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

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Daily Vlog #231 Rant the Second: Of Capes and Cooties





Hey folks, John is right. Equal time for boys and girls in capes and crusading!!!

Changing Rear Turn Signal on Chevy Uplander

Into each life a little change must fall. When your turn light indicator on your dash starts flashing frantically when you go to indicate your turn, and the message comes up that a specific bulb is out (thanks for that message Chevy, it is truly helpful), it is time to replace a bulb. Changing the rear turn signal, running, or reverse light on the Chevy Uplander is simplicity itself, IF and only IF you have the right tool. That tool is a fold up Torx key set. Get it now and return.


Ready? Okay, here's the process:


  1. Open your liftgate, exposing the taillamp housing. 
  2. Note that there are two deeply recessed screws in that mount along the inside edge.
  3. Take your Torx key set, using the smaller of the three largest keys, and loosen the screws. This may take some force as it is likely a pneumatic driver was used to tighten it before. 
  4. Gently remove the taillamp assembly. 
  5. The turn signal light is the center light. The top is your stoplamp/taillamp and the bottom is your back-up lamp bulb. 
  6. Note the bulb socket and wires. Gently turn the bulb socket counterclockwise to remove. 
  7. Replace the bulb by gently pulling the old bulb out of the socket and pushing the new bulb into place with equal care. 
  8. Reassemble by reversing this process. 
It really is a simple job if you have the right equipment. To learn to replace the other bulbs, see pages 5-46 - 5-49 of your manual. I've replaced both front and rear bulbs. It is not hard. Patience and the right tools are all that you need to have. 

Good luck. 

Turning Off the Change Oil Soon Light on Chevy Uplander

You have changed the oil as requested by your Uplander's (not Highlander or Outlander ... but of which are somehow more memorable to me than Uplander) persistent "Change Oil Soon" message that appears when you turn on the car. You have been an obedient owner ... but your van is not convinced. The Change Oil Soon admonition continues to show up every time you start the car.

Here's how to reset that system and make the persistent nagging stop.



  1. It starts with finding your DIC (yes, that sounds very wrong, but it is true). That's the Driver Information Center, a cluster of three buttons located to the right of your steering wheel. Found it? Okay, let's begin.
  2. Sitting in your car's driver's seat, turn on the ignition to run but do not turn far enough to start the engine. Just turn it over far enough to bring up the electronics of the vehicle.
  3. Now, note the large button with the i in the center and the up and down arrows on either side. Push the up side of this button until Oil Life is displayed on your dashboard in the same place that irritating Change Oil Soon message appears. Note it will be reading 0% oil life. 
  4. Now for pure satisfaction. Push and hold the set/reset button (the center button with the crooked arrow) and hold it for five seconds. The number will disappear (the dread 0%) and be replaced with a blessed 100. 
This needs to be done every time you change the oil. It won't happen automatically and most places will not reset it for you. Anyway, why would you want to give someone else the satisfaction of making that nagging little message go away?

To find this information in your manual for yourself, see page 5-17.

Personal confession: Why, you ask reasonably, are you providing us with maintenance mysteries now for this older model car? Really, I'm doing it for myself. I keep forgetting how to make this change and need a quick reference for it. I really don't expect huge numbers of readers to by dying for this information out there, really. 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Curbing Violent Speech to Promote Peace

What we say about each other matters. What we say to each other makes a difference. Who we choose to listen to, watch, and respond to can have a huge impact on how we behave. If we live off a diet of anger, hatred, violent language, vicious stories that all end with problems solved with a bullet, stereotyping, and anger, our perspective will in time become warped so badly that in a moment of crisis we will say or act in ways that are wrong, dangerous, and even deadly. Live on a diet of terror and war rumors, we end up militarizing our police forces ... really "a war on drugs" was supposed to be a metaphor guys.

As far as "free speech" goes, that freedom is tempered with responsibility. I have been seeing far too much free speech with far too little responsibility for the consequences being aired on conservative news and opinion shows in relation to the terrible events unfolding in Ferguson, Missouri. I am deeply ashamed of all the white faces that have been smearing people with all sorts of negative stereotypes and false accusations, all the while looking smug, self righteous, and furious. In reality, they prove themselves to be clueless and dangerously deluded. I have no idea if they believe the bile they spill or if it is just a paycheck to them. However, when things continue to go wrong and the violence escalates, none of them better come back sniveling that "it was only entertainment and no one should have taken me seriously." That doesn't fly. There are far too many damaged minds out there who do take that steady diet of hatred seriously. They eventually arm themselves and commit atrocities based on what they heard. Check out the recent declaration of the KKK, who feel comfortable in this climate of hate to head for Ferguson to "protect the police." 

