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

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Toyota Yaris: Finding Your Jack and TIre Pressure Information

Sooner or later you're going to have to change a tire on your beloved Toyota Yaris. For this, you'll need to find the jack.

I had to do this the other day ... and was shocked. The jack wasn't in the back with the rest of the equipment or the spare tire (one of those li'l donuts). I had to resort to the manual ... and now can save you some time. The jack for the Yaris is located ... under the driver's seat. Pull the seat all the way forward. Discover the removable plastic housing. Find the jack awaiting use underneath it. The jack handle is located in a little pouch in the back end with the spare tire.

From time to time, you'll also need to add air to your tires. On the Yaris, rather than contorting yourself to try to read what the tires say, check the panel in the door frame as shown here and the pressure info you seek will be readily available to you at a much easier angle to read.

Happy motoring.

For other Toyota Yaris maintenance related posts, see: http://jsbrookspresents.blogspot.com/2010/08/turning-off-2009-toyota-yaris.html and http://jsbrookspresents.blogspot.com/2011/05/resetting-clock-on-your-toyota-yaris.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/

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Public Speakers:To Use or Not to Use a Quote Found on Facebook???

When you speak in public regularly, you are always in search of a good story or a great quote. They really liven up any presentation. You check all the sources you can think of, constantly searching for the next best tale or remark. If you're like me, you also have a Facebook page. I have mine initially so I could check to see that my son, away in grad school, was alive and well without looking like a helicopter parent or acting like a stalker. It grew from there.

From Facebook comes the mystery. Someone has shared one of those little posterized quotes accompanied by a picture and attributed to some famous person. The quote is right in line with what you need for an upcoming presentation. You can attribute the great person, you have the remark, and you are faced with the mystery. Did this person really say that? And the second mystery, if I use it, even if it is a correct attribution, will the audience simply roll their eyes and think, "We've got Facebook too, buddy!"

Well, the other day I had a sermon to prepare and the Fred Rogers quote: "When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping." To this day, especially in times of "disaster," I remember my mother's words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world." was making the rounds.

 So, how to determine first if it is real? I did what any twenty-first century speaker in a hurry would do (and what my prof in Christian Education recommended), I "Googled" it. I was pleasantly surprised when I discovered The Fred Rogers Company: The Legacy Lives On: http://fredrogers.org/ and there was the quote, plus a beautiful video Fred made a year after he retired from Mr. Rogers Neighborhood about how to calm children's fears in a crisis. I have great respect for Mr. Rogers and his work ever since I heard an interview with him in which he said he tells his young viewers every day that he loves them, knowing full well that this might be the only time in the day some of these children would hear someone tell them they were loved. The man was brilliant. 

On to the second question, will everyone have heard it? Well, I solved that by thinking about the fresh context in which I used the quote, which allowed it to be viewed through a different lens and under different circumstances. It worked. Some people nodded as I gave the familiar quote, but instead of rolling their eyes at a familiar turn of phrase they'd already seen, they nodded in appreciation to come across those well known words amidst this new work. 

So, how do you handle this situation? Do you use quotes first seen on Facebook or not? 

As a side note, I've found there are a great many reputable organizations now running Facebook pages and posting regularly, providing access to a great deal of material for future, attributable use. 

Good luck.   

For more on public speaking, see: http://jsbrookspresents.blogspot.com/2013/04/public-presentations-via-ipad-two.html
http://jsbrookspresents.blogspot.com/2013/04/public-presentations-via-ipad-two.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/
 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Recommended Blog Post Reading: Footloose Footnotes: Timeless Jerusalem

For all those who have ever wanted to go to Jerusalem, but have never made it, I recommend this tour of the city with one who has been ... and who knows how to string his words together with aplomb!

Footloose Footnotes: Timeless Jerusalem: Wailing Wall and Dome of the Rock Morgantown, WV.  4/22/2013:     No other city inspires human emotion like this one:  love, h...


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/

Public Presentations via iPad: Two Considerations

I was delivering a sermon last Sunday using my iPad and the Pages program. I made a discovery as I made my way through the text, scrolling up the screen with my finger as needed. If you let your finger linger a moment too long on the iPad's screen, a little teardrop shaped icon will appear with what appears to be a lens in it showing you the pages and a small square with page numbers in it. This device allows you to hop forward pages at a time. All very convenient if intended ... however, when called into action unintentionally and then your finger twitches forward just slightly in your surprise, you may jump forward one or more pages at a time. This leaves you the presenter to vamp while you scroll back to your original position and continue, making some feeble technology joke as you go.

