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

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Adventures in Fitness 5: One Guy's Attempt to Knock the Rust Off: Asthma's Limits

This is a special post for those with performance asthma or other asthma types that are well under control with the use of medications. Before hitting up a physical fitness routine, check with your doctor, allergist, or other medical expert you see to make sure you are safe for exercise. I'm no doctor and can only speak from my personal experience ... which may or may not be like yours!

That said, I found out as an adult I'd suffered from mild performance asthma all my life. I wish I'd known this as a kid. I always thought I started wheezing at the quarter mile mark of a gym run because I was a physical fitness loser and wimp. It colored my perspective of myself, of my abilities, and of my enjoyment of exercise (decided lack thereof with the exceptions of biking and hiking, which did not kick in the asthma like running did). Until I joined Planet Fitness at the recommendation of my doctor AND a specialist I had to see (they ganged up on me, what was I supposed to do ... and it's only $10 or $20 a month depending on the plan so why not), I assumed that my asthma would preclude a lot of activities at the gym ... except weightlifting, I found weightlifting also did not impact the performance asthma. But I was wrong as I soon discovered to my delight ... really, no exaggeration, I was delighted. Today I put in over 3 1/2 miles on the elliptical machine and stair stepper machine combined, averaging 3-4 miles per hour, and spending an hour combined (and 400 calories) on the machines.

When working on the stair stepper machine (harder for me than the elliptical ... but with weightlifting I long ago realized that the exercises that are toughest are the most needed) I started getting short of breath. I saw my heart rate was over 150 and my stride was pretty fast. My chest was tightening and I wondered if the asthma were not about to rear its ugly head. Instead of stopping for breath, I slowed down and made an interesting (and "no duh" when you think it through) discovery. As my heart rate came down from 150 to 140, my breathing returned to normal and I was able to successfully continue the exercise, being more careful to monitor my heart rate for the rest of the routine. No further shortness of breath occurred, even when I started feeling really good and stepped it up a notch toward the end (runner's high, see Adventures in Fitness 2). So, asthmatics, start exploring. Your life may not be as limited by this chronic condition as you think. I know mine isn't.

Once you make this discover about your asthma, the world starts to unfold a bit more for you and you start looking around at other possibilities for exercise and play. I think I'm going to rent a kayak soon at the nearby state part and take a turn around the lake.

For those of you with more serious asthma that is harder to control, God bless you. Take pride in all you can do and hang in there. I'm rooting 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 




Challenges of Getting to Mars: Curiosity's Seven Minutes of Terror

 The engineering involved in getting the Curiosity rover to Mars is crazily complex and stuff of science fiction. This is a truly amazing feat ... or will be on August 5, if it works! Enjoy the video and watch the terror on August 5!


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 




Writers: Some Approaches to Take and NOT to Take With Publishers/Editors

Writers, we live in a complex world ... and we all want to be unique, to blaze our own trail, to march to our own drummers, to take bold leaps in new directions ... because we are CREATIVE people! Are you with me?! Of course! BUT, DO NOT DO THIS WITH A PUBLISHER AND THAT PUBLISHER'S EDITORS!!!

Did I get your attention? Good!

There are a few things one must do and must not do when trying to get successfully published.


