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

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Update and Advice with Pastor Jeff

An update on how we'll handle Sunday's service in the age of coronavirus and how we handle uncertain times as Christ's followers.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Useful CORVID-19 Infographic

Here's the link to a useful John Hopkins Coronavirus infographic on how to take care of yourself during this pandemic. Go to: and follow the recommendations there. 

I want you all to be safe. ~J.S. 

For more information, see:

Dealing with CORVID-19 in 2020

Here at J.S. Brooks Presents, I want you all to stay safe during the CORVID-19 coronavirus pandemic (declares so on 3/11/2020). Here's a letter from the Acting General Secretary of American Baptist Churches USA, providing valuable information and a link to the CDC. 

March 10, 2020
Dear American Baptist Family:
I join you in our common concerns regarding the effects of COVID-19, which is being referred to as the coronavirus.
We continue to be in prayer for the recovery of those who are ill, the medical teams caring for the sick and, for those who are working to contain and combat the virus.
While much uncertainty still exists regarding the virus, here are a few quotes posted on the Center for Disease Control (CDC) website:
  • COVID-19 was first detected in China and has now been detected in almost 90 locations internationally, and 35 states within the U.S. COVID-19 is part of a family of Coronaviruses.
  • Reported illnesses from the virus have ranged from very mild (including some with no reported symptoms) to severe, including illness resulting in death. Information collected so far suggests that most COVID-19 related illnesses are mild.
  • Older people and people of all ages with severe underlying health conditions — like heart disease, lung disease and diabetes, for example — seem to be at higher risk of developing serious COVID-19 illness.
  • Symptoms of fever, cough, and shortness of breath have surfaced 2-14 days after exposure. Persons are most contagious when they are most symptomatic.
  • Persons with the illness have contracted it through travel and through close contact with known cases. It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.
In addition to seeking to curb the spread of illnesses, another reason to try to contain the disease is so that local health agencies will not be overwhelmed by many persons contracting the disease at the same time in the same area. To help contain the disease, please continue to practice everyday preventive behaviors as listed below:
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with 60%-95% alcohol.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your bent elbow when you cough or sneeze.
  • Routinely clean frequently touched objects.
  • Maintain at least 3 feet between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early.
  • Avoid shaking hands and encourage the congregation to greet one another with a smile and a hand over their hearts as a symbol of Christian love.
  • Have hand sanitizer available for communion servers to use prior to distributing the elements. You may want to consider using individual cups and pieces of bread rather than a common cup and loaf of bread.
For several years, American Baptists have been learning and practicing how to have respectful dialogue with one another through our “Mission Summit Conversations” and “Baptist Talk.” We have learned how to listen well, how to seek to understand before responding, and how to show respect in our conversations. We have learned that “how” something is said is as important as “what” is said.
Let us lead the way as we discuss our concerns about this illness and other matters with our friends, family, and neighbors. May we express concern without panic, calmness in our questions, and kindness in our conversations. Now is not the time for blame or condemnation. Rather, now is the time for care, compassion, and empathy. Every crisis is an opportunity to share God’s love and compassion with others.
Additional information can be found at the following website as well as your state health department websites.
Grace and Peace,
Rev. Dr. C. Jeff Woods
Acting General Secretary
I know a neurologist who also recommends information from John Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, which may be reached at Their information is being constantly updated.
The best way to remain calm during this crisis is to stay informed and follow the recommendations each and every day. Stay safe my friends!  ~J.S.

Friday, February 28, 2020

Very Old Ideals We've Strayed From

Around 3400 years ago, a set of rules were established, ideals and aspirations as it turned out, that would allow people to live together in peace, share joy and abundance together. Here are some of those rules: 

Image may contain: flower, cloud, plant, sky, outdoor and nature
  1. Share your banquets with the hungry
  2. Cancel debts of the poor who cannot pay them
  3. Cancel debts after seven years (now what would that do to the student loan industry)
  4. Organize your government in such a way it ensures nobody gains excess wealth
  5. Share hospitality with those escaping enslavement
  6. Don't charge interest on loans within your community
  7. Pay your hired hands promptly at the end of the day
  8. Leave some of the harvest (the residue) for the disadvantaged to harvest so none go hungry
  9. Limit punishments to protect human dignity 
  10. Don't worship false idols (today this includes fame, wealth, drugs, sex, political parties, strong man politicians, snake oil salesmen ... the list goes on)
  11. Judges will be impartial and won't take bribes
  12. Keep the place clean
It was warned that not following these rules would lead to adversity worse than mere death, an end to joy, health, abundance, and security. It would become a life poisoned by the overreaching lust for human power, force, greed, and brutality. 

