So Long, Its Been Good to Know Yuh…

Its been good to know yaThe title of this post was written by my folk music hero Wood Guthrie many years ago but that is not the topic of this post. Instead it is to say so long to a fellow Hoosier Dave Letterman. Although I was not a regular late-night TV viewer in any form I did catch Dave’s show on occasion. I have a certain kindred relationship with Dave even though it is  assuredly one-sided.

Dave is a younger fellow than me by almost six months. I think he was born in the same Indianapolis hospital as I was. I almost took a summer job during college at Channel 13 in Indy where he was the weekend weather man. He was outrageous for his times there for his ad-libbing the weather.  Predicting hail stones the size of basketballs and give weather predictions for fictitious towns. He was a funny guy even then.

LettermanI know Dave has been a New Yorker for quite a few years now but I kinda believe he still has his Hoosier roots in him so even though I am his elder and I have been retired for quite a few years I don’t think I have to give him any suggestions about his retirement. I’m sure he won’t be like so many of those celebrities who can’t find anything to do outside the spot-light and therefore try to “change their mind” about leaving.  If he gets bored I would welcome him to be a guest poster here but I don’t image that would ever happen. I guess he racked up $30 – $40 million a year for his time on late-night TV so he has plenty of other options beside meeting ThatWiseGuy.

Anyway Dave, I wish you well in your retirement years. As another hero of mine Will Rogers said have just fun and don’t take life too serious.

I am RJ and I am ThatWiseGuy

TWiG 1

Bound For Glory

2015-05-18_19-56-18I can’t get very far along with this new blog before I bring in the folk music category. Folk music, particularly Bob Dylan, Pete Seeger, Joan Baez, PP&M, is what formed many of my attitudes toward life and made me realize that I am to some degree an empath. But it was not until I discovered Woody Guthrie that I came to see the true origins of folk music.

When I recently visited the Wood Guthrie Center in Tulsa Oklahoma I was totally struck by the breadth of his talents. I am now reading a book entitled Bound For Glory which is an autobiography by Woody. The book sparks new imaginations in me. Here is a little about him from the forward in the book by Pete Seeger.

He was a short, wiry guy with a mop of curly hair under a cowboy hat, as I first saw him. He’d stand with his guitar slung on his back, spinning out stories like Will Rogers, with a faint, wry grin. Then he’d hitch his guitar around and sing the longest long outlaw ballad you ever heard, or some Rabelaisian fantasy he’d concocted the day before and might never sing again. His songs are deceptively simple. Only after they have become part of your life do you realize how great they are. Any damn fool can get complicated. It takes genius to attain simplicity. 

Of course Woody’s most popular poem/song was This Land Was Made For You And Me.  In my opinion it should be our national anthem. Here are the words from the first two verses:

This Land Lyrics

There will be many more articles about Woody here as I believe he is the true heart of America.

Are there any other folk music fans out there that want to chime in here?

In The Beginning… About The Grandparents

Maybe the title of this post is a little over-inflated 🙂 but I am going back as far as I know about family.

2015-05-27_13-31-44My mom never talked about her family and I only met a brother once so I can’t say much about that side of my family. Much more about mom in that regard in incoming posts.  The only experiences with family  was on my dad’s side.  Grandpa Walters was a pig farmer and I believe his father was also a pig farmer. It is what he did. He had a farm of about forty acres near Belle Union Indiana. It had a couple of big old wooden barns and of course serveral pig pens and a chicken coop.

His house was nothing fancy, even for those times.  There was a fuel oil stove in the center of the house that served as the heat during those cold Indiana winters.  Plumbing was added sometime before I was born so there was now a kitchen sink and a bump-out in the back that was the bathroom.  But even with these new-fangled things grandpa refused to take down the outhouse and even preferred using it instead of the inside one when he was working his pigs.

I do remember the stories about grandpa’s grandpa being a trapper and had married a local Shawnee squaw in the 1800’s. I always thought that was neat and have been proud of my Native American heritage ever since. I guess that makes me ⅛ Shawnee but since I have pretty high cheekbones I think my heritage  shows.

Now on to the skeleton in the Walters’ closet. Grandma Walters never lived with grandpa during my lifetime. I never could get a straight story out of dad about that but it seems that grandpa chased grandma off the farm with a shotgun and she never came back! They never divorced and they were eventually buried side-by-side but they never saw each other after that fateful event. What caused the split I just don’t know.

