27 May 2020

Uncle Aaron’s Bible Stories – Genealogy Break!

I couldn’t really think of a funny way to write about the genealogies in Genesis, because it’s just this guy is this other guy’s father with occasional “and he did this thing” peppered in. So, you just get my crappy amateur commentary. Note, I cannot read Hebrew, I can however match shapes to other shapes, especially in an interlinear Bible, so my speculation here is not coming from a place of deep understanding of the original languages these books were written in, but rather trying to understand other people’s work.

In the second half of Genesis 4, Cain founds civilization. He has sex with his wife, she gives him a son who they name Enoch. Cain then goes and builds a city and names it after his kid. Explanations abound for which city was called Enoch. Honestly, there doesn’t have to be a city named Enoch for this to be true or entirely made up. There could have been a city named Enoch, maybe it even existed when this part of Genesis was being penned, maybe it was a half remembered place from some oral history the author wrote down. This is just a possible explanation as to how it was founded. Was it really founded by the second man on earth? No, certainly not. Was there a hypothetical City of Enoch, founded by a guy named Cain who named it after his firstborn son? There’s no reason to think so, but there’s also no reason to think there wasn’t, or at least something similar that gave rise to the story.

What I found interesting, pouring over the genealogies is that the descendants of Cain have awfully similar names to the descendants of Seth. Two people having the same name is fine, what’s weird is that they’re in the mostly the same order. I looked up why this might be. My thought was someone’s way of reconciling two groups stories about Cain without angering either side. Here’s a side by side comparison.

Seth’s LineCain’s Line
Kenan (Cainan in some texts)Irad
Shem, Ham, Japheth

Sure enough a lot of scholars agree that they are just variations of the same name. Also, if you assume “Cainan/Kenan” and “Cain” are the same person, and note that the only other difference is when Mehujael/Mahal’alel and Enoch/Enoch were born the lists are identical, with the addition of an “Enosh” on Cain’s line. The list looks like this:

Seth’s LineCain’s Line (with Enoch and Mehujael swapped)
Enosh(Hypothetical Enosh/Enoch father of Cain(an). Enosh might just be another name for Adam.
Kenan (Cainan)Cain
NoahJabal, Jubal, Tubal-Cain, Na’amah (daughter)
Shem, Ham, Japheth

Adding a hypothetical Enosh before Cain is not that weird, because Enosh just means “Man” the same as Adam. It could just refer to the same person. One group may have thought the progenitor of humanity was Seth, and the other thought it was Enosh/Adam. At any rate, placing all that next to each other as above shows the family lines are identical.

Speaking of Enoch, he and Lamech are the only two people in either genealogy where something they did or involved in was mentioned.

Seth’s Line
Accomplishment: Cain’s Line
EnochWas so righteous God took him and he did not die.The world’s first city was named after him.
LamechProphesied that his son, Noah would relieve the people of the world from their endless labor.A dude punched him, and he killed him to set an example of what happened to anyone who wronged him. Invented the phrase “Assert Dominance”.

Seems like a game of oneupmanship by the Seth group to prove their guys with the same name were not only different people but had different personalities. I see the endless bullshitting by ancient priests like this:

Cain Priest: “Yeah our boy Cain’s son Enoch had the oldest city in the world named after him. Beat that.”

Seth Priest: “Oh yeah? Our guy Seth’s great, great, great, great, great grandson Enoch, who is a different guy from your Enoch as is our Enosh, was so pure and righteous that God didn’t let him die. He took him, and he’s still alive in heaven, hell, some say he’s the literal voice of God.”

Cain Priest: “Sure but our man Lamech’s kids invented musical instruments, metallurgy, and figured out how to raise cattle and make better tents. His daughter is the ancestor of people in Egypt.”

Seth Priest: “Your Lamech murdered a guy for punching him. Not a cool guy. Our dude Lamech prophesied his kid Noah would save the world from all work and toil. Noah was the guy who built an ark and preserved all of humanity while God wiped out the wicked people.”

Cain Priest: “Are we not still endlessly working to eat? Aren’t there still wicked people? Like the Moabites?”

Seth Priest: “Sure but…”

Cain Priest: “No, seems to me your Lamech was full of shit. Our cat Tubal-Cain figured out how to make bronze and discovered the secrets of iron working. One of his brothers figured out cows, and the other figured out music. All of those things made our lives a lot easier, more pleasant, and with few drawbacks. What did your idiot Noah do? Built a boat, probably using T-Cain’s nails. Also he invented wine. A product that not only makes you stupid, but literally happens on its own if you just mash some grape up and leave them in a jar in the closet. Good job Noah, you invented something nature does by itself.”

And the argument continued until there weren’t any more Cainite priests to voice their opinion.

One other thing that sticks out to me about these genealogies is that, and I’ve mentioned this before, it specifically states that Adam had sex with his wife to produce a child. It also says Cain had sex with his wife and produced a child. It does not say that about anyone else. In Genesis 5 where Adam’s descendants through Seth are listed, it says nothing of the sort. Genesis 4 and 5 also use different words for “was born to”. Genesis 4 also uses “Yahweh” for God, while 5 reverts back to “Elohim”. My guess is, whoever wrote Genesis 4 did not also write Genesis 5 based on their writing style and what name they ascribe to God.

Lastly, Genesis 4 speaks of the female descendants of Cain, but we do not see any other women mentioned by named until Sarai is introduced in Chapter 10. No woman is named in the story of the Flood (one would think the four women who gave birth to humanity would be important enough to name). No women are named in the story of the Tower of Babel, and it’s not until the end of chapter 10 that we’re introduced to Sarai and her sister in law Milcah.

It’s worth noting that, at least from a cursory look at Genesis 1-5, the sections that mention specific women also use the word “Yahweh”. I do not know if there is a connection between the two or not, other than just different tastes from different authors.

