Welcome To Flat Rock…

ISOA BannerMy latest micro-RV (uRV) trip was to Madison Indiana which is on the Ohio River east of Louisville. As usual I took county and state roads during my 400 mile trek. One of the towns that intrigued me was Flat Rock Indiana.  I’m sure it was once a thriving rural town in the area. There is a gravel pit near the town as the only traffic through the town while I was there were loaded dump trucks.

(as usual click on any picture to see a larger view slideshow)

I think there were still a few houses occupied in the town and there still seemed to be an active fire station in the same area as these pictures.   I am amazed that I was able to find something about Flat Rock on Wiki. It was platted in 1855 took its name from the Flat Rock River in the area. It once had its own high school at the turn of the 20th century.

I also found an old photo of the town dated 1913. I think I recognize some of the building still standing from that photo.


Traveling the back road in search of America sure is fascinating stuff….

The Next Step

Amazon is growing in leaps and bounds so it just makes sense that they start their own air delivery system both big and small. In order to control costs end-to-end processes are required and that is just what Amazon is doing.

2016-08-05_07-36-34SEATTLE (AP) — Seattle-based Amazon is unveiling its first branded cargo plane, one of 40 jetliners that will make up the e-commerce giant’s own air transportation network as it takes more control of its delivery process.

Source: Amazon unveils cargo plane as it expands delivery network – Business Insider

I have been a pretty constant Amazon customer for the past 15 years or so.  I wish I could say that I have also been a stockholder for that period but this seems to be another example of lost opportunities for me.  :)  I simply like the convenience of getting what I need without gassing up the car and driving the 45 miles round trip to most stores. The variety of goods that Amazon now carries is astounding and seems to grow daily.

I am convinced that Amazon is the next paradigm shift in how we get much of what we need. Maybe clothes, a high touch item, and food are not totally compliant with remote sales but Amazon is even testing those areas.  It seems inevitable that they will be the Walmart of the 21st century in that they will dominate the consumer retail sales.  For them to become number one means Walmart will have to shrink and that will mean lost jobs at many rural locations where jobs are needed the most. But since Walmart is pretty much a minimum wage employer not as much is lost as is gained in  areas where Amazon builds regional fulfillment centers. I just checked the Amazon regional center near me and it appears that they pay about $12 to $14/hour compared to Walmart’s $7 – $11/hour.  I know that Amazon has a reputation of expecting their employees to perform at fully involved levels that are not comfortable for some. I also know that their centers are highly automated.

Amazon is one of those forward thinking companies that is just not satisfied with the status quo. They are even investigating drone delivery to locations close to their centers. Is all this a good thing?  I guess it depends on your point of view doesn’t it?

The Clinton Foundation

If you believe the GOP hawkers, especially the con-artist-in-chief you would think that the Clinton Foundation is some evil organization that funnels big money to  Bill and Hillary Clinton.  They pedal influence to the highest bidder and hand out favors in return. The trouble with all that rhetoric is that it is almost completely false.  Here are some of the things that a CNN investigative report found about the Clinton Foundation.

Health is a big focus. In more than 70 countries, according to the foundation, it helps 11.5 million people, including 800,000 children, with HIV/AIDS get their medication at 90% lower cost — more than half the adults and three-quarters of the children getting treatment in the world today.But it does all kinds of other work as well. For instance, it helps East African farmers get better seeds and fertilizers. It supported Nepal’s reconstruction after the 2015 earthquakes. And it has connected more than 500,000 Latin Americans to job training and entrepreneurship opportunities.

The Clinton Foundation does tons of work in the US, too. Some examples: It has a school program that operates in every state, affecting more than 31,000 schools and 18 million students by its count. That program is to improve physical education, child nutrition, health education and staff wellness programs. They also work on prescription drug addiction. The foundation wants to halve the number of opioid overdoses — right now those drugs kill more Americans than car accidents.

The Clinton Global Initiative is part of the foundation. Bill Clinton started CGI in 2005. In contrast to other parts of the organization, it doesn’t fund or manage projects, or handle any of the money involved. Instead, it’s like the OKCupid of the charity world, matching funders with good causes. They do this at events throughout the year, including a big annual meeting in New York every September that’s a who’s who of global movers-and-shakers. (Bono? Check.)

How does the philanthropic world see the Clinton Foundation?  They’re held in high esteem. There are watchdog groups that judge charities on how they’re run, how transparent they are and how much they spend on programs — some charities raise a ton of money, but spend a large percentage on salaries and bonuses instead of their actual cause.

Charity Watch gave the Clinton Foundation an A grade, while GuideStar gave it a platinum rating. Daniel Borochoff of Charity Watch noted that in 2014, 87.2% of the foundation’s funding went to its programs, “which is really high.” The foundation, he said, does “really important, valuable work that saves lives of lots of people.

