Cocoons

I managed to get through twenty years of my work life without cubicles. But then it had to happen. When my job was moved from Indiana to New Jersey in 1996 I went with it. I really didn’t have a choice as I needed four more years of a full pension, so off I went.

Our new facilities there used to be a large warehouse previously occupied by the Manhattan Bagel Company, (by the way I ❤️ Manhattan bagels). For us, the empty warehouse was filled with cubicles to make offices for about 250 engineers and all their toys. Before the day I was introduced to this type of office space I had heard quite a bit of negative comments, so I was prepared for the worst.

Oddly enough, I loved the configuration! With just a few feet of moving to make everything within reach of my chair. The cube walls were about five feet high with about 60 square feet of floor space. The lighting about fifteen feet above provided just the right amount of light. Since I was deaf, I was not affected by the noises around me as my hearing friends were. Since my Aspie traits allowed me to totally focus on the job in front of me, the isolation was a big plus.

Before my beloved cube I always shared office/lab with at least a couple of other engineers usually pretty close by. This was a radical change. Hours would go by without any interruptions. I was able to become totally immersed into my work.

When I retired and moved into a 1927 farmhouse, my office / man cave was an 8 x 12 foot room. It wouldn’t be long before it was fashioned into a cubicle like space I had left behind. I gave my wife the larger room for her hobbies and gladly took the smaller one.

I guess there is just something personally comforting to me having my space wrapped around me. If I could talk my wife into it I’m sure I would now be living in a 400 square foot “tiny house” instead of the 2500 square foot one I have inhabited for almost twenty years now.

Since I left the workplace I know the trend now is to just have one large open floorspace and a large table for everyone to work from. I can’t imagine working under those conditions. The distractions would be intolerable to me.

I guess this is just another part of my life where I am pretty different from most others. I feel as-snug-as-a-bug-in-a-rug when I am in my cocoon.

I’m A Car Guy

I am sorry to say that some of the most respected creators in the car customization field are in the long run just one of the followers of the latest trends. Being a car guy, I am an avid watcher of custom car creators like Dave Kindig. He makes cars that are above and beyond the quality and uniqueness of most of the field. But in the long run, he is just like most of his competitors, a follower of the latest fad no matter how impractical they might be.

The fad I am talking about is taking a $150,000 car and make its body sit one-inch above the roadway. He likely charges his customers thousands of extra bucks to install custom air-shocks to make that happen. Of course, it is totally unusable in that state, especially on our ever deteriorating American roads.

To me personally, I think the cars really look stupid in that configuration. I know the enthusiast say “rad”, or maybe “bitchin” but I say “stupid”. I personally have a pretty big stable of cars in my collection and none of them are laying down on the ground.

I am especially proud of my 1963 Studebaker Avanti. Its gloss black finish is worth every penny I paid for it. Here are some other vehicles in my collection.

  • 1939 Chevy Sedan Delivery Truck
  • 1937 Plymouth Pickup
  • 1961 Chevy Impala
  • 1963 Stingray
  • 1957 Chevy Belaire
  • 1963 Volkswagon Bus Double Cab Pickup
  • 1953 Chevy Stepside Pickup
  • 1967 Shelby GT-500

I have several more that I am also proud of. It has taken me years to accumulate this collection. I enjoy looking at them every day. But I think my Light Cycle prototype from the movie Tron is my favorite.

Tomorrow I will tell you a little more about my collection and show you a few pictures.

The Ultimate Freedom

This sounds like a pretty grandiose title, I hope the post lives up to it. 🙂 I’m going to clue you in on what I found the ultimate freedom to be. It took me almost seven decades to find it. At first, it seemed more like a prison than freedom but I have found that misconceived view to be the case in more circumstances than I care to remember.

The ultimate freedom was cloaked in darkness when I first came upon it. It just didn’t look like freedom at first glance. Ok, the wait is over I will now tell you what the ultimate freedom is. Ultimate freedom is when you no longer have to do something just to create money.

Now I guess I have to explain my personal circumstances in order to support my dark pre-story.

I left the corporate world at fifty-five. After I got my thirty years in and was eligible for a full pension, my corporate division was sold to a Chinese company. We were told that nothing would change, but of course, within six months massive layoffs started. Within a year 95% were gone, including me.

All my life I had lived pretty frugally so I had enough resources along with the fixed pension and future social security payments to be able to live without any additional income. But, as is often the case, I refused to understand what that freedom could give me. It would be several years later before I fully realized what was in front of me.

