept is part of our constitution even if it hasn’t been fully implemented.  In fact, Jefferson was more strongly a believer in freedom “from” religion than “of” religion.

Given that there are literally tens of thousands of versions of God in the world today coexistence is the only logical way to approach religious beliefs.


Santa Fe on Flickr

Just a short post to tell you that I just added a Santa Fe album to my Flickr portfolio. Click here to see it.

Santa Fe has become my favorite city InSearchOfAmerica. It is flush with history, heritage especially things Native-American and Spanish.

Santa Fe-18

Beautiful Things…

In these days of fear and gridlock, it is sometimes difficult to realize that there is always beauty if we open our eyes to what is around us. Yes, fear is a powerful emotion that can paralyze but for the most part, it is self-inflicted. Instead of living in constant fear we all need to realize that for the most part our lives and especially our responses to fear are up to us. Even when fear is real and necessary we must acknowledge that the response to it should always be action.  If you fear something, get off your butt and do something to eliminate it.

And if all else fails, remember that “this too shall pass”. Believe it or not, we have had much worse times in our nation than we are facing now.


About Humanism…

2018-03-05_15-41-02.pngOver at my blog I spent five years exploring various forms of religion concentrating on Christianity in all its shapes.  I came away from that study convinced that the vast majority of Christian religions, of which there are thousands, spend very little time on the words of Jesus and it seems that many are now spending more time in the political realm than anything else.

One glaring omission from that study was of Humanism.  As a then member of an Evangelical church, I was basically told that Humanists were the scourge of the earth.  They were all God-hating atheists who despised those who are too weak to believe what they do. There just seemed to be a lot a fear about humanists in the Evangelical community. Unfortunately, I never got around to studying for myself just what being a humanist was really about. I am now in the process of correcting that error. Starting with this post I will present a series about what I am discovering.

What got my attention on this topic was a recent Internet news item that quoted the story below:

Just hours after the Texas shooting, Roy Speckhardt, executive director of AHA, [American Humanist’s Association] was speaking to several hundred Air Force recruits a few miles away from Sutherland Springs.

“I spoke about how, even as we critique fundamentalism, we must always respect each other as human beings, even when we don’t agree on religious and political ideals and convictions.” …

These words seem to relay that although many in the Christian community generally despise them most humanists will not answer “tit for tat”. That kind of caught me by surprise.

I have a number of initial questions about humanists that I will attempt to find the answers.

Are they all atheists?

Do they hate God?

Do they hate others who believe differently than them?

Do they believe they have the only true answer?

Are they just intellectuals who look down on others they see as less knowledgeable than them?

Do they even have empathy?

How many are there and what is their history?

I want to close out this first post with what the American Humanist Association says they are about.

Humanism is a progressive lifestance that, without theism or other supernatural beliefs, affirms our ability and responsibility to lead meaningful, ethical lives capable of adding to the greater good of humanity.
– American Humanist Association

That doesn’t sound very evil to me.  The definition of lifestance is: 

A person’s lifestance, is their relation with what they accept as being of ultimate importance.

We all seek at one level or another what is the ultimate importance. It gives us a fundamental path forward in life. Many choose to believe in a supreme being that controls everything, and many don’t. I guess that is what this study will likely be about.

I am trying to approach this series with an open mind and if you do the same, I think both of us might just learn a little more about the people who are called humanists.


Containers Through History on Flickr

Just a quick snippet to tell you I just added another album to my Flickr collection. This one includes pictures of many of the containers I have photographed during my visits InSearchOfAmerica.  Click here to view this collection.

Containers Banner

About Wisdom…

Wisdom has been on my mind lately. But before I get started on this topic I need to distinguish between two types of perceived wisdom,  gut wisdom and learned wisdom.

2018-03-05_10-45-25.pngGut Wisdom — Gut wisdom is that feeling you get when you think you instinctively know something. It’s what your gut tells you is the truth. I know the current Oval Office occupant says he is REALLY SMART but I think his self-conceived wisdom is just his biases toward the issue at hand. He may be gut wise but he is definitely not learned wise.

