Wild Inspirations…

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I don’t try to understand how my mind works. But, I am totally happy that I get quick broad streaks of inspiration on a regular basis. Sometimes I get quick mental flashes that interrupt whatever I was doing that demands my immediate attention. In the past, I would most likely decide to write it down when I got back to my desk. But, of course, most often the thought would vanish as quickly as it appeared.  So, now I immediately jot them down.

Getting to the point of the post, I have always admired those who can take a pencil/pen/brush and create something beautiful.  I think I do a pretty good job of that with words but just never accomplished it in another medium. To try it once again I am experimenting with different apps as possible tools. I know what you are probably saying, “just take a pencil or marker and do it. You don’t need an app!”  Well, there is truth to that but at least for me, more technology makes it more appealing.

So, here I am with Adobe Photoshop Sketch. Don’t ask me what the above “artwork”, if you want to call it that, is about. It was just letting my brain wonder wherever it wanted.  I kinda think the overall effect is interesting and colorful if nothing else.  Maybe my next project will be a Picasso style self-portrait. That is if that is where my mind wants to go…. 🙂

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Imagining Their Stories…

Because I am deaf I have a game I play quite often when I am around people, especially those I don’t know.  In my early years of deafness before closed-captioned TV was widely available is when this thing started. Since there was no sound to what I was seeing I made up my own storyline. It would have been interesting to discover how closely my story matched up with the writer’s version but of course, I never was able to discover that.

canstockphoto8230027Getting slightly off the subject for just a little while, I never used to think that I was a creative person. I think part of that belief was beaten into me in my youth by some pretty uncreative parents.  I know I tried to draw some in my youth and was never pleased enough with the result to show my parents or anyone else for that matter. It would take some years and experiences to realize that creativity is not just one thing but can appear in many different areas of life. Making up stories is one of those areas I have become quite good at.

Getting back to the subject of the day, I kind of liked the idea of imagining stories which I was not really privy to so I started doing it in real life. I can look at someone in a restaurant and make up stories about why they looked or acted the way they did. Its easy in today’s world to imagine them as selfish, self-centered or other negative traits but I kinda do the opposite, at least recently.  Instead of seeing speeders as self-centered people I give them the benefit of the doubt and imagine them as doctors on the way to the hospital to save someone’s life.  I am a dreamer so to me it is just more enjoyable to imagine good things than to fear yet someone else as terrorists, serial killers, or just plain selfish people.

Getting back to the starting thought of this post, It is not easy for me to start up a conversation with someone, especially someone you don’t know.  It used to require them to write down what they say.  Most people are just not willing to do that. Now, I have a couple of apps that turn speech into text. They don’t work great quite yet but are much better than paper notes.  But even with these new tools, it is almost inevitable that when another hearing person joins the group I am pretty much ignored from that point on.  So, I end up watching other people or make up stories of what I might be missing.  It beats just sitting there like a bump on a log. 🙂

Creativity

I am finally convinced that I am a pretty creative person as my mind constantly wanders into unimagined areas of thought. In my retirement years, I have done a pretty good job of cultivating my creative processes.  But I am always looking for ways to unleash my creativity to new areas and levels. When I ran across this article from the New York Times it gave me a different way to think about creativity.

2018-02-07_11-09-43.pngWe all have fantasies or, if you prefer, ideas. I will give them a different word: “Seeds.” These seeds are the germ-line of books, short stories, songs, the faces in a painting. Sometimes, when the idea is for a gadget that might, say, keep that guy in the car next to you from texting and driving, it’s the seed of an app or business. If it’s a doodle made during a boring corporate meeting, it’s the seed of an art project; the mixture of the barbecue sauce with the onions and the lemon might be the seed of the next, great slow-cooking invention…

Another quick tale to make the point: A family friend once told me that, in college, he was curious to find out whether he was creative so he picked up an easel at the store. He painted for 10 minutes, put down the brush and declared himself not remotely creative. But he went on to make tens of millions of dollars as an entrepreneur. He had mistakenly conflated artistic creativity with any type of creativity. But not all creativity looks the same, and it doesn’t take the same name.

via How to Be Creative – A year of living better Guides – The New York Times

I have been retired from the corporate world for a while now and therefore have a lot of time to create “seeds” and indeed I have created many of them. It is not as if I didn’t do it before but then as the bible says the seeds mostly fell on rocky ground and quickly died. Being able to concentrate on something as long as you want is one of the premier joys of retirement.

canstockphoto14469250These seeds when they come are now quickly written down and then planted in my brain to see if they sprout. Sometimes my desktop looks like an advertisement for post-it notepads. Sometimes my mind is so filled with seeds its hard to do everyday things. 🙂 One of those seeds that ended up being a five-year project as documented in my blog RedLetterLiving.net.  That is where I studied how Christian organizations did or didn’t follow the words of Jesus.