How does the charity world see the political brouhaha over the foundation?  “It’s unfortunate that it’s become this punching bag, this political punching bag,” Borochoff said. “There’s a lot of things that are said that are false. If Hillary Clinton wasn’t running for president, the Clinton Foundation would be seen as one of the great humanitarian charities of our generation.”

Source: What is the Clinton Foundation and why is it controversial? – CNNPolitics.com

I don’t understand how the Clinton Foundation gets so much bad press. It is not as if Bill and Hillary are getting rich from it.  As a matter of fact President Clinton and Chelsea Clinton, who serve on the Board of Directors, do not take a salary from the Clinton Foundation and receive no funding from it. Secretary Clinton did not take a salary when she served on the Board of Directors.

None of the Clinton get a dime from the foundation. Yeah, they may pressure some of the elite around the world to contribute and in my mind that is a good thing.  As pointed above the Foundation is very well thought of in the philanthropic world. 87% of what they collect actually goes to those who need it. That high of a level is almost unheard of.

I guess instead of helping so many people around the world the Clintons could be building casinos to line their pockets.  I see where Trump, when he as paying for office space in Trump Towers (he was actually paying back to himself by the way) for his campaign it cost $40,000/month.  Now that donors are paying the bill the cost has increase to over $170,000/month.  Now that is something that should be investigated, not the Clinton Foundation!!

A Steinbeck Image…

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This picture is of my wife years before we were married. I don’t know the time or place but I love this picture.  It has a raw Steinbeck type quality that pulls me in.  Her clothes, the lamp and such add to the mystic.

Swiss Heritage Village – Berne Indiana

ISOA Banner  On one of my recent uRV trips to northeastern Indiana I visited the Swiss Heritage Village. It was recommended to me by the tourist information center in the city of Berne.  I was not aware that there was a strong Swiss presence in that part of the State.

Here are some pictures of that visit.

(Click on any picture to see a larger slideshow view)

I felt very privileged that Phil Montgomery who is a docent at the village gave me a personal tour. The info about the area was very interesting and the buildings were well restored for their appropriate time periods. The large cider press was awesome…

All Smiles Today…

ISOA BannerI have been dreaming of my trip to Alaska ten years ago so I thought I would pull a couple of pictures for today’s post. No we didn’t eat at “Smiles Seafood Cafe” but looking back I wish we had.


A Tech Savvy Senior… And Preconceived Notions…

Being a tech savvy Senior it often bothers me when I read stories about how senior citizens are technology illiterate. We are often labeled with that moniker whether it is appropriate or not.  People below 50 think that none of us know anything about cell phones, computers, social media, and on and on.. But that is not the only thing they think we are incapable of…

Remember two weeks ago when I told you about a new requirement at the 2016-08-17_07-59-47Social Security website? Here it is as explained in an email from that federal agency [emphasis is mine]:

“When you sign in at ssa.gov/myaccount with your username and password, we will ask you to add your text-enabled cell phone number.”

Because only 27 percent of people 65 and older own cell phones, this was idiotic; it locked millions of people out of their own information. I gave you a couple of email addresses where you could send your objections, including the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging.

Source: A TGB EXTRA: Good News About Social Security… – TIME GOES BY

I guess I am in the minority again as even though I am deaf I have had a cell phone for as long as they have been available. My fellow blogger over at “Time Goes By” tells me that only one in four of us over 65 have them. I guess if you have a static life style you don’t need one.  Or maybe it is because of the cost but then again you can get one from Consumer Cellular, which caters to seniors for less than $20 a month. That is less then a land line.  I would love to hear other reasons why so many seniors are without cell phones?

What I’m about to write is directed at boondockers older than, say, 65, and also at female boondockers of any age.  As you know, I fall into both categories.

When a person who doesn’t know you — let’s say a local like Propane Man — starts cautioning you about the difficulties and dangers of a particular course of action, perhaps suggesting “easier” or “safer” alternatives, it’s important to realize that you may be receiving filtered information.  His advice might be based on preconceived notions of what “old people” and women cannot or should not do.  He probably isn’t even aware that’s what he’s doing.

Source: “Better not” or “Can do” | rvsue and her canine crew

Another fellow blogger over at “RVSue and her canine crew”  tell me that there are many other labels that people attribute to our older citizens, especially women it seems. We need thing easier and safer than everyone else..

I just don’t like being put in a box . Especially one that is totally the wrong size. So, I wish people would quit trying to do that…

The Hypocrisy Of Politics…


Snippet BannerHypocrisy, especially the GOP brand,  seems to be flowing in a torrent flood lately. The GOP controlled House spent millions of our tax dollars trying to take down Hillary because of a guy with an RPG in Benghazi.  But they never mentioned any of the times above while their guy was in the White House.



Nothing New Under The Sun…

I think the title above came from Solomon but for me it refers to my uRV (micro-RV).  I have spent the last couple of years putting stickers and saying on the camper cap. I think it looks pretty unique.


