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

Friday, April 29, 2011

fractured fairy tales Hansel and Gretel


Returning to another of the Fractured Fairy Tales from my childhood and the Rocky and Bullwinkle Show. This led to telling my children "unusual" bedtime stories ... and Michael and the New Baby. Pick up a copy from Old Line Publishing and see if you can see the influence.

Kepler Data Release NASA



Now for a little broader view of what the Kepler Space Telescope has accomplished. It is astonishing and amazingly successful in its earliest investigations. Congratulations Kepler team. Keep up the good work!

Kepler space telescope spots five Earth-sized planets in our galaxy



After the Larry King interview mentioning future Kepler Space Telescope potential finds, here are 5 earth-like planets found by the telescope ... much sooner than expected. It is an exciting first find. Now when can we get that warp drive built?!

Stephen Hawking's Universe Europa's Living Ocean part 3 0f 10


Here's one place we may explore and look for life in our own solar system, aquatic life among the outer planets. It's fun to speculate about ... and we should know within the lifetimes of most of the people who read this blog.

A Tribute to 2 Enduring Space Probes: ScienceCasts: Voyager


The nuclear powered Voyager space probes will be leaving the outermost edge of our solar system shortly. It's been a 33 year mission of discovery worth remembering. The two probes will continue to report back to us from beyond the solar system until about 2020, when their power cells are expected to run out. But with all the surprises these two durable robots to the outer worlds have given us, who knows what surprises they may give us yet.

4/27/11 - Tuscaloosa Tornado


Our thoughts and prayers go out to all who are suffering in the South in the wake of the massive tornadoes that ravaged your region. We stand with you in your suffering. If you or your organization can do anything to help, please do. For more information on this ongoing crisis, please check this link
TuscaloosaNews.com | The Tuscaloosa News | Tuscaloosa, AL www.tuscaloosanews.com
to the Tuscaloosa News in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A New Era of Exploration


A brief Lockheed Martin promo film showing the future of manned spaceflight as they see it. They are moving ahead with the Orion capsule and hoping for NASA's heavy lift vehicle soon to take the first test flight of the new multipurpose crew module in 2013 with a possible orbit of the Moon by 2016. NASA feels there won't be funds available for this that soon. Glad Lockheed appears to have a more aggressive approach. Time will tell who is correct.

Eddie Izzard - Stonehenge


Of course, here's a very different view of Stonehenge from Eddie Izzard. Warning parents: this humor is not suitable for children. Just so you know...

But you can GET something for the kids if you feel guilty ...

If you like what you read here, you can support this blog (don't let me go it alone here): You can order a copy of the children's book Michael and the New Baby directly from Old Line Publishing at: http://www.oldlinepublishingllc.com/index_files/OldLinePublishingChildrensMichaelandtheNewBabybyJSBrooks.htm 




London Centre: Fall 1980, Part 8




September 23, 1980

I was surprised that I was so awake this morning after getting to bed at 3 a.m. today. I guess getting my money (weekly allotment of 70 dollars) will work wonders on me. After Richard McNicole's lecture Friday on the structure of classical music the London Philharmonic concert was much more enjoyable than any classical music I had heard in the past. Knowing the reasons behind the music made it enjoyable. But now I wonder just how I'll be up and awake for tomorrow's field trip.

September 24, 1980

[I'll skip my impressions of Winchester and Salisbury cathedrals. Apparently there was a lot of commercialization there.]

To me, as an archaeology student, [Stonehenge] was fascinating. I noticed they even had a dig going on at the site. I was disappointed, slightly, that Stonehenge had to be roped off a few years ago because some foolish people were taking souvenirs home. I would have liked to walk through the arches just once. I noticed I was one of the last people back on the tour bus too. Before I left, I took pictures of it from just about every possible angle.



Friday, April 22, 2011

For Earth Day: Carl Sagan - Pale Blue Dot



Stop to consider the earth today, on Earth Day, ... and every day. This is our home, our only home.

Carl Sagan "Earth Day Special"



A little sage advice from Carl Sagan for Earth Day. Some classic messages never grow old. RIP Carl. You are missed.

