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

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Changing Names When "Heritage" or "Tradition" No Longer Fit

There comes a time when people need to revisit their "heritage" and take "tradition" down off the pedestal for a closer look. Such is the case for western Maryland's "Negro Mountain." See this link for all the details: http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2011-02-20/news/bs-md-renaming-mountains-20110220_1_senate-panel-settlers-thomas-cresap

To make a long story short, in the 1750s, this mountain received its name ... and that name actually was "Negro Mountain" just as it appears today on the signs. It was named in tribute to a slave who, during the French and Indian Wars, sacrificed his own life to save a number of white settlers from a Native American attack. Now, our heroic slave could not have his name applied to the mountain in tribute because he was a slave, someone's property, and you just didn't name things for property in the 1750s. That was traditional, that was heritage and everybody followed it. In 2011, government decided perhaps it was time to revisit heritage and tradition. Perhaps centuries later we could honor the man for his deed by naming the mountain for him. His name was "Nemesis." How could anyone NOT want to have a Mount Nemesis in their state? Unfortunately, a tedious divide developed between urban folks and rural folks. Urban legislators saw the wisdom in the renaming. Rural legislators rattled the tired old bones of tradition and heritage. Leave our maintain alone. Worry about your city folk violence and drugs. It's a sad story, pathetic really in the 21st century.

In 1 Corinthians 13, in a remarkable examination of what love is and is not, the apostle Paul states:

8 Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. 9For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; 10but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. 11When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. 12For now we see in a mirror, dimly,* but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. 13And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.

I think it is time for us all to put an end to childish ways, to grow up a little, to let go of hurtful names and nicknames. As for me, I'm putting away the name of the football team I grew up with. I'm calling for Dan Snyder and his organization to put an end to the name "Redskins" for something more respectful to all, something that hurts no one. Tradition and heritage have their place ... just not when they inflict pain using cruel slurs or disrespect a man who sacrificed his life for others because in the 1750s the tradition was you couldn't use his name. We need to grow up. We need to be better than that.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Cover Art Sending Mixed Signals ... Revival or Zombies???

Every once in a while, you come across a cover that is striking ... but in a way unintended originally. This book speaks to church revival strategies in the 1960s. The illustration is intended to remind people of Ezekiel 37, the vision of God reviving the lost nation of Israel .., as lacking in vitality and strength as a valley of dry bones. It's a good idea, a strong image in words of revival ... but seen in light of today, the image comes across as odd, especially in an age when people are fascinated with zombies. I find the image very striking ... but not quite what I'd like to see happen in my church, thank you very much. This is no aspersion on the author or the author's work. It is amusing that the background color is purple (yes, a long standing royal color) as in one of his works of horror Stephen King tells us that purple is the color that sells more scary books than any other.

However, here's the original text from the book of Ezekiel in the Bible. It is striking imagery that has stuck with me since childhood. Again, I never imagined it looking quite like this book cover!

Ezekiel 37:1-14: The hand of the Lord came upon me, and he brought me out by the spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. He led me all around them; there were very many lying in the valley, and they were very dry. He said to me, “Mortal, can these bones live?” I answered, “O Lord God, you know.” Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them: O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus says the Lord God to these bones: I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. I will lay sinews on you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live; and you shall know that I am the Lord.” So I prophesied as I had been commanded; and as I prophesied, suddenly there was a noise, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone. I looked, and there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them; but there was no breath in them. Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, mortal, and say to the breath: Thus says the Lord God: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.” I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood on their feet, a vast multitude. Then he said to me, “Mortal, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are cut off completely.’ Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord God: I am going to open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people; and I will bring you back to the land of Israel. And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people. I will put my spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you on your own soil; then you shall know that I, the Lord, have spoken and will act,” says the Lord.

For another zombie related post, see: http://jsbrookspresents.blogspot.com/2014/09/ring-around-rosie-and-zombies.html

For a fiction book where this cover art would be strangely, weirdly appropriate, see: http://jsbrookspresents.blogspot.com/2011/10/book-review-stupidest-angel-by.html

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Assisting in the Ebola Outbreak Crisis

A friend of mine in ministry, originally from Liberia who has family and friends in the "ebola" belt, has lost a good friend and doctor back home. He succumbed to this dread disease while trying to fight it.

This is an incredibly serious outbreak threatening to spread like wildfire. The projections for infection and death are terrifying. Here is what has been done in the US, according to the White House, if you wish to read it: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/09/16/fact-sheet-us-response-ebola-epidemic-west-africa

There are organizations we can get behind to help. UNICEF, Doctors without Boarders, Samaritan's Purse are all seeking donations in the fight against this dread disease. A quick Google search will bring you others. Be careful to choose well.