Further, when people hear this constant drumbeat of hatred, they begin to think of themselves as victims or soon-to-be victims. Then they become timid. This leads to situations where a Philadelphia park ranger asks three kids skateboarding on the stairs in Love Park (illegal) to stop. One knocks down and beats the ranger, kicking him several times in the head, while onlookers watch timidly and do nothing. Nothing except film the event that is. This has to stop. The assailant was unarmed and outnumbered ... yet nothing was done to restrain him.

We have a responsibility to each other. We must stop spreading violence, hatred, and fear with what we say. We must do better to spread peace. We must speak out against hate speech as well. We must civilly let people know we will not tolerate such poison being spread around us. We need to speak responsibly and encourage others to do so. Otherwise, in an effort to promote our first amendment rights without forethought, we will continue to poison each other, view the world with increasing suspicion, and become so frightened we lash out with excessive force at every perceived threat.

For more you can do, see: http://jsbrookspresents.blogspot.com/2014/08/standing-against-violence.html

If Your God Is So Loving, Then Why???

This question "if your God is so loving, then why ...", followed by the latest atrocity in the world as proof for the lack of God's existence, is both tedious and wrong-headed. I saw the most recent version of this question on the editorial page of a large circulation newspaper couched in a larger issue and written by a philosophy professor. I could give you a whole bunch of references to support what I'm about to say, but the contention simply isn't worth that much time and effort. Not to me, it isn't.

The premise itself is both wrong and childish. The questioner, who is not really asking a question but making a pointed statement, is presuming God is either a "helicopter parent" or Santa. This is a very simplistic view of the divine. While God is not the originator of evil, God is also not one to deflect all harm from God's followers. Nor is God one to grant our every wish, desire, and whim. What a horrid bunch we would be if this were so. Never facing adversity, we would never grow up and learn to do things for ourselves. Always receiving what we asked for, we would become incredibly greedy and entirely dependent upon God instead of seeking out each other for help when needed or offering help to others, which allows us to grow in so many good ways.

Then there is the biggest issue the questioner overlooks. The issue of responsibility. Each of us has been given our own responsibility in this life. We are responsible for God's creation, this beautiful world and all of its resources. It is ours to care for and conserve. It is ours to develop while making sure it does not come to harm. How are we doing with that? As for natural disasters, well, look at it this way. To be a living planet, certain large energies must be allowed to exist, be in circulation, and release themselves when they reach critical mass. If you are looking for a perfectly peaceful place where no natural harm can come to you through earthquake, fire, storm, tidal wave, or any other powerful agencies of a living world, such a place is available to you. You can see it in our night sky often. It is the moon ... and it is dead. Now, when people die during powerful storms, the people who most often die are the poor forced to live in the least safe and desirable land, like flood plains. Who forces them to live there? It is not God.

Now, on to humans and our responsibility to each other. We are to love one another, to love our enemies, to forgive each other, to live as one, to let justice roll down like water, to be the restorers of streets, to be the blessed peacekeepers, and so much more. That is on us. It is all on us. We need to grow up and accept that. God loves us enough to give us free will to choose to either do what is right or to follow evil paths. Sometimes we get it right. In fact, we often get it right. But, when we get it wrong, we get it very wrong indeed. We are in charge of how we will respond to each other, to how we will treat all the marginalized peoples of the world. God has set high standards of behavior for us to strive for. God has promised to help us along the way, encouraging us to do better, and providing the means for us to accomplish truly amazing things ... but the responsibility is ours and will always remain so.

If you want a simple proof for a loving God, try standing your own question on its ear. The proof we have a loving God is that despite all the horrors we inflict upon each other and all the ways we degrade this world, God allows us to continue and works with us toward a day when we will actually live up to our own responsibilities. That's way too simple as well, come to think of it.

Have a blessed and complicated day. Do something good with it.