But then I ran across the following picture from the Nationa Museum of American History.


I really didn’t think I was the first to put messages on my vehicle but didn’t know it had been done almost 200 years ago.  Kind of neat if you ask me.

Obama Invaded Afghanistan.. and Other False Tidbits…

Marketing is a strong force in our world today. If you say something enough times many people will believe it regardless of the facts.

“You must have a fire pit in your backyard right next to your outdoor kitchen…”

“Hillary is an evil evil evil person”

“Obama is to blame for the slow response to hurricane Katrina”

Say it enough and they will believe it…

“Barack Obama went into Afghanistan, creating another problem,” she [Katrina Pierson] added. “It was Hillary Clinton and her incidents in Libya, which was also a reckless decision to create that vacuum. They armed the rebels and they’re even funding them now.2016-08-14_07-55-18

“When Blackwell asked for clarification on whether she believed Obama invaded Afghanistan post-2009, Pierson responded “What I’m saying is the policies of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton … that was Obama’s war, yes.”

To clarify, President George W. Bush ordered the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in the year 2001. Obama inherited the war….

Katrina Pierson is the same Trump spokeswoman who seemingly admitted the candidate really was referring to an assassination when he quipped “Second Amendment” people could “do” something about a Clinton presidency last week.

To be fair to Pierson, it can get kind of confusing which things Obama is to blame for and which he isn’t. For example, one third of Louisiana Republicans blame Obama for Bush’s response to Hurricane Katrina.

Source: Donald Trump Spokeswoman Says Barack Obama Invaded Afghanistan

I think everyone, except maybe those who have rocks for brains, should know that all my quotes before the source and even in the source are blatantly false. But say them often enough and the rock brain people will believe them and start parroting it themselves.

The young woman mentioned above is an official representative for the Trump campaign and often says things I’m sure she knows to be untrue. But the thing about it is she  is able to keep a straight face while doing it. But, I guess being a good con is an absolute requirement for king of cons’ staff.  According to the latest polls maybe my dream most of us being sane individuals is proving true. Now that people are paying at least a little attention the con artists are being rejected.

I had a flash of insight yesterday about the “angry 50%” who are so mad at so many things.  I think part of all this are all the cable network shows that are constantly showing how the more affluent live.  They buy $4 million dollar homes on islands and then complain that they are too small or too dated.  Nuke the kitchen, its not good enough, the 150 square foot bathroom is simply too small. In the old days you only had your neighbor to compare how you were doing, now with a thousand cable channels it often overwhelms too many of us.

I grew up pretty poor in the 1950 and 60s but the thing about it was that I really didn’t realize we were poor as there was not much to compare my life to.  Many of the kids in my small rural high school didn’t have much more than I did. I had three changes of clothes and we lived in a 400 square foot house but that was the normal to me. Fast forward to today and the things that many who consider themselves financially challenged have were only dreams in my world.  TOO MUCH MARKETING IF YOU ASK ME…..

We Have Come To The Point….

Change, change, change… that seems to be our world today. While I for the most part embrace change I don’t like change simply for changes sake. That according to the source below seems to be almost where many are as technology consumers.

iPhone loyalists will have at least a little incentive to line up outside the Apple store. Not so the millions who use Apple’s venerable line of Mac personal computers. Shop for one of these, and your choices are mostly the same as they were a year or more ago….

“Computers have become like cars. You don’t buy a new car every year or two,” Gwennap told me. Indeed, “the cars are actually getting better faster than the PCs.”

Source: Apple falls into a product rut – The Boston Globe

In 1984 when PCs were first on the scene I quickly embraced the technology.  But I also quickly discovered that there were many things I wanted to do with the technology that were just not possible in those years.  The hardware was just too limiting to accomplish my dreams. As time went by computing power seemed to double  year over year. My first computer has a whopping 16,000 bytes of memory, now many have 16 billion bytes.  In my days it took an 18 inch spool of magnetic tape to store a few hundred megabytes of software. I now carry around a thumb drive that has a hundred times that capacity.

You might remember the old story of the guy who wanted to close the U.S. patent office in the early 1900s because ” everything had been invented”.  What I am about to say maybe mimics that statement to a degree. I think that we have now reached a point where computer hardware has advanced enough to meet most of our daily needs.  The main reason for frequent computer upgrades in the past was to be able to handle the more sophisticated software.

I think we have reached stasis in that regard for the average person. If that is the case then why spend more money on something that we simply don’t need?  As long as my present Apple computer meets my needs I won’t be upgrading.  So, I really don’t care that Apple is not bringing out a new desktop/lap top on an annual basis.   Instead I kind of think they are being smart in moving on to other areas instead of chasing the upgrade theme.

The Con Artist…

2016-08-10_08-12-37.pngThis post is not so much about Donald Trump as it is about  naiveté.  Con artists have been around since there was money to be taken from naive people. What David Johnston says in the source article is that Donald Trump is among the top tier of con artists.