If you like what you read here, you can support this blog (don't let me go it alone here): You can order a copy of the children's book Michael and the New Baby directly from Old Line Publishing at: http://www.oldlinepublishingllc.com/index_files/OldLinePublishingChildrensMichaelandtheNewBabybyJSBrooks.htm 




Sloggin' Thru Blogging: Having Fun with Blogging

One of the secrets to blogging for me is to have fun. Find new and creative ways to keep yourself entertained and you will find yourself entertaining others elsewhere on this great big world of ours. Nobody is unique, no matter what we think. If you like something, somebody else out there will as well.

For me, my wife finding the old journal from my college London Centre experience in 1980 was a boon. It has given me an opportunity to scan old slides I'd been meaning to transfer to the computer for ... well, many years ... into my computer and to have much material to work with on the blog. I've found the blog a great way to publish this material (mind you this journal was made for public consumption and reveals nothing all that personal ... I don't recommend you getting too personal on this very public medium ... no matter how much fun you think that might be ... there are limits to keep in mind) and keep blogging.

I also realize that I've developed a personal game out of all of this. I call it "message in a bottle on the cyber sea". Not very original, but there it is. Every once in a while, I'll publish material that might find its way, someday, to people I've lost track of over the years and establish a new connection. I find this possibility about as unlikely as a real bottled message ever reaching a particular person, and that's part of the fun. Frankly, Facebook is better for reconnection ... but a game is a game and it keeps the posts coming.

A virtue to using games to keep you going is that the active process of writing for fun keeps the mind limber. Limber minds come up with better ideas. Better ideas lead to better blog posts. Better blog posts lead to more readers of a better blog. End result, everybody has fun.

Curiosity Update: Curiosity's Stunt Double Takes a Spin



You don't often get to see the size of these rovers. But, in this testing phase of Curiosity's "stunt double," you get to see that this robot is one big critter. Nice to see JPL's Mars testing ground as well.

Mars Science Laboratory (Curiosity Rover) Mission Animation



Here's the picture is worth a thousand words approach to what Curiosity will do. Nice video. More dramatic.

How the Curiosity Mars Rover Will Land and Navigate



If you thought the bouncy ball landing approach for Mars rovers was interesting, wait til you see what Curiosity will do. Hopefully this works well as Curiosity is designed to seek out new life (to give its mission a familiar ring).

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Stanley's Graphic Description of Africa

Returning to our occasional adventure series from the book Explorations and Adventures of Henry M. Stanley, today we get the Victorian description of Africa. We will use excerpts from his chapter long description. Make sure you get to the last paragraph. It's worth the effort!

Stanley gives the following description of the scenery of Central Africa: Unyamwezi is a wide undulating table-land, sinking westward toward Tanganyika. Any one taking a bird's-eye view of the land would perceive forests, a purple-hued carpet of foliage, broken here and there by barren plains and open glades, extending toward every quarter of the heavens. Here and there rise masses of rocky mountains, towering like blunt cupolas above the gentle undulations of the land, on to the distant horizon. ... Nothing picturesque can be seen; the land may be called prosaic and monotonous [Henry?!?]; but it is in this very overwhelming, apparently endless monotony that its sublimity lies.

The foliage is bright with all the colors of the prism, but as the woods retreat towards the far distance, a silent mystical vapor enfolds them, and bathes them first in pale, and then in dark blue, until they are lost in the distance. But near the lake all is busy life. ... Numerous buffaloes, zebras, giraffes, boars, kudu antelopes, and other animals come here at nightfall to quench their thirst.

The shores and surface of the lake are alive with an amazing number of aquatic birds--black swans, ducks, sacred ibises, cranes, and pelicans; high overhead, watchful for their prey hover kites and fish eagles; while the shore is vocal with the loud call of the guinea-fowl, the hoarse screams of the toucan, the cooing of pigeons, the hoot of the owl mingling with the cry of the snipe and water fowl rising from the long grass by the water's edge. These shores are also the paradise of the long-legged stork and heron, the saddle stork, the marabout, an ugly bird, in spite of its wonderful and costly feathers, the giant heron, while the curious stilt-bird, or shoebill, of Africa, one of the most singular birds of the globe, inhabits the most northern marshlands, vast impenetrable morasses of the White Nile, and some of its tributaries.