When I finally went into the full retirement mode six years after leaving the corporate world, the idea of having total control of my time absolutely scared me. The main reason for that is that I didn’t do the work required to really appreciate what I had. Instead, I languished around as pretty much a couch potato for a couple of years feeling sorry for myself and the self-imposed boredom that followed.

Finally, I got it through my head to actually use this ultimate freedom. I finally started doing some things that I had only dreamed about up to then. One was to be a frequent volunteer at a local soup kitchen. Another was to start a blog about my view of the world. I had always enjoyed writing and now I could do whatever I wanted with that skill. Other things would eventually fall in place, but it was not until a few months ago that I decided to try and take my ultimate freedom to a whole other level.

I actually spent the time thinking and dreaming of what I could now do that wasn’t really possible before. That brought up a lot of hidden, or maybe unrealized goals that need to be further pursued. Finally, when 2019 dawned I decided to bring up yet another blog, this one dedicated to creativity. I am now about forty-seven days into this year-long project of becoming a more creative person. If this sort of thing appeals to you, I would like to invite you to come along on my journey. I think we can both learn if we do this together. Click on the CrackingCreativity logo in the right column here to join the fun.

How about you, what is your definition of Ultimate Freedom?

Free Range Kids…

I am going to tell you a story about when I was growing up in the 1950s and then put a modern twist to it.

I don’t have a lot of memories prior to my eighth year of life. I vaguely remember spots here or there before then. But I do remember when we moved into our brand new $14,000 tract house in the suburbs when I was 8-years-old. There were five of us living in a 900 square foot, three bedroom, one bathroom house. Compared to where we lived prior to that this was a modern mansion.

My new suburban neighborhood was an adventure waiting to happen. We lived 4 blocks away from the Catholic school I attended so I and my two brothers walked that distance every day. There was also a gas station across the street from the school that infatuated me. I spent quite a bit of time watching them gassing up cars, checking the oil, and of course, cleaning the windshield. That gas station proved invaluable a couple of years later when I broke my collarbone trying out for the school football team and as a result, wore a very hot and itchy plaster vest through the summer. With the station hose, I blew a stream of air under the plaster vest to make things at least tolerable.

We lived eight blocks away from the drugstore with a soda fountain. It was on a busy road and we weren’t really supposed to go there but on occasion did so anyway. I always ordered the “suicide” which included squirts of a half-dozen of the flavors available.

Then there was the mushroom factory about four blocks away from home where we loved to climb the freshly delivered piles of dirt which in reality were piles of composted cow manure! We didn’t know that is what they were but that would have made it even cooler. (ha). But, there was that day when I was climbing the trees in front of the factory and fell down on a sharp wrought iron fence due to climbing out on a broken limb. They told my dad in the emergency room that the fence came within an inch of puncturing my lung! But, except for a “bragging” scar no real damage was done. That episode did make me more aware of the dangers around me. That proved to be a valuable lesson I’m sure.

I’m running out of space here but I did want to mention the lumber yard that was about 6 blocks from home. We got much of the material we needed for our adventure projects from the scrap pile there. The owner sometimes gave us small pieces of wood that he cut off customer orders and sometimes we would sneak in on our own to get them. It was kind of like a commando raid for us.

The moral of this story is that I learned to be an adventurous person from my childhood years. I learned what it was like to be out on my own. All those lessons would help shape my adult life.

I was a free range kid…

Finally getting to the point of this story, I saw something recently on the PBS Newshour that the average ten-year-old has likely never been more than two blocks away from his home unaccompanied! There is apparently too much parental fear of abduction and such now. But, the statistics just don’t bear out this fear. In reality, kids are much safer today than they were in my day.

Are we stunting our kids by keeping them homebound and not letting them be free-range as we were in my generation? Are we preventing them from the adventures of discovery? Are we stifling the future inventor and innovators? That, along with the fears should be on the minds of all parents today.

What do you think?

Being Alone…

2018-08-27_08-16-02Even after 32 years of marriage being alone is something I still relish. It seems I must have my alone time. That seems to be especially true now that I am in my senior years.  But, I have always been pretty much a loner. I just never have seemed to know what to do in a group.

I suspect a big part of this is probably due to my self-proclaimed Asperberger’s Syndrome. Interactions with others have always been difficult for me.  It takes a special person to accept my nuances and call me a friend. I have had a few in my life.

Being alone is self-empowering to me. It is when I have my most creative thoughts. My daily routine includes several “alone” times.

After my daily shower, I am alone to digest the latest news via my Internet feeds. I admit that that particular alone time is shrinking by self-choice as I just can’t seem to stomach what is going on in America today.