  • One of the very first good things to do is to go to a prospective publisher's website and check out that company's policies concerning submissions from authors. Some will take submissions directly; others require an agent. Of course, you can go old school here and check the Writer's Marketplace for the same information. Either way, take what you find there to heart. 
  • If the publisher you are seeking takes proposals directly from authors, find the publisher's guidelines for proposals and follow them in each and every detail. This is vital. Publishers all receive mountains of proposals regularly and a very quick and easy way to disqualify a submission and reduce the load is to send each and every proposal that does not follow the publisher's guidelines straight to the circular file. So, if you want to get noticed, follow the rules. Publishers are in the business to make money (they love books yes, but they really love books that make them money, and the authors who write them). Publishers can't make money if they have to spend extra time trying to figure out submissions that don't meet their standards.
  • A second very good thing to do is to make darned sure you state the thesis, the thrust, the point of your book clearly right up front in that proposal. No publisher should have to work to figure out what you are writing about. 
  • A third excellent thing to do is to have explored this subject you wish to write about and know the following: 
    • What other people have written in this field and therefore how YOUR masterwork on this subject is different from all the others ... and YES, it needs to be different. That's not as hard as it seems as each author has lived a different life with different experiences and therefore will approach any subject from a different perspective.
    • What the market is for your book. No publisher is going to take on a book that has a market of ... you and your family. The subject you undertake needs to have a market the publisher can advertise to and expect to retrieve buyers from. 
  • A fourth wonderful thing to do is to be polite and circumspect in your cover letter. Never say something like "You were not my first choice in publishers and I doubt very much if this will work, but as they say, nothing ventured, nothing gained." Nor should you show a condescending attitude toward the readership you hope to reach by saying such things as "While I have an advanced degree in this field, I am working hard to dumb down my stellar work for the average Joe Sixpack on the street." Take these approaches and you set up red flags with whomever at the publishing house reviews your work and you are again on your way quickly to the circular file, decreasing that person's workload once again.
  • Once you have turned in your proposal, RESIST the urge to follow up with regular queries on whether any decision has yet been made. This isn't a job resume. This isn't a place to practice your assertiveness training. Once you have submitted your proposal, find other things to do to distract yourself. ANNOY the person who reviews proposals and once again your carefully worded proposal will be headed for the rejection bin or garbage pail. Publishers who find authors annoying at this early stage figure they will KEEP being annoying throughout the process and life is just too short for that. 
  • If your proposal is accepted, and I truly hope it is, follow ALL the guidelines for assembling your book in the way the publisher wants to receive it. You do not need to understand exactly WHY the publisher needs the book in the format requested, but you DO need to follow that format. If you don't, again you are wasting the publisher's time and money and your manuscript will be rejected. Accepting a proposal and accepting a book are two different things and the first does not always lead to the second. 
  • If your manuscript is accepted, and again I truly hope it is, develop a sound, professional working relationship with your editor. Be polite. Know that this person is a working professional, not a service provider who will ask you if you want fries with that, and should be treated as such. Know also that your words are tools to convey meaning and various arrangements of those words will do a better job or a worse job at conveying that meaning. The editor will be looking for the best way to convey meaning and that means editing your words. Please remember that your words are not sacred text, they are not absolute genius, they are words. They convey meaning. Do not dispute an editor's changing of your words unless those edits actually change the meaning your words intended to convey. Otherwise, suck it up, you're a writer and writers need editors. The two work together to create a marketable product. This is not your fifth grade teacher, this is not judgment, editing is business and the editor works with you to make the best book you are capable of producing. Your editor will also know a great deal about copyright law and will work hard to keep you out of trouble with the ever shifting laws in the copyright world. Respect your editor's judgment. Your editor respects you as an author and deserves your respect in return. 
  • Finally, NEVER, EVER copy and paste text from any website, blog, book online, etc., into your book and claim the data for your own. This is plagiarism and it is always wrong. It is also obvious to a trained and experienced editor. All that editor has to do with any suspect text is copy it into a search engine and see what comes up. Plagiarize other people's work and your book may well be rejected on the spot ... or you WILL be rewriting ever passage in your own words that you took without permission from another site (as you should have done in the first place, creating a footnote or endnote stating where you got the information originally). Remember, just because work is found online does not mean it is copyright free. Every text ever written (including this one) is the property of the writer and that writer must be given his or her due. 
Do these things and you will go a long way toward successfully getting your book published. Then comes marketing, an entirely different matter and subject of some future post. Good luck, author.


