About Being… Who Am I??

Instead of re-inventing the wheel I am bringing over some posts from RJsCorner. They simply fit better with LOM (Life on the Margins) than they do over there. This post was written last year.


When someone asks you “What do you do?” I suspect that most often you identify with your “Earning” years. I would have said I am an engineer who develops software apps for an engineering division. While that may describe the final segment of my earning years, it really doesn’t tell people who I really am. I know you have heard the saying that no one on their deathbed ever said, “I wish I had spent more time at work!” Work may describe how you collect resources during your earning years but it most often doesn’t really describe who you are, does it?

“Being” means that you have finally discovered why God put you on this earth. It describes where you make your contribution to the world. We all have a contribution to make whether we believe it or not. A good part of my earnings years I spent designing telephones, all of which are now in a trash site or museums. During those years I might have made contributions, but they were usually short-lived. It was definitely not who I wanted to “be”. 

Sometimes “being” is more than one characteristic but most often there is one that dominates the others. Being is something that makes you who you are. It is your persona or brand as a person.

Some of us will not discover our “being” until almost too late in life to make much of a contribution, but better late than never. I am totally awed by doctors who knew at a very early age that they wanted to help people. I also have to include nurses in that category, and many other categories as well. 

Teachers often know that is what they want to “be”. Most often that happens after being greatly influenced by one of their teachers. To me being an “influencer”of the young is probably the ultimate of being. Even more so, since they know they will never gain much material wealth by choosing that profession. 

For me personally, and I think for most in general, we stumble through life in search of our destiny. When we finally accomplish it, we discover that “being” most often has little to do with financial gain. For me, it was more about being my brother’s keeper. It is about helping those who just needed a little assistance. I have come to adamantly believe that every person on this earth deserves a chance to be who they are meant to be. It doesn’t matter their country of birth or their economic circumstances. Everyone deserves a change to be who they were meant to be. That is why these years of selfishness and exclusivity are so disastrous to me.

And then there are people who never realize their being. Instead, they latch on to something more selfish in nature. Being rich, having expensive cars, living in opulence was their false god, their false being. I feel very sorry for them. Most just never bothered to do the hard work to discover who they were really meant to be.

I hope this post helped you understand what I am talking about when it comes to “Being”? But, I know I will never be able to fully explain this topic to my satisfaction

GIVING 100%, IS IT WORTH IT TO YOU?

I hope everyone who reads these words, no matter where you are at in your life, accepts that becoming what you dream to be will take a lot of effort. The question is, are you ready for that commitment? If your goal is to do just a satisfying job at what you are given then less effort is required. That’s OK, it just depends on your priorities. Maybe you prefer a more balanced life instead of focusing on one particular passion.

I usually focus on the balanced life aspect of living, but that doesn’t mean that I put off the hard work to accomplish my passions, it’s just that I don’t give them 100%. You hear all the stories about Olympic athletes spend 6 -8 hours per day for years at a time so that they can excel at their given sport. To be excellent at that level requires putting everything else in your life on hold, much of which you will likely never be able to get back.

I sometimes ask myself “What have I given 100% of everything to? Truly 100%?” There are moments, even days and even a few months, that I can proclaim I gave 100% but to become “excellent” at something just doesn’t seem to be my nature. I can look at some of my role models growing up and no matter how many people told them to stop wasting their time on some fleeting passion they stuck to it.

The last time I checked, there’s nothing wrong with being a well-rounded human being. You might not be the best or the greatest of all time at anything, and that’s okay. You don’t have to go down in history to be happy or to feel successful. What matters is your happiness. Your peace. If you can find gratitude in the small brush strokes that paint the big picture.

I have too many passions to want to put all my time on just one of them. You might say that my overall passion in life is to keep learning and asking questions till I take my last breath. One of my primary passions is writing/blogging. It gives me an outlet for passing on things that I learn, so it is really connected to the overall passion, I guess? But, I enjoy so much more than this.

