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 31, 2012

Top Ten List of May 2012 Blog Posts for J.S. Brooks Presents

Having created the top ten list of all time winning blog posts for J.S. Brooks Presents, I was curious to see how the month of May compared to the all time list. Several of the heavy hitters made the ranks, along with some new contenders. Each title is a link that will take to you to each of this month's top posts. Thanks to all the readers for making these lists possible!

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Aug 22, 2010

In the also ran camp, at number eleven, receiving as many views as number ten was ...

Jul 26, 2010 (YES!!!)

And this is that book you need!!! 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 




SpaceX Dragon Successful Reentry (5/31/2012, HD)

Congratulations SpaceX team and NASA for a wonderful, successful mission to the International Space Station. Here is the historic water landing of the Dragon capsule in the Pacific Ocean off Baja, California. We haven't seen a landing like this of a conical spacecraft since the early 1970s. It is wonderful. It gives me hope for the future of the human spaceflight program in the US. Later in the year, SpaceX intends to unveil its Falcon Heavy rocket, the largest rocket for heavy load lifting anyone has seen according to Elon Musk. After that, its on to landing rocket sections back on a landing pad for reuse and in time a human rated Dragon module to carry crews to the ISS and beyond. I'm liking what I'm seeing. How about you?

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 




Revolting "Welfare Queen" Myth Reborn

I was infuriated this morning when I heard a Tea Party follower revive that evil old zombie of the Reagan administration, the "Welfare Queen." Speaking against "big government" helping people, this cashier claimed the government's welfare program (greatly modified and reoriented toward getting people jobs by President Bill Clinton we must remember) must be removed so that recipients will stop buying cell phones, eating caviar, and living lives of ease while she works her fingers to the bone trying to make ends meet.

What a load of crap! Ronald Reagan created this fictitious woman in 1976 during his presidential run. She was sponging off the government in an amazing number of ways and living high off the hog. Investigative journalists quickly discovered the fraud of this story ... but the odious myth lives on. For the truth about welfare, read Pulitzer Prize winning journalist David Zucchino's book The Myth of the Welfare Queen, written after spending a year with two welfare mothers in Philadelphia. It was reprinted in 1999. 

This foul lie was coupled with a clip from Mitt Romney cheerfully stating that the American Dream is alive and well. With a little hard work and fortitude, ANYONE can have the American Dream. All we need is for evil old government to back off of wonderful, virtuous business and everyone who WANTS to can be living the life of luxury. Another load of mythological crap and one mixed with a sinister thread of foul implication that if you don't succeed and get rich, well, there's just something wrong with you and not the American system, never the virtuous free market system. Does no one remember the recent banking crisis? That was the unfettered free market system run amok. Mr. Romney (and I sincerely hope you remain Mr. Romney, former Governor Romney, and never President Romney), go peddle this poison elsewhere. I know a great many people who work hard every day and struggle to make ends meet. They work multiple jobs to keep a roof over their heads and food in their families bellies. They live in fear that some large catastrophe will arise and sink their fragile boat, sending them into fiscal oblivion. If you get your way, sir, the matter will only get worse. I'm sick and tired of Tea Party conservatives and those too timid to stand up to them trying to drag this nation back into the evils of the nineteenth century gilded age, where robber barons controlled the wealth and everyone else struggled to survive off their leavings (the real trickle down economics). Give me a free market system properly regulated to keep away the excesses and attempts to take advantage of the poor and struggling any day. I don't want any repeats of the banking debacle or the Wall Street mess!

Returning for a moment to welfare, there is a great myth floating around out there like a toxic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico (another big business triumph of unfettered "free marketeering" I'd say), and that poverty and homelessness have risen since 1965 when Welfare began with Lyndon Johnson's war on poverty. This is another outrageous lie. Poverty and homelessness have been reduced significantly by the actions of the government. When Johnson declared his war on poverty, poverty rates were about 20%. By the end of the 1960s, with government intervention, poverty was reduced to 12%. Where do you think it will be if the Tea Party gets its way and Welfare is destroyed, along with EPA regulations, the Department of Education, and so much more. I say there will be more gated communities (necessary given the rage of all who will have lost any chance at the American Dream or simply living with respect), a great spike in the extinction rates (including of the endangered Middle Class), and bottled air will become as popular as bottled water.