For a similar post and article, see: http://jsbrookspresents.blogspot.com/2014/08/truth-about-science-and-religion-from.html

Why the Excuse "We Don't Have All the Facts" Doesn't Work

With the recent violence over the shooting of an unarmed African American teen in Ferguson, Missouri, has come the cry that we cannot act, we cannot stand up, we cannot speak out because we do not have all the facts yet. It sounds so reasonable. It is so wrong. We cannot sit idly by in the face of injustice. We cannot turn a blind eye to the fact that African American men are at greater risk than others during interactions with our own police forces. Within the last month prior to the death in Ferguson, at least four unarmed African American males had died when encountering our own law enforcement officers. This is unacceptable, no matter what the details that slowly bleed out from Ferguson may be. As for the footage of Michael Brown stealing from a cigar store prior to his death, a allegation the officer in question was unaware of at the time, when did theft become a capital crime in the US? It is irrelevant to the death and shows a real disregard for justice among those who released it.

Those who bring up the we don't have all the facts excuse for sitting on their hands and sitting safely on the sidelines fail to know our own history. I direct you to Martin Luther King Jr.'s Letter from a Birmingham Jail for a refutation of this excuse, well thought out, well written, and entirely relevant. It was written angrily (justifiably so) to King's fellow clergymen, who were employing this excuse to stay out of the fray in Birmingham.

I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial "outside agitator" idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds. 
You deplore the demonstrations taking place in Birmingham. But your statement, I am sorry to say, fails to express a similar concern for the conditions that brought about the demonstrations. I am sure that none of you would want to rest content with the superficial kind of social analysis that deals merely with effects and does not grapple with underlying causes. It is unfortunate that demonstrations are taking place in Birmingham, but it is even more unfortunate that the city's white power structure left the Negro community with no alternative. 
In any nonviolent campaign there are four basic steps: collection of the facts to determine whether injustices exist; negotiation; self purification; and direct action. We have gone through all these steps in Birmingham. There can be no gainsaying the fact that racial injustice engulfs this community. Birmingham is probably the most thoroughly segregated city in the United States. Its ugly record of brutality is widely known. Negroes have experienced grossly unjust treatment in the courts. There have been more unsolved bombings of Negro homes and churches in Birmingham than in any other city in the nation. These are the hard, brutal facts of the case. On the basis of these conditions, Negro leaders sought to negotiate with the city fathers. But the latter consistently refused to engage in good faith negotiation.
We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct action campaign that was "well timed" in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word "Wait!" It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This "Wait" has almost always meant "Never." We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that "justice too long delayed is justice denied." 

The bold and italics are mine. The statement is Rev. Dr. King's. The truth is timeless. Justice too long delayed is justice denied. When militarized police take to the streets and point their weapons at unarmed citizens, including children, it is time to act. When peaceful protesters are interlaced with those who would loot stores and throw Molotov cocktails, it is time to act. When a pastor praying in the streets is shot with a rubber bullet for promoting peace, it is time to act. When one protester shoots another as a night descends into chaos, it is time to act. Justice must not be delayed.

Read the entire letter for yourself at: http://www.africa.upenn.edu/Articles_Gen/Letter_Birmingham.html

For a supporting post on working to end violence, see: http://jsbrookspresents.blogspot.com/2014/08/standing-against-violence.html

For provocation to do something, see John Oliver's brilliant video: http://jsbrookspresents.blogspot.com/2014/08/last-week-tonight-with-john-oliver.html

Standing Against Violence

Flag of Truce ... we need to talk!
In June of 2013, the American Baptist Churches USA denomination held a Mission Summit on violence. It is a timely document, given what is currently going on in the world at home and abroad. Here is a summation of what we as humans should be doing in the face of an increasingly violent world. The time to sit on our hands, keep our mouths shut, and hope violence does not find us is long past. Actually, it never was. We are supposed to be looking out for each other and helping each other through this challenging life ... rather than being cruel to each other and reverting to our most primitive "might makes right" state of being. We have to be better than that. We have to speak up and act. We must work hard to end situations like those facing Ferguson, Missouri, the Love Park beating in Philadelphia where a skateboarder assaulted a park ranger who asked him not to grind on the stairs (it's against the law) while others stood by watching and filming the attack, the extended misery in Gaza for all involved, and all the cruelty plaguing humanity around the globe. This violence is part of us. We need to own that rather than blaming others for it. We need to struggle to curb it and make sure the hand we offer others is open and not in a fist.

