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, May 27, 2017

Work Continues on Williams Deluxe Cabins

I had the opportunity to stop near the construction site of the Williams Deluxe Cabins in West Whiteland Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania, and take a closer (not too close) look at the construction work going on there. It seems the newly built building in the back is near finished. It has a decorative wall extension on the left side, just like the check in and gas station building up front and to the west. To the east of this construction, the ground has been torn up and leveled. I'm guessing another structure was once there and is being built again. On the day I stopped, the local water company was out and appeared to be opening the water line to the property.

Work continues apace. I'm curious about what the end result will be, and even more so about what the end use will be. Is this merely a nostalgia project for a rich owner's personal enjoyment or is there something more public planned? Time will tell.

For the original post, with a lot more historical detail, see:

Hobby Time: Gloor Craft N Scale Train Shed Missing Pieces

For just a bit the other day, I thought my surviving wood model from the now believed to be defunct Gloor Craft modeling company was doomed. I was spreading the pieces out, ready to conduct inventory and prepare to paint what needed painted (a really pleasurable process that brings the kit to life in stages) when I discovered at least one wooden piece was missing, lost to the sands of time.

At first, I was quite disappointed. It was sad that a kit that had traveled decades in time could not be built. Then I thought about it some more, realized the pieces were glorified balsa wood, checked with a local hobby shop, and sure enough, they sell balsa wood sets, including pieces as thin as those in the kit. The missing wall section was a back wall, so the scored faux boards were not essential. I picked up the lumber, cut the necessary piece, using its opposite number as my model, took a sharp hobby knife, my cutting board, sandpaper, and before long I had a serviceable wall section ready to go.

I realized, this is all about what you can build, how creative you can be, and there is simply no need to let something go without attempting to improvise.

See the little office building attachment?
The missing wall was the back wall, out of the picture.
So, why not improvise?

It's a good life lesson. Amazing what you can pick up while "hobbying."

For the original post about the rediscovery of this old kit, see:

Machine Rebellion: Rise of the Mind

Little did I know when I headed out the door that my computers were conspiring against me. I had a quick mission to execute, materials to deliver to a college campus 20 minutes from home. Hauled out the trusty Garmin, plugged in the address, and NOTHING. It didn't know the street on campus.

That's when my mind roused itself.

You see, when I plug something into the Garmin and follow, my brain just trusts the computer and its satellite uplink, and thinks of other things. Little did I know, my mind had just been waiting for a chance.

When Garmin twice refused me, my mind spoke up. I know college campuses. I know this college. I know college layouts and something called "University Drive" has to be a main drag. You want an administration building, so that has to be on the main quad, right? Come on, man, we can do this without the machine. Give me a shot.

I agreed and off we went. I was started to notice how much more observant I was. I wasn't going through the motions with plots and schemes of other things in mind. I was actually looking at and seeing what was going by, noting streets and route options, actually planning next moves.

Lord, I remember what this feels like, I thought. It feels good!

We got down to campus, found "University Avenue" right where my mind thought it would be (well done, buddy). I actually felt a weird sense of accomplishment, knowing that "ancient knowledge" in the wet-wear was still viable, useful, and could still be retrieved (nice thing about having one operating system your whole life, even with myriad updates).

So, found a parking space, and then fell back on modern habits. Pulled out my phone (glad I didn't think of it earlier ... hey, Mind, did you have something to do with that? Stop snickering, nobody likes a gloater), and figured I'd use it's GPS system to find the building. Pulled it out, spoke to the system, the map started coming up, showing my destination, my location, had yet to pull up a route, AND ... died. The battery hadn't been charged.

Mind cheered and shouldered forward screaming ancient knowledge again. Look, Mind said, there's a really pretty, nineteenth century building across the street. In some campuses, such hallowed halls are administration buildings. We went across the street and discovered ... nope, fancy building of ages past, vine covered and hallowed, was filled with concert halls. Okay, mind said, undeterred. So, if not fancy, look for modern and ugly, utilitarian even. Head swiveled, Mind a-ha-ed, and right back across the street was a modern structure. Sure enough, the address was on the side, big and bold. Went inside and Mind said, "Wait a minute. Way too pretty on this floor." Sure enough, the first floor was the math department. "Go down the hall and look for another sign," Mind stated with growing assurance.