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, June 29, 2012

Sloggin' Thru Blogging: Do Me a Favor & Short Labels

There are many aspects of blogging that remain a mystery to me. One of those is the whole comments conundrum. Recently I had a bundle of potential comments crammed into the SPAM folder and I have to say Blogger is pretty good at weeding out real comments from SPAM. However, after deleting the ads written in cyrillic script and the penis enhancing ads, I ran across a comment that might actually have been a comment. It was anonymous, spoke of the post it was attached to, and asked me to link to anonymous's blog. This wasn't quite the ordinary ad that starts prattling on about the post and quickly deviates to a sales pitch nor was it a post filled with random words followed by a pitch. Yet, it was questionable enough that I deleted it. So here's the favor. For one who is ignorant about many things comment related, if you really want to reach me, be obvious and don't be anonymous. Let me know this is a real comment so I can post it and respond. If it's not obvious, it's in the trash. I don't want to trash any actual comments, so give me a hand here. Thanks, readers.

On the other topic: there are services out there that will give you lists of key words on a given subject that they feel will work best for finding people searching your posts. These key words have common thread, they are single, simple words. They are not phrases or catch phrases. So, keep it simple blogger! Also, you can accomplish much the same thing (without a list of other suggested terms showing up) but "Googling" a word for yourself and seeing how many hits it gets. The higher the hits, the better the word. It's simple, but it works, and sticks with the "keep it simple" maxim.

Happy blogging and commenting!


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 4: One Guy's Attempt to Knock the Rust Off: You Have a New Toy

The next revelation to come down the fitness track is ... when you start exercising regularly, your perspective changes. As your body gets used to the exercise routine, your mind changes. You discover suddenly you want to get out the door and find out what else your new toy (your now happier body) can do. After my session last Saturday morning, our daughter was looking for someone to go biking with down the hiking biking trail. I eagerly volunteered for that duty. We only had an hour. There was a time when I would have said that was not long enough ... and our daughter was ready to fall into that thinking. But now, instead, I was surprised to discover myself thinking ... a WHOLE hour for biking, LET"S DO IT! That was another hour to work muscles and not worry about things I may or may not be able to fix myself in the future, near or far.

I did not expect exercise at a gym to bring about so many revelations. For you, some of this may be obvious stuff ... but for me, it's all new and life enriching. I keep wondering what comes next and am ready to get to the gym tonight to find out.

Who is coming with me?


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, June 28, 2012

Colorado Wildfires: Americans Scramble to Safety

 Our thoughts and prayers go out to the people of Colorado who are suffering through wildfires more massive than any in the recorded history of their state (and the other western states suffering from similar conditions). Many are losing homes during these firestorms. I had intended to put up some very interesting videos put up by private individuals who did a very good job capturing the personal nature of this tragedy. However, I cannot find the videos today I saw yesterday. Still, this ABC News video captures the horror of it all. These flames are moving rapidly and are hard to contain. The closing speculation in the first segment of this news video is particularly chilling.


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, June 27, 2012

Arizona: Papers please scene from Casablanca

 Now that the Supreme Court of the United States has upheld the "Papers Please" portion of Arizona's anti-immigration law, I think I'll just steer clear of the state for a while. You never know when some local authority will decide that a life-long citizen of the US from the East Coast is a foreigner. Since I don't carry my birth certificate with me, and my driver's license could be considered forged, AND I don't want to end up like the unfortunate soul in the Casablanca clip, Arizona will be on the "no go" list for me.

Women's groups are upset with the law. They state it will discourage women from seeking medical help or reporting cases of domestic violence.

This law, topped by the governor's embarrassing haranguing of the President when he arrived there via Air Force One (finger wagging in his face on the tarmac in public), just gives me the feeling Arizona might not be the friendliest state in the Union right about now. I could be wrong. I hope I am. But I just can't shake this scene from Casablanca.


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, June 26, 2012

Movie Review: Brave Trailer 2 Official 2012 [HD] - Kelly Macdonald, Billy Connolly; Parents: Well Worth Taking Kids To See!

 Gather up the family and see Pixar's Brave together. It is well worth the time and money (whether in the theater or at home on the small screen). And parents, if you're concerned about exposing your daughters to fairy tale princess images of damsels awaiting rescue by princes and what that will do to their psyches, well, Brave is for you ... if you are brave enough! This is no fairy tale princess. This is an extremely able young woman who is at home in the great outdoors, riding horses, shooting arrows, and climbing mountain cliffs.