24 May 2020

Uncle Aaron’s Bible Stories – A Cynical Take on Cain and Abel

Once the man and Eve were exiled from the garden they started humping like sex-starved rabbits in spring. After one of their many daily encounters with the beast with two backs, Eve became pregnant with her first child.
“Oh my God! Like, with God’s help, I have made a little man!” she said, holding the newborn baby to her breast.
The man looked at the boy skeptically, “With God’s help eh? I’ve been thinking, he doesn’t look very much like me.”
“Like, I don’t know if you’re trying to say he isn’t yours or not, but you do know you’re the only man right?”
The man shrugged, “Well at any rate I’m sure he’ll make us proud,” he said, taking the boy and rocking him to sleep. After Cain was asleep the two had sex again, and Eve fell pregnant with her second child. When that child was born, she just named him Abel and moved on with her life.
In the course of time the two boys took very different paths in life. Like his father, Cain became a farmer. Abel decide to work primarily with livestock and became a shepherd.
For no reason whatsoever, the two boys decided to make an offering to God. So one day they each brought their offering. Cain brought some of his produce, the fruits of his orchard, grain from his field, and some vegetables. Abel, ever the show off, brought the fattest of the first born female lambs of his flock.
God, as is known, loves barbecue and favored Abel’s offering. He didn’t even look at Cain’s healthier, vegan friendly offering. Not even the apples, which were amazing. This made Cain irrationally angry with his brother.
Noticing Cain’s anger and frustration God visited him.
“Cain, why are you angry? You look like one of Abel’s sheep peed in your coffee.”
“What’s coffee?” Cain asked.
“Nevermind. Look there’s no reason for you to be mad. If with everything you do, you do a good job, you’ll be accepted. If you don’t do a good job, sin will be skulking around you, wanting you, desiring you. You can’t let it have its way, you must assert dominance and subjugate it to your will.”
“I think I understand, God,” Cain said. He didn’t particularly understand, God was known for being somewhat cryptic and had a tendency to retaliate harshly on anyone who didn’t understand what He was getting at.
“Good, good talk,” God said, slapping Cain on the back and wandering off to parts unknown.
Cain, who couldn’t quite get over his anger found his brother sitting on his ass watching his sheep and playing some nonsense musical instrument he’d invented.
“Hey Abel!” Cain yelled, “Come with me out to one of my fields, I need some help with something right quick.”
Abel got up and followed his brother. “What do you need help with?”
“I’ve lost one of my tools in a hole, and can’t quite reach it. Your arms are a bit longer than mine, thought I’d get you to try before I go to the effort of digging it out,” Cain replied.
“Makes sense,” Abel replied.
They reached the field and Cain pointed to a small crevice in the ground, “It’s down there, you should be able to see it.”
Abel crouched down and looked in the hole, “Cain I don’t see it? What am I looking for?”
“It’s a wooden stick with a rock tied to it. Seriously, you need to eat more carrots, I can see it from here,” Cain replied.
Abel laid down and peered into the hole, “I still don’t see it.”
“Silly me, I found it,” Cain said, bringing a stone club down on his brother’s head as hard as he could. Abel’s head split open like a ripe watermelon in August. Cain’s profession made him inhumanly strong, pulling his wooden plow through the hard, cursed ground.
Later that afternoon while Cain was pleasantly harvesting garlic, the Lord approached him.
“Yes, God?” Cain asked, not looking up from his work.
“Where’s your brother Abel? I can’t find him.”
“How the hell should I know where my brother is? Am I supposed to keep track of his schedule or something? He does his own thing. With sheep. It’s weird and unhealthy,” Cain replied.
“It was a rhetorical question Cain. I know you killed him, his blood has been screaming at me from the ground all day. So, as punishment, I’m cursing you so that the ground won’t produce for you anymore, because of all the blood you made it drink. You’re going to be a wanderer, and probably a weak one as the ground isn’t going to give you its strength anymore,” God said.
“Ok, see that’s a good curse. You’re getting better at this. Dad said you cursed the ground because of what he did, now you’re cursing me because of what I did. Much more fair,” Cain said.
God puffed out his chest, “Well, thank you, Cain.”
“But!” Cain replied, holding up a finger, “This is too much punishment for what I did. First of all, Abel kind of had it coming. Second, you’re going to make me unable to do the only thing I’m good at and wander all over the place begging for food. I won’t make it to the next farm over before they kill me. The Cherub over there does a good job of keeping us safe from bandits. He’s even taken to turning into a man, and I shouldn’t tell you this but he lets dad borrow his sword sometimes.”
“Oh, that’s easy to remedy,” God said, putting his finger on Cain’s head, “I’m marking you so people will know if they kill you, they’ll get it seven times worse.”
“What did you do?”
“I made it look like you’re a somewhat inhuman monster. People will be afraid to touch you,” God replied.
“I’m hideous aren’t I?”
“Oh, no far from it. In fact, while people won’t want to kill you, I’m sure you’ll have no problem finding a wife or two now,” God said, winking at Cain, “Now get the fuck out of here.”
And so it was that Cain left Eden and ran off to the Land of Nod. Which is to say he wandered around aimlessly for a time.

This is why the world hates vegans.

Notes… And musings about vampires…

As always, my sources are the Revised Standard Edition of the Bible, Young’s Literal Translation, and the Orthodox Jewish Bible. I also refer to an extra biblical source for part of this story called the “Apocalypse of Moses”. Some of the other ideas come from more than one non-biblical source.

Most translators and probably the original authors sort of talk around Adam and Eve having sex. They say things like, “Adam knew his wife,” much like how we say, “Oh they slept together.” Some translations make it more blatant. With Adam and Cain, it specifically says they ‘knew their wives’ before they had children. With the other patriarchs, it does not say this, they just had children, which is a more natural way of saying it.
There’s nothing wrong with either talking about or around sex, I just find it odd it’s even brought up. Of course they had sex, that’s how children are made. Was there some pamphlet going around suggesting Adam’s children and Cain’s children came about some other way?

In Adam’s case, actually yes. It was a widespread belief that Cain’s father was a fallen angel, Satan, the snake, or even God Himself. The latter probably being the logical answer to the question, “What did she mean with God’s help I’ve gotten a man?” My guess is that the passage didn’t include the part about Adam and Eve boning. I’d imagine someone added it later try and dispel the idea that Cain was somehow half-human and that was the reason he murdered Abel. Why be specific with Cain and his wife, I have no idea.

The differing professions of the brothers are equally valid ways to produce food. Producing food used to be far more important to people, and far more labor intensive than it is today. Also, most people were involved in it. Now, a relatively small number of people can feed hundreds, possibly thousands, due to industrialization and thousands of years of selective breeding.
There’s almost certainly a statement being made here about the people who farm, and the people who raise livestock. I’m not sure what the issue was when the story was being penned. The best suggestion I’ve read is that the semi-nomadic, sheep herding way of life was seen as superior to the settled, agricultural life of civilized people. Considering Cain builds the world’s first city later, it’s as good a theory as any.

The nature of the two offerings is, at best confusing. Cain is said to have brought some of his produce as an offering. Abel is said to have brought a meat offering, and it’s said in the most confusing way possible.
The way most translations I looked at phrase Genesis 4:4, it indicates Abel brought both some whole, firstborn sheep, as well as some choice cuts of meat he’d butchered. Maybe this is correct, as such offerings did occur. Young’s Literal Translation indicates he brought some of the fattest firstborn female sheep he had as an offering. That’s what I went with, mostly because it fits better with the common idea of what an ancient animal sacrifice was, namely a whole animal being burned. No other translation I looked at indicates the sheep were female.
The issue is that this wasn’t a sacrifice, it was a gift offering, which didn’t usually mean the whole animal was burned. While gift offerings were sometimes made as an addition to the regular sin offerings, they were not mandatory and were rarely a whole animal.
Say you had a good harvest, or were trying to curry God’s favor for your next horse race, you might burn some grain, oil and incense. If you had been a particularly sinful rancher this year, you might also toss in a filet mignon or two with your regular offering of a whole cow, just to make sure it took. Often times only part of your offering was actually burned, the priests would eat most of it. I think of it much like a donation to the church apart from your tithe for a special project or something like that.

