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

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Hobby Time: The N Scale Layout on a Door



I'm currently working on my N Scale layout on a door as well. I like what this hobbyist has done. It looks sweet. I'm also modeling inspired by a city in western Maryland. For me, I've driven past Cumberland for years and always felt the main street visible from the highway was beautiful and ripe for modeling. My era will be the 1950s-1960s roughly (i.e., there are more 1950s autos available than 1960s so I'm extending into two decades). Thanks for the inspiration David Betz!

My layout is in its very early stages, with benchwork under the door now: https://jsbrookspresents.blogspot.com/2017/07/hobby-time-putting-legs-under-door.html

For examples of my modeling, see: https://jsbrookspresents.blogspot.com/2017/05/hobby-time-n-scale-model-by-gloor-craft.html and https://jsbrookspresents.blogspot.com/2017/04/hobby-time-n-scale-modeling.html

1971 Schwinn Sting-Ray "Pea Picker" - Disc



Had a moment of sweet nostalgia when walking down a small town main street. In among a number of empty store fronts, there was one serious bike collector's shop, open by appointment only three days of the week, with store hours on a couple more. There in the window was a sweet Schwinn Sting-Ray Pea Picker in what looked like near mint condition. If you weren't a kid back in the 1960s and 1970s, it wouldn't mean much to you. I had a non-Schwinn with the handle bars and the banana seat and sissy bar, but it wasn't like this. Mine had one gear, so no shifter. The model in the window had a speedometer I remembered well. I would have liked to have had one of these babies back in the day. It was great to see again and enjoy the flood of memories that went with it. I went on down the street with a nostalgic grin on my face. Honestly, I don't want to own one, but it was great fun seeing it again.

What Are the "Good Old Days"?

Over the years, from time to time, I've bridled against the elderly writing off the time I'm living by dismissing the present and saying it was better when I was growing up, or when I was young. My knee jerk response was, what's wrong with my time and my generation? It felt like a moral judgment.

However, I had an epiphany not long ago while listening an elderly couple in their 90s making that statement and then describing life in their youth. I came to know exactly what they meant, and it had little to do with how things are today for all of us, but what it means for them in particular. Describing their lives, I was told about their friends, their family, their adventures of their youth, raising the kids (now well grown and living busy lives in early retirement). It became obvious why the good old days were so good. Those were the days when many loved ones were still alive and having fun with them. Those were the days when they were active and adventurous. Those were the days when they were busy raising the kids (and all parents know there are few if any boring days when kids fill the house). Those were the days when they had a solid grasp on all the technology, the cultural references, the ground rules of life in society. Now, not so much. So, now I get it, and I'm sorry I didn't get it sooner. It will be the same for all of us if we are lucky enough to live so long.

Treat everybody gently folks. We're all trying our best and handling a whole lot of baggage.

God bless you all tonight.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

American Baptist Denomination Speaks Out Against Race Riot in Charlottesville, Virginia

I am an American Baptist and a pastor. I stand with my denomination, one of the most diverse in the United States, in speaking out strongly against the hatred on display from the white supremacists, Nazis, and other hate groups who gathered with the intent of violence from all reports. I have seen comments challenging what average pastors believe and why they don't speak out. Well, here we are, speaking out, condemning, denouncing the violent and deadly demonstration.

From the American Baptist Home Mission Societies: 

American Baptist Home Mission Societies denounces and condemns—in the strongest manner possible—the violent and deadly demonstration led by a host of white supremacist organizations and individuals in Charlottesville, Va., on Saturday.
The human toll of three lives lost senselessly and more than two dozen individuals injured stains our American stature on the world stage. The racial and religious hatred expressed by the Neo-Nazi, Alt-Right, Ku Klux Klan and other racist organizations in opposition to the city’s decision to remove a monument memorializing the American Civil War’s Confederacy and its standard bearers is an affront to democracy and our social order.
We join with people of goodwill across our country who seek to make America’s public squares, government grounds and city streets safe for all citizens.
Furthermore, we commend and pray for all the valiant clergy, students, justice workers and others who gathered in Charlottesville to say “no” to violence, threats and intimidation from the white supremacist demonstrators.
In the wake of yet another terrifying episode of violence in America’s public square, we pray for the families and loved ones of Heather Heyer, whose life was tragically taken during the vehicular assault on dozens of peace workers. We pray, too, for the families and loved ones of Lt. H. Jay Cullen and Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates—the Virginia state police troopers who died in a helicopter crash related to the situation in Charlottesville—along with those who were victims of assaults and trauma, both physical and emotional, resulting from the violence.
“We call upon people of faith and goodwill to continue to pray and work on behalf of freedom, justice and peace in the United States of America and throughout the world,” says Dr. Jeffrey Haggray, ABHMS executive director. “Never were these prayers and this work needed more.”