...The flora concentrates all its luxuriance in the first months of the rainy season, leaving the autumn, when the grass of the steppes is withered, to fare less richly. The scenery varies much less than in the most monotonous districts of our own country, but it has nevertheless its alternation of clustering groves of bushes, its clearings with noble trees more than thirty or forty feet in height, its luxuriant undergrowth broken by grassy reaches or copses of tall shrubs.

... Very characteristic of the country are the patches of primeval forests, watered by running streams, and known by the name of galleries. ... In the interior of these virgin forests, leafy corridors, rivaling the temple walls of Egypt, lie veiled in deep perpetual shadow, and are spanned by a triple roof of foliage, rising vault above vault. Seen from without the galleries appear like an impenetrable wall of the densest leafage, while from within corridors of foliage open out in every direction beneath the columns of the tree stems, and are filled with the murmuring voice of springs and water-courses.


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

On the top of Kingda Ka


If you have a fear of heights, this view from on top of the Kingda Ka roller coaster maintenance platform is most definitely NOT for you. This will give you chills as the platform is 450+ feet above the ground. Very creepy.

London Centre: Fall 1980, Part 7


September 19-22, 1980

This weekend has been a big event for Diana, Dawn, and I. We went to Caernarvon, Wales. The Welsh spell it Caernarfon by the way. Friday we did laundry and packed and Saturday we left. I can honestly say that this was my first independent "vacation" planned and carried out by myself. The Britrail ride itself was an experience. We took the train as far as Bangor. The suspension on an English train is lousy! I've ridden Amtrak for three years and thought they were bad but they've got Britrail beat. Also I was surprised to see that the windows opened for ventilation rather than having an airconditioning system on board. Because of this, every time we went through a tunnel at high speed our ears popped. Upon arrival we took the first bus to Caernarvon from in front of the Plaza Cinema. I appreciate the U.K.'s public transportation system (other than rail). We went from Bangor to Caernarvon for 69p.

Caernarvon is a small town set on a salt water bay and at the base of the Snowdonian mountains for contrast. In town is a castle (of the same name) and most of the city is enclosed in an old castle wall. Talk about scenic overkill! First we tried to find a bed and breakfast (B&B) that Dr. Lindblad had given us directions to. We stood outside what we thought was it wondering, when all of the sudden an elderly man opened the door and asked us if we needed one. I was taken by surprise. I had a hard time understanding him because of his accent and because he was soft spoken but I did manage to catch the fact that the place was only 4 pounds a night. We accepted for one night. I was suspicious about the place and even more so when I found that there were no locks on the doors to the rooms. That evening I carried my valuables with me, for which I was a little ashamed of myself later when I realized that people were more trusting and trustworthy in a small town. We checked out some travel information on going to the Snowdonian mountains the next day. That evening, Friday, we just wandered around soaking up the atmosphere of a small town and walking by the bay. It was a relief to be away from London for awhile. That evening we saw a beautiful sunset over the bay. I haven't seen a sunset in a long time! I've been in too many cities and suburbs that obscure sunsets. As we walked back to the hotel we stopped at a candy store. Dawn heard someone speaking Welsh and wanted to hear more so we went in. Inside the woman behind the counter introduced us to Bob Haines (another Ernie Scews) and told us he was a church superintendent and "the greatest man in town." We talked for awhile and as it turned out he'd been to the U.S. He left after a few minutes and I thought nothing of it. But when we came out, I felt a tug on my backpack and there he was! He asked us if we wanted to see a 700 year old church. We agreed instantly. We talked with him in that church for over an hour. I learned that Welsh, his native tongue, is dying out and that a variety of it special to Caernarvon is dead because TV shows started using it whenever they wanted someone to represent a fool. There's a problem for cultural anthropologists to ponder. We learned that the church service is spoken only in Welsh, that people in Wales dislike being called part of England and prefer to be referred to as part of the U.K., that Wales desires independence now, and he also told us which trail to take on our mountain climb the next day. He is also an international sports fanatic and when I mentioned I was a Washington Redskins fan, he said "Look!" and lifted his shirt and, lo and behold, underneath was a Redskins jersey! He had us sign his visitor's book before leaving and gave us some pamphlets on Caernarvon and a now out of publication paper with the crest of the city on it. I enjoyed signing the visitor's book. It's fun to leave "your mark" around the world. We found people of the area in general just as friendly. It was a good experience.

