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, 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):

Hobby Time: A Doodlebug for 2018

Bachmann Spectrum Doodlebug Coach Maryland & Penn #62 -- N Scale Model Train Passenger Car -- #81468
N Scale Doodlebug by Spectrum as seen in their ad below
from Hobbylinc

Stumbling upon "unique" forms of transportation for your model railroad is both entertaining and educational. The doodlebug was a self-propelled passenger and baggage car, the one in N Scale features a second passenger car. These unusual locos were used on lightly used branch lines where it just didn't pay to run a full train. Doodlebugs were in use from the Depression era into the 1960s, so it just falls into my era. The model in the ad uses Pullman equipment powered by gas electric engines. Amazing what you learn while just following your hobby.

To see the doodlebug under consideration, go to:

For a short doodlebug article, see:

To see an actual doodlebug in action, see:

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Freeman's Mind 2: Episode 1

This news is 8 months behind the times but I don't care. I'm really glad Ross Scott of Accursed Farms is back with a second series of Freeman's Mind. For video game geeks who have played the Half Life games, this is really entertaining. But I don't believe you HAVE to be a video game geek to enjoy the adventures of this narcissistic, egocentric, neurotic, and reluctant adventurer. Take a look and see what you think. He's up to episode 6 of the new series, and I hope it will take as long to complete the second series of Freeman's Mind as it did the first. Check out his Game Dungeon videos as well. The opening reminds me of the old horror show openings from the Friday night shows like Baltimore's Ghost Host. Not a bad way to ring out the old year and in the new. Beats a hangover. 

Wishing Us All a Little Weirdness in 2018

I hope you all find moments that bring you to a stop because they are just plain weird. I hope we all have those little incidents that leave us trying to put some sort of coherent story around something out of place or some experience out of the norm.

I was out with my new phone camera, checking out what it could do, when I was stopped a couple of times in the same day. (It's an iPhone 7 if anyone cares and the camera does a pretty good job, I have to say.) I headed over to a local cemetery where two beautiful trees were in full fall color so I could get shots of them for my wife, who loves those trees. Under one of them was this little hand demanding my attention, symbolizing for me the need to stop and take note. I did, and snapped this shot.

Later, walking down a local hiking trail, minding my own business, I noticed an older woman in the distance nudging something with a walking stick. She and her companion left, and when I got to the place that had held her attention, I found these little girl's shoes, which the woman with the walking stick had neatened up on the path. Instantly, my mind wanted the story behind the shoes, and really wanted that story to be benign. I hope they were kicked off unnoticed by a little girl in a stroller. I want the story to be that simple and that safe. That image sure did bring me to a halt.

So, I hope 2018 will find you puzzling over weirdness right along with me. After all, it beats fretting about politics!

Speaking of weirdness, try this:

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year: A Wish for 2018

Well, it's a little belated for the Merry Christmas wish for 2017, but that's because I was busy living out my own merry Christmas with my family. Merry Christmas to you all, all the same. If there is some other religious holiday you celebrate this time of year, or none at all, I wish you the very best for this holiday season!

So, here's wishing each and every one of you a happy new year with all the love, joy, excitement, family, and friends you could hope for.

My wish for us all for 2018: Here's to standing firm in the face of injustice, speaking out against expressions of hatred, standing with victims of all sorts of crimes, demanding justice from and for all who serve and protect, increasing pressure on public servants to serve the public rather than their financiers, befriending and supporting minority groups under attack at home and abroad, insisting upon better treatment of the only world we have, persisting in resisting the lures of greed, corruption, and all other worldly vices so that we might help make this a better world in the upcoming year. Here's to a year where more of us put aside our busy schedules periodically and help those around us in need, the weak, the poor, the "least of these." Here's to all who have suffered from disasters in 2017, natural and human made. May we stand beside you, grieve with you, and support you in the year ahead.

May it be a busy and fulfilling year.

God bless us, every one!