I deliberately said something that was false. Donald, like a television psychic, immediately incorporated my false statement into his answer and that told me this guy is essentially at heart a con artist who tells you what you want to hear….

Q: What is it you want Christians to read in your book before they vote for Trump?

A: My concern is that ministers who say Donald is a good Christian and those drawn to him because he says (he’s a Christian) don’t know what he’s said in books or profanity-laced speeches. He has beguiled them… So my concern is that some of these pastors have an agenda that is more political than religious and that may have interfered with their good judgment here.

I have also had people express the view that even if Donald is aggressively antithetical to the most basic teachings of Jesus then his stance on abortion (he now says he opposes it) outweighs everything else….

Q: Why do many conservative Christians support him? What do they see in him?

A: Donald Trump has tapped into the economic terror — and I do mean terror —  that the bottom half of all Americans are living in and the fear the bottom 90 percent are living in. These people are looking for an explanation: Why am I working harder and making less?

Donald Trump, like all demagogues, provides an easy-to-understand rationale — it’s the Muslims, it’s “the other.” His answer is also more tax cuts for the rich — many of his proposals are heavily oriented to the rich. Our television media has created a culture in which we judge people on the presumed content of their wallets. But having money does not make us a better person. But we worship wealth. It is antithetical to Christianity, but it is becoming part of the dominant culture.

Source: Trump is conning believers about his faith, author says | Religion News Service

The quote above is from a religious news organization’s interview with a Pulitzer Prize winning investigative reporter who has studied extensively and written a book about Mr. Trump. I continue to be amazed by the religious, and particularly Evangelical community, who seem to give up 90% of their fundamental beliefs in order to back someone who says that he is anti-Abortion even when his past actions don’t show that.  I can’t understand how naive they are?  Like most issues Mr. Trump has been all over the map on this topic, he tells you what you want to hear. Do they really think that abortion will be on his top 10 list of things to achieve if he were to sit in the Oval Office, or even the top 1000 for that matter.

If pro-life is so important to these religious groups how can they then be war hawks and for capital punishment?   Maybe they are just pro-“pre-life”? To them maybe it is “once you are out of the womb you are on your own”?  I don’t know, this dichotomy simply amazes me.  I as a follower of Jesus’ teaching am not willing to give up the 95% in order to naively believe that I will gain the 5%.  The numbers simply don’t add up for me.

What Were They Thinking…

I haven’t been posting much on Saturdays lately as the viewer counts is usually pretty low on the weekends but I thought I would bring up a special series for an occasional Saturday where I get things off my chest that simply bug me.  :)

This Saturday it is about hot rods.  I admit that the Velocity channel on cable is my most frequently viewed channel. First of all there is nothing about Trump on it and secondly I love to watch creative people work.  Now I admit that some of those hot rod show on Velocity don’t have much creativity.  One of those is the show Iron Resurrection. I often find their creations not much more than “lipstick on a pig” and bad lipstick at that. They don’t seem to worry about the functionality or reliability of what they build as long as it looks good to them and I emphasize “them”.

2016-08-12_19-08-42.pngAnother topic in this realm is how almost all the hot rods being built now are two inches off the ground? What were they thinking??  That is maybe ok if you are buying the car to put into your “collection” and never drive but putting those cars on the road is insane, especially on U.S. roads which are among the worst in the world. Hit one pothole and the bottom of these cars are trashed.  I like beauty but functionality must also accompany it.

Now don’t get me wrong, not every show on Velocity is of the Iron Resurrection genre. There are many others that show creative genius and are a pleasure to watch. My favorite (but not the title) is Bitching Rides from Salt Lake City.  Those guys know how to make a hot rod and have fun doing it….

A National IQ Test??


I don’t think I have come across this quote from my hero so I had to pull it of Will Rogers’ Facebook page. Knowing Will I don’t think he is dissing the people of the country but instead their corporate actions. Sometimes crowds can be idiots. Especially when politics or money is involved.🙂


Caught Between Two Worlds….

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This post is part of my continuing study of the Autism spectrum and particularly Asperger’s Syndrome.

I am stuck between two worlds in my life.  I am a deaf man who lives almost exclusively 2016-08-10_07-19-19in the hearing world but neither the hearing world or the deaf world considers me a homeboy.  I am seldom around other deaf people so I can’t speak for them but since almost 80% of us deafies are like me in that they went deaf later in life ways maybe I do.  One of my goals via this blog and a few other forums, is to help the hearing world understand that most of us who are deaf are really not much different from them.

In regards to Aspergers I am via this post going to give you a glimpse of the last chapter into my study .  I have taken a couple of standard tests and discovered that I am about equally spread between the Neurotypical world and the Neurodiverse world.   Those two words were new to me so I assume they are to you.  Simply put I have rather strong Aspergers’ characterisitcs in some areas but not others.  I will be going into that in somewhat detail in future posts.