  • I love photography, trying to find that particular picture that speaks to me. Out of the thousands I have taken I have perhaps 20 that meet that description.
  • I love history, it shows me why we are where we are and maybe teaches us how to avoid present and future mistakes.
  • I love working on my µRV. I have been fabricating it for about five years now. It gets my hands dirty and lets a particular brand of creativity loose.
  • I love traveling, particular in my µRV. I have made about 30 trips in it and plan on making as many as I can going forward.
  • Even though I complain about it to myself at times, I love my 2.5 acre homestead. Keeping it up is more difficult as time goes by now. I will have to face that fact sometime, but not yet now.

It seems my passion is having passions. How about you? Do you feed your passions every day? Do you have one that dominates your life?

Seeking Bliss

I know the old saying that “Ignorance is Bliss” but I would kinda like finding bliss without going that far. We are in some pretty serious times but, let’s face it, ignorance can be down right dangerous right now. Bliss is supposedly a state of perfect happiness. I don’t think I, or anyone else for that matter, have ever been there, so maybe I’ll just try to accomplish just a touch of it.

Here are some of my ideas to get a little bliss in my life:

Be in the moment – That means don’t worry so much about what is coming next, but instead just enjoy the now. I can actually say that given all the hours I have spent in the homestead the last few months I have come to appreciate the “moment”. Even the weeding time in my annual veggie garden is enjoyable. It gets me away from my computer and down to the dirt level. The “good” dirt level that is.

One of my true joys in life is working on my uRV (microRV). It is a 1992 Chevy Work Truck that went from a delivery vehicle to an RV of my design and fabrication. I have been working on it for the last seven years or so. I can never seem to stop improving something that I did earlier. I’m not really sure if I will be able to use it much in the future but that doesn’t really bother me. It is the process that allows me to be in the moment.

Stop watching the news – How can you obtain bliss if you spend 24/7 wallowing in the troubles of life? The simple answer is you can’t! My life is more blissful now that I ration my information gathering time to no more than 60 minutes a day. That includes TV, Internet, and print media.

Don’t take life too serious – Finally, the secret to it all that comes from my hero Will Rogers.

Do the best you can and don’t take life too serious

I do my best to always remember to not take myself or anything else too serious. When we do that we start thinking that we are indispensable. I will close off this post with another saying that I kinda like:

Graveyards are full of indispensable people

The Most Beautiful…

I want to qualify my words here to say that I am by no means an authority on beauty or the female of the species. In fact, I am probably one of the most amateurish in that field. Here I am after 70+ years on this earth and I still can’t figure out what women want. But that doesn’t keep me from telling this story.

I still remember that day as if it were yesterday. We were at Ft William, an historic Canadian fort on the north shore of Lake Superior. I was in one of the many shops around the fort watching the young man in the photo above demonstrating silversmithing. I had my camera in hand ready to take his picture when a young lady, probably in her early twenties came in the door.

Her sheer beauty struck me down, I could not believe that anyone would ever affect me that way. She had no makeup on, no two-inch false eyelashes, no seven-inch heels. Her beauty was totally her own as it should always be. Her pioneer style green dress and long hair with a silver bracelet in the back caused my jaw to drop. I never said anything as there was really nothing to say. By the time I came back to my senses she was already behind the counter walking towards her friend. I quickly snapped a picture, her back was much better than nothing. You can see from the young man’s eyes that he too was enamored by her natural beauty.

Every time I come across this photo in my portfolio a little of that same feeling covers me. I can no longer envision what her face looked like, but that is ok, it gives it a little enticing mystery. That young lady is now in her thirties and probably married with kids, but I will always imagine her in the tin shop in Ft. William on the north shore of Lake Superior.

Just Stories – I Went To Harvard, Yale, and MIT…

I have used the phrase in the title of this post on numerous occasions. Most people, except maybe my wife, think of me as an intelligent person. I was kinda shocked when I learned that my IQ was 136, which puts me in the top 1%, but I guess that is another story. 🥸

Anyway after a lengthy pause I end the phrase …

All in the same weekend

I have pictures to prove that and will intersperse them here. When we lived in New Jersey for four years just before my retirement in 2000 we spent several long weekends touring the New England States. The Ivy League weekend was one of them.
I must admit that among those three places that Harvard was my favorite. Yale which is in New Haven, Connecticut was just kinda blah. They were getting ready for their commencement ceremony the follow day, so the yard was filled with chairs. It’s been over twenty-some years since our visit, so I can’t really remember much more than that.