The next day, Sunday, we started climbing the Pyg trail. A bus goes out that way every half hour although we caught the last day of Sunday runs the year, in the Snowdonian Range. I have never before seen mountains with no trees at all. They had pastures, sheep, and rocks, but no trees. We weren't really prepared for mountain climbing however, all in tennis shoes, but we did have presence of mind enough to wear winter coats and I wore my gloves. Unfortunately there was a gale warning out in the area that day and after a while we literally got smacked in the face by clouds. We never really got rained on since we passed through the clouds but we got pretty wet and the rocks got slippery so down we came without reaching the top. But we did get very close! If it hadn't gotten so wet and if the wind hadn't picked up we could have made it.







We got back to town again in time for another beautiful sunset. ... Two days in a row the clouds broke just above the horizon enough for us to watch the huge red ball sink into the hillsides on the other side of the bay. This time I had my camera!

Monday we went to Caernarvon castle. Here Prince Charles was made Prince of Wales in 1969. The interior of the castle is largely gone with mostly outer walls and turrets remaining with connecting pathways within. They had spiral stairways with rope handrails in the turrets and the tallest blasted turrets we've run into yet. Also they had a display of armor and for the first time I saw how frightening those suits could look! Also I learned about the Welsh guards and that their mascot is a goat presented by the Queen and always named "Billy." How appropriate.

That evening we returned, reluctantly, and got back at 3 A.M. You wouldn't believe how many people are in Crewe at 12:30 at night to catch the London bound train we had to switch to.

[I was apparently keeping up with that time honored tradition in this journal of the traveler's complaint. I have to say some British adventurers in America raised this to an art form in the 18th century, so it seems only fair. That said, on this trip to England and Europe we were blessed to meet many kind and helpful people.At the B&B I remember the wife stating to us sternly that we would have separate rooms. We were surprised and agreed wholeheartedly that that was the arrangement we wanted as well. The silk sheets were a nice bonus.]

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Nostalgia Time: My First Car: 1971 Chevy Nova



An decade year old 1971 used Chevy Nova was my first car. It was green like the one in the ad and had a 3 speed Hurst shifter on the floor. Learned to drive stick in that car. Too bad it didn't last very long. My next car was a very plain Ford Fairmont ... a car so plain (not even any chrome) that when I first got it people on the road got out of the way assuming it was an unmarked police car. Actually, it was the Nova that was favored by the police in the 1970s. Go figure.

If you like what you read here, you can support this blog (don't let me go it alone here): You can order a copy of the children's book Michael and the New Baby directly from Old Line Publishing at: http://www.oldlinepublishingllc.com/index_files/OldLinePublishingChildrensMichaelandtheNewBabybyJSBrooks.htm 




Sloggin' Thru Blogging: YouTube Minutes: Messiah 1.MOV



Hey, new bloggers, if you use YouTube to post material of your own, material you'll use on your blog as well, then make sure to post ten short videos. When you do, you'll be rewarded by YouTube with extra minutes. You won't be limited to 15 minutes anymore. As you can see, this sermon of mine lasts a little over 24 minutes. You have to keep things under 2 gigs, but the time limit is stretched. Very useful!

Prescription Laughter 7: ANIMAL CRACKERS [Shamrock Edit] (HQ)



British humor, human narrative to animal actions. Stressed out parents: take a few minutes and stop to enjoy this silliness when you get a moment's break while the kids are napping. Short of buying Michael and the New Baby (which you can do by clicking on any of the book illustrations shown on the right side of the blog page ... those photos will take you right to the publisher's safe website where you can quickly place an order for this bargain priced book), a little laughter is the best remedy for life's stressful situations. Enjoy.

