It’s Not KISS-immee

I forgot to mention yesterday that my pastor decided to take a vacation in Orlando later this year. He has a time-share and wants to use it to get a few days at the Marriott Vista. Since that is near the theme parks, he asked me if there are any he ought to know about, so I told him about The Holyland Experience.

I also told him the correct way to pronounce the name of the nearest town besides Orlando. It’s Kiss-IM-mee, with the accent on the second syllable. Folks from outside of Florida put the accent on the beginning, so it sounds like “Kiss me.” To further complicate matters, I remember a bridal shop on the east side, between Kissimmee and St. Cloud, named “Kiss Mee Bridal Boutique.”

It’s a similar story with a town here in Kentucky, just west of Lexington. Versailles is pronounced phonetically by the locals, so it comes out “Vrrr-Sails.” I had French in high school, so I’m used to calling it “Vair-Sye,” like the palace of King Louis XIV, but if you pronounce Versailles the French way, Kentuckians will know you’re not from around here.

I have a three-day weekend, because at work our computers are being moved to the new office next Monday. I plan to spend part of the time assembling one or more of the bookcases Leive ordered (I just got the huge CD rack together), but we’re working ten-hour days from Tuesday to Friday to make up for lost time, so it won’t really be a vacation.

All Is Well

No big news to report since my last entry; I’m mainly writing about a lot of little things to let you know I’m alive and well.

Temperature-wise, the weather is about as ideal as it can get around here.  Outdoor temperatures in the upper 60s by day, upper 50s by night, have brought down temperatures inside the house so that they’re just right!  On Wednesday morning I was woken up by a thunderstorm–definitely a strange hour for one, whether you’re in Kentucky or Florida.  It looks like I may have to get back in the habit of unplugging my computer if I’m expecting lightning; in Florida I had to do it almost every day from June to September.

Leive finally had a doctor’s appointment today, the first since moving here.  She had been complaining about pain and numbness in her hands and feet for at least a week, maybe two, so the changes the doctor made to her prescriptions came not a day too soon.  She’ll have to go to a lab soon and get a blood test done, too (I had one three weeks ago).

Lindy surprised us by announcing that when she goes back to college, she’ll probably change her major from psychology to something more affordable, graphic design.  Knowing her talent for art and computers, I think she can do it (that’s how she attracted Adam’s attention, anyway), so I hope she’s right.

Is Our Break From Florida Over?

I’m asking that question because Leive reported seeing an ant in the kitchen this morning. Now I’m wondering if the good news I gave in the past about our new home being free of bugs only applies to the winter months. I did have a small problem with spiders in my second apartment, but the ants weren’t as bad as in Florida, and I never saw the other Sunshine State horror, cockroaches!

The past week has seen a dramatic warming. Outside it got up to 80 degrees, both yesterday and today, so now we only have to wear jackets to keep off the rain. Indoors it is even warmer–84 on the main floor yesterday! Of course we’re both used to that kind of heat, after so many years in Florida, and when we moved in I set the range on the thermostat to 70 and 85, meaning that if it had gotten one degree warmer, the A/C would have kicked in.

If we don’t want to depend on air conditioning, it looks like we can also escape the heat by going downstairs. Over the winter I noticed that the basement is definitely cooler than the rest of the house. Last Thursday I got proof when I bought an indoor thermometer and placed it in the basement: it can be 10, 15, maybe even 20 degrees cooler! Right now, for example, it’s 83 on the main floor and 71 in the basement. Evidently the temperature downstairs depends more on the surrounding earth than on the surrounding air.

Regarding the flowers outside, I found out last night at church that the brilliant yellow shrubs I’m seeing in the neighborhood are called forsythia, and the trees along the streets with white blossoms are pear trees. I guess they’re ornamental pears, since I don’t recall seeing any fruit on them last fall.

I think Leive made her last major furniture purchase yesterday: two sets of tables with chairs. Now she’s saying she doesn’t want to go back to work, because the kids we’re planning on adopting will need her, at least until they all learn English. Well, I should be able to pay for the house and support the two of us, with what I’m making now, but to buy her a car or go to the Philippines, I’ll have to find a way to supplement my income. Stay tuned . . .

Concerning Archbishop Ussher

This week I got an e-mail from a visitor who said he was pleased to find my website, but had to view it through a filter anyway, because I don’t rely on Archbishop James Ussher’s chronology. I’ve had to defend this view before, so after I responded to the letter, I posted a modified version of my reply to the FAQ page. Here it is:

How can you claim to be a young-earth creationist if you don’t accept Archbishop James Ussher’s chronology, which has the world begin in 4004 B.C.?