Since I was an engineer MIT should have been my favorite, but even in those years my creative genes were beginning to blossom, and the place just seemed too sterile. Everything was the same color, and it looks like the place was designed by an engineer, not an architect!

Harvard, on the other hand, was just steeped in tradition. The 1978 TV series entitled The Paper Chase was still fresh in my mind, even twenty years later. For those who are too young to remember the show, here is a little about it from Wikipedia:

James T. Hart is a law student from rural Minnesota who enters the intensely competitive environment of a prestigious law school specifically to study with Professor Charles W. Kingsfield, the world’s leading authority on contract law . Kingsfield inspires both awe and fear in his students in his unremitting determination to prepare them for the practice of law.

Wikipedia

I admit, that since I have always been one of them, that I am always in favor of the underdog, so James Hart up against a famous Harvard Law professor is permanently stuck in the back of my mind.

Getting back to going to Harvard, the Harvard Yard was almost a magical place. But, it did seem much smaller than I imagined. The statue of John Harvard proudly reigned over the yard just as I pictured it. The buildings, with all the real ivy over the arches made them seem surreal. When I found out that they had a school of architecture I had to stop by the book store to get a hat and T-shirt on that school. Even in the early days I thought I should have been an architect, why I never chased that dream is one of my many failures in life.

It’s been twenty-five years since that weekend visit and I still think that it was in the top 3 places for those years of living in the Northeast.

Roads Not Taken

I have always been a dreamer and a person who constantly looks to the future. When I was a very young boy I would go out into the backyard of our 1950s $14,000 tract home and lay on the dewy grass and look at the stars and dream about my future. It seems like there were a lot more stars on those nights than I have seen in decades, maybe a result of pollution?

In some ways I think my fixation on the future stifled some of my present. I frequently think about what might have been, if… In other words I am always evaluating how my reality stacked up with my dreams. I am also a serious “lessons learned” person. I try to learn from my mistakes in the past so that I will make better decisions going forward. This characteristic has matured as I have aged but still has a long way to go.

Thinking about it at a higher level maybe I just enjoy living in parallel universe where I can invent the future instead of having to wait for it to happen. 😎 This could have been a great motivator in making life changes throughout the years but for the most part that wasn’t the case. Regrettably, I most often let financial security drive way too much of my decisions in life. If only I had listened to dreams more often. My conservative roots too often won out over my dream world.

It was just too hard for me to take the financial risk required to accomplish a dream. That is perhaps one of the most serious mistakes of my life. There were way too many “roads not taken”.

One of the reasons for my life stories here on RJsView is to try to get others who might come by these words to learn a little from my mistakes. I want to close out this post by giving you a clue about your future. Even when you are 70 you will still see yourself at a 30-something year old, maybe not in body but definitely in spirit. If only I had the wisdom then that I do now, I would likely have made some very different choices in life. But, those are roads not taken. Maybe I shouldn’t ponder on them so much. I still dream of my future as if I were a thirty-year-old, but I realize now that for the most part they are only dreams that will never be fulfilled. But, that doesn’t stop me!

Life Stories – The Dormitory Cafeteria

A dormitory cafeteria was a prime reason I became a “man”. I know in my day and very likely today, that is not the usual statement to describe a dormitory cafeteria. It is usually described as “blah”, “bland”, “despicable”, or often much worse. 🤬 Of course this demands a life story, so that is why you are here.


I was naive country boy who was starting college in the fall of 1965. I had worked the summer at a machine shop next to where dad worked to get the money to pay for the first semester’s tuition and room & board. How I was going to pay for the second was beyond me! I knew I had to find work, I just didn’t know where or how? All this college stuff was new to me. As most kids going off to college I had never been on my own. I procrastinated for a couple of weeks on a job search, but finally started looking. Fortunately for me, the head waiter of our dormitory cafeteria resided in the same unit as I did. He happened to walk by my room and heard me talking to my roommate about a job. He suggested that I work for him. I jumped at the chance!

Mrs. Holmes (lady on the left) almost became the mother I never had.