Of course, most of the posts here on RJsCorner also started as seeds. Looking at the current standings, I have 3,240 published posts, 35 drafts/seeds in various forms of completion, and a dozen scheduled posts. That is a lot of creative seeds as far as I am concerned!

I have about 20,000 photos now that I use my creativity to take and enhance. Many of those now reside in my Flickr account and many are here on RJsCorner.

Not all creativity looks the same. What do you do with your creativity??

 

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 hive 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

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.

Outside The Box…

For this artsy Saturday, I want to show you an “outside the box” art museum. I love things that stretch your imagination, stretch your brain.  I don’t think there is another building quite like this one.  It is the Milwaukee Museum of Art. I usually only give you one photo for Saturday but since I had trouble picking it I  will give you a few more here. The inside shots are both in the lobby.

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Going It Alone…

I am told that belonging to a group is one of the most basic needs of humanity. We are social animals and contrary to what many believe we all want to be part of a tribe.  To go out on your own is frightening to many of us.

2017-12-30_09-11-07.pngWe applaud State Sen. Cheri Jahn’s decision to drop her party affiliation and serve out the remainder of her term as an independent.

Voters have seen hyper-partisanship and special interests defeat common sense in Denver for far too long under both Democrats and Republicans. Coloradans deserve independent legislators who can truly put the people first.

Source:  State Sen. Cheri Jahn Declares Independence from Broken Two-Party System – Centrist Project

To me, being alone and self-dependent is part of my core makeup. I’m sure part of this is due to my Aspie traits in that I just don’t socialize well so my alone time is more pleasant than being part of a crowd.   Another reason might be because deafness cuts off communications. I used to often say that “being lonely is being alone and not wanting to be”. I still kinda believe that even though I have not been alone for 30+ years now.

2018-02-18_13-54-22.pngI know being part of a larger group is considered essential especially inside our nation’s beltway. Without it means no plush committee assignments. It also means having to form your own opinion about everything you vote for. In other words, it means the loss of power and that is perhaps the tantamount reason so many people chose to get into the beltway fishbowl.

I have been studying the history of our political systems for a while now and one of the future predictions is that the US will go the way of many European democracies and morph into a multi-party government. With three or more viable parties it is practically impossible for any one party to be able to form a majority government on its own.  That means compromise is inevitable.

In that light, there is talk in Congress about forming an independent caucus but that will take some additional members to become a reality. I personally, and I pray you too, will do what I can to help independent candidates wherever I find them whether they are in your State or not.

Appalacian Folk Art

When I visited the Museum of Appalachia in Norris Tennessee this last fall I was totally unprepared for the fullness of the experience. I came away with a much-expanded understanding of what it might have been like to live in such an isolated area. The way the museum personalized every display which made me almost think that I knew the people themselves who made the things seen.

Sometimes I forget that creativity will flourish wherever it is found. With nothing more than a piece of wood and a whittling knife, true pieces of art were created. Here are a few of them:

As usual, click on any picture to see a larger slideshow view

 

What Is This??

I came across this device during my visit to the Museum of the Appalachia a few months ago. I have seen a lot of historical tools of the past but never anything quite like this.  Can anyone speculate what I might have been used for?

What is this?.jpg

Creativity In Tin.

The tinsmiths of our early years were certainly a creative bunch. They fabricated many of the utensils we needed to live everyday life. Here are some pictures of one such shop found in the Nauvoo Village in northern Illinois.

Tin Smiths

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Writers Should Make People Uncomfortable..

One of the axioms of  writing is that it should make people uncomfortable. If it doesn’t then you are not stretching the horizons of those reading your words.  Even before I heard this it was in my heart. One of the foundations of RJsCorner is that I try to get people to think outside their boxes to other possibilities.  I am constantly looking for ways to stretch my horizons and I think everyone else should do the same. Being stuck in place is one of the primary causes of where we are today.