Another serious alone time is my man-cave otherwise known as the barn. I am fortunate enough to have a 24 x48 ft pole barn where I do all my physical type things.  It is where I spend quite a bit of time working on uRV ( my micro RV). This weeks project is to rubberize the roof to keep out all those pesky leaks during downpours.

Another alone time is “going up to the mountain”. That is the highest point on my property where I have a six-foot glider.  I spend many warm weather hours up there swinging and reading and just plain looking at the sky and thinking.

Being alone is something I can very much handle…

On Vacation Until ??

canstockphoto19651352.jpgI’m taking some time off from RJsCorner to do some yard work and other special projects.

One of those projects is to bring up a new website for my photo portfolios.  Flickr and such just don’t meet my requirements so I am designing a site of my own.  My Information Technology (IT) experience comes in handy even in my retirement years. 🙂

I’ll let you know when that is up and what the URL is.  I expect it to be finished in a couple of weeks. I don’t know how long I will be gone from RJsCorner.  If Congress can take a vacation from their madness, I guess I can too.

Thinking About Life

2018-07-27_08-00-21.pngThe picture here from my Facebook friend The Idealist brought back some rather pleasant memories. In the past and to a much lesser degree even today I have often sat out on a starry night and talked to myself about life. These were often times where I was approaching meltdown due to having so many people around me.  One of the main purposes was to be alone with my thoughts so, no, there was no one with me.

Many of those 2am nights were while I was attending college at Purdue University. It seems I was never along except for these times. I shared a room with Bob for four years and even though I really liked him I needed my alone time.  So, about once a month you could find me at 2am along the railroad track out by the airport looking at the sky and dreaming about life.  I often played a game where I tried to imagine what I would be doing 20, 30, or even 40 years in the future.  On a tangent note, there just doesn’t seem to be as many stars in the sky as there were during those years. 🙂

 

 

About Our Personal Mortality…

My father was one of those people who could not deal with his own mortality.  When a discussion was about death issues, he would say “this is too gruesome” and leave the room. He just didn’t want to think about it.

I, on the other hand, have no qualms about discussing my own death. In fact, I am ready to accept it as each day comes and passes. That doesn’t mean that I welcome death, I would like to have a long and fruitful life still ahead of me, but if that doesn’t happen then so be it. I just don’t need to fret about it.

canstockphoto3200467.jpgIn the last year or so I have lived my life with a one-day-at-a-time philosophy. During my morning shower, I always thank the Lord for yesterday and the day just starting. I don’t worry too much about the future anymore. Presently to me, the future means tomorrow but I do still allow myself to dream about days sometimes way beyond tomorrow.

I also no longer worry about the past or the many mistakes I made along the way.  You can’t do anything about them so I have finally accepted that worrying about them is useless. What matters to me now is that I live each day with the possibility of it being my last. To me, that concept is not morbid instead it is freeing as it forces me to enjoy all the time I have left.

Dad, like his father and grandfather, died in his 78th year. If that is the case for me then I have about 2,300 beautiful days on this earth to enjoy yet.  I plan on cherishing each one 🙂

 

The Hardest Years…

I suppose the title of this post has different meanings to different people.  From recent comments, it is used to describe the “post-truth” era that many seem to think we are in.  To many, the hardest years are the ones that they are currently living in.  Being a history guy I have a longer view than that.  But this is not at all what this post is about. 🙂

These are the first words from a quote from Helen Hays shown below

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I couldn’t agree more. At the tender age of ten, I had just taken up a Jack London book entitled “White Fang”. That was my first serious look at the world beyond my front door.  It opened up a world I had never imagined.  Due to circumstances, I was pretty mature for a ten-year-old.  My narcissistic mother had just abandoned me, my younger brother, and my dad for greener pastures.  I didn’t really know what was going on but imagined it was my fault. I knew my life was going to be quite different than it had been.

canstockphoto8329344.jpgBetween ten and seventy were episodes that challenged me. I struggled to pay my own way through college by working forty hours a week in addition to a near full course load. I knew my social skills were lacking but I never realized the extent until years later.  I would become deaf at the age of forty and was laid off at the age of fifty-four.  Thankfully I had saved enough money and had enough years of employment to earn a significant pension.

It was not until the age of seventy that I finally decided that my hardest years were behind me. Social status no longer meant anything if it ever did. I simply didn’t care what others thought of me. The age of seventy was indeed at the end of my hard years.

Thanks, Helen for helping me realize that fact.