I did most of the cooking for dad and my little brother from the age of ten, so I thought I had some experience, but found out going from cooking for three to serving 1500 meals a day was unimaginable. There were about 80 student waiters who served and cleaned up twenty meals a week. Being that I was not very good at one-on-one type things like interacting with others. I volunteered for P&P. That was scrubbing all the pots and pans used to prepare the meal. That meant I didn’t have to interact with anything but those pots and pans. Even though I didn’t know it I guess I did that job very well and got the attention of management. 😎 It wasn’t long before I was promoted from P&P to a busboy who made sure the serving lines never ran out of food.

That’s me on the right with my arm around one of my bosses (ha)

I made enough money by working almost forty hours per week there to pay the tuition for the second semester and worked out a scheme to pay off the dormitory costs on a weekly basis from my dormitory cafeteria paycheck throughout the semester. That arrangement allowed me to complete five years of college.

During my second year I joined management. That is I became a waiter captain and in the final year became the head waiter that was in charge of 80 people! My confidence grew tremendously during those five years. I finally became convinced I could do anything if I set my mind to it.

Me on the left, finally the head waiter

My college years made me a man

Little did I know that skills I learned from my cafeteria years would prove valuable forty years later. Things like cracking four eggs at a time and making meals for so many people proved of benefit during my 11 years stent volunteering at a local soup kitchen after retirement from the corporate world. Like the dormitory experience I went from P&P to running that operation a couple of days a week.

Life Stories – Remembering Don

My college years were probably the most important years of my life. They were a time when I quit being a skinny kid from a very small rural conservative town. They showed me that I had responsibilities as an adult to more than just myself. They showed me a world that I never knew even existed. I will have a lot of stories here are RJsView (of the world) about those years, but I want to start them out with my memories of Don.

Don was two years ahead of me in college. I was initially introduced to him when I was promoted to a “captain” at the dormitory cafeteria waiter staff. He was the dining room captain. Don just spewed “class” whereas I was just a country pumpkin. He dressed well and lived in Fowler House which was an exclusive part of Fowler Courts dormitory. He was as sophisticated as I was naive. As strange as the possibility was, he became a friend.

One of the things that drew me to him was that he, like me, was a lover of folk songs. I played the guitar in those years but never to the level that he did. Most importantly maybe, was that he introduced me to Bob Dylan and that cinched me to the folk music genre for a lifetime. Once I started buying Dylan records I discovered that Don had Dylan down pat. You almost couldn’t tell the difference between the two when they sang. 🥴

I never felt that welcomed by my dad’s new wife when dad moved into her home. She was just totally dedicated to her two boys to even bother with me. As a result, I often spent the holiday seasons on campus instead of going home. One of those times Don invited me to go home with him for a few days and I readily accepted. When we first went into the door of his lifetime home old people, I mean those in their 40s and 50s, started calling him Uncle Don. That confused me until I learned that when Don was born his parents were in their 50s and already had several already grown children!

Don loved his nieces and nephews even if they were 20 – 30 years older than him. They were a tight-knit family. That closeness was something I just didn’t fathom. My dad, like Don was the baby of the family, but unlike Don he was never close to the rest of the clan. I think part of the reason for that was because of who dad chose to marry. The rest of the clan just never got along with his self-centered narcissist wife. She was just too uppity for them. But, I’m getting off-topic here. That is the story for a future post here.

Don graduated in 1968 and pretty quickly married his childhood sweetheart. That year was also at the height of the Vietnam War. He was drafted into the military within a couple of months after graduation. I later found out that Don was killed within a month of going to Vietnam. This was the first time in my life that I saw death at such a personal level, and I was devastated by it. Even more so when I found out that his wife was pregnant and his child would grow up never knowing what a great father he had. Of course, I would end up losing other friends to that stupid war, but none hit me as hard as Don.

Every time after that when I listened to my Dylan records I thought, and mourned for Don all over again. But, as usually happens that grief gradually subsided, that is until about twenty years later. That was the time that I visited the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington DC. I just wanted to see his name on that wall. Little did I know what effect that would have on me.