A friend of mine in the business says you can also pick up projectors that will link directly to your iPad, no intermediary devices necessary. Quite convenient for using Keynote I'd imagine, although he tells me the feature has limits on what it can transfer and project (static images and text but not video clips).

This friend is also an IT expert who suggests that a few years down the road, you'll be able to stream presentation notes and graphics to everyone in the audience to enhance your talk. It's a brave new world out there for those with imagination.

Oh, yes, I almost forgot, get yourself a free stopwatch app (there are several different styles to choose from) if you have to make presentations of certain limits (mine are 20 minutes in most cases). You can run it in the background and check on how you're doing time-wise after you practice the presentation. A very useful feature for those of us working ... and delivering ... on a deadline.

For more on using the iPad and its many apps for public speaking: http://jsbrookspresents.blogspot.com/2013/04/public-speaking-engagements-enhanced-by.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/

Friday, April 19, 2013

Parents: For Children Worried by Terrible Events

If you have children who have heard through the school grape vine, from friends, or from the news they hear you listening to or see you watching and have become anxious, let me direct you to the Facebook site of a grand master in dealing with such issues. The site is The Fred Rogers Company and may be found at: http://www.fredrogers.org/new-site/tragic-events1.html The particular page I've provided deals directly with this issue in a short, educational video from the late, great Fred Rogers himself. There is also a full page of wonderful advice on how to help your child deal with crisis. In doing so, you'll find you also help yourself.

I discovered this site while looking to confirm that Fred Rogers' mother really did say what I'd seen posted on Facebook. She did. She was speaking to a young Fred when he was worried about some event in the world. Fred Rogers tells it this way: "When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping." To this day, especially in times of "disaster," I remember my mother's words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world."

I hope this helps your child. 

For ways to help children deal with grief, see: http://jsbrookspresents.blogspot.com/2010/01/helping-child-deal-with-grief-and-loss.html

To help deal with your own grief, please see: http://jsbrookspresents.blogspot.com/2012/11/in-grief-you-truly-learn-where-you-stand.html


If you have a child fearful about soon becoming an older brother or sister, this book can help. 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/

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Facebook Friending Your Special Interests Brings Unexpected Benefits

I have discovered that when you friend special interest groups on Facebook, you reap an unexpected benefit. Yesterday, one of my friended groups sent me a prepared letter to all members of the House and Senate on an issue I believe in. The letter was set up to be sent to every member that represents my district with just a few keystrokes. It was simplicity itself. Once digitally signed, it provided me with the specific requirements for the letter to go through to each of my representatives. It was all finished in five minutes tops.

So, if you wish to be empowered quickly to have your voice heard, friend your favorite groups. From time to time they may provide you with opportunities to act in one way or another. They may alert you to projects in your region for which you might volunteer. They may bring your attention to dire issues you should act upon. And, on occasion they may provide you with a well-worded, succinct letter that you can electronically sign and send that will join your voice with many other like-minded folks, allowing you to make a point with your civil servants (whether they are acting civilly or not) quickly and efficiently.

Technology truly can empower us ... provided we know how and where to harness it. Facebook friending is proving to be one of those harnessing tools, much to my pleasant surprise. Here's to your voice being heard!

Additional Facebook topics: http://jsbrookspresents.blogspot.com/2013/01/is-your-town-on-facebook.html
http://jsbrookspresents.blogspot.com/2012/06/solution-to-frozen-facebook-toolbar.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/

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Google Earth Can Take You Back

Where will you go?
Yearning to return to your college campus, to your old hometown stomping grounds, or to that favorite tourist site? Don't have the time or the scratch to go personally? No problem. You can go virtually via Google Earth. Take some friends with you and make it a party!

Years ago my wife and I returned physically to the college campus where we obtained our first degrees. We found the experience ... uncomfortable. It was during the summer break and the place felt like a ghost town. Worse, it felt like we were the ghosts from an earlier age haunting places we had once known. We each kept expecting to see certain friends rounding specific corners where we'd meet up with them during our time there. Of course, they didn't show. Recently, I returned to the campus and had a much happier experience. I looked down on the place from above via satellite and was fascinated to see how the place had grown. From that bird's-eye view, however, I did not get that painful experience created by memories triggered by actually being on the ground, I didn't have to spend a lot of time, effort, or money to visit, and I satisfied my curiosity.

