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

Monday, May 30, 2011

The Future of Robotics and Artificial Intelligence


A fascinating piece on the present work on artificial intelligence. Some day we may just have the robots from I Robot or perhaps even an R. Daneel Olivah.

Raiders of the Lost Egg



Indiana Jones will never be the same again. I've never trusted those bunny peeps anyway.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Memorial Day 2011


We pause to reflect on the brave men and women who have served their country well in the armed forces. They have gone into danger whenever and wherever they were needed. They have guaranteed the freedoms and liberties we enjoy. Many made the ultimate sacrifice in their service. Others have returned home grievously wounded, some with visible scars and others suffering brain trauma. All who served and serve the United States honorably and well deserve our thanks and our respect. Let us all pause to reflect upon their service this memorial day and find ways we may serve others as a form of tribute for all they have done. God bless you ladies and gentlemen of the armed services. 

Spirit Memorial



NASA has been unable to reestablish contact with the Spirit rover trapped in the sands of Mars. It has been declared dead. One fan created this memorial tribute. Hats of to Spirit and Opportunity, the "90 day" robots who have spent years exploring Mars.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Social Contract Broken ... Up to Us Now

The other day I saw an old sedan, much worn and far past its expected lifespan, sitting the the grocery store parking lot on a flat tire on the driver's side front wheel. So what?, you ask. Everybody gets flats. True. The problem is, one of those mini spare tires was already on the driver's side rear wheel. This driver, no doubt low on funds and struggling to make ends meet, had lost what little safety net she or he had. Rising numbers of individuals and families find themselves in this unfortunate driver's situation. Squeezed from all sides, social safety nets being torn away as fast as politicians dare, we discover promises made to us over many decades are now being broken. The excuse, "America is broke and we can't afford to help you." Of course, this does not apply to wealthy corporations and deep pocketed donors to political campaigns. Those folks find many, many safety nets to help them hoard their funds.

I was a child in the 1960s. I was taught, if I was good, went to college, studied hard, and got my degree, I would be able to find employment for life with a company that would honor years of faithful service with a retirement plan and I would be set for life. Being a child and naive, I believed the promises made. I placed faith in the social contract made and held up my end of the bargain. However, by the early 1980s, when I graduated from college, those who made the promises and upheld the social contract had broken the deal. They told me (and all of us who grew up in that era) that circumstances had changed, the world had moved on, and the social contract I had invested in was worthless.

The mantra was intoned, "we will return your money to you." Yes indeed, the politicians returned my piddling contribution to me and told me to purchase my own policies and retirement programs with this pittance. They acted like they were doing me a favor. Such was not the case. They chose to ignore, and are continuing to ignore, the fact that pooling our resources we can float many boats, we can help many people to rise above difficult circumstances. Alone, our funds are insufficient to do the job. Still, they return our cash to us and tell us to go it alone. And alone, many now suffer ... and some die. I know this from personal experience.

Peter Thiel, who made millions by founding PayPal and investing in startups like Facebook, declared on NPR that the "social contract is broken." College education invested in no longer assures better jobs as a result. Therefore, he is telling kids to drop out, at least for a couple of years and his foundation is offering $100,000 fellowships to "worthy kids" (read the worthy few ... very few) who agree to leave college to start their own tech company. Thiel says college is overvalued. Again, a social contract has broken. College costs are skyrocketing ... and often the return for the money, time, and effort invested is no career started and a struggle to get any sort of job at all. This is wrong. And it doesn't appear to be getting any better any time soon.

So, it's up to us now. The great religions of the world all state we are to help those in need, those who struggle, those who are sick, unfortunate, in prison, aged, widowed, poor, and infirm. It is time for us to do so. We need to reach out creatively with everything we have to help each other out of this crisis. We also have to put politicians' collective feet to the fire and force them to reestablish the social contracts they have so glibly broken. America is not "broke." Every time I hear this from some pol or expert, a couple of sentences later the same folks will also say this is the strongest and wealthiest nation in the world. You can't have it both ways, bunky. So, let's get busy. Let's create new social contracts with each other based on the great faiths of the world. They show ways to a better life (never mind what the fringe folks in those faiths say) lived together in mutual love, respect, and assistance. Let's create a better world, starting today.