Whoa! I admit I was surprised to receive questions/comments like this. The criticism from evolutionists was expected because there are so many of them. Twice in 1997 I taught a class in creationism, and began by telling everybody that contrary to what evolutionists may think, I don’t believe the earth is flat. Then I would jokingly say that it’s because I always preferred the Hindu myth which has the world sitting on the back of a giant turtle!

flatearth.gif

On the other hand, it was a bolt out of the blue when I was called a heretic by some folks on the other side, simply because I believe the earth may have been created a millennium or two earlier than 4004 B.C. For the record, I do have the current edition of Ussher’s The Annals of the World; heck, a map that I drew is in it! I’ll give the archbishop credit where it is due: he wrote his history and worked on his chronology with the best sources available in his day, the main one being the library of Dublin. However, we must keep in mind that he lived nearly two centuries before the translation of cuneiform and Egyptian hieroglyphics; the only ancient civilizations well-known to scholars of the seventeenth century were those of the Hebrews, Greeks and Romans. They knew that Egypt had some older artifacts (it takes a lot of sand to cover up the Pyramids and the Sphinx, after all!), but otherwise the Egyptian civilization was a mystery. As for Middle Eastern civilizations like the Hittites, Phoenicians, Babylonians and Assyrians, their cities and artifacts had been lost completely, so many skeptics questioned whether they even existed. The only records that bothered to mention those civilizations were the Bible and the works of Greek authors like Herodotus. Thus, archaeologists have rediscovered a big chunk of mankind’s heritage, with all of their digging. Ussher, for instance, did not know about great rulers like Sargon I, Hammurabi, Akhenaten, Suppiluliumas, or any of the Assyrian kings before 750 B.C.

The problem I have is that Ussher’s work hasn’t kept up with what the archaeologists are finding. For example, he asserted that the ancient Egyptian civilization only came into existence 1,600 years before Alexander, when most historians give both Egypt and Mesopotamia at least a millennium more than that (I count roughly 2,500 years from the Scorpion King to Alexander, on my “low chronology”). To my knowledge, only Donovan Courville, Gunnar Heinsohn, and the Russian author of RevisedHistory.org seriously consider a chronology of the ancient world that’s much shorter than mine, and the figurative “shoehorn” that they use to make ancient history fit into their schemes is brutal, to say the least. Heinsohn, for instance, believes the Sumerians of the third millennium B.C. are the same people as the Chaldeans of the first millennium B.C.

Granted, Egyptian and Mesopotamian authors like Manetho and Berosus padded their chronologies, to make it look like their homelands were more than ten thousand years old. Today’s archaeologists and historians thus have to figure out, by using other evidence, what really happened. But while they have been able to eliminate most of the “ghost years” from the king lists of ancient historians, they can’t compress pre-classical history into the frame demanded by Ussher’s dates and leave it in a form we would recognize. For example, Ussher put Noah’s Flood in 2348 B.C., which most history texts will say was right in the middle of Egypt’s first golden age, the Old Kingdom. Some followers of Ussher go so far as to believe that the Flood came along while the Egyptians were building the Pyramids, and interrupted their work; then after the Flood they came back and picked up right where they left off, leaving no sign that they had even stopped. I find that hard to believe, when I compare the Pyramids with a more recent interrupted structure, the Washington Monument. Construction on the Washington Monument stopped in 1855 because funding for the project ran out, and wasn’t resumed until the 1870s; today you can still see a line, about a third of the way up, where the work had ended for twenty years. A case has been made for the Sphinx being older than the Pyramids, because it shows signs of water erosion, so it may have stood in a time when Egypt was wetter than it is now, but no erosion or any other signs of water damage have appeared on the Pyramids so far. I saw the Great Pyramid up close myself, in 1979, and don’t recall any limestone encrustations, coral, barnacles or shells to suggest that it had once been underwater. Still, I remember a church in Texas claiming that the Great Pyramid had been built by Enoch, and the fact that it’s now empty is proof that Enoch didn’t die, but “walked with God!” Big deal, most Egyptian tombs are empty when found, thanks to grave robbers, and I don’t hear that claimed as evidence for a resurrection of the occupants.

Finally, in later periods where the available documentation gets better, Ussher has so far been proven wrong, too. We are confident enough of our chronology of the Assyrians that for the years up to 911 B.C., we aren’t likely to be more than a year off with any event. For example, Shalmaneser III (859-824 B.C.) left us a picture of the Israelite king Jehu bowing at his feet, one of the oldest representations of a Biblical character anywhere. Unfortunately Ussher’s chronology has Saul, David, Solomon and the monarchs of the divided kingdom living more than a century before the Assyrian records which mention the latter by name.

To sum it all up, Ussher gave us an important milestone in the writing of history. Hardly anybody before him (or after him, for that matter) wrote a complete history, with dates, going all the way back to the time of the Creation. For that reason he’s worth reading, in the same sense that Marco Polo’s travel guide gives us one of the first looks at the Far East through Western eyes. But his work is not a third testament to the Bible, and I don’t think he claimed the same inspiration from God that the Prophets and Apostles had. If evidence comes along in the future that proves him right, I’ll be listening with an open mind; for example, a few years back I suggested 3467 B.C. as the date for the Tower of Babel, but since then have heard compelling evidence to move the date of that catastrophe up a few centuries, to 3182 or even 3113 B.C. That came from some scholars who are trying to build a chronology of Genesis based on years in the Septuagint (Greek Old Testament), rather than the more commonly used Massoretic text. In the meantime, though, I’ll continue to try writing the best possible creationist view of our origins, one that accounts for all the evidence we have on hand, and not try to force it into a worldview that’s obsolete.

Coincidence?

My pastor recently gave me this interesting trivia:

Q. What is the shortest chapter in the Bible?

A. Psalm 117

Q. What is the longest chapter in the Bible?

A. Psalm 119

Q. Which chapter is in the center of the Bible?

A. Psalm 118

Fact: There are 594 chapters before Psalm 118 and 594 after Psalm 118. Add these numbers up and you get 1188.

Q. What is the center verse in the Bible?

A. Psalm 118:8

Q. Does this verse say something significant about God’s perfect will for our lives?

A. Yes! The next time someone says they would like to know God’s perfect will for their lives and that they want to be in the center of His will, just send them to the center of his word!

Psalm 118:8 = It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man.

Now isn’t that odd how this worked out (or was God in the center of it)?

Spring is Here

Happy Nowruz if you’re Iranian, and if you’re Jewish, Chag Sameach, since Passover is just around the corner!

I think I told everyone already that it’s getting greener here. High temperatures have been in the 70s for the past two days, but unlike Florida plants, the local grass and bulbs did not wait until it warmed up to start growing. Now I’m seeing daffodils in quite a few places, including some wild patches of them on the way to work, and a lot of the trees in the neighborhood are putting out flowers before they grow leaves. There’s one in our front yard with big reddish-purple buds, 1-2 inches long. If those aren’t leaf buds, that ought to be a spectacular show when they open up.

Leive is taking an interest in all the bulbs around here (tulips, daffodils, hyacinths) because she couldn’t grow them in Florida; the only thing like that we had was a red amaryllis, and it was hidden by the blue plumbago she planted a few years back. Well, if she wants to try them next year, we’ll know when to plant them, and be ready.

Leive is also starting to miss calamondins, or as she calls them, “kalamansi.” Remember the huge calamondin tree we had in our Florida backyard, which I called a “calamonster?” For the past three months she was content to use limes from the store in her cooking, but now she wants that authentic Philippine ingredient. Yesterday my doctor, who is a Filipina, told us that her mother has had a calamondin tree for twenty years, and only recently has it produced any fruit. Knowing Leive’s green thumb, I’m sure she’ll do better. Online I found a south Georgia plant nursery that specializes in citrus, and they say calamondins are hardy up to USDA Zone 8. Since Kentucky is in Zone 6, we’ll have to keep it indoors part of the year, at least in January and February.

This week marks ten months since I moved to Kentucky. All things considered, life has gotten better for me since I arrived. My income has gone up, I’m in a house much larger and more comfortable than I had in Florida, and according to my doctor and dentist (I had appointments to see both this week), my health has improved. At work it’s now official, I’ll be moving to the new office on Monday, April 2. After all that has happened to us in the past year, I wonder what the spring of 2007 will bring?

The Moon of Gaul?

Mooney-go-round?

I found this picture on Strangecosmos.com, one of my favorite humor sites, with the caption “Strange merry-go-round seating. Is that????”

It looks a lot like the seat is supposed to represent Obelix, one of the characters from the Asterix books. Asterix has been my favorite comic strip over the past thirty years, because it’s a fun way to learn ancient history. Still, I think I could have made the menhir delivery-man look more dignified. Or maybe the seat is for “mooning” any Romans who might want to go for a ride. I heard once that there is an Asterix theme park in France; this picture might come from there.

And here is my favorite Asterix story:

Obelix and Co