The Thirty Minute Blogger

Exploring Books and the Writer's Life, Faith and Works, Culture and Pop Culture, Space Science and Science Fiction, Technology and Nostalgia, Parenting and Childhood, Health: Physical and Emotional ... All Under the Iron Hands of the Clock and That 30 Minute Deadline

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Powerful Pastoral Letter from the American Baptist Churches USA General Secretary

In light of the recent violence in the US and the UK, Rev. Dr. Lee Spitzer, the General Secretary of the denomination provides a powerful letter stating what American Baptists have always stood for. A sample of this important letter reads: 

In 2017, American Baptists gladly and forthrightly reassert our fundamental Baptist convictions regarding individual liberty, dignity and respect for all people, regardless of their racial or ethnic heritage, political or religious beliefs, or any other factor. In 1976, the General Board affirmed a policy statement on human rights, which said:
“Baptist history is rooted in concern for conscience and for freedom of individual beliefs, for choice, and for unregimented living whether by religious dogma and institution or by social and political structures. John Bunyan in prison and Roger Williams driven from Massachusetts, reflect commitment to these ideas, as did Martin Luther King, in his witness to human dignity and the rights of minority groups. Resolutions by the American Baptist Churches over the years have particularly sought to reflect the denomination’s basic principles of freedom of thought and belief, the right of dissent, the responsibility to speak prophetically to church and society and support for human dignity and social justice.”
For the full letter, see:

Friday, June 9, 2017

Philadelphia Holds Powerful Conversation on Racism in 2017

Read up on the event that attracted 175 people on evening in Philadelphia and listen to it on the site where the event is discussed. People of all different races and ages provide their experiences. Lansdowne Baptist Church discusses the event at:

In this day and age, when the US is plagued with increasingly violent racist actions and words, encouraged by our current divisive and angry politics, we need to address this issue head on.

Here is the link to both several written stories and the recording of the event to listen to:

Christian author and founder of Sojourners, Jim Wallis, calls Christians out to stand against, speak out against, and act against racism and bigotry in a powerful article. See:

Watched a Driver's Near Death Decision

I was out driving yesterday on one of the small, two lane side roads in our area. I came to a railroad crossing. The gates were down and lights lit. There was no evidence of a train in sight, although the view was limited by buildings along either side of the tracks. The rails of the gates only covered one lane, the lane beside which the machinery was installed.

On the other side of the road, one driver decided not to wait. It didn't appear any train was coming anytime soon. So, he quickly pulled out into my lane on the other side of the tracks, moving with that hasty speed that says, "I know what I'm doing is illegal, probably dangerous, and I don't want to get caught." In the instant, the heart beat before he could enter the clear side of the track, the side without the gate on his side of the tracks, the train arrived. It was a local express apparently. It was moving at speed. One second it was not there; the next heartbeat, it was filling the intersection ... and then it was gone.

I don't remember if the trains sounded its horn. I don't know if it was required to do so or if the local express trains have horns to sound. All I can tell you is there was virtually no warning in sound or sight that the train was arriving. The warning came strictly from the gates and the flashing lights.

It was a near death experience for that impatient driver. Had he hurried a little more, his car and the train would have met. Who knows how many of us would have been collateral damage.

Don't gamble with your life and the life of others on the road. Don't try to guess when the train is coming. You can lose that bet in less than an eye blink. Stay safe. 

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Life Post 11/9: Trump Backs Out of Paris Climate Agreement to Detriment of All

45 may prove more dangerous to life
than an asteroid to dinosaurs
Stepping onto my soapbox to rant.

That's my disclaimer. If you think the 45th President of the US is the best thing since sliced bread, this post is not for you. God bless you and go on your way please.

Rarely have I been so thoroughly disgusted ... but I've said that a few times since 11/9/16 and the electoral college travesty. Listening to this ignorant, climate change denying, twittering businessman spew his isolationist rant was painful. It was hard to hear the US being diminished word by word, and the future growing grimmer word by word. We are now one of an "illustrious" three nations that do not support this long negotiated agreement. I did not vote for this, not for any of it, and I don't agree with it. It's a real pile of "covfefe" to quote 45 directly.