Aesop's Fable Plays Out in Backyard: Beagle vs Fairy Ball.mov



After years of hanging there innocently, our beagle Daisy finally takes notice of the glass globe, i.e. "fairy ball" hanging in the dogwood tree. She makes some pretty heroic leaps trying to reach it. Wonder if she'll develop a new strategy?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Fun Facts About the Retiring Space Shuttles

Image courtesy of NASA
Nancy Atkinson at Universe Today pointed us in the direction of a NASA site with a graphic full of shuttle information in a beautiful graphic format. For instance, did you know that the orbiter weighs as much as 13 adult and one baby African elephants? Click on the title of this article to see it or go to http://www.nasa.gov/externalflash/the_shuttle/ Either way, enjoy!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

London Centre: Fall 1980, Part 6



September 17, 1980

The trip to Canterbury and Dover was great for me. The cathedral at Canterbury was fascinating in the very fact that it was built in four different periods beginning with the crypts, which dated back to the days of William the Conqueror or before. Here I picked up on several points. First of all, I had never known that stained glass windows actually were illustrated stories. I had just assumed that they dealt with one scene out of a biblical tale rather than the entire tale. Also I discovered, as we all did, that Anglican priests can marry. I had a good experience with the priest we had been talking with later while taking pictures. When he came up I was afraid he was going to discourage me from taking more. As it turned out, he used to be a shutter bug and so we discussed modern photography.
As for Dover, all I can say is that I like castles!


If I remember correctly, the cross itself is six feet tall.

To get this photo, I had to sit on the very top step of a staircase. Standing was impossible as it gave me vertigo looking straight up through a long lens.


Old stained glass telling the biblical stories.




September 18, 1980

The Kneller Hall Gala was well worth the long ride. I have to admit I wasn't too thrilled with the idea at first, but the show was great. Some left before the second half; I was tempted. But to leave then would have been to miss the best part of the show, fireworks and all. I relearned, so to speak, today that the second half of a musical event is usually the best. On the bus back there was a vocal dispute between the ticket taker and a drunk Scotsman. It appears he didn't have any money for the fare and the two of them got into a heated debate. As he left the bus, the Scotsman swore that the ticket taker would be on report and he in return showed us all a new way to make obscene hand gestures. So much for cultural exchange!

[Had an interesting conversation with a professional photographer I know. We were talking about the difference between film camera technology and the more recent digital camera technology. He told me that while there may be some degradation in the film over 30+ years the real difference I am noticing is between the old and new technology. The digital equipment in general just does a better job. It also has auto focus for sharp photos, which the camera I used in England and Europe was all manual. That is interesting to me.]

Sunday, April 10, 2011

A Different Sort of Robot, Reminds Me of the Portal Video:Aldebaran's New Nao Robot Demo



Okay, here's an interesting variation on robot interaction. My question is, will this make people happy or just creep them out? I remember science fiction stories in which robots were designed to entertain children and/or adults. Here they come...or so it seems.

Prescription Laughter 6: Baby Laughing Hysterically at Ripping Paper (Original)


I saw a news piece that laughter actually is good for your health, increasing blood flow and lowering stress. So, you see, here at J.S. Brooks Presents we are working for your health!!! Enjoy.

Bitter Taste From Governor's Budget for State's Schools

The newly elected governor in our state is a man of his word. He proclaimed in his campaign that he would get the debt under control and not raise taxes. Many voters decided this was a good thing. My daughter is now seeing why she needs to vote when she is old enough.

The school budget for our state would be radically slashed to make ends meet. Teachers and programs will be lost in frighteningly large numbers. Our daughter came home one day distraught and angry. She had just heard of the programs that would be lost. Virtually every cultural program and humanities option in high school will go missing, including several programs in fields she is thinking about for her college years and beyond. She summed up the situation nicely, "They are taking away every program that made going to school interesting and worthwhile." They will be left with stripped down basics, classes geared to passing government exams, the school football program, and little else. The school my daughter attends just put on an impressive and ambitious musical based on a Broadway show-stopper. It was wonderfully performed and brilliantly executed. The kids involved learned a lot. I hate to think that may have been the high school theater department's swan song or that we may have to pass the jar pictured above to keep anything but the rudimentary programs alive in our schools. However, if the governor's budget passes as it is, that may be our future. A lot of talented teachers, necessary teacher's aides, and wonderful programs may soon go begging. And I haven't mentioned what will happen to state colleges ...

