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

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween From My Family to Yours

Wishing you and your family a happy, healthy, and safe Halloween night 2010.

Our favorite line of the night came from a small trick or treater dressed as Sponge Bob. He lightly tapped on our door. As usual our beagle bayed loudly to let us know someone was there. When I opened the door, Sponge Bob's mom coached him, asking, "What do you say." The tiny tyke looked up at me and said, "I wish you had a door bell!" Great line.

Happy Halloween!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Don't Vote Tuesday. Trust ME Instead!

Another election day is fast approaching. You can tell by the whole new crop of lovely political ads that tell you absolutely nothing about the candidate's policies ... or thought processes ... and everything about how evil and flawed his/her opponent is. This year, let ME help you out. Never mind all that inconvenient waiting in line, that bothersome thinking about candidates and scanning newspaper's candidate choices, that irritating voting booth and whatever new gadgetry they have there. You just go to work, go home, go about your lives ... and let me -- and others like me -- do the thinking for you. All you need to know is, I've been around a while. I know the score and I'm motivated. So, just trust me and I'll take care of all that nasty voting for you. Well, me and my buddies will. Who are they? Well, they're other concerned folks with some gray in their hair who've done some serious living and know their own minds. And, then of course, there are the seniors. Now they're really hot on voting and they are smokin' on all the issues. They know their stuff and will vote for their ... um, I mean YOUR, best interests, believe you me.

So, look, stay home Tuesday. Don't vote at all. Don't even think about it. Give us your voice and your ballot. We'll take care of both. I'm sure to vote for my ... again, I mean YOUR, best interests. I'll be happy to speak up for me, er, YOU, and am sure to vote on the issues that concern me ... YOU ... and you can just sit on the sidelines and let the nasty ol' political parade and crazy political machinery pass you by. You'll be secure in the knowledge that you've handed your voice and your influence over to people who really care, people who will really get things done, people who will be delighted that you and others like you aren't getting in the way and muddying the political waters with something as antiquated as democracy. Let MY voice be the people's voice this year and come November 3 you'll see just how well that really works out for you. Trust ME.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Hubble Space Telescope - The Final Repair Mission

In 2009, the Space Shuttle visited (after much debate) the Hubble Space Telescope one last time. The final visit has extended the space telescope's life significantly. However, now that the shuttle fleet is being retired, there will be no more servicing missions and the vaunted space telescope known around the world will now die.

1990: STS-31 Discovery, Hubble Space Telescope (NASA)

In 1990 came the history making shuttle mission that launched the Hubble Space Telescope. We know the problems Hubble faced with the main lens ground incorrectly. Remember that without the Space Shuttle and the well-trained NASA crew and flight team, that telescope would never have been repaired, nor provided us with all those observations that have (and continue to) change the astronomy books and our understanding of the cosmos.

STS-74 space shuttle docks with Mir

Prior to the construction of the International Space Station, there were multiple expeditions to the Russian Mir space station (now long gone). Those dockings were terrific practice in preparation to building and docking with the future International Space Station to come. The Space Shuttle has had a long and storied history.

50's TV: Ford Edsel Commercial (1957)

Here's a car even the ad men of "Mad Men" would have had trouble selling. I like the glowing speedomenter. It gave me pause however, to see how far the front end rose when first heading up a steep slope, despite the heavy engine and long front end. Check out this "...experience no man should miss!"

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

STS-1: Shuttle Columbia Flight#1 April 12, 1981

Continuing our tribute to the NASA Space Shuttle fleet, here's a NASA production film of the very first Space Shuttle flight in 1981. That was Columbia. Note the white external tank. You won't see that again. Paint weighs a lot. This film takes you from launch, through flight, to landing. Enjoy.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Space Shuttle Enterprise (OV-101) First of a Series ... Tribute to the Shuttle Fleet

As the Space Shuttle program comes to an end, and we await whatever the future holds for American manned spaceflight, here's the first of a series of short films to commemorate the program that has kept NASA flying since the 1980s. This was the test bed shuttle named Enterprise ... much to the joy of "Star Trek" fans.