Its hard being stuck between two worlds but I am used to it. My living with Asperger’s traits didn’t change just because it now has a name.   As with my deafness, I have lived with it most of my life.   But in some ways just having a name makes the struggle a little easier as I now know I am not alone.  At the same time I don’t want that to reduce my feeling of personal responsibility of trying harder to be aware when I hurt people’s feelings or give them a view of me that I don’t have of myself or any of a number of other social behaviors.   I need to do better more than ever now that I know I have a problem…. much more on that later.

Before I close out this post I want to make it clear that while I say I have identified personal characteristics that relate to Aspergers I am likely  not  typical of this overall group. I fully understand that there are many who struggle much more than I do.  In my limited studies I have not been able to find how spread out of severity levels are in the Aspergers population.  I don’t pretend to know what others with extreme conditions go through in their daily lives.  All I can do for this series of posts is to give you my story and hope it relates to others with Aspergers at some level.

Next time I will start giving you some of my real life examples of Aspergers traits. I hope they help you but just as importantly I hope they help me too….

“Fruits of their Labor” vs Decadence…

2016-07-19_12-09-44.pngI have been in a philosophical mood lately so the topic of wealth is on my mind. Is there such a thing as too much wealth? To me that answer is yes but it is really more about attitude than wealth itself. The two richest people in the U.S., Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, are examples of people who are rich from the fruits of their labor but they are not decadent. I have nothing against people using the fruits of their labor to live a lifestyle they desire but when they start dissing people who are less opulent that disturbs me greatly.

On a side note, I am a car guy and do enjoy watching some of the auto auctions on the Velocity cable channel. I can’t understand how cars that cost $3,000 on my youth now go for a hundred times that.  Many of the folks who fork down those dollars are doing it to “add to their collection”. They need that 1969 Camaro to fill a void in the car stable.  I know I should appreciate their enthusiasm for cars but the first thing that usually comes to my mind is that the money spent on that car could easily feed hundreds of families for a year.  I don’t know the person who is buying the car so I shouldn’t pass judgement on that purchase but I rightly or wrongly often do  just that.

Getting back to the subject at hand, perhaps the most decadent person I have come across lately is a casino developer. No, I am not talking about Donald Trump but I could be I guess.  His name is Steve Wynn and here is little about him from my friends over at Red Letter Christians:

Casino mogul Steve Wynn is a billionaire. He has amassed a fortune with casinos across the globe. High profile and high energy, at 74 he is still pushing forward. At a recent investors meeting he was talking about the proposed Wynn casino outside of Boston. In a lame attempt to explain the high end branding his company seeks to achieve, he said, “…rich people only like being around rich people, nobody likes being around poor people — especially poor people…”…

..It hurts to think that Wynn is so disconnected from the poor that he flippantly dismisses them as not even wanting to be around each other. Really Wynn? Think about that statement. They don’t want to be around family? They don’t want to be around their neighbors? They don’t want to be around their church or community relationships? They can’t wait to escape from their “poverty” so they can go hang out with people like you?

Source: The Wealth of People Unlike Me – Red Letter Christians

This guy and Trump seem to  almost be two peas in the same pod. Neither has much of an idea of the world outside of themselves.  That and the fact that they have gotten their riches via gambling and the addictions associated with that just puts me off.

These guys are the definition of decadence to me….

Autism Spectrum…

This is the first of a series of posts around the topic of the Autism Spectrum. I will be intermingling some personal stories with some of the things I have learned about this topic over the last few months.   This is a very difficult topic to treat on a superficial level as I, a layman, intend so do so forgive me in advance if I don’t get it all quite right.  Lets start off with a brief description of this topic from Wiki:

Autism spectrum or autistic spectrum describes a range of conditions classified as neurodevelopmental disorders in the fifth and most recent revision of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) published in 2013.

Autism rights movement

2016-08-07_11-55-48.pngThe autism rights movement (ARM) is a social movement within the neurodiversity movement that encourages autistic people, their caregivers, and society to adopt a position of neurodiversity, and to accept autism as a variation in functioning rather than a mental disorder to be cured. The ARM advocates for several goals, including a greater acceptance of autistic behaviors, therapies that teach autistic individuals coping skills rather than therapies focused on imitating behaviors of neurotypical peers…

Autism rights and neurodiversity advocates believe that the autism spectrum is genetic and should be accepted as a natural expression of the human genome. This perspective is distinct from two other likewise distinct views: (1) the mainstream perspective that autism is caused by a genetic defect and should be addressed by targeting the autism gene(s) and (2) the perspective that autism is caused by environmental factors like vaccines and pollution and could be cured by addressing environmental causes.

The movement is controversial. A common criticism leveled against autistic activists is that many are high-functioning or have Asperger syndrome, and therefore do not represent the views of all autistic people.

