Gulliver's Travels

This week my class is reading the third book in Gulliver's Travels. This is the one that people most ignore. Kids' shows have the Lilliputians and the Brobdingnagians (little people and the giants) and some even add the horses of Book 4, but most people ignore Book 3.

I think that is interesting because Book 3 has several different cultures in it. Is it because Swift doesn't spend as much time on each that people tend to skip over this section? Is it because Japan is real and the other places seem TOO fantastical? I doubt that. It's an interesting idea.

For those of you who don't know, and care, there is Laputa, a floating island where people care about theoretical mathematics and music. There is the land underneath the floating island where the people only care for theories and are starving to death because of getting rid of the old ways of farming and the new ways not working. There is another island, in the ocean, where people are doing things like writing books with a random word generator. Then there is Japan.

Tomorrow's class will only be a quiz. Which is not good for the students. They'll think it's good, because they can go home, but they should really go do some research. But they won't.

I don't have anything else to lecture on though. We've already gone over:

travelouges and GT

political novels


the history of the novel

the history of satire

a bio of Swift

a discussion of the England of the times, both religiously and politically


the history of the world in general at the time, including Japan's closed doors to Europeans

So, this week is just the quiz. Next week will be the quiz and a required tour of the library.

Then we start on drama.

Time passes

I came up here to review a manual and then decided to write a quick blog entry. According to the calendar, it's been three days since I blogged. It feels like I just blogged last night.

I think my time has shifted into high speed.

Usually, in the past, I have had plenty of time to do things and have done them far ahead. (When I wasn't so sick I couldn't do them at all, which was true for about two years.)

However, this semester I seem to be running just to stay up with what I want/have to do.

I'm teaching and I have two new preparations, which always adds a bit to your time. But it shouldn't be adding this much. At least, I don't think so.

The two classes are Defense of Christianity, which is for jr high kids and keeps me busy finding enough stuff to talk about on a level that they can process, and Comp and Lit. I'm reading along with the students to make sure that I don't forget what's in the stories/books. Plus, it makes it easier to write out the quizzes if I just finished reading it.

The War to come

I am against war in principle. I think that if we can avoid killing people, we should. That does not mean I am against this war.

Saddam Hussein has been ignoring UN rules and laws for the last ten years. Why do we expect him to start obeying them now? He isn't going to.

Here's one pro-war site.

Here's a site giving reasons on both sides .

Did you know that this UN resolution is not the second but the 19th?

Why would a Good God allow Suffering?

That's a question. Tomorrow I am supposed to answer it in 50 minutes in such a way that eleven thirteen year olds can respond, years down the road, if someone asks them the same question.

There are simple answers to the question. But the question itself isn't simple. What makes something Good? What is God? What is suffering?

In my essay writing class we read a paragraph (found at the end of this entry) by an author who says that Christians say that “pain elevates,” meaning pain makes people better. We talked in the class about what Christians actually believe, not what Maugham thinks they believe. We agreed with the apostle Paul that “suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; character, hope.” It's not that pain makes you a better person, it is that you can become a better person through having had the pain. You can also, as Maugham points out, become a worse person.

How do you determine whether something is good? A social constructionist would say we have to agree with it. If a group agrees that it is good, then it is. Relativists would say it depends on what you as an individual think. There are many opinions.

I am a moral absolutist. I think some things are wrong, period. Just because they are wrong. I think they have been wrong as long as humanity has lived and will be wrong no matter how long we continue to live. It doesn't matter if a particular person or culture decides it is okay to murder, it is still wrong to murder. So I think there are clear evil things and clear good things. But how do you tell which is which?

God is good. Therefore, whatever God is, is good. God is loving. God is merciful. God is just. God has high expectations. God… Whatever God does or is or has is by definition good. Even if I can't understand it that way. (The Case for Faith by Lee Stobel holds a longer, more elaborate presentation of this.) If God says it's good, then it is good. If God says it's bad, then it's bad. If God talks about it, it could be bad or good. Some things in the Bible are talked about, but it doesn't say they are good.

What is God? Well, God is good. God is those things I wrote above. God is all powerful. God is all-knowing. God puts limits on himself. I can't understand God, though I can know him. I can have a relationship with God, even though some of the things he wants or does confuses me. (I'm used to that. I'm married.) I am not God. God is not me. God is not inherent in all things, though God does show himself through creation.


William Somerset Maugham

No more stupid apology for pain has ever been devised than that it elevates. It is an explanation due to the necessity of justifying pain from the Christian point of view. Pain is nothing more than the signal given by the nerves that the organism is in circumstances hurtful to it; it would be as reasonable to assert that a danger signal elevates a train. But one would have thought that the ordinary observation of life was enough to show that in the great majority of cases, pain, far from refining, has an effect which is merely brutalizing. An example in point is the case of hospital in-patients: physical pain makes them self-absorbed, selfish, querulous, impatient, unjust and greedy; I could name a score of petty vices that it generates, but not one virtue. Poverty also is pain. I have known well men who suffered from that grinding agony of poverty which befalls persons who have to live among those richer than themselves; it makes them grasping and mean, dishonest and untruthful. It teaches them all sorts of detestable tricks. With moderate means they would have been honourable men, but ground down by poverty they have lost all sense of decency.

Eating A LOT to Lose Weight

I've been doing Physique Transformation for three weeks now. I quit Body for Life after 44 weeks and a total loss of 45 pounds of fat and 27 inches. But the last two weeks of BFL I was losing muscle, not fat. And that wasn't what I wanted.

Physique Transformation's idea is that most of us who are dieting, or have been dieting, have set our metabolism so low that it is almost impossible to lose weight and very simple to gain weight. So, they set your metabolism higher by having you eat more. Every week you are in conditioning, which can be as little as 4 weeks and as long as 12, you eat two hundred more calories a day.

So, week 1 I ate 1700 calories a day. Week 2 I ate 1900 calories a day. Week 3 I am eating 2100 calories a day. I'll be in it for 7 weeks, at which point I will be eating 2900 calories a day.

In the three weeks, I've eaten more and LOST inches and weight. Three or four pounds and 4.5 inches. It is amazing.

You don't lose much in inches if what you are losing is muscle, because muscles are much smaller than fat. Fat is 5X as big as muscle.

In fat burning, which happens at the end of conditioning and always lasts 12 weeks (although you can force more weeks), you drop your calories up and down daily to fool your body into thinking it has plenty of food but still needing to use fat stores. They say 2 lbs a week is expected in fat burning. However, guys tend to lose weight faster than women and fatter people tend to lose weight faster than less fat people, so I am hoping for 1.5 lbs a week.

Of course, in conditioning so far I have lost about 4 pounds. If that continues, I'll lose down to 150 by the time I start fat burning. At 150 I wear a nice loose 10. 18 pounds lower than that, at the end of fatburning, would make me skinnier than I have ever been since I was in 8th grade. (I've been 5'6″ since 6th grade.)

States' Rights

We went to war over the issue of whether or not the states could make different laws than the federal government. Apparently not everyone remembers that.

The federal government says that marijuana is an illegal drug. You would think that would mean it was illegal everywhere in the US, right? Apparently that's only technically correct.

California, which is part of the US, has declared that it is okay to use pot, for medical purposes. They have made a law that it's okay to grow pot, for medical purposes. Recently a pot grower was arrested. He was tried and convicted. But even the more right wing presses mentioned something that none of the jury members knew. He was growing pot for medical purposes in California.

I thought the Civil War determined that the federal government could make a law that individual states could disagree with all they wanted, but they couldn't do anything about it. States' rights are supposed to be subservient to the federal government.

So who the heck has let California get away with this? Why hasn't this been an issue in the press? Is marijuana more important than an issue that thousands of Americans died for? Does the press think that Americans care more about drugs than they care about the government?

looking for a boyfriend?

It's free. (Or so it says. I don't need one, so I didn't keep looking.)

Great Boyfriends is a reputation site for listing your guy friends who might like to get a new girlfriend or are rather shy. Hmm… Could I list folks off blog-city? Better not. It's also a site to look for a boyfriend. I'm not quite sure how you would manage to meet Mr. Perfect after you find him at the site, but…

It's a fun idea.

No comments

I have no comments on my most recent blog entries. But I haven't been cruising blogs and leaving lots of notes myself.

This new diet takes hours out of my day, “peeing and eating. That's all I do.” my husband says. I think that would be true if you added in a bit of time working on the diet on the computer.

I am also teaching new classes this semester. I'm not ready for either tomorrow's apologetics class or Saturday's composition and lit class. So, I am going downstairs to read a novel. That's not going to help me get ready for tomorrow either, is it?

Southerners are poor and stupid?

That's not what the study says. What the study says is that people in general in the US perceive Southerners to be less well off and less well educated than people who aren't from the South.

The person who ran the study is from the South, but doesn't have the accent. She says that because people tend to stereotype you, that she turns it off. She still has it when with extended family, but not general conversations.

I thought the study was interesting. Since I'm from the South and have lived in the North and Midwestern states, my accent tends to be a mish-mash. When I speak with my original accent, it is hard core West Texan, which anyone from NC would decry as an abomination. (I know, I went to junior high there and got days of harassment for my pronunciation of “nice white rice”.)

I found it disconcerting that a Southern accent implied such negative things to people.

liberal media says there is none

People have been slamming the conservative media. But most of my life, there's been a clear difference between liberal and conservative media. And to get to the conservative media, you had to leave the easily accessed channels and go looking. Now, however, all the puff is about how there is too much conservative media. (I think everyone talking about it is probably liberal media. If they weren't, they wouldn't think there was too much.)

Then there is this article which says there is no liberal media. It's published in a liberal publication.

Maybe the liberals just have a different view of what is liberal and what is conservative than I do.

Fun (English) web sites.

I was looking for links for school.

One of them I found, Book a Minute is fun. It has a classics library with the plot line summarized in something that can be read in a minute. Imagine, you can read through it all in an hour or so, all the great classics.

The same host site has a “crazy libs”, like Mad Libs, for lots of books. You fill in the missing information and they give you a section from the book with your additions. It was pretty fun. (English teacher kind of fun, but fun. If you have to practice your grammar, it's much more interesting doing it with CrazyLibs.)

I found other information which is vital for teaching Gulliver's Travels. For instance, the billiards cue was invented just nine years before the publication of GT. Before that, the balls were hit with a small mace.

I spent a lot of time surfing the net for GT related things. And I still didn't get a whole three hours worth of lecture material. For which my students are very grateful.


I was on BFL for ten months before it quit working for me. In that time I lost 40+ pounds and 27 inches.

Now I am in a new program. It's a bit more difficult. You have to enter into the computer every food you eat. It doesn't matter if you have something new to eat every day, but you have to include all of it.

I am tired often now and hungry, even though my calories are higher. I am hoping that will get better as I work through this.

It's a rotational diet. For the first seven weeks my calories go up 200 calories a day each week. This week I'm eating 2129 calories a day. Then I got to fatburning, where every day the calories change with a total range of 600 calories. That lasts 12 weeks.

Working out is not necessary. In fact, cardio in the first session is basically forbidden. I can do my weights, which I've been doing consistently. But you aren't supposed to do cardio till the fatburning section. Then you only do it if you didn't lose two pounds a week.

Even though I am upping my calories, I haven't gained weight so far. I like that. I'd like it better if I were building muscle as fast as my husband is on this thing, but then I'd have to be a guy. (They build muscle easier.) And I don't think I'd like that.


Went to Austin this weekend. That was great. Visited our old church. I enjoyed that. My favorite speaker was on the roster for the day. That was wonderful.

He preached on Colossians chapter one. But what he said was that God is proud of us, thrilled with us, just because he made us. When we do something well or good, he's prouder and happier and more excited than we are. That's a different view of God than I've had. But I llike it.

Saw friends of ours we haven't seen in several years. Our kids have sure grown up fast.


I like blogging. I loved it when I first started. I felt like I could say anything I wanted to. No one knew who I was. It was safe to show all of me.

So I blogged a lot when I first got on. I had a lot to say. I found a lot to say. It probably helped that it was at the end of school that I started, which gave me more free time. Which I used to find interesting things to blog about.

Now that school is up and in full swing, I have much less time. This week I've spent about 40 hours on the net looking for lecture materials for lectures on Gulliver's Travels. I also spent about four hours getting my archaeology and the Bible lesson ready for apologetics.

And since I've changed my diet, I've spent about an hour a day trying to figure out how to make the thing work out right. That's been a challenge. I thought I was getting the hang of it, because I was getting high As. But then they upped my calories again and I'm back down to low As. (This food plan grades you on how well your food matches a very high number of parameters, including calories and ratios.)

I haven't spent as much time on other people's blogs as I used to. Sorry, guys. Life gets in the way. But at least I have a great one to be getting in the way.

Mid-Life Crises

I was reading a blog entry by a teacher who has a friend who has gone wacko since she's turning 40. The friend lost weight, doesn't go home if she can avoid it, flirts seriously with other men. Assuming the blogger was right and it was mid-life crisis, that woman is in for a lot of trouble.

I'm 40 but most of my friends all my life have been older. (Now they are mostly younger.) I've seen mid-life crises all over the place.

R- left his perfect wife (even he thought so), near-perfect kids, beautiful home. He took his car and got an apt and had two girls move in with him. He was about twice their age. He stayed there through a divorce and about another year. And then, you know what? Sleeping with two twenty-something women got less ego-stroking. He got tired of seeing his kids only on weekends. He missed his wife. He wanted to go home. His wife took him back, but he didn't get his old life back. She'd been a stay-at-home mom for her executive husband, but when he took off, she had to go back to work. She didn't quit when he came back. A lot of decisions about the kids and the house had been made without him in the two years he was gone. He got his wife and kids back but everyone had changed.

T- had four kids. She just took off one day, leaving them with her husband. “I'm tired of it,” she told him. No advance warning. Just left. He and the kids eventually recovered. Last I heard she was still enjoying the single life.

D- had a wife and two kids. He decided that being married wasn't “him” so he left and entered whole-heartedly into the gay lifestyle.

M- is nearing 40 and has decided that it was a drag to be a virgin when he got married. He should have found a thousand girls and gotten laid. He'd really like to do this now. But, so far anyway, he's sticking with his commitment to his wife and kids.

Other people handle getting older much better than this.

A- bought himself a sportier car. “Love your car.” was what he heard about ten times a week. It wasn't even an expensive car. Just fun.

S- lost weight and started dressing in a more feminine manner. She's having a ball looking good.

C- went to a bar and hung out there till 3 am. If he'd told someone that's what he was doing, it would have been better. He came home and that was the end of it.

I read an article the other day which was a hoot about getting older. The author hit his crisis when, after a late night and too much alcohol, he couldn't get it up. “I'm old” he decided and nothing his wife could say convinced him otherwise. So he went and did all the crazy things mid-life crisis people do, in a minor way, in order to determine what would work for him. (He got an article out of it for work, too.) One of the things he did included getting a rock band to let him pretend to play guitar with them. He said he loved being out on stage and all the acclaim. Another was taking a younger woman out to dinner. He asked his wife's permission and took a photographer with him, but other than that he did the whole “dating again” routine. He said it was awful. Part of that was probably because his wife was reading the article. But part of it was what we all knew when we were younger and what is doubly true now, it's no fun to be out in the pool, looking for a fish you like who likes you back.

Just thoughts, brought on by a blog entry here at blog-city. I can't remember which one though.

Archaeology and Luke

For years the gospel of Luke was a good one to take potshots at because of its “wrong history” and its “misuse of words.” Within the last century, however, archaeology has vindicated the book of Luke.

People thought Luke was wrong for several reasons. Many of the things he wrote were not supported by archaeological research, even into the 1900s.

In 1910, Sir William Ramsey found a monument that showed that Iconium was a Phrygian city, not a Lycaonian city as previous archaeologists had thought.

An archaeological find, dated between AD 14 and 29, near Damascus confirmed the existence of Lysanias the Tetrarch. Prior to this archaeologists had claimed that Luke was wrong because there was only one Lysanias in any of the information available.

Luke referred to Gallio as a proconsul. But Greek language and Roman civilization scholars insisted that such a man, in such a position, would never have been called a proconsul. However, at the beginning of the last century (20th) an inscription was found which read in part, ?As Lucius Junius Gallio, my friend, and the Proconsul of Achaia??

Luke used the word politarch to refer to the city officials at Thessalonica. However, the word is not found in classical Greek literature. In recent years, however, more than a dozen inscriptions have been unearthed which use that title.

Valentine's Day

Though I've taught the history of Valentine's Day in school, it's not that big a deal to me.

I'm not dating. I was never dating my husband on Valentine's Day. We met in June and married in December.

I get flowers for Mondays or whatever, so I don't have to wait for VDay to get them.

I buy myself chocolates (the closest I can get to Cailler from Switzerland) for Christmas and off-days. My husband has also brought me Ghiradelli chocolates, not for Valentine's Day, but because he had been in San Francisco, where they have a big shop.

It's a great date night at churches, because they tend to do something that weekend. If not your church, then maybe another one nearby. The church I teach my coop at is having a “Chez Dieu” party with a catered meal, magician, and music. The local college is having a casino night, but the tickets are a bit pricey ($70 apiece).

Since we left Austin, TX, though, date nights aren't rare for us. We can find babysitters at least once a month (compared to once a year in Austin) and my folks live not too far away, so they watch the boys once a month, too.

I love getting mushy letters, but my husband is just as likely to write me one on any other day as on Valentine's Day. Or just as unlikely, depending how the year has been.

Back in college I got a flower for Valentine's Day once. I loved it, because it came from the guy I had a huge crush on. I didn't throw it away till I got married. (It was pressed in a book.)

But that's the only really special Valentine's Day I remember.

All that to say that I don't understand the angst I am seeing on some of the blogs about being alone on that day. Although Kuro5hin had a remedy he says started at a friend's college, a Tequila and Porn party with all the single folks around–guys and girls.

Manners on the Net

This is a minor rant. Not directed at anyone at blog-city.

If you receive a private email, it is good manners to respond privately. Not to post it on the net and lambast the person who wrote it. If you must lambast them, do it privately.

If someone posts about you in a blog or posts on your blog, feel free to respond in the comments or on your blog. (Although avoiding too much vulgarity is always good for this Miss Manners.)

I try never to diss anyone in my blogs. If I want to diss them, I'll tell them to their face or in an email. (Well, some politicians excepted.)

I was on a “support board” where the moderator posted a message which had been sent to him privately. Then someone got on and said, “Couldn't we do this in private?” Well, it was in private, till the moderator posted it. Poor manners. It was rude to the person who sent it (not me) and to the people who had to read it (since it wasn't addressed to them). I'm not on that support board anymore.

It's the net. It's available across the whole world. That doesn't mean we should be rude.

Tragedy and Mourning

I was in class today, teaching some really depressing stories by Flannery O'Conner. The first I heard of the shuttle explosion was when I finally got out of class, about 15 minutes late, and called my husband to tell him I was on my way home. He said, “Have you heard?” I thought, “Heard what?” It had to be something bad. I thought maybe our friend Amy's preemie baby hadn't made it, but how would I have heard that. I knew it wasn't anything about the kids or my family. He'd have been up at the school to tell me.

He told me about the explosion. Said my brother had called to make sure we knew, which my hubby did because he gets email updates from the local news channel and he's ALWAYS on line, so he knew.

Flags, which had been taken down, were flying again in our neighborhood. All the flags were at half mast at the businesses. (Although someone should tell Jack-in-the-Box that you're supposed to lower BOTH flags, not just Old Glory.)

The stop and go coffee shop had a statement up on its sign that said, “We are praying for you, Columbia.”

The road signs said “If you find shuttle debris, call the police.” Like I would recognize shuttle debris from trash that the roofers left when they re-did our roof. Unless there were a lot of it. But we weren't in the path of the majority of the stuff.

I was amazed at the rapidity with which people were publicly mourning.

I am dismayed that this is what our generation has had to learn, how to mourn in public. Other generations learned it other ways. (WWII was different color stars in the windows for loved ones gone or dead. Victorians wore black.)

Though I am sad that we now know how to show our mourning and dismayed by the shuttle explosion, I feel comforted by the signs of national mourning. I know that I am not alone in my pain and sorrow.

Visitors on a blog

It is always fun to see that someone has posted to your site.

I got on tonight to do my entry. I was thrilled, though, to see other people had visited and posted.

I like reading other people's blog entries.

I prefer the ones that I can read easily (color and type size can make a big difference). I also prefer the ones that aren't filled with profanity.

I've found, much to my surprise, that I actually enjoy the ones which aren't about anything particular. I feel almost like I got an email from a friend. You know the kind, “Not doing much. Just thought I'd drop you a line.” I used to get letters like that. But people send email mostly. Except my grandmother-in-law.

I also enjoy the ones that are about very specific things: being afraid of skeeks (?), liking a guy, asking a girl out, getting married, fixing up a house, being sick.

I'm not a computer person, so a lot of the java/programmer ones I skip.

I've never been a big “presence on the net” even though my hubby and I have a website we operate. (He has two others which are work-related.) But I feel like blog-city is kind of a virtual community. I like that.