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Butterfly Circus: A Hope Filled Short Film ... A Must See Film!

Please take 20 minutes out of your busy day and watch this short film. See how beautiful a hope filled life may be. Follow this link to The Butterfly Circus:

May we all live such hope filled lives.

Oh yes, the man driving the car in the opening scene is Doug Jones, who wore the Charlie Cardinal mascot's costume at Ball State University when my wife and I were there in the later 1970s and early 1980s. You'd know him better in heavy make up ... fairly recently as Abe Sapien in both Hellboy movies.

Video Sermon: Playing with New Technology, Uploading Videos ... Or Trying To

I'm currently playing with new technology. I have Kodak's version of the flip video camera, a tiny flexible tripod that will wrap around anything (including the chair back in the front row of a pew), and am now learning how to upload sermons online. This one is on my Facebook page. If you're curious what I sound like in the real world and want to know how Small Efforts Can Make a Big Splash, follow the link.!/video/?id=1679451864

What I'm really curious about and will need to dig deeper to find is a storage site for my sermon videos that accepts larger sized videos and some that may be a little bit longer than 20 minutes (the FB max ... YouTube's 15 minute restriction just doesn't work for preachers) and will allow me to load those videos into a blog or website with the snappy look you get from YouTube. Anybody know where I should look.

Ah, new world's to explore.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Cruelty Levels a Disgrace

In the US we are in the throes of yet another political campaign season. The rhetoric has heated up again and the distortions are flying fast and furious. There is a new twist this year. The Supreme Court has decided groups can donate money and inflammatory ads anonymously. The fabrications in ads are even higher and wilder than ever. Frankly, in many cases, the lies are cruel on both sides of the aisle. Nobody has clean hands in this one. But this is not a political rant. That is just one example of rampant cruelty slithering its way around the globe.

What really drew my ire today is the You're Ugly app for the iPhone, available for 99 cents. The program supposedly reads a face, checks it against parameters for symmetry and declares a person, a victim I would say, beautiful or ugly. Here is another tool in the bully's arsenal for cyber-harassment. We've heard lately in the news of several teens who have committed suicide because they were cruelly treated and could not stand it another day. How appalling.

We need to stand up against this disease sweeping the globe in all its small and large manifestation. There is nothing "fun" about cruelty. Cruelty distorts lives and warps personalities. Worst of all, cruelty is self-perpetuating.

Here's a definition of cruelty/sadistic behavior from the Dictionary of Pastoral Care and Counseling: "Actions which inflict pain and suffering: delight in another's suffering; getting sexual pleasure as the result of another's suffering ..." Oh, there's more, but I think you get the idea. Worse than the definition is the result of cruelty. Very often a victim of repeated, unremitting cruelty in childhood has had his/her future "mapped" by this form of evil. Unable to relieve the pent up and often deeply suppressed feelings left over from the acts inflicted upon him or her, the child later in life acts out this cruelty upon another victim. It is self-perpetuating. Cruelty is a disease that just keeps on giving. Cruelty is a social cancer. Worst of all, this disease thrives when we refuse to speak out against it, when we provide tacit approval for cruel behavior by our silence. It is long past time to work to end cruelty in all its forms in this world of ours.

As I have told church youth groups I have worked with repeatedly over the years: "You have a choice every day. You can choose to be a blessing or a curse in other peoples' lives in every moment." Choose to bless others today. Be countercultural and be kind to everyone you meet and work with today. Help break this cycle of mindless cruelty today.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Lost In Space Clips, Robot and Dr. Smith

Clips of a very different robot in action from the 1960s. Some of us remember this one.

Neanderthals Not So Dumb, Eh?

Well, well, well, this is very interesting. New reports now state that the Neanderthals, those distant relations now extinct, weren't as dumb as portrayed. In the past, the Neanderthals have been portrayed as over muscled, lumbering brutes who couldn't keep up with their lighter, sleeker Homo Sapien Sapien relations. Every tool found with them was claimed to be merely a byproduct of their scrapes with those brainier relations.

Now, not so, say the scientists. New evidence now shows Neanderthals were busy creating and improving their own tools right along with the rest of us. In central to southern Italy from 140,000 to 42,000 years ago, at least one archaeologist has attributed two cultures, the Mousterian and Uluzzian to the local Neanderthals before the rest of us moved in. For more on this, check out the following article and its links:

Now you don't suppose this has anything to do with that earlier finding that Neanderthals and Homo Sapiens Sapiens ... from time to time ... found each other sexy enough to interbreed with do you? Could this early amour be the reason for the sudden rehabilitation of the reputation of the Neanderthals? Makes me wonder.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Bullied? Depressed? Desperate? Please Read and Consider

If something is happening in your life to leave you feeling isolated and sad, depressed and desperate, please consider the following. If you are bullied and scared, please consider what is written here. Nothing remains the same forever. If there is one constant in this world of ours, it is that things always change. But this only happens if you endure long enough to discover this simple truth and allow change to happen for you. That does not mean you remain passive throughout your troubles, however.

If you are bullied in school or online, cry out for help! There is nothing that disrupts bullying faster than bringing it out into the light of day, loudly and frequently. You have a voice. Use it. When bullying begins, shout, roar, demand for it to stop. Be insistent. Take this horrible issue up with parents and school officials. Insist that they take action to put an end to this. Speak with your friends and seek their support. You are a person of worth and you deserve help. Go places with a friend or friends because it is harder to bully two or more people at a time who are willing to stand up to a bully. If you see someone bullying another person, do not stand for this. Get an adult to intervene. Get authorities to intervene. Yell for attention. Do not stand idly by. Here's a site dealing with this issue for younger kids: There are many sites available offering professional suggestions.

If something awful has happened in your life and things feel hopeless, please understand you are not alone. You have family and friends who love you and want the best for you. Speak about your problem with others. Do not try to handle whatever this situation is alone. And, above all, do not believe that old, useless phrase, "You wouldn't understand. You don't know what I'm going through." That's a load of crap, frankly, a dangerous load of crap. Sure, nobody knows exactly what you are going through and exactly how you feel because they are not you. However, we've all suffered through crises, we've all had troubles, and you can be sure someone, somewhere has been through something similar, because frankly we humans are not all that different from each other. We do go through similiar things in life, and yes we can understand what you are going through. We've been there. Don't let that nonsensical phrase isolate you. Isolation is dangerous when you are depressed, sad, threatened, fearful, and desperate. Isolation can lead you down dark and dangerous paths that can lead you to false conclusions with horrible consequences. Reach out to others. Seek help. And, if you are truly depressed, seek professional help, please. There is no disgrace in this. Seek the help you need.

Finally, know this. You are loved. You are a person of worth. There are people in your life who wish you well and who want you around for a long, long time. Cling to that in dark times and hang in there. Nothing in this world remains the same forever.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Office Workers: A FAST Cup of Tea

Time is money, or so they say. So, in business today you need to be fast to keep up, right? That's also what they say. Giving this common wisdom its due, here's a fast cup of tea to keep you going. Now, sophisticates, you'll have to do without your loose tea and favorite tea ball for this one. Sorry about that, but this is an office cup of tea. Here's how it goes.

You need:

1. Microwave
2. Teabags of your preferred tea
3. Teacup
4. Spoon
5. Whatever sweetener you prefer
6. Cold Water

Alright, got everything you need? Good. Here's what you do. Place your teabag in the cup or mug you use ... don't worry about the little paper tag on the string and the fastener holding it there; that fastener will not impact negatively on your microwave. Just wanted to get that out of the way up front. Now fill your teacup or mug with cold water. That's important, the water must be cold or you'll be swamping out the microwave when your mug overflows. Place mug of cold water with teabag into microwave, shut door, and set for 1:30, that's one minute and thirty seconds, no more. Hit on and the magic begins. At the end of 1:30 you have hot water and brewed tea. Swirl that bag around (your hot tea may only look like hot water at first but swirl away, you'll get your tea, trust me on this) and fish it out with the spoon. Trash the teabag, add your sweetener, and you're ready to go in under two minutes. If you want a stronger brew, let the teabag sit in the hot water for a while back at your desk while you're busy before fishing it out. Couldn't be easier. Couldn't be faster. And to look (um, I mean to BE) productive, go do something else while your tea is being microwaved for you.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