One of the real values of Brave is the mother/daughter relationship. In the beginning mom and daughter are at odds. Mom (the Queen of the land) is very much in the traditional mold, meeting expectations with grace and determination, taking charge of the court when necessary, and extremely competent in all things domestic. Her daughter is the polar opposite: totally in charge of the great outdoors and all things active, with no interest or apparent competency  in things domestic. Through circumstances the two are brought together and must work together, leaning on each other's strengths and discovering just how strong each person is. If you have teenage daughters, this is an especially good movie for mothers and daughters to see together. It may lead to some very interesting discussions.

There was a time, in the first Toy Story movie, when Pixar was frustrated with their ability to animate people. They have conquered that problem and proven so in Brave. The characters are wonderfully rendered and full of personality. Before it is over, you will be moved by them and their struggle.

For those of you who are real Pixar fans, watch the movie carefully and see if you think that Gerald from the Pixar short Gerald's Game hasn't made a guest appearance in a wildly different role. Let me know if you think he's there!

There is plenty of action and adventure, joy and comedy, plus the treat of this complex theme weaving through the story for those who can appreciate it. Young and old alike can enjoy Brave ... although it may be too intense for the very young (parents of the pre-K set would be wise to preview the movie yourselves first).


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 




Sunday, June 24, 2012

Good News From Christianity: Shane Claiborne: "Another Way of Doing Life"

 Another way of living, another way of presenting the good news of the Gospel, in word and deed. 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 




Saturday, June 23, 2012

Good News From Christianity: Shane Claiborne on How Bad Theology Kills

 Shane Claiborne is called a "New Monastic." He's a dynamic speaker living out his Christian faith helping others in a poor community in Kensington, PA. I highly recommend his books. As we come up on an election season fraught with bad theology and smear campaigns financed by the wealthy, we should step back and try to get our theology  right for the sake of ourselves and others. Well done, Shane.


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 




Mickey Mouse on Mercury (une 20, 2012)

 Okay, everybody sing ... "Who's the leader of the club who lives on Mercury ... Mic ... key ... Mouse!"

I was a member of the club back in the day, even had the ears. Never thought Mickey's influence would extend so far!


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, June 21, 2012

Plot Holes Spoil Films

Plot Holes Ahead
My wife and I saw the movie Prometheus for Father's Day [WARNING: If you haven't seen it and want to, STOP reading this post NOW]. We enjoyed the beginning, the archaeology, the mystery, the special effects ... but soon we started hitting those plot holes (rhymes with pot holes for a reason) and our suspended disbelief (essential for enjoying a good yarn) was first rattled, then jarred, and then shattered. By the end of the movie we had scads of questions and our enjoyment of the story had been swallowed by a black hole of unresolved questions.

Here are a few examples: Toward the end of the film, the gallant captain and navigator and somebody else thwarted the evil bald-headed pasty white amply muscled 2000 year old alien, who woke up cranky, from shipping a cargo freighter full of biological hazards to earth by ramming it with Prometheus, destroying their ship and dropping the doughnut-shaped alien craft out of the sky, where it lands sideways and begins rolling toward two of the main characters, both women, across an open plain. Our female protagonist and antagonist (apparently) see the crushing rolling doom coming their way and choose to run straight away from it. Really?! A few steps to either side on a vast open plain and both ladies can safely watch the giant wheel of alien Armageddon roll past them. Making it worse, both fall simultaneously. Women falling while running in movies is a time-honored (yet tired) cliche, but two women falling together is slapstick at best, ridiculous at worst. At this point, the heroine comes to her senses and moves sideways to avoid the crushing mega-doughnut. The female villain however simply turns over onto her back and watches her crushing doom approach while screaming "no, no, no" at it. She had time for 5-6 "no's" before meeting her fate. I would think 5-6 rolls sideways instead of screaming "no" or even while screaming "no" would have saved her skin. That's just one example. There are scads more. What was your favorite plot hole?