Source: Autism spectrum – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

I immediately want to narrow my brush considerably and concentrate only Asperger’s Syndrome as that is where I have found myself lately. But I think it is important to initially try to discuss the overall spectrum. As the source quote I chose above indicates, I  am firmly in the camp of the Autism rights movement in that I don’t think of this condition, except in its extreme, as something that needs to be “fixed”.  Autism, and particularly Asperger’s is to me just a part of the diversity of our world.

I know the mainstream psychological community think of it as a genetic disorder that needs to be fixed via targeting the autism gene in its research. The last sentence above does describe me and my view of this condition. I don’t have any experiences of the severe childhood condition so I can’t possibly, and certainly don’t intend to,  present that part of the spectrum.  Instead I intend to look mostly at those of us who are for the most part a functioning part of society.

At an early age I recognized that I think differently than most of my peers and now I think I know why.  These are the stories I want to share with you in the coming posts.. Welcome aboard,  this will be quite a journey for me and hopefully you might learn something from it too…

Life in a Bedouin village that’s been destroyed 101 times

In 1949 the UN granted Israel the right to reside on Palestinian land that they were long ago driven from. Now it seems that Israel is doing the same thing to some other residents but they are more tenacious then the Israelis were.

“My grandfather is there. My aunt is there. And I’ll be here, God willing.”Soliman Abu-Madegham steps through the Negev dust in the cemetery at Al-Araqib, pointing to graves in the desert dirt. The cemetery is the center of Al-Araqib, but almost by default: Depending on the day, its single-wire fence and proud sign might be the only structures standing in the village.

Al-Araqib is a Bedouin community of 22 families in the southern Israeli desert. Last week, it was demolished for the 101st time — six years to the day after the first demolition. Al-Araqib is one of 35 “unrecognized” Bedouin villages in the Negev. Israel considers the area to be state land, to which the Bedouins have no legal right.

Source: Life in a Bedouin village that’s been destroyed 101 times

I have very mixed feelings about the State of Israel in today’s world. One the one hand it is only right that they be able to reside on land historically belonging to a Jewish nation for a long period of time.  But on the other they adamantly refuse that right to other long time residents. That just seems hypocritical to me.  I really don’t think this small tribe in the southern Israeli desert is any threat to their security.

My native-American heritage tells me that no one owns Mother Earth, we are only caretaker for a period of time. I currently own a two and a half acre of land in the State of Indiana  in what is now know as the U.S. Midwest. But I realize that when I am dead that land will be ceded over to someone else. The only land I might own into perpetuity is the small scrap where I will be buried. But then again if our civilization manages to survive that will eventually be taken from me too or more descriptively I will become part of that land.

I know via their religious traditions the Israelis have strong links to much of the Middle East. That is where Abraham, Jacob, Moses and others supposedly roamed. But like them other traditions have just as much claim as they do.  The only logical thing to do is to share ownership but that seems an impossibility due to the millennium old rivalries in that part of the world.   Maybe some day the North American Iroquois who were here long  before we Europeans killed most of them off will be given ownership of the Midwest. If that happens I hope they are more gracious to us than the Israelis are to the Bedouins.

Grand Ole Opry…

ISOA Banner Country music has never been my friend but in 1012 when we were in the area we visited the Grand Old Opry, or at least the early version of if. It was fascinating to see this almost eighty year old building that had been the start of so many country and blue grass artists.

Here are some pictures of that visit.

As usual click on any picture to see a larger slideshow version.

Since my mind can no longer wrap itself around the sound of musical instruments this media hasn’t much meaning to me anymore but this Nashville building was well worth the visit. I found the Helen Keller portrait there quite interesting.  In some respects I am a socialist too….

After visiting this building we tried to get a look at the inside of the new one which is out in the suburbs but they wanted $30 apiece just to peek inside!! No way was I going to pay that but I did get a picture of the outside of the building.  :)

The secret lives of screen-addicted teens

The source article from which the below quote was taken is a detailed desciption of what an social media addict does during a typical day. Unfortunately I seem to see more and more of these young addicts every day.

The best thing is the little notification box, which means someone liked, tagged, or followed her on Instagram. She has 604 2016-06-12_11-45-40.pngfollowers. There are only 25 photos on her page, because she deletes most of what she posts. The ones that don’t get enough likes, don’t have good enough lighting, or don’t show the coolest moments in her life must be deleted.

Somewhere, maybe at this very moment, neurologists are trying to figure out what all this screen time is doing to the still-forming brains of people Katherine’s age, members of what’s known as Generation Z. Educators are trying to teach them that not all answers are Google-able. Counselors are prying them out of internet addictions. Parents are trying to catch up by friending their kids on Facebook. (P.S. Facebook is obsolete.) Sociologists, advertisers, stock market analysts — everyone wants to know what happens when the generation born glued to screens has to look up and interact with the world.

via The secret lives of screen-addicted teens

This is a somewhat distressing portrayal of young people today.  Like everything else, if something is taken to the extreme or becomes addictive it causes far more harm than good.  Being an observer of life I love to go to the local mall and just sit and watch people.  For the last half dozen years or more cell phones have been frequent travelers with many people, especially the teenage and slightly beyond crowd.  But it was not until recently that I noticed that many now constantly cling to them instead of putting them in their pockets.  I guess they are afraid of missing a tweet or someone who “likes” them.