So, who's for reestablishing the 50 year Jubilee?

Friday, May 27, 2011

Happy Birthday Vincent Price: Tim Burton's Vincent



If he were alive today, Vincent Price would be enjoying his 100th birthday. Happy birthday Vincent. Fortunately, for the rest of us, he lives on in his recordings and his films.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Michael and the New Baby Soon to Have Facebook Fan Page

[Click on the title of this post to go to the posting showing where to go to help me out with the contest!]

Old Line Publishing has generously offered to create a Facebook Fan Page for Michael and the New Baby (along with the publishing house's other book offerings). I'll let you all know when it is up and running. The publisher, Craig Schenning, has also started a little competition. Once the page is up and running, the author who gets the most Likes on the page by June 30, 2011 wins. So, together we'll have a little something to participate in. Hope you'll stop by.

Here's what is included in the Fan Page:


Here's what you get:

1) We'll set up a Book Fan Page using the title and cover image of your book.

2) We'll invite everyone we know to visit your new Book Fan Page and LIKE you.

3) We'll send you an email that you can forward to everyone you know so that they can go to your new Book Fan Page and LIKE you.

4) We'll provide a link from your Book Fan Page to our FaceBook store so that people who LIKE you can buy the book using our FaceBook discount of 25%.

5) We'll place a LIKE box on your BookPage of our website so that other FaceBook users can LIKE you as well.

AND, here's the competition: 
In addition, as a contest (which you do not have to participate in if you so choose), we are offering a free Book Trailer Creation Package to the person who can get 500 LIKES first or the person who can get the most LIKES by the end of June (whichever comes first).   

Here are the rules:

1) You must request the free Book Fan Page on FaceBook within the next 24 hours.

2) All Book Fan Pages will be created by May 31st.  

3) All Book Fan Pages will be activated and the contest will begin on June 1, 2011 at 9:00 am Eastern and run through June 30, 2011 at 9:00 am Eastern.

4) All pages will be monitored throughout the month of June.The first person to reach 500 LIKES will be awarded the Book Trailer Creation Package. If no one reaches 500 LIKES then the person with the most LIKES by June 30, 2011 at 9:00 am Eastern will be awarded the Book Trailer Creation Package.

As an added bonus to everyone, regardless of whether you participate in the contest, we'll give you one book for every two books that are purchased through our FaceBook store during the month of June, absolutely free. So if ten of your books sell through the FaceBook store, we'll send you five free copies of your book.

SO, let's compete together. If I get extra books during June, I'll come up with a way to pass them along to you, loyal readers!

NASA Announces Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle Commitment: The First Orion Spacecraft


NASA has announced their commitment to move forward with the Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle as the future of human spaceflight. Here's a brief video showing aspects of its development. I posted a longer video from the Lockheed Martin designers on April 26 if you're curious. One configuration for this system shows two vehicles docked nose to nose and orbiting an asteroid. Looks like there will be some interesting variations on a theme in the future.

SKYLON Spaceplane Passenger Logistics Module Movie



The European Space Agency has given the go ahead for the Skylon space plane. This is a low earth orbit vehicle that can take materials or people into space. Note the mention of extending the space station using Skylon. Nicely done, guys and gals. This craft takes off from a runway and will be entirely reusable ... if it is completed. Thanks to Universe Today for pointing me to this development. Universe Today is available as a daily email posting if you sign up for it for free. Just check their online site. So, Skylon may be a part of humanity's future in space. Why does it remind me of 1950s sci-fi?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Freeman's Mind: Episode 33 (Half-Life Machinima)



For all like-minded folks who are entertained by Freeman's Mind, now there are 33 episodes to chuckle over. However, be aware parents, these are not for children (language issues ... unless of course your child swears like a sailor and you're okay with that). For all you video gamers out there who have donned the environmental suites and gone up against aliens and evil government issue zombies, this is for you.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Kepler Search for Earth-like Planets Mission 2011 update



Here's the 2011 update on the Kepler Space Telescope and its search for extrasolar planets. This is how it works. Amazing technology.

