My View On Göbekli Tepe

Over the past few months I have read several articles on Göbekli Tepe, an amazing find in southeastern Turkey, like this one:

Gobekli Tepe — Paradise Regained?

A Stonehenge-like site in as good condition as this is definitely interesting, but because it’s also very, very old, I’m starting to hear some wild stuff about it being a temple dedicated to Eden, so I feel I ought to comment on it, before things get out of hand.  I have just added a footnote about it to one of my history papers, Chapter 10 of The Genesis Chronicles.  Quote:

Göbekli Tepe, a megalithic monument in southeast Turkey, near ancient Harran and modern Urfa, has recently generated considerable excitement. It has several rings of large stones that remind visitors of Stonehenge, except that they are T-shaped; several of them also have fine relief sculptures of animals. What’s exciting is that the German archaeologists who excavated the site called it the world’s oldest temple. I’m not sure how one dates a carved stone, but they estimated Göbekli Tepe’s age at 11,500 years, give or take a millennium. Some folks have even speculated that ancient man built this temple to mark the site of the Garden of Eden. My response is that Mt. Ararat is about 350 miles away, and the Turkish candidates for Mt. Judi are even closer, but all the locations suggested for the Garden in Chapter 8 are farther away than that. Perhaps this is really an ancient temple to Noah and the Ark?

Earth Hour? I Missed It

Well, I did hear about it coming, but I didn’t know it was already past until yesterday.  Evidently the purpose of Earth Hour is to demonstrate what life would be like under North Korean-style communism, as this poster from last year explains:

earthhour_northkorea

It sounds much like the holiday of Sukkot, where Jews spend part of the day in makeshift shelters, to remind themselves of the forty years they spent in the wilderness, living in tents.  Along that line, the church I used to attend in Florida once proposed that for the Sukkot celebrations of the Millennium (Zechariah 14:16), after God resurrects us, He will put us back in our old, mortal bodies for at least a day every year, to remind us of where we came from.

I have also heard that Earth Hour has something to so with saving the earth, so if you cut the electricity, don’t light a candle; I hear that candles can produce up to ten times as much CO2 as an incandescent light bulb, over the same amount of time.  Hmmm, for the past two years I’ve been replacing light bulbs around the house with compact fluorescents, as the old bulbs burn out; does that give me credit for anything?

Anyway, the point is that whenever Earth Hour was, I missed it.  All I have heard is that it was between 8:30 and 9:30 PM, sometime during the past weekend, but I don’t know what time zone was meant, or what day, because nobody turned off the lights in the places where I was.  I also understand that the power companies in New York and California didn’t report any drop in electricity use; it was a normal weekend for them.  Will somebody tell me how the environmentalists can call Earth Hour a success?

Dumb Questions Asked of Park Rangers

I guess dumb questions are inevitable, if you’re somehow involved with the people-pleasing business.  I saw this list yesterday, and immediately thought of my brother, because he works in a park near the Everglades.  Quote:

Questions Asked of Park Rangers

These questions were actually asked of various park rangers across the continent.

Everglades National Park:

•         “Are the alligators real?”

•         “Are the baby alligators for sale?”

•         “Where are the rides?”

•         “What time does the two o’clock bus leave?”

Grand Canyon National Park:

•         “Was this man-made?”

•         “Do you light it up at night?”

•         “I bought tickets for the elevator to the bottom — where is it?”

•         “Is the mule train air conditioned?”

•         “So where are the faces of the presidents?”

•         “So is that Canada over there?”

Denali National Park:

•         “What time to you feed the bears?”

•         “What’s so wonderful about Wonder Lake?”

•         “Can you show me where the Yeti lives?”

•         “How often do you mow the tundra?”

Mesa Verde National Park:

•         “Did people build this, or did Indians?”

•         “Why did they build the ruins so close to the road?”

•         “Do you know of any undiscovered ruins?”

•         “Why did the Indians decide to live in Colorado?”