End these odious myths now.  If you all are going to have a presidential campaign, start using facts and leave the hoary old monsters like the Welfare Queen back in their graves where they belong.

If you like what you read here, you can support this blog (don't let me go it alone here in my own little free market enterprise): 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 




Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Top Ten Blog Posts on J.S. Brooks Presents!

Presented for your entertainment are the top ten most popular posts on J.S. Brooks Presents to date. It is with some chagrin that I note none of these deal directly with my children's book, Michael and the New Baby, which confirms my earlier decision to write about what fascinates me more often than not and let the chips fall where they may.  Enjoy the posts. In time I'm looking forward to seeing some more 2011 and 2012 posts vying for position with the older, more venerable posts.
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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

End of Mayan Calendar: Christians Take Note

The end is near ... and then again ...

The Mayans took the end of a Long Count (their impressive calendar cycle of 5,125.37 years) to begin a time of renewal of all things. If we Christians want to make note of this historical passing, we too should act like the Mayans. Let's usher in our own time of renewal. The Bible has a few suggestions on how that might be done.

To begin with, let's get back to the basics, Jesus' two greatest commandments: Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, all of your soul, all of your strength, and all of your mind [basically with all you are]; and love your neighbor as yourself. That right there gives us plenty to do and renew. God is gracious, merciful, and loving and wants to be in relationship with all God's children. God also wants us to extend that love God gives us freely to others, including our enemies. Luke links this with the parable of the good Samaritan, who stops to help one of his traditional enemies, a member of the nation of Israel, and does such a good job he undoes all the injuries done to the man by both robbers and church officials who ignore him as he lies dying on the side of the road. We likewise are to be a good neighbor to everyone we meet who needs our help, including our enemies. It's a great place to begin renewal.

Love has been mentioned several times. What is love? The apostle Paul has that one covered in 1 Corinthians 13:
If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
4Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant 5or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. 7It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. 9For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; 10but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. 11When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. 12For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. 13And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.
 If we loved like that, what a difference we could make in the world, especially as we love our neighbors as ourselves. What a time of renewal. It would lead to many "fruit" for our efforts, like the fruit of the Holy Spirit (the Spirit that motivates us to change, to be better than ourselves, to be courageous ... to be renewed). Those good fruits are (Galatians 5:22-26):
By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, competing against one another, envying one another. 
 With those fruit for our efforts, we would be renewed as individuals. So, use the end of the Mayan calendar as a time of renewal and see if you can't change your little corner of the world, and yourself. I think you'll be glad you did.

Isn't that better than a world ending apocalypse?

P.S. You are a beloved child of God. And if you believe you have done terrible things, wandered far, and now see yourself as unlovable by God, please go back and read the parable of Prodigal Son. In it, the father is God, you are the prodigal, and God's reaction to the prodigal's return is the reaction God will have to you as you turn toward God. The Almighty will meet you more than halfway on your return and celebrate extravagantly. That's how much you are loved (See: Luke 15:11-32).




For an interesting article on the Mayan calendar and what interpretations we have overlaid on top of it, see the online copy of Archaeology, the article entitled "Apocalypse Soon?" http://www.archaeology.org/0911/2012/

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 




Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day Reflections

In honor of our nation's warriors, the men and women of the Armed Forces who have fought for our freedom, J.S. Brooks Presents: Snap Judgment's G.I. episode: http://snapjudgment.org/gi Hear stories of how our armed forces members and their families are faring today.

Here as well are two biblical verses of inspiration for those who serve and their families:

Those who wait for the Lord shall renew
their strength,
they shall mount up with wings like eagles,
they shall run and not be weary
they shall walk and not faint.
Isaiah 40.31


What does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?
Micah 6.8 


Our prayers go out today to all the men and women who have given everything they had in the service of their country, their families, and all of our freedom, to their families, and their friends. May you rest in the loving arms of God. 

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 




 

Good News From Christianity: Commencement Speaker W. Wilson Goode, Sr. 2012.mov

  Reverend W. Wilson Goode, Sr. provided the commencement speech for the Palmer Theological Seminary graduation service on May 19, 2012. The ceremony took place at Enon Tabernacle in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Reverend Goode had several interesting challenges for the graduates and some insightful remarks about God's ways. It is well worth a listen.

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 



Saturday, May 26, 2012

Good News From Christianity: What is Crazy about Christian Infighting

For those who seek, please know that we all aren't fighting over minutiae of theological understanding. Some Christians do want us to be one as Jesus prayed for us to be. What you see on the news isn't everything.

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 



Friday, May 25, 2012

'Dragon by the Tail!': Video of SpaceX capsule docking with ISS

History has been made today. A commercial company has successfully docked a craft of their own making with the International Space Station. A great beginning. Who knows where it will go? Russia Today does a nice little summary of many hours' work.

Congrats to SpaceX and NASA!

UPDATE: May 26, 2012: the Dragon capsule was successfully opened by the time I checked NASA TV at 6:15 am and was reported to have a very nice new car smell. After a 20 minute delay to allow the air between the station and Dragon to mix, the crew will enter Dragon and begin checking out the ship and cargo. 

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 



SpaceX Dragon Closes in on Space Station: History In the Making

As of this morning, the SpaceX Dragon capsule has closed to within 235 m of the station, successfully performed maneuvers to retreat to 250 m and return to 235. If all goes well, around 8:00 am today, the Canadarm 2 on the ISS will have locked onto the Dragon (once it has shut down its thrusters) and been docked to the ISS.

This is history in the making. Never before has a private company been able to send a capsule to the International Space Station. Now, at 7:20 am, Dragon has been given to go ahead to move inside the "stay out zone" to 150m from the station and hold again. It's a slow, incremental testing process and Dragon is performing beautifully so far.

The view from the station of the approaching Dragon as it passes over the planet is gorgeous.

This just in, testing is taking longer than anticipated and the grappled and docking may take place a little later than originally thought. That's the way it goes with test flights!

The significance of this mission is that it gives the US a new way to get to the ISS with supplies, allows heavy loads of experiments and equipment to be offloaded in a way only the Shuttles could provide previously, offers a reusable capsule from a private firm for economical reuse, and with the creation of the next generation Dragon capsule will give the US a way to return people to space sooner than waiting for NASA's Orion capsule will allow (with a craft capable of going beyond low earth orbit for the first time in 30+ years). All in all, this is a very big day. Godspeed Dragon! Good luck to all at SpaceX and NASA. May this be a long and profitable partnership.

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 



Thursday, May 24, 2012

How The Empire Strikes Back Should Have Ended

Here's a little revisionist movie making of a classic AND a little advanced Father's Day present. Enjoy Dads ... and just imagine what YOU could do. Then again, arms and legs cut off, mechanical breathing apparatus ... maybe not. Anyway, Happy Father's Day. Enjoy.

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 



Adventures in Fitness 3: One Guy's Attempt to Knock Off the Rust: Don't Look and Other Matters

I learned a new rule tonight ... don't look! I've been to the gym a few times now, gotten used to the machines, picked my favorites and have begun to establish a routine. So, now for the first time I started looking at other people's screens on the machines around me. Turns out that is as bad an idea as peeking through keyholes. As the old saying goes, "you will surely be vexed." A quick glance to either side showed me each person was going faster than me, burning more calories than me, and going farther than me. Glancing from their screens to themselves, I also discovered that each person was probably 20 years younger than me ... rescuing my fragile ego from a death spiral. So, new rule. Don't look! Keep your eyes on your own screen and be happy with your progress whatever it may be. For me, I've gone from 15 minutes to 30 minutes on the elliptical and over 1 1/2 miles covered with hundreds of calories burned. I'm happy. From now on, I'll remain BOTH ignorant AND happy!

I also discovered that my body will put up a mild protest for the first ten minutes on the elliptical (my first machine of choice upon entering the gym ... also the first one you stumble across). Then it gives up and goes with the flow. So, get past the first ten minutes and you are golden.

The third discovery was more cognitive. For a while I listened to music I brought along on my iPod. Then I switched to a machine with an active device to plug into the bank of TVs broadcasting silently away at the front of the gym. Lo and behold, I was happier with my music than with the TV. The reason was simple. With the music I could forget all the worries of the day and the demands of the outside world. With the TV broadcasts came commercials and the outside world leaked in to disturb my sweaty bliss. No more TV for me. Music or silent contemplation from now on. 