We can also push our politicians to do more, to be more proactive in this cause. It has been predicted that 1.4 million may be dead by winter. Join organizations that are pushing for more robust help from our governments. It certainly beats other expenditures I can think of! Add your name to their growing list of names to be delivered together. Hey, send your own letter and email as well.

I don't want my friend to lose more friends and family back home. In hundreds of years, I don't want children playing some rhyming game like ring around the rosy in memory of this ebola outbreak. Let's work to stop this now.

Ring Around the Rosy ... and Zombies

I was wondering, given the fascination with all things zombie today, if anyone has noticed a change in the behavior of young children? Now, we all know that the children's game "Ring around the rosy"  is purported to be a remnant of the Black Death. Far from pleasant, but kids enjoy the rhyme and the falling down, so the game lives on. But, since it apparently IS about death, and they do all fall down, do they now all get back up, stagger around groaning, and demanding BRAINS? That would seem to be the next logical step in the game, don't you think?

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Determining the Paint Color of a Toyota Yaris

It's happened. You knew it would sooner or later. The paint job on your Toyota Yaris has been scratched. You want to touch up the paint, covering the scratches and protecting your car. What do you do? Where do you find what color was used on your Yaris.

Do not go to your local auto parts store and just see if you can find a Toyota paint that appears to match. It won't.

Open your driver's side door. Take a look on the frame of the car where the door meets the frame. There you will find a panel with all sorts of information about your car, including the code number indicating which paint was used on your Yaris. The code is found on the lower left hand side of the panel. That code begins C/TR: and is followed by a three digit/letter code followed by a slash and another code you don't have to worry about. The paint code number in this case is 8T1: which according to Automotive Touch Up (http://www.automotivetouchup.com/touch-up-paint/toyota) is known as "Bayou Blue Metallic."

After adventuring in local automotive shops, while I believe this color to be common as dirt in reality, it is nowhere to be found on the shelves of the standard stores. You'll likely need to go online to some reliable source to find your color. Good luck. Happy touch ups!

To solve other Yaris maintenance mysteries, see: http://jsbrookspresents.blogspot.com/2011/05/resetting-clock-on-your-toyota-yaris.htmlhttp://jsbrookspresents.blogspot.com/2010/08/turning-off-2009-toyota-yaris.html, and http://jsbrookspresents.blogspot.com/2013/04/toyota-yaris-finding-your-jack-and-tire.html

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

I Love News Stories Including Space Aliens

I love these stories about space aliens, especially the ones about how to handle meeting them. I would have loved to have been able to attend the conference of scientists and theologians dealing with how humanity will react WHEN we find life elsewhere in the universe. Whether it be microbes on Mars or space-faring intelligence elsewhere, what will it mean.

I agree with the theologian who feels it will expand and reinforce his faith ... and with the individual (I don't remember whether scientist or theologian) who felt the news would be a three day wonder and then we'd be back to concentrating on the new reality TV show (depressing but sounds about right).

See for yourself: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/09/22/nasa-astrobiology-alien-search_n_5860714.html?ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000022

Progress in Space: Boeing, Dragon, and Maven ... Oh My! The Five Minute Response

ISS successfully grappled Dragon as of this writing, Courtesy of NASA
It has been a busy few weeks in space! NASA has decided to award both Boeing and SpaceX contracts to complete their crew transports to take astronauts to the International Space Station. Boeing's CST-100 was the safest choice and SpaceX's Dragon v2 the most interesting. The two together should keep things lively. It will also be fascinating to see which capsule astronauts prefer.

NASA's Maven spacecraft came smoothly into its insertion orbit over Mars recently. If all the equipment checks out, we will soon be learning why, oh why, the "red planet" is also the "dead" or "nearly dead" planet ... and what it means for us. Where did that atmosphere go, when, and most pressingly ... WHY???

SpaceX's Dragon cargo carrier is about to dock with the ISS as of this writing. It is bringing with it a 3-D printer to create spare parts for the station in space. Any chance of getting Robonaut2 to oversee those operations?

Yes, it is busy over at NASA right now. More to come with the December unmanned test launch of the Orion crew capsule destined to take astronauts out beyond the orbit of the moon where no human has gone before ... outside of science fiction!

And that's the five minute response.

