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, December 31, 2016

Dealing with Bullies in 2017

Bullying seems to be on the rise and I suspect may be considered the norm in 2017. Bullying crops up everywhere like poison mushrooms, including places you least expect it.

The Anti-Defamation League has some wonderful advice on how to deal with bullies. It pays to take some time and equip ourselves against the eventualities to come. Keep these ideas close at hand and practice them whenever possible.

Best of luck to us all in 2017.


Thursday, December 22, 2016

Life Post 11/9: Standing Up to Authoritarianism

Yale University Professor of History Timothy Snyder has some useful suggestions on how to stand up to an authoritarian regime and the people who arise under its rule. Whatever you may think of life today, this is worth consideration.


Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Protecting Free Speech

Here is an article well worth reading and considering deeply in light of Trump's threat to manipulate libel laws in the U.S. so he can effectively sue papers and journalists who disagree with him. The author warns this is a step toward authoritarianism.


Being Civil in an Angry Age

Civility, a simple building block for a better
This is not a post about "political correctness." I'm not some delicate little snowflake, as so many try to dismiss people who stand up for a civil society. Civility is defined as formal politeness and courtesy in behavior and speech. It is absolutely necessary moving forward into 2017 and the Trump age of American politics and the Farage age of British politics.

The store across from our church had Nazi swastikas scrawled across its walls. I know a grade school crossing guard who has had to call in the police to monitor her crossing because too many drivers were becoming increasingly hostile to following simple, civil traffic rules in regards to children's safety. Recently, a grandmother's three year old granddaughter was gunned down at a stop sign because the enraged and armed man behind her became furious because she didn't pull away from the stop sign fast enough to suit Mr. Fast and Furious. In the new age of rage, his idea of a logical response was to open fire on the offending drivers car. Whether he intended to kill the three-year-old child is up for debate since this murderer has yet to be caught (at the time of this writing).

This is where we are headed in an age of anti-PC politics. We have emboldened all who live with simmering hatred and scores to settle. People are spewing all sorts of hateful things and taking all sorts of hateful actions against any group they consider "other" and therefore less than human, easy targets for their previously impotent rage.

The rest of us must work hard to be an example of civil society. Acts of politeness and courtesy have great power in a dark age. They become small beacons of light and hope in the fearful darkness. They also may save someone from suicide. Notes have been found repeatedly from people who have jumped to their deaths from the Bay Bridge stating if one person smiles at me between here and the bridge I won't jump. Imagine that, your simple act of kindness, your gentle smile of civility may save a life.

Now, to be civil in an angry age means to have a spine of steel. You have to be willing to intervene in cases of escalating bullying. There are many excellent posts on how to do so safely. You may have to call in the police, like the aforementioned crossing guard. You may need to become familiar with Facebook Live to record and shame some angry lout out of a dangerous course of action. Being civil is not being weak. Stand for civil society. Push back against the gathering darkness. It is how we become increasingly safe and help others to be safe as well. In the process you may save an angry person from committing a crime they cannot take back, one that will ruin their life and the lives of others forever. I'd say all of that is worth the effort, wouldn't you?

How to live stream from Facebook:

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Life Post 11/9: Insist on Truth

In the year and a half running up to the election and life post 11/9/16, the news organizations abandoned news, real news, in favor of D. Trump's latest tweets. They proved to be far more profitable than other stories and we ended up with one candidate receiving a ridiculous amount of air time. Now we hear the news folks pondering how they could have/should have done things differently. Phooey.

In recent days, we find that a great many Americans fell for fake news created by teens in foreign lands for a profit. Most of the stories were pro-Trump and anti-Clinton as those raked in the big bucks too. Stay away from those, folks. If you find a story stoking your personal ire or feeding your bias, be suspicious of the source.

Now, Trump lackeys are declaring we are in a "post-truth" age. I say, B.S. to that. No, now is the time to insist on the truth and to be skeptical. Hone your senses for B.S. and steer clear. Insist our politicians and news people work to uncover and deliver actual news, real facts, and not propaganda. We've live too long in the propaganda bubble and it has led us down a potentially incredibly harmful and destructive path.

Be particular in what you partake in with regards to all that is presented as news. This would be the time to pick up a reliable newspaper subscription actually. That retro source will serve you far better than anything on cable news. Steer clear of the truly partisan sources of information as they will be providing spun information of dubious quality. Steer absolutely clear of the most radical right and left publications as they have pretty well decided to go fact free.

We can insist on truth as best we understand it or we can allow our society and our lives to be distorted and freedoms stripped by the convenient lies of the moment. It is our choice. I choose to insist on truth ... even when I don't like the answers truth provides. 

Monday, December 12, 2016

Stress Relief: Get a Hobby

The work I do for a living is fulfilling. It is also demanding and creates much stress in life.

Needing to relieve this stress, I rediscovered one of the great truths. A hobby takes your mind off your troubles. Years ago I had dabbled briefly in N scale model railroading as a hobby. I have some equipment, the beginnings of a layout, and a couple of models I had picked up and never built.

I started looking through this material literally decades after I stowed it away. I'm glad now I didn't get rid of it. I have had to reconcile myself to one truth, however, I really don't care about the trains. I have no concern over running a realistic railroad. What I find fascinating are the buildings and scenes to be created.

I have long felt that the town of Cumberland, Maryland, especially the central city, would make a wonderful layout. So, once the basic track is in place, I will turn my full attention on the portion of town I intend to recreate (fancifully, not reliably) back in the era of my childhood, the 1960s.

Having determined all this, I took out the simplest model kit I had--an old plastic boiler house kit. I figured I could practice on that and no harm done if the model didn't turn out. I was startled to discover all I had to learn to get this job done. There was no suggested paint scheme outside of the colors of the molded plastic. So, what did boiler houses, coal-fired, look like? For that matter, what does a pile of coal look like? Off to Google images, off to a marvelous hobby shop near my office, and off on an adventure.

What I discovered was that in the hours I was researching the modeling, painting techniques, and all the rest, hours flowed by (more of them than I had imagined) without a single worry about my work. I had also completely forgotten how pleasurable (and at times irritating) the actual construction could be after all the hours of painting. It was nice to learn how good a simple plastic model could look when properly painted.

One great thing I discovered as well that is a tremendous advantage now over when I originally tried this hobby. Almost anything you need to know about getting the job done and successfully starting your hobby is available online. I kept my tablet close at hand while I worked to look up what I did not yet know. Here's one handy tip: did you know your small hobby paint brushes clean up really well with an application of Windex? Go figure!

So, my advice to you, get yourself a hobby, any hobby, and give yourself a break from the news, from work, from electronic media, and get those hands busy. If it's a hobby where there is an end product to enjoy, so much the better.

Now, you'll have to excuse me, I've got a teeny-tiny world to plan. See you later.

Here's the result of my first experiment: the paint work included small brush work, dry brushing, and washes. It was a blast.

Started with my simplest plastic kit. Nothing to lose, right?
Detailing the base would come later, if I choose to use this model. 

Yeah, I know, a boiler house wouldn't have that detail over the door, but I
wanted to see if I had the dexterity to pull it off. Yep.