NASA Robonaut Humanoid Space Robot

On the upcoming Space Shuttle Discovery flight, this robot will be joining the International Space Station crew. First it will be used inside and then unleashed into space to work on the outside of the ISS, along with a large battery lugging robot and the Canada arm. Quite a futuristic crowd assisting the astronauts.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Muppet Show - Pigs in Space: The End of the Universe

And now we pause for the answer to the really big question. And it isn't 42!

A Puppy In Halo 3 (Machinima)

There is still truth in advertising ... or at least in YouTube video titles. Okay, it's silly ... but I like it! Especially the last line after the dramatic, Halo 3, intensity building music.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Community Theater A Bargain in Tough Times

Recently my wife performed in and my family attended our local community theater's performance of Screwtape, a play based on C.S. Lewis' Screwtape Letters, that witty social commentary couched in a demon's letters to his nephew on how to properly lead humans astray. The performance was terrific. The set was marvelous. The hours flew by all too quickly at Barley Sheaf in Lionville, PA. The cast was startled during a scene change when they were downstairs throwing off one costume for another when they heard a loud, repetitive noise coming from upstairs. The scene change music was The Devil Came Down to Georgia (nice touch) and the audience this Friday night, enjoying the show, started stamping along to the music. You won't find that happening at your New York Broadway production or big city stage performance!

Look, the actors and actresses at community theater do what they do for love. Same for the crew. The prices are terrific, even in recessionary times. There is nothing better than getting away for a few hours with others and enjoying a live performance. Check it out for yourself. Find your local community theater and see what is coming your way soon. I guarantee, it'll be worth the price of admission.

Where Zombies Come From

No, THIS is not where zombies come from my friends!
Over the past 10 days, I've had sinusitis. That's all now changed. It has migrated south to an upper respiratory tract infection, deciding to make another part of me miserable. Yes, I've seen the doctor. Yes, I have medicine. And yet ...

I arise in the morning with a souless moan feeling every muscle ache. I shamble around with glazed eyes, arms outstretched, feeling more than a little malevolent, ready to snarl at the least provocation, driven to mindless frenzy by resistant pill bottle caps. I haven't developed an unholy desire for human brains ... YET. BUT IF THIS DOESN'T GO AWAY SOON .... UUURRRRGGGGHHHH!!!!!

Yes, I know where zombies come from!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Writers: Independent Book Stores and Consignments

A few of these stayed behind at the bookstore
I learned something new at the Greetings and Readings book signing. Did you know that some independent book stores will take individual author's books on consignment. That means they'll place a few of your books in their store and, if they sell within a year, they keep a percentage and send you a check for the rest. If they don't sell, you have to come get them ... which might be depressing.

Still, now I have a presence in a brick and mortar book store, which is a nice feeling.

J.S. Brooks at Greetings and Readings Book Signing

The publisher sets up.

Okay, where's the door?
[For a brand new contest, as of May 19, 2011, related to 4 copies of this book currently available at Greetings and Readings, click on the title of this post.]

It was a beautiful day ... and that does not work to the book signing author's advantage! But there were ten authors there, lots of friendly banter among us, and just enough customers to keep us on our toes. Living in the twenty-first century, I followed MapQuest directions and I have to hand it to the MQ folks, that was one scenic ride past horse farms, rolling countryside, across the Conowingo Dam, popping out almost surprisingly on a busy city street just a block or two from the store. After the fairly long drive, I was faced with a puzzle. G&R was on the second floor of the structure and another store was on the ground floor with no access to the second floor from there. A little wandering around and I found the entrance to the second floor book store. The staff was friendly and I learned a few new things.

