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

Friday, May 31, 2019

Challenges to Blogging in 2019

If you're looking to get into blogging, there are a few things you should consider. Here's the top 10 list of blogging impediments I've personally discovered.

  1. There are tons of other outlets taking your creative energy: the potential blogger can Facebook, Tweet on Twitter, use WhatsApp, Tumblr, YouTube ... and on and on and on. 
  2. Time demands: we all live busy lives and making time to blog ... well, it can quickly fall toward the bottom of a priority list in a demanding day, week, or month.
  3. Directly linked with how often do I blog: ideally, blog daily ... but what's ideal and what's real seldom match ... my morning exercise routine had to be crammed into the day beginning at 5:30 a.m. just to make that hour work. 
  4. Original material: there's not a lot of time, given those time demands, to generate original material, transfer photos and adjust them to be blog-sized, edit copy, and publish.
  5. Drawing traffic to the blog: if you don't blog about a single obsession with obsessive zeal, drawing traffic is extremely challenging. The stats can be mysterious and maddening when a sudden spike in "readership" arrives and disappears with no explanation for the coming or going. 
  6. Response: it's hard, especially at first, to continue when response is low. If you haven't chosen a hot topic to blog about, numbers may stay forever painfully low.
  7. Comments: it's hard to keep talking when largely the response is deafening silence. 
  8. Comments: then there's keeping up with comments that do come in, deciphering which are real, honest comments and which are either robots selling something or humans doing the same. Amusing to run across comments declaring lots of people are looking for this information when the piece was a bit of humorous fluff. 
  9. Platforms to choose ... and lose: which platform to blog on, what to link it to so you can broaden the readership net, and what to do when one source of readers (Google+) dies an ugly death and you lose that readership?
  10. Finally, counterbalancing that, it's fun to discuss what you love with like-minded folks and to have a record of where you've been and what you've been up to ... and what others who choose to share back with you have been doing. 
So, there you have it. Go ahead and blog if you have a passion for it. You may do wonderfully well, particularly if you have a clever slant on a topic you love. I wish you all the best! As for me, the old clock on the computer tells me it's time to get ready for work and that my 30 minutes are up. 

Monday, May 6, 2019

Let's talk about what outrage on Fox News can accomplish....

This goes along well with my other comments about minding how we say things and to whom. We need to consider who our more charged and hyperbolic speech might be helping. We might want to consider whether or not we are sowing fear, whether intended or not, and where that leads (it's not good). Just watch. Thanks.

Don't Complain; Contribute!

Here's a modest proposal for everyone: if you are attending an event and things don't seem to be going as smoothly as you imagine they should, I would recommend you do NOT march up to the person in charge and complain that the job they are doing is "embarrassing." Stop. Ask yourself, embarrassing to whom and why exactly? Search your feelings, as Darth Vader would advise. Then, once pondering your personal feelings and motivations long enough not to blurt out your first thought on the matter, consider carefully, what can I do to help instead. Is there some assistance I could offer that might just improve the day for the coordinator, myself, and everyone else here? Do that instead. Each and every one of us has the power to be a blessing or a curse to every person we meet. Considering the kinds of stress people are under today, why don't we all choose to tread lightly and offer up the helping hand instead of the callous backhand? What do you say? 

It is a kind approach. It is also countercultural these days. It actually requires getting off our collective butts (literal and metaphorical) and getting into the action. It's not a bad way to live a life (of course, I wouldn't try this while attending a professional sporting event, the theater, or taking this to any other ridiculous extremes). Still, this approach certainly beats sitting around do nothing but making someone else's life more difficult and leaving them with baggage to contend with long after you've moved on. 

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Adventures in Fitness 32: One Guy's Attempt to Knock the Rust Off: Right Food: The Right Stuff!

It's been a long time and I'm sorry for that. There are so many things going on these days and so many ways to communicate that this blog has fallen a bit by the wayside. But, here we are. Today's adventure in fitness deals with eating right. Ugh, you say! Boring, you grumble. I know. That was me 8 months ago. I get it. Vegetables?!? Bleh!!! to quote the immortal Snoopy from Peanuts

If you think vegetables are dull, as I did, it's time to stop eating them like a five-year-old (like I did). Peas, corn, green beans ... all by themselves. Yeah! You're right. That's boring. That's about as dull as it gets (have to refrain from swearing here for emphasis). Let's eat vegetables like grown ups. Have you ever eaten roasted vegetables all together, peppers, onions, mushrooms, roasted spices thrown in for good measure? Do yourself a favor and try. It's a whole new world my friends. 