Here are ways in which we can work daily to end violence as suggested by the mission summit. These fell under categories of "insights," "challenges," and "experiments." I'm editing down to some of the best. I'll give you a link to the rest. See if you agree ...


  • We are all victims of violence, but we are also practitioners in violence (in the language that we use, in meetings on hot topics, etc.)
  • Justice is a precondition of preace as a way to overcome violence.
  • Open our hearts to people; do not stereotype. 
  • Violence is not about "them;" we need to be able to look at ourselves and how it touches us. 
  • Many issues breed violence: mental illness, drugs, poverty, alienation (I'm sure we could all add many more)--there is great complexity. We need more awareness of the faces of violence (economic, cultural, environmental, systemic). 
  • We need to accept our complicity in violence and promote healthy conversations against it.
  • We need to reject violence in all its forms, denouncing cultural violence and bullying. 
  • We need more respectful language with each other and about each other. What we say and hear repeatedly will eventually impact how we think ... and right now there is an awful lot of irresponsible bile out there.
  • Addressing and rejecting violence in all its forms is essential.
  • We must have far greater education about violence in all its forms and violence prevention. 
  • We need to be willing to speak out and stand out with others working for justice and against violence. We must be willing to stand up and risk much to provide a safer world for us all. 
To see the entire document, see: http://www.abc-usa.org/violence/ It is a start but by no means an end.

To explore a response to the excuse to do nothing "We don't have all the facts yet," see: http://jsbrookspresents.blogspot.com/2014/08/why-we-dont-have-all-facts-doesnt-work.html and Martin Luther King Jr.'s profound "Letter from a Birmingham Jail:" http://www.africa.upenn.edu/Articles_Gen/Letter_Birmingham.html

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Ferguson, MO and Police Militarizati...





We need to speak out against injustice. We need to be as creative as John here. We also need to demand justice for all ... and peace.This is also what happens when we start taking our own metaphors, like "war on drugs" literally!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Don't Remember Colors? Want to Know Why?

I had a chance to talk to a neurologist I know recently. I asked her what twist or turn was missing from my brain that made it difficult, if not impossible, for me to remember colors encountered in daily life. I have no problem discerning colors. I can tell my reds from blues from greens and so on. I know what colors things are like stop signs, the sky, grass, trees, my wife's eyes, all of that. But, so help me, ask me what colors my kid was wearing today or what the dominant color of the front cover of the book I'm reading is and ... impossilbe. I draw a complete blank. I assumed it was some sort of deficiency or problem I've always had and is getting worse in recent years.

My neurologist (my sister-in-law actually) smiled and shook her head. My assumption was completely wrong. There is nothing wrong with your brain, she said (yes, go ahead and sigh with relief). You do not have the beginnings of altzheimers (I hadn't even thought of that ... and I'm glad). All those who think their memories stink for one reason or another are in most cases perfectly healthy. Those who firmly believe their memories are perfect are the ones frequently heading down the altzheimer trail.

Here it is. Here comes the answer.

She told me I simply do not invest my energy into remembering those colors. They are not important to me. They do not have any emotional impact upon my life. Therefore, I do not remember them. That's it. That's the answer, pure and simple.

That makes me pause. It makes me think about choices in life. I do not remember those colors because I choose not to on some level. My life is so busy, so full of facts, so full of choices to make, things to do, people to see, that I have chosen not to remember those colors.

What else might come down to a matter of choice? If I choose to invest the energy and the emotion into color memory, could I have Technicolor memories that look like the Land of Oz when Dorothy arrives? What else might be a matter of choice? What purposes might we accomplish, what great feats of justice and kindness might we do if we so choose? Where might we go? Who might we free? What courses of history bend ... if we so choose? It is worth a lot of energy in consideration, a lot of emotional energy in pursuit. There's a world of suffering out there. How might we change it? What colors could be paint the future? What colors will future generations use to portray us based on what we choose today?





Truth About Science and Religion ... Food for Thought

I enjoyed this post from American Thinker that I stumbled upon while on vacation. I believe this writer sums things up pretty well, so I pass this along for your consideration and enjoyment.

See: http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2014/08/the_truth_about_science_and_religion.html

I'll be back writing my own material very soon ... but right now I have to unpack! I hate unpacking ...

For a related blog post of my own, see: http://jsbrookspresents.blogspot.com/2014/03/furious-following-cosmos-episode-one.html