The fourth discovery was made after coming home. I needed to start some serious reading and ... low and behold ... I was ready to read and kept at it for hours with lots of energy in reserve. It seems rewarding your body with exercise leads to return rewards later in whatever other endeavor you take up afterwards. No being left in a fatigued puddle as I had imagined. Yet another preconceived notion heads for the trash bin.

Now, with this last discovery, it is time to up the number of visits per week, seeing how there is benefit for the rest of the day in doing so.

See you at the gym (I still can't believe I'm saying that!).

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 



Archaeology Site Artifacts Resurface After 20 Years: Addison Plantation, Prince Georges County, Maryland

Manor House Foundation
Back from the vaults (think of the end scene from the first Indiana Jones movie), artifacts recovered from Addison Plantation over 20 years ago by two archaeological teams over several years' investigations are returning to the light of day. According to a Washington Post article, the artifacts -- over 300,000 were collected during excavations -- were mired in a legal dispute between the second archaeology firm and the former site developer for much of this time (see: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/07/29/AR2008072902160_2.html) Now they come to light again, to be displayed at the National Harbor, which displaced the site of the original manor house and its grounds. The original owner, John Addison, was an English merchant who took the risk to move to the colonial frontier of Maryland in his day (along the Potomac River right across from Alexandria) in 1687. The risk paid off and John Addison had himself a large plantation (in time), replacing a wooden original home with a massive brick manor house (12 course thick walls at ground level). He became the first commanding officer of the Prince Georges County Militia, in charge of all the men of fighting age in his area (about ages 16 to 60). He owned a mill so the farmers locally came to him with their grain. He owned a ferry for river crossings. He basically diversified into as many avenues of power and authority as he could.

The artifacts, as the article from 2008 states, reflect Colonel Addison's status. Over 5000 bottles bore the letter A, a personal seal and sign of wealth and over 3000 sherds of fine china, other dishware, and stemware reflected his status. Now, here's a few things the article doesn't mention. Addison had his front lawn structured as a beautiful terrace overlooking the Potomac, complete with brick drains beneath the soil. A massive pile of shattered glass on that lawn suggests a greenhouse once resided there. Along one side of the grounds was a 70 foot deep ravine along the side of which a road ran from the upper grounds down to the floodplains below, taking people and freight to the ferry perhaps. The original wooden house, further removed from the sweeping view of the Potomac became the overseers house (as a planter John Addison was a slave owner). The basement of this house was unusual as it had a walled cellar and a tunnel leading out from one corner of that cellar (no, not a tunnel leading to the Potomac through which Abraham Lincoln could be abducted in the Civil War). This tunnel was filled with gun parts. We came to the conclusion these were militia supplies a commander had to keep so that his troops arms could be maintained. The overseer's house burned (I believe c. 1730 if memory serves) and preserved the metal parts in that side tunnel. For more on this, see: http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/25616062?uid=3739864&uid=2129&uid=2&uid=70&uid=4&uid=3739256&sid=47699031880927  You can view images from that article of actual flintlock gun lock mechanisms in a Maryland state article: http://www.jefpat.org/CuratorsChoiceArchive/2010CuratorsChoice/Aug2010-FlintlockGunPart.html

Down a well was found many artifacts, including window glass scratched with the initials of an Addison family member back in the day. There's much more, but no time now. If you're interested, let me know and we can continue.

For now, it's nice to know these artifacts have now been preserved by the state. Can anyone tell me if any of them are on display at the National Harbor site? If so, I may need to make a pilgrimage there to see them and reflect.

For additional material on a valuable plantation archaeology site now long gone, see: http://www.jefpat.org/Documents/AddisonReport-Final.pdf and http://www.nvcasv.org/datum/2008aug.pdf

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 





Most of the foundation in view

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Prophetic Preaching, What Is It? What It Isn’t!


Recently a Republican Super Pac was intent on dredging up Reverend Jeremiah Wright’s preaching as a cudgel to use against Barack Obama. Much to his credit, Mitt Romney spoke out against this foolish and ill-conceived strategy. The crux of the argument is that Reverend Wright preached inflammatory, anti-patriotic rhetoric from the pulpit and the President spent years listening to this angry, wrong-headed preacher and therefore must be angry, unpatriotic, and wrong-headed himself. Such nonsense. I contend that those who make this argument are … basically … ignorant, or worse.