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Autism and Meltdown

canstockphoto13659526.jpgBeing a person with some strong Aspie traits, I just don’t handle stressful situations well.  Fortunately, I don’t totally lose it as the word meltdown infers but I quit acting like an adult and instead am a panicked kid. In autism studies, these episodes are called meltdowns so I will call them that for the purposes of this post.

One of my most prominent stressors is criticism. I am plainly oversensitive. I often perceive my wife’s criticism as calling me a complete idiot. When those situations occur I frequently go into at least some level of meltdown. I start shouting back about how she doesn’t think I can flush a toilet without screwing it up!  Usually, when the episode is over I can evaluate what happened with a more adult view but that doesn’t ameliorate the damage done to both of us by these episodes.

From the studies I have read I know that over time, these types of situations alienate friends and peers. They have also caused marriage problems and even divorce.

My meltdowns for sensory episodes are less frequent as I just don’t allow myself to get caught up in them. Instead, I either avoid the causes or quickly flee the situation.  I don’t like crowds and especially people standing behind me. For that reason, I often shop in the off-hours. My photography helps with crowds.  I tell myself I am there to document the event and therefore manage to control my uneasiness more easily.

I know the severity of my personal meltdowns is much less than others on the spectrum. I am grateful for that and sympathetic to others who are worse than I.

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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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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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I Am A Rock…

2018-04-18_17-23-20.pngSince I was a teenager in the 1960s, one of my favorite musical groups was Simon & Garfunkel. One of their most popular songs was “I am a Rock”. Due to my Aspie traits, I was somewhat of a loner back then so this song just “spoke” to me.  My mother had abandoned me a few years before, so that probably had something to do with it too.

The song is basically about a desire to avoid pain and heartbreak. In order to avoid being hurt by relationships, the subject of the song refuses to make friends or fall in love.  Of course, this approach to life is very isolating and painful in itself. The last two lines are evidence that this way of living is more dreadful than the alternative of being hurt.

It would be several years before I fully understood that no one is an island and no one is especially a rock.  But, it was kind of nice to think that others had gone through what I did during my turbulent teenage years. 🙂

It has been over thirty years since I last heard this song, but I still keep a copy of the lyrics along with many others and read them on a regular basis.

 

 

Waiting In Line…

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canstockphoto35801773.jpgI have never been a person who patiently waits in a line. It has always seemed like a total waste to me. I will most often do anything to keep from having to stand behind other people. Now that I have taken the “One day at a time” approach to life, I want to live what I have left of life as fully as I can. Waiting in line is just not in that scenario.  And as Will said in the quote above many things just aren’t worth the wait.

Most of my grocery shopping occurs during the early hours when the store is almost empty.  I can order just about anything from Amazon now and have it on my doorstep within two days. Why drive an hour round trip to search through aisle after aisle trying to find what I am looking for and then wait to pay for it?

At an even higher level, I have come to more fully understand what the mantra “Simplify” means. I try to always stop and ask myself “do I really need this?”  Many times the answer is “No”.

Of course, there are times when waiting in line has to be tolerated. One of those times for me was when I wanted to get something off my bucket list. That something was a week at Disney World. Even though I visited the park during the off-season the lines were still pretty gnarly.  I loved my time there but will never do it again. 🙂

A Nice Change…

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Since this is my “aging week” here on RJsCorner, I will flat out tell you that I am thoroughly enjoying my “golden years” and yes they are proving to be golden.  All my life I have fretted about the future.

  • What will I be when I grow up?
  • Is there some other occupation that I was really built for?
  • Since I am a weird person, should I remain a bachelor?
  • Should I try to get another job or just retire?

So many questions about life when you are young. Now don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed every minute of my time so far. Well, almost every minute. But I often suffered to one degree or another with depression.  I perceived myself as always dreaming of more but accepting less. Those worries and frets are finally behind me.  From here on out, all there is left to do is enjoy it and I am determined to enjoy each and every day as it comes.  One day at a time is my new motto in life.

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Turning Back the Odometer…

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canstockphoto38063363.jpgI like old cars and I am kinda proud of passing on some of my experiences in life here on RJsCorner. Yeah, there are things, actually quite a few, that I would like to have been different but even the undesired things are an important part of my life’s experiences, that looking back have made me who I am.

If I hadn’t been deaf I wouldn’t have the level of empathy that I do. If I had not grown up in a single very stoic parent household I wouldn’t have the understanding of such things as I do. As another quote from Will says “Adversity builds character”. It made me who I am and I am quite proud of that fact.