Sadly many are replacing daily face to face interactions with others around them with an electronic dependence. Every generation has its thing that drives the elders crazy. For my generation it was probably TV, especially the violent kind. They said it was ruining our minds. There was some truth in that but not to the extreme for most of us.  We turned out just fine.  I think the same thing will be said of this generation of those who savagely cling to their media devices. Most, but not all, sooner or later they will put them down and look across the table at the person sitting with them.

Generation Z seems to be a lame description of the latest teens.  What comes after “Z”? Surely someone can come up with a catchier phrase to describe today’s teenagers….


2016-07-27_10-35-15.pngWords are very important to me.  They seem to be a central part of my life.  I struggle in my  daily posts  to find just the right words. Just any word is not good enough, it has to be the “right” word.  In that vain, I had forgotten how the word rhetoric  like so many other words has taken on a completely different meaning from what our ancestors knew.

The word “rhetoric” gets a bad rap. To call something “rhetoric” is usually to dismiss it. Yet for most of the span of our civilization, “rhetoric” was something taught in schools, and thought essential to participation in society. It was long part of the “Trivium,” or the classical liberal arts that you had to study to be considered part of civilized society. In eras that had a reverence for text and the written word, the art of not only persuading, but more generally expressing oneself well, was considered of paramount importance.

In America today, our political rhetoric, such as it is, does not exactly live up to the standards set by our forebears.Read a speech by Abraham Lincoln or Theodore Roosevelt or John F. Kennedy. Then compare it to Donald Trump, who has turned broken English into a political weapon. (Hillary Clinton’s speeches aren’t exactly Shakespeare either.)

And yet, there remains a deep longing at the heart of the human soul for beautiful language.

Source: Michelle Obama and the great American tradition of political rhetoric

Michelle Obama’s speech at the recent Democratic convention was indeed the epitome of the old meaning of rhetoric. It was elegant and thoughtful, similar to the words of Kennedy, Teddy Roosevelt and Lincoln.

I know in the age of Twitter, texting and such, beautiful language has for the most part been ignored. I fear that with history  and writing classes disappearing from the  school landscape future generations will lose the longing for and the ability to use beautiful language.

It’s Time For A Break…

2016-07-31_16-01-33.pngNow that the final segment of this political season is upon us maybe it is time to take a break from politics until at least the first debate.  That is what I intend to do. I don’t think I can handle all the mudslinging that will surely occur in the coming days and weeks. Ninety eight days from now it won’t matter, either we will have a nut case as president or one who will pretty much preserve the status quo. I’m pretty sure we as a nation can survive both possibilities.

I need to move on to other, more productive or at least thoughtful things. So the “In Search of America” and the “That’s Life” portions of RJsCorner  will take center stage for a while. I know my ratings will go down as they are always higher when I join in on the idiocy of politics but RJsCorner was never intended to be about ratings.  When I started this blog almost eight years ago on another forum it was meant to be my “public” journal.  That is, a place where I can think out loud about life. As the years have passed it has almost morphed into a way  keeping me mentally active.

I will be posting many more of my “In Search of America” pictures here as well as some more philosophical stuff related to Autism among other things.  Autism has become my study of choice for the last few months. I will be sharing those thoughts with you. I will also be sharing some parts of my private life to maybe show you how you too might want to dig into your own personal version and try to become a better person. Personal improvement is my ultimate  goal for this study.

If any of this interests you keep coming back to RJsCorner in the coming weeks.  If you are here primarily for the politics come back in the Fall. But one thing I do hope is that more of you can share your experiences via comments to my posts. While I get a healthy view count comments are few.   It is nice to know that someone is out  there and interested….

Owning Our Dark Side….

Its time to do some overall reflection the two political conventions just ended and then to move on to other things.  The contrast between the two could not have been greater.  One was about hatred and fear and the other was about future possibilities.  One was about living in the past, the other about preparing for a better future.

I am really starting to feel sorry for my Republican friends. They ended up with a egomaniac at the head of their ticket. How that happened was for the most part their own making but I’m sure 90% of those who claim the GOP banner are good decent people. But it is that ten percent who are now the face of their party. Trump, Limbaugh, O’Reilly are the face of it and it is to my mind an ugly face.