Reverend Wright was preaching in a style known as prophetic preaching. This preaching technique harkens back to the Old Testament prophets who railed against Israel when the nation turned its collective back on God and God’s plan for Israel. The prophets of old would do the following when delivering a warning from God (prophets spoke for God): 1. They would state the collective, corporate wrongs the people of Israel were committing in the eyes of God; 2. They would warn the people of the dire consequences of invoking God’s wrath against them if they continued down this path (such as exile when conquered by the much feared Babylonians); 3. Finally, the prophets would end with a word of hope, stating that even now, at this late date, if the people turn back they will be able to deflect God’s wrath and live the better lives planned for them by their Lord. Jesus himself was a master of prophetic preaching as well, speaking with the authority of God against the ills of the nation and the people and calling them to redemption. Preachers who use the prophetic style today follow a similar pattern. Prophetic preaching challenges the status quo and gives hope to oppressed hearers of the message. African-American preachers use this method most often and to great effect. So, when Reverend Wright said what he said (no need to repeat it as you all heard it time and again with nauseating regularity during the last presidential election) he was stating what the United States could expect if not turning around and heading down a better path.

Preachers at the time Reverend Wright gave his sermon had plenty to warn against: prison populations larger than almost any in the world; torture of prisoners; indefinite incarceration; erosion of civil liberties in the name of homeland security; blind disregard of the needs of the poor (the widows and orphans, the aliens and the outcasts; the prisoners and the hungry, etc.); poor stewardship of creation; and much more. Unfortunately, these situations remain unresolved and the need for prophetic preaching is as strong now as it was in the days of the prophets of the Old Testament.

Prophetic preaching offers up theological and biblical insights into current situations and provides pathways to exit sin and despair and return to a world of God given hope with determined struggle. This method deals broadly with issues cultural, social, and religious. Stances taken by such preachers frequently go against the common knowledge or belief of the culture at large and such preachers risk the irritation or outright anger of their hearers, as did the prophets of old and Jesus Christ. Prophetic preachers are challenged and charged to speak with the authority of God. It is a heavy challenge, and a risky one. It makes enemies of people in power. However, it is not unpatriotic, anti-American speech.

I would contend that those who criticize this preaching approach and take portions of prophetic sermons out of context do not understand the preaching style or its intended effect. The accusations that Reverend Wright was unpatriotic and inflammatory are made, I believe, out of either ignorance or a willful misunderstanding of prophetic preaching as a whole. I would politely request that those who are inclined to do so should sit down and be still. Don’t play the fool for the national audience by displaying your ignorance. You do a disservice to a time honored tradition upheld by some of the best preachers who ever walked the earth. Be still.

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 



Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Launch of SpaceX Falcon 9 : NASA

History was made this morning (May 22) at 3:44 am when the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket rumbled into space carrying the Dragon capsule toward its rendezvous on Friday with the International Space Station. This is a historic mission as Falcon 9 and Dragon are the first commercial rocket and capsule to make this attempt.

In the next few days, if all goes well, the Dragon capsule will close on the ISS, make several maneuvers to prove its ability to move in close to the station safely, receive the okay to approach, and be snagged by the ISS robotic arm for docking. The capsule will be unloaded (1000 pounds of clothes, food, and student science experiments) and then filled with finished experiments and equipment for the first ever return to earth for reuse. No other automated cargo module (from other government space agencies) is capable of this feat.

This may begin a new era of spaceflight for the United States. Good luck to the whole SpaceX/NASA team.

If you are interested, you can see a 15 minute film of this flight at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ch53huvkmKw

Update 5/24/12: Tonight at around 11:55 pm, the Dragon capsule will pull within 2 1/2 km of the ISS for the first time. If all goes well, Friday NASA will give SpaceX the go ahead to approach close enough for the ISS crew to reach out and retrieve the capsule for docking. This brings us a small step closer to the future of 2001: A Space Odyssey in which Pan Am shuttles took passengers to awaiting orbiting stations on the way to destinations on the Moon and elsewhere. (I wonder if a commercial enterprise ran the giant rotating space station as well?)

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 



 


Thursday, May 17, 2012

Something Must Be Done: GstDiscovery: The SpaceX prepares for mission to International Space Sta...