Since then, I've returned virtually to old stomping grounds where I once lived and have toured some sites I've never seen before. It's been fascinating. I can do it on my computer or my iPad equally well. Who knows where in the world I'll go next. Where will you go? What places do you wish to see again ... or for the first time?

Now, with Google Earth 7, you can take a 3D tour of many locations, seeing things more from a pilot's perspective rather than a satellite's. Enjoy the ride.

Update: I just went back to Google Earth for the first time in a while. Now you can follow a tour guide function at the bottom of the screen that will show you specific regions (like the Appalachian mountain range), get beautiful photos of highlights of the region, and when you zoom in to one specific location, you can center a person-shaped icon on a street and get the street view from that location. All very impressive.


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/

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Public Speaking Engagements Enhanced by iPad and Apps

If you are involved in public speaking at multiple venues, you know that the equipment you'll have available for your presentation varies widely. Some podiums are equipped with everything you need, while others are barely lit. Bring the iPad along for the occasion. With the screen lit from within, you'll be able to see the material you have to present clearly (just make sure the iPad is fully charged before you begin) and you are able to magnify the text if need be. This tablet format will better fit the available surface than either your paper copy or your laptop computer.

With the Pages writing program ($10), you can import entire Word documents, edit them on the fly for varying venues and audiences, and deliver the results in a professional way. No more squinting at hand written scrawl for edits. The edited text is all in Word and clear as can be.

With the tablet, you don't worry about keeping your note pages flush to the tabletop so people can't see when you shift pages, you'll never have your pages out of order, and if you choose to walk away from the podium (with a mic or a powerful voice), you're carrying a cool device rather than paper or note cards.

If you have material you want to share, you can import PDF files and then email them to interested parties after you have spoken.

Now, if you have the Keynote program, Apple Airport Express, and an Apple TV (approximately $100 each for the Airport Express and Apple TV), you can produce and deliver wireless presentations without the need for either a laptop. But that moves us into a different realm entirely.

If you have a Q & A follow up to your speech, you can equip your iPad with a wireless keyboard (Kensington has a reliable model for $100) and take notes on what people say using a separate Pages document. Of course you can also pick up a digital recorder app for that and save yourself the typing. Some of the recorder apps are free. Very convenient.

Beware, however, this can quickly become addictive. You may never go back to paper again ... or a laptop if you were so inclined.

For additional app information, see: http://jsbrookspresents.blogspot.com/2012/12/dvice-app-offers-vista-of-future-wonders.html and http://jsbrookspresents.blogspot.com/2012/12/flipboard-for-your-tablet.html
If updating your apps fails, see: http://jsbrookspresents.blogspot.com/2012/09/when-ipad-app-store-updates-fail-waiting.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/

Boston Marathon and West, Texas, Tragedies 2013: Standing with and Praying for All Who Suffer

To all who grieve in the wake of the horrendous, evil acts committed at the Boston Marathon and the destructive blast that followed in the West, Texas, fertilizer plant, I stand by you and pray for you in this dark hour. You are not alone in your suffering. You have the support of the caring multitude of humanity who firmly believe every life is precious and we all journey and suffer together and support one another.

I offer up Scripture out of my Christian faith tradition as comfort:

The eternal God is your dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms. ~Deuteronomy 33:27 (We are never alone.)

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted ~Matthew 5:4 (Jesus teaches us that God and caring humans will come to your aid and your comfort.)

Here's a prayer we can share together for those who died in this attack and plant blast, if you are so inclined:

Eternal Spirit, before whom the generations rise and pass away, even in the presence of death our first words to you are in praise for your unnumbered mercies. For the memory of loved ones now departed, we praise you. For their victories of character over trial, of courage over difficulty, of faith over sorrow, we give you thanks, and for all those who have done justly, loved mercy, and walked humbly with their God, we sing joyfully to you. Grant us now this same joyful thanksgiving as we remember our friend, and give to us that sure knowledge that you have won the victory over death in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Amen

Here is comfort from Jesus Christ for all who were caught up in these events and are suffering. It is assurance that no one can remove you from Jesus' care ... no matter what despicable acts they may commit.