And Trump is getting plenty of help, even as many Republicans fret that he’s digging them further into a hole they’ll struggle to climb out of. On Monday, Michelle Obama said, in the most moving passage of an extraordinary speech, “I wake up every morning in a house that was built by slaves. And I watch my daughters, two beautiful, intelligent, black young women playing with their dogs on the White House lawn.” It was part of her argument that the greatness of America lies in its ability to change, to overcome its weaknesses and its sins, to be forever a work in progress. Yet some on the right couldn’t hear that as a redemptive story; all they heard was a black lady complaining about slavery again.

The next day, Rush Limbaugh, the country’s most popular radio host and a relentless race-baiter, complained that when it comes to slavery, the Obamas are “never going to let it go,” so determined are they to make white people feel bad. That evening, the most popular personality on the Fox News Channel — Bill O’Reilly, whose angry-old-white-guy persona is a living caricature of the prototypical Republican voter — felt the need to assert that “Slaves that worked there [constructing the White House] were well fed and had decent lodgings provided by the government.” That outreach to minorities is really coming along great.

Even if you think Republican policy ideas are superior, there’s just no question which party is the inclusive and welcoming one. Democrats may have their problems, but on the national level, their multi-racial, multi-ethnic, interfaith coalition represents not just America’s future, but its present as well. Maybe one day Republicans will figure out a way around it, but it won’t be by doing what they’re doing now.

Source: Why Night 2 of the Democratic convention was a glorious contrast to the RNC

2016-07-27_10-13-00.pngAs indicated above one of the basic problems with our country is that  like Limbaugh and O’Reilly we for the most part won’t own up to our darker side.  Too many flatly deny any wrongdoing. That is one thing that Germany has over us.  They have learned that it is healing to recognize that Hitler was a part of German history. They don’t deny it or try to sweep it under a rug. They mourn it with the rest of us.

We Americans are yet to really admit that we annihilated  a native-American population of millions through genocide in order to steal their land.  We as a country, but especially in the South, have failed to openly admit that we enlsaved millions in order to make our lives easier. When we don’t own up to our faults there is little possibility that we can truly learn from them. This is one of the lessons that I wish my Republican friends would learn.   Its not about guilt as Limbaugh shouts…


Its Been A While Since We Had A New Political Party…

I think it is time for a shakeup of our political system. It has been 160 years since we had a new party on the American scene.  Maybe it is time…

2016-07-26_12-00-16.pngMany Americans are justifiably nervous that the know-nothing pathological narcissist at the top of the Republican ticket might actually win the presidency. Still, while this could indeed happen, it remains unlikely….

It shows, for instance, that the percentage of non-centrists in the House Republican caucus has gone from about 44 percent in 1999 to nearly 90 percent today, while the number of non-centrist Democrats has stayed almost exactly the same at about 10 percent. Since Ronald Reagan took office, the ideological distance between the parties has more than doubled.

Trump is therefore not just the product of the conservative echo chamber, or the Tea Party aversion to pragmatic compromise. His rise is evidence that the party and its voters may soon fuse their increasingly anti-system behavior and preferences with a political figure who shares Trump’s contempt for democracy but who also possesses the skills and temperament to make his dark vision a reality.

SOURCE: American democracy is hurtling toward an apocalyptic showdown about legitimacy

The base, whatever that is, of the Republican party just seems bent on anti-system behavior. What happened to the true conservative I simply don’t know. I admit to being a conservative in the fiscal sense. Our deficit spending, especially on the military, and our failure to maintain a tax structure to successfully manage the social aspects of our country just don’t make sense to me. But as the quote above says since 90% of the Republicans in the house are now in the anti-establishment mode it seems obvious where we need to seriously trim our weeds. But until gerrymandering is finally declared unconstitutional that is not likely to happen at least in the House.

I saw an interesting interview on CNN recently. The panel was made of of four Republican strategists. Only one of the four was promoting the Trump candidacy.  The other three were in the mode of how to reclaim the party after Trump is soundly defeated in November.

Given the total obstructionist attitude of the current Republican congress it just may be time for something new. A society cannot exist by standing stubbornly  in a protectionist mode.  Neither can a political party  exist with only a small minority of its country’s citizenry.

I had high hopes that Mr. Ryan, when he took over as Speaker of the House, would break the gridlock but just the opposite seems to have happened.  He has clearly stated that his top priority is party above principle. His  and McConnell’s endorsement of Trump simply because he managed to bully his way through the Republican pack and get the nomination is shameful to me. I have lost all respect for him and I imagine many of their once conservative base have too!

Its been a while since we had a new political party… maybe it is time…. I just hope it has a fiscal conservative bent.  The Democrats totally abandoned that idea decades ago…


Fort DeChartres…

ISOA BannerOne of the sites I visited while on my southern Illinois trip was to Fort DeChartres. Here are some pictures of that visit.  The museum building was not open during my Wednesday visit, State budget cuts I guess. It would have been nice to learn more about the site but that is how it goes I guess.

Ft De Chartres.jpg

(click on any picture to see a larger slideshow)

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