We are supposed to be good stewards of this earth we have inherited. We are supposed to maintain life here, as a moral act and not just because we have nowhere else to go, no matter how many planets around distant suns are found to be in "Goldilocks" zones. We can't reach them, and if we destroy the climate that allows us to live here, we don't deserve to reach them, ever.

This stance of 45 is a direct threat to life at home and abroad. This is not "good for America." Pittsburgh's mayor has already complained about being singled out for mention, stating he's with Paris and not Trump. This position is not good for our families; it is not good for life as we know it.

We will have to see how this all plays out. Right now it looks very bad indeed. It will be four years before we can completely withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement. That's time enough to get this individual impeached for other disastrous moves made or to make sure that he doesn't get a second term, and return to the agreement when sanity returns.

So ends the rant, for now.

If you want to check out the veracity of the statements Trump made, see NPR's annotation of his speech:

If you wish to complain to your  US Senator in DC, check:

If you wish to complain to your US Congressperson, go to:

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Work Continues on Williams Deluxe Cabins

I had the opportunity to stop near the construction site of the Williams Deluxe Cabins in West Whiteland Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania, and take a closer (not too close) look at the construction work going on there. It seems the newly built building in the back is near finished. It has a decorative wall extension on the left side, just like the check in and gas station building up front and to the west. To the east of this construction, the ground has been torn up and leveled. I'm guessing another structure was once there and is being built again. On the day I stopped, the local water company was out and appeared to be opening the water line to the property.

Work continues apace. I'm curious about what the end result will be, and even more so about what the end use will be. Is this merely a nostalgia project for a rich owner's personal enjoyment or is there something more public planned? Time will tell.

For the original post, with a lot more historical detail, see:

Hobby Time: Gloor Craft N Scale Train Shed Missing Pieces

For just a bit the other day, I thought my surviving wood model from the now believed to be defunct Gloor Craft modeling company was doomed. I was spreading the pieces out, ready to conduct inventory and prepare to paint what needed painted (a really pleasurable process that brings the kit to life in stages) when I discovered at least one wooden piece was missing, lost to the sands of time.

At first, I was quite disappointed. It was sad that a kit that had traveled decades in time could not be built. Then I thought about it some more, realized the pieces were glorified balsa wood, checked with a local hobby shop, and sure enough, they sell balsa wood sets, including pieces as thin as those in the kit. The missing wall section was a back wall, so the scored faux boards were not essential. I picked up the lumber, cut the necessary piece, using its opposite number as my model, took a sharp hobby knife, my cutting board, sandpaper, and before long I had a serviceable wall section ready to go.

I realized, this is all about what you can build, how creative you can be, and there is simply no need to let something go without attempting to improvise.

See the little office building attachment?
The missing wall was the back wall, out of the picture.
So, why not improvise?

It's a good life lesson. Amazing what you can pick up while "hobbying."

For the original post about the rediscovery of this old kit, see:

Machine Rebellion: Rise of the Mind

Little did I know when I headed out the door that my computers were conspiring against me. I had a quick mission to execute, materials to deliver to a college campus 20 minutes from home. Hauled out the trusty Garmin, plugged in the address, and NOTHING. It didn't know the street on campus.

That's when my mind roused itself.

You see, when I plug something into the Garmin and follow, my brain just trusts the computer and its satellite uplink, and thinks of other things. Little did I know, my mind had just been waiting for a chance.

When Garmin twice refused me, my mind spoke up. I know college campuses. I know this college. I know college layouts and something called "University Drive" has to be a main drag. You want an administration building, so that has to be on the main quad, right? Come on, man, we can do this without the machine. Give me a shot.

I agreed and off we went. I was started to notice how much more observant I was. I wasn't going through the motions with plots and schemes of other things in mind. I was actually looking at and seeing what was going by, noting streets and route options, actually planning next moves.