From a large book at the site I got where on the wall where his name was and got into a rather long line. After about fifteen minutes the designated slab came into view. At first, I couldn’t find Don’s name but suddenly, it appeared and I just totally lost it. I was crying like a baby and all the good memories of Don flashed across my eyes. I wondered how his now twenty-some year old son, who Don never knew he existed, was doing. Then a second wave hit me as I remembered the high school classmates who were also lost in that war.

It was at that point that I become much more politically involved. One reason is that I wanted to do whatever I could to prevent us from getting involved in other useless wars that wasted so many young lives. Of course, more wars happened despite my meager efforts, but thank God none of them have caused the loss of American life as the Vietnam War.

I know the picture at the top of this post is a pretty blurry one, but I still love it as it was one of the few pictures I had of my college friend that I will never forget. It is how I want to always remember him.

Life Stories – The Sound Of Music

The above photo was taken at the 2019 Mississinewa Battle Reenactment. When I took the picture my heart sunk just a little and sadness overcame me. This is not the first time that has happened. In fact, I have felt the same thing hundreds of times in the past 20 years or so.

In my youth I very much enjoyed music. It was not until my college years that I could afford my own record player, so I had no records until then. I was a folk song guy so most of my records were of that genre. But, I also enjoyed orchestras and a few soloists outside of folk. Johnnie Mathis, Pat Boone, Montivonti Orchestra, Henry Mancini, and probably a dozen others that I can no longer remember. No, I didn’t much care for Elvis, he was too flashy and noisy for my tastes. 🤪

I loved to turn on my music in my college dorm room, it helped to study.

I guess maybe it is time to tell you about my sudden sadness on taking the picture above. I went deaf in 1988 and of course that abruptly ended my music appreciation time. But until a decade or so after I went deaf my mind could still conjure up the sounds of the music that I loved. After that, the sounds of musical instruments started to fade, and today I just can’t remember what sound any musical instruments make. I played the guitar in my youth, being a folk song guy, of course I did 😋 but what came off those strings is just not imaginable now. I can still feel myself plunking the strings but that is it. Pianos, horns, drums make no sound for me. I have no sound of music in me anymore and when I am reminded of that fact, such as taking this picture, my heart slows down a few beats.

I still remember the words of many of my favorite songs. Dylan, Simon & Garfunkel, even Peter, Paul and Mary’s words still ring in my ears. I can remember the cadence and the words but what accompanied them is gone. But that doesn’t keep me from blurting out my own transition of them when I am alone. I mean completely alone. In fact, I have small tattered copies of a couple of dozen songs that I still cherish. Of course The Sounds Of Silence is one of them. Little did I think that that song would someday mean so much to me.

Wall Art

For this post, I give you a piece of wall art. I mean that literally “wall art”. I need to give you a little background before I tell you more about it.


I went deaf in 1988. It was not a sudden thing, it slowly evolved for a 20-year period. One of the things I missed the most immediately was that TV was just not the same. In 1988 closed captioning was in its infancy. Most of the programs I had watched were either not captioned or the captioning was so bad that it really wasn’t usable. But still, I refused to give up on one of my life’s pleasures. So, what I would do was to watch the pictures and make up my own stories about what was happening. 🥴 Most often the pictures ended up very mismatched from my personal storyline, but that was ok.

Luckily, it would only be a year or two until captioning was greatly advance and I could actually see/hear again, at least as TV was concerned. Now getting to the link between this picture and my words. It’s been thirty years + since those days, but I still like to make up stories about many of the photos I have taken. So, that is what I am about to do.


Right now I don’t remember exactly where this photo was taken. But I do remember it was from a small abandoned town somewhere in Indiana. About the only buildings still occupied was the fire station and post office. That is not too unusual as buildings seem to live way beyond their useful life when they are funded by taxes. But, I am getting off the story. I do remember that this was on a jail. One window still existed with bars on it and there was still evidence of a jail cell in the back.

I can conjure up a story about a jail breakout causing the damage repaired. Maybe it was from a Bonnie and Clyde small-town bank robbers. From the other buildings in town, one was used to be a café, and yet another was a general store and a hotel. That would seem to make it a prime target for a bank robbing couple who cruised through the time. My mind conjured up several other stories from this picture. But, the final chapter was always that the repair just wasn’t done right and over the years the amateur job failed.