I see so many people today that try to turn back their odometers.  They get hair transplants or cosmetic surgery to hide their years.  I can truthfully say that I am proud of the way I look. It does indeed show I have traveled a long way and some of the roads weren’t paved.

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A Lot Of Noise Goin On…

Cackle Banner.jpegI don’t know why I seem to be so fixated on sounds lately let alone poultry stuff.  My daily and weekly posts here are RJsCorner are now named after sounds (cackle and squawk) that chickens make. I need to get to the underlying reason for this. 🙂  I lost my hearing thirty years ago, and since then my brain has forgotten what many sounds sound like.  Sadly one of those areas is musical instruments.  I used to play the guitar, not terribly well but to my own satisfaction, and I really enjoyed that pleasure. Now when I see a musical instrument being played, I struggle unsuccessfully to remember the sounds they make.

I was never around chickens that much, but they did make a big impression on me when I first visited my grandfather’s farm as a small kid. I loved the fresh eggs that grandpa had but didn’t appreciate being chased by the rooster when I went to feed them.  So, why this sudden infatuation with poultry sounds?

Maybe it is all Freudian? Sigmund was pretty famous a hundred years ago during my hero Will Rogers’ time but has gone out of favor since then. Freud was a big believer that the unconscious (dreams) was where the mind put things we can’t openly deal with. Maybe I am in a second mourning period for my loss of hearing?

When it comes down to it, I guess I really don’t care that much, but it is interesting none the less. 🙂

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I Am Old…

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Ok, I will admit it for at least the argument of this post, I am old.  I don’t mean to get morbid but I am likely in the last decade of my life.  Being old, besides all the aches and pains, is kind of freeing. We just don’t care as much about what people think of us than we used to. Our image is pretty much set in stone at this point in our lives so making a fool of ourselves now it not a big thing.

One of the things at the new RJsCorner I plan on doing pretty frequently is to look down memory lane. That is, to show you some photos and maybe some stories about what has happened in my life.  I am told that a good blogger lets people get to know him beyond his writing. I  kinda like that idea.  So, here goes…

I know I should not say this but I have never been a fan of Mark Twain.  His books just never appealed to me. But I did get one of my favorite all-time quotes from visiting the Mark Twain museum in Hannibal Missouri a few years ago.  Here it is:

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Couldn’t have said it better myself. Some how, don’t ask my why, I still feel like a 35 year old or so. That is until I look into the mirror or get up from the couch, and especially when I look at the pills I now take on a daily basis.

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Lost Dreams..

It is important to take stock in all the good things we have had. But it is also worthwhile to recognize the opportunities we might have missed. In the past I have told many stories about how, after very humble beginnings, I have had a pretty privileged life.  This post is about the things I might have missed. So, here is that story.

The bible says something about not worrying about tomorrow or the past, but just live in today. Those always seemed like wise words to me but being I question everything they also sometimes seem like stifling words. Maybe worrying about tomorrow is not a good thing but not dreaming of it is something else.

Me at the age of 18.jpgI must admit that while I claim to be a dreamer, much of my life wasn’t as fully engaged in that mode as I would have liked. I too often kinda let things just happen instead of chasing me dreams. That is a sad commentary for a 70+ year old to have to make but it is as it is.

I knew from a very young age that I loved to read books, especially the non-fiction type where I learned to admire others and make them heroes in my life.  I knew I loved to think and rethink stories. Even as a pre-teen I wrote many stories but they like  Simon & Garfunkel’s Sounds of Silence they were songs written but voices never heard, my stories had a readership of one.

I knew I was passionate about the written word but never really let it be part of my dreams. Instead I let others tell me what to pursue in life.  My dad wanted to be an engineer so I decided to be one for him.  I never allowed myself to dream of anything else or maybe I just didn’t have a clue.

My middle years were driven by my occupation. Engineering is not about dreaming but instead about equations, proofs and fact. Dreams had little to do with it.  I lived my middle years just concentrating on today. What was the job at hand? I simply didn’t allow myself to look for other possibilities. The draw of a constant paycheck  kept me in place. So, for the most part I had unfulfilled dreams.

Now as I look back on my life, I regret not dreaming enough and not especially not acting on the ones I had.  I look at my life and realize that it could have been quite different if I had allowed my dreams even a small level of realization. I know that the fault of this is totally my own. No one pushed those dreams from my head.

All this is not to say that I had an unhappy life. Except for my pre-college years I never wanted material things that I couldn’t have. I have a wife who I probably don’t deserve and some valuable friends along the way. It is just that my life could have been better if I had had the courage to dream a little more.