Looking over recent events, I'd say we've fallen far from these early rules for life well-lived. We have come into the grips of power, force, greed, and brutality, into the age of adversity. We would be wise to correct our course. 

When better to think about this than the season of Lent, when we are to review our sins and adjust our course as we approach Easter. Let's give it a shot. It beats giving up chocolate for 40 days, although it will be a lot more complicated and labor intensive. If we are successful, we'll all benefit from much more joyful and secure lives together. 

Have a blessed day! 

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Adventures in Fitness 33: One Guy's Attempt to Knock the Rust Off: It's Not Constant Progress

Here's a hard truth to accept. As we age and exercise, there will be setbacks. For me, there are certain health issues I have to deal with. When I get certain illnesses, it can take a couple of months to recover, months where physical exercise is not possible (it has to do with breathing). This creates real and irritating setbacks. I have to reset to smaller goals when I return to avoid causing physical damage if I listen to my ego. The old ego wants me to pick up right where I left off and move forward. That doesn't work. It leads to failure, unhappiness and possibly painful muscle pulls and other issues that make the setbacks worse. 

When exercising, be patient with yourself. Be careful, and know there will be limits to what you can do given age restrictions. I discovered, much to my regret, where I max out with certain weights and my lower back is being slow to forgive me. 

So, easy does it. Pick up where you left off. The hardest job is returning to the routine. Get at it and remember how good it feels to be getting the body back into better shape, knocking that rust off once again. Returning to training after a setback may be the hardest part of the job. But it's worth it. It staves off some of the worst problems that come with aging bodies. 

I have probably written about this before, but I take up the issues that currently face me in this attempt to be fit. 

Take care and stay healthy. 

Calamityware Mugs: "Things Could Be Worse"

Look closely ...

I wrote books about 19th century transfer printed ceramics (including Flow Blue, Romantic Staffordshire, and Historic Staffordshire). Don Moyer, the retired graphic designer behind Calamityware, loves drawings that make him laugh. I'm glad. His Calamityware mugs make me laugh. Here's a setting right out of Willowware transfer prints, but with monsters, robots, flying saucers, and dinosaurs (what am I leaving out--study the pictures to see) creating mayhem across the landscape. The attitude here is, sure, you might be having a bad day, but your porcelain mug of Calamityware is here to remind you it could always be worse. 

I have to say, I love these mugs. They are big enough to handle the large mug setting on the Keurig (if that's your thing ... as it is mine), setting you up with lots of your favorite hot beverage to start the day and that cheery, things could be worse, mindset. Further, drinking from porcelain is mighty nice. I've been to the company site ( and am excited to see there is a tea set in the same design as the set of four mugs. I know what I'll be ordering next.  

Have a blessed day! Excuse me while I return to my tea and cheer up. 

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

"The Day Democracy Died" Sung by The Founding Fathers

How many remember the protest songs of the 1960s and 1970s? Lots of creativity went into those and strong points were made. Well, now we have a leader who feels he is the chief law enforcement officer, an attorney general who is willing to back him up on that (despite some theatrics recently), all to provide some sort of thin cover as Mr. T. releases politicians and others guilty of the kind of corruption he most appreciates from prison. This is a President off the hook after his spineless Senate stooges in the GOP made the motions of an acquittal from impeachment without bothering to hold a legitimate trial ... and laughably claimed at the time that surely he'd learned his lesson. I'd say Mr. T. has earned this little ditty. Enjoy! Then get out and vote in November. Listen to these musical founding fathers. You know what to do.

You might want to consider this as well:

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Making the Most of Our Time

Ready? Set? GO!
Do you have a spare five minutes? What are you going to do with it? Read this post, apparently. I learned this trick from my kids years ago. If you have a spare five minutes, it's entirely up to you how you spend it. Our kids would find some way to make that brief wait pleasant. They'd read a book, play a game, or watch a short cartoon. They'd find some refreshing way to fill that short wait between one thing and the next. 

