The Cutting Room Floor

“You are not alone” is one of my Ten Pillars of life. The thought is that no matter what adversities you face, there is always someone who has had them before you and they can help you learn how to cope.

Asking for help is a hard thing to do for many of us. We just don’t want to admit to ourselves that we sometimes struggle through life, let alone broadcast that fact to the world! It takes a brave person to do that. One of those brave people is Michelle over at the Green Study. She recently came out with a heartwrenching post where she told the world about her problems with depression and the history of psychiatric problems in her family.

Here are some of her words in relation to the recent celebrity suicides:

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I constantly struggle with my deafness, my Aspie characteristics and sometimes depression. I thank the Lord that I am not overwhelmed by these things as many are. I feel an inordinate need to show the world that they are not alone. Someone else struggles as you do.  Just knowing that might help them pull back from the edge and seek help.

One of my hardest personal struggles was the period when I went deaf at the age of forty. I knew deafness was coming but I still was totally unprepared. When it did happen my ear doctor basically told me that he couldn’t help me anymore so just go away.  I felt abandoned! I went through months of depression until I finally discovered the organization called ALDA (Assoc. of Late Deafened Adults).  They helped me realize I was not alone.

Thanks, Michelle for letting others know that they are not alone with their problems…

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An Incurable Optimist

I was watching a PBS Newshour segment of “Shields and Brooks” a while back and the title above was used to describe David Brooks by his cohort. That is one of the things I most admire about David Brooks. He tries to find things to be optimistic about in every story he discusses. Another is that he is a “True” conservative and doesn’t have much of anything good to say about the current Oval Office occupant.

Here are some of his words that got him labeled an incurable optimist:

canstockphoto2740608.jpg“My hero is Edmund Burke, a great Irish philosopher, and parliamentarian and he said manners are more important than laws because manners touch us every day. It’s manners that either degrade us or uplift us…

And so I think, as a society, we’re trying to close those doors, set some new rules, set some norms, because, without the norms of manners and civility, life is just dog eat dog. And so I sort of see it as good news that at least the reaction is coming, the lines are being redrawn.”

Yeah, we are seeing what it means to be without manners and civility especially in our executive branch now. #CO3 just seems to alienate everyone he touches including our strongest allies.  I certainly hope Mr. Brooks is right, a reaction is coming and lines will be redrawn. I put the first significant step in the retrieval process to happen at the mid-term elections.  If some of the lines are not redrawn then it will be hard for even David Brooks to be an incurable optimist.

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#CO3 = Current Oval Office occupant

Checking Those Phones…

In Will’s days checking your phone meant going into the parlor to see if it was ringing or maybe if someone else on the party line was using it. Phones were pretty valuable in those days and they didn’t cost $800 like many do today, especially since $800 was pretty much what a successful fellow made a year in Will’s time. But, I guess I better get to the point here.

I read something recently that said that researchers have found that folks who are constantly checking their cell phones have higher levels of boredom and worse overall moods. I don’t know how those two link but I guess there is a connection somewhere. Whether it is chicken-egg or egg-chicken I don’t know.

2018-06-10_13-40-05.pngI am a guy to is almost constantly living with my technology, but my cell phone most often resides on my computer desk and is seldom picked up more than a couple times a day.  But, I suspect that I spend 2 -3 hours per day at one of my computers or iPad doing this or that. First thing every morning after my shower I browse my news feeds to see what #CO3 screwed up the day before. I read a wide variety of topics also during that time. Like Will Rogers, I get most of my thoughts I post here from those morning reviews.

Being a “techie” I probably live too much with my stuff. When my wife and I are on the road and she is driving, I am usually on Google or Apple maps to see what is ahead. My wife frequently tells me to “Put that stuff down and look out the window”. No, I don’t constantly check my phone but maybe I am just as bad as those that do. 🙂

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#CO3 – Current Oval Office Occupant

 

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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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

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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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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The Best Thing About The Worst Time…

2018-05-10_16-38-21.pngI think just about all of us can pretty quickly recall some of our worst times in our lives. For me, one of those times was the damage done to my wife when the small Evangelical congregation we belonged revoked my membership due to my failure to align with the belief that, among other things, the earth is only 6,000 year old and any seeming proof otherwise is just God trying to trick us.  My wife, who was recuperating from cancer surgery, was devastated by the rejection but even more so by the sudden loss of so-called friends there.  It would be the last time we ever had contact with most of them. The friendships that we thought were pretty deep ended up being very shallow!

I think experiences like this are somewhat common to most of us and as the quote above says they show us the true colors of everyone. Other similar but less stressful events were when we were forced to move to the east coast in order to fill out my pension.  We left friends who then just drifted away.  Retiring is another example. We for the most part forever leave friends who we have known for sometimes decades.

At least for me, it keeps me anchored to the fact that we are pretty much on our own in this world. Friendships, which are mostly pretty shallow, come and go as circumstances happen. That is just a fact of life it seems.

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Thank You For Your Service…

I seem to often get Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day mixed up. Aren’t they both primarily to recognize our American soldiers?  I think maybe it is time to broaden the concept of one of those days.  We need to recognize others outside our military who provide us with valuable services. That is what this post is all about.

2018-05-26_18-52-54.pngJust what is the definition of “memorial”? Isn’t it as shown here to recognize meritorious service to our community.  Surely no one can argue that meritorious service is provided only by our soldiers. Shouldn’t we be also recognizing others on this day? When I look at it, our soldiers stationed on the other side of the world dealing with local conflicts of one type or another just don’t seem to be providing an essential service to me.  Looking back, I personally can’t even see that any foreign war or military conflict in my lifetime that has really done much to ensure our safety here at home.  I could try to list all of those conflicts starting with the Korean conflict up to I guess Afganistan but I would surely miss one or two if I tried to do that.

Let’s look at some others who perform meritorious service.

Law Enforcement Officers –  This group includes local and State police and FBI agents who directly protect the homeland on a daily basis.  They, like the military, constantly put their lives at risk. One in 6,000 law enforcement officers were killed on duty last year compared to one in 33,000 in the military. Don’t they deserve our recognition for meritorious service on Memorial Day?

Teachers – Another group also needs to be recognized for their meritorious service is our teachers.  If you don’t believe they are on the front lines then you don’t know a teacher or have heard their stories.  I believe teachers are the most dedicated group of those who provide us valuable services. They are highly trained yet only make about 60% of what those who have similar educations make more in the private sector.  Given the number of teachers who have been slain due to gun violence in our schools they just might deserve recognition for that alone! Why not recognize their service on Memorial Day too?

Victims of Drunk/Drugged Drivers – While the specific statistics are hard to come by, I’m pretty sure people killed by drunk or drugged drivers rivals those killed in the military. While many of those killed maybe didn’t provide meritorious service to the community their deaths are just as tragic and should also be remembered on Memorial Day.

In the same but not direct vein, why do victims of certain tragedies get humungous compensation while those in other tragedies get virtually nothing?  All of the families of the 9/11 victims are now multi-millionaires while the family of the guy killed by a drunk driver has to fend for themselves? Isn’t that somehow saying one death is more important than the other?

So, to all the people serving in law enforcement, and teaching and the many other professions in addition to the military that provide meritorious service to us on a daily basis

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