27My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. 28I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand. 29What my Father has given me is greater than all else, and no one can snatch it out of the Father’s hand. 30The Father and I are one.” John 10:27-30

Finally, for comfort's sake, Psalm 23: 


1The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
2He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters;
3he restores my soul. He leads me in right paths for his name’s sake.
4Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff— they comfort me.
5You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
6Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord my whole life long. (You are not promised evil will never come your way, but you are promised that you will never have to face it alone. You are not alone today in your suffering.)

And now, we are all called to take up the very hard work God calls us to, work for which Jesus showed us the way, the work of bringing closer in all we say and do the justice that God wishes all humanity to enjoy, the peaceful community that God envisions for us all. 

Sunday, April 14, 2013

30 Minute Blog Post: How To Write On a Tight Deadline

What follows are a few guidelines to creating your own 30 minute blog posts. This comes from my own personal experience with writing to beat the clock. I'm sure there are many other writers who will give you different advice, but here's my own spin on the topic. It seems only appropriate with the change in title and emphasis on my blog and makes a good 990th post. In bullet form:


  • Start with a narrow, achievable topic firmly in mind. Preferably a topic you know well already.
  • Stick to that topic and that topic only. In 30 minutes you have no time for digression.
  • Be sure of your facts before you begin. It's embarrassing to be caught providing false information because you didn't take a few moments to check the facts. 
  • If you need to do research, find a couple highly reliable sites via Google, Bing, or your search engine of choice and make use of their information. Remember, this is a 30 minute post from concept to publication and there's no time for in depth analysis. 
  • Solid sites with reliable research material tend to end their addresses in .gov, .org, .mus, and .edu for government, non-profit and for profit organizations, museum, and education websites. Still, use your judgment about the information you find there.
  • Never, ever copy and paste information from these sites. YOU are a writer. You use your own words to make your points. You never ever copy and paste. 
  • As a writer you also never, ever plagiarize. At the end of your post, give credit to the sites you relied upon to check your facts ... or to obtain them.
  • Write clearly and concisely on topic, throwing out anything that doesn't directly apply to the thread of your narrative. 
  • For the most well-read posts, deal with topics that are actually helpful to people, providing them with useful information. My most well-read post to date is a simple description of how to turn off the Maintenance Required light on the Toyota Yaris. It's as simple as that.(See: http://jsbrookspresents.blogspot.com/2010/08/turning-off-2009-toyota-yaris.html)  This may offend your writer's desire to write eloquently about the events of the day (which I do from time to time, I can't help that either), but the blogosphere is a tough world where people are looking for quick answers to specific questions. Provide them.
  • Edit your material before posting (which in all honesty might take you a little beyond the 30 minute mark if you aren't fast on the keyboard).
  • That's it. That's the basic formula. After that, it's all practice, practice, practice to hone your skills. 
  • Okay, one more tip. To write quickly and concisely, leave the spell check on and double check any highlighted words that appear. Aside from bad research, poor spelling is most likely to quickly make readers doubt whatever you are trying to convey. 
I won't guarantee you that following these guidelines will quickly bring you massive readership, fame, and fortune ... but they will help you write solid material that gets to the point quickly ... and ENDS immediately upon making that point.

Other article writing advice posts you might find useful: http://jsbrookspresents.blogspot.com/2009/07/writing-articles-for-magazines-and.html
http://jsbrookspresents.blogspot.com/2009/04/writing-proposal-letter-that-gets.html

If you have much less time to write, see: http://jsbrookspresents.blogspot.com/2013/06/secrets-to-writing-five-minute-blog-post.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/


Friday, April 12, 2013

Love Your Neighbor, the Samaritan Example


In the story of the good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37), a lawyer asks a question on many minds, what must I do to inherit eternal life. Jesus asks for the two greatest commandments. Second among them is the familiar "love your neighbor as yourself." C.S. Lewis gave us one perspective on this answer ... a little how to on something that expansive. 

However, studying this passage for a biblical storytelling gig, I ran across a far more challenging interpretation. It all revolves around the Samaritan's actions ... in counterpoint to those of the religious leaders of Israel. 

A little backstory ... trust me, it helps. The road between Jerusalem and Jericho was notoriously unsafe. It ran through rugged, empty expanses filled with hills and caves where bandits hid out waiting for unsuspecting single travelers. Jericho was a major economic center where officials of the Israelite church liked to hang out when off duty. There was a serious issue between the Israelites and the Samaritans. For sake of brevity, they disagreed on where to worship God and were long divided enemies based on this argument. 

