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, February 21, 2018

If Politicians Won't Take Action, These High Schoolers Will

Stephen Colbert gets serious in the wake of the Parkland, Florida, school massacre. He's right. Rarely have I been so disgusted, watching adults abuse these teen victims of a mass murderer. Questioning their motives, calling them actors, assuming they cannot think for themselves is revolting. I'm glad politicians offing the empty headed "thoughts and prayers" (by the way, it isn't true prayer unless it leads to direct action so stop saying it NRA purchased pols) are being exposed for how much NRA blood money they have received. I wish the students from Parkland who have arrived in Tallahassee all the best as they face these purchased NRA mouthpieces in politics. They deserve far better than to have an assault weapons ban HEARING rejected by Florida's pols as the students were on the road. This level of disrespect is disgusting. It is also the knee jerk reaction of pols who have been in office far too long.

Thanks for the clarity Stephen. Stay strong, students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.  

People across the nation stand with you.

PA Senator Bob Casey's Response: US Border Wall

Read it for yourselves: 

Thank you for taking the time to contact me about the construction of a southern border wall.  I appreciate hearing from you about this issue.

On January 25, 2017, President Trump signed Executive Orders directing the construction of a wall on our Nation’s southern border, reordering immigration enforcement priorities and requiring local law enforcement to carry out federal immigration duties. While the Senate has not received an official funding request, it is estimated that construction of the wall could cost anywhere from $12 to $15 billion. In addition to construction of a wall, the orders also put in place burdensome requirements on local police that could divert resources away from tracking down violent criminals by mandating that local police carry out immigration enforcement duties that have long been the responsibility of the federal government.  

President Trump’s actions could have grave potential effects on Pennsylvania communities. The President’s proposed actions could also turn our local police forces into a de facto immigration force, taking community cops off their local beats and robbing them of the ability to target their resources and efforts on stopping violent criminals and addressing local problems. And, because his directives also threaten to withhold federal funding from cities and communities which do not agree to federal requests to jail individuals due to immigration status, they could also potentially strip needed resources from communities across the country, crippling funding for schools, depleting resources for domestic violence shelters and halting economic development projects. 

I support taking significant steps to secure our border. Several years ago, I joined 67 of my colleagues in voting to pass the bipartisan Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act (S. 744).  This legislation doubled the number of border patrol agents to 38,400, built 700 miles of fencing along the border and substantially increased funding for border security. It would have done so while also taking other steps to fix our broken immigration system in a comprehensive manner. Comprehensive immigration reform can not only secure our borders and provide for a tough, but fair pathway to earned citizenship for hardworking immigrants, it can do so in a way that creates jobs, fosters innovation and increases tax revenue. Accordingly, I support taking an accountable, common-sense approach to immigration reform that creates a long-term solution and fixes our immigration problem once and for all. Such an approach should prioritize a secure border, continue enforcement of immigration laws, protect the wages of existing authorized workers, assure that all immigrants pay their taxes, require employers to verify that their employees are authorized to work in the United States, help unite families and offer a practical solution to the 11 million undocumented immigrants currently present in the United States, especially children.

The President’s Executive Order does not accomplish these things. Rather, it ignores the need for comprehensive reform of our immigration system while proposing to not only spend billions, but also to drain vital resources from our local communities. We can do better. The American economy – our families, businesses and workers – depend upon it.

On July 27, 2017, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 3219, the Make America Secure Appropriations Act, which is a $789 billion defense spending package for Fiscal Year 2018 that includes $1.6 billion in funding for the construction of a wall along the southern border of the U.S. The Senate is currently considering this appropriations legislation; please be assured that I will keep your views in mind should this legislation move forward.

Again, thank you for sharing your thoughts with me. Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future about this or any other matter of importance to you.

For more information on this or other issues, I encourage you to visit my website, .  I hope you will find this online office a comprehensive resource to stay up-to-date on my work in Washington, request assistance from my office, or share with me your thoughts on the issues that matter most to you and to Pennsylvania.

Bob Casey
United States Senator

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Geez Pollsters, Be Nice!

I had an "unusual" phone call yesterday. A pollster called and, I can't remember if she identified the organization she worked for, surprised me with her "one survey question." It wasn't the one question that surprised me. It was her careful instructions. She explained that the only answer she wanted was "agree," "disagree," or "I don't know." Please don't make any other statements. I agreed, a little perplexed ... until I heard the question. It was, "Do you think Donald Trump is doing a good job?" Well, I gave my answer. There was no thanks; there was no response at all ... except dead air. As soon as I'd given my answer, my pollster simply hung up on me. How rude after petitioning me so clearly not to be. Apparently politeness is not a two way street for Trump pollsters. I'm guessing my response, which I'm sure you can guess by now, was not recorded.

Well, I've learned a valuable lesson. From now on I refuse to answer any polls until I know clearly and to my complete satisfaction who is conducting the poll and for whom. So, pollsters, watch out. I'm prepared now. Follow your own civil instructions, please. 

Hobby Time: My Brand New N Scale Doodlebug

I'm really pleased to report that the track on my N Scale layout is complete. I also received, on the same day, my brand new N Scale Bachmann Spectrum N Scale Doodlebug (green, inner track). The doodlebug was a motorized, inexpensive passenger car that could also carry some freight. It worked in small communities beginning in the Depression era and continuing on into the 1960s. I spoke with a 94 year old man who once rode the rails keeping the mail safe on the rails and asked him if he'd ever ridden on a doodlebug. He had not, but he said they were old equipment when he was working. He also said the Maryland and Pennsylvania RR was referred to as the "Ma and Pa" RR. I like that. These gas powered wonders have a look that resonates with me the way the old Ford Trimotor aircraft does. When I saw it, I knew I had to have it. It is amazing the things you discover when you start hobby work.

I have to say, completing basic wiring (including soldering) and having both tracks work as intended was more of a thrill than it should have been. It is a really basic layout on a door as modeling is really my interest. Still, getting the rails working right could in time lead to more complex extensions. We shall see.

If you want to know more about the doodlebugs, see:

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Most Unusual or "Unique" Christmas Ornament?

Driving question ...
I have a "driving" question for you all. What is the most unusual or "unique" (i.e. polite for weird) Christmas ornament that appears on your tree. Is it something handmade by a child?

Or is it like ours ... a memento from another states?

This is our winner, an ornament
commemorating a grain elevator
in Cherry Grove, Indiana.
Can you top that???

Christmas 2017 in Ornaments

It is time to say goodbye to Christmas 2017. I like to do that with a select offering of the ornaments from the Christmas tree. This year I enjoyed the juxtaposition of "new" ornaments with much older decorations. Last Christmas our daughter gave us two additional sets of bubble lights, the remakes of the old lights of years gone by, which added a great deal of brightness and motion to the tree.

We have a number of Hallmark ornaments (my wife indulges my geekier urges in that regard) picked up at half price as the season ends. Placing them next to the old Shiny Bright ornaments from the 1940s and 1950s amuses me. So, without further ado, the Christmas ornament review.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Camero Captured

One thing I really enjoy about having a cell phone is capturing things that catch my eye. Especially when it is things from the past you just don't see that often. This Camero is among them. I'll have to do some research to find out the year, but I've long appreciated the Chevy Camero. I prefer the 1960s and 1970s models, but hey ...

After sharing these on Facebook, a friend tells me this model Camero was first introduced in 1982. It's great to have friends with expertise! 

Life Post 11/9: Our Racist in Chief

I know my political posts here are not all that popular. Let me say this, after this blog virtually crashed, I don't much care anymore. I'm going to speak my mind. I know people from Haiti and from various African nations. They are fine people who were well raised in their home countries. They deserve far better than an American president who calls those nations "shithole countries." That is obscene. That level of racism has no place in the White House. Mr. Trump doesn't represent "all" Americans.

I was disgusted this morning when a Trump sycophant senator from the Heritage Foundation tried to write this off as Mr. Trump being merely not "politically correct." No, this is blatant hatred, unvarnished racism. It is unacceptable.

Let Mr. Trump know how you feel. Write him at Use this link as you won't find it on the White House website, an act of cowardice in my estimation

Let your Congress person know how you feel:

Let your US Senator know as well:

I will be doing so after I finish this post. Also demand a response from the senators who were present when this disgusting exhibition of hate took place.

Do not let "silence give consent." It was true in Plato's day and is still true today. 

Friday, January 5, 2018

Life Post 11/9: Freedom Shrinks

Freedom is defined in the following ways:
1. the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint.
2. absence of subjection to foreign domination or despotic government.
3. the state of not being imprisoned or enslaved.

Freedom as defined is shrinking under the D.J.T. administration. In reaction to the new tell all book about Trump's first year Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House by Michael Wolff, an infuriated Trump threatens a lawsuit to prevent publication, bringing the publication date forward to today in response. So much for Trump's belief in freedom of speech for those who disagree with him. 

In knee-jerk reaction to that publication, Trump has decreed that no one coming to the White House will have access to their personal cell phone. That sounds like subjection to a despotic government, wouldn't you say?

Trump declares he can do whatever he wants with "his" justice department. That flies in the face of law that keeps Justice and the FBI independent of political influence, but Trump doesn't know or care about that. See: for more, unless you consider all media outlets outside Fox News to be "fake news." If that's the case, I respect your freedom to choose but have to ask, why are you here????

Speaking of Justice, Attorney General Jeff Sessions rolls back the Obama era law stating that the federal government should not interfere with state decisions concerning marijuana. Good ol' Jefferson Beauregard wants the Feds deep in state government, harassing growers and users. No surprise there as Sessions is deeply invested in the for profit prison system. You don't make money in the for profit lock up if you have empty cells. 

Trump is removing our freedom to live with unblemished natural landscapes and healthy environments. He has decreed (whether anyone outside the oil industry likes it or not) that all US coastlines are open for drilling (what could go wrong with that?). Our fearless leader also refuses to believe in global warming. After all, we're having a cold snap in the East so how can there be warming? He's mindlessly rolling back national parks, which are supposed to belong to all of us.

Our most uncivil servant is also threatening our freedom to LIVE as he threatens North Korea with nuclear war in tweet form. And that's just a few of the Trump hits to freedom, without covering immigration and so much more.

Well, that's enough. I will now exercise my freedom to walk away and do something else, something to help others, something to promote freedom rather than destroy it. 

May we all work to empower freedom today, despite the example of US leadership. 

Monday, January 1, 2018

PRR Doodlebug 4666: The Real Thing in Action

Here's an up close and personal look at an actual Doodlebug that has survived the decades and the turn from one millennia to the next. Interior and exterior shots, still and in motion. Enjoy, rail fans!

My doodlebug ambitions in model railroading for 2018 (and a little history):