From the General Secretary of American Baptist Churches USA

He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. (Ephesians 2:17)
Dear ABCUSA Friends,
As I write to you today, two concerns weigh heavy on my heart, as I imagine they do on yours as well. The whole world is watching the war of words escalate between the United States and North Korea. North Korea’s apparently successful development of its nuclear weapons arsenal threatens to destabilize Asia, forcing us to recognize that 25 years of diplomatic efforts to prevent such nuclear proliferation have failed. Since the end of World War II, American Baptists have advocated for nuclear disarmament in many ways, and surely in this current crisis no thinking person would want to see either side resort to the use of such weapons, or to precipitate armed conflict in any form. Our peacemaking mandate insists that countries find diplomatic means to settle disputes and differences. In response to this current crisis, I would like to commend to you all the thoughtful email sent out by Metro Chicago (Rev. Carol McVetty and Rev. Douglas Harris, Interim Executive Ministers), and the Mennonite prayer resources they refer to; please share it with your churches. Several people and I have been conversing about a specifically ABCUSA response. If you have suggestions/input, please share them with me.
Second, the white supremacist demonstrations in Charlottesville, Virginia (see, for example, http://www.cnn.com/2017/08/12/us/charlottesville-white-nationalists-rally/index.html), cannot be ignored. Let us encourage our pastors to remind our membership that ABCUSA stands for the full equality of all Americans and rejects every version of racial prejudice and specifically, the contemporary ugly resurgence of so-called “white nationalism.” I especially appreciated IM missionary Daniel Buttry’s Facebook reposting of an American Baptist Resolution which is still valid today:

AMERICAN BAPTIST RESOLUTION ON THE RESURGENCE OF THE KU KLUX KLAN
The mood of America is characterized by growing economic unrest, unemployment, rapid social change and a sense of impotency and futility. That mood is contributing to a resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan, or to a “new Klan,” and to other white-supremist movements in the United States.
Public opinion has encouraged the growth of the Klan and racism in general when it has sympathized with it or indirectly supported it by endorsing the attitude that America’s minorities have “come too far, too fast.” Public tolerance has been demonstrated by voter acceptance of Klan political candidates, widespread distribution of printed material which accepts KKK actions, and by the failure of the criminal justice system to investigate effectively and end Klan-related violence.
THEREFORE: In accordance with the American Baptist Policy Statement on Human Rights which supports the right of all persons to be protected against discrimination and in light of its concern over the current manifestations of racism as evidenced in the resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan, the General Board of the American Baptist Churches urges local congregations and individuals to:
1. Indicate publicly their opposition to the Klan by statement and action wherever the Klan appears;
2. Encourage politicians and governmental bodies to take active positions against the racism, terrorism and acts of violence fostered by the Klan;
3. Educate members, especially children, about the nature of the Klan and about the myths which it seeks to foster related to racial superiority;
4. Design and implement programs to educate people, especially children, about the biblical imperatives for racial justice;
5. Take every opportunity afforded by the media to affirm our support of racial justice; and
6. Become actively involved in local and national efforts to achieve and assure racial justice.
We call upon the agencies and the leadership of the regional and national units of American Baptist Churches in the USA to:
1. Provide informational materials and other forms of support to individuals and to congregations engaged in efforts to educate their members about the nature of the Klan and about racial justice;
2. Represent American Baptist Churches in ecumenical efforts to combat the Klan;
3. Encourage public media to use their resources to promote racial justice;
4. Commend those media which have carried out investigative reporting about the Klan and its activities; and
5. Express our repugnance for the philosophy and activities of the Klan through appropriate governmental and legal channels.
Adopted by the General Board of the American Baptist Churches – December 1980 130 For, 0 Against, 0 Abstentions
Rev. Dr. Lee B. SpitzerGeneral Secretary
American Baptist Churches USA

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Proverbs 6:16-19 Speaks to Hate on Display in Charlottesville, VA

Proverbs is considered wisdom literature. Let's pause for a moment of wisdom from that book and see what is worthy of being worked hard against, today, and always. There are far too many of all of these at work right now, right here. It won't stop is we don't stop it.


There are six things that the Lord hates,seven that are an abomination to him:17haughty eyes, a lying tongue,and hands that shed innocent blood,18a heart that devises wicked plans,feet that hurry to run to evil,19a lying witness who testifies falsely,and one who sows discord in a family.

I cannot tell you how repulsed I am by the hatred shredding this nation. It is time for all people of good will to stand up and cry out against hatred in all its forms.

Here's one action we can all take immediately: https://jsbrookspresents.blogspot.com/2017/08/write-white-house-now.html

If you need to catch up on what is happening, here's a couple sources of news available (to date it is reported that a car has run into counter protesters today with multiple casualties): http://www.dailyprogress.com/news/local/trump-condemns-unite-the-right-rally-violence-in-charlottesville/article_ef4ba358-7f6a-11e7-84cf-8f840f442510.html ; http://www.cnn.com/2017/08/12/us/charlottesville-white-nationalists-rally/index.html

Here's what the Governor of Virginia had to say about those who rioted. Note that he doesn't mention the counter protesters. Apparently the Governor didn't have any doubt who were the bad actors over those two days: http://www.cnn.com/2017/08/12/us/charlottesville-white-nationalists-rally/index.html