Other movies have also produced prodigious plot holes that drove the belief in the scenario detailed straight down the drain. In The Blair Witch Project, this spook-fest proved once and for all that suburban teens just can't find their way through a small woodland area. But the gaping plot hole for me happens right near the end (Spoiler Alert if there's anyone on the planet who still hasn't seen this and wants to, stop now). The terrified final duo, having lost friends to spooky late night mutterings and tiny souvenir craft dolls, try to escape. They know something is wrong. They come to a dilapidated house full of foreboding. And they go inside, lambs to the slaughter style. Instead, what they should have done was follow the house's driveway to a road and that road to civilization to get the police in on the action. No house sprouts up in the woods like an overgrown mushroom, after all. I got to that point and just threw my hands up as the last of my suspended disbelief crashed to the floor and shattered in that final plot hole.

I could go on, but won't.

There are many more to choose from. I simply don't have time to continue. What are your favorites? I'd love to know.


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, June 20, 2012

Nik Wallenda walks over Niagara Falls 2012

Hopefully, this copy of Nik's amazing feat won't be pulled from YouTube. I thinks it's clever of Niagara Falls Tourism to produce this.

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 




Positive Definitions of Liberal That I Agree With ... And More

“If by a "Liberal" they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people-their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights and their civil liberties-someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a "Liberal", then I'm proud to say I'm a "Liberal.”
― John F. KennedyProfiles in Courage 1




A radical is a man with both feet firmly planted — in the air. A conservative is a man with two perfectly good legs who, however, has never learned to walk forward. A reactionary is a somnambulist walking backwards. A liberal is a man who uses his legs and his hands at the behest — at the command — of his head. —Franklin D. Roosevelt





Now to temper those: 
There is not a liberal America and a conservative America - there is the United States of America. There is not a black America and a white America and latino America and asian America - there's the United States of America.
Barack Obama 3



1 http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/show/90682
2 http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Franklin_D._Roosevelt
3 Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/b/barackobam375643.html#EB2Geyl7KDy5lQQm.99

Note: While looking up these few quotes, I was disgusted by the conservative vitriol found on many, many sites countering these messages with dismissive, angry, conservative screed. This gives credence to the F.D.R. quote, I believe!


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, June 19, 2012

Goodbye Firefox: Problems Loading YouTube Videos Solved Permanently

Sometimes the solution to a problem is right under your nose and you just don't see it. I have a PC but I also have an iPod and therefore iTunes and the Safari search engine on the computer. I solved my issues with Firefox not loading YouTube videos decisively and finally. After clearing caches, deleting histories, and running up against a wall when recommendations started including programming (which I cannot do), I attempted to use Google Chrome, which is also on my computer. It proved glitchy and when I tried to update it, it balked at the prospect. Then my antivirus program piped up to tell me something was suspicious in the download.

By this point, I was furious.* Firefox had worked fine before the most recent update. I was happy with Firefox and had many pages I love to visit bookmarked and ready for use. Now it was a battle to get Facebook running right (accomplished) because the new version of Firefox added several programs and toolbars to my search engine that interfered with Facebook's operations. I didn't expect to have problems added with a program update.

Then it hit me. Safari was on my system. I turned it on and it was wonderful, working perfectly right out of the box and having beautiful features one expects from Apple. I quickly checked and YouTube ran perfectly. As an added bonus, Safari loads this blog much faster than Firefox did ... I don't know why. So, I've solved my problems with Firefox. I now use Safari.

Oh, by the way, Google Chrome will do a nice job for you as well.

* To clarify, I was furious with the inconvenience and the fact that a program that was functional and I trusted suddenly had gone belly up on me (and I don't have an old computer). On the other hand, that fury was tempered by the fact that Firefox is a free program and no doubt still works wonderfully for many. I understand, "Ya gets what ya pays for, bub!" Still, it was frustrating.