Why God turned down Cain’s offering is anyone’s guess. Many interpretations exist. One common interpretation is that God required an animal sacrifice, and that vegetables were unacceptable. Absent any sort of theological frameworks, it certainly reads that way. However, God later institutes grain sacrifices, fruit sacrifices and various other non-animal based sacrifices, which indicates at some point in time these kinds of offerings and sacrifices were seen as normal. The author of this story may have simply been from a time when animal sacrifices and offerings were the only kind that were acceptable.
There are tons of other ideas, few of which have any basis in what the scripture actually says. Cain’s attitude, effort, and the grain not being the first fruit of the field are all interpretations I’ve heard, and read. These are all products of various theological frameworks being applied retroactively to the text. The scripture says nothing of the sort.
I have a more cynical, and more practical idea as to why the story reads the way it does. These stories were almost all written down by the literate priests. It’s also my understanding that priests would get parts of the offerings and sacrifices to eat themselves. I believe this was how they were paid. Since meat is more desirable than bread to most, this was just one (or more) priest’s way of getting the all barbecue he wanted as opposed to the less tasty dough offerings.

A lot of artwork depicts Cain killing Abel with the jawbone of a donkey. I was always taught he grabbed a rock and smashed Abel over the head. I think this idea comes from the Qoran (actually, a lot of the stories I heard in Sunday School were really from the Qoran or some other Islamic source), and the jawbone thing was probably some weird idea from England in the middle ages. Either way it’s not specified how Cain killed Abel. The idea I like the best is he just clubbed him on the back of the head with some primitive farm implement while he was distracted.

The mark God gives Cain after the murder is also the subject of centuries of debate. One of the letters of God’s sacred name is one idea I’ve seen. Another is that God caused him to grow a horn. A reasonable idea is that God gave him leprosy. Since Cain was a city builder, I suspect it wasn’t supposed to be leprosy if the author knew of the city building. One of the more interesting, and fantastic ideas is that God turned him into a vampire. There are a few apocryphal texts describing Cain biting his brother on the neck, and of Eve having a vision of Cain drinking Abel’s blood. This seems to be where that particular idea comes from.
At any rate it seems to be that the mark was something people could see and understand. I like the idea of some kind of deformity. Whatever it was obviously didn’t hinder his ability to obtain a wife and have children so it couldn’t have been too horrifying.

Dwelling in the Land of Nod is apparently an ancient idiom for living a wandering, nomadic lifestyle. It’s not a literal place, it just means that he wandered around east of Eden for a while.

As for the moral of the story at the end. I just find this funny. A lot of these Bible stories have a quick little, “And this is why a thing is like that” at the end. This one didn’t have one, but Creation and The Fall both do. Creations is “And this is why a man leaves his parent’s house and cleaves to his wife and they become one flesh”, the one for the Fall is actually the curse, explaining the following:

  1. Why Snakes have no legs.
  2. Why women have pain in child birth.
  3. Why people hate snakes.
  4. Why men have to work hard their whole life for seemingly less than they put in.
  5. Why the ground grows weeds and other hindrances to agriculture.
17 May 2020

Uncle Aaron’s Bible Stories – A Cynical Take on Adam and Eve

The Fall

In the garden of Eden there lived a snake. Of every land animal, the snake was by far the most cunning. Among all the animals that lived, the snake was the third craftiest. Only the octopus of the sea, and raven of the air were more wise than she. One day the snake meets the woman and strikes up a conversation.
After the small talk and pleasantries are done with, the snake gets right to the point and asks the woman, “Has Yahweh told you that you can’t eat from any of the trees in this garden?”
The woman was not surprised this snake could talk, and was pleased that the snake was such a great conversational partner, unlike her husband who talked over her head a lot. “No, like Yahweh said we can totally eat any of the fruit from like any tree in like the whole garden. He wasn’t like super specific about strawberries, but like any tree’s fruit we can totally eat. But there’s like this tree in like the middle of the garden that he said like, ‘Don’t eat the fruit of this tree or even touch it or you’ll like, you know, totally die right then’. I don’t know what like, ‘die’ means but it sounds totally final, you know?”
To this the snake replied, “You’re making up the part about not touching it aren’t you?”
“Yeah, like the Lord said just to not eat it, but I added the don’t touch part so I’d be super sure not to do anything wrong,” the woman replied.
The serpent nodded, “I see, but you won’t actually die if you eat the fruit from that tree.”
“For real?” the woman asked.
“For real. See, Yahweh knows that when you eat that fruit, you’ll be just like Him. Your eyes will be opened and you’ll know good from evil, just like He does.”
“I don’t know,” the woman said while winding a lock of her hair around her finger. “Like, God was like pretty specific to my husband not to eat it. I haven’t even gone near that tree in pretty much ever. But like, sure it makes sense God would say that so we wouldn’t be like Him. I’m totally going to go check it out.”
“Totally,” said the snake.
The woman went to look at the tree some time later. She saw that it was a pretty tree with pretty, shiny red fruit. The fruit looked pretty good to her, and if any fruit would make her wise, it was this fruit. And why not? Her husband, who she just called ‘man’, said God called it the ‘Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil’. So eating it must let her know what the difference is. So she picked a fruit and broke it open.
“There’s like a million tiny seeds in here,” she said looking in the fruit. After picking a few out and eating she came to a realization, “Oh. My. God. This is the most annoying thing I’ve ever eaten. It looks good, but like, so annoying.” She popped a few more seeds in her mouth, “Oh, I totally get it now! The difference between good and evil! Some things look great, but are not worth trying. Like this pomegranate. Other things look awful, but are so worth trying in the end. Like my husband’s penis.”
So she found her husband, and held the fruit out to him, “Man! Eat some of these pomegranate seeds.”
“What the hell is a pomegranate, woman?” the man asked.
“This is a pomegranate, you know from the tree of knowledge of good and evil over there, I’m calling it a pomegranate,” she said, pointing to the tree, “Wait, what’s hell?”
“Never mind about hell. This seems legit,” he said, throwing a hand full of the seeds in his mouth, “Oh God! This is the most annoying thing I’ve ever eaten. It looks great, but Jesus, it’s so crunchy and awful.”
“I know right!” she said, “Wait, who’s Jesus?”
“Nevermind. So, for reasons I don’t want to explain, I didn’t want to tell you this earlier, but I can see your lady bits. It’s distracting now.”
“Oh, I know. Ever since I ate this fruit, I’ve been thinking a lot about your dick. Could you like, cover it up? It’s weird looking.”
So the man stitched together some fig leaves into what he called, “Dick Coverings.”
The woman, who obviously didn’t have a penis, suggested he call them “Loin Clothing” instead.
“Oh that’s much better,” the man said after putting his on, “But, I kind of want to convince you to take yours off again.”
“I know right! It’s weird, but I kind of want to see your dick again.”
The man held his hand up and stopped her short, “I hear Yahweh. Quick, hide in this bush, He won’t see us here!”
Sure enough, Yahweh was noisily walking around the garden, as He was known to do in the evening. The man and the woman were nowhere in sight, which confused Yahweh.
“Man! Man! Where are you?” God started calling while He tore through the garden.
After a few minutes God walked by the bushes the man and woman were hiding in.
“Yahweh, we’re hiding over here,” the man called from the bushes.
Yahweh whipped his head around as soon as he heard the man, “I knew that! Why are you hiding, man?”
The man crawled out of the bush and stood up. “Why are you suddenly covering your junk?” God asked. The woman crawled out from under the bush and stood next to her husband.
“Well Yahweh, we were embarrassed that we were naked so we made some loin clothing and hid in the bushes,” the man replied.
“Who told you that you were naked?” Yahweh asked, tilting His head like an inquisitive dog, “Wait a minute. Did you eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil? Like I specifically told you not to?”
“Well, I did. But this woman you made here told me to,” the man replied, pointing to the woman.
The woman folded her arms across her chest and narrowed her eyes at the man, who flinched at the look she gave him, “Like I gave it to him, but that snake made me forget I wasn’t supposed to at it. She tricked me!”
“SNAAAAAAKE!” Yahweh yelled when He realized the serpent wasn’t around.
The snake flew in and coiled up around a tree branch, “Yes, Yahweh? What do you want?”
“Since you tricked the woman into eating the fruit I’m cursing you to crawl on the ground on your belly and eat dirt.”
“You’re confusing me with a worm. They already do that,” the serpent replied.
“Look I’m removing your legs, and making you eat dirt.”
“Nah, I don’t think so. If I had legs, I’d be called a lizard. I don’t have any sudden desire to eat dirt. Nice try, El.”
“Stop calling me that. Now, I’m going to make the descendants of the woman hate you, and your descendants hate them. They’re going to crush your head, and you’ll do nothing more than bruise their heel,” God said, smugly.
“Whatever. Look guys, He’s making a big show, but all of my kin are more afraid of you then you are of them. Some will even kill you if they bite you. So, be careful, your heel may be a lot more than bruised,” the snake said, slithering off.
Yahweh rolled his eyes and turned to the woman, “I’m cursing you with a lot of pain in childbirth. Also the man will subject you to him but you’ll be horny for him constantly.”
The woman shrugged, “What’s a child? Also, like, I don’t know what horny is but I kind of want to try some stuff with my man, and I was feeling that way before you showed up. Could you wrap this up? I have stuff I want to do to him,” she said, winking at the man.
Yahweh rolled his eyes, “As for you man, because you listened to your woman, I’m cursing the ground.”
“Are you sure? I was the one who screwed up. The ground did nothing,” the man asked, “Also you made her horny for me, shouldn’t you curse me to be revolted by her or something? You have a terrible sense of tragedy, Yahweh. Also, why shouldn’t I listen to my woman? You made her from my rib, with the express purpose of helping me out. She’s pretty and smart. I don’t see why you’re punishing the ground for me listening to her bad advice. ”
“I am cursing the ground! It won’t grow anything for you easily, you’ll have to work hard every day of your life. The bread you eat will only come in proportion to how much you sweat! You’ll have to pull weeds and till the ground until you die!”
“Question, what is bread? Also you’re saying I’ll be doing the exact same thing you made me to do, except harder. So now I just play life on hard mode? Also woman, who is insanely hot, will be constantly horny for me. Are you sure this is how you want to do the whole curse thing? You can try again, we’ll wait if you want to change your mind” The man asked.
“Yes!” Yahweh said.
“Challenge accepted!” The man said, “Woman! I’m going to call you Eve now, because soon you’re going to be the mother of everyone. Except me. I guess Yahweh is my mom.”
The pair walked off and Yahweh turned to his fellow gods that he suddenly remembered exist and said, “I think we have a problem guys. They’re just like us now because of that stupid tree. If the man is smart, and he is, he’ll make a bee line for the Tree of Life and be immortal.”
“So, effectively more gods?” One of the gods asked.
“Yeah, we need to kick him out of the garden,” Yahweh replied.
“That line about how you’re his mom was kind of sweet though,” a goddess piped in.
“I know, I kind of feel sorry for them. I wish I could do something,” Yahweh said, eyeing two animals that were passing by. He promptly killed those animals and made clothing out of their skins and presented them to the man and woman. Then He kicked them out of the garden. He placed a winged monstrosity with the body of a bull and the head of a man at the entrance of the garden with a flaming sword so they couldn’t get back in.

