Friday, November 26, 2010

Tennessee Thanksgiving!

I am finally settled into my new place and I love it! I am living in a cute log cabin in a nice gated community that is a little bit off the beaten path.
The community was built during the housing boom and when that went under people stopped their building plans. There are only 4 houses out here and I have yet to pass another car on the road in the neighborhood. Needless to say it is quiet and super dark at night. Great for star gazing (if it weren't 20 degrees outside like tonight).
Tonight, as I was driving home (a 7 minute drive... sweet!) there was a beautiful sunset and I saw deer and cows grazing in the grass right on the side of the road in the neighborhood.

 It is so peaceful out here. Not much to do, but that's okay because the big town is only about a 30 minute drive so I have access to anything I want.

Side Note (totally off subject): I was a bit afraid I was not going to get to write this tonight because I had a scare with my computer. It overheated, turned off and would not turn back on. I was so grateful when I tried it again about an hour later and it worked. I don't know if it will last, but I am keeping my fingers crossed. Otherwise, I will be out of touch for a bit while I am in the market for a new laptop. I guess if it is going to happen this is a good time when all the stores are having after Thanksgiving sales. Thankfully, I was able to save all my pictures, docs, and music to an external hard drive so I am okay there. I figured I better get this written quick in case it dies again. :(

My parents, cousin and grandmother all met me here for Thanksgiving. I was trilled to have all of them here! Sunday, I drove down to Cleveland (near Chattanooga) where the Magee's live. They are friends who moved up here from my church in Deerfield. My parents and cousin met there too and we all went to a really nice restaurant and then to Rock City. Rock City was doing the "Enchantment of Lights" so we got to see the whole place all lit up for Christmas. The claim to fame for this attraction is that from the top of the mountain you can, supposedly, see 7 states: Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, West Virginia, North and South Carolina, and Kentucky. Of course, we were there at night time so we could really only see lights, but it was pretty cool nonetheless.

Bruce Magee has been working on refurbishing old barns in the area. He showed us a couple of his projects. They were beautiful... these rustic barns with wood from trees that were probably around before Columbus and cool artifacts from the Civil war times. Unfortunately, I don't have pics of the barns except the one above. You will just have to use your imaginations. ;)

Once in Knoxville, we all stayed in my parents RV at a campground just down the road from my new place (very convenient). It was nice to just relax, watch movies, and play games with them, but we also got to do some sight seeing. We went to the Knoxville Zoo and to The Festival Of Trees.

On Thanksgiving day we went over to the Waston's house for dinner. (These are the same friends who hooked me up with the new place to live. I, also, know them from my church in Deerfield.) They were so generous to invite us over to join in their families celebration of the holiday.

Again, I find my self surrounded by wonderful people in a wonderful place. I love traveling!
I hope everyone had a blessed Thanksgiving. I am thankful for so many things, but especially for all of you!!!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Still settling in...

Well, I know I have been MIA for a bit. But I have had quite a time settling in here. I arrived in TN last Friday after totally striking out in Kentucky with the horse farm tours. Apparently, I chose to visit on the very day that the Breeder's Cup races were being run. All of the tour guides were attending the race so no tour for me.
Once in TN, I moved in to a place that is in a very nice town just outside of Knoxville. That first weekend I explored downtown Knoxville and went to church with some friends that live in the area. I began my job last Monday (11/8). It is busy, but great! Almost all the rehab staff is my age and they are very nice. The facility is a huge 150 bed nursing home (much more up to date then my last facility). My job is about 40mins away from where I am living and I am not loving the commute or the environment I'm living in. So the friends that I know introduced me to a lady who lives only about 5 mins away from where I work, and tomorrow (or today by the time you read this) I will be moving in with her. She is very nice and crafty so when I am home in the evenings during the week I think we will get a lot of scrapbooking done! Yeah!
So far I have not done any sight seeing owing mostly to the fact that I have not really had a chance to settle in and find out what to do. We'll see what this weekend holds.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

My soap box. Just think about it.

Today I went to the Creation Museum in Kentucky.  This museum is the brain child of Ken Ham a prominent creationist. He proposes that the world is not billions of years old like some in the scientific community would have you think, but instead, is only 6-10 thousand years old as the Bible suggests.  Stick with me on this one. Some of you may not know that I too hold to this view, but I don’t want you to think that I just shifted my views today. I have researched and studied this idea for about 5 years now ever since watching a lecture series that Ken produced. I am going on my soap box for this post because I feel that it is important to at least get this alternate view out there even if you choose not to agree with it. I hope that you will read it with a critical and open mind.
It has been indoctrinated into our society that the world has to be billions of years old. It is in every school book, every museum, and every TV show. Children are learning it as a fact in school, and those who oppose billions of years are mocked for their beliefs.  Those that are outside the scientific community feel that because they don’t understand all the complicated tests performed to determine the age of the earth they cannot question the results. Therefore, the church and many Christians have given in and said, “Okay, we’ll just work around it, try to fit it in with our beliefs and it doesn’t matter anyway as long as you believe in Jesus.”  Are they right? Well, on the one hand, yes. As long as a person believes Jesus died on the cross for their sins and rose again, they are saved. Period. I will never deny that.
On the other hand, there is a huge problem brewing!! The very foundation of Christian doctrine and ALL that we believe begins in Genesis. Why is there sin, why is there a need for Jesus, why is there death and suffering, and why is there a 7 day week? All of these questions have their origin in Genesis. If you break the foundation the entire building begins to fall.
Here’s the problem logically broken down:
1. If you believe in macro-evolution you have to believe in billions of years. Even scientists admit the only way “molecules to man” evolution could be true is if there were billions of years to accomplish the seemingly impossible task.  Conclusion: throw out your belief in six literal days of creation and replace it with billions of years.  (**Let me stop right here and clarify what I mean by macro-evolution. Macro-evolution is the theory where, as genetic variability increases within a species, the organism becomes more complex and forms a new species. So bacteria can change, over time, into man. Now, micro-evolution or variability within a species (which we see observable evidence of everyday) is not what I am discussing. Natural selection, which occurs presently, is not what I am discussing. Those two things are well and good and God planned that there would be plenty of variability in our DNA to allow for all the differences we see today. However, popular science would have you believe that if micro-evolution and natural selection are true then macro-evolution has to follow. Not true. Micro-evolution and natural selection are processes that work together and tend to decrease genetic variability not increase it. I will explain more if you want just give me a call.
Okay moving on...

2. If you believe in billions of years and the scientific theory of evolution then you believe that dinosaurs lived millions of years before mankind. It is common knowledge that in the fossil record there are examples of dinosaurs with cancer, animals eating other animals, death, suffering, and destruction. But wait a second. Didn’t death come into the world through the sin of Adam and Eve? How could there be millions of years of animals getting sick, and killing other animals in the “perfect” world God created before the fall. Conclusion: throw out your belief that sin came into the world through the disobedience of God by Adam and Eve. In fact, replace it with the idea that God created a world full of death and destruction and then “said that is it was good."
3. The way scientists come to their conclusions when dating rock layers is based on the assumption that the rate of decay over millions of years has been constant. Therefore, no catastrophic event could have happened that would make these decaying processes go faster or it would totally invalidate all their dating methods. Conclusion:  throw away your belief in Noah and a world wide flood.  Of course, we have already learned that you can’t believe the word of God literally (notice the sarcasm in my voice). It says in Genesis 7:20-23 that, "The waters rose and covered the mountains to a depth of more than fifteen cubits. Every living thing that moved on land perished—birds, livestock, wild animals, all the creatures that swarm over the earth, and all mankind. Everything on dry land that had the breath of life in its nostrils died. Every living thing on the face of the earth was wiped out; people and animals and the creatures that move along the ground and the birds were wiped from the earth. Only Noah was left, and those with him in the ark."
Well, gosh, that does not fit into evolutionary theory, so again they tweak it to fit what they want to believe and try to convince us that it was a local flood and it did not cover the whole earth. Just Noah’s portion. Don’t worry, when God repeats himself three times in so many verses He doesn’t REALLY mean it. It’s all just another story. It’s all figurative. It’s all just analogies  that have no basis in scientific fact anyway, right? So tell me then, what about the story of Christ rising from the dead. Is that just a story? All scientists would tell you that is a physical impossibility. What about all the other miracles in the Bible? Why do we choose to believe some and not others?
As you can, hopefully, see there is no way of “working” evolution into our Biblical beliefs without seriously compromising the very foundation of those same beliefs. You have to choose which you will believe. Psalm 11:3 says, “If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?"

Again and again the Bible has held scientific truths which are ignored for a time.
God is speaking to Job in Job 38 and he says, “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?... When the morning stars sang together.” says, “Like musical instruments, stars can produce notes through their vibrations."
Leviticus 17:14, “For the life of every creature is its blood: its blood is its life. Therefore I have said to the people of Israel, You shall not eat the blood of any creature.”  We now know that blood is what gives us life, but not so long ago, when George Washington was alive, they would “bleed” people to try to get rid of illness. Not listening to the truths already laid out.
Isaiah 40:22, “It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth…” Wow, a circular earth suggested before Pythagoras came along?! (Also check out Job 26:10 and Proverbs 8:27)
Job 40:15-18, “Take a look at Behemoth, which I made, just as I made you. It eats grass like an ox. See its powerful loins and the muscles of its belly. Its tail is as strong as a cedar. The sinews of its thighs are knit tightly together. Its bones are tubes of bronze. Its limbs are bars of iron.” Could this be a description of a dinosaur living during the time of Job? Hum? Has God been consistent with truth in other areas?  
The question is do you believe the Bible is an old, relic just like the fossils used to discredit it or do you believe it is the LIVING word of God. A history and a science book that you can fully trust.
Am I telling you that you have to take every word in the Bible literally? No, there are times when God uses parables, or analogies to make a point, of course. Then there are other times when he is making a statement, as in the examples above. You only have to use common sense to discover the difference. The Bible says in John 3:12 "If I told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things?"

I know some of you are saying, “Well, how much research have you done on evolution, and how many books have you read regarding their arguments?” To those people I would say. Besides, the journal articles I have read and the people I have talked to who hold opposing views to mine, I spent 7 years pursuing a scientific degree. I have been bombarded with their theories over and over again and have been expected to accept them as truth. In fact, I struggled through a period of seriously questioning my faith because of these inconsistencies between God’s word and the world’s word. I honestly believe that my faith would be, at best, mediocre at this point in my life had it not been for the Bible study I did on this issue 5 years ago. This gave me a scientifically based alternative to evolution, that not only agreed with, but strengthened the truth and majesty of God’s word in my eyes. It is not good that even other Christians disregard, and consider ignorant those who choose to believe Gods word as truth and not just some story that’s read in Sunday school. We should be building each other up, and we should be wary of anything inconsistent with God's word. 
If you recall in Genesis 3 Satan comes to Eve and says, “Did God really say that you should not eat from any tree in the garden.” Did God really say… Wow, Satan continues to use the same tactics over and over. Are we learning? Did God really say he created the earth in 6 days? Did God really say he passed his judgment by flooding the entire earth? That’s for you to decide. The seed of doubt has been planted and nurtured and its roots grow deep!

I have not gone into all the rationales behind the alternate theories presented by the scientist who believe in a young earth. I have just given a basis for why I think this subject is so important. This is only the beginning.
If your eyes are burning from reading this huge post you can stop now, but for those who are interested in the alternative theories proposed by the scientists who believe in a young earth I will post some links for you to check out and I am always willing to talk. I might not know the answer to your question, but I will find out.

I used mostly articles from Answers in Genesis because they make them easy to understand and because they are the most readily available. Check references of articles for further research into subjects. 
These are basic foundational questions:

Here's the really good stuff, the actual scientific data:         -- watch out this is a really technical one :)             -- the infamous verse. This is a good one***

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles... (minus the trains) :)

Tuesday morning I left my grandmothers house and drove to Ann Arbor, MI. I know, it is in the complete opposite direction of TN, but I have to hit all 50 states and what better time then the present when I was only a couple hours away? So I knew this was a big college town and I wanted to check out the campus, but it turns out this a HUGE college town that is built up around the University of Michigan. Just like in Gainesville, (except add a few thousand people) the area around the school is hopping and then just a few miles outside the campus it is back to country farms, and wheat fields. Little did I know that I would be visiting the University which has the largest football stadium in the country (for college football that is). I have to hand the credit of informing me of that little gem to Dawn who I was talking to when I arrived. :) I love the fact that I already had this stop on my list and now I get to add this to my list of cool things seen. Maybe someday I will get to see a game there, but until then I will have to be satisfied with just having seen it.

As far as big cities go I would rate Ann Arbor pretty high on my list. There have been quite a few that I have not enjoyed (and we'll hear more about that later), but this one was nice. The traffic and parking were just like any other (blah), but the downtown area, which was in the middle of campus, looked like it would be a ton of fun. It is a good walking city from what I could tell. Things were not dirty or rundown, and I did not see one area that I would not have felt safe walking around in. I spent some time eating lunch and relaxing at a local park named Gallup Park. It was just a couple miles from campus and the weather was perfect. I fed the geese for a while (which your probably not supposed to do, hehe) and then got back on the road.

This is what I saw during my drive...


I arrived in Dayton in the evening and was pleasantly surprised with how nice the hotel was. I guess anything would be better then the hostel. :) I tend to stay in the cheapest places I can find which sometimes works against me, but in this case, was suite! (pun intended)

This morning I went to the National Air Force Museum in Dayton. As some of you may know I had aspirations of becoming a pilot for a long time when I was younger. This desire has never really left and I was like a kid in a candy shop at this museum! There were planes so incredibly huge they had to turn it sideways to get it into the hanger. Planes whose wingspan was so large that the wings had landing gear. Just one propeller on one engine of some of the planes were taller then me. But it is not only about the size; there were planes from every era in history represented, planes that were known for their stealth. planes that rescued soldiers from the battlefield and planes that carried presidents.
I went on a special tour where we took a bus over to the active Air Force base that is across the street. There are two extra hangers over there that house some of the presidents planes which you can actually go inside, and a ton of experimental planes (the R&D hanger.) Again ecstatic! President Kennedy's plane was there for us to walk through and I learned something I found very interesting. After his assassination they did not want to transport his casket in the cargo area of the plane. So they cut out a wall in the interior and put the casket in with the passengers. Apparently, Jackie sat next to it during the flight.
There was a cockpit of a plane open for you to sit in which of course I did. I was pushing kids out of the way to get in... no just kidding. There wasn't a line which made me so happy cause I sat in there forever just playing with all the buttons and checking everything out. :)

Trying to give some perspective. This was not the biggest wheel!

notice the wheels on the wings

in heaven

Uh oh, my feet don't reach the pedals. Shoot, back to earth.

Coolest plane ever! The B-2

This is a SMALL portion of the pictures I took. To check the rest out see my facebook page here.

I spent so much time at this museum I only had about an hour to see the Indianapolis Speedway Museum. This turned out to be just fine because the speedway museum was nothing to get excited about. It was one big room with cars lined up in a few aisles. There was some info on the cars, but for the most part, if you are not a big racing fan I would not suggest seeing this attraction. However, I did go on a short little bus ride around the track and that did give some interesting info on the history of the track.
The city of Indianapolis, in stark contrast to Ann Arbor, was horrible. Sorry to anyone who may take offense, but I have zero desire to ever return. One word describes it pretty well... scary. Thank God I was there during daylight hours. It may have actually been worse then my experience in Delaware (you have to go way back for that story: 7/20/10).

The speedway was nicknamed "The Brickyard" because at one time the whole thing was paved with bricks. In fact, the bricks are still there. They're just covered with asphalt.

 I know I said no more long posts, but this was mostly pictures ;) Off to the Creation Museum tomorrow. Can't wait.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Sugar and Squalls and everything Falls

On Saturday morning I finished packing up the last of my belongings into my, already extremely full, car. My landlord came over to see me off. She is so nice and I have really enjoyed renting from her and her husband.
Her husband was not able to come and see me off, though, because apparently I chose the first day of deer hunting season to leave. This is a BIG deal in Maine. Multiple generations of hunters gather at 4am for "Hunters Breakfast," which every diner in the area serves. You can imagine what they includes lots of meat! I heard that some people don't even go hunting afterward, it's just a tradition to go to the breakfast. I did see some hunters on my drive, but I am sure most were deep in the woods. As I headed toward New Hampshire, I drove part of the way on the same road I drove on everyday to go to work. It was nice to see everything one last time.

Taking the back roads instead of highway is such a wonderful way to go. You save on the tolls and you get to see the real side of the towns.
New Hampshire was very similar to Maine (big surprise), except for one part when I was going through the White Mountain range. Seeing the mountains off in the distance was really nice until I couldn't see them anymore due to the clouds.

Then, it began to snow on my ride. Turns out I made it out of Maine just in time cause my landlord sent me a picture of  her house on Sunday with at least a few inches of snow on the ground.
My first stop on Saturday was at Sugarbush farm in Woodstock, VT. As I was driving down this dirt road, and wondering if my GPS had steered me wrong it finally dead ended at this wonderful, family owned, working farm. I won't say it was the prettiest thing I have ever seen, but it was the real thing. The family has lived and worked there for decades. They make cheese and real maple syrup. They have a self guided tour through the farm, sugaring house, and though the maple trees that they tap. It was really interesting. I learned that there are 2 grades of syrup and they never know how much of each grade they will get per year because the grade is based on the temperature of the day they collect it. If it is warmer they will get a darker, more maple flavored syrup (Grade B) whereas, on a colder day they will get a lighter syrup (Grade A). The grade A's are broken down even further into Vermont Fancy or Light Amber, Medium Amber, and Dark Amber. I tried each of these and was very impressed with the Vermont Fancy. It had a very light flavor, but was still very sweet. I also learned that Vermont has a slightly different grading system then the rest of the US, so their syrup has a slightly higher density (more sugar!)

they link all the trees together with lines of hose and collect all the sap in a big bucket

The cheeses I tested were good. My favorite was the Smoked Hickory and Maple. I later found out it was The American Cheese Societies first prize winner for Best Smoked Cheese in America. I knew I had good taste. ;) As I drove around the town afterward I found some of Vermont's infamous covered bridges...

Afterward, I headed for Syracuse, NY where I was staying the night in a hostel. I stayed in hostels all over New Zealand when Coralie and I went there and they were all wonderful, and I read a few good reviews about this place so I thought it would be great. Well, the neighborhood was nice enough, and the host that was there to greet me was nice, but the house itself was really creepy. It was a large, 3 story house built in 1895, and I don't think they had made many changes to it since then. I was one of only two people staying there that night and the other person was not very talkative. There was a stair case leading up to the 3rd floor right outside my room and the light in the stairwell was flickering on and off making that creepy buzzing sound you hear in all the scary movies. This is why I can't watch horror films; even though I have never seen any my mind still goes crazy. I distracted myself by talking to a couple friends on the phone till I was so tired that it didn't bother me that I was almost alone in this old, creaky, light flickering house while it was raining outside. *shiver*

The hallway with the flickery light. Its off in this pic.

Well, I made it through the night, and headed for Niagara Falls. When I could actually see Syracuse during the day I found that it was nothing to get too excited about. I would not go back to visit, but that's just me.
However, the area surrounding Syracuse I must exclude from this assessment. For miles upon miles along the highway in NY from Syracuse to Buffalo there was rolling farm land and big country homes scattered here and there. That was pretty! As I was approaching the falls, probably 5-10 miles away, I noticed a pillar of what, at first, I thought was smoke coming really far up into the air. Then I thought maybe it was mist from the falls so I got my camera out and snapped a few pics... thinking the whole time I was gonna feel stupid when I found out it really was smoke and had nothing to do with the falls. But lo and behold, it sure was mist from the falls!

The falls were great. It was a little overcast, but still pretty. I was able to park on the American side of the falls and walk over to the Canadian side. That way I did not have to try to pass customs with all the stuff I have packed in my car.

The American falls as seen from Canada

The mist covers the middle section of the Horseshoe falls. I guess you can see the whole thing when it is windy enough for all the mist to dissipate as quickly as it is made. Unfortunately, (or fortunately for my freezing cold fingers) there was only a slight breeze on Sunday. But every once in a while the wind would blow the right way and the mist would rain down on everyone nearby.

Horseshoe falls Canadian side

Horseshoe falls from American side

Then I drove to my grandmothers house in Ohio. On the way I drove along the Chautauqua Wine Trail. This is 45 miles of road with houses and towns just like normal, but behind, between and around all the houses there were grapes growing everywhere! These houses had no backyards, just vineyards.

Today I spent the day with my grandmother, her sister and my cousin (once removed or something like that) :) and her new, adorable baby. Even though I have only been on the road for two days it has been nice to take a little break, and I always love to see family; especially family that I do not get to see very often due to the distance between us.
Tomorrow I am off again. Don't worry my other posts won't be this long. :)