I have to include my wife in the gut wise category. She says statistics are fake because she doesn’t understand them. What her gut tells her is much more reliable than what others who might be more studied on the topic think about the topic at hand. I am an engineer by schooling and took several courses in various fields.  One of those was thermal dynamics. I try to impart some of that wisdom to her but she will have nothing to do with that. I tell her if you want cool night air in one part of the house the best way to do that is to open a window there and then blow air out the other side of the house.  But she will not accept that as her gut wisdom tells her that is not true.

Let’s be truthful about this, gut wisdom is usually just a set of prejudices we learn over time. Gut wisdom is easy to obtain and difficult to expel.

2018-03-05_10-40-18.pngLearned Wisdom — Learned wisdom is among other things about the scientific method. It is about searching for truth.  It is learning from the wisdom of others and maybe just adding a little to it before applying it or passing it on. Learned wisdom is something that takes time and often due diligence to obtain.  It’s hard work. Sometimes it takes years of study to really be wise on a topic. Other times a few days will enable us to just make an informed choice. But it is always about admitting you don’t know something and then doing what is necessary to find the answers.

I like to think of myself as learned wise. If I want to speak up about a topic I study it to see what others have to teach me and then given that information and my personal experiences I try to fabricate my view on the topic. I admit that I don’t know what I don’t know. I look for people wherever I can find them that know more than I do. I value their wisdom.

One of the basic problems today is the people, especially those who are gut wise, who refuse to acknowledge that others know more than they do.  When learned wisdom is not valued we as a society quit moving forward.  And, that is a sad and dangerous thing…


Surreal @ Flickr

For all you “off the wall” guys out there I am starting a new album at Flickr called “Surreal”.  It will be composed of dream-like pictures about various topics.  The first one is that to me NYC seems like a beehive.   Click here to see the first offerings.

Worker Bees

NYC Worker Bees….

Never Alone…

I have let it be known before that I am a mall walker.  Every Friday I walk up to three miles at the local mall. It is good and safe exercise for this 70+-year-old deaf guy. 🙂  One of the things I do pretty regularly during these mall walks is to take unofficial surveys.  Sometimes I count the number of women wearing heels higher than 1 inch (around 2%). This time I chose to count the number of kids younger than thirty who are walking the mall clinging their cell phones. I’m not talking about them having them in their pants, but actually never letting go of them.  Many of those weren’t actually using or looking at their phones, they were just holding them. I was quite surprised by the results.

2018-01-26_16-25-59.pngI counted about 45 people in this age category and 30 of them were holding their phones. Of the fifteen who weren’t, eleven were men an four were women carrying babies or packages.

I am a techie so of course I most often have my cell with me when I leave the house.  I average about 25 text messages a month and zero calls so that makes me an extremely light user according to statistics:

According to a New York Times report, both teens and adults check their smartphones 150 times per day (or every six minutes), and send an average of 110 texts per day.
For many teenagers these days, texting is passé, so they have upgraded to platforms like Snapchat and Instagram—suggesting that these numbers may not represent actual usage.

Around 46 percent of smartphone users say that they “couldn’t live without” their phone, and one-in-three would rather give up sex than their cell phone…

More Teen Statistics

  • 2018-02-28_19-26-45.png92 percent of teens go online daily, and 24 percent say they are online “almost constantly.”
  • 76 percent of teens use social media (81 percent of older teens, 68 percent of teens ages 13 and 14).
  • 71 percent of teens use Facebook, 52 percent use Instagram, 41 percent use Snapchat, 33 percent use Twitter.
  • 77 percent of parents say their teens get distracted by their devices and don’t pay attention when they’re together.
  • 59 percent of parents say they feel their teen is addicted to their mobile device.
  • 50 percent of teens say they feel addicted to their mobile device.

via Cell Phone Addiction in Teens is Real: Scary Statistics & Some Helpful Advice. | elephant journal

The crux to all of this at least to me is that most teenagers are never alone as they are constantly sending or receiving messages to and from others. Most sleep with their cellphone on their nightstands. I imagine some even hold on to them when they sleep.

Creativity almost always starts with the person alone with their thoughts. How can that happen now? Are we stifling creativity in this generation?  I don’t want to sound like an old person who laments for the “good old days” but I think something has to change in the coming years.