Like my TV watching time, I’m sure my stories don’t come close to matching any reality, but that is ok. That is what life is all about.

Life Stories – The Sunrise Fisherman

One of my favorite vacations was a month-long visit to our northern neighbors. The people throughout Canada just seem so friendly and interesting. The itinerary for the trip was  Ottawa, Toronto, Quebec, along the St. Lawrence Seaway, Nova Scotia, and finally Prince Edward Island. This story is about the St. Lawrence River on a once-in-a-lifetime sunrise morning.

We were done with our Canadian tours of Toronto, Ottawa, and Quebec, so now it was time for to slow down and relax in the beauty of the St. Lawrence Seaway. One thing we quickly discovered was that when we left Quebec City, we pretty much left humanity behind. It seems that Quebec Highway 132, which is a two-lane road is for the most part uninhabited, at least by our standards. As we approached the 300 km mark, I started getting worried that we might have to sleep in the car! Finally, just before panic was beginning to set in, we came onto the town of Riviere-Trois-Pistoles. It was a very small town with only one store and no overnight accommodations. Just on the other side of town there was a small sign on the road with the words “motel” with an arrow pointing to the right.  We were desperate, so decided to give it a try. After five minutes on the gravel road I began to wonder if the sign had been maybe abandoned years before, it certainly looked old enough.

Finally, a couple of buildings appeared on the horizon. One was a small house and the other appeared to be a long chicken coup. Hesitantly, we approached the house and found a typical motel office type room. When we asked about staying the night the person behind the counter muttered a few words in French and then went into the back room. We were just about to leave when an older lady appeared. She told us that her husband didn’t speak much English, but she assured us that she had rooms available for the night, and she would give us her best one. In desperation, we agreed without even asking the price or seeing the room.

It was a small but clean room among about a half dozen others in the “chicken coop”. There was a sign above the small sink that proclaimed in both French and English “Don’t drink the water – showering OK”. The room had a musky odor and filled with antique (read that as very old) furniture. There was no TV as there was likely no reception. The double bed was bouncy, to say the least.  More about that later. What made this room so special was its location; it was about 50 ft from the shoreline of a very wide portion of the St. Lawrence River.  The view was simply spectacular!

We had not eaten since breakfast that day, so we decided to go back to Riviere-Trois-Pistoles to visit its only store. It turns out that it was well stocked with a variety of cheese. We purchased a selection and some crackers for our dinner that night. We decided to eat our dinner delight at the picnic table just outside our room. The view there of the St. Lawrence proved to be much more pleasurable than the food itself and that is how it should have been.  We watched a couple and their young children play along the rocky shoreline. They were staying in an RV adjacent to the “motel”. Even without hearing them I could see that they were having the time of their life.

As the sun was setting we returned to our “Don’t drink the water” room and decided to call in a night.  Little did I realize what kind of night it would be. The sheets were clean, but the covers were tattered and had a mothball odor. After my wife fell quickly asleep I laid down on the bed and found a very obnoxious broken spring poking me into my back. I thought I could ignore it but quickly found out otherwise. The more I tried to adjust my position the worse it seemed to get. After about two hours of maneuvering I finally gave up and decided to spend the night in the lumpy tattered chair next to the bed. I nodded off and on for what seemed like an eternity until a slight glimmer of light finally stretched into the room.

As it become lighter, I decided to venture out to get a first glimpse of the St. Lawrence and maybe take a nap on the more likely comfortable picnic table. As the sky became lighter and lighter, I noticed about 100 yards away a lone fisherman sitting on a five-gallon bucket with a long fishing pole over the water. Even though I was watching from a distance I felt I was intruding on his personal space, but that didn’t keep me from scurrying back to the room to pick up my camera.  I sneaked a few pictures and I watched him for about ten more minutes. He didn’t catch any fish, but I don’t suspect that was the true reason he was out there. I think he just wanted to savor the surroundings. I kind of get the idea that he probably did this many other mornings just to start his day out with a peaceful resolve.

The sunrise that morning was spectacular! The colors seem to have been drenched by a rainbow. That was the most uncomfortable night I had on this trip but I will always remember it. Especially since I shared it with a nameless new Canadian friend, if only at a distance.