A few great articles re: Europe


Science in the Middle Ages

Science and religion work together to order randomness and chaos.  In Book 1 of Genesis, God gives creates the universe, he separates the light from the dark, the land from the sea.  In science, a homogeneous substance is more stable than a heterogeneous substance.  Homogeneous reactants are not reactive unless stimulated by another substance, a catalyst.  In Genesis, before God created the universe all matter existed but had no order.  God is the catalyst. By creating the universe, He separates matter into homogeneous substances and orders the chaos of the physical world.  Before science, God gave an easy and definite answer to the questions of the universe.  Science reveals a complicated order of nature, and leads to more questions than answers.  God is a simple answer to complicated questions.

Maimonides says “When one thinks about these matters one will feel a great fear and trepidation, and one will know that one is a low and insignificant creation.”  The understanding about the complexity of nature reveals the greater glory of God and reminds man of his insignificant place in the universe.

God and nature are not necessarily mutually exclusive.  Science is used by philosophers in the Middle Ages as a tool to find the greater meaning of God.  Science is also the principle upon which the earth is governed, and for the Medieval philosophers, God governs the earth.  Therefore, God is at the foundation of science.  Science and religion do not conflict with each other, rather, science links God to the material world.  Nonetheless, the tension between science and religion saturated the philosophy of the Middle Ages and shaped the humanist movement, the next stage in western history.


Its interesting to learn a whole new set of French words.  As I’ve mentioned, I often try to guess French words by taking an English word and putting a French accent to it.  After you’ve got the French accent down, the trick to this is to say the word with more emphasis on the END of the word, as opposed to the beginning.  Even through the French often don’t pronounce the ends of the words, they tend to put more emphasis on what they do pronounce.  For example, the French people say parkING, while English speaking people say PArking.

But, trying to guess words on a farm does not work. In fact, the only similar word that I can think of is the ferme, farm.  All other words I’ve come across are extremely different.

It makes sense, really. Descriptive adjectives transcend borders.  The international community is apt to share ideas and the terms related to those ideas.  Agriculture, on the other hand, is the terre. Its of the earth; agricultural words do not transcend borders, they stay close.

Here’s a few:


sheep :: mouton

OK the British use mutton (adult sheep) for shepherd’s pie, but I’m pretty sure they lifted it from the French.


ewe (female sheep) :: brebis

ram (male sheep) ::  bélier


lamb :: agneau


goat :: chèvre


kid (baby goat) :: chevreau


billy/buck (male goat) :: bouc
OK that one’s the same.


horse ::  cheval


donkey ::  âne
More to come…

60 Million Frenchmen Can’t Be Wrong

If you have spent or plan to spend any significant time in France, you MUST read this book.

Bible : God :: 60 Million Frenchmen Can’t Be Wrong : Understanding the French.

60 Million Frenchmen Can’t Be Wrong not only explores Franco-Americano relations, but it also has a deep understanding of the French. Same as the Bible, just a different truth.

I’m reading the sequel now…

Ode to Chocolate

Swiss chocolate is the best chocolate. I loaded up when I was in Switzerland last weekend, and I’ve been overloading ever since.  I recommend the brand “Frey” (which happens to be the maiden name of the Swiss mother of two very good friends).

mmmm, Frey chocolate...

Ode to Chocolate

by Barbara Crooker

I hate milk chocolate, don’t want clouds
of cream diluting the dark night sky,
don’t want pralines or raisins, rubble
in this smooth plateau. I like my coffee
black, my beer from Germany, wine
from Burgundy, the darker, the better.
I like my heroes complicated and brooding,
James Dean in oiled leather, leaning
on a motorcycle. You know the color.

Oh, chocolate! From the spice bazaars
of Africa, hulled in mills, beaten,
pressed in bars. The cold slab of a cave’s
interior, when all the stars
have gone to sleep.

Chocolate strolls up to the microphone
and plays jazz at midnight, the low slow
notes of a bass clarinet. Chocolate saunters
down the runway, slouches in quaint
boutiques; its style is je ne sais quoi.
Chocolate stays up late and gambles,
likes roulette. Always bets
on the noir.

Exciting Week: Stuck in Swiss; Passed My French Test; Made it to the Sheep/Goat Farm

Its been an exciting week.

Last Friday I left Paris and took the train to Basel Switzerland so I could take my French test. I know, it doesn’t make sense to leave France in order to take a French test, but the CLEP test that I had to take is run by College Board (the same College Board that manages SATs and such).  Its American test, and so I had to find an American testing center.  The closest testing center in Paris was in Kandern Germany, a small town close to Basel.

In my last week in France, I went to the train station in order to purchase my train ticket from Paris to Basel, and then from Basel to the south of France (more on that later).  But, the nice lady at the Paris train station told me that she could sell me a ticket FROM Paris, but could not sell me a ticket for a train that did not originate from France because of the train strike (there is always a train strike).  I’m still not sure how that makes sense, but that’s that. But, she assured me that it wouldn’t be a problem getting a train ticket from Basel back to France.


And then the volcano. I arrived in Basel on Friday, only to discover that since all of the flights had been canceled all of the trains were completely booked until Monday.

Fortunately, the YMCA that I was staying in had extra rooms, so I just hung out in Basel for the weekend.

Basel, Switzerland

I don’t know if it was from the stress of taking my French test (I needed the test to graduate!) or sleeping 11 hours (I didn’t sleep much the last week in Paris…), but I woke up on Saturday totally unable to move my neck. I sucked it up, rubbed some homeopathic icy hot on my neck (thanks mom), got on the bus, and made my way to Kandern Germany to take the French test.  And, I’m sure glad I did, as I passed with flying colors.  I was super paranoid, but I’m pretty sure that the last night I spent in Paris, dining, talking and dancing salsa with a group of French friends, put me over the edge.

Salsa Feet

Sunday was spent in Basel with a Chinese girl who works as a Chinese/English translator that I met at the youth hostel.  I love that about traveling, you meet such interesting people.

Monday was spent taking numerous packed trains, but I finally made it to Albas France.  I’m wwoofing on a sheep/goat farm for the last three weeks of my sojourn in France. I’ve seen the birth of a few sheep, been feeding baby sheep with a bottle, and helping out with general feeding/care of the animals.  In exchange, I’m housed and fed during my time here (that’s what wwoofing means).  Is great to get out of the city, although there’s definitely a learning curve with all of these new words. But, I’ll save that for another blog…

Les Brebis (Ewes)

In more exciting news, I was offered a job as an English teaching assistant just outside of Paris. So, it looks like I’m going to make it back to Paris next year!!