Here's three books I'm going to recommend to make healthy eating a pleasure and something you WANT to do instead of needing to do. Get to the bookstore or the library and try dishes from The Heart Healthy Cookbook for Two (if you're not in the empty nester phase like we are I'm sure there are other heart healthy cookbooks for larger groups), Weight Watchers One Pot Cookbook, and Moosewood Restaurant Low Fat Favorites (one great cookbook)! From those, whole new worlds of eating open up and, for me, much to my surprise, a willingness to be a whole lot more food adventurous began. Do you know how sweet ground up cauliflower is? One of those cookbooks has Ahi Tuna Steaks in Sesame Seeds. Blow the budget and start there if you need a real convincer. 

My lovely wife and I have been at this for the past eight months or so. We're both losing weight and eating much better. Having to buy new, smaller pants is a wonderful side benefit of all this effort. 

Combined with my five-out-of-seven mornings at the gym, I have lost considerable weight, gained considerable flexibility, and am able to rush around at speeds I thought I'd left behind some time ago. I don't like getting too personal ... but blogs are personal if they're any good so here goes. I'm down 20 pounds in 8 months (had some setbacks around Easter, as one might expect) so it tapered off to 8 pounds in the last 4 months. My doctor tells me (I asked so I asked for it) if I want to be perfect (as Jesus said to the young rich man as I recalled and was made immediately nervous) I need to drop another 25 pounds. Eight months ago (minus three amazing cookbooks and lots of gym time ... oh yeah, and no fast food restaurants ... although the occasional pizza still slips in), I'd have said that was impossible. Now, it's a challenge I fully expect to meet. The shopping cart is filled with a great many more fruits and vegetables than ever before, far less red meat (chickens, turkeys, and fish still have to worry), the blood work is coming back looking good (although I need to stop eating so many bananas I'm told), and I feel like I'm really knocking that rust off. 

Give it a try. I hope you enjoy what you are eating! 

Welp, the old clock on the computer tells me my thirty minutes are up and I gotta run. See you all again soon.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Beyond Loaves and Fishes: Insights

Pause with me for a moment and consider kindness as a way to draw closer to God's plan for our lives this Lenten season.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Stealing Health Care?! What Is Wrong with You???

Open letter to Mr. Trump and the Department of Justice. What in the world is wrong with you people??? How sick do you have to be to try to repeal healthcare from millions of people, myself included??? This is evil, pure and simple. This is not some ideological game you're playing here. You are messing with, threatening actually, the lives of millions of Americans. The vast majority of these folks are hard working people just trying to get by. You, in your petty gamesmanship, are filling their lives with unneeded anxiety and pain as you once again, how many times is it now, threaten their very lives because you simply don't like the fact the previous president made history and brought this nation a little closer to being civilized on the world stage. You just can't have any of that, can you?

After all, this doesn't impact any of you personally. All your rich cronies are squared away. Mr. Trump still gets admirable healthcare no doubt and will continue to be golfing on weekends on our dime, including the dime of those of us you intend to steal healthcare from. This is an obscenity. You have proved you have no viable replacement ... and why should we trust any you come up with? It won't be for our benefit, but the thinnest cover for the atrocity you are intent on inflicting. Is this a petty vendetta for the past two years of investigation into collusion with Russia Mr. T.? That has been suggested and wouldn't surprise me one bit.

Dear readers: if you agree with this, please contact you Senators and Congresspeople, and give Mr. Trump a good long letter as well. Excuse me, I have some emails to post.

Here's a recent news item related to this:

To contact your Senator(s):

To contact the White House:

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Be Kind

We just lost a member of the congregation. Her long term illness caught up with her during a game. She collapsed and died on the spot. No matter how well we know it's coming, death still comes as a shock.

So do a lot of other negative things. Everyone we meet, no matter how well placed the masks and how all together they seem to be, is hurting in some way, physically and emotionally. Nobody gets through this life without scars from wounds that cut deep into the psyche. So, do the simple things that make life a little easier for everybody as we all teeter on the edge. Be kind. Engage in those little pleasantries that make living a little easier. Hold the door for somebody, hold the elevator, let the driver merging into your lane, flash your lights to let the truck know the way is clear to move in (make sure it is first of course), give somebody a helping hand.