Space Ship 2 One Step Closer to Commerical Flight: SS2_FIRST FEATHER FLIGHT_VNR_FINAL_1080rev.mov



Sure, it's a 5 minute ad for Virgin Galactic, but it is also a fairly new thing in the world. If you have big bucks, your ride to the edge of the atmosphere is one step closer. Who knows, in time the age of space tourism may truly arrive ... even for lowly bloggers. Time will tell. I wonder what else the age of commercial space flight will bring?

Thanks to my pals at Universe Today for pointing me to this video.

Praying for Others to Heal Yourself

These days everyone seems to be angry. Every slight against us is held as a grudge. Tempers are on short fuses and violence is often the result. If you want to take yourself out of this spiral of resentment, grudge, and anger ... often impotent anger ... there is one thing you can do that is known to work. Parents, this will work for you too ...

Pray for the person who has offended you. [If someone is intent on harming you, take proactive measures to keep that individual from doing so first. I am not, and never will, advocating remaining in an abusive situation.] Prayer is a powerful tool, for the offender ... and, counter-intuitive though it may seem, for you. Pray regularly for this individual or group. In time [patience is required], this prayer for others will slowly, slowly heal you. Your anger will bleed away as you pray for the improvement of the other person [no vindictive "smiting" prayers, that won't work]. In time you will find yourself at peace and free to move on with your life in a way the grudge holder never will. Carrying all that anger around hurts you, badly. Pray for that aggravating individual in your life, pray for his or her healing, for his or her coming in right relationship with you and the world. Free yourself. God loves you and that is the life, the free life, God intends for you. It is the life God intends for us all.

Good luck. Start praying now.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Michael and the New Baby COMPETITION STARTS NOW

M&NB from last year's book signing at Readings and Greetings
Okay, friends, I have a competition for you, M&NB's first ever. The clock is now ticking. This competition ENDS July 1st. Down in Baltimore, Maryland, at the Greetings and Readings bookstore, there may be four copies of Michael and the New Baby on consignment. It could be fewer. I have not checked. Here's the competition:

Go to Greetings and Readings. Buy one copy, photography yourself (or a body double if you insist on privacy) in the store with the purchased book and G & R shopping bag OUTSIDE THE STORE (people who run outside the store with an unpurchased copy and take a picture without the prerequisite shopping bag are disqualified and likely to be picked up by the shopping center detective), send me the photo (low res jpg file), and the declaration "I purchased ___ copy (or copies) of Michael and the New Baby on ____ [insert date of purchase]," plus a quote from any line on page 20 of the book (hey, competitions worth their salt aren't simple you know). Leave a comment on this posting to let me know you have sent the competition materials to brooksjs180@gmail.com. IF and only IF you are the first person to do so, I will publish your picture as the winner and person of ultimate good taste AND best parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, etc. in the entire world on this very blog. Who knows, if you purchase all four copies (if all four are still there), I'll MAY send you a fifth copy signed by the author for free if you give me a P.O. box, address, whatever, where to send said award copy, along with publishing your image.

GOOD LUCK, HAPPY HUNTING.

Your destination


Oh yes, the address:

Greetings & Readings
Hunt Valley Towne Centre
118-AA Shawan Road
Hunt Valley, Maryland 21030


Resetting the Clock on Your Toyota Yaris

The Yaris is a very basic automobile, especially if you bought the manual transmission version. Oh, it has plenty of bells and whistles and safety features, don't get me wrong. I love mine. And yet, simple as it is, you have to know a few tricks to make certain items work properly.

Setting the clock is an exercise in patience. You'll find the digital clock on the center dash. It consists of those glowing digits on the left hand side of the speedometer and one button. That simple, single button is for setting the time. Very simple ... but not so much so if you don't know the secret. To begin setting the time, hold in the button beneath the clock on the left ... not the button beneath the odometer on the right, your other left. That's it. Hold in the clock button until the hour starts blinking. Now you can tap the clock button to move the hour forward until you reach the right hour for your time zone. NEXT ... PATIENCE. This is the trick. Once the hour is set ... do NOTHING. Wait a few seconds. In time, the minutes will start to magically flash all on their own and you can set them by once again tapping the button. After that, again it's the patience trick. Do nothing more. The minutes will stop flashing on their own ... in a minute or less. You're done. Now you know. Pass it on.

I'm seeing a lot more Yaris's (or is it Yari) on the road as the gas prices hover near the four dollar mark (or above in certain areas). The great highway miles are really starting to pay off, aren't they. And then there's parallel parking. It's so easy when there's so little distance between the back and front bumpers. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Earthlike Planet, Gliese 581 (Gliza) habitable zone?



Reports this morning say scientists think Gliese 581d may be that planet. According to the article in the Huffington Post, poor ol' Gliese 581g, the previous top candidate, just doesn't exist. So, the focus is on Gliese 581d, which apparently does. D doesn't rotate, so there is a day and night side. However, apparently, it is believed the light from the red star keeps it comfy and warm on both sides. Imagine the life that could develop on a planet with one side in perpetual light and the other in eternal dusk. The article states researchers are using new computer models to determine if this candidate could really hold life.

Monday, May 16, 2011

This Week @NASA Several Robots for Tomorrow



NASA and ESA are working on some interesting robots to use on Mars in the next decade and beyond. The walking, habitat carrying robot is particularly interesting.

Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer



This is the instrument Endeavor is taking to the International Space Station as I write. Without the ISS, this device would be impossible. Without the Space Shuttle, it could never get there. We are going to miss our shuttles very soon, I think. Surely, the scientific community will.

STS-134 Endeavour Final Flight Overview



Here's what Endeavor and her crew will be up to during its final flight. This flight was added to the schedule to accommodate this important science package that has been roughly 15 years in the making. Have a safe flight and return home crew of Endeavor. After her return, Endeavor is destined for a California museum.

[HD] STS-134 Space shuttle Endeavour last launch ever 16/05/2011


In our ongoing tribute to the end of the Space Shuttle program, here's Endeavor's last launch, taking a significant science package to the ISS.

London Centre: Fall 1980, Part 10: Scotland and the End of the 10 Week London Experience

Our London home away from home.  Stayed in the narrow room with the window over the door.
October 2, 1980

Today after classes I got ready for the Scotland trip. I finally decided to go even though the cost is going to be painfully high. I hope the trip is worth it. It may very well be my last trip until the three week tour [of Europe ... and yes, past self, it was]. After paying the largest part of the agonizing sum to Don and Chris (our graduate assistant husband and wife team) I crammed everything I wanted to take into my backpack and a plastic bag that I hung over the top of it. I was ready to go now. We leave at the uncivilized hour of 8 am [only a college student would find that uncivilized]. Only Dawn is staying behind (of the students that is) due to monetary reasons.





Pushing my camera to the limits in a dim interior without a flash

Royals 1980

October 3-6, 1980

Everything happened so fast and since I can't write on buses I'm writing this "after the fact." The trip was well worth the money. Friday we all crawled on board Charlie's bus at 8 am for the trip. He wanted the luggage stowed at 7:30 too. Many of us slept on the way up but Diana, Susie, and I played UNO, a nasty card game! We stopped for lunch at a place (truck stop) with the appetizing name of Roadhog (yuck). The food was overpriced and poor. After that we stopped at Don's request in some weird little town for 45 minutes. Don claimed that if we weren't back on the bus then that we'd be left. I felt that was pretty high handed considering we payed for this blasted trip. But I must admit everyone was back on the bus on time. We arrived in Edinburgh at 8 pm. Some of us ate at a Chinese place up the road. It struck me as funny that our first meal in Scotland would be Chinese. The B&B we stayed in that night was fairly typical. On the way up Charlie played tapes and I found out that if we bring some he'll play them for us [back in the pre-digital days].

The next day we were off at 10:00 am for Braemar. We went into the highlands and I was impressed by the mountains. They were stark. Some had trees on them but most only had trees at the bases. They were "smooth" mountains. That is they had few rock outcroppings, unlike Wales. We made on stop on the small winding roads to take pictures and were surprised and lucky to catch a rainbow over the mountains ahead. ... We arrived at Braemar at 3:00 pm (town population of 400). We stayed at a magnificent place called the Invercauld Arms that used to be a hunting lodge. It had an old fashioned cage lift, working fireplaces, and luxurious rooms. The four of us guys were put in a cottage out back next to a pub. I wondered at the implications there. The cottage was great. It was two stories tall with a functional kitchen and dining room on the ground floor and two sets of bedrooms (two beds each) up above with our own bathroom and tub. Talk about the lap of luxury [that should tell you something ... I don't remember any of the rooms we stayed in. Sleeping was just something you did to get ready for the next day's adventure].