Yes, these are hard times. Some politicians are determined to make them far harder than they need to be in order to stick to an ideology that hasn't worked in 30 years, but that keeps their base happy. And they are willing to sacrifice our children's education in the process. That is not a deal worth taking in my book.

[And yes, in case you read my Sloggin' Thru Blogging posts, I'm going against my own advice about opinion pieces. What I said there is true, but these two issues bother me far too much not so say something. Call it the privilege of the editor. Now, I'll get back to pieces people may actually want to read. Thanks for your patience.]

Back to the Gilded Age, A Threat to the Working Class

There are politicians today who want to take the United States back to the Gilded Age, where tycoons ruled the roost and everyone else was held firmly under the boot heel. There were no social safety nets created to keep the poor and out of work from starvation. There was no old age Social Security or Medicare. That's what many politicians who say the nation is "broke" feel is the only way to fix the situation. Give greater tax breaks to the rich and strip away the safety nets and benefits from everybody else. Further, the plan is to remove any rights workers have had to stand up for themselves when they are treated unfairly. We can see where that leads from the control tower operator at National (Ronald Reagan Airport) in D.C. who nodded off at his station in the midnight hour. That would not have left the tower unmanned back in the day when air traffic controllers had a union. Surely there would have been more than one person in the tower. Of course, Ronald Reagan himself took care of that (irony of ironies).

But the point of this post is to provide you with a little case in point of what the Gilded Age was really like for workers and what we may have in our future if certain politicians get their way.

Back in the day, in the glass factories in American, burly, deep-chested men were glass blowers in the factories. They took hot globs of glass from a furnace and blew, turned, and swung them into the shapes desired for sale ... or they blew them into molds to achieve the same results. These men were able to keep at these demanding jobs until they were sixty. At that age, they no longer had the strength in their bodies to continue blowing glass. Many who ended their working careers went to live with their children. Why was that? Because they had been paid enough over the years to live on and nothing more. For all their efforts, sweat, and dedication, they had not a cent left over for old age when their bodies were used up and they could no longer work. Those were the lucky men. For the rest, the unfortunate glass blowers who did not have families to take care of them ... they quickly died in abject poverty. Many of the objects these mistreated men made lasted far longer than they did once their working days were done. The ballyhooed free market system did nothing for these men. The cards were stacked against them from the start. This was the world of Ebenezer Scrooge. The world of "Then they'd better hurry up and die, and decrease the surplus population."

With the "we're broke" mantra, the deep and dangerous cuts in social safety nets and programs for the poor and working class ... and the middle class in these difficult times (we might as well own up to that), the desire to cut education programs, and the demands that we shrink federal government to a point where it has no hold over the power of the rich and corporate executives, we are headed down the road to a new Gilded Age. We are headed down a path to misery and short life spans for many, to riches untold for a few, and democracy for none. I don't want to go there. How about you?

Friday, April 8, 2011

London Centre: Fall 1980, Part 5

September 11, 1980

Bleary-eyed this morning, I wondered how I'd make it through this long day. The guest lecturer in music [from the London Philharmonic Orchestra] was interesting but spoke for so long I wondered if I'd make it to the Tate [art gallery where the Introduction to Art class took place] on time. The insight he gave us on how the various orchestras are run, mostly on their own funds, was interesting. For the art class, the general consensus is that all of us want to hear what Mr. Bradbury will say next. But getting to the Tate on time is a challenge [the #88 double decker bus was the mode of transport I remember].
Sweeny Todd was a lot of fun but all these death-oriented plays are getting on my nerves. After the show, several of us witnessed an accident. I was appalled to see the man who was with the woman who was hit lift her up and help her away and the driver who hit her drove off as if nothing had happened!