All in all, the day was a success.
Authors settle in. Some have posters!

My end of the table and a writer/illustrator team with 2 kid's books.
Getting busy

Yours truly, ready for action.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

New Earth-Like Planet Found:

J.S. Brooks offers this correction. It's not Gliese 581c that is causing this year's excitement, but Gliese 581g! Sorry for the slip up. Still, exciting news. Another step closer to finding other earths out there.

Friday, October 1, 2010

J.S. Brooks Is Proud to Present a Talented Young Author

This story deserves the coveted digital NO AWARD!
Follow the address below and read the short, slice of life story entitled "Being Wet Sucks." It'll give you a glimpse of high school life today ... and surprise you at the very end. Love it.

Suspense for J.S. Brooks!

I was surfing online tonight and came across this:

It looks like Crystal's Good Reads is getting ready to read and review Michael and the New Baby! And that leaves me in ... Suspense (just like the old radio series)!!!

Michael and the New Baby ... The Word Is Getting Out!

Follow this address and you'll fine the Collector's Topix announcement for Michael and the New Baby!

Greetings and Readings Book Signing Announcement

Follow this address to find the Greetings and Readings announcement for the J.S. Brooks book signing outside of Baltimore Saturday, October 2 from 1-4 p.m.

Buy a book, meet me there, and get it signed for your child!

[For a brand new contest as of May 19, 2011, involving four copies of this book at Greetings and Readings, click on the title of this post.] 

New Planet Found - Gliese 581 c - VOA Story

So, now we have to look around the red, dim stars for planets like Earth too, eh? Well, that just adds to the fun. Here we are, the most earth-like planet found to date. Time to get busy with those faster than light drives guys ... and those non-interference directives! Actually, first lets just get busy and finish those next generation telescopes, the ones that can analyze atmospheres around earth-like planets outside the solar system. The quest for life outside the solar system just got a lot more interesting.

Living in a Sci-Fi World

Life Zones Around Stars, courtesy of Kepler Team ... the Goldilocks Zone!
The other day I was watching an old episode of the original Star Trek series online and it hit me. We're living in a science fiction world. I looked at the 1960s portrayal of tomorrow and some of it is here. The computer on the desktop is a wonder that did not exist in the 1960s when Star Trek originally aired. If you want, there are programs in most computers these days that allow them to speak to you, which sounds a lot like the stilted voice they gave the ship's computer in Star Trek TOS. Hey, and just the other day, scientists announced they've run across their first "Goldilocks" planet, one of just the right size, in just the right place orbiting its star to have the possibility of life. And, with that real sci-fi twist, it is circling a red dwarf star, so the six planet system fits in the orbit of the Earth round our sun. This could be our first M class planet!

Then there's the Next Generation and the Borg. When the Borg was introduced, flying up in their big box with gadgets hanging all over them I scoffed. What a cheesy special effects job this was. Then, what do you know, "big box" chain stores swept in and started scarfing up all the independent Mom and Pop shops. You could almost hear the sci-fi threat, "Resistance is futile." Then I look at us, with our cell phones, iPods, iPads, iEverythings, laptops, netbooks, cloud computing, and Blue Tooth hands free earpieces that even have a little blue light at the tip, and sure enough, we're busy transforming ourselves into the Borg. The only thing Next Generation got wrong is they forgot to put logos on all those devices hanging from their evil villains. Like the Borg, we also so often walk around absorbed in our electronics that we fail to notice or interact with our fellow Borgians ... Borgites ... Borgsburgers ... whatever when we pass them on the street.

I could rattle on and on, but you get the idea. I'm just glad the first kind of sci-fi that came to mind when I look around us and our techno world is benign sci-fi and not the really dystopian stuff. But if you dig a little deeper ... well, I'll leave that up to you.

As for me, I wish you well in your sci-fi life. Live long and prosper!