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, May 27, 2010

Sloggin' Thru Blogging: Your Blog's Voice

Okay, new bloggers, over time this is something you have to figure out for yourselves. You have to decide what tone you are going to take with your blog. What voice will you take on for yourself? Are you supportive, happy, angry, judgmental, all of the above? Somewhere down the line, you have to decide. You need to give your blog a direction to go in so readers who stop by more than once (and you hope to cultivate some of those) will have some idea of what they are in for when they come by.

Now, I allow myself an occasional rant, mostly on social justice issues. It's fun to rant from time to time. However, the other day, I was aggravated by an athiest who decided to take the National Day of Prayer to court as being state sponsored religion. This seemed so frivilous to me, I ranted. I gathered up all the national and international holidays (mostly secular and some down right silly) and demanded to know, if that one day was such a burning issue what about all these others? I made some very caustic remarks. It felt good in the heat of the moment.

Two days later, when I had calmed down and was over the momentary rush I realized this kind of thing just wasn't me. This wasn't the voice I wanted to present to the world. I understand why so many people do this now in public discourse. It's as easy as shooting fish in a barrel. It also draws attention. In two days, that angry blog became one of my most visited. I learned this after I took it down. I decided there were limits to what I was willing to write. I decided this blog was to be uplifting and helpful, not venemous and destructive. It's cost me readership, but I feel much better about what I'm doing.

So bloggers, establish a voice and stick with it.

Parents: Becoming Family History

It takes you by surprise when you see it happen, especially for the first time. Your child (or one of your children talking to a sibling or friend) makes a remark or reminisces and suddenly you realize that you are becoming part of someone else's amusing family anecdotes. You are becoming part of someone else's history. It's a weird feeling and the best you can strive for is to give your children positive experiences to hang onto and weave into their personal narratives. You pray they will forget your lesser and unappealing human moments.

It happened to me (again) recently. When my brother and I were growing up, our father and the family dog (a dachshund) were always butting heads. Dachshunds are strong-willed and most unlikely to do whatever it is you want them to and always looking to do those things you would prefer they didn't, no matter how demonstratively you let them know a behavior is less than acceptable. Well, my brother and I thought it was pretty funny. Still do, when we rehash old times. I'm not so sure it's all that funny anymore.

The other day, my son was heading out the door. He stopped to talk to our dog, a beagle. He said, "Now Daisy, don't piss Dad off too much." Then he turned to me with a wicked smile and left.

Life has come full circle: my dad and a dachshund, me and a beagle. Family history comes back to haunt. Oh well, it could be worse.

Prepare for it as best you can young parents. It'll happen to you soon enough!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Sloggin' Thru Blogging: Facebook's NetworkedBlog Pages

Facebook's NetworkedBlogs pages, which I have spoken of before, offers up your blog posts on your Facebook site every time you post, if you have set it to do so. This creates an interesting little phenomenon. Comments to your posts are generated on Facebook instead of on the blog. If your post generates silence here ... as posts often do ... check your Facebook site. You might be surprised.

Sloggin' Thru Blogging: Second Page Discovery!

Have you ever wondered how to create a second page on your Blogger blog? I've discovered how through other blogging sages who have learned the deep mysteries. I searched through the ancient tomes, excavated in the Mayan ruins ... okay, I Googled it. Here's how it's done:

1. From your blog page go to Customize.
2. Select Posting
3. Select Edit Pages
4. Select New Pages
5. Your new page will appear. Give it a title, write what needs to be written ...
6. When you hit Publish Post, you'll be asked where you want the gadget placed that will allow readers to select one page or the other. Make your choice and you're done.

Couldn't be simpler.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Turbulent Times ... The Long View

Being an archaeologist by training and having about a decade worth of digs under my belt before changing careers really helps in turbulent times. I have been trained to take the long view. Turbulent times come and go like seasons or natural events. They wash over us, do damage, and are gone. We rebuild and, if we're smart, learn from the experience so that when troubles roll around again we are better prepared.

Civilizations that learn from their difficulties and adapt stay around a long time. Those that do not learn from their troubles and change their tune soon find themselves on histories trash heap with archaeologists sifting through the remains to find out who they were and what the heck went wrong.

When you have the long view you recognize arguments politicians make as retreads from an earlier age and are not swayed by the rhetoric. You also see depressing cycles. A group of researchers have recently published that war comes around about once a generation as the people who suffered through it leave power and those who enjoyed peace take over government and the military and champ at the bit to get a good war going so they can reap the glory, having forgotten just how wasteful, deadly, and horrible warfare is. They refuse to listen to those who suffered through the previous war, scream support the troops and their out to get us and other innanities, whatever it takes to rally the forgetful public around the new bloody banner and start the depressing cycle all over again. See what happens when you don't have the long view?

Anyway, I am not trying to discount the awful difficulties people suffer through but I want to remind us all, troubles come and go. Hang on. Find allies whom you can ride through the difficulties together with. Join a church and develop a community of support and belief around yourself, gather friends for weekly meetings, join social clubs where you can find friendly faces and listening ears. Don't go through this alone. People who band together are like successful civilizations. They ride out the tough times. People who go it alone have much greater difficulties when the seas get rough.

Friday, May 7, 2010

So ... the Truth Finally Comes Out!