Why do I think that maybe I can make a difference? In many ways I am considerably different than most who likely read my words.  I just see the world differently than the average guy. Part of it is because of my Aspie characteristics, another is because of my deafness.  I am in the sub-one percent of the population.  That, and my total life experiences gives me a unique view of the world.

People getting out of the established venue is something that is becoming rarer and rarer.  With the explosion of the Internet it is just too easy to sink down into a given political mindset and almost be totally ignorant to other views of the world. It’s too easy to just turn on FOX or MSNBC and ignore the rest. I have seen that far too often when I visit some of my high school classmates.  It’s hard to believe that I once saw the world as they still do but my experiences since those years long ago have given me a different perspective.

I am not shy about putting forth my spiritual views nor am I hesitant to talk about those who fall in lockstep with a particular religious doctrine that I think drifts away from the foundations of their beliefs.  I am not apprehensive to  talk about how evangelicals have poisoned the church of Jesus by their radical “survival of the fittest” attitude when Jesus spoke almost totally about being your “brother’s keeper”.

I know I write things that make people uncomfortable. The evidence of that is my somewhat limited viewer counts.  I am told that I should stick to one particular niche. Instead I cover such a wide variety of topics.

Writers should make people uncomfortable in order to expand their readers horizons…

 

 

It’s Time For A Divorce Between Red America & Blue America..

crayon-banner  This is a continuation of yesterday’s post about a divorce between Red America and Blue America. This time I will start putting forward my rather warped view of how that might happen.  If you missed yesterday’s post that started this discussion I would recommend that you click the “Home” button at the top of this page and see the post from yesterday directly below this one. Now on to the matter at hand.

Our flag is just too tattered to even recognize it any more. It might be time to go our separate ways but how do we divide up what we currently have? The divide between Red America and Blue America has always been there but it has become a deep abyss in the last almost forty years.  I could start this divorce with in November 2016 but that would not really represent anywhere close to reality. That year was the result of laziness of Blue America to put their voices forward. It allowed Red State America to push forward their extreme candidate.

Now I realize that no State except maybe for Texas (those people are beyond description) is all Red or Blue so there will have to be some migration as a result of this divorce.  You could say we all will be the children of divorce.  Since it doesn’t seem possible to move between our Red and Blue parents we gotta find another way.  For a solution you gotta start somewhere and I propose to do that with the 2012 electoral map.

Looking at the map some things pop up. The northeast and west seem pretty blue so that is probably the core for Blue America. But in order to make a country viable it needs to be connected. To do that means that Indiana, Montana, North Dakota and Arizona will have to give up some land. The question is how much?  Part of the answer is apportioning by population and that is where the next map comes in.  It l

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ooks strange because the map is proportioned by population of each State.

Looking at this population map there just aren’t many people in North Dakota or Montana.  Maybe we could give all those folks who don’t want to be part of Blue America a million bucks each to migrate south and just move those States from Red to Blue? Since the northern part of Indiana is pretty much blue I think we could work out a 30-70 split without a lot of work. I don’t mean to totally ignore the fact that Idaho is in play with a small strip but since no one likely lives in that sliver of Idaho no one would even notice that it switched from red to blue.

2017-10-01_11-51-21Arizona and Utah need to turn blue too so let’s swap those two States for Florida. Population wise the trade would benefit the Red States  so they just might buy into it. Now with all this initial swapping done what would  Red America and Blue America look like? I will hold off on showing you that until the next post in this series early next week.

If you want to chime in on all this silliness put in your two cents now or forever hold your peace. 🙂 I never said that my view of the world was a totally sane one.

 

 

 

 

 

I Think It’s Time For A Divorce..

canstockphoto2610264.jpgcrayon-banner  I imagine the title at got a few of you to click it.  No, although I have sometimes thought about it, it is not about me divorcing my wife of 32 years. I kinda think it is time to start thinking about a divorce between Red and Blue America for irreconcilable differences. I am just not sure if we’ll ever listen to each other anymore let alone come to any agreement on compromise. Our flag is becoming too tattered to even recognize anymore. Its time for a change.

It’s time to start getting ready to go our separate ways and that is what this series of posts is all about. Before I get to a how we do this let’s talk a little about how we got here:

Red America’s solution to everything seems to be to take us back to the States. We tried that solution over two hundred years ago. It was called “The Confederation of American States” where each state was actually almost a separate country with their own laws and regulations. The early founders discovered that type of rule totally unworkable. Red America’ mantra is survival of the fittest. They believe those who accumulate wealth have no more responsibility toward society than those who have nothing.  These  Red America beliefs are very foreign to those in Blue America.

