Mary Hudson, Dionysus and St. Denis

Mary Hudson was born on Oct 9, which is also St. Denis and Companions’ Day in the liturgical calendar of the Roman Catholic Church.  We’re not Catholic, but since I do study religion (particularly ancient religion), I thought this was interesting:

This martyr and patron of France is traditionally held to have been the first bishop of Paris. His popularity is due to a series of legends, especially those connecting him with the great abbey church of St. Denis in Paris. He was for a time confused with the writer now called Pseudo-Dionysius.

The best hypothesis contends that Denis was sent to Gaul from Rome in the third century and beheaded in the persecution under Valerius in 258.

According to one of the legends, after he was martyred on Montmartre (literally, "mountain of martyrs") in Paris, he carried his head to a village northeast of the city. St. Genevieve built a basilica over his tomb at the beginning of the sixth century.

St. Denis and Companions – Saint of the Day – American Catholic

And here’s more about St. Denis from Wikipedia (he seemed to be quit head strong):

Saint Denis of Paris (also called Dionysius, Dennis, or Denys) is a Christian martyr and saint. In the third century, he was bishop of Paris. He was martyred in approximately 250, and is venerated especially in the Roman Catholic Church as patron of Paris, France and one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers. The modern name "Denis" derives from the ancient name Dionysius, "servant of Dionysus"

According to the Golden Legend, after his head was chopped off, Denis picked it up and walked several miles, preaching a sermon the entire way.[5] The site where he stopped preaching and actually died was made into a small shrine that developed into the Saint Denis Basilica, which became the burial place for the kings of France. Another account has his corpse being thrown in the Seine, but recovered and buried later that night by his converts.[2]

Specifically, Denis is invoked against diabolical possession and headaches.[7]

OK, back to changing diapers!

Best “What’s In Your Bag?” Entry Ever

I love the "What’s In Your Bag?" Flickr pool where people can post up the contents of their day packs or bags for the world to see.  Pure gadget and manpurse (murse) pr0n.

I’ve even put up one myself in the past (though I need to update with my new canvas bag).

Anyway, this is the best entry I’ve ever seen, hands down.

What’s in my bag? on Flickr – Photo Sharing!

Mary Hudson Harrelson – Day 1

More pics to come soon on the Flickr page as soon as we get them downloaded from the camera… but WOW what a crazy day!

Here’s the preliminary judgement… she has Anna’s nose and my lips.  She also seems to have my stern look when she’s frustrated 🙂

Thanks to everyone for the well wishes via email, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, text messages and thanks to those who stopped by the hospital to see Mary Hudson.  We’re logging all of these for Mary Hudson to enjoy and reflect on when she’s older.

Mom and baby are sleeping soundly after an exciting 24 hours and I’m getting ready to join them.

I can’t process how excited I am to be this beautiful little girl’s dad, and I hope I live up to her expectations that she clearly expresses every time she opens her eyes and looks me in the face.  Talk about a perspective changing experience!

More soon…

mary hudson getting weighed and measured on Flickr – Photo Sharing!

Baby Harrelson Coming Soon

We’re in the hospital tonight awaiting the arrival of Baby Harrelson!  Contractions started around 5 and intensified until around 9pm when we decided to head to Mission Hospital here in Asheville.

It’s currently 3:00am and we’re progressing nicely… should have a delivery sometime in the next few hours!

You can follow live updates on my Twitter stream (

More soon!

Going Into Labor on Flickr – Photo Sharing!

LOLCat Bible Translation Project

My life is now complete (via boing boing), a Bible translation project using the popular LOLCat form:

1. In teh beginnin Ceiling Cat was invisible, and he maded the skiez and da earths, but he did not eated it.

2. The earths wus witout shapez and wus dark and scary and stuffs, and he rode invisible bike over teh waterz.

Thanks, Jeff D!

Genesis 1 – LOLCat Bible Translation Project

Archimedes on Calculus

When I taught 8th grade science, we spent a considerable amount of time on Archimedes (machines, etc) and eventually Newton and the discovery of the calculus.

This news makes my heart swell as we continue to realize that we 20-21st century westerners weren’t the first to achieve such grand inventions as calculus or even a notion of grasping at the infinite…

Two of the texts hiding in the prayer book have not appeared in any other copy of Archimedes’s work, so no one but Heiberg had studied them until now. One of them, titled The Method, has special historical significance. It could be considered the earliest known work on calculus.

Archimedes wrote The Method almost two thousand years before Isaac Newton and Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz developed calculus in the 1700s. Reviel Netz, an historian of mathematics at Stanford University who transcribed the text, says that the examination of Archimedes’ work has revealed “a new twist on the entire trajectory of Western mathematics.”

In The Method, Archimedes was working out a way to compute the areas and volumes of objects with curved surfaces, which was also one of the problems that motivated Newton and Leibniz. Ancient mathematicians had long struggled to “square the circle” by calculating its exact area. That problem turned out to be impossible using only a straightedge and compass, the only tools the ancient Greeks allowed themselves. Nevertheless, Archimedes worked out ways of computing the areas of many other curved regions.

I hope my former 8th graders will here the name Archimedes again sometime in their life or career and think back to our class and how we were also grasping at infinity.

Math Trek: A Prayer for Archimedes, Science News Online, Oct. 6, 2007

Wu-Tang Clan Beatles Mashup

I love the Beatles. They literally changed my life when I was a punk kid in Mullins, SC.

On the new Wu-Tang Clan album due out later this fall, there’s an interesting track that samples the famous (and lovely) Beatles song "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" which appeared on The White Album.

I’ve been hearing a good deal about all of the negotiations that went into making this possible and supposedly the Wu Tang album was delayed for this first ever Beatles sample.

Here’s the song in streaming format… I’ve had it on repeat the whole day.  Good stuff:

Wu-Tang Clan – The Heart Gently Weeps

Wu-Tang Clan – The Heart Gently Weeps / The Hype Machine

Cloth Diaper Dad

I just purchased the domain name “” since Anna and I are going the cloth diaper route.

I’m not sure how I’ll use it, but thought it would be fun as a place to share learning moments and the inevitable mistakes (blowouts?!?) that will come with the use of cloth diapers.

BTW, we’re using BumGenius brand… they work great so far (of course we don’t have a baby just yet… should be soon!):


Speaking At Blog World Expo

I’ll be co-presenting at this year’s Blog Wolrd Expo with Stephanie Agresta on Friday Nov 9. This looks like it’s going to be a great show with people such as Leo Laporte, Dave Taylor and my pal Jim Kukral attending and presenting.

If you’re in the Las Vegas area or looking for a reason to head to Vegas in November, I can’t think of a better place to be to learn all about blogging!

Blog World Expo


I recently found a replica of one of my favorite pieces of art and history, the statue of Ashurnasirpal II in the round from the Temple of Ishtar.

Ashurnasirpal was the ruler of Assyria in the 9th Century BCE and a very interesting historical figure. My little book published by Yale University Press last year (Asia Has Claims Upon New England) was about the artwork in his palace in Nineveh as well as the journey it took from ancient Assyria to modern day New England.

And here is the description of the original (including pictures) from the British Museum site (the original is in London now):

A rare example of an Assyrian statue in the round

Neo-Assyrian, 883-859 BC
From Nimrud (ancient Kalhu), northern Iraq

This statue of King Ashurnasirpal II (883-859 BC) was placed in the Temple of Ishtar Sharrat-niphi. It was designed to remind the goddess Ishtar of the king’s piety. It is made of magnesite, and stands on a pedestal of a reddish stone. These unusual stones were probably brought back from a foreign campaign. Kings often boasted of the exotic things they acquired from abroad, not only raw materials and finished goods but also plants and animals.

The king’s hair and beard are shown worn long in the fashion of the Assyrian court at this time. It has been suggested that the Assyrians used false hair and beards, as the Egyptians sometimes did, but there is no evidence for this.

Ashurnasirpal holds a sickle in his right hand, of a kind which gods are sometimes depicted using to fight monsters. The mace in his left hand shows his authority as vice-regent of the supreme god Ashur. The carved cuneiform inscription across his chest proclaims the king’s titles and genealogy, and mentions his expedition westward to the Mediterranean Sea.

The statue was found in the nineteenth century by Henry Layard, the excavator of the temple.

I am a complete dork.

British Museum – Statue of Ashurnasirpal II

Imagining Jesus

I came across this almost startling image of Jesus on the Roman Army Talk forum…

What is so fascinating about this image is Jesus’ representation in full Roman soldier garb.  I haven’t come across many of these types of representations of full Jesus as soldier in my studies.

However, this isn’t an ancient phenomenon.  We have always imagined Jesus in our own image:

Visiting Dura Europos

I look forward to visiting Dura Europos myself one day.  Here’s a fun travel-logue by a traveler: 

Dura Europos was certainly the most attractive archaeological site I visited in Syria. A ruined citadel sits atop a ridge overlooking the river and a large city wall that is still defined in several places bounds the entire site. Numerous temple remains dot the site but virtually nothing remains of any of them, with the notable exception of the Christian church, which I was able to find. This is rather exciting because it is the oldest church of certain date in the world. Overall, the site is really quite impressive, and aesthetically, it was my favourite ancient site in Syria.

nathanaels: The Desert, the Euphrates, and Mesopotamia

Chupacabra Found??

Chupacabras are a popular part of the (fascinating) cryptozoology scene.  This looks more like a coyote or feral dog to me, but I’m no expert…

But the roadkill she found last month outside her ranch was a new one even for her, worth putting in a freezer hidden from curious onlookers: Canion believes she may have the head of the mythical, bloodsucking chupacabra.

Has a Mythical Beast Turned Up in Texas? – AOL News

Money Means More than Our Nation’s Health to Some Republicans

Thanks, Bush… 

In an attempt to raise the nation’s historically low rate of breast-feeding, federal health officials commissioned an attention-grabbing advertising campaign a few years ago to convince mothers that their babies faced real health risks if they did not breast-feed. It featured striking photos of insulin syringes and asthma inhalers topped with rubber nipples.

Plans to run these blunt ads infuriated the politically powerful infant formula industry, which hired a former chairman of the Republican National Committee and a former top regulatory official to lobby the Health and Human Services Department. Not long afterward, department political appointees toned down the campaign.

The formula industry’s intervention — which did not block the ads but helped change their content — is being scrutinized by Congress in the wake of last month’s testimony by former surgeon general Richard H. Carmona that the Bush administration repeatedly allowed political considerations to interfere with his efforts to promote public health.

HHS Toned Down Breast-Feeding Ads –

Assyrian, Babylonian, Sumerian Translator Created

Wow… great news: 

“A new online translator that can translate Assyrian, Babylonian, Sumerian and Egyptian hieroglyphics (1 of the 3 types anyway) has been developed. This is the first time I ever saw a translator for cuneiform. Something like this would be great for translating interesting historical records like the Amarna Letters.”

Slashdot | Assyrian, Babylonian, Sumerian Translator Created