And that’s how unicorns went extinct.

Notes, So Many Notes

There’s a lot to unpack here with my telling of The Fall. As with all of these retellings I’m using the RSV, Young’s Literal Translation, and the Orthodox Jewish Bible as primary sources. I list a few extra-biblical sources for some of the information as necessary. These are typically books that didn’t make it into the canon, and scholarly research and commentary.

The word for serpent in Genesis 3:1 is “Nachash” which is the probable root for “Nahushtan” mentioned elsewhere in the Bible. Nachash is the Hebrew word that refers to all kinds of snakes on a generic level. The difference seems to be the same as ‘snake’ and ‘viper’ in English. Viper typically means a poisonous snake, whereas snake can be any number of legless reptiles. Most places I looked claimed Hebrew has fourteen other words for snake, or specific snakes.
Of all the interpretations for who exactly the serpent is, and there are a number of them, I lean towards the following three:

  • A Watcher. One of the angels that fell from heaven and had sex with human women. Watchers are mentioned by that term in the Book of Daniel, and in the extra biblical Book of Enoch. The ‘bene elohim’ that produced children with human women are really the same idea according to most sources I found.
  • A goddess of some kind. I’ve lost my sources on this. However even a basic examination of artwork related to the fall from antiquity will show Eve talking to a woman whose lower half is that of a snake. At least some people believed this. One source I saw indicated that the tree and the snake were the same thing, a goddess and her name meant “Tree of Good”, implying the “and Evil”. Unfortunately I didn’t save a link the book where this came from, but it fits in with all the artwork.
  • A literal talking snake. This is to my mind the likeliest possibility. Just about everyone has a story that includes talking animals from ancient times.

At no point is the snake said to be the devil. The idea of the devil didn’t seem to exist in Judaism until sometime around 200 BC. As best I can tell, Genesis 2 (if not the entire book in some form) had been around at least eight hundred years before this. The story itself is likely much older.

You’ll note I use “Yahweh” for God in this story as opposed to “God” or “gods” as in chapter 1. In English translations God is called “God” in Genesis 1. In Genesis 2 He is called “Lord God”. The reason being that in Genesis 1 the Hebrew word “Elohim” is used by itself, the word itself usually denotes more than one god. In Genesis 2 the phrase is “Yahweh Elohim”. The Yahweh part being a rough pronunciation of the sacred name of God that’s being used in the text. The English translators kept the tradition of not saying the name of God by substituting “Lord” for “Yahweh”. This is much the same as what the priests would do when reading the text out loud. They would say “Adonai” or sometimes “The Name” when they came across God’s name in the text. In some modern English translations you’ll find either “Jehovah” or “Yahweh” in the text instead of “Lord”.

As I pointed out earlier, Adam is never named in all of Genesis. He’s just “the man” or “HaAdam” in the Hebrew. So he’s just “Man” for the purposes of these stories. I was always told Adam was probably the smartest man to ever live, hence his knowledge of some things that don’t exist yet in this story.

I like to imagine Eve, who does get a name, as a smart valley girl from the 90’s. Kind of like a brunette version of the main character in “Legally Blonde”. My upbringing in a Southern Baptist church taught me that Eve was stupid for whatever reason. I don’t see it that way, she was ‘tricked’ by the snake and made the decision on her own.