It looks like I'll need to once again update this post: http://jsbrookspresents.blogspot.com/2010/03/progress-in-manned-space-flight.html

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Colleges and Universities: DO BETTER by Your Students!

If we don't the whole system comes down
like tumbling blocks.
This morning my blood was boiling by the time I finished with NPR's report on post-doc students working for professors. Here were hopeful young adults who had spent many years and small fortunes getting to the very pinnacle of academia, the doctorate degree (well, the lower pinnacle below, far below, tenured work in an institution of higher education), and were now working in what are proving to be dead end jobs for far less than they should be making. I suppose some would respond, "At least they are working in their field." Well, sort of, kind of, but it is not at all what they were promised, what they were told they could expect.

This is one of a long history of lamentable false promises made on the road to higher education and great debt. Back in the day, science and social science majors were told to go ahead and get those advanced degrees. In five years, the old heads in the field will be retiring and you'll be ready for the opening positions. Hopeful students followed that advice ... and fifteen years later that promise had yet to be fulfilled. Poor, hopeful, perhaps naive students.

Well, the hard-eyed cynic will say, that's the marketplace for you. After all, colleges and universities are there to run students through the mill and give them degrees. That's what they do. Caveat emptor, y'all.

I say, ... well, let's keep it civil and leave it at NONSENSE! For the price paid, higher education needs to be honest about the chances. For the prices paid, the family sacrifices made, the highest paid institutions should provide job guarantees in the field to their students! No fussing, no excuses ... you all profess to be smart people, well educated, so put your heads together and devise systems worthy of your institutional names.

I don't care about the details. I don't care about the hurdles. Administrators and legislators dealing with higher education, YOU MUST do better. The students deserve it. No economy can continue forever on false promises. No society can afford to waste brainpower the way this system is wasting it now. Any society that does will be doomed to extinction. DO BETTER!

Never Again! Restaurant Reviews!!!

It's still a restaurant, just not the one
I reviewed for Sunday brunch.
NEVER AGAIN! I am done with restaurant reviews. I find some new little restaurant, like what they do, want to give them a supporting nod, and so I write a little review here. Now, being a small potatoes blog, I don't expect much to come of it ... but a number of people see it and I hope a few might just go and give the place a try. I don't do it often, but I enjoy it when I do.

But now I'm done. The last couple of restaurants I've reviewed have folded up their tents, closed their doors, and ceased to be. Now, I don't really feel I've cursed them ... and yet, with MY track record. Hmmmm.

I understand how tough the restaurant business is. Still, I'd rather not, not anymore. Fire Creek and Triton have both closed up shop, I'm sorry to say. I hate to see them go from their communities.

Good luck to all you restaurateurs everywhere. You are bold people following a worthy passion. I wish you well. 

Every Faith Challenge: Focus On Love

Let's really try love of neighbor!
This is a challenge for everyone, of every faith--including professions of no faith ... which in my book is another faith (no slight intended, trust me)--whose beliefs revolve around love. If you are in a faith tradition that does not place love at its core ... flee! Find some better system for your own sake and the sake of others.

Here's the challenge: place love central in all your dealings and your life. As the apostle Paul wrote to the cantankerous church in Rome, love God and love your neighbors. Do this and you will fulfill the commandments (10 Commandments of Moses). Love does no harm to a neighbor. I'm sure every faith worth its salt has some version of this advice. Stick with it in all your dealings with your neighbors (i.e. everyone with whom you have contact), with family, with friends. Use this guideline to steer where you shop, what you purchase, which charities you support, how you treat the environment, how you speak to and write to others. Placing love central in our dealings will improve things "on the streets where we live" to paraphrase the prophet Isaiah.

Before pointing to all the horrors in the news around the globe (and thank God those things remain newsworthy ... if they were common as dirt they would not be), and declare this mamby-pamby new agey sentimentality, take a look at the steel spine of those who have loved well in the past. Take a look at the long history of individuals and groups who have stood up for love. These people were and are not pushovers. They worked hard for their beliefs. Blood, sweat, tears and sometimes death accompanied their work. But ... they ... made ... a ... difference! They are sources of inspiration now ... and, in my book, they always will be. How many of those daily news horrors would cease to exist if everyone, everywhere took the power of loving others seriously.

Let's put aside all our little quibbles over minutia (the church in Rome's members were after each other for not following the laws well enough or eating the wrong foods, celebrating the wrong holidays ... or not celebrating any ... to name a FEW). Let's not be like that. Down that road lies stupidity, insanity, and extinction. Let's choose to follow where love of others will lead us instead.