Grandma she was a house-mother at a DePauw University fraternity in Greencastle Indiana.  When she retired she moved to a studio apartment and that is where I remember visiting with her. Neither grandma or grandpa ever had a bad word to say about the other, at least to us kids.

2015-05-27_13-30-42Grandma died when I was about eight years old and grandpa when I was ten or eleven so I never had any kind of extended relationship with them.  The most vivid memory I have is when we visited grandpa one of my duties was to get the morning eggs from the hen house.  Grandpa said we couldn’t have breakfast until that chore was done. But in reality he just enjoyed watching me get chased around the chicken yard by a very ornery rooster. He scared the dickens out of me. 🙂

Anybody care to share a grandparent story??

Old and New..

Old and NewI found this interesting place recently in the panhandle of Texas. I guess it used to be a gas station of sorts but that was likely years ago. It is now surrounded by wind turbines. The old and the new fit nicely together..

Indian Cultural Center – Albuquerque Gallery

Being part Native American I always plan of visiting Native American centers throughout my travels.  This one is in Albuquerque NM. We visited there this Spring. This post is about the art found there, I will be doing another post about pueblo history soon.  Click on any image to see a larger slide show.

New & Improved…

I am back from a six-week hiatus here at InSearchOfAmerica. I wanted to take this time off to thoroughly enjoy the beautiful Spring season here in the Midwest.

2015-05-28_12-53-512015-05-28_12-54-16While I was gone from daily blogging I worked on some improvements to the site. Since pictures are at the heart of this blog I brought up a new “Gallery” option in the header menu. I also categorized and tagged the posts to be easier to find just the info you want.

It feels good to be back but I did come to some decisions about my blogging future. While I will post on a regular basis it will not be daily and not on a strict schedule. My goal is to put out a new post at least twice weekly.  Let’s have some fun in our Search Of America…

Leaning Tower of Britten?

Leaning Tower of BrittenAccording to my camera gps this shot was taken in Groom Texas along Interstate 40. I don’t understand why it says Britten but if they don’t do something soon I expect that some of the people of Groom will be without water for a while.

First Things First…

First things first.  I am a sixty-eight year old wise guy and have been blogging for almost ten years now. Don’t ask my why, it is just in my blood.  This first post is to give you an idea of who I am and where I am going with this blog

WiseGuyI am “That Wise Guy” as proclaimed by the blog title.  Am I a “wise” guy or am I a “wise guy”? The answer to that is probably some of both but hopefully more of the former. The dictionary defines “wise guy” as an upstart who makes insolent comments. At times, too often perhaps, I do make those types of comments.  I will strive to do less of that here but sometimes my mouth just works faster than my brain. 😉

In order to be a “wise” guy you have been around a while. You don’t get to be wise without a lot of experiences under your belt and that takes years to accumulate.

One of the reasons for starting up a new blog instead of just continuing with the one I have had for the last five years is to accomplish what one of my heroes did years ago. Here is a quote from Thomas Jefferson in a letter to John Adams in 1812 about that.

Into politics, of which I have taken final leave. I think little of them, and say less. I have given up newspapers in exchange for Tacitus and Thucydides, for Newton and Euclid; and I find myself much the happier.

He penned these words less than three years after he left the White House! I too have taken my final leave of politics as it is just too depressing to me now. In the past I was very much a political animal but I just don’t need it anymore. As Jefferson, I think little of them and am trying to say less, much less. In order to do that a fresh blog without the political baggage was needed.

Due to circumstances beyond my control, I leave no heirs. I have no grandkids to tell my over-inflated life stories, even if they actually cared to listen. So in a way I am hoping to find a few virtual grandkids that might want to take a little time to hear what I have to say.

I am also hoping to find some friends to share my life stories with and even more importantly to share some of their own. We all need to listen to each other more. There is too much talking and not enough listening in this world today.

If any of this appeals to you stick around.  I have many life stories that I want to get off my chest and am very much hoping to hear many of yours.

My name is RJ & I am That Wise Guy

TWiG Logo 4

Prosperity and Taxes…My Recollections

QE BannerI know all you young folks out there who might accidentally come across my blog know very little about the history of prosperity but most of the older folks have recollections of more prosperous times.  I can remember the 1950s where everything seemed to be going well  for many of us. We couldn’t build enough houses or cars to meet our needs.  Instead of our returning vets coming home to unemployment, jobs were being created at a vigorous rate.

The 1960s was my decade for growth. Even though I was raised in the single parent household and my father was a milkman I managed to get accepted by a great State college and worked my way to a bachelor’s degree paying all the expenses by working in a dormitory cafeteria up to 40 hours a week. It was a struggling time but probably the happiest of my life. I made such good friends during those years before I became deaf.

In the 1970s things started to change. Good middle class jobs for those without a formal education beyond high school were starting to disappear.The Oil Embargo put a hamper on things and inflation was roaring along. Things were starting to change by the end of that decade and then came the 1980s.

The 1980s seemed to be a pivotal decade. It is the time when we elected a very conservative president who believed that government was the main problem in our society. It was a time when the elite among us began to get inordinate influence in our society. It was a time that the social conservative that seemed the dwarf the emphatic among us. It was a time when the rich started getting much richer.  It was also a time when the MBA college degree started taking root. The MBA degree taught that people where no longer to be considered valuable members of a company but instead liabilities that needed to be trimmed as much as possible.  At that point the middle class shrinking came fully into force.

The 1990s, or the Clinton years as I knew them, brought back prosperity at least the a degree and to a limited segment of society. These were my most productive years from a financial standpoint. My retirement funds and 401k’s grew at a rapid pace. The growth of the stock market rivaled that of the 1930s. A new thing called the Internet was taking hold of everyone including corporate America. I took advantage of the trend by re-purposing myself into an IT guy (information technology). I was suddenly in demand for my skills. but toward the end of the decade panic started. Luckily I got pretty much out of the stock market before the crash.

The 2000s were a very pivotal and dramatic decade that saw  the stock bubble burst and then years of a stagnant economy. When Mr. Bush came into the Oval Office the DOW Industrial averages were at 11,000, When he left eight years later it was at 8,000 and due to too much deregulation much of the banks were on the verge of bankruptcy along with a couple of our biggest corporations.

The 2010s finally ushered out the president who started two wars and huge increase in military spending. The new president managed to get us out of these two catastrophic emergencies and as a result in six years the DOW averages went from 8,000 to 18,000.

2015-04-15_07-48-38

So, studying the above graphs let’s recap all this. When the super rich were being taxed at up to 90% of their income we had prosperity. Then when that was reduced to about 30% things started falling apart. I think you should get the idea  that giving big tax breaks to the super rich is not a way to get us once again to prosperity.

I am way over my word limit here so I have to stop.

13 Things to Remember If You Love A Person With Anxiety

Anxiety is tough, isn’t it? Not just for the people that have it, but for you – the people that stick with them – while they’re going through it. It’s emotionally taxing on both ends, it’s physically demanding at times, and of course mentally demanding most of the time. Plans have to be changed to accommodate the anxiety. Situations have to be avoided at times. Planning has to be just that bit more thorough. Emotional needs can change daily. It’s a lot to work through, and it can be hard to get in their head to understand on top of that. SOURCE: 13 Things to Remember If You Love A Person With Anxiety.

This is another LifeHack post that drew me in. No, I am not the anxious one but I am married to one. In our twenty-nine years of marriage she has gotten sick before every vacation we have taken. She just doesn’t want to be away from her nest.  Most of the time she will eventually overcome her anxiety and we manage to take some time away from home. But several times we have had to cut the trip short due to an illness that almost always gets better once she is home.

Loving a person with anxiety is hard. The thirteen things to remember in the article above will be helpful to all those others out there that love a person with anxiety.

The grand Shiite-Sunni struggle

In a half-dozen nations, tyrants who once ruled by fear and repression have been toppled, unleashing centuries-old sectarian rivalries and bloody struggles for power. Syria’s horrific civil war is spilling into Lebanon and threatening Jordan and Turkey, while Iraq has effectively devolved into three nations — one Shiite, one Sunni, one Kurdish. In the chaos, a particularly malignant form of radical Sunni Islam, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, has seized large swaths of territory in Syria and Iraq….

Why is that rivalry raging now?

It has fueled conflict and repression since the dawn of Islam in the 7th century, but was ignited into a bonfire in 2003. That’s when the U.S. overthrew the Sunni-dominated regime of Saddam Hussein in Iraq. Hussein had long brutally suppressed Iraq’s Shiite majority, and his fall turned that power dynamic on its head. The new Shiite-dominated government of Nouri al-Maliki marginalized Iraq’s Sunnis, denying them any real voice in the new national government.

SOURCE: The grand Shiite-Sunni struggle.

I recently read an article about how Islam needs its own Reformation. The Christian Reformation began with Martin Luther posted ninety-five complaints against the might Roman Catholic Church over 500 years ago. Up until then there were only a handful of dominant Christian churches around and RC was the major one. They told you what to believe, how much money they wanted, and where you go after you die. A lowly monk just didn’t buy that and visibly told them so.  That started the flames rolling and the many different belief systems sprouting out that differed with the Roman Catholic church.

Today I am told that we have over 14,000 different versions of Christ’s church each saying they are the ones who have it right. We went from a handful to thousands because of the Reformation. Isn’t that what is currently happening with Islam. Isn’t ISIS just another version of Islam that has sprouted off the Muslim root? In some ways we don’t need an Islamic Reformation but instead an Islamic consolidation. We need some overall authority to reign in all this centuries old fighting among the Sunnis, Shiites, Kurds, and all the other out there.

As the article above says some think the we the U.S. is responsible for much of the latest fighting in Islam. Before we invaded Iraq its leader kept an iron grip on the various Muslim sects.  Since that overthrow the Middle East has exploded into one religious sect fighting another and hating all the other versions of spirituality.

We don’t need a Muslim Reformation, but just the opposite. While that is happening it would be nice is somehow we managed to get all the 14,000+ Christian sects to agree to some core beliefs but that seems almost as impossible as the former. At least we are not fighting and killing each other as our Muslim brothers are doing..

The History Of Christianity???

I am bringing over a series of posts for my Sunday entries from my now inactive blog over at RedLetterLiving. This is the last of a six-part series from about a year ago about the importance of the Bible in my spiritual life. After a ten-year study I finally understand what millions of other have discovered before me…. It’s about Jesus, not the Bible…

What About The Bible… ? (Chapter 6)

This is the final post on my series about the Bible. It has been an enlightening time for me. This final post is about the history of Christianity and how it seems to stop with the establishment of the biblical text. But before I get into that I must mention that I have found that to really understand the Gospel text you must also understand the basic history of that region of the world during that period of time. To do that means seeking out historical records  of the Roman Empire particularly in the Middle East.

There is virtually nothing about the person of Jesus found outside the gospel accounts. He just didn’t show up on the Roman radar screen.  Historical text shows that there were many different people who took on the mantel of “son of God” during those years. Several names were found in Roman text with that claim but Jesus of Nazareth was not one of them.

To understand the part the Roman authorities played in the Crucifixion  you must realize that Pontius Pilate routinely condemned Jews to death for a myriad of reasons.  He had little regard for that population. You must also understand that the religious leaders of the times were very much in bed with Roman authorities. These sort of historical accounts help us to understand the gospel stories.

The Bible contains almost all of the accounted history of the early Christian church. As such it is a very powerful document.  Shamefully any counter views of being a Christian  were systematically destroyed when the Biblical version was adopted. As a result we don’t have the pieces necessary to see any different views or to maybe fill in some of the holes in the gospel accounts.

One of my biggest disappointments is that we haven’t put as much enthusiasm in to documenting Christian history since 300AD. Why haven’t we documented how well we are doing in living the messages of Jesus? Progress means monitoring where we are and focusing on where we are going. If as much enthusiasm were put into this task as is it in our reverence to the Bible  think how much better the world would be today.

To know where the church stands today is to know how we got here. I think part of the problem with this is that Christianity has a very messy history since the Bible’s invention.  We started out as a small group of followers of Jesus’ words and commands to being a State mandated religion that gain immense power in the world.  We regularly killed those who might disagree with the established dogma of the times. The Inquisition was a sorry time in church history but it was not the only time.

In order to know where we are we must know where we came from. If the theologians of the church had spent as much energy helping us know how we are doing as they did trying to parse out a  particular text in the Gospel to show us their version of God we would be a stronger and more diligent followers of Jesus. Sadly that has simply not been the case.

Most versions of the church today have a very pre-defined dogma and particularly beliefs that they demand  compliance if you want to be part of their group. The trouble is much of that dogma simply has never been justified by the words of Jesus.