The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil is another subject of a millenia long debate. What it actually granted Adam and Eve is equally uncertain. The most commonly taught idea is they then knew the difference between Good and Evil as the name of the tree suggests. This makes very little sense in context of the story, hence the debate. Generally, the Old Testament indicates that ‘good’ is “What God says is OK” and ‘evil’ is “What God says is not OK”. I admit that’s stripping away a lot of nuance, but that’s typically what it comes down to.
One of the longest standing ideas is that the Tree taught Adam and Eve how to reproduce. You can see this idea in an absurd amount of medieval artwork and pornography. This also explains a lot of Christian belief about how sex is evil. The idea being that the first sin was not eating the fruit, but Adam and Eve having sex after they had done so. It also makes sense of much of the story. The pair already knew disobeying God was evil. It also explains why God said they were like gods (the gods could reproduce), and only needed to eat of the Tree of Life to essentially be gods. There are holes in the theory, but as absurd as it seems, it does make a lot of sense without applying a lot of modern ideas to it.

The Tree of Life isn’t talked about much. I haven’t found any reason to think that it was anything other than a tree that produced food that made you immortal. The idea was that you wouldn’t die as long as you kept eating this fruit. God Himself says as much to His divine counsel (other gods) at the end of the chapter.
The idea is identical to Ambrosia in Greek myth. Many myths from all over the world talk about heroes missing out on eating from the ‘divine food’ that would grant them immortality. The Chinese talked about “Peaches of Immortality”, The Epic of Gilgamesh talks about an herb of immortality that only a sacred snake could find, and the Egyptians wrote about something called “White Drops”. Some ancient Hebrews believed in a Tree of Life with immortality granting fruit. It’s all the same thing.

The curses strike me as odd. The serpent is punished directly. I had never thought about the snake being cursed to eat dirt until I wrote this. I can’t imagine that the writer meant snakes literally ate dirt, unless he’d never encountered a snake, and no one he knew had either. One wonders if there’s another story where the snake is a worm or some other creature, or if the author was meaning that snakes ate dirt metaphorically, because they slither on the ground. Many think that this curse is why snakes lost their legs. I think perhaps they’d have been called ‘lizards’ if they had legs and snakes after they lost them. The idea that snakes had wings, not legs, and could fly makes a lot more sense here.
Eve is also punished directly with pain in childbirth. There’s no indication that they had children at that point. So how would she know the difference? What ties this together is that she’ll desire her husband and he’ll lord over her. So she’ll want the very thing that causes her so much pain.
The man’s curse is indirect. The ground is cursed, not the man. He’ll have to work very hard for his bread until the day he dies. What I find hilarious here is the idea of ‘bread’ in the Garden of Eden. There was no bread, there was no death. The only thing we’re told the pair ate was fruit. How was Adam supposed to know what bread was. This is like an author using the idiom “fly under the radar” in a period piece set in the 1800’s. It’s nonsensical.

The Cherubim at the gates of Eden are not the chubby winged angel babies we call “Cherubs” today. They are fearsome beings with four faces, six wings, and legs like a bull. There are carvings all over the middle east of winged bulls with a man’s head, generally called “Lamassu”. The four faces might indicate they imagined the Cherubim to have four faces. It could, in my opinion, mean that they thought there were four ways a cherubim could appear. The four faces are generally a man, an eagle, an ox (bull) and a lion. The various winged animals depicted in the middle east were generally combinations of those four animals. Griffins are lion/eagles, Lammasu are bull/men, kirabu are winged humans, sphinx are man/lions, and so forth. All of those hybrid animals are depicted as having wings at some point. Even the sphinx, depending on who is depicting it, often have wings. Just speculation on my part, but perhaps some people thought all those hybrids were essentially the same thing?

I personally think that this story was adapted from an older story and we don’t have the full picture. It could be ripped off from the Babylonian or Sumerian creation stories. It could have just as easily been one that the Hebrew people had been telling each other for generations. Either way

23 December 2016

My every day pocket knife – A better way

I was given my first pocket knife at six years old. I lost that pocket knife a few years later even though after getting a better one I kept it in a little cedar box which I still have. It’s a real shame too because I think that knife had been given to my father by his grandfather. I don’t remember. The moral of this story is, not all kids keep up with stuff.

Throughout my life my father, brother, sister and I have given each other various pocket knives to carry around for various reasons. I’ve always preferred the multi-use Swiss Army knives, my dad likes carving knives with more than one blade. My brother likes larger locking blade knives and my sister typically always had smaller pen knives, or more realistically our left overs.

A few solutions that worked for me

The Gerber Dime

The Gerber Dime – It’s maybe three inches long closed, four open and half an inch thick. It weighs a couple of ounces at best and has several useful tools. It’s worth every penny and far better than any other tiny multi-tool I’ve ever messed with.

The knife I’d been carrying for a couple of years has been the Gerber Dime. It’s a small multi-tool that’s helped me fix more than one computer. It has a box opening tool on it so you don’t get tape gunk on the regular blade, which is my favorite feature. The pliers are decent. The little ‘precision’ flat blade screwdriver works pretty well in some Phillips head screws without messing them up. It is not terribly heavy on a key chain. I have the black one and after a few years of carrying it, the paint has stayed on pretty well, and I’ve only touched up the knife edge once. The box opener has needed some help a little more often, but it gets used more.

At the end of the day I liked it but I decided after a few years and as I kept it on my key chain, it made my keys too heavy.

The Leatherman Skeletool

The Leatherman Skeleletool

I got this multi-tool a while back and I used to carry it every day. To be honest I find it a bit heavy for my pocket. I like the changeable bits in the screwdriver function though so I tossed it in my pack, which I’ll talk about in another post. Again, I found it too heavy but it’s worth mentioning here.

The Leatherman Skeletool RX – Has a serrated blade instead of the combination serrated/straight. The CX has a non-serrated blade.

In my opinion this is the best multi-tool you can buy. I’ve owned a classic Leatherman, and I have a Gerber multi-tool I really like as well, and this one just gets everything right. The two biggest problems I’ve had with other multi-tools (besides the fact that they are usually just toys) are they have too much useless, low quality crap in them, and when the handle opens it is hollow, square and can be uncomfortable to use. This one has some ergonomic design and doesn’t have an awl, four crappy flat bladed screwdrivers, a saw, file, can opener and a small pair of scissors. No disrespect to Tim Leatherman or his competitors but, less is more sometimes.

The Victorinox Mechanic

This is my favorite pocket knife ever. I’ve owned three or four of these and used them heavily. My coworkers have used my Mechanics heavily. I’ve had both the Wenger and Victorinox versions and I like them both, the former more than the latter. You can’t find the Wenger ones anymore, but the Victorinox version is just as good. I use the small knife blade, Phillips driver and pliers on these until something breaks. I know you can just write the company and get the parts replaced. When that happens they don’t get thrown away they get put in the kitchen drawer, bathroom cabinet, office, tool bag and I order a new one. The pliers aren’t especially heavy-duty but for the light duty stuff I normally do, they work great. I’ve built at least one computer using just this knife.