Write the White House NOW

The events in Charlottesville, Virginia, today and last night with the "alt-right" (KKK, neo-Nazis, etc.) are vile and must be called out as such. Please take a few minutes to encourage Mr. Trump to speak out immediately (a couple of paltry tweets will NOT do), clearly, strongly against the hate on display. Insist that he speak out strongly against the alt-right white supremacists, neo-nazis, and KKK present and active in the protest that ended in terrorist violence. Support the counter-protesting ministers and other American patriots who stand against the rising hatred by insisting Mr. Trump takes a stand against this evil immediately. To reach the White House, go through the following link: https://www.whitehouse.gov/contact#page

This is no time for people of conscience and good will to sit by silently. To be silent is to give tacit approval of the hate march and all the sickness it stands for. As of this writing, the hate groups have driven three cars into the crowds of counter protesters, creating multiple injuries.

Update: 8/15/17: After the appalling press conference Donald Trump held in Trump Tower, where he attempted to normalize race hatred, white supremacists, and compare and contrast them with those who came to demonstrate against hatred and try to make both sides the same, which they will never be, protest loudly and bluntly this immoral response to a tragedy that left three dead and 19 hospitalized. Protest as well Mr. Trump's assertion that honest reporters are fake news, as that is what authoritarians do. Do not be silent at this time, or you are complicit with those who hate and excuse hatred. Never before in my life has I seen a president do what was done today, which led to congratulations from active, prominent members of white supremacist groups.


Thursday, August 10, 2017

CGI 3D Animated Shorts HD: "LAST DAY OF WAR" - by Dima Fedotov

 Given the news of August 2017, with sabre rattling in the U.S. and North Korea, this short animated film seems quite topical. Consider it a firm warning.

Pray and work for peace.

Seeking truth might help: https://jsbrookspresents.blogspot.com/2017/07/seeking-truth.html

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Collectible History: iBook Clamshell Still Works in 2017



Introduced in 1999, produced through May of 2001, this iBook Clamshell proves more durable than I imagined. It would take a telephone line and modem to connect it with the internet (what part of it could be handled) and the built in mouse has given up the ghost, but it still runs. This particular iBook was last used in 2011, but was retired when the hard drive started to groan with exhaustion at the end of an 8 hour summer course.

This is an experiment to see if little videos are within the scope of possibility here. The video was shot with a camera that is a bit of history itself, the Kodak Play Sport. The depth of focus is limited. My lack of a tripod at home (mine is at the office) made keeping in focus challenging, as you will see. I tried to keep things short to avoid boredom. I hope it worked. In the end, I think I did this video mostly for the student in his 20s who turned to me before a class began, pointed to the old clamshell and said (with feeling) "That's beautiful, man!" Turns out, after I retired the iBook I discovered I was known throughout the seminary for using this old and standout piece of computer technology. When I retired it, for at least a week, people asked me how it was doing as if it were a person out sick. Such is the power of a well designed and much loved piece of technology.

Final note: I have taken far newer failed computers to be recycled within the last few weeks.

A couple things I didn't film:
Remember the built in carrying handle? This was back before it was
decided all laptops should be carried in cases, I guess.
Imagine banging this against a railing as you went past.
How about this colorful little ring that turned
orange when the battery was charging and
green when it was complete?



If you'd like to see more videos like this, let me know.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Seeking Truth

In conflicted times, where it seems we in the US can't agree on anything outside of some labeled sphere, it is hard to discover where the truth lies. Inside my bubble, I'm astonished at what others claim as truth that makes me want to jump up and scream LIAR! It's a visceral response born of fear with no thought required. Hearing Mitch McConnell lament that no version of their ACA repeal could pass due to Democratic obstructionism, from my bubble I find myself wondering if he actually believes any of that. It certainly isn't what I hear.

Some people are impressed when a military man states, in short, declarative statements, that the military isn't fair. If you are sick or deficient in some way, there is no place for you. This was inspired by Donald Trump unilaterally declaring via Tweet that transgendered personnel could not serve in any facet of the military. Well, those short declarative statements were largely about sick individuals and the transgendered folks aren't. I don't think you become a Navy Seal while being seriously ill. But that's his bubble and his experience.

So, I recently asked a retired journalist I know (no, not fake news here, a real honest-to-goodness journalist who sought the truth of the stories covered for NASA, the State Department, and the White House) and asked him how he found the truth of the story. He started in a place I might have with a sermon: "People are fallible. They remember any given incident differently." You find the truth, he told me, by interviewing as many people involved in the story as possible, getting their point of view. Once you have all the stories, you look for the common threads among them. You will find the truth there, where the stories agree.

That sounds like a really good place to start. It means getting out of our bubbles and talking to each other. It means learning our stories, our fears, our concerns, our joys, what we have in common and where our differences lie. Then we can compare the stories, find the common threads, and perhaps come closer to the truth of our complicated situations. Can we do it? Will we do it? Or will be continue to glare and swear at each other from within our own tiny little bubbles?