Elon Musk has this right. We went to the moon in 1969 and once the political objectives were met we retreated to low earth orbit. This is not the direction we wish to go in the future. I hope private industry does breath new life and vigor into our efforts to reach more distant goals ... without gumming up the works as private industry can when greed becomes the controlling factor and shareholder's interests outweigh almost everything else.

Still, I'm hoping for a brighter future in space exploration, one in which we stretch our abilities and our vision and head off to exciting locations where we may learn much that will help us all. I also hope we regain a vision of ourselves in a vast universe and respond with awe.

As of this writing, the SpaceX Falcon rocket with its cargo filled Dragon capsule is scheduled for a predawn lift off at 4:55 am on May 19, 2012. Here's hoping that schedule sticks and the flight works beautifully. As of today, the International Space Station is fully crewed and ready to accept the payload. Good luck to all.

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 



Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Our Son's Graduation Ceremony: Another Moment of Parental Joy

I've always said you need to stop and celebrate the milestones of your life. Here's a big one for us. Our son graduated with his bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering and we've all been celebrating. I don't expect you to watch this. I want it as part of my personal scrapbook here on the blog. Parents: be sure to take the time to celebrate with your children ... any excuse will do. Don't let your work life and technology rob you of the personal moments with loved ones that mean so much and that you will remember long after the everyday tasks of work and life fade from memory and importance in your life.

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: Unexpected Connections

You never know where you'll end up ... or rather where your blog posts will end up.

Over the years I've presented a number of YouTube videos here of interest to me. Little did I know that YouTube was using this behavior to "auto generate" a YouTube site all my own. It's called J.S. Brooks Presents - YouTube (catchy huh?). It may be found at: http://www.youtube.com/blogs/jsbrookspresents

 I stumbled upon this by accident. If you would like to peruse all of the videos I have selected for this blog site, you can subscribe to J.S. Brooks Presents - YouTube and enjoy them all.

Of course I'd rather you did that here and shared your finds with other like-minded folks, but go ahead, subscribe there as well. Just come back here regularly to see what's new.

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 








Reframing Issues Paramount

Reframing our lives in joy
Sometimes sources conspire to give you a valuable message. A personal experience last summer, a TED Talk by Rory Sutherland entitled "Perspective is everything" and a book on spirituality by Brian McLaren all reminded me that reframing an issue can be paramount to your personal happiness.

Back last summer, working in a retirement community, I came across a woman very anxious about being placed in the nursing wing where she needed to be. I was able to help her reframe the issue, turning her focus from what she had personally lost to all she could do to help others in little ways. Her life improved. She discovered her abilities and her joy in helping others.

In the TED Talk, Sutherland stated that how one presents an issue to others will do much to decide whether the issue is accepted or not. A purely mechanistic explanation of the thing will accomplish nothing. However, frame it in the right light, and you can win your point of view. Look it up online. Sutherland will explain it better than I can. His bullet train argument is particularly persuasive.

In McLaren's book, he states that reframing your life from a perspective of gratitude will bring you joy. He's right. Forget about what you don't have and center on what you do. Every day is a gift, every sunrise a joy, every breath a moment to savor. You are alive and the world, the solar system, the universe and all its immense mysteries are gifts. This gift will help you break the cycle of greed and acquisition that our culture is so fond of promoting. This method is also useful in helping children see their world in a better light.

So, what story you tell yourself about your life and the lives of others can bring you joy ... or cast you into the blackest hell if you let it. Go for reframing your life story with joy, wonder, and love. Let go of the negative and embrace the reframed positive. Let me know how this works for you.

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 



Runner's High, ME?! Adventures in Fitness 2: One Guy's Attempt to Knock Off the Rust

Session two at the fitness center came a week after session one, not ideal, but life got in the way.

One the first visit there were many small rewards. One the second visit there was one, for me, gigantic reward. I went for 20 minutes on the elliptical machine ... you know, the one with the foot peddles and hand grips where you stand and run (peddle, whatever) in place while a little computer gives you all sorts of stats that keep the type A mind engaged ... and the first ten were a little tough. After that, the body smoothed out and got into the routine. This time I brought an iPod and looked like everybody else, plugged in and self-focused. Well, toward the end of the time there I discovered that if you get your arms pumping, you get an extra kick and go faster. Suddenly I wanted to go faster. I wanted to cruise. I felt fine! Then the little computer piped up. Hey buddy, you're goin' too fast. I wanted your heart rate around 134 and you've got it up into the 150s. Slow it down buddy. Don't do anything crazy here!

That's when it hit me. I'd had my first runner's high. So what you ask? Big deal you say. Well, for a guy with performance asthma who thought he couldn't run a quarter mile without wheezing, this was a revelation. I'd gone over a mile and was feeling great. I hadn't known how well under control my condition was until that moment. Another false assumption about myself had crumbled.

Who knew that physical fitness could include self-discovery?

So, all you who suffer one long-term condition or another, explore the possibilities. First explore them with your doctor (mine told me get thee to a gym) and then explore them at the gym. Planet Fitness is very reasonably priced ... even for writers.

Care to join me? Who knows what you'll learn?

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 



Thursday, May 10, 2012

Life Lessons Learned: Reflecting on My Seminary Experience

Going back to school as an "older" student is an educational experience. Not only do you learn a lot of new material, you also blow away a lot of false conceptions of yourself that you've gathered like so much old scrap over the years. Here are a few pearls of wisdom I picked up along the way:

  • Going back the second time around you are a much more focused student and know what you want
  • You're paying for it this time and are going to wring the most out of the experience ... and you're going to hold the staff you're helping pay for accountable for ensuring things go well (in a nice way of course)
  • Perhaps the previous Master's degree was a real struggle and you thought yourself less than accomplished as a Master's level student ... only to discover that with age and experience you have become a much BETTER student
  • How you did in Junior High School French does not reflect on your aptitude for a foreign language. I had a blast with Koine Greek (and can no longer say "it's all Greek to me")
  • Note taking and report writing is MUCH EASIER on a laptop than it was on a portable Olivetti type writer and with a BIC pen
  • God does see you through all the challenges large and small ... have faith and keep plugging away
  • If you are a compulsive note taker who learns best that way, your notes may be a great help to a foreign student for whom English is a second language (who knew)
  • Maybe one of your research papers will get published the second time around ("Joy in Evangelism" in Witness Magazine 2009)
  • Adversity will not stop you (2 years chronically ill while working full time and attending seminary part time ... Paul's confession of having a thorn in his side while doing amazing missionary work kept me going ... and am thankful I was cured)
  • For so many things ... it's never too late
Those are a few of the things I picked up along the way. These insights let me toss away old preconceptions and poor judgments of myself and I'm glad to be rid of them. Taking a great risk and stepping out in faith were required ... and well rewarded already.

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 



SpaceX Boldly Looks to Blast 'Millions of People to Mars'

SpaceX intends to boldly go to Mars and take many people with them on the cheap ($500,000). First, I want to see them get that Dragon capsule to the ISS (around May 22 now, the date keeps shifting ... just like NASA launches have from time to time). This truly is rocket science.

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 


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Robonaut 2_ A Robotic Space Station Crew Member _ SciTechUpdate_2

Robonaut 2 continues to make progress aboard the International Space Station. Looking forward to the day when R2 gets down to serious business on the station. Keep going guys and gals!

Oh yeah, conspiracy theorists ... there's some info for you in here if you listen carefully!

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 


Monday, May 7, 2012

Parents: Protect Your Children from Hazing

Don't let someone you love walk unwittingly into harmful hazing situations
The appalling death of Florida A&M drum major Robert Champion has put a much needed spotlight on the evils of hazing. Hazing happens in all communities, among all socioeconomic classes, in schools from middle school onward, and in many professions. In recent years, hazing "initiations" have become increasingly violent.

Parents: teach your children that hazing rituals, primitive group mob behavior, are never to be tolerated. Teach them that no one has the right to violate their bodies under any circumstances. Warn them that if a group leader seems aggressive, even violent, then that is a group to be avoided. If members of the group warn of the possibility of violence, tell your children to leave immediately. Help prevent future deaths among innocent people by equipping your children to steer clear of hazing rituals and be proactive in preventing these crimes, and when they reach the level of mistreatment that Robert Champion suffered before his death, this is criminal behavior by a mob. Make sure in school groups there is plenty of adult supervision and hold those adults personally responsible for each child's safety. (While not a hazing incident, when our son was in high school, he was at a wrestling match at another school and a personal item was stolen from his backpack. I made it my responsibility to call the school and get it straightened out. Speaking to the vice principal I asked some very pointed questions about who had access to the gym during the match, who was supervising, and whether or not I should be bringing the police in on this matter of theft [too small to be of interest to the police I'm sure but worth saying]. The next day I received a call from the school our son had visited and the personal item had been recovered. You have more power than you think parents.)