After investigating our rooms, Diana and I went "out on the town." So did all the others. We went to some of the shops and the tourist information centre and were delighted to find a couple had been there three days before from Fairfax, Virginia. Their name was in the visitor's book and now mine is too. I also saw for the first time signs warning against death in the mountains. It appears many people wander off and get lost or freeze to death on the peaks. I could believe it. It got cold while we were there.

The next day, Sunday, we went to (Pam, Diana, Diana, Lee Ann Bagley and I) Craithe church which was 9 miles away by bike. The bikes were small and had very hard seats. We had heard that the Queen would be there. We arrived and so did she and Prince Andrew. That was exciting and worth the trip. I got some good shots and met a man and woman from England and one from Australia. She recognized my American "accent." [To fellow Americans I am fairly accentless, so this made an impression on me.] Later I recognized a family with an American accent. The surprised me. This day was great but after that bike ride I was shot for the day. We went back to Edinburgh.



Monday we we went to the castle there ... for two hours. [Several of us] went to see the town. Then we went to a wooden mill on the way home and I got a traveling blanket made of wool. I am pleased with it. [We still have it.] All in all it was a great trip but I prefer trips with small groups like our independent tour of Wales.

Queen Elizabeth, Prince Andrew, and their public ...

Charlie and his coach.

October 7, 1980

The rehearsal of the LPO [London Philharmonic Orchestra] was interesting. Having tea with them in the church's converted crypt was more fun though.

Then we ate dinner and rushed to the Old Vic, a small and steep theater, to see Macbeth. O'Toole's version was terrible. He slouched and stumbled, Macbeth's wife whispered and the play went poorly. But it was a learning experience. [How right I was. Little did I know at the time, but Peter O'Toole's Macbeth would go down in history as one of the worst. Every now and then you witness history in the making. But, don't believe me, check the history books yourself.]




October 8, 1980

The Wednesday trip to Hampton Court Palace and Windsor Palace was good. Both palaces were beautiful but Windsor was the grandest. ... At Windsor I walked through those well  adorned rooms that the royal family occasionally stays at with mouth opened awe. Then the dinner at the Lindblad's was fantastic!

October 9, 1980

Today, aside from classes and postcard writing, I haven't done much of interest. I've made sure this journal was ready to turn in. In it are all the memorable things we've done and things I've learned and experienced that are meaningful to me. ... It has been said that journals and diaries are kept to be read by others later on. So in mine is all that is fit for others to read.

[Nice ending past self. Still, from the perspective of 31 years on, I wish there was more. There are things I remember now that are not here, like the visit to the very upscale Fortnum and Mason's to watch men dressed in morning coats and white gloves attend to customers, including one who was wrapping in fine linen cloth an "exotic" item from the International Foods section, Planter's Peanuts. I have never viewed the goods from that section of the store in the same light again. It was a wonderful journey. If you or your child can take such an expedition, I highly recommend it. Now you have seen a sampling of the slides from two 140 slide carousels. The 3 week trip to Europe takes up another two. If I have time in the future, I may scan a few of those as well. There is at least on set that is quite historic. We were able to climb the Leaning Tower of Pisa ... which is no longer possible. The view of the adjacent cathedral from above is lost, but lives on in my slides. Thanks for coming along on this trip down memory lane and back to a time that is no more.]


Saturday, May 14, 2011

HiRISE Mars 3-D - New Amazing Flyovers



Take seven minutes to get closer to Mars than you will in any other way. Courtesy of the Mars HiRISE camera orbiting the planet. Science in action. There is a real surprise around the six minute mark in your "flight." Fasten your seat belts and enjoy the ride.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

If You Have a Son Who Is 6 ...