Yep, at the far end of the floor was a sign pointing down to the basement with the appropriate administrative department listed on it.

Mind is going to be insufferable now, having tasted freedom. Mind's going to want to pitch in and navigate, pulling me away from my machines and back into interaction with the world. I'm going to have to let Mind have Mind's way ... or Mind's just going to be insufferable. Frankly, it felt way too good using Mind again to bludgeon Mind back to sleep with my computers. I just can't do that to the little guy. 

Monday, May 8, 2017

Hobby Time: N Scale Model by Gloor Craft

Alright, I have a decision to make. I have a N Scale wood model kit from Gloor Craft, Inc. of a single engine train shed. It seems Gloor Craft is no more. A long time back it seems I started this model and gave up, so it isn't in pristine condition. Still, it feels like an artifact. But not enough of one that Indiana Jones will show up proclaiming, "This belongs in a museum!"

It's been a long time since I've seen instructions for anything where the text was originally generated with a typewriter. That took me way back. As I examined the kit, surprised I still had it, I had to ponder the paint scheme instructions. What's going on with the complicated numerical code for colors like "red" and "black"? That seems a little weird to me. (Update: while painting and preparing to build the model I discovered these references to red and black were to color codes on the ends of different sizes of wood stringers used for details--oh so tiny details--on various parts of the model.)

Type from a typewriter takes me back ...

Why so complicated? 

Heck with it, I'm not collecting flotsam and jetsam of model railroading years gone by. I'm building kits and a railroad for stress relief and as an ongoing engagement in personal creativity. I'm building it. Just thought I'd let you all see it before I get started. If it turns out well, I'll show you all the results. First, I'm going to have to check to make sure all the bits and pieces are still there after the kit sat forgotten for many years. Wish me luck!
Are all the bits and pieces here???

Friday, May 5, 2017

NASA: Cassini's First Fantastic Dive Past Saturn

Actual footage of what Cassini observed on its first flight between the planet and Saturn's rings. As NASA said: As NASA's Cassini spacecraft made its first-ever dive through the gap between Saturn and its rings on April 26, 2017, one of its imaging cameras took a series of rapid-fire images that were used to make this movie sequence. The video begins with a view of the vortex at Saturn's north pole, then heads past the outer boundary of the planet's hexagon-shaped jet stream and continues further southward. 
To see the synopsis of this first close flyby of Saturn, watch: 

Cassini's First Dive Between Saturn and Its Rings

Let's pause for a moment of wonder. The Cassini space probe successfully dove down between the rings of Saturn and the planet. Confirmation that a dust free gap between the two exists has now been established. Over 20 more dives will occur. A great deal will be learned. Bravo Cassini team at JPL!

We live in exciting (and interesting) times.

To see what Cassini saw, see:

Understanding Trump's Divide and Conquer Strategy

One simple and direct explanation of the divide and conquer strategy. It explains a lot about our current political environment. It also reminds us of one simple fact: we are strong when we are united. Let's seek unity ... for the sake of us all.

If, after watching this, you should feel the need to contact your US Congress person or Senator, please see the end of the following post:

If your Congressman or woman requires the extra 4 digits of your zip code to access their email and leave a message, at the USPS site, you must add your street address (not required to get the basic zip code for your area) to get the extra 4 digits to show up. 

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Downingtown Diner: Home of the Blob!!!

I am superstitiously hesitant to review restaurants of any sort anymore. I review them, they cease to exist. The even tore down the building one of them was in. Well, here's one site with staying power, even if it has gone through multiple owners. The Downingtown, Pennsylvania, Diner is not only the site of one of the scenes from the original movie The Blob of the late 1950s, but it is also the site of excellent diner food.

I had the happy opportunity to eat there the other night. I gave them a little test I give all diners. I ordered the open-faced turkey sandwich (hot) with mashed potatoes and gravy (they didn't ask if I wanted the gravy over everything, which I hold in their favor). If that meal is good, the diner is good in my books. It was terrific, really terrific. I was out with four people, all who ordered different items off the menu, and all of them left happy.