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, June 18, 2012

TROY Mars Mission Concept Animation

If I remember correctly, Skylon is a British concept that may be in early testing phases (I'll have to "Google" that ... or you can). Here is their concept for getting crews to and from Mars. I like the multiple ship approach, setting up the base before people arrive and the ships waiting for them at either end. I also like the time frame in the not too distant future. And if you're thinking, we've got too many problems here to solve to invest in such things, go talk to someone else. Every dime spent on any space program is spent here on earth, employing workers and feeding their families. Spin off technologies are wonderful and of benefit to all. Plus, tremendous amounts are spent on expansive military projects and governmental projects that are far more costly than anything done in space research and with far less benefit to the knowledge and understanding of humanity.

Good luck on the Project Troy concept. This is a 2010 video. Who knows if anything is being done in these directions or whether this is just "blue sky" imaginings. Time will tell.

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 




Solution to Frozen Facebook Toolbar

No, this isn't the computer I'm using today
From time to time, trying to solve one problem creates another. Recently, Firefox stopped running YouTube videos for me (Google Chrome will, but that program likes to freeze up). In trying to solve that problem, "googling" answers across the Internet, and downloading a few small programs that were said to be helpful, another problem was generated. The Facebook toolbar stopped working. Once logged in, you couldn't log out. You couldn't check the messages, comments, or anything else. It was frustrating.

Using Google Chrome, I searched for solutions while Firefox remained stuck on Facebook (at least in one tab). The initial happy result is that the History section was cleared out (long overdue) and cached extraneous data no longer clogs my machine. However, neither solution solved the problem.

Then, along came the happy accident: I right clicked on one of the new toolbars that had accumulated with the download of other programs. Among the options there was to close said toolbar. I selected this until all extra toolbars were closed ... and VOILA, problem solved. Immediately the Facebook toolbar was functioning like its old self again. I don't know which of the other toolbars was interfering with it and I don't care. I'm not bringing them back.

So, if you run into the same problem, and you have multiple toolbars, try this simple solution. Good luck.

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 




Sunday, June 17, 2012

Sloggin' Thru Blogging: Barack Obama's Accomplishments and Clearing the Air

I don't usually do politics here on the blog (for many reasons) ... more social justice, etc. ... but there has been a lot of stuff and nonsense coming from the Super Pacs on the right, the right wing media, and the far right or almost not right (depends who he's talking to) Mitt Romney. A friend working with the Obama camp sent me this link. Here's 50 arguments for reelection you can use at your next get together when politics arise. Knowledge is power (even when it's biased ... and what isn't these days?).


http://content.clearchannel.com/cc-common/mlib/12369/03/12369_1331401414.pdf
My friend asked if I'd pass these along, and so I have.
 Now to clear the air: I don't pick and choose the ads that appear here. Some of them make me wince, especially the very conservative ads. They do not reflect the views of this blogger or this site. The fact of the matter is I don't have time to vet them. 
Happy Father's Day to all you dads 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 




 

Friday, June 15, 2012

Neanderthal Art? Are We Wrong About These Guys AGAIN?!

News Flash: The eerie hands painted in the Spanish cave by blowing red paint around them are older than people thought, if one archaeologist's findings are correct, thousands of years older, around 40,800 years old to put a finer point on it. At that time, Neanderthals pretty much owned Europe. Our direct ancestors were just starting to move in from Africa.

So, once again, the race we dismissed as dumb, lumbering, massive buffoons soon to be picked off by thinner, smarter, more agile us may have had more going for them than we imagined.

Of course, another archaeologist points out that there is plenty of early, primitive symbolic art from those early versions of us, and to date none from the Neanderthals. She wonders why they would suddenly begin right around the time we showed. up. Then again ... perhaps we've been overlooking other evidence of Neanderthal creativity.

Only time and careful study will tell. Until then, lets defer judgment on how simple-minded those Neanderthals were. We may embarrass ourselves yet again if we don't!

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 




How Return Of The Jedi Should Have Ended

 Oh, I really agree with these guys on this one! 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 




Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Summer Reading List for Young Children: Top 10 List

The lazy, hazy days of summer are here ... and parents, you need something for your young ones to do to wind down at the end of an adventure-filled day or while traveling to and fro. Here's a reading list of top books for the pre-K through Kindergarten crowd:

Allen, Elanna. Itsy Mitsy Runs Away. (And Dad helps!)