It wasn’t really the weight that eventually made me stop carrying this every day but the thickness. But, sometimes, depending on what I’m about to go, my current one will still get thrown in my pocket.

Gerber EAB Pocket Knife

The Gerber EAB – Uses standard contractor or “utility” blades.

There are two versions of this knife and it is what I actually carry now. I like this thing and will probably be getting a few of the ‘lite’ versions of it in the future if they are as good as the regular.

The EAB Lite – Basically the same thing as the EAB. A little more compact version of an already tiny knife.

It is basically a small folding utility knife. It uses standard utility blades so you don’t ever really have to sharpen it. Just take out the old blade and put in a new one. This means the blade is razor-sharp every time, and more importantly you don’t ever mind using your ‘good knife’ on something awful. If you mess up the blade, forget to oil it, chip it, ding it, or anything like that, you just replace it. You can get 100 replacement blades for around $10 (sometimes $5 if you watch them). You can also use hooked blades and other styles that use the same utility blade format.

I have other knives for other uses, but the EAB is what I carry in my pocket every day now and it does what I need it to. The reason I now prefer this little knife  that it basically never needs sharpening. I do not mind sharpening my knives and have multiple ways to do so. It’s just easier to keep a spare blade or two in my toolkit or in my car than to worry about having to cut something with my good pocket knife that I probably shouldn’t then having to wait until I get home to work out the nicks. A five pack of blades at most hardware stores is a few dollars if I don’t have any with me and I need them. For $10 I got a package of a hundred and since they fit multiple other utility knives I own, there’s really no downside.

9 July 2014

Guns, Flags, and Sacred Texts

So this stupid picture has made rounds on the ol’ social media feeds lately and I can’t help but look at the sheer stupidity of it all.


I’m your average mostly libertarian Christian with HEAVY gnostic and deist leanings. I stress this because I don’t want anyone to think this is going to be the rant of some run of the mill Southern Baptist redneck from Amarillo trying to defend this whole thing. I do not like either of the mainstream political parties too much though I do tend to have more right-wing political leanings most of the time.

I do not know exactly who the woman in the right hand picture is but it’s been suggested that it might be a woman named Reem Saleh Al-Riyashi. She was a wealthy Palestinian woman who blew herself up in 2004 and killed four Israeli soldiers and wounded several more. She left behind two children. 

The woman on the left in Holly Fisher, an American woman whose husband is in the military. Apparently she’s got a kid who’s cardiologist was not covered under the new healthcare act here in the US and some other stuff. So she took that picture of herself and another one that’s been making rounds with herself outside of Hobby Lobby.

I notice something about both pictures though. They’re both doing things that their culture deems proper as methods of expressing their patriotism. But you know what I never see anymore? Pictures of people actually reading their holy books?

Used to the pictures of American life you’d see were these men sitting on their porch with the shotgun propped up against the house with a beverage of some sort on a table.  They’d have their boots off, maybe their wife just had finished cooking supper and a pie was cooling in the window. Both of them would be taking a well deserved break from the hard work of the day. Maybe both of them would be smoking a pipe, maybe just the man. There’d be a Bible alright, but it’d be open, worn and one of them would be reading it. It wouldn’t be brand new, clutched tightly and used like a talisman to ward off the liberals. The flag? It’d be on a pole, where it’s supposed to be.

1 February 2014

Katy Perry – Satanic Grammy Performance?

So Katy Perry stirred up a storm of crap at the Grammy’s with her “Dark Horse” performance. There have been a lot of accusations about it being a “Satanic Ritual” and so forth and so on. I watched the video because as someone who gets a good laugh when the fundamentalists go off on things like this I have to see if there’s anything to it.

Not a fan of Katy Perry’s music honestly, it’s not bad, just not into pop. I do like the visuals and the geekiness of some of her music videos though. Not sure if that’s her doing or if she’s got a very interesting production team. Either way she’s got some theatrical skill going on that you just don’t see much. I do  admit to liking her gospel rock stuff in 2000 when she billed herself as Katy Hudson and I went through that really stupid phase when I pretended to like only Christian music for the sake of impressing people at my church. I can’t honestly say if I actually liked the music that much back then or if I just thought she was good looking at had good voice.

Anyway, back to the point of the blog post here. The supposed Satanic Ritual Orgy of Doom that she did at the Grammy Awards with High Satanic Priest Juicy-J is what I’m going to talk about.

So, supposedly this whole performance was some dark blessing of the prince of darkness and the song was about sex with aliens, demons and/or angels. The audience then ate it up and cheered like heathens. Then later there was some blasphemous wedding between straight, elderly, gay and possibly interspecies couples or some such and this represented a Satanic shift in American culture (I didn’t watch the wedding part, just Katy Perry). Apparently there was some more evil stuff going on and this was all part of a multi-part ritual of some kind which various sites only vaguely hinted at the meaning of. Jesus will now come back because of this and that’s a bad thing.

I watched the video a few times, read some commentary, read a few sites thoughts on this, comments, and looked at some of the symbolism. I’ve referred to some notes I took on the occult from some interviews with actual practitioners several years ago and my own reading and I will present my thoughts after I break down what I’ve read and why I do or don’t think it’s legitimate.

Note: I am by no means an expert on the occult or the esoteric. I may have missed a few things.

“Ritual Symbolism”

Templar Cross – One claim was that Perry had a Templar cross on her chest. I spent most of the video looking at her chest and can confirm the red LED cross on her chest does vaguely resemble the cross used by the Knights Templar.

Templar Flag – Supposedly a flag used by the Knights Templar. I got this from Wikipedia. Almost all examples of the Templar cross are this red cross on a white, or sometimes black background. All four arms of the cross are equal length. Only occasionally do you see the traditional cross with the longer bottom arm, usually on shields. A few examples show a red cross with a second, longer horizontal bar at the top.


Katy Perry with a red cross on her chest. This is what a few sites have called a Templar cross. I get why they’d call it that, but seriously it’s only vaguely like one in that it’s red and has the flared ends. I suppose that might be what she was going for but it might be she was just going for a red cross.

Why would they make such a fuss over a Templar cross specifically and not her dressing like a witch with a cross being the only thing covering her otherwise naked chest? Seems like that’d be the more blasphemous thing right? The connection is pretty clear. On Friday October 13, 1307 Pope Clement V of France had the Knights Templar all simultaneously arrested on charges of among other things “idolatry, heresy, and obscene rituals”. Even then most people thought this was all a load of crap. Basically the Templars were disbanded for charges of Satanism. Of course it’s widely viewed that this was made up because the Pope didn’t get his way and King Philip of France was deeply in debt to them and he wanted to not have to pay them back. The Catholic Church’s current position is that this was all completely unjust and I believe John Paul II absolved them several years ago once the Chinon document was found. Still they make popular scapegoats for the uninformed.

Templar Cross = Satan

Molech /Horned Demons – When Perry comes up from the crystal ball you can see these various horned figured behind her. Many of the articles say that this is “Molech”. Who is Molech? Molech, or more properly “Moloch” refers to an ancient Canaanite deity that, according to the Bible and other sources is thought to have demanded human sacrifices.