September 12-15, 1980

On Friday, I didn't do much but Diana, Dawn, and I have begun to plot a trip out of London, possibly to Wales, for next weekend. We're getting pretty tired of the big city and need a change. (9/13) While we were up at Victoria we met a man, Ernie Scews, while looking for travel information. He was a travel guide for ten years, along with many other jobs he's had. Ernie took us all over the city of London from Victoria to the Temple of Mithras.
What we learned and saw was: the gaslights of Buckingham, the gate of King George III, which was used when he went to visit the ladies of Piccadilly, along the Silver Jubilee trail with the only street that has all bow windows, The Old Curiosity Shop made famous by Charles Dickens, Tudor style houses, St. John's Gate, St. James Palace, a sixteenth century courtyard, Wattling Pub, which is the oldest pub in London which was established in 1666, the Free Mason's Guild, Cutlery Guild, houses with the old brackets for oil lamps and the snuffers still in place. We learned that the round caps in the sidewalks in front of houses are coal shoots, Fortnum and Masons--which is an expensive shop [where we saw men in white gloves wrapping exotic foreign delicacies in white linen for customers ... delicacies like Planter's Peanuts and Aunt Jamima Pancake Mix ... I have never looked at the foreign foods section of the grocery store the same way since], we learned about day and night buses, saw the temple of Mithras, St. Etheldreda's, the British Craft Centre, Old Market, Smithfield Meat Market, the Royal Academy, Piccadilly, the Silvervaults, the Fleet River, the City of London limits, Roman streets, Finsbury borough (which no longer exists) plaque, the statue of John Smith, a place to do brass rubbings, the civil law courts and shops that cater to the lawyers and one of the lawyers Inns and learned about the Inns and the ties you wear when you are a member of one Inn, the site of Newgate Prison--which is now the criminal law court and learned it was demolished in 1777; we learned about a tax between 1715 and 1756 (approximately) that taxed large houses by the number of windows they had and that's why many older buildings have one entire wall of windows bricked up. We learned about the guards...that there are four different groups of them and they are distinguished by the color of the feather in their bear furred hat. They march (or used to) every ten minutes along a special strip that's reinforced to withstand the steel toes and heels of the guard's boots. ... Diana, Dawn and I were on this excursion and we walked with Ernest Scews for six hours and talked with him in a pub for one more. It was an unexpected pleasure. (9/14-15) I spent both days recuperating from our educational walk with Ernie. My greatest effort was to do laundry. This was a learning experience, however. A little boy tried to pick my pocket.
Okay, there are no images that match this narrative. I wasn't taking photos on those days apparently. So here's a few that sort of follow along the lines of the second journal entry ... sort of.



Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Save on Michael and the New Baby Through Old Line Publishing's Facebook Page! Like It!!

Sail over to Old Line's FB page and like it ...

 And now, an opportunity to get a 20% discount on Michael and the New Baby:

Old Line Publishing is now offering sales of our books through our FaceBook page. How cool is that? FaceBook users who "Like" our page can get a 20% discount off any purchase in our FaceBook store. It is a quick and easy way to save.

We will also be increasing our advertising on FaceBook to help draw in other FaceBook users to like us and to save a few dollars on their purchases.

If you would like to view the store, simply go to our page, click "Like" and then click "Shop Now" on the left-hand side of the page. You can either search for a book on browse through the categories to find it. The discount for "Liking" our page will show up when you place something in the shopping cart.

So, friends, parents, grandparents, doting aunts and uncles, help those older siblings to be cope with the new arrival in the family ... AND save yourself some money at the same time. It's a good deal. I like it.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Star Wars Light Saber Popsicles from ThinkGeek



The dark side as you've never seen it. How dark lords gain new apprentices.


If you like what you read here, you can support this blog (don't let me go it alone here): You can order a copy of the children's book Michael and the New Baby directly from Old Line Publishing at: http://www.oldlinepublishingllc.com/index_files/OldLinePublishingChildrensMichaelandtheNewBabybyJSBrooks.htm 




April Fool's Day 2011


Snow in the morning. A true April Fool's Day joke. What more is there to say.