Barner, Bob. Bugs! Bugs! Bugs! (Nonsense rhymes, fun facts, everyday bugs)

Bertram, Debbie. The Best Place to Read. (Quest for the right reading spot at home)


Brooks, J.S. Michael and the New Baby (Important if you're having that second child, and/or are dealing with questions about love, sharing, caring, and so much more)

Cyrus, Kurt. The Voyage of Turtle Rex. (Prehistoric sea turtle and her struggle to lay eggs--for the dinosaur crowd)

Freedman, Deborah. Blue Chicken. (When painting goes wrong)

Juster, Norton. Neville. (Making friends in new places, important if you are moving)

Liwska, Renata. Red Wagon. (Lucy must wait to play with her new red wagon until she helps Mom bring home the vegetables)

Taylor, Sean. The Ring Went Zing! : A Story That Ends With a Kiss. (Love the title: frog loves chicken, buys chicken ring, ring escapes, adventure ensues)

Ward, Jennifer. The Busy Tree. (Life in one tree, helps your child notice all that's around him/her)

Add to this almost anything by Dr. Seuss and Maurice Sendak and you're ready for the summer with your child!

For even more books to try for children of various ages, check out: http://childrensbooks.about.com/gi/o.htm?zi=1/XJ&zTi=1&sdn=childrensbooks&cdn=parenting&tm=13&f=10&su=p284.13.342.ip_p504.6.342.ip_&tt=3&bt=1&bts=1&st=9&zu=http%3A//www.haisln.org/recommendedreadinglists.html

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.oldlinepublishing.com/bookstore-marketplace/children-s-books/michael-and-the-new-baby/




Monday, June 11, 2012

Beliefs Impact Treatment of Others for Better or Worse

We have recently been subjected to the repeated spectacles of "ministers" preaching hatred to their congregations on the issue of homosexuality ... and on politics. In one instance, an entire congregation cheered on as a three year old sang a hateful little ditty (we aren't born hating but this case shows how early we can be taught to do so). In one seminary course, we were taught that how you perceive God and the end of time will directly impact upon how you treat others.

I imagine each of these ministers sees God as wrathful judge waiting eagerly to pounce upon the sinful and send them to their doom. I imagine each espouses a belief in very limited salvation for members of their churches who believe exactly as they do and for few others. If not, I'll be mightily surprised.


For me: I am staggered and humbled that God, the perfect and eternal community of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, who spoke the universe into being through the living Word (Jn 1:3), seeks a close personal relationship with us all.  I place my faith in the eternal, loving, almighty God. I understand God is triune, one divine essence in three persons: the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This Trinity may be described as both hierarchy and equality. Although complete and perfect by God’s-self, out of love God created the universe, and humanity in it. Out of that boundless love, God created us in God’s own image (Gen 1:26-27). God creates and controls this universe in God’s omnipotence, knows all things in God’s omniscience, and in God’s omnipresence is active in human history. Out of profound love for wayward humanity, God is bending human history toward the goal of perfect community, which will be achieved in God’s coming kingdom. God is sovereign over all but limits that sovereignty to give humanity free will. However, at times God responds to our sinful acts with wrath and judgment, correcting our ways. That wrath may be suspended if individuals or societies are willing to turn to God’s ways (Jon 3:10; 4:11).
            I know that God is also a personal God. In Genesis 3:8, God walks in the garden in the cool of the day to be with Adam and Eve, an image I love. This personal God seeks us out as a shepherd seeks lost sheep (Lk 15:4) and rejoices when we return after going astray (Lk 15:11-22). God can also answer our prayers very personally. At the end of one particularly bad day at work, I asked in prayer if this might not be the time to move me from the secular world into ministry. After all, this is your idea God, I grumbled. The next day, the seminary class reading explored how to wait and what God does in our lives while we wait. Later, I checked the revised common lectionary. The day’s reading dealt with the wise bridesmaids who prepared while they waited (Mt 25:1-13). From Malachi 1:2-5, I know that our personal God is faithful. God will keep any and all promises God makes with us. This is comforting as my time in seminary draws to a close and I prepare for the next step in following God’s call.
 As for the end of time, I'm quite happy to allow God to sort that one out. That is truly God's business and none of mine. However, I will say this, I don't believe the "Church" gets out of any struggles yet to come. You do not find believers in the Bible getting off lightly when trouble comes. No, congregants will be expected to be in the thick of things, serving others, and acting as lights to an agonized world. I'll add this about eschatology, those troublesome end times we hear so much about:

Through Jesus’ death and resurrection, we have the hope that death is not the end for us, but rather the road we travel to arrive in the coming kingdom of God. Heaven will be to live life eternal in perfect community with God. This is a beautiful gift for all humanity that we are called to accept (Mt 19:29, Mk 10:29-30, Lk 18:29-30, and Jn 6:40). Given this wonderful hope, we are called to live a life in which we love God with all our heart, soul, and mind and love our neighbors as ourselves (Mt 22:37-39). In all our words and actions, we are to glorify God and declare this great, essential hope to others. To refuse God’s grace and run from God’s love, embracing sin, leads one to hell. Hell is being outside of the love of God. At the end of time hell and death will be thrown into the fiery pit and destroyed (Rev 20:11-15).
            Of the various eschatological conceptions, I prefer proleptic eschatology. In proleptic eschatology, God works through humanity to bring in the kingdom of God. God grants us all a choice, to help bring in that kingdom with God or to work against it. This eschatological concept encourages working with and for all of suffering humanity. Given the evil and suffering in the world, I believe the tribulation is ongoing. It began with Christ’s ascension and continues until Jesus returns. We, the Church, are in the midst of it. While I place my faith in Jesus that no one knows the time Jesus will return, I intend to do my best to help others in this life. I will work for justice and to alleviate suffering and instill hope as best I am able given the gifts God has endowed me with to use. I want to be able to stand in judgment knowing I did what I could to help others and allow God to use me to help bring God’s kingdom a little closer.
So, you're belief systems can positively or negatively effect your perception of humanity and how you chose to respond to humans in all our great diversity. For me, all humanity is:

As related in Genesis, humanity is a wonderful creation of God, made in the image of God, and free of sin when created. God blessed humanity. God deemed humanity, along with all of God’s creation, to be very good, and tasked humanity with creation’s care. (Gen 1:26-28; 2:15) God was in close association with humanity from the start (Gen 3: 8-9). Humanity quickly abused God’s gift of free will. We chose to disobey God, to sin, and fell away from the ideal state God intended for us. God loves us and maintains a relationship with us despite our tendency to act as “children of wrath” (Eph 2:3; 3:4-5). God sent us Jesus to deliver us from our sins. Jesus shows us and tells us of the loving God who still seeks us. Jesus also relates the good news that God plans a perfect community of humanity and God to come with God’s Kingdom.
            Humanity is respected by God. We are allowed to share in God’s goodness, truth, beauty, and eternal life. God respects us enough to grant us free will. God also respects us enough to teach us when we stray rather than strike us down in righteous fury. I am humbled before God’s love and respect. Knowing me as I am, God has still called me into ministry. Hearing my long, Moses-like lists of reasons why this should not be, God would not be deterred.


 Returning to the ministers recorded in their diatribes from the pulpit concerning creating concentration camps for the homosexual community and teaching small children hate lyrics, remember, with all the cameras available to the public today, your hate speech will be recorded and disseminated (but not here on this blog). In your angry rants, you forget Paul's admonition in 1 Corinthians 13: 1-3: 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.

Why am I bothering you with all this? There are many reasons, but foremost in my mind as I write is my concern that those outside the faith know that those noisy gongs and clanging cymbals recently in the news do not represent Christianity in its entirety. I want to provide a different point of view.

God bless 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