There’s no particular reason he’s depicted as having horns, just that there’s an 18th century depiction of Moloch as a bull god with horns. There’s some suggestion that he was related to the golden calf in Exodus but I can’t find any ancient depiction of him as a cow god. Some texts suggest he was a sun or fire god so he might have been depicted as more of a large bearded man with crown as William Blake depicted him. Check the Wikipedia article before looking at other articles, it’s pretty straightforward. There’s certainly nothing in the Bible that talks about what he looked like.

Either way the Biblical account suggests heretical Israelites burned their children alive in sacrifice to Moloch. So when someone slaps a horned god or a horned helmet in something sort of dark instead of just screaming “SATAN!” or “DEMONS!” a lot of these people like to look more sophisticated and say it’s really “Moloch” they’re showing because infant sacrifice is a lot more shocking and the former just doesn’t fly any more. A couple of searches would seem to prove them right until you read a little more about Moloch and it tends to fall apart since we don’t ACTUALLY have any depictions of Moloch from Biblical times, just modern depictions.

Frankly this should be just as insulting to your intelligence as if they were saying Perry had multiple Satans in the background. A few decades ago that would have been the tactic they would have used though as people would have bought the demon thing a lot easier.Honestly if there was any purposeful symbolism the “Molechs” are probably dark forest spirits more like Pan as that’s the usual witch symbolism.

Moloch =/= Satan because people won’t buy SATAN!!! anymore or DEMONS! And an old Hebrew/Canaanite god that people sacrificed babies to that artists depicted as a horned idol is more shocking. Been a lot of throwing baby sacrificing around lately. It stupid.

Satanic Hypnotic Ritual Dancers – The dancers themselves didn’t seem to be as big a deal as the rest of the performance but some of the commenters compared it to a Roman orgy. I won’t spend any time on this. They were scantily clad contortionists dressed to fit the theme.

The Lyrics – The lyrics basically boiled down to Perry’s witch character warning a man that he should not fall in love with her because that might be the last thing he would do. At the same time she wanted that. It contained themes of sex with aliens and the supernatural.This is a fairly common occult theme. I hear more of this from the evangelical side of things and not actual occultists. If you go on YouTube and look up a guy named Bill Schnoebelen and watch his video lectures on how he used to be a vampire you’ll see this theme. He talks about sex with a demon being part of becoming a vampire.

There’s another “ritual” I’ve heard of from the great satanic panic of the 80’s about having “sex in the air” with a demon being part of a bizarre rape ritual. Just about every one of these “former high priests of Satan who find Jesus” has some story about how they had sex with some supernatural entity, alien that is really a supernatural entity, possessed person, or something even grosser like a child. Why they’d admit the latter and no one called the police immediately I have no idea. Saving grace of Jesus Christ right? Immediate forgiveness for child rapists. WWJD.

Funny thing is that this all comes from Christians who say they used to be into the occult but are usually found out to be frauds later. I’ve never heard of this kind of thing from people who are practicing occultists. One could say they keep it secret but there are always people who talk. Where are the people who turn atheist who talk about that? They don’t exist, it’s always Christian evangelicals who talk about the sex with the devil thing.

Lyrics = Occult = SATAN = Save us Jesus from the devil conspiracy.

Other Themes – There was the brooms that are typically associated with witches, used as stripper poles. This seemed more mocking and sexy than any kind of symbolism.

The Well – Just a thematic/aesthetic element. Seems common for the dark forest motif.

The Stake/Burning – The end of the witch is burning at the stake. I don’t know why a Satanic rite would end with the traditional Judao-Christian/Muslim/Major Religious Way of dealing with witches way of dealing with witches but this is what happens to evil witches.

My thoughts

I would have just blown this one off entirely if my Facebook feed wasn’t entirely full of this bullcrap. At least it wasn’t as bad as the whole Easter/Ishtar thing.

I think quite simply that Katy Perry’s performance was more “Halloween” than “Satanic Ritual” and the only people who say otherwise are trying to sell something. In fact that seems to be what almost every article I read was trying to do.

One of them talked about how evil the performance was, how hypnotic the Satanic ritual was, said not to let children watch it, then had an embedded video right there. So great, evil devil ritual that entraps the minds of men, just post that sucker right on your website right? Then it talked about Molech and sounded like they knew what they were talking about. A few words about some Satanist “elites” and then it was selling a $20 book on the end times and what to do about it. I found about three of these with different books to sell. Some talked about the wedding thing, others talked about another performance, but they all talked about Satan, end times, scary stuff, and then tried to sell something.

The other type of site was Catholic. They weren’t trying to sell anything, they did have a link to, not so much the video but some clips. They commented, talked about how America and the world was going to hell in a hand basket, how Jesus was coming back soon and how we should fight this evil then provided a link to some Catholic resources and were done. I didn’t find any kind of Protestant resources like this at all, but then I didn’t search for them, this was just what was linked on my Facebook feed (oddly by Protestants).

But back to my thoughts on the performance. I didn’t find any sort of ‘evil’ in it. It was an attempt by a fairly talented performer at being ‘dark’ and sexy. She used popular imagery, not any sort of occult symbolism. This was all stuff that’s in the popular consciousness and while some of it might have some esoteric meaning, it’s unlikely that was the intent. Any religious anyone, occult or not, will tell you that intent is what matters, not the song and dance. She pulled off the dark and sexy very well, if her intent was evil, I didn’t get that.

I heard a lot of fear, a lot of talk about evil, and blasphemy and Satan. What exactly about this Grammy awards and Miss Perry’s performance was more disturbing than that of performers of the past? Or popular songs of the past?

There was a popular song in the 50’s by a guy named “Screamin’ Jay Hawkins” called “I Put a Spell On You” that’s been recorded by a LOT of popular bands. You’ve heard it. Names like Creedance Clearwater Revival, Dr. John (I think), Bett Midler, Alice Cooper and tons of others have covered it. It is blatantly about a witch doctor putting a spell on a woman and having his way with her because he’s obsessed. I’m sure there was a lot of crap about that in the 50’s but now we just look at it and say, “How quaint”. The dude dressed up like a witch doctor when he performed it and was considered the first shock rocker almost sixty years ago. I’m sure my grandparents found all this disturbing, or highly amusing, I’ll ask them and if they even remember it I’d be surprised. The song is considered one of those foundational songs of rock and roll. Think anyone will cover “Dark Horse” two years from now much less sixty?

26 November 2012

Suddenlink Outage Information And How To Get It

This article was written in 2012 and appears to be getting a lot of traffic lately. I’ve double checked the information below to make sure it is still correct. With the impending quarantines all over the US, I’m sure a lot of people are concerned about not having internet.   -Aaron 03-21-2020

How to see if Suddenlink has an outage in your area

Please check this article first before you do anything I suggest below. It’s rare for an ISP to have an actual outage in a large area. It can happen, but you should not assume that it is an outage. Try to eliminate the simple things first.

Contact Suddenlink

The most reliable way to find out if Suddenlink has an outage in your area is to contact them directly and just ask.