Yellowstone National Park:

•         “Does Old Faithful erupt at night?”

•         “Do you put the animals away at night?”

•         “How do you turn it on?”

•         “When does the guy who turns it on get to sleep?”

Carlsbad Caverns National Park:

•         “How much of the cave is underground?”

•         “So what’s in the unexplored part of the cave?”

•         “Does it ever rain in here?”

•         “So what is this —just a hole in the ground?”

Yosemite National Park:

•         “Where are the cages for the animals?”

•         “What time of year do you turn on Yosemite Falls?”

•         “What happened to the other half of Half Dome?”

•         “Can I get a picture taken with the carving of President Clinton?”

Banff National Park:

•         “Is that food coloring in the lakes?”

•         “When did you build the glaciers?”

•         “How much for a moose?”

•         “Where are the igloos?”

•         “How do the elk know they’re supposed to cross at the Elk Crossing signs?”

•         “At what elevation does an elk become a moose?”

•         “Are the bears with collars tame?”

•         “Is there anywhere I can see the bears pose?”

•         “Is it ok to keep an open bag of bacon on the picnic table, or should I store it in my tent?”

•         “Where can I find Alpine Flamingos?”

•         “Where does Alberta end and Canada begin?”

•         “How far is Banff from Canada?”

•         “What’s the best way to see Canada in a day?”

•         “When we enter British Columbia, do we have to convert our money to British pounds?”

•         “Where can I buy a raccoon hat? All Canadians own one, don’t they?”

•         “Are there phones in Banff?”

•         “So it’s eight kilometers away. Is that in miles?”

•         “We’re on the decibel system, you know.”

•         “Is that two kilometers by foot or by car?”

Glacier National Park:

•         “When do the deer become elk?”

•         “When do the glaciers go by?”

Sutter’s Fort State Historic Park, Sacramento

•         “Where are the tracks the wagon trains ran on?”

•         “Where do you cook?” / “We cook over the fire here.” / “Don’t your pans melt?’

Unquote:  I answered the last question regarding Mesa Verde in Chapter 2 of my history book.  The Indians settled Colorado because it had a river running through a desert, making it the best place in the present-day United States to start a civilization.

Death of a Champion

You probably won’t be surprised if I tell you that a lot of streets in this part of Lexington, KY are named after racing horses.  Especially around the nearest shopping center, Hamburg Village, because a hundred years ago there was a racetrack on the site.  One of those streets is Alysheba Way, next to the Meijer store.  Now I have just heard that the original Alysheba, the 1987 Kentucky Derby and Preakness champion, has died.  He had been living at the Kentucky Horse Park since last October, and suffered so badly after a nasty fall on Friday that he had to be euthanized, and was subsequently buried at the park.

At least he got to see his homeland one more time; before he went to the Kentucky Horse Park, he had spent the previous eight years in Saudi Arabia, in King Abdullah’s stables.  Judging by his reaction when he stepped off the plane, he definitely liked green hills better than sand dunes.

Rest in peace, champ.  I for one will remember you, every time I see the road sign with your name.

1987 Kentucky Derby winner Alysheba euthanized

My First Oklahoma Page Is Up

Late last night, I completed a page of pictures and accompanying text, about the trip Leive and I took to Oklahoma, March 18-23.  Called “The 2009 Prepaid Legal Convention,” it tells what we did at that event.  Just click on the link below, or the one at the top of this page.

The 2009 Prepaid Legal Convention

Next I plan to do another page, featuring the rest of the pictures from Oklahoma City.  Expect to see it in a day or so.

A New Coach

I spoke too soon when I said that Lexington is done with basketball for now.  You probably know how with the typical southern college, the best-known faculty member is the coach.  Here the men’s basketball coach is not only the best-known faculty member, he’s the best-known person in the city!  That was certainly the case with Tubby Smith, Billy Gillispie’s predecessor; even I recognized him on sight, and I’m more interested in politics than in sports.  Just about everyone in town can name the coach, but how many can name the mayor?

Anyway, for most of yesterday the rumor was turning about whether Billy Gillispie would stay or be fired, after a lackluster basketball season.  Evidently two years wasn’t enough time for him to learn the job, because at 4:30 the University of Kentucky held a press conference to announce he was leaving.  Now the speculation is about who will take his place.  Here’s the story from the local paper on why he didn’t work out:

Gillispie Out as Kentucky Coach

In other news, early this month I mentioned that our church is having an international festival on May 2, to raise money for missionaries, and this is largely Leive’s doing.  Now it turns out that one of the big Baptist churches in town has been doing it for 35 years, and they held their latest festival, “Friendship International,” last Thursday.  I am reposting the pictures which ran in the local paper, to show the competition we’re up against.

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The caption for this picture is, “Lia Bachtiar, from Indonesia, holding her 20-month-old son, Ilman, sampled Japanese foods at Yuka Yata’s table.”  At a minimum, Leive plans to represent the Philippines the same way, with a table of special recipes.  Maybe I’ll bring a CD player and some CDs of Filipino music.  No dancing, though, because Leive expects to work alone, and “it takes three to Tinikling.”
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Speaking of dancing, they had a belly dancing demonstration, too.  However, I believe the newspaper was wrong when it said the dancer was from Taiwan; I’ve seen Lebanese girls who look a lot like that.

Friends from far and near

Come back in five weeks and I’ll tell you how our festival went.

Happy Akitu!

Today is the first day of the month of Nisan, on the Jewish calendar.  As far as we know, the Jews have always had a twelve-month calendar, but the original Hebrew names for the months have not been preserved, in the Old Testament or anywhere else.  The names used now are Babylonian in origin; the Jewish calendar of today is exactly the same as the ancient Babylonian calendar, which they adopted during the captivity.  That is why the month which falls in July has the pagan name of Tammuz, after a Sumerian king who became a fertility god (Ezekiel 8:14).

Originally a new year began around the same time that spring began.  This is no surprise, since the Iranians still celebrate Nowruz, their New Year festival, on March 21.  Thus, the month of Nisan (March-April for us) was the first month of the year.  This marked the beginning of Akitu, the twelve-day New Year festival which was the most important time of the year for the Babylonians.  However, when the Jews returned to Jerusalem, the beginning of the year was moved six months, to Tishri (September-October), for reasons which escape me.  Thus, if you’re Jewish, the next year is still six months away.

For us, the beginning of Nisan means that Passover will arrive in less than two weeks.  While you don’t have to clear the hometz (leaven) out of the house just yet, you probably shouldn’t buy any, the next time you go grocery shopping.

Shalom.

NBA = No Basketball Anymore

Yesterday, for this post-season, the University of Kentucky Wildcats came to the end of the line.  In the NIT quarter-finals, Notre Dame beat UK, 77-67.  No more basketball for central Kentucky for the next seven months, except for University of Louisville fans.  Now maybe some folks will concentrate on the real “March Madness,” the out-of-control spending in Washington, D.C.  It’s starting to look like when all is said and done, the current president and Congress will have spent more money than all their predecessors put together.

Speaking of spending like money’s going out of style, yesterday I heard this speech by Daniel Hannan, a member of the British Parliament who claims that both his country and his prime minister (Gordon Brown) have been “devalued.”  What a guy; why don’t we have anybody like that in our own government?  Here’s the speech, in case you missed it:

I mentioned yesterday that I’m on call for jury duty during the month of April.  This morning I went down to the courthouse for the orientation session.  More than 700 potential jurors showed up, so I think the odds that I will actually be picked to serve on a jury aren’t much better than than the odds of winning the lottery.  They gave us the rules, selected fifteen to serve on a grand jury, and told the rest of us to call the courthouse each evening to find out if we have to come back.  It was all over in an hour and a half, and then came the worst part of the day — getting out of the courthouse.  They have a seven-story parking garage, and with most of the spots filled when I arrived, I had to park on the top.  Because of the crowd of jurors in front of me, it took half an hour to drive down to the ground level, pay my fee and get out.  Consequently the traffic slowed me down to the point that it was already noon when I reached home, so I decided it wasn’t worth it to go into work for half a day.

Today I also got a letter from the Department of Homeland Security.  The other day they sent a letter approving our application to adopt Leive’s orphaned relatives in the Philippines.  Now they want me to go to their office in Cincinnati on April 7 for fingerprinting.  Leive wasn’t mentioned in the letter, but she’ll go with me, just in case.  So far, so good, on the mission which brought us to Kentucky.

Tomorrow Will Be Different

While I was in Oklahoma City last week, I noticed some flowering trees.  Nice, but not as big a flower show as we get back here in Lexington.  I commented that the flowering season in Lexington was still a week or two away, and concluded that Oklahoma is in USDA climate zone 8, like southern Georgia.  Well, would you believe the flowers were already out when Leive and I got back?  The Bradford pears in our neighborhood had opened their blossoms, and the other trees and shrubs weren’t far behind.  In 2006-2008 this happened around the beginning of April, so they’re early this year.  My guess is that after the kind of winter we’ve had, especially with the January ice storm, even Mother Nature is in a hurry to get to spring.

In February I got a jury duty summons, so tomorrow, instead of going to work, I’ll be headed downtown for jury orientation.  Then for the next five weeks I’m supposed to call the courthouse daily, to find out if I have to go on a jury.  I did this four times during my years in Florida, and never was called to actually serve; usually I just sat in a waiting room for a day or two.  Chances are it will be the same here; I understand my pastor’s wife went in earlier this week, and she’s done already.  And then what I’m doing for a living is likely to disqualify me; if my job with the military isn’t a turnoff for the lawyers, my new involvement with Prepaid Legal will be.  Oh well, it will let me catch up on my reading, and maybe tomorrow I’ll have more time to put up the pictures I promised from the Oklahoma trip.

Oklahoma!

Oklahoma Flag

Oklahoma Flag

Okay, Leive and I got back in town at 9 AM this morning.  On March 18 we rode to Indianapolis with our friends, Terry & Heather Cherry, and caught a chartered bus to Oklahoma City.  We arrived there Thursday morning, after a 14-hour ride through Indiana, Illinois and Missouri.  I don’t have much to say about the trip, except that it was so uncomfortable, we want to find another way to get there next time.  Fortunately the drivers and the other passengers were a nice bunch.  Because it got dark around the time we left Indianapolis, we didn’t see much on the way; if it wasn’t for the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, we could have been in any place with rolling hills.  Likewise, I understand we drove through Ozark country in southwest Missouri, but it was too dark to see if any mountains were nearby.  At Rolla, MO, a new driver replaced the original one, and he stayed with us until we got back to that spot on the return trip.  The return trip worked much the same way, riding the bus back to Indy and taking the car rest of the way.

I did get a good look at Oklahoma, though.  A lot of rolling hills covered with scrub in the east; I guess you have to go farther west to see the parts of the Great Plains that are supposed to be table-flat.  It also looked mighty poor, presumably because much of the land we passed through belonged to Indian reservations.  The people are all quite nice, too.  Apparently there has been a severe drought recently, because I saw signs warning of smoke and fire hazards, and the grass was greyish-brown in many places.  However, it rained for nearly all of Wednesday and Thursday, and even a little bit after that; did we bring the wet weather with us?

Leive and I went to attend the 2009 International Convention for Prepaid Legal Services.  On Thursday we visited the company headquarters at ADA, OK, and yesterday we traveled around Oklahoma City to see the sites, including the memorial to the 168 folks killed in the 1995 bombing of the Murrah Building.  I’ll post the pictures I took over the next few days, as I organize them and my thoughts, so stay tuned!