To the story: the victim is an Israelite, a member of the Hebrew nation. His companions and leaders come near him and refuse to help. There were purity laws to consider, days of uncleanliness if touching a corpse, and they went on past (even though this excuse would apply only if they were headed to the temple for work ... check their direction). An enemy of the fallen man, a Samaritan (Jesus enjoyed the shock value of this for his listeners I'm sure) comes upon the fallen man and does the extraordinary. Not only does he offer help, but his help is so complete it undoes all the harm committed against the man by the robbers and the officials who ignored him. The Samaritan bound the wounds, brought the injured man to an Inn, cared for him, and then entrusted the innkeeper with two month's worth of payment to make things right for this man. The Samaritan went further, trusting both the innkeeper and the injured party to be honest with how long total recovery took, by promising to return and repay the innkeeper for care and lodging for the man over and above the two month mark. In essence, the Samaritan did all within his power that he could to help this fallen man. 

Jesus asks the lawyer who the robbed man's neighbor was. The kicker was, the one who showed him mercy. There you have it. Our neighbors, whom we are to love, include all who need us and it is within our power to help. The Samaritan's actions show us just how far we should go for those who need us ... just as far as we can. This is a challenging teaching and a powerful message. 

Keep your eyes open and prepare for action. You never know where or when you'll stumble upon your neighbor. 

Oh, by the way, one last thing. The Samaritan's actions show us how citizens of the Kingdom of God are intended to behave in the world. Will you be a citizen of that vast and growing kingdom???

For the C.S. Lewis interpretation, see: http://jsbrookspresents.blogspot.com/2010/03/cs-lewis-explains-love-your-neighbor-as.html

Here's the story from Luke for your consideration: 

Luke 10:25-37
25Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he said, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 26He said to him, “What is written in the law? What do you read there?” 27He answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” 28And he said to him, “You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.”
29But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. 31Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. 34He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, ‘Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.’ 36Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” 37He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

To provide Samaritan-like support for a child you know who is nervous about becoming a big brother or sister, buy this book! 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/

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Adventures in Fitness 14: One Guy's Attempt to Knock the Rust Off: What the Elliptical Can Do AND Strange Feeling of Bliss

If you've been here before, you know my favorite machine is the elliptical. Here's why:


  • It's a very user friendly device, keeping your feet in contact with pedals so there is no pounding, making things easier on your legs and hips as well (more of a plus for people past their 20s and 30s ... you guys go pound the treadmill)
  • Provides useful stress for the cardiovascular system, making the heart stronger ... which if you use the cardio workout also makes you work harder as time goes by and the stronger heart muscle is less impressed with your initial efforts (move faster). 
  • With the moving handles for your arms, the ability to pedal forwards and back (at the gym), you can workout both lower and upper extremities and lose weight (what's not to like).
  • Develops strength and endurance (I can keep up with our enthusiastic beagle when she bolts out the door for a walk, a plus).
  • Builds minerals in bones.
  • REDUCES STRESS, improves mood, raises immune system, and fights obesity and all the ills that can come with it.*
I now have a new reason for loving the elliptical. Last night I returned to the gym (second trip in a short period ... I've been a way for a bit with transitional season disorder ... i.e. stuffy nose, cough, etc. related to transitioning to spring), began my workout, got past the initial body whining about it being hard (you get used to that and stop listening ... crucial to NOT look at the clock during this early phase to avoid encouraging the whining), and suddenly, for the first time, I got the astounding feeling that everything from the waist down was a perfectly functioning machine. All the muscles were moving with a silky smoothness I had not felt before. My upper body felt as if it were floating atop this new machine. Fantastic! The feeling repeated itself on the back extension machine right before leaving for the night. I'm trying to find out what caused this (seems different from what I'd experienced as runner's high). I'm hoping to repeat it soon. 

Good luck with your adventures at the gym. 

That's 24 minutes from concept to publication. I've beaten the 30 minute clock. 

* Details from the Livestrong.com site. 

Previous post in series: http://jsbrookspresents.blogspot.com/2013/04/adventures-in-fitness-13-one-guys.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/

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Blog Reconstruction and the Dread Bounce: Sloggin' Thru Blogging

The appearance and concept will continue to be tweaked.
The original purpose of this blog was to advertise my children's book, Michael and the New Baby. After about a year, I realized that this just wasn't going to be the medium for me to accomplish that goal. The blog teetered on the edge of extinction.

But, I write for a living. It's what I do. I enjoyed the discipline of sitting down for 30 minutes or less regularly and knocking out pieces on topics of interest ... well, to be honest, to ME. It became a writing and creativity exercise that kept this blog alive for closing in on 1000 posts.

I have an eclectic range of interests. Over time, chasing my interests, a series of themes coalesced and you see them listed in the top of this newly revised blog. While the common wisdom is to focus laser-like on a single topic, I prefer a sawed off shotgun approach.

So, now, rather than showing up for what are often geek world posts and discovering a children's site (at least in appearance) and fleeing in confusion or irritation, I hope the template and the revised title more clearly state the purpose of this blog.

Further, since my SiteMeter started acting up (not reporting everything going on since January) I activated Google Analytics and discovered "Bounce Rate." Looking it up and discovering this records how many viewers come for a single look and bounce right away again ... then discovering what my bounce rate is (never mind you!) I looked into what to do to encourage further browsing. Now the most popular blog posts listing and the blog search feature are right at the top, which was recommended, along with some other changes. We'll see if that has any effect. If you want to load Google Analytics but aren't sure how, try this: http://andywibbels.com/how-to-add-google-analytics-to-your-blogger-blog/

From here on out, all posts on these fairly wide ranging topics will be completed in 30 minutes or less, each and every one. That's 30 minutes from concept to publishing ... no more, ever. The clock is running.

Welcome to the 30 Minute Blogger, which J.S. Brooks proudly presents.

Of course, I'll still be promoting the book: 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/

Fast or Slow Zombies: Which Do YOU Prefer???

At lunch the other day, the burning issue came up, which movie zombies were preferred in the future apocalypse, the slow George Romero type Night of the Living Dead walking dead or the Dan O'Bannon The Return of the Living Dead speedy zombies that can chase you down.

In our very unscientific survey ... George Romero's slow zombies, those walking, staggering dead were by far preferred to the Dan O'Bannon fast zombies. We'll take our apocalypse slow, thank you very much. Further, we preferred it amusing with much praise for flicks like Shaun of the Dead and Zombieland (even though in Zombieland, the dead did shamble) over the more frightening fare.

All of us were in agreement, the infected humans in 28 Days Later were absolutely not preferred and were incredibly creepy, more so than we wanted to view again. From the video game world, they reminded at least me of the speedy dead from Ravensholm in the Half Life game series (ugh). Where's my sawed off shotgun?

So there it is, completely random and way too small a sample size to be significant ... but give my lunch crowd zombies slow, staggering, in large groups ... and amusing if you can.

Needless to say, we look at Mark Foster's rendition of Max Brooks' novel, World War Z, with suspicion and trepidation. Fast zombies for sure! Ugh!!!

So, what say you out there? Fast or slow ... humorous or serious? What do you prefer???

For an unusual, Shakespearean twist on the zombie tale, with fast and slow zombies combined, see: http://jsbrookspresents.blogspot.com/2013/02/warm-bodies-film-with-heart-romance-and_27.html

See where zombies learn their stuff: http://jsbrookspresents.blogspot.com/2011/12/zombie-university.html

And now, for a different sort of book: 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/
 

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Faith and Science: Work Together ... Please

In the paper today was another in a series of tedious articles in which a driven individual is determined to prove his or her side right and the other side filled with utter fools. In this case, the driven individual is a scientist with evidence that apes share our moral sensibilities, therefore God is not needed for morality, and therefore God does not exist. So there! Sigh.

Come on guys. Science has done a wonderful job proving we're not nearly as unique as we once thought we were and some small portion of the faithful still think we are. For most of us among the faithful this is not news, nor is it faith shaking. That apes may have morals may remove us a bit further from the old image of us being special beings between the animals and the angels (and I'm glad for that little grounding in humility), but it hardly disproves God. In fact, it speaks to God's initial judgment that the creation is good, at least from my point of view. I'm glad to hear it.

I could come up with arguments on the other side as well ... but frankly, I find the whole thing tremendously dull. Wouldn't it be more exciting to work together? Wouldn't we get further along if we stopped distrusting each other and trying to prove our version of faith is stronger than the other guys (faith in science or the divine) and actually rolled up our sleeves and worked toward common goals we share? We're all concerned about the place we call home (well, most of us are). We all want the best for our families and our descendants. We all believe life is a wonderful and mysterious thing worth caring for and that we can do better by humanity than we have done so far. Wouldn't that be a better use of our time and our sizable brains (not the biggest [thanks again science], but sizable)?