This is for parents with a six year old boy. That's mighty specific and darned sexist you say. Specific yes. Sexist ... well, no it's just a fact. If you have a six year old boy, treat him and yourself to the 1966 Batman movie on DVD. It's campy, silly, low budget, and exactly what will excite that six year old son. I made this discovery ... well, um, years ago. I popped in this DVD to expose our son to the Caped Crusader as I had grown up with him and got a happy surprise. Before long our son was on his feet, hopping back and forth in excitement as Batman escaped one bizarre and ridiculous (to adults) plot twist after another. Batman beats a shark attached to his boot while he is dangling from a rope ladder beneath the Bat Copter by pulling Shark Repellant Spray out of his utility belt. Batman desperately tries to get rid of a large, round black bomb, complete with big burning fuse, on a crowded dock. And on and on it goes. Give yourself a treat and watch this with your son (or sons if you have twins, triplets, etc.).

However, beware, if you can find an excuse to end the movie at the half way mark, you'll have given your boy a treat and spared yourself the lesser half of the film. The story and gags start to fall apart and seem tired after the half way mark.

If you have a six year old daughter, find something else to watch together. Trust me, I know. You don't want to see the "this is so stupid" look on her face. Really. Trust me!!!

Parents: Try New Things ...

If your kids are too old for Michael and the New Baby, let's say in their high school years, and they are passionate for a particular thing, perhaps a certain video game, AND they ask you to try it, what should you do? The answer is simple. Do it. Let them be your guide into a video world they love. Share in the adventure together with them. You'll gain a different window into their world, you'll learn new inside jokes, and you'll be able to bond in a strange, new direction. Our daughter loves Portal. I found it infinitely confusing from the outside. However, when she took me in, gave me that Portal Device and showed me how to make crazy leaps through inter-dimensional space, I have to say ... that was fun! The game was great ... but the real fun came from sharing her passion for that game. Let's face it, teens don't often let us into their worlds as they are slowly developing their natural and necessary independence. If they reach out to you, parents, with an offer, make the time and enter their world. You'll be glad you did. 

Now, excuse me, I have to figure out level 18. "The cake is a lie."

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Eddie Izzard Star Trek


A little something more for fans of the original Star Trek series. Eddie Izzard makes a few observations and suggestions on how things might have gone. Perhaps Paramount will include a few of these in the 2012 Star Trek movie with the all new crew. Phasers would be so much more interesting.

Another 1960's Classic TV Commercial for "Kodak Starmite Camera" (March ...


I still have this camera. Our family had it back in the 1960s. It's amazing to think how far the technology has come and how it has transformed our picture taking and sharing habits. Back in the day, you bought rolls of film in 12, 24, or 36 exposures. They were black and white or color, prints or slides. With a limited number of frames and flash bulbs available, shots tended to be taken few and far between, often staged, occasionally candid but with the rather slow speeds of these small portable cameras of the day, staged was far more likely. Parents were likely to chastise their children, "Don't waste that film now!" Today, it's all changed. The cameras, small and large, are digital, come in many formats and film has been replaced with memory cards. You are now limited by storage capacity alone. Instead of taking a handful of shots at a given event, hundreds may be taken in a few hours and weeded through later. Also, back in the 1960s, you would have prints or slides made, copied and shared with family and friends through the mail or the dread event, the family vacation slide show. Today, you create your low res copies, email them to family and friends, or upload them to an image sharing service, Facebook, etc. for all to see. The same applies with movies. Today's may be the most documented generation ever, given the modern technology. I wonder what comes next?

Friday, May 6, 2011

London Centre: Fall 1980, Part 9: Short Interludes Before the Next Event

Dover leftover, part of the gang
September 25, 1980

I don't have much to say about today. Dr. Bradbury took us through the Tate and as usual boggled our minds by pointing out details in the paintings and after that Watch on the Rhine was a fairly good play. (Oh yes, before that [several of us] ate at the Tennessee Pancake House. I have never tasted a crueler rendition of Southern cooking. BLAH!!!) Most of all I enjoyed, as always, walking back to the tube station past Big Ben and while on the other side of the Thames, seeing Parliament and Big Ben lit up, the green under-lighting and the lit crests on the bridge and the reflection of it all in the water.

September 26-29, 1980

After geography Friday was another of those do nothing days. The sharing of experiences in geography is sinking in. I notice we all exchange little tips more often now. ... [Saturday evening] we went to see the play Amadeus ... in the Olivier Theatre in the NT (National Theatre). I recommend it highly! Afterwards we stood on the balcony outside the Olivier and gasped at the Thames as boats passed lit in the night. I recommend that too!

September 30, 1980

Music class was unique today. The guest conductor, Lawrence Leonard, who spoke to us taught us the basics of conducting. It must have looked pretty strange to see all of us conducting that record player with him. It felt pretty dumb but I must admit I understand the basics of conducting now.




October 1, 1980

Greenwich was great fun. I enjoyed the boat trip down. I'll never forget Lydia Petersen's name for us on the trip down. We are not the Ball State Boat or Bus People. I think that describes us very well. Upon arrival we were all herded to the Cutty Sark, a tea clipper. One of the last and fastest of the sailing ships made of wood. It was a beautiful thing ... After that [several of us] went to a little carry out (take away) shop for fish and chips. It was very good with low prices for a huge chunk of fish. After that we spent the rest of the day in the Maritime Museum and the Royal Observatory. The observatory commands a beautiful view of the city from its hilltop perch. Most people at the observatory stand with one foot on each side of the East/West Meridian. I felt obstinate and stood with both feet on the line to have my picture taken. Some guy walked by and mumbled about what a pain we damned tourists are. I replied loudly "Ever and always!" I saw him later and he gave me a funny look.


That evening, after having trouble finding a place for dinner and looking in antique and junk shop windows, the play Time and the Conways was fairly good. It made me think.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

President Obama Roasts Donald Trump At White House Correspondents' Dinner!


Good comic timing, good humor, and all right before the mission to take out Osama bin Laden. That takes poise. The careful explanation of the "birth video" is wonderful ... as is the Canada remark. Then again, some would say I'm biased. I'm not saying.

Writers: Keeping the Faith, Sharing with Others

Writers: here are some encouraging words from Henri J.M. Nouwen's book Bread for the Journey. In the brief article "Making Our Lives Available to Others," he states:

"One of the arguments we often use for not writing is this: 'I have nothing original to say. Whatever I might say, someone else has already said it, and better than I will ever be able to do'. This, however, is not a good argument for not writing. Each human being is unique and original, and nobody has lived what we have lived. Furthermore, what we have lived, we have lived not just for ourselves but for others as well. Writing can be a creative and invigorating way to make our lives available to ourselves and to others.

We have to trust that our stories deserve to be told. We may discover that the better we tell our stories the better we will want to live them."

There is a lot of truth in this. As an editor, I tell new writers worried that someone else is bringing out a book on the subject they are covering that no two people, given their divergent backgrounds, life experiences, educations, and interests, will ever approach the same topic from exactly the same perspective. You are each unique individuals with insights into the world that are well worth sharing. What you choose to write can make a difference.

When I wrote Michael and the New Baby (which may be purchased from Old Line Publishing for $12.95, just click on any of the book illustrations running down the right side of the blog page), it was to address a fear our son was having of becoming the older sibling. He'd seen a lot of negative images on cartoons of older brothers as either morons or bullies and needed positive images to hang onto instead. As an author, it was gratifying to see the change the story made in his outlook, reframing the whole situation for him in a positive light.

My one request is that each writer choose subject matter well. There is a whole lot of negative, hurtful, and downright evil information floating around out there that individuals have written out of meanness or a lack of forethought. Keep the faith, keep writing, and write things that will be a blessing to others. Each of us can be a blessing or a curse to others each and every day. Choose to use your writing gifts to be a blessing to everyone who reads your work, however you choose to release it to the world. Make a difference today.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Taste the Cake (Half-Life 2)



Warning: this is one of those posts in which I've let my inner geek off the leash. Here's a little music video from the first Portal game in honor of the arrival of Portal 2. I know someone who really wants to own that second game. I like the creativity involved here. As a writer, I like to support creativity when I can (not that Valve needs any support at this point!!!).

Sunday, May 1, 2011

The 12 Days Of Portal



If you know what this is about, you are truly a Portal geek (and that's not a bad thing)! So, how's Portal 2?