Suddenlinks customer support number isn’t hidden, unlike a lot of other ISPs. Here it is to save you a few moments looking for it.


The best and fastest way to find out this information though is using their chat, which you can find on the page below:


Just click on that, enter your name, email, and zip code. Select “General Question” and enter your customer number. You can find your customer number by going to the login page at suddenlink.com and clicking on “My Account” and then click on “Billing Options”. Your account number is right under your name.

Suddenlink Outage Map

Suddenlink does have an outage map, but it only really shows up on their site if something is down in your specific area. Typically it takes a while for them to report it there so the agents you contact over the phone or online might know about an outage before the indicator does on your account page.

To see it, just log in to your Suddenlink account at https://account.suddenlink.net. Under the “My Services” section there will be a line that indicates whether there’s an outage or not.

19 July 2012

Slow Internet Troubleshooting

I’m reposting this from my “Intermediate Internet Troubleshooting” article as I think the subject deserves a post of its own. You’ll need to know what speed internet you are paying for before this article will be of any use at all to you.

Some Terminology

Internet Service Providers (ISP’s) will sell service based on download and upload speeds. When you are talking to a tech guy or girl about your internet speed, many times you’ll hear them say something like, “I get ten over one with Suddenlink”. What they are referring to is the download and upload speed of their connection. Ten is the download in megabits per second (mbps), and one is the upload speed in the same. Sometimes you’ll see it written like this: “10/1”. It’s the same thing, 10mbps download, and 1mbps upload.

If you have some fractional upload speed, which is normal you might hear someone say, “Three over point seven five”. This just means they get three megabits per second download and three-fourths of a megabit per second upload speed (.750 mbps or 750 kilobits per second).

How to find out what you are paying for…

Most of the time you can find out what you are paying for by checking your bill. Some ISPs will only show the download speed, or have something like “Standard” or “Pro” level accounts. You can usually go to their website and find out what speeds your type of account gets.

If you can’t figure it out from the bill, don’t be afraid to call them and ask. The tech support guy will be so happy you aren’t calling about broken internet he’ll probably give you a tip or something to make calling in again easier. At least I did.

One tip I can give you is to call the sales line when you call  your ISP. They will typically have no hold times. You can ask them. If they transfer you to tech support or billing your hold times will usually be shorter.


Let’s assume you are getting 3mb download speed, and 1mb upload. This is a common plan across the US for DSL service.

Step 1 – Go to speedcheck.org.

Step 2 – Click the “Start Test” Button. Wait for the test to complete.

When it completes, as long as you aren’t streaming videos or have some other device using the internet heavily, you should get something within 10%-15% of your speed back. So if you have 3meg/1meg, your download speed should show something like 2.7 at the lowest, and your upload should be .8-.9 at the lowest.

If it is lower than that your ISP may be having a problem, or it can be a device on your network.

You can eliminate your own hardware as a cause by running a speed test on another device. If it shows the same, turn off all internet using devices except the computer you are on, your router and your modem. Run the test again, see if it is still the same.

If it is, the best thing to do is hook a computer directly to your modem. Reboot the modem by unplugging the power and plugging it back in. Do the speed test again and see if it’s any better. If it is, the problem is likely your router, or some other device hooked in to it.

Using the process of elimination you can figure out which device it is. Hook your router back up, plug your computer back into it. Then turn on your first device, run the speed test. If that wasn’t what was causing the problem, turn it off and turn on the next device. Repeat the test until you figure out which one it is. Do this for everything as it might be more than one device causing an issue.

If nothing makes the speed better, then call your ISP and see what they can do to help. One cause is if you have DSL and you are a bit too far from the central office you won’t get the speeds you are paying for no matter what. If this is the case you can either switch to another type of service with another provider, or demand they lower your rate to match the speed you are getting.

Don’t pay for something that is impossible to obtain. 

18 April 2012

How to Fix Most Internet Problems

This is the process you should follow to fix most internet connectivity problems you might face. I came up with this process while working at a local ISP as a tech support agent. It works very well for cable, DSL, and Wireless internet connections. Most tech support agents will tell you to do exactly this. I always suggest people try this before calling their ISP. Yes, the ISP will tell you to do this again, but at least you’ll know before calling them if “unplugging it and plugging it back in again” was what you needed to do.

Step 1 – Unplug the power your modem and your router.

Step 2 – Count to twenty. Seriously. Count to twenty very slowly.

Step 3 – Plug the power back into your modem. Wait for the lights to all come back on. Depending on the type of modem there might be an “Ethernet” or “PC” light, it will be off.

Step 4 – Once the modem has booted, plug the router back in.

Step 5 – After a full minute check the internet on your computer.

This will fix connectivity issues at least 9 out of 10 times. When I worked for that ISP, if I got a 100 calls, 97 of them would be resolved doing this. The only step you might add is rebooting your computer, or resetting the network card. I’ll do a post on how to do that with Windows 7.

And yes, tech support agents think you’re lying when you say you’ve done this. Blame your neighbors.

If you do have to call your ISP, be sure to ask the agent what they did to resolve this and get an issue number for next time. If the same thing keeps happening make sure you let them know.

If this doesn’t do it, check out my “Intermediate Home Internet Troubleshooting” article. At very least it will help you determine where the problem is. If this did work, please give me a like on Facebook or the social network of your choice, I really appreciate it.

26 December 2006

Random Ramblings

I hope everyone had a good Christmas weekend. For me having Christmas on the weekends usually makes things easier around here. Those that work in normal non-mail sorting jobs have almost a week off and generally hang about here. That’s usually pretty nice. It was a lot more relaxed then it has been in the past. There’s a small reason why but I won’t go into that.

My Nanny (my mom’s mother) asked me to make a Tarte Tatin for my aunt this year. She loved the one I made for Thanksgiving. It’s really good stuff. My aunt doesn’t eat a lot of sweets but she made an exception for it, and her own family really enjoyed it. That made it all worthwhile. It was probably my best work so far.

They take about an hour and a half to make and require a lot of attention to pull off right and not burn. Several family members wanted to know how I kept the apples so puffy. I have no idea actually.

I got a few much needed items for Christmas. An electric razor being the chief among them, and a gift certificate for Wal-Mart for socks. This is the first time in my entire life I got excited over the prospect of new socks!

My order from JList came in today too. I got two boxes of Pocky, two packages of BlackBlack gum, a tube of BlackBlack tablet candies, and some rose flavored gum. The rose flavored gum is really good actually. I like rose hips myself but this tastes like rose petals (yes I know what rose petals taste like). It’s pretty unique stuff.

I think the power company has been having some problems recently or there are a whole lot of defective computer power supplies in Amarillo. About a month and a half ago I started getting calls and people asking me why their computer won’t turn on. Inevitably its the power supply and the motherboard that went out.

It isn’t just one brand of computer either, although e-machines have been the major offenders.

We had a power outage last Wednesday that messed the power supply on my own machine up so I had to order a new motherboard, processor, and power supply for it. Thankfully it hasn’t died copmpletely yet and hopefully the motherboard is still good and I can use it in another machine. I’m hesitant to do any serious work with it until the new parts are in place.

I guess you could say the power company cost me $300.