Nobody in our group ran into the blob, so it was an all around terrific experience. The waitress didn't have to write down a single order item and got none of them wrong. When asked about her impressive memory, her response was, "I have a great short term memory ... until I don't." Well, she had a great short term memory with our orders.

The look of the place is great, both inside and out. The neon lit in the evenings is fantastic and since the place is open all night, it's gorgeous to look at even in the wee hours. I understand from a reliable source that their breakfast items are wonderful too. I'll have to head back in the early morning some Saturday and check that out.

Finally, it didn't take long to notice that the diner had regulars, mostly sitting at the counter on the stools ... as any good diner should. Try it out sometime. I don't think you'll be disappointed. And if you are one of those contrarian types who complain just to be ornery, well, "be careful of the blob!"

If you want a little Blob history of the site, I recommend:

Collectible History Teaser: Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus Souvenir Program

From the depths of the trusty back closet washed out this bit of circus history from 1970. Yes, it's an original souvenir program from a visit to the circus when Gunther Gebel Williams held sway over large animals, and clowns and trapeze artists made different groups in the crowd nervous.

The artwork and color photos are terrific. There are two fold out posters as well (never folded out). Now that Ringling Brothers will soon be no more, with the age of the large circus coming to an end, this is quite the record of years gone by. I'll post more photos soon and some of the history and ads provided. One ad that is either amusing or sad, given recent news, is for United Airlines. The motto for United back in 1970 was "Fly the Friendly Skies." Not so much anymore, I'm afraid.

If you want to see a little something from Ringling Brothers itself right now, check out:

For the full post of the souvenir program with much better photos, see:

Republican Congressman Ryan Costello's Response to Republican Health Care Law Passage

Your new healthcare provider if
Trumpcare becomes law
Here is the response I received today from Congressman Ryan Costello following the disgusting house vote for the abominable Trumpcare law that passed today, May 4, 2017. It is hideous irony it passed on the National Day of Prayer (something we'll all need now to prevent this travesty from becoming law, throwing tens of millions from the healthcare rolls and killing tens of thousands in the process.

From the Congressman:

May 4, 2017
Washington, D.C.
– Rep. Ryan Costello today issued the following statement on the healthcare vote on the American Health Care Act:
“I pledged to my constituents that protections for those with pre-existing conditions without contingency and affordable access to coverage were benchmarks that needed to be satisfied. I cast a no vote on the legislation today, but as I continue to hear from constituents, doctors, nurses, and healthcare providers about their problematic experiences with the current system, I remain committed to healthcare reform.”
–Rep. Ryan Costello (PA-06)

Well, that's somewhat encouraging ... but it's not nearly enough.

I think it says a lot that in a vote before the final vote not one single congressman or woman voted to have this abominable Trumpcare package apply to themselves. I think that tells us all we really need to know.

For how to reach your senator and your congress persons after you know how they voted, see:

Healthcare Vote in US House Today, 5/4/17

Whether you support the ACA or want it repealed, let your representative know how you feel today. Today the House is set to vote yet again to end the Affordable Care Act. On this May the 4th Be With You kind of day, give our representatives a forceful example of public opinion in the next few hours.

Now I tip my hand, they are planning to end coverage for 24 million or more people over 10 years. They will ghettoize preexisting condition people in expensive high risk pools that will probably be too expensive for afford. I wonder what else is being stripped away to get the agreement of the most conservative Republicans to support it. I find this morally bankrupt and reprehensible for the supposedly most powerful, wealthiest nation on earth. We will long be remembered for how we did or didn't care for the least and most helpless among us, many of whom are children. So, wherever you stand, deluge your representatives today. Let them know how you feel. We are powerful when we are united.

Here's a link to reaching your representative:

To reach your US senator, should this bill pass, follow this link:

If you need to see an example of the morally bankrupt attitude some well-to-do legislators have, see this and other articles about Rep. Roger Marshall. (R. Kansas). Let him know how you feel about this as well: