Monday, December 17, 2012

Lemonade- A Short Story

Have you ever heard the age old saying ‘When life gives you lemons, make lemonade?’ Well I must admit that I disagree, my philosophy is that is life gives you lemons, squirt them in thine enemy’s eyes. Is that too dark for you? I understand; not everyone will agree with my sentiments.
Some of you might be mildly surprised right now, others shocked, and still others wondering what kind of story you have gotten yourself into. Well let me just let you know that it is definitely paranormal. Those of you who just thought vampires need to stop reading your tween daughter’s books again.
 But back to the lemons, a very decisive part of the story. Now most would agree that there is very little that can be done with just one single lemon and they would be right. To make some sort of spectacular lemon substance, you usually need a lot of lemons. Well the same concept applies to nearly every other thing in the world. In other words “the more the merrier.”
Never has that saying been truer than when applied to a certain group, a certain bipedal group, and before you think an ostrich, I am in fact referring to humans. Time and again man has attempted to bring together his fellow man for one purpose or another, whether war, a football game, or a tea party. There is something about each that draws people’s attention, that has them begging for more, yes even the tea party. What draws them; pride, hope, enjoyment? Or is it something deeper, is it something so close to our hearts and yet completely foreign to our brains that it is indefinable?
This was the thought that started my Monday morning. Why does man seek out attention from his fellow man? Why do we not all want to go hide in caves cowering from all life? From all that we know about what harm can befall us at a moment’s notice, why is it that we will still shake hands with a complete stranger? As I lay in bed contemplating this, I groggily reached over to turn off my alarm clock.
Why is it that teenagers have to get up the earliest for school, when we clearly are the ones who need the most sleep? I scrambled out of bed while at the same time checking my phone for texts. Yes I am talented. You might be wondering why a person of my particular age would be thinking such thoughts on a lousy Monday morning. Well I am a knowledge seeker, a wisdom striver. That’s right; I am the journalist for the school newspaper.
This is pretty much how I spend my free time, contemplating the Universe while maybe at the same time making myself cookies. Don’t roll your eyes; thinking can make a person hungry. But back to my morning, I finished getting ready and went down stairs, got some pop tarts, and went out the door. I walk to school every day because I boycotted the bus due to a certain mishap that involved a couple of science projects and a few suspensions, but anyways, back to me walking alone to school.
You might be thinking (a dangerous habit when trying to predict this story) that right about now is when the zombies jump out right? Wrong. I got to school without anything abnormal happening. In fact the whole morning was rather uneventful. It was in biology class that the ball started rolling. Now I’m sure you’re sure where this is going right? You think I will find some weird egg in the fish tank, or maybe this is when the boy next to me admits he has been bitten by a spider or something.
Well you would be wrong, both things are absolutely ridiculous. No, as I was retrieving my pen from the corner of the room where it flew in my anxiety to take notes. My hand brushed against something hard and round. I bent over to look under the table and saw animal droppings. It is probably from some rats or some escaped animal right? After all, this is the biology lab, but anyone thinking that would be wrong mainly because they have never been to my school.
To say it follows every health code is an understatement. I think it’s pretty safe to say that they are OCD. I’m almost positive that there is an award in the Principal’s office that says ‘Cleanest school in the Universe’ or something absurd like that. So it would be tantamount to heresy to admit that I found something so horrifically unsanitary on school grounds. Wishing to keep my ‘Currently Living’ status on Facebook intact, I kept the incident to myself and even cleaned up the mess.
I went home that day feeling rather scandalous. The next few days were very uneventful. Surprising as it is, I didn’t even think about or remember the incident for days, I guess that’s how traumatic experiences work. When I finally did remember, it hit me like a punch. I was withholding information from the higher ups. Oh my gosh, isn’t that illegal?! I started to hyperventilate, pacing rapidly. Suddenly I stopped. What the heck am I doing? Am I seriously doing the stereotypical thing and freaking out? I must be losing it.
Needless to say, my embarrassing episode never left the bus station. The homeless guys, I’m sure, won’t turn me in. They are pretty trustworthy judging by their aversion to people.
Now let’s go in a different direction for a minute, let’s take a trip down the road called ‘Hypothetical Situations.’ Let’s say I was to investigate a bit. Let’s say I stayed late after 6th period and went immediately back to the biology lab. Strangely enough, it was completely empty, oh how convenient. All still hypothetical, I am lucky enough to find another gift over in the same spot.
So I look more closely at the site. Perhaps I should call in some specialists that will set up some sort of E.T. re-creation. Maybe aliens are involved and this is all way above my head. An inner struggle rages. To ‘fess or not to ‘fess, that is the question. I decide not to, and then I hypothetically go home and live out my days as the local real estate agent, because everyone knows you have to be crazy to go into that profession; all very normal and boring.
Now please come back to reality; this is what really happened. In biology, as I turned in my homework, I happened to glance over at the wall behind Mr. Barker’s desk. Strangely enough, there was a small hole in the drywall and it looked as though someone had hurriedly swept up the debris in an effort to make it seem as though it had always been there.
But I know for a fact that that hole was new. Hadn’t I cleaned up frog guts right near there after missing the trash can? And yes I did find out they weren’t even supposed to go in the trash can in the first place. But my point being, there was definitely not a hole as big as my foot there the other day.
I tried to inconspicuously catch a glimpse of Mr. Barker’s foot to judge the size. Yeah that hole was definitely smaller than Mr. Barker’s foot, which rules out a teacher temper tantrum. Unfortunately I had been standing at the desk for too long, thus drawing unwanted attention and stares. I shrugged noncommittally and went back to my desk, determinedly ignoring the weird looks.
 I was understandably distracted for the rest of class, continually glancing back at the wall, trying to fit some sort of pieces together. That was when I heard the scuttling, very faint, but definitely there. I looked around to see if anyone else had noticed, but mostly everyone had a dazed expression with drool at the edges of their mouths and some were even actually asleep. Typical, I am the only one to notice the barely perceptible noise.
 I tried to ignore it, staring intently, almost threateningly, at Mr. Barker. A slightly louder scuttle, Mr. Barker winces; I stare into his squinty eyes. Yes, there it is a side dish of fear with a main course of panic; very small, but still apparent if you are looking for it. What is going on here? Are the teachers aware of this, whatever this is?
When class ended, Mr. Barker raced from the room and as I entered the hallway I noticed several other teachers doing the same. On a hunch, I decided to follow my 4th period English teacher Mrs. Spellini. So as not to be obvious, I followed exactly ten paces behind her. After turning the corner, I saw the swish of her long skirt disappear behind the door of the Teacher’s Lounge. With the grace of a cartoon character, I snuck up to the door, hiding behind ridiculously small poles and changing clothes to disguise myself whenever someone glanced my way.
Ok, not really, but I still looked pretty dorky to say the least. Slowly I eased my head up to the window, so as to alert no one to my presence. I immediately heard Mr. Barker squeak out something about the meaning of the message on, from what I could tell, this ancient piece of technology called a pager. They still made those? Well that must have been how all the teachers had known to convene in such a timely manner.
I silently cursed myself, blast my distracted mind, I had completely missed Principal Bosse’s reply. I did happen to at least focus in time to catch three fleeting words that were slightly mumbled. In order, they were ‘students, aware, and basement.’ There were probably words in between but I couldn’t catch them, besides that wasn’t the most pressing matter at that moment. The only thing that was important right then was that some unfortunate soul noticed that I was eavesdropping.
I say unfortunate because I might have, at that moment, forgotten the need for secrecy, and had plastered my face, quite unladylike, to the door’s window. I daresay I was not a very becoming sight to see while nervously drinking coffee. Ms. Addet, the math teacher, screamed in surprise just as I ducked out of sight and made a dash for the nearest unlocked door.
Call it destiny or simply a crazy coincidence, but I managed to find myself closing the door to the basement just as the Teacher Lounge door burst open. Weird, I thought this door was supposed to be locked, but at least for now it was my sanctuary. Surely my pursuers would think the door locked as well and not check in here for a while, giving me time to escape. I would really like to know the odds of such an event, but that Google search would have to wait.
Thankfully I did manage to still have sense enough to, like any other human on the planet, slap the walls frantically looking or rather touching for a light switch. An orange glow greeted my wide eyed stare. I glanced down the stairs, then at the door. Always better to traipse into a dark dungeon-like basement than to stand in relative safety. I mean, everyone knew that right?
Using such logic, I went down the stairs, my inquisitiveness propelling me onwards. Perhaps I would be able to find out what the students were apparently aware of in the basement. I reached the bottom of the stairs and flipped the light switch. What greeted my eyes were about two hundred other eyes.
“Rats,” I mumbled, “why does it have to be rats?”
I stood dazed for a moment, and then I ran back up the stairs, barely missing stepping on one of the vermin in my haste. When I slammed through the door, I just so happened to smack straight into Principal Bosse’s stomach. He stared at me, I stared at him, and then a rat ran past my foot.
Two Weeks Later:
So you are probably wondering what happened right? Well basically, after getting detention for ‘trespassing’ I wrote a story for the local newspaper on the rat conspiracy going on just beneath the unsuspecting feet of America’s future. I did some investigating and found a whole network of holes throughout the walls, the maze thus being the rat’s method of finding food and supplies.
It might have been slightly melodramatic, but hey, give me a break. One thing led to the next and a health inspector came to assess the problem, ran out screaming, and the local pest control came in to rectify the situation. The only good things that came out of these circumstances was that I got local recognition for my incredible journaling skills, not to brag or anything, and also the school staff was put on some sort of health probation by the school board for a gross perversion of their authority.
Apparently they were keeping the rats a secret because the school was getting a budget raise due to its cleanliness. Of course, it’s always about the money, so typical. So in the end I suppose everyone won, well except the teachers obviously, but even the rats were treated fairly. They were taken from the premises humanely, due to protests by the future PETA activists in our high school midst.
They insisted on using a lemon based spray to herd them into cages, causing only minor eye irritation to corral them. So the lemon did play an important part in the end.
As to the reason that people gather rather than scatter, I have only one answer, ridiculous instinct, just like community minded rats. I suppose I actually ended up making lemonade, no enemies were harmed. I guess it really is the best method.
P.S. - Do not take offense at being compared to a rat, it was only for allegorical purposes and should only be viewed in such a light. Also, paranormal is defined as not scientifically explainable, such is the human mind. Sorry to all of you who were expecting a werewolf to pop out.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Don't Judge a Book by its Cover

I know people always say don't judge a book by its cover, but I couldn't help but think that this was going to be some book where there is good and there is evil and there is going to be this guy who fights a battle and wins for the good guys. I was mildly surprised when this book was, for the most part, nothing like that. From the very get go I was very intrigued by the characters behind the scenes. They are only really mentioned at the beginning, but their influences are felt throughout the book. Many of the supporting characters are very complex and will do things that you don't expect them to do, so I found that I always had to be on my toes. The only thing that I didn't like about the book was that the ending left very many things unanswered, but I guess it makes sense because there will soon be a sequel. I just wish there had been some more definite plot endings. I suppose I will simply have to wait to read the next book. Other than that, this was a very engaging book and I enjoyed the original story line. I am very much looking forward to the next installment, where I will be able to learn more.

Here is the first chapter

I received this book from Waterbrook Multnomah publishers through their Blogging For Books program in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

A Fun Read

I originally chose this book because it was the only book I could request. I did not expect to like it and I imagined that it would be rather farfetched and childish. I feared it would try to follow in the footsteps of other great fantasy novels. I must admit that I was pleasantly surprised. The story line was gripping and I found myself having to reluctantly set it down when I had things to do or places to be. Needless to say it was always in my purse for those off times when I could easily whip it out and continue the adventure. As someone who tends to dislike the portrayal of dragons in books, I actually liked them in this book. They had emotions and talents, but they were also still dragons. I was thrilled to find out that my library system had the rest of the series, but also sad that I have to wait 3 weeks until I can actually check them out due to camp. I would recommend this book to teenagers, just because of the fantasy of the story. I fell in love with all of the characters and am excited to learn more about their backgrounds in the next few books. This was a very fun read.

Just go to this website to get the 1st chapter

I recieved this book from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers through their Blogging for Books Program in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Very Captivating

I found this book very captivating. The story line made me want to just keep reading. I admit that I read this book deep into the night. While I didn't greatly like the character of Bethany Quinn, I fell in love with all of her supporting cast. I found Bethany rather selfish, but then again I have not been through hard times like she went through. By the end she does redeem herself in my eyes and I found that she really did have a heart and a longing for God. This book is almost like a puzzle. Every few chapters you would get another glimpse of Bethany's past. Throughout the book I would find myself trying to guess what had happened to make her so bitter towards God. The characters in the book go through a lot of grief, but through their grief, they become closer with each other and closer to God. Bethany has a passion for her work, but at times it seems to run her life. I understand her love for her work, but there is a line where your career and your personal life should not cross. In the end Bethany learns this lesson. Overall I found that this book was worth my while.

Just go to this link to get the first chapter

I received this book from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers through their Blogging for Books program in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Angels Everywhere

When I ordered this book, I had no idea that it was the second one in the series. I tried to find the first book, Breath of Angel, but unfortunately my library didn't have it and I didn't have the money to buy it. So I started reading this book knowing full well that I would probably have no idea what was going on. I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised. Although it was the second book, it still explained each character fairly well instead of assuming that you already knew who they were. While reading it I found that there were some unexplained things, but I caught on quick enough. I felt that the plot line was pretty strong for a sequel. There was a ton of character development and building. I felt that the world that Karyn Henley had created was very original, especially at a time when everyone is writing of surreal worlds. Angels walking everywhere definitely made life interesting for the characters. The angel aspect made an intriguing story line and they were all very likeable. I definitely had a hard time putting this book down, but I would recommend reading the first book before this one. Overall I felt that this was a good book.

To get the first chapter, just go to the link.

I received this book through Waterbrook Multnomah's Blogging for Books program in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Face the Facts

Miranda glanced around frantically. The key could be anywhere on the cruise ship!

“If only I had more time,” she mumbled.

She ran her fingers along the seam of the door jam in the cramped closet that she had been thrown in.

                “Ah ha!” she shouted triumphantly.

She picked up the key that had fallen with a ding. Just at that moment the ship lurched, knocking her off her feet.

“Oh, I hope I’m not too late!”

Her fingers worked frantically as she inserted the key in the lock running from the closet and up to the control room undisturbed. Sitting on the desk like an ugly center piece was the bomb. It was odd that there was no one around on the ship. Pushing the thought aside, she stumbled towards it just as the countdown read  ‘5…4…3…’

Monica snapped the book shut with finality.

“If only my life could be that exciting,” she said to no one in particular.

She stood up grabbing ‘Time Bomb,’ a New York best seller and walked out of the deserted library.

“Why is it that I’m the only one who ever comes here?” She thought, “But then again I suppose other people have more important things to do than fawn over fiction.”

She hopped on her bike at the same time that she glanced back at the receding building.

“Their loss,” she smirked.

Monica was a librarian in the making; in fact, when the librarians weren’t looking she would put some of the books away herself. She once made the mistake of telling her best friend Zeke this.

He had feigned surprise and muttered in fake belief, “Were you arrested?”

Since then she had kept her library life in the dark and from prying eyes.

“I guess a life is beyond boring if all I have to hide is my secret library meetings from my friends,” which for the record weren’t so secret considering they were always advertised on the bulletin board at school.

She smiled as in her mind, she dramatically portrayed her anguish.

“I’m so good, I could go big screen,” she chuckled while waiting for a stop light.

As with all people, Monica was a star in her own mind. Some would argue that spending so many years reading fiction and fairy tales would give a girl an unhealthy imagination. Monica disagreed, most days it was her daydreaming that was the only thing keeping her going. Oh but all of the adventures she had had in her mind. The thing that amused her friends the most was the fact that she was nearly sixteen and yet still had her nose stuck, in what they considered kid’s books. They were constantly trying to get her to open her eyes and see the real world.

“They just don’t understand,” Monica thought, “What I read is the real world. They’re the ones deluding themselves into believing that what they are living is the epitome of real life. I pity them.”

She glanced at her watch as she set her bike in front of the mall, 12:57, three minutes early as usual. She walked past the expensive stores, latest fashions, and hottest trends to the food court where her friends had agreed to meet.

 As she approached, she spotted her friends already at a table and ran up to them, exclaiming as she sat down, “Carol, why the forlorn expression?”

“As always Monica, I have no idea what you are saying,” Carol quipped.

Monica sighed, “It’s an expression I-”

“Let me guess,” Zeke interrupted, “You read it in a book?”

He smiled triumphantly at Monica’s downcast eyes.

“So tell us, what does it mean? We’re all dying to know.”

Monica mustered enough courage to say in an airy voice, “I don’t think that you would appreciate it, so I won’t tell you.”

Zeke snickered as she changed the subject. She asked Carol how her soccer practices were going.

Carol replied cockily, “I have no doubt we’re the best in our league.”

And Monica didn’t doubt it either. They had been undefeated for two seasons now. Monica had tried soccer once in 6th grade, but has managed to break a kid’s nose and score in the wrong goal in the first fifteen minutes of practice. So she never gave it another glance. She brought her thoughts around as she noticed that Carol was still rambling on about victory. She had to admit that she loved her friends, but she couldn’t help but notice a huge chasm between her and them. Was she the only one who saw it? Was she the only one who noticed that as they grew, they drifted apart?

They had been friends since the playground days, when the over assertive Carol had waltzed up to Monica wearing a tutu with a bewildered Zeke on her arm.

“We all live on the same street,” she had announced, “So we should be friends.”

Surprisingly they had been inseparable since then, even going to the extreme of taking the same high school classes regardless of their futures. That is, until recently.

“Perhaps I shouldn’t have changed classes halfway through the year. Maybe that’s the cause of the drifting I’m feeling,” she thought.

Then she considered the opportunities she would have by taking chemistry rather than physical science again, she put aside the silly notion. She had a life to live after all, regardless of the classes her friends were taking.

Zeke shook her shoulders, “Earth to Monica! Are you still here?”

She blinked the thoughts from her eyes and turned to Zeke, “What?”

She really should stop drifting like that.

“We wanted to know if you wanted to come to a movie,” Carol asked.

“Oh I can’t, being poor and all.”

Zeke shrugged, “That’s a shame,” he didn’t sound too sincere, “Let’s go Carol so that we’re not late.”

They left without a backwards glance.

“Bye,” Monica called half heartedly, but they were already too far away to hear.

“Typical, now all I have to do is read, because my real life has deserted me. Although, it deserted me because I read,” Monica shuddered, “Think on that.”

She glanced around the decidedly empty food court and made to get up, when she noticed a small flash of light outside the double doors. She focused and saw two guys stealing her bike! She barreled past a janitor, yelling, even though the guys were outside. She burst through the doors just in time to see the guys riding away on her bike and another one they had probably stolen as well. Tears welled in her eyes as she set off for home.

“Now would be a good time to own a cell phone,” she choked out between silent sobs.

She stumbled on until she tripped on a crack, essentially ripping her jeans, while at the same time skinning her knees and hands.

“How could this day get any worse,” she mumbled as she stood up examining her hands.

She realized her mistake too late. She probably shouldn’t have said that, lest something worse did happen. But it was already too late to take it back, for as she turned to pick up her shoulder bag, a truck drove by, splashing muddy water up on her.

“What the!” she exclaimed, “It hasn’t even rained in weeks!”

This was just beyond belief. She needed to get home fast. She glanced around and made a mad sprint for her house, which was just a few blocks away. Over the sounds of her ragged breathing, she heard a dog bark, or was it three? She glanced back to realize in horror that there were at least six pit bulls bearing down on her.

 “Maybe they’re not chasing me,” she thought, and then, “Probably not, what with my luck.”

She nearly laughed at the absurdity of the whole thing, but she couldn’t spare any breaths as she caught sight of her house and dashed up the lawn. She reached for her bag to grab the key and remembered that she had forgotten it on the sidewalk in her haste. She pulled on the door frantically, but it wouldn’t budge. Nothing left to do but jump the fence; she nearly cried at the prospect. The dogs were nearly to her porch as she struggled over the fence. She barely made it before a dog tried biting off her leg.

“Success!” she yelled.

That was when she looked down and noticed she was standing in fresh manure. Another one of her mom’s garden pet projects attempts.

 Then she thought, almost desperately, “I just bought these shoes!”

She stumbled to the porch, muttering not so nice things under her breath. She paused at the door to remove her soiled sandals.

“The one time I buy designer shoes.”

Then the floodgates opened and she sank to her knees, tears pouring down her face as she laughed hysterically.  She felt ridiculous, but she couldn’t stop. Her mom meandered through the kitchen in yoga garb and noticed Monica in surprise. Bedraggled, alone, and sitting outside with an almost crazy glint in her eyes. She rushed over to the door yanking it open with concern showing on her face.

“Monica, do I want to know what happened here?”

Monica stood up, sure now that she was dreaming and that is when she noticed her mom’s new blonde hair.

“What happened to your hair?” Monica asked once her jaw snapped back up.

Yes, definitely dreaming.

Her mom grinned slightly, “I decided to try a blonde look, I thought the brown was a bit old.”

“This is surreal,” Monica thought, “If I look down are my hands going to be blue?”

She sneaked a quick glance down just to assuage her doubts.

“Ah, thank goodness,” she exasperatedly whispered.

She glanced at her mom, realizing that she was still looking at her like she had just climbed from the sewers, which she had for the most part done.

She cautiously took a step inside and said, “You would not believe the day I’ve had.”

Her mom smiled, “No, I’m sure I won’t.”

Jessica paused, “What’d I tell you? This girl is just like me.”

“I wonder who writes those stories for the paper?” Mikey wondered.

“I’m not sure, but it is going to be a weekly thing, so the next installment comes out next Sunday.”

Five miles away, Ms. Anderson turned to her 4th grade class, “So what do you think Monica has learned?”

One of her students raised his hand, “That when dogs chase you, you should grab your house keys.”

Ms. Anderson chuckled, “Definitely.”

Halfway across town a girl stared at her laptop as she read the comments on her story.

“Who would have thought that my English assignment would be so popular?”

And then she started on next week’s adventure, “Maybe I’ll add a vampire this time.”

She paused, with barely a smile on her face, “No, definitely a werewolf.”

                                                   What is reality?

                                             Life isn’t always clear.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Rosetta Stone

For many years no one knew what the strange signs on the walls of Egyptian graves were or what they said. Scientists and archaeologists were baffled. In 1799, a stone was discovered with Egyptian hieroglyphic, Egyptian demotic, and Greek all with the same message written in each language.  Not until 1822 was the code cracked however, and only then were we able to read this ancient text. This stone has been the key to seeing what the hieroglyphics mean and it is thanks to Jean-Francois Champollion’s determination. Since then, there have been great leaps in understanding this early civilization.

From about 2600 B.C. to 500 A.D, the Egyptian hieroglyphic language was used. It is one of the oldest known languages of the world. Comprised of pictographs it uses them to convey figurative, symbolic, and phonetic sounds. Quite complex, the language can have a picture of a crocodile literally meaning crocodile, while it can also stand for the sound “msh.” The direction that the script was written varied, sometimes it was written from left to right, others right to left and sometimes it was even written running from top to bottom, but you can always tell the direction it is written because all of the animals and people face the starting point of the line. The Egyptians believed that writing was invented by their god Thoth and they called their writing “god’s words.” For the most part, the hieroglyphic language was used for formal writing and tomb inscriptions. Some were fully colored, while others were merely outlines. For everyday writing, the Egyptians used the hieratic script. Hieratic is much more simplified and mostly written for everyday transactions and such. Hieroglyphs are equivalent to cursive script and hieratic writing is equivalent to standard print script. From what we know, both were created at about the same time. The hieroglyphic writing looks very elaborate and stunning and we can truly appreciate the complexity of this civilization when looking at it. 

The Rosetta stone was carved in 196 B.C. and is a text written by the priests commemorating all of the great things that the Pharaoh had done. It was subsequently lost until the Rosetta stone was revealed in 1799 A.D. by a French soldier named Pierre-Francois Bouchard. As soldiers were strengthening the defenses of Fort Julien, a few miles to the north Lieutenant Pierre-Francois Bouchard who was in charge of the remodel, was informed of a slab with inscriptions on one side found by the soldiers. Finding it significant, the discovery was announced to Napoleon’s newly founded scientific association in Cairo. It was the first bilingual text recovered in modern times and aroused a ton of publicity and curiosity. It was deemed so significant that Napoleon himself examined it. Many copies were made of the text and sent to numerous scholars throughout Europe to see if they could decipher it, but they only succeeded in decoding the Greek portion. When the British troops defeated the French in Egypt, the Rosetta stone was confiscated and sent to the British Museum in 1802, where it has been since. There is still some speculation as to the true owners of the Stone and whether it should be returned to Egypt.

For 23 years the Stone’s hieroglyphic carvings remained a mystery. One of the first men to try to translate the Stone was Antoine Isaac Silvestre De Sacy of France; unfortunately he made no major accomplishments in the demotic characters. Again a British physicist and medical doctor, Thomas Young took a whack at it and advanced the idea that the hieroglyphs were not only pictures, but sounds too. He recognized a few names, but other than that the stone remained a mystery still. It wasn’t until the French scholar Jean-Francois Champollion, saw the Rosetta stone and set his mind to it, that the Stone’s secrets were finally unveiled. He discovered that there were three forms of Egyptian writing, hieroglyphic, hieratic, and demotic. After he revealed this, he also built off of Young’s idea that hieroglyphs had sounds as well as picture meanings. Using the Greek, he translated the hieroglyphs leaving only 14 incomplete lines. This incredible accomplishment has opened the doorway to Egypt.

Once the Rosetta stone was found, the world knew that it was something extremely important. In spite of this, it took many years to realize what it actually said. If Champollion had never spent the time and effort to translate the Rosetta stone, we might to this very day still be baffled by one of the greatest ancient civilizations. Thankfully, he persevered and we now know how to read hieroglyphs. This attractive language is very complex and was not easy to read and so we are even more amazed at the work of Champollion. The Rosetta stone truly was the key to an entirely new world.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Rise of Civilizations

When we think about great civilizations, we think of Egypt, Persia, and Rome. But how did these great nations and people groups start?  Believe it or not, according to Biblical history, they all came from one man and that man was Noah. After the flood, his descendants scattered and multiplied. From these people, we get all of the great ancient empires. Many of these communities created great cities and amazing machinery for their time. We will look at the peoples of early Mesopotamia, India and China and see what they gave to the world through their technology and advancements. Along with this we will look at how their religion impacted their societies. The main focus will be on the rise of these civilizations, primarily during the years between 3000 and 2000 B.C.

In Mesopotamia, there were several civilizations that became outstanding. Some of which are the Babylonians, the Assyrians, and the Sumerians. They each produced great cities and structures, some more advanced than anywhere else. Their cultures were sophisticated and highly developed. One civilization was more advanced at the time. The Sumerians invented many important things, including the wheel. In Sumer there was a city called Ur, the same Ur that Abraham fled. This was a city of great wealth and prosperity. There is evidence that even the early people of Ur were trading with other cities over long distances. We can see this through the precious stones and other valuables not indigenous to the area that have been found in royal tombs. At the time, Ur was the most important port city on the Persian Gulf. Most of the world’s wealth would have had to go through Ur, making it vital to the world’s economy. This civilization also had a form of cuneiform writing, which can be read today. Along with these accomplishments, they also were expert architects. We can see this through the great ziggurat built around 2050 B.C. They were building great temples even before the Egyptians were building their pyramids.  Their houses were also two stories and had 13 to 14 rooms in most cases. This was obviously a city that knew what it was doing. So why did Abraham have to leave? Even though this was one of the most important cities in the world at the time, it was also a very pagan city, definitely not the place for a righteous man to be. Those in Ur worshipped the moon god Nammu and thus did not have a relationship with the Biblical God.  In this religion, they had priests to man the temples and many festivals and rituals. As in many religions, they sacrificed animals to their gods. Ur is by far an amazing city, well before its time, but we must always remember that it was also a pagan and sinful city. No matter the physical achievements of the city, it still died out in the end.

Around 3000 B.C. the Indus valley saw a huge influx of population. It was soon covered with settlements along the Indus River. It wasn’t until 2600 B.C. that we start to see any great cities emerge, but those that did emerge were magnificent. The cities that they built were well organized and made of solid building materials such as brick and stone. These people were not just simple farmers. They had one of the most advanced drainage, water, and well systems in the ancient world. Always mindful of sanitation, they had specific rooms for bathing, much like a modern bathroom. They were so well off that they actually made toys for their children and game pieces, which means that they had time for fun and games. What helped their economy along was the development of weights and trade, making it easier to acquire special goods. They created a type of writing that was used for several hundred years; unfortunately, we cannot read it in this day and age. Around each city was a massive wall protecting the inhabitants not only from floods, but also from any military threats.  We do not know much about their religion, but it was most likely the foundation for Hinduism. Both religions worship a mother goddess, they both regard cows as sacred, and they both bathe in the River for religious purposes and consider all rivers holy.  As in all ancient civilizations, this one eventually died out and gave rise to other civilizations, but it is apparent how influential this civilization still is if you visit a nearby village and observe how similar their houses are to their ancient ancestors.

Unlike the two previous civilizations, the Yellow River area didn’t see any real development until around 1600 B.C. This can be attributed to the fact that the China region is so much farther away than the other areas from where Noah left the Ark, which is believed to be somewhere in the middle east. Before the Shang Dynasty, which started in 1600 B.C., some people speculate that there was the Xia Dynasty from 2100-1600 B.C., but nothing significant happened that we know of yet other than some pottery and basic bronze work.  It wasn’t until the Shang Dynasty that we see advanced bronze casting methods and the development of an advanced language. The cities that were built were walled and advanced. This is the first Dynasty that left behind written records and solid archaeological evidence. They were the original Dynasty to develop a stratified government in China and it seems that their officials were quite wealthy. Their religion was hugely based on rituals, primarily burial, much like the Egyptians. Since they worshipped their ancestors, they were conscious of the proper way to do it. They believed that if they didn’t properly worship their ancestors, their kingdom would experience countless disasters. The King frequently communicated with his ancestors using oracle bones. Besides worshipping their ancestors, they also worshipped the god Shang Di who was the supreme god that ruled over all of the lesser gods. Sacrifices were major in their religion, not only animal, but also human sacrifices. Most human sacrifices were performed at Royal burials. This region based most of their lives around their religion, but when they weren’t focused on sacrifices, they created advanced societies and cities. This was the beginning of the great Chinese culture.

From one man came all of the great nations of the world. This man was Noah, the only righteous man left in a world that was racked with sin. Unlike common belief, we in fact did not evolve; we are descended from a bright man, who gave rise to the great ancient civilizations. This explains why scientists are so baffled by the brilliance of these cultures that seem as though they popped up from nowhere. Some of the first and biggest nations were the people of early Mesopotamia, India, and China. They gave many advancements in technology and society. Most of the early civilizations rose from 3000-2000 B.C. Mostly ruled by their religions, sometimes they forgot what truly mattered, but we should still thank them for their discoveries and contributions to the modern world.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Generation Joshua

I am a part of this great organization called Generation Joshua. They are about getting teens educated about our government and how we can change it. They are completely Christian based and have quite a following. I am in a program through them called The Ben Rush Program that gives out scholarships. I need to do some volunteer work and other things, such as writing a letter to the editor of the newspaper, but I also need to get at least 1 other person signed up with Generation Joshua. I would greatly appreciate it if one of you could sign up, you just have to be 14-19 years old and still in High School. When you sign up, just say that I, Rachel Joseph was the one to tell you about it. If you have any questions please email me at You can also find out more at

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Celebrating Art Contest

This contest is very easy to enter and its free to enter. I just entered yesterday and thought I could spread the word.

If you want to learn more just go to

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

All About Healing

This was a great book. I love historical fiction books and this was a pretty fun one. It takes place in the 1920's and has all of the fun of black and white movies and flappers. Lilly was the kind of girl who strived for what she wanted and usually got it. She was the epitome of beauty and success. Yet she didn't have what truly makes a person whole and successful, Jesus. This book starts out with Lilly trying to sell perfumes and such, but can't seem to get a break, until she comes to the door of Betty Ruth Burnside. Instantly you fall in love with the adorable old woman just as Lilly does. As the story progresses Lilly ends up staying with the Burnsides and she learns what it's like to have a mother truly love her, because lo and behold, her own mother despises her. Not only is this a romance between Lilly and Cullen, Betty Ruth's son, but it is also about Lilly finding healing with her mother. Cullen is quite the gentleman and it is easy to like him, even though he is a scarred war veteran. This book is also about Cullen finding healing; the kind of healing that comes from Jesus. The love of Jesus is very apparent throughout this book. This book is truly all about healing. It was very well written and it keeps your attention and suspense throughout the whole thing.

I recieved this book from Waterbrook-Multnomah Publishers through their Blogging for Books program in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Library: After Hours

My friends and I made this little video and I thought I would post it.  :)

Monday, January 2, 2012

A Teen Book Series

This book was great. I totally understood everything that Sierra goes through because I'm the same age. I would have handled some situations a bit differently though. This book just reminded me that I want to go on a mission trip too and in fact heightened my desire to go on one. She goes on one and it completely changes her. Just like her, I also want to grow up and go to college sooner. It made me see that I should cherish my teenage years a bit more before growing up. As much fun as growing up is, it has its challenges. I also understood how she feels about guys and how she has never dated one. When she comes back from her mission trip and has to settle in a new area I understood her resentment. Personally I did not understand why she wouldn't want to go to a private Christian school, having gone to one for years myself. Everyone is different I suppose, though I love Sierra's love for God even when times are tough. Her love for her grandma is inspiring too. I can't wait to read the rest of the books in the series to see what else Sierra goes through and how she handles it. This is definitely a teen girl book series.

I received this book from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers through their Blogging for Books Program in exchange for an honest review.