As a scholar with feet in both worlds (trained in archaeology and theology), I turn to research for inspiration and direction. In Episcopal priest Barbara Brown Taylor's book The Luminous Web: Essays on Science and Religion, the author contends, as I have stated, that all attempts to understand reality begin with leaps of faith in one form or another. She states:
Every effort to understand reality begins with a leap of faith: the acceptance of a certain point of view, the adoption of a certain set of symbols. Whichever ones we choose, there does not, at this moment in time, seem to be any way around the experience of awe.
There, Taylor gives us another thing we have in common. We all thrill in the awe we feel in the face of this amazing universe and the lives we live in it.

Rather than arguing with each other and disrespecting each others' positions (all the rage these days I know, but let's be countercultural shall we ... walk on the wild side ... or in religious terms be "holy," which means "other.") and admire what we offer each other, even if we do it begrudgingly. Returning to Taylor:
... a dialogue between science and religion offers each discipline a check on its hubris. While science disputes religion's certainty that purpose is built into creation, religion challenges science's certainty that such purpose is impossible. 
Can we just grow up enough to admit that each side, science and religion, grapples with issues that the other is ill-equipped to handle? Working together, accepting that each side has value and is filled with decent, well intentioned human beings and not horrid ogres and trolls, we can do an awful lot and bring a much fuller and more beautiful vision of life to a suffering humanity. How about simply being an "us" rather than an "us vs them?" After all, we both do respond to life and the universe we find ourselves in with awe.

Sidebar: 

If you want to see why it may be a very good thing we do not get easy answers in this life, please see: http://jsbrookspresents.blogspot.com/2013/02/no-answer-is-good-thing.html


And now, for a different sort of book: 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/




Opportunity Begets ... Opportunity!


Every day is a new opportunity. You can build on yesterday's success or put its failures behind and start over again. That's the way life is, with a new game every day, and that's the way baseball is.
Bob Feller 
Opportunity is often best sought vigorously and creatively. I have long admired folks who aggressively sought out opportunity to be proactive and make a positive difference in the lives of others in ways both large and small. So, rather than waiting for certain opportunities to come my way [I'm going to remain cryptic about this for now], I chose to strike out and seek opportunity myself. I decided to prepare while I wait. Changing my approach, I went to knock on opportunity's various doors. 

Change brings opportunity.Nido Qubein 
Change did indeed bring opportunity. I joined a storytelling society, went to a guild meeting, and a strange thing happened. Knocking on that door I found friends ... not so strange ... but was then requested to pass along what I'd learned about the subject in seminary. Opportunity begat opportunity. 

I suggested a change in operating structure to an organization I do volunteer work for ... and was asked to run a seminar on making that change. Seen as proactive in that organization, I was asked to meet with the head of another organization to see if our two groups could help each other. I was invited by that leader to speak before an entirely different group. 

I discovered that opening myself to one opportunity was leading to all sorts of unexpected additional opportunities. Seeking to change my ways opened me up to the possibilities for a great many changes. Interacting with like-minded folks on specific issues spun off additional opportunities to interact. I have now discovered why the folks I admire are so very busy. Opportunities chased lead to new and unexpected opportunities ... provided you keep your eyes open and act upon those opportunities as they present themselves. Sit back and let them slide on by and the spring quickly dries up (much like blogging ... post frequently and be read or watch the readership shrivel).* 

So, get ready, do some prep work, and reach out in the directions of your passions. Who knows what you'll find. However, be flexible in your thinking. As one industrialist said: 
Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.Thomas A. Edison 


Enjoy the possibilities!

* I understand that this is not universally true. Finding jobs in this market is a hellish task at best where opportunities are few and far between. I stand with you and pray for you and your family in your suffering as you seek work. Please do not see this post as a glib attempt to provide an easy answer to your dilemma. It is not intended to be such. 

The quotes you have enjoyed here came from BrainyQuote: 
Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/opportunity.html#qOy4C6crHoTCTu5S.99 

For a famous quote related to personal attitude adjustment, see: http://jsbrookspresents.blogspot.com/2011/01/what-will-you-be-today.html

Gentlemen, for an opportunity to woo your lady love this spring, I highly recommend the following: http://jsbrookspresents.blogspot.com/2011/10/gentlemen-i-commend-these-words-to-you.html  

Finally, I'll take an opportunity to recommend a book! 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/