The choice is ours. I'm going to try to follow our children's example and use that five minutes in a way that will refresh me and put a spring in my step. This five minutes, I chose to share with you and that makes me feel better. 

Well, five minutes are up. Time for breakfast. 

Have a blessed day! 

What Do We Choose to See? IT MATTERS!

What do we choose to see?
This is a challenge for each and every day for each and every one of us. Ask yourself today, tomorrow, every day, "How to I choose to see the world today?" What will I focus on? What will I allow to impact my way of thinking and my mood AND how I treat myself and others? It is up to us to answer that question with brutal honestly. 

For instance, what do I choose to see in the landscape as I drive or walk or run? Do I see the rolling hills, the clouds, the trees, the wildlife and the flowers OR do I choose to focus on the roadkill, the trash, the dead tree, the barren patch of ground? Yes, that is an act of will. It will impact how we respond to life and each other. 

What do I choose to read and watch today? Will it be inspirational, aspirational, leading me to do better? Will it be base propaganda, hateful material feeding the "us vs them" schism in my mind? That is our choice too. 

Here's a useful little test. When an ambulance races by with sirens blaring and lights flashing, what do you think? Do you think some poor SOB is out there suffering some wretched fate? Or, do you choose to think, good, somebody who needs help is getting what they need? Do you see the profound difference in those thoughts? 

Yesterday I was treated to one of those ongoing, endless, back and forth comments fights on Facebook. One side claiming from the Bible sprung all the ills of humanity and the other defending the Bible and its virtues. It's not a binary choice, dear readers. It's OUR choice. We choose what we will take from that library of 66 books of ancient wisdom and history. We choose to see in it either humanity as beloved children of God reflecting God's grace and love or devils intent on suppressing women, continuing slavery, condemning others. The books of the Bible remain the same. They are a challenge to our point of view. It is what we bring to them that is reflected back at us. If we see violence there, the Bible is showing us our violence, our choice. I assert you can say the same thing for all the major religions (no, not cults) of the world, including atheism-- which, yes, is a leap of faith like any other.

So decide NOW! It may means someone's life. Will you see humanity as children of God in need of respect, help, and companionship? Or will you see humanity different from yourself (in any one of the innumerable ways we bizarrely choose to divide ourselves) as the enemy, someone to fear, someone on some other team whom we can abuse without a twinge of conscience?* 

There are plenty of people out there with a vested interest in all of us taking the negative view of each other and acting violently on that perspective. Defy them!* 

Have a blessed day. Make it a good one.

*No, I'm not being fair, here. I'm furious with recent events and toxic perspectives. I'm making this more black and white than it is to make a point. 

Friday, February 14, 2020

No Time to be Timid

Warning: be kind as you can, be humble, do not return evil for evil, but be firm.

Many people are emboldened to say horrible things these days. With leaders spouting hatred, misogyny, bigotry, and all the rest of the toxic stew that stems from base human ignorance, followers suffering from the same evil bent of mind are encouraged and responding. This is no time to sit silently by and allow others to be ground under the boot heel of injustice. We must all speak out, stating firmly hate has no place here, not while we're around. We cannot be the silent sheep encouraging those stewed in hatred to say and eventually do more violence. Silence gives consent cannot, must not be the rule of the day. Speak up for our best aspirations. Live out the two great commandments, loving God and neighbors (aware that anyone who needs us is our neighbor ... there are no convenient caveats here or easy outs) as ourselves. To love God you must love neighbor and self. To be able to carry out this open stance of defiance to hate in all its forms we begin by being kind and good to ourselves, quelling the evil voice in our heads that demeans us and critiques us in ways more vile than we'd allow any other person to critique us. Once that is tamed (or as that is tamed, we don't have a lot of time here), we help others, speaking with them kindly, treating them well, helping when help is needed, getting between them and the haters seeking to abuse them. 

In this day and age, that is our job. That is how we resist the rising tide of primitive hate that wells up from our most primitive, most reptilian brain and overmaster it with the evolved mind, the civilized mind, the mind that states it is us AND them, not us VERSUS them. That's the job, today and every day. Resist!