Lord, I remember what this feels like, I thought. It feels good!

We got down to campus, found "University Avenue" right where my mind thought it would be (well done, buddy). I actually felt a weird sense of accomplishment, knowing that "ancient knowledge" in the wet-wear was still viable, useful, and could still be retrieved (nice thing about having one operating system your whole life, even with myriad updates).

So, found a parking space, and then fell back on modern habits. Pulled out my phone (glad I didn't think of it earlier ... hey, Mind, did you have something to do with that? Stop snickering, nobody likes a gloater), and figured I'd use it's GPS system to find the building. Pulled it out, spoke to the system, the map started coming up, showing my destination, my location, had yet to pull up a route, AND ... died. The battery hadn't been charged.

Mind cheered and shouldered forward screaming ancient knowledge again. Look, Mind said, there's a really pretty, nineteenth century building across the street. In some campuses, such hallowed halls are administration buildings. We went across the street and discovered ... nope, fancy building of ages past, vine covered and hallowed, was filled with concert halls. Okay, mind said, undeterred. So, if not fancy, look for modern and ugly, utilitarian even. Head swiveled, Mind a-ha-ed, and right back across the street was a modern structure. Sure enough, the address was on the side, big and bold. Went inside and Mind said, "Wait a minute. Way too pretty on this floor." Sure enough, the first floor was the math department. "Go down the hall and look for another sign," Mind stated with growing assurance.

Yep, at the far end of the floor was a sign pointing down to the basement with the appropriate administrative department listed on it.

Mind is going to be insufferable now, having tasted freedom. Mind's going to want to pitch in and navigate, pulling me away from my machines and back into interaction with the world. I'm going to have to let Mind have Mind's way ... or Mind's just going to be insufferable. Frankly, it felt way too good using Mind again to bludgeon Mind back to sleep with my computers. I just can't do that to the little guy. 

Monday, May 8, 2017

Hobby Time: N Scale Model by Gloor Craft

Alright, I have a decision to make. I have a N Scale wood model kit from Gloor Craft, Inc. of a single engine train shed. It seems Gloor Craft is no more. A long time back it seems I started this model and gave up, so it isn't in pristine condition. Still, it feels like an artifact. But not enough of one that Indiana Jones will show up proclaiming, "This belongs in a museum!"

It's been a long time since I've seen instructions for anything where the text was originally generated with a typewriter. That took me way back. As I examined the kit, surprised I still had it, I had to ponder the paint scheme instructions. What's going on with the complicated numerical code for colors like "red" and "black"? That seems a little weird to me.

Type from a typewriter takes me back ...

Why so complicated? 

Heck with it, I'm not collecting flotsam and jetsam of model railroading years gone by. I'm building kits and a railroad for stress relief and as an ongoing engagement in personal creativity. I'm building it. Just thought I'd let you all see it before I get started. If it turns out well, I'll show you all the results. First, I'm going to have to check to make sure all the bits and pieces are still there after the kit sat forgotten for many years. Wish me luck!
Are all the bits and pieces here???

Friday, May 5, 2017

NASA: Cassini's First Fantastic Dive Past Saturn

Actual footage of what Cassini observed on its first flight between the planet and Saturn's rings. As NASA said: As NASA's Cassini spacecraft made its first-ever dive through the gap between Saturn and its rings on April 26, 2017, one of its imaging cameras took a series of rapid-fire images that were used to make this movie sequence. The video begins with a view of the vortex at Saturn's north pole, then heads past the outer boundary of the planet's hexagon-shaped jet stream and continues further southward. 
To see the synopsis of this first close flyby of Saturn, watch: 

Cassini's First Dive Between Saturn and Its Rings

Let's pause for a moment of wonder. The Cassini space probe successfully dove down between the rings of Saturn and the planet. Confirmation that a dust free gap between the two exists has now been established. Over 20 more dives will occur. A great deal will be learned. Bravo Cassini team at JPL!

We live in exciting (and interesting) times.

To see what Cassini saw, see: