A Home in Nazareth

Discovery.com has the archaeological news of a house from Nazareth from the era when Jesus was born.

The dwelling and older discoveries of nearby tombs in burial caves suggest that Nazareth was an out-of-the-way hamlet of around 50 houses on a patch of about four acres (1.6 hectares). It was evidently populated by Jews of modest means who kept camouflaged grottos to hide from Roman invaders, said archaeologist Yardena Alexandre, excavations director at the Israel Antiquities Authority

The house, to date, is 900 sq ft, a pretty small home by American standards, even for a small family of four.

“According to the National Association of Home Builders, the average home size in the United States was 2,330 square feet in 2004, up from 1,400 square feet in 1970.” from Info Please.

My friends in Austin have a home from the 50s and theirs is typical for that era and area and is about 1200 sq ft. Another set of friends have a home there from the 40s and theirs was about 1400 sq ft. Our home in Abilene from the 40s was also about 1400 sq ft.

According to these sites the average was about 1100 to 1200 square feet in the 1950’s.

I know the three houses my family lived in the the 1950’s ranged from about 900 square feet to about 1400 square feet.
Outside the Beltway

Article on house size matters

from Yahoo! Answers

A New Favorite Picture

The-Inundation-of-The-Biesbosch-in-1421 cat on the cradleLawrence Alma-Tadema painted this in the 1800s, after a true story from 1421 when a flood carried off a cat and a cradle. The cat jumped from side to side on the cradle to keep it upright.

I found the picture on Happy Catholic, who references the next site, Victorian Paintings, which said: “Depecting an incident from the great flood of the Zuyder Zee in 1421 where a cradle and a cat were swept away but the cat kept it upright by jumping from side to side.”

However, when I looked up “inundation of Biesboch” I found that Louis Bonaparte, King of Holland, wrote a fictional story about the inundation of Biesboch in 1815. Now apparently there were 16 villages in the Netherlands which were destroyed by a flood in 1421. Perhaps that is what the king was writing about.

Also, this article says that the flood was real and there was a cat and a cradle together in that flood, but the story of the cat jumping from side to side came from a 1589 newspaper story about that year’s flooding of the Hohenloe.

Since the picture was painted in 1856, it is quite likely that the two stories had been conflated through time. Or, perhaps, the cat jumped in both, but in the first we only have a picture and in the second we have the word witness.

Everett Millais’ “A Flood” was also about the same story. He and Alma-Tadema were friends.

French View of American Soldiers

Subject: French view of US Military by Jean-Marc Liotier

The original French article is available, but this is part of the translation I found at Blackfive:

And that is a first shock to our preconceptions: the American soldier is no individualist. The team, the group, the combat team are the focus of all his attention. And they are impressive warriors! We have not come across bad ones, as strange at it may seem to you when you know how critical French people can be. Even if some of them are a bit on the heavy side, all of them provide us everyday with lessons in infantry know-how. Beyond the wearing of a combat kit that never seem to discomfort them (helmet strap, helmet, combat goggles, rifles etc.) the long hours of watch at the outpost never seem to annoy them in the slightest. On the one square meter wooden tower above the perimeter wall they stand the five consecutive hours in full battle rattle and night vision goggles on top, their sight unmoving in the directions of likely danger. No distractions, no pauses, they are like statues nights and days. At night, all movements are performed in the dark – only a handful of subdued red lights indicate the occasional presence of a soldier on the move. Same with the vehicles whose lights are covered – everything happens in pitch dark even filling the fuel tanks with the Japy pump.

This is the main area where I’d like to comment. Anyone with a passing knowledge of Kipling knows the lines from Chant Pagan: ‘If your officer’s dead and the sergeants look white/remember it’s ruin to run from a fight./So take open order, lie down, sit tight/And wait for supports like a soldier./ This, in fact, is the basic philosophy of both British and Continental soldiers. ‘In the absence of orders, take a defensive position.’ Indeed, virtually every army in the world.

The American soldier and Marine, however, are imbued from early in their training with the ethos: In the Absence of Orders: Attack! Where other forces, for good or ill, will wait for precise orders and plans to respond to an attack or any other ‘incident’, the American force will simply go, counting on firepower and SOP to carry the day. This is one of the great strengths of the American force in combat and it is something that even our closest allies, such as the Brits and Aussies (that latter being closer by the way) find repeatedly surprising. No wonder it surprises the hell out of our enemies.


I checked my work email today because I was expecting an email with extra work (and money for that). What I got instead was an email which I thought was barely civil (though that could have been a misreading), asking me for something which I turned in a month ago to the person to whom it was supposed to go. The new interim chair, who is not an interim chair till Jan. 1, asked me for the information which I sent to the last acting chair.

I am less and less impressed with the school.

Really, do I need to keep teaching when the ten year old bullies run the playground?

I think maybe I don’t. But burning bridges behind me… means it’s too late to turn back. I guess I’m not ready to get out yet.

But this is another stone in the path away from the school.

I was proud of myself though. I wasn’t snarky. That was hard. I wanted to write “I did this when I was supposed to and I sent it to whom I was supposed to. If you don’t have it, that’s not my problem.” Instead I just wrote “I sent this in November before the due date. Here is a second copy for you.”

No bad words or snarkiness at all in the sent email. I wasn’t terribly polite either, though.

And I didn’t go gossip about the interim chair. (Okay, I did go start to gossip, but then I deleted the email.)

Blood Donor

I gave blood for the first time on Saturday.

Thankfully they let Ron stay and hold my hand.

They didn’t have a problem getting the needle in, which is good. That means they know what they are doing.

However, since I had to move my hand, it hurt. If I was still it didn’t hurt, but every time I had to move my hand it hurt. I have a 2×2 inch bruise on my arm from where they took blood. Very ugly. I’ve been wearing long sleeves. It’s a good thing it is winter.

My blood pressure was 104/74.
My pulse was 64.
My cholesterol was 155.

Except for the stupid allergy to all my favorite foods, epilepsy, and sleep apnea, I am extremely healthy.

Talking to God

I was driving to Austin yesterday and talking to God. I think he was talking back, but I am not totally sure. I think so, though, because he kept asking for stuff I didn’t want to do.

I asked him what I should do and he said, “Slow down.” I asked if he meant my speed and he said, “That, too.” I said I wasn’t going to slow down my speed, but I did anyway. I mean, if God points it out…

So, we talked a bit. One agreement, no more conferences next semester. The three I have only. AND if my SLAC turns down the February conference, I won’t go. (I hope they don’t turn it down. It was very fun. I learned a lot. Gotta put together a persuasive packet on that.)

Then I got off topic and don’t remember how I left the conversation. Basically I’m still teaching six courses next semester and next fall, because I have committed to them. But next spring, I will only teach four classes unless I have a full-time job. We talked about that, too, but he didn’t say anything definitive. I still feel that it is unlikely.

Anyway, I had a weird dream (an affair which produced a baby–I’m not having either one of those things.), and when I woke up I realized that the experience was alluding to a job-ish offer that I was planning on accepting. I think I need to turn it down.

Weird the ways God has to get my attention. (Both the ways he is able to get my attention and the effort he has to go to procure it.)

Double Standards

based on religion are becoming more common. Perhaps I would not notice them except that they are discriminating against my religion.

from American Daughter:

Army Lieutenant General William “Jerry” Boykin openly expressed his Christian world-view in public…. But negative coverage of his public expressions of his faith by the liberal mainstream media brought an end to his distinguished 36-year military career, and forced his retirement.

Army Major Nidal Hasan also held strong religious views. A devout Muslim, he openly expressed his approval of a jihad, or holy war, against western culture and our way of life. He even had business cards that declared him a soldier of Allah. … His outcome was the killing of thirteen people at the Fort Hood military base in Texas.

Who are you?

Maybe I need to rethink my attitude.

It’s about one’s theology of human nature, particularly one’s own. Those who are most likely to say, “I’m a good person” are least likely to actually be good people.

from The Common Room

Facebook and Friendship?

William Deresiewicz’s article in The Chronicle says:

The Facebook phenomenon, so sudden and forceful a distortion of social space, needs little elaboration. Having been relegated to our screens, are our friendships now anything more than a form of distraction? When they’ve shrunk to the size of a wall post, do they retain any content? If we have 768 “friends,” in what sense do we have any? Facebook isn’t the whole of contemporary friendship, but it sure looks a lot like its future. Yet Facebook—and MySpace, and Twitter, and whatever we’re stampeding for next—are just the latest stages of a long attenuation. They’ve accelerated the fragmentation of consciousness, but they didn’t initiate it.

I have 180 friends on facebook. A few are people I knew a little, into whose orbit I moved quickly in and out. But they are people who were important in my life, or had the potential to be.

However, I will admit that where I live now I have no friends. I have a few acquaintances, one or two of whom are lunch buddies occasionally. But there is no one here that I am close friends with. But I do have close friends: Amy, Angie, Bev, Kim, and Paula. They are all over the country and I call and talk to them. I cycle through times we talk. Kim is in a PhD program and I talk to her on Mondays at 3 when we are both driving home from our commutes. Amy is a busy mother of four and I don’t call her much, since I feel like I would be taking away from her time with her family. But I do go to see her every few months. Angie I talk to once every two weeks and go see once a year. Paula and Bev are in North Carolina, but I drove out to see them two summers ago. And I am friends with Bev on facebook, so we keep up with each other.

So, I do have friends, but not where I am. And I have lived her for ten years. Did I ever have friends here? A few, who drifted in and away. But no one solid. It’s hard. Will I end my life with no friends?

I do have one friend on the other side of town, twenty years my senior, with whom I have lunch and chat. Thank God for Linda.


Grading to do:
20 8-page papers
10 8-page papers
40 revisions of 15-page papers

Papers to write:
book review
literature paper

Why am I hanging out on fb and reading old novels? Because I am overwhelmed.

Maybe tiny pieces.

1. Grade Thursdays papers.
2. Start reading the book for the review.