Blue America desperately want healthcare for all, much the same as the rest of the 1st world countries. They think that government, yes even the federal government, is to do the people’s business.  It is to make sure that we all have the same opportunities in life. To do that educational opportunities must be available to all. They think that  we are all in this together and each shares responsibility for the other. Blue America is definitely a brother’s keeper place. The Blue America beliefs contain WAY too much empathy for Red America.

I think we can point to one particular point in history where the abyss between Red and Blue America started and that is in the early 1980s. It is when Ronald Reagan flatly said that government is not a solution to our problems but instead the main reason for them. That started the ultra conservative fringe in America and has increased dramatically since then. Now the abyss in almost bottomless. No one seems to be able to see across it anymore.

Flash forward to today where we have a president that no one could even imagine thirty years ago. He is the epitome of “self-centered”. Nothing matters to him if it doesn’t directly benefit him.  He viciously trashes anyone who dares to criticize anything he says or does.  It seems that RedAmerica loves this guy while Blue America despises him.

It’s time for a divorce due to irreconcilable differences.  Next time I will start giving you  my solution to a successful divorce between Red America and Blue America.

If you feel like getting into this swamp water, post a comment…

Creativity and Age..

Let’s face it, most people believe that old people just can’t be creative.  Of course, the definition of old varies widely among those with that belief. Some think if you are past 30 you are drained of creativity. You can call this bias if you want since it is pretty much ingrained into our society. I think the average age of the employees of Silicon Valley tech companies is about 30.

canstockphoto25890140.jpgBut in reality, some people get more creative as they grow older.   A 2016 Information Technology and Innovation Foundation study found that inventors peak in their late 40s and tend to be highly productive in the last half of their careers. I had a couple of mundane patents when I was working in the corporate world but for the most part, I never considered myself to be creative until I left that world in my early 50s.

It was not until I opened up my own custom cabinets shop that the creative bug bit me. I designed and built a wide line of custom made furniture. No two customers wanted exactly the same thing so my creative juices were constantly used during that six year period.  Like most things in my life, after I get good at something I usually also get bored with it and am ready to move on to something else.

In the twelve years since shutting down that furniture making shop my creative energies have gone into my photography and writing. I have done a lot of traveling in my region of the country and beyond. For me personally my creativity has grown as I have aged. Part of that might be due to the stifling atmosphere of many large companies. I can still remember one of my corporate bosses saying to embrace risk but to never fail?  If you never fail are you embracing risk?  That logic escaped me then and still does.

 

 

 

 

 

I’m Taking Life More Personally Now…

With my brain trauma event, I seem to be taking life more personally now.  After some deep reflections, I have decided that what might happen twenty years from now should not be on my radar screen. Even ten years is questionable as I will likely not be around even then. Why should I fret over a time when I won’t even exist, especially since I leave no heirs to suffer the consequences of these idiotic times.

I have been weaning myself off politics for a couple of months now and I am seriously thinking of simply pulling the plug on that topic. It is just getting too dirty for me and I simply don’t see a way out of that condition anytime soon.  I will leave it to others to pull us back from the edge if that is even possible now. Summarizing,  I won’t spend any of my remaining days fretting about things I have little control over.

My recent personal reflections are not all negative in nature.  I have decided to take time each day to reflect on the good things that happened that day.  I will thank the Lord for every day he gives me.  Each one is considered precious in my mind now.  How I spend those days is also changing.  I won’t flitter them away waiting for better circumstances that will likely never happen.  I will do my best to make something good happen every single day that I have left. I will proverbially stop and smell the roses.

How is this going to affect my blog here at RJsCorner?  I know a large part of my viewership comes from my observations on politics. My hit count has already taken a serious decline, but that is ok.  I will just have to take the thought that doing RJsCorner more for myself than for anything else. I will continue with some additional fervor my photography and travel posts. They are an important part of my life, especially now.

I also hope my creativity posts increase to take up some of the space left behind and of course I will continue “having my say” on non-political topics.  If none of this interests you then it is time for you to delete my blog from your reading list.  I do hope that there are some of you who stay around so that I am not totally talking to myself.  🙂

With my stats going down I may also need a little additional encouragement from those who continue to hang around RJsCorner.  Life goes on a day at a time now…. at least for me.