Well, well, well, so humanity has an old skeleton in the closet that has finally come rattling out to dance a jig on the collective floor of our arrogant assumptions. It turns out we humans, tall, thin, and gracile, had a thing way back when for short, stocky, and heavily muscled. Looks like our DNA has outed us all as Neanderthal lovers rather than Neanderthal fighters. Turns out the old "big boned," slope skulled brutes we figured couldn't talk and probably couldn't think in an "organized manner" were pretty darned sexy to early humans in the north land. I guess we have to chuck all our old assumptions about those Neanderthals being a dead end in the old tree of life. Looks like they bred their way into our line and remain with us today.

So, athletes, drop the steroids and other chemical enhancements (now, now, I know a lot of you are clean and I'm not speaking to you and I respect you for all your hard work and heroic effort when pitted against the chemically enhanced) and channel your inner Neanderthal instead. I think this explains the attraction to tall, dark and handsome ... well at least to dark and handsome. No, no, no, that's not it. It actually explains the attraction to the strong, silent types. (My inner Neanderthal is messing with me.) For all of us short and stocky types this is also happy news ... we're a heck of a lot sexier in the grand scheme of things than Hollywood is willing to admit. Walk with pride short and stocky, walk with pride!

It's always nice when we get served a helping of the ol' humble pie. Time to lower our collective noses toward each other, drop our snotty assumptions, and accept who we really are. We're muts and the Neanderthals turn out to be part of what makes us human. Now, excuse me, I've got the urge to go paint on a cave wall.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Writers: Savor the Small Moments

Okay, this tiny bit of advice is not for New York Times Bestseller authors. This is for the little guys and gals writing in small markets, writing niche market books and articles, writing small time fiction dreaming of one day making it big. My advice to you is savor the small triumphs whenever they come, whenever you stumble across them, and be grateful. Let gratitude fill your life and buoy you in your endeavors. This is something you need to do for yourself to avoid hurting yourself. Share the joys with others whenever you can.

So, years ago I wrote a series of three minute monologues leading up to Easter called "Cries of Faith." They are published and recently I came across a newsletter from the Cody First Presbyterian Church of Cody, Wyoming, that stated Cries of Faith adapted from Jeffrey B. Snyder's monolog was performed as Reader's Theater at the church on March 30th at 5:30 pm. I sincerely hope the congregants and visitors found the adaptation meaningful. It's a thrill when you find out something you once wrote is still in use and in this case is still providing a witness of my faith to others. Thanks for letting me know by making your newletter searchable online Cody First Presbyterian. Maybe next year, you'd like to try "Torn." Both are published by Contemporary Drama Services.

Enjoy the moments as they come writers. They are modest pleasures, but if you don't pause to enjoy them and share them with others, nobody else will!

More on the Future of Manned Space Flight and the Obama Plan

If you really want to hear what people in the manned space flight business think about the administration's plan, and hear from a journalist who covered the American manned spaceflight program from the beginning, stop by Jim Slade's Airlines website and get the real scoop. You want to read Letters to the President at

If you are passionate for the manned space program, you will not be disappointed by these letters.

Image of the heavy lift rocket $9 million has been invested in and apparently now won't take us to the moon is courtesy of NASA.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Looking Back to Earth Day, Wondering What's Ahead

Events surrounding this year's Earth Day celebration were a bit unsettling. It seems to me the Earth has been telling us, "You are not the boss of me!" (Before I continue, let me say that I do not take the suffering that occurred around these events lightly. I pray for the victims, their families and friends, the rescue teams, and everyone else who has been impacted by these tragedies.) There were the earthquates in Haiti, Chile, and Tibet that took so many lives. Then there was the volcano in Iceland that grounded airline traffic in Europe. All of these are humbling reminders that humans are not the masters of the universe we so often like to think we are.

Now, let's turn to human technology. I'm a big fan, don't get me wrong, but recent events are again unsettling. We tell ourselves the pretty story that whatever mistakes we've made with the environment (that is among those who believe we have made mistakes ... for the rest of you, go read something else) will be fixed with high technology. However, the grounding of airlines by teeny tiny particles floating in the air suggest our technology isn't up to the challenge of what an imbalanced Earth can throw at us. Further, the disaster in the Gulf with the BP oil rig shows us that our most advanced technology is also fallible technology. Some small construction error or human error can bring the whole house of cards tumbling down. There is a well cap 5,000 feet below the ocean's surface that was supposed to be our best failsafe against a leak in the event of a rig failure. That failsafe ... failed. It did not operate as advertized. It did not operate at all.

I think the theme of this Earth Day passed has become, courtesy of Mother Earth, humility. I suggest we venture into the rest of this year humbled and take measures to treat the Earth, our one and only home, more gently. We've been mistreating her for a long time. Now, she's shown us how small we are in the face of her natural forces. Let's see if we can keep from stengthening those forces of wind and water and temperature which can combine to create deadly, violent weather made worse by slowly rising global temperatures. We can't stop earthquakes and volcanoes, but we can mitigate the worst of what we are throwing into a complex environmental system we really don't understand. We also can't delude ourselves that our machinery can fix all we have done wrong. No machine can return a mountaintop to its position once it has been cut off to reach a coal vein. No watershed can be restored with human equipment once that mountain top has been sheared off and dumped into it. No device can replace a rainforest.

Have a humble year. 

I hope to write more come June. Right now, work and seminary end of semester projects have limited my time severely.

Earth image courtesy of NASA