Today over 60% of people believe psychological hazing is fine and 32% believe suffering physical abuse during hazing is acceptable. Children who know adults who have been hazed are more likely to be hazed themselves. So, parents, it is important for you to model behavior you want your children to follow and avoid actions you wish them to avoid. Don't let yourself be involved in hazing crimes either.

For a great deal more information and useful resources on hazing, see: http://www.insidehazing.com/ 
http://www.stophazing.org/index.html
http://www.umich.edu/~nohazing/resources.html
http://www.hazinglaw.com/hazing-resources

There are many more to be found, encouragingly a large number by colleges.

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 


Saturday, May 5, 2012

Dressing Your Kids as Herbivores ... Not Wise: Lion tries to eat baby PART 1.

Okay, parents of young children, take note. It may not be wise to dress your children like herbivores (prey animals) and take them to see the carnivores at the zoo. It does have the benefit of giving the predators a work out ... but if 20 of you were to show up with zebra kids at once, I think this lioness might explode.

And, please, don't take toddlers on safari dressed like this where there's no safety glass (oh the humanity).

Final word of "wisdom," don't stare into the eyes of baboons, blink your eyelids, and yawn. You won't like the results!

Enjoy the zoo. Poor kitty kitty.

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 




Friday, May 4, 2012

Adventures in Fitness, One Guy's Attempt to Knock the Rust Off

Time to knock the rust off ...
This is an occasional series to record my attempts, after years of brain-ward focused activities, to rediscover my own body and knock the rust off.

On my doctor's advice, having passed the half century point two years back, I've joined a gym. Never expected to do that, but life is full of surprises. The first night I made several discoveries, some more profound than others:

  1. Go to the gym dressed for action, or bring a lock. From now on, I'll dress for action. (My daughter knew better than I did, she is my "guest" on my pass ... and does better than I do.)
  2. Self-consciousness about dressing for action goes out the window when you see many others dressed the same way ... and nobody is dressed like they're going to be part of an exercise v... ideo (phew!). 
  3. Those machines are cool! I don't know all their names yet, but the elliptical is my new best buddy. Enough technology in place to keep the type A geek happy and moving, smooth action that encourages more smooth action. Love it. 
  4. I can keep exercising. The heart monitor is a great idea. It lets you know that the tightness in your chest is normal and you are not dying. 
  5. There is a machine that looks a lot like the elliptical but it is some sort of stair-stepping monster. That thing is evil ... and I'll need to use it more since it requires lots of effort (need to get those legs back in shape). 
  6. Time flies in that place ... good thing my daughter had a watch on ... I had no idea an hour and a half had passed. Next time I'll bring headphones I guess, plug into the TV system, and keep track of time that way. 
  7. You are with people but still alone as you need to be. This place is kinda like being in an elevator. Everybody keeps eyes forward and their thoughts to themselves ... or maybe the 8 pm crowd is just not a chatty bunch.
  8. Here is the best one: personal assumptions about myself and my state of being proved false. Went a mile or thereabouts on the elliptical with no coughing, wheezing, or feelings to impending death or implosion. That was an amazing revelation! That changes how I think about myself. Who knew physical exercise could change your mind! 
  9. You can't worry while you're exercising. (Amazing)
  10. Post exercise feeling of relaxed and happy body (provided you haven't overextended, which I didn't, I've been down that path before and don't intend to repeat that stupidity) is wonderful ... and addictive, looking forward to going back
The best part of the whole experience is learning about yourself and discovering you can do more than you think (well, provided you went in with low expectations to start with ... which I did). I highly recommend the experience. I'm also extremely jealous of a prof I know when went from size 42 down to 135 pounds in 5 months of elliptical use, 6 days a week. I won't be quite so committed but hoping for positive results eventually.

Good luck to the rest of you out there ...

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