After this last snow, my wife and I went out shoveling our drive and sidewalk clear of heavy snow. My wife, who acts as a school crossing guard, went off to clear her intersection and I saw my neighbor across the street and offered to help him. He suggested we both (and another neighbor joined in) go over to the elderly woman's home next door and shovel her drive and walk. She came out as we were working, expressing deep gratitude. Then she surprised me, openly sharing the struggles of her life, which were greater than I knew. She went back in with one more round of appreciation, we finished and went home. I got inside and suddenly had a notion that I'm a little embarrassed hadn't occurred to me before. We had leftover applesauce cake from Sunday's after church social, Weight Watchers approved by the way, and plenty of Chinese takeout plastic containers, so I packed up six slices of the cake (we had more left than we should eat although the church members did a great job reducing the amount available. I took it over to her. She had no obligation to return the container. She was delighted to receive this small gift ... a nothing in the grand scheme of things. But not a nothing. It was a kind gesture (it felt kind of 1950s retro if that makes sense). Just the sort of thing that makes life a little sweeter. She said she just wouldn't get by without the kindness of her neighbors.

Let's all take a moment. Let's unplug from what we're listening to or watching. Let's take a detour out of our tight schedules and make time to be kind. Kindness and the smiles coming back, and sometimes really interesting conversations had, are their own reward. Let's all make life in our little corners of this big world of hurting souls just a little sweeter. 

Adventures in Fitness 31: One Guy's Attempt to Knock the Rust Off: Discipline

Since my episode with excitement: the trip to the emergency room, I've been much more dedicated to physical fitness. I'm at the gym five mornings a week out of seven. I do not say this to brag, just to preface this discussion of discipline. There are any number of mornings I wake up aching dully from lots of joints and the battle begins. Part of my mind says, okay, you've hurt yourself now, dummy! Happy? We need to stay home today and recover before hitting the gym again  After all, you don't want to tear some muscle or something and be out of action for months. Sounds entirely reasonable and the argument harkens back to articles I've read. Very sneaky. If I followed through on that (I have a couple times), it wouldn't be long before the whole going to the gym thing ground to a halt. It's happened before.

So, I stop thinking, go through the morning routine required to get to the gym involving me and the sixteen year old beagle who gets up with me, even though she has arthritis and real reason to ache and stay in bed. That gets me out the door and to the gym. And, here's the discovery for me. In every case, the aches and pains of the morning are worked out in that next session at the gym. So, it all comes down to discipline ... and banking on routine is part of that disciplines, if that's what it takes to get you there.

Personal aside: there has been a person I've seen at the gym virtually every time I've gone. I have found her presence at 5:30 or 5:45 a.m. inspirational. Today, I told her so and she told me she comes to the gym the same number of days I do and follows pretty much the same schedule, hence my thinking she is always there every day. All a matter of discipline.

See you at the gym. 

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Work Continues on Site of Williams Deluxe Cabins: February 2019

There's a new small house going up at the site of the Williams Deluxe Cabins near Exton Square Mall, Exton, Pennsylvania. Along with this small structure, which is larger than the rebuilt cabins on the original cabin sites, the structure that held and early gas station and the Cabins' front office have a new foundation in place. The structure above the foundation seems to be waiting for the completion of this abode at the east end of the cabins. 

The foundation for the combined gas station and front office is just outside this photo to the west. It is interesting to note, this very small cabin, more a fancy equipment shed, has a neon Open sign in the front window at night. 

Finally, a group mail box has been installed just outside this tiny cabin with the Open sign as well. It seems the rebuilt cabins are to be rented for long enough stretches the residents would need mail boxes as well. Time will tell what is going on here, but that's an interesting clue. 
Update: this small structure now has a business in it. It looks like all these
little structures may house various businesses in the future. 
See the following post for last summer's progress:

Shuttle Atlantis: From the Inside

Let's take a look back at one more spacecraft interior, the Space Shuttle, courtesy of NASA. This is a 2010 video. Take a look at the range of technology across the decades for these spacecraft with varying purposes.

Compare with the SpaceX Crew Dragon interior:

Compare with the Apollo crew module interior: