With the very warmest wishes this will be me last post here. I have loved the experience of blogging and expressing myself. For every poor bugger that took the time to read it my heartfelt thanks. I can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
The very best, Andy
Les Price was forced to pay for two seats on a plane only to find they are rows apart. Photo: BPM MEDIA WALES
I stumbled over this article this morning and figured other folks may find this as absurd as i did. I can see this happening if you can not fit in a single seat. To me this seems like a cash grab. I guess I will leave that up to the readers thou. Andy.
Les Price, 43, had to pay for the extra space when flying to Ireland and back as airline policy dictates anyone over 20 stone has to book the extra space.
But when he got to the airport the staff didn’t seem to have any idea about the rules and on the journey home his seats were two rows apart.
He had already faced embarrassment on his flight out when he was allocated an aisle seat and a window seat, with another passenger in the middle.
“When I got to the airport I had to explain to all the staff why I had two tickets, they didn’t have a clue,” he said.
“When I finally got on the plane one was an aisle seat and the other was by the window – in a three-seat row.
-The stone is a unit of weight and mass. It is part of the Imperial system of weights and measures used in the British Isles, and formerly used in most Commonwealth countries. It is equal to 14 pounds avoirdupois, or 6.35029318 kilograms. Eight stone make a hundredweight in the Imperial system. The plural form of stone is correctly stone, though stones is sometimes used, not usually by natives of the British Isles. The abbreviation is st. The stone was historically used for weighing agricultural commodities. Potatoes, for example, were traditionally sold in stone and half-stone (14-pound and 7-pound quantities). Although no longer an official unit of measure the stone remains universal within the British Isles as a means of expressing human body weight.
“On the way back from Ireland one seat was in row 17 and the other in row 19.”
Mr Price says it is just one of the many everyday frustrations he has faced because of his weight which ballooned after an industrial accident that left him briefly housebound.
Mr Price – who says his days of eating a 16in pizza by himself are behind him – will have his diet battle played out before a TV audience tonight on Wales’ Weight Clinic, part of BBC’s Live Longer Wales season.
The widower, who sleeps downstairs because he can’t manage the stairs, said: “From the age of about 10 I put on around a stone each year it seemed.
“But I was the same as everyone else, working, playing rugby, training, so I wasn’t inactive. I’d work 70 or 80 hours a week and play rugby on a Saturday. I wasn’t a layabout.
“Then I had my accident and hurt my back, I was contracted out to the water board at the time from Daniels in Pontypool, and that really knocked me.
“I lost my mobility, developed sciatica and I didn’t get out of the house for three months.
“Even if the boys took me out they would pick me up and drop me off – and when I was at the pub they’d go to the bar and get my drinks for me.”
He piled on 4 stone in nine months. Physiotherapy, acupuncture and swimming failed to ease his pain. Then in 2009 his wife Zeruiah died of cancer.
Turning to comfort eating, he said: “I fell into a depression, I couldn’t be bothered to cook, would eat takeaways and want to treat my stepdaughter Charlie because her mother had died.”
“When I was working, I had to get the calories in. I’d be up at 5am and have a cooked breakfast later. I also worked for a bakery, which involved physically hard lifting, moving things around.”
Mr Price, from Brynithel near Newport, Wales, said: “I want to be out there working,” he says. “I feel guilty my partner is out there working all she can. Christmas is coming up and I feel awful I can’t do anything to help. I know a lot of people work the benefits system – but I want to be out there, not stuck at home.”
Earlier this year Dr Bharat Bhatt suggested airlines should introduce “pay as you weigh” pricing for plane tickets.
Charging overweight fliers more would help carriers recoup the cost of the extra fuel required to carry them, he said.
Proclaimed by Parliament in 1879 as “a day of General Thanksgiving to Almighty God for the bountiful harvest with which Canada has been blessed,” Thanksgiving draws upon 3 traditions: harvest celebrations in European peasant societies for which the symbol was the cornucopia (horn of plenty); formal observances, such as that celebrated by Martin FROBISHER in the eastern Arctic in 1578–the first North American Thanksgiving–in which Frobisher and his crew gave thanks for their well-being; and the Pilgrims’ celebration of their first harvest in Massachusetts (1621) involving the uniquely American turkey, squash and pumpkin.
The celebration was brought to Nova Scotia in the 1750s and the citizens of Halifax commemorated the end of the SEVEN YEARS’ WAR (1763) with a day of Thanksgiving. Loyalists brought the celebration to other parts of the country. Starting in 1879, Thanksgiving was officially celebrated annually in Canada. Parliament declared 6 Nov 1879 as a day of Thanksgiving; it was celebrated as a national rather than a religious holiday. Later and earlier dates were observed, the most popular being the third Monday in Oct. After the First World War, Thanksgiving and Armistice (later Remembrance) Day were celebrated in the same week. It was not until 31 Jan 1957 that Parliament proclaimed the observance of Thanksgiving on the second Monday in Oct. E.C. DRURY, the former “Farmer-Premier” of Ontario lamented later that “the farmers’ own holiday has been stolen by the towns” to give them a long weekend when the weather was better.
Thanksgiving A large crowd outside the church in Denain, France, where a service of thanksgiving was held Oct 1918 to commemorate the town’s deliverance by Canadian troops. It was attended by HRH Edward, Prince of Wales, and General Sir Arthur Currie (courtesy Dept. of National Defence/Library and Archives Canada, PA-40239 and PA-40240).
The First Thanksgiving Disputed Some people have argued that the ceremony of giving thanks celebrated by Martin Frobisher was not a “real” Thanksgiving. The argument stems from the reason for giving thanks; according to American disputes of the Canadian claim to the first Thanksgiving, the holiday can only refer to the history of the harvest. Europeans who brought the tradition to the New World did mark the day by giving thanks for a successful harvest. However, the Canadian and American holidays are no longer restricted to harvest activities but have become a day for gathering family to give thanks for their general well-being. One might observe that the tradition has come full circle.
NEW YORK — NEW YORK (AP) — Gentlemen, we can rebuild him, after all. We have the technology.
The term “bionic man” was the stuff of science fiction in the 1970s, when a popular TV show called “The Six Million Dollar Man” chronicled the adventures of Steve Austin, a former astronaut whose body was rebuilt using artificial parts after he nearly died.
Now, a team of engineers has assembled a robot using artificial organs, limbs and other body parts that comes tantalizingly close to a true “bionic man.” For real, this time.
The artificial “man” is the subject of a Smithsonian Channel documentary that airs Sunday, Oct. 20 at 9 p.m. Called “The Incredible Bionic Man,” it chronicles engineers’ attempt to assemble a functioning body using artificial parts that range from a working kidney and circulation system to cochlear and retina implants.
The parts hail from 17 manufacturers around the world. This is the first time they’ve been assembled together, says Richard Walker, managing director of Shadow Robot Co. and the lead roboticist on the project.
“(It’s) an attempt to showcase just how far medical science has gotten,” he says.
The robot making appearances in the U.S. for the first time this week. Having crossed the Atlantic tucked inside two metal trunks — and after a brief holdup in customs — the bionic man will strut his stuff at the New York Comic Con festival on Friday.
Walker says the robot has about 60 to 70 percent of the function of a human. It stands six-and-a-half feet tall and can step, sit and stand with the help of a Rex walking machine that’s used by people who’ve lost the ability to walk due to a spinal injury. It also has a functioning heart that, using an electronic pump, beats and circulates artificial blood, which carries oxygen just like human blood. An artificial, implantable kidney, meanwhile, replaces the function of a modern-day dialysis unit.
Although the parts used in the robot work, many of them are a long way from being used in humans. The kidney, for example, is only a prototype. And there are some key parts missing: there’s no digestive system, liver, or skin. And, of course, no brain.
The bionic man was modeled after Bertolt Meyer, a 36-year-old social psychologist at the University of Zurich who was born without his lower left arm and wears a bionic prosthesis. The man’s face was created based on a 3D scan of Meyer’s face.
“We wanted to showcase that the technology can provide aesthetic prostheses for people who have lost parts of their faces, for example, their nose, due to an accident or due to, for example, cancer,” Meyer says.
Meyer says he initially felt a sense of unease when he saw the robot for the first time.
“I thought it was rather revolting to be honest,” he says. “It was quite a shock to see a face that closely resembles what I see in the mirror every morning on this kind of dystopian looking machine.”
He has since warmed up to it, especially after the “man” was outfitted with some clothes from the U.K. department store Harrods.
And the cost? As it turns out, this bionic man comes cheaper than his $6-million-dollar sci-fi cousin. While the parts used in the experiment were donated, their value is about $1 million.
Birds do it, bees do it, humans since the dawn of time have done it.
But just how much has the act really changed through the millennia and even in past decades? Are humans doing it more? Are we doing it better? Sort of, say scientists. But it’s how people fess up to the truth about their sex lives that has changed the most over the years.
Humans have basically been the same anatomically for about 100,000 years—so what is safe to say is that if we enjoy it now, then so did our cave-dwelling ancestors and everyone else since, experts say.
“Just as our bodies tell us what we might like to eat, or when we should go to sleep, they lay down for us our pattern of lust,” says University of Toronto psychologist Edward Shorter. “Sex has always offered pleasure.”
Sexuality has a lot to do with our biological framework, agreed Joann Rodgers, director of media relations and lecturer at Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions.
“People and indeed all animals are hard wired to seek out sex and to continue to do so,” Rodgers said in a recent interview. “I imagine that is evidence that people at least like sex and even if they don’t they engage in it as a biological imperative.”
It is nearly impossible to tell, however, whether people enjoyed sex more 50 years ago or 50,000 years ago, said David Buss, professor of psychology at the University of Texas and author of “The Evolution of Desire: Strategies of Human Mating” (Basic Books, 2003).
There is “no reason to think that we do more now than in the past, although we are certainly more frank about it,” Buss told LiveScience.
Indeed, cultural restraints—rather than anything anatomical—have had the biggest effect on our sexual history, Shorter says.
“To be sure, what people actually experience is always a mixture of biological and social conditioning: Desire surges from the body, the mind interprets what society will accept and what not, and the rest of the signals are edited out by culture,” he writes in his book, “Written in the Flesh: A History of Desire” (University of Toronto Press, 2005).
That’s not to say that cultural norms keep people from exploring the taboo, but only what is admitted to openly, according to archaeologist Timothy Taylor of Great Britain’s University of Bradford.
“The idea that there is a sexual line that must not be crossed but in practice often is, is far older than the story of Eve’s temptation by the serpent,” he writes in “The History of Sex: Four Million Years of Human Sexual Culture” (Bantam Books, 1996).
Religion especially has held powerful sway over the mind’s attitude towards the body’s carnal desires, most sexual psychologists agree. Men and women who lived during the pious Middle Ages were certainly affected by the fear of sin, Shorter said, though he notes there were other inhibiting factors to consider, too.
“The low priority attached to sexual pleasure by people who lived in distant times is inexplicable unless one considers the hindrances that existed in those days,” Shorter writes. He points especially to the 1,000 years of misery and disease—often accompanied by some very un-sexy smells and itching—that led up to the Industrial Revolution. “After the mid-nineteenth century, these hindrances start to be removed, and the great surge towards pleasure begins.”
Many historians and psychologists see the late 1800s as a kind of watershed period for sexuality in the Western world. With the industrial revolution pushing more and more people together—literally—in dense, culturally-mixed neighborhoods, attitudes towards sex became more liberal.
The liberalization of sexuality kicked into high gear by the 1960s with the advent of the birth control pill, letting women get in on the fun and act on the basis of desire as men always had, according to Shorter.
“The 1960s vastly accelerated this unhesitant willingness to grab sex for the sheer sake of physical pleasure,” he said, noting that the trend ofopenly seeking out sex just because it feels good, rather than for procreation alone, has continued on unabated into the new millennium.
But despite the modern tendency towards sexual freedom, even today there are vast differences in attitudes across the world, experts say.
“Cultures vary tremendously in how early they start having sex, how open they are about it, and how many sexual partners they have,” said Buss, noting that Swedes generally have many partners in their lifetime and the Chinese typically have few.
An informal 2005 global sex survey sponsored by the condom company Durex confirmed Buss’ views. Just 3 percent of Americans polled called their sex lives “monotonous,” compared to a sizable 26 percent of Indian respondents. While 53 percent of Norwegians wanted more sex than they were having (a respectable 98 times per year, on average), 81 percent of the Portuguese were quite happy with their national quota of 108 times per year.
Though poll numbers and surveys offer an interesting window into the sex lives of strangers, they’re still constrained by the unwillingness of people to open up about a part of their lives that’s usually kept behind closed doors.
And what if we weren’t bound by such social limitations? Taylor offers the promiscuous—and very laid-back—bonobo chimpanzee as a utopian example.
“Bonobos have sex most of the time … a fairly quick, perfunctory, and relaxed activity that functions as a social cement,” he writes. “But for cultural constraints, we would all behave more like bonobos. In physical terms, there is actually nothing that bonobos do that some humans do not sometimes do.”
Today Andy-land is proud to present a list of all the coolest places to take the kiddy’s trick or treating! Yes if you dread hauling them around to fill their lil sacks with candy only to watch them get that glazed look in their eye’s and the ensuing drama that follows. This post is for you. Andy
The Riddle House in Palm Beach County, Florida, was originally a funeral parlor. The Victorian house was dismantled and rebuilt in Yesteryear Village at the South Florida fair grounds. In the 1920’s the house became privately owned by Karl Riddle.
Joseph, one of Riddle’s former employees, committed suicide by hanging himself in the attic of the house. Joseph, for whatever reason, hated men, and displays this hatred by attacking men who enter the attic. One man had a lid flung at his head, and men are now no longer allowed in the attic. Other places in the house are haunted as well, with furniture being frequently moved.
The Northern part of Summit County in Ohio is known by the eerily blunt moniker, Helltown. In the 70’s, Boston Township was the site of a government buyout, and subsequent mass eviction of citizens. The houses were intended to be torn down and the land used for a national park, but the plans never quite manifested. Legends spawned wildly, and who can blame the legend mongers? Driving through the dark, wooded landscape was enough to give you chills even when it was populated, let alone when you have to drive by boarded up houses standing next to the burnt out hulks of others (the local fire department used some buildings for practice).
Whether based on a kernel of truth or cooked up in the heads of creative visitors, the persistent legends of Helltown add to the creep factor. The steep Stanford Road drop off, immediately followed by a dead end, is aptly named The End of the World. If you get stuck at this dead end for too long, according to ghost story enthusiasts, you may meet your end at the hands of many members of the endless parade of freaks patrolling the woods. Satanists, Ku Klux Klan members, an escaped mental patient, an abnormally large snake, and mutants caused by an alleged chemical spill proudly march in this parade. And if you stray from the roads, you may find Boston Cemetery, home to a ghostly man, grave robbers and, the quirkiest of all, a moving tree.
Stull, Kansas, is a tiny, unincorporated town in Bumfuck, Nowhere- er, pardon, Douglas County. Ten miles west of Lawrence and thirteen miles east of Topeka puts it far from anything resembling a large population center. The population of Stull is approximately 20 people. But, don’t let the deceptively quaint village fool you. A darker side lurks behind the bushes and in the shadows.
In the early 20th century, two tragedies rocked the tiny settlement (please observe, these are not legend or folklore, but fact). First, a father finished burning a farm field, only to find the charred corpse of his young son in the aftermath. The second incident to occur was a man went missing, and was later found hanged from a tree. As far as legends go, the infamous cemetery is where you can find your fill of supernatural lore. The book Weird US has this to say on Stull Cemetery:
“There are graveyards across America that go beyond merely being haunted and enter into the realm of the diabolical. They are places so terrifying that they say the devil himself holds courts with his worshippers there. The cemetery on Emmanuel Hill in Stull, Kansas, is one of these places.”
Rumors exist stating that Stull Cemetery is one of the 7 gateways to Hell. While the old church is now demolished, many attempt to sneak in at night for a peek at the unsavory goings-on. But be warned, the police patrol heavily, especially on Halloween and the spring equinox. The place is supposed to be so unholy, in fact, that some claim Pope John Paul II refused to allow his plane to fly over eastern Kansas, on his way to an appearance in Colorado. The validity of this last claim is up for debate, but none can deny that legends or not, Stull Cemetery is a terrifying place to be.
Originally known as the Athens Lunatic Asylum, The Ridges was renamed after the state of Ohio acquired the property. The hospital saw hundreds of lobotomies, and often declared masturbation and epilepsy to be the causes of insanity in patients.
Athens, Ohio, is listed as the 13th most haunted place in the world, as per the British Society for Psychical Research. The nearby Ohio University (which currently owns most of the property on which the Ridges is located) is said to be heavily haunted. The notorious rapist with Dissociative Identity Disorder, Billy Milligan, was housed at the facility for years. The most famous story, however is that of a 54 year old female patient who ran away and was missing for 6 weeks. She was found dead in an unused ward. She had taken off all of her clothes, neatly folded them, and laid down on the cold concrete where she subsequently died. Through a combination of decomposition and sun exposure, her corpse left a permanent stain on the floor, which is still visible today. Her spirit now haunts the abandoned ward.
Humberstone and LaNoria
These two abandoned mining towns in Chile were recently featured on an episode of the SyFy Channel’s show, Destination Truth. In 1872, the town was founded as a saltpeter mine, and business boomed. However, after several heavy blows (including the Great Depression), the business declined and then collapsed in 1958, and the town of Humberstone and it’s surrounding towns were abandoned by 1960. Treatment of workers in both towns bordered on slavery, and now the towns are left standing derelict.
It is rumored that the dead of the La Noria cemetery rise at night and walk around the town, and ghostly images frequently show up in photographs in Humberstone. These towns are so terrifying, the residents of nearby Iquique refuse to enter them. The former residents never left, and can be seen walking around, and children have been heard playing. The cemetery of La Noria, regardless of whether its occupants actually walk at night, contains opened graves where the bodies are fully exposed, leaving you to wonder why. Is it ghosts, or is it grave robbers? As if either prospect is very appealing.
Full episodes of Destination Truth, including the episode featuring Humberstone and La Noria, can be seen here.
Byberry Mental Asylum
The Philadelphia State Hospital at Byberry, or known simply as Byberry, was the poster image for patient maltreatment. The hospital, in its most popular form, was founded in 1907, and known as the Byberry Mental Hospital. It exceeded its patient limit quickly, maxing out at over 7,000 in 1960. It housed everything from the mentally challenged to the criminally insane. Due to its atrocious conditions, and the sub-human treatment of its patients, the hospital was closed and abandoned in 1990. It had since become a nuisance for the neighborhood, as it was a breeding ground for vandals, arsonists, Satanists, and urban explorers. It was demolished in 2006, in spite of the fear of spreading asbestos, (which is what kept it standing for 16 years).
The terrifying aspect of this location isn’t so much it’s hauntings or the unsavory characters that lurked after dark (although you would have been wise to be wary of both while exploring the building). The terror here comes from the facts of the how the hospital was run. Human excrement lined the hallways, which were also where many patients slept. The staff was abusive, and frequently exploited and harassed patients. One patient had a tooth pulled without Novocaine, while another killed and dismembered a female patient. Although the killer, Charles Gable, was never found, the victim’s body was found strewn across the property. Her teeth were found being played with by another patient. Even as the hospital was in the process of closing, two released patients were found dead in the Delaware River, two successive days after their release. Perhaps that gate in Stull Cemetery opens here.
While this Irish castle is perhaps the most popular location featured on the list, it is worth recapping the long and often gruesome history. Although it was built by the O’Bannons in the late 15th century, the castle was taken over by the ruling O’Carrolls, to whom the O’Bannons were subject. After the death of Mulrooney O’Carroll, a fierce rivalry erupted, culminating in two brothers struggling for control. One of the brothers, a priest, was brutally murdered in his own chapel, in front of the family, by the other brother. This chapel is now know as the Bloody Chapel, for obvious reasons. Many people were held prisoner and even executed at the castle.
The castle is rumored to be haunted by a vast number of spirits, including a violent, hunched beast known only as the Elemental. It is most recognizable by the accompanying smell of rotting flesh and sulphur. While renovating the castle, workers discover an oubliette, which is a dungeon accessible only through a ceiling hatch, into which prisoners are thrown, then forgotten and left to die. This particular oubliette contained three cartloads of human remains, and was filled with spikes to impale those thrown into it’s depths.
Shades of Death Road
This New Jersey road winds through 7 miles of countryside, and along that stretch it gives us no definitive clues as to the origin of its eerie name (for those wondering, Shades of Death is not a nickname given by locals, but is in fact the road’s official moniker). While the explanation for this highly unusual name has been lost, many theories abound. Some say that murderous highwaymen would rob and kill those along the road. Others say the reason was because of violent retaliations by the locals against the very same highwaymen, resulting in their lynched corpses being hung up as a warning. Some attribute it to three murders that occurred in the 20’s and 30’s. The first murder saw a robber beating his victim over the head with a tire iron, the second saw a woman decapitate her husband and bury the head and body on separate sides of the road, and the third consisted of poor Bill Cummins being shot and buried in a mud pile. Some attribute it to massive amounts of fatal car crashes, while others consider it the fault of viscous wildcats from the nearby Bear Swamp. The most likely explanation, however, is that malaria-bearing mosquitos terrorized the locals year to year, and the remoteness of the area prevented good medical attention from being prominent in the area. This is supported by the fact that, in 1884, most of the swamps in the area were drained.
Gruesome history and spooky name aside, you have much to fear along this byway. South of the I-80 overpass lies an officially unnamed lake, that most will tell you is called Ghost Lake. This lake is frequently the home of specter-like vapors, and the sky is supposed to be unusually bright, no matter what time of night you are there. As per the name, ghosts of the highwaymens victims roam the area, and they are most frequent in the abandoned cabin across the lake. The dead-end road known as Lenape Lane is home to thick fogs and apparitions, you may be chased off the road by a white light. I’ll let Wikipedia detail the most disturbing aspect of the road:
“One day during the 1990s, some visitors found hundreds of Polaroid photographs scattered in woods just off the road. They took some and shared them with Weird NJ, which published a few as samples. Most of the disturbing images showed a television changing channels, others showed a woman or women, blurred and somewhat difficult to identify, lying on some sort of metal object, conscious but not smiling. Local police began an investigation after the magazine ran an item with the photos, but the remainder disappeared shortly afterwards.”
Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum
Welcome to Phnom Penh, Cambodia, home of the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum. This former high school was converted, in 1975, to Security Prison 21 by the Khmer Rouge. The prison was used as a base to torture and murder prisoners. Most of the prisoners were former soldiers and government officials from the Lon Nol regime. However, the Khmer Rouge leaders paranoia soon caught up with them, and they began shipping people from their own ranks to the prison. Many prisoners were tortured and tricked into naming their family and associates, who were them also arrested, tortured and murdered.
The ghosts of the estimated 17,000 victims of Tuol Sleng continue to roam the halls, and odd happenings around the place are often attributed to them: and it isn’t hard to see why. Most were forced to confess to crimes they didn’t actually commit. Although most victims were Cambodians, many foreigners fell victim to the death machine, including Americans, French, a New Zealander, a Briton, Australians, Arabs, Indians, Pakistanis and Vietnamese. Only 12 people are thought to have survived. To close the entry on this sad history, I’ll leave you with the actual security regulations, the ten rules all prisoners had to abide by. All imperfect grammar is said in context due to poor translation.
1. You must answer accordingly to my question. Don’t turn them away.
2. Don’t try to hide the facts by making pretexts this and that, you are strictly prohibited to contest me.
3. Don’t be a fool for you are a chap who dare to thwart the revolution.
4. You must immediately answer my questions without wasting time to reflect.
5. Don’t tell me either about your immoralities or the essence of the revolution.
6. While getting lashes or electrification you must not cry at all.
7. Do nothing, sit still and wait for my orders. If there is no order, keep quiet. When I ask you to do something, you must do it right away without protesting.
8. Don’t make pretext about Kampuchea Krom in order to hide your secret or traitor.
9. If you don’t follow all the above rules, you shall get many many lashes of electric wire.
10.If you disobey any point of my regulations you shall get either ten lashes or five shocks of electric discharge.
The Mines of Paris
The seemingly infinite tunnels that run below the streets of Paris should not be confused with the Catacombs of Paris, the famous underground ossuary, although the mines are also mistakenly referred to as the catacombs. Exploring the mines is illegal, and penalties include heavy fines. The mines were used to dig out minerals from Paris’ varied sediment (the location where Paris is was submerged for millions of years), and the tunnels are what got left behind.
The mines are now unkempt, unpatrolled and unsafe. As far as legends go, ancient cults and creatures patrol the depths. Spirits dwell in the infinite shadows, and if one wanders deep enough, and survives, they may even enter Hades itself. As far as reality goes, those legends can take a back seat. The tunnels stretch for close to 600 kilometers throughout the Parisian underground, and most of them are unmapped. Saying it is easy to get lost is an understatement. It is nearly impossible not to get lost. Many parts of the catacombs are hundreds of feet below street level. Some hallways are flooded, or are so narrow you have to crawl through them. There are holes that drop hundreds of feet, and manholes that are unreachable, luring unwary urban explorers in with false promises of freedom. The infinite underground maze absorbs sound, mutes it, making it unlikely you will hear somebody yelling for help, even if they are not far away. Or, worse yet, making it unlikely somebody will hear you. Thousands of human bones litter the tunnels, due to overcrowding in many of Paris’ cemeteries. Weird paintings adorn the walls. Are they ancient? Are they new? Are they warnings? Or pleas for help? If you have claustrophobia, you will want to avoid the mines at all costs. If you don’t have claustrophobia, you probably will after a trip through the mines. Bring plenty of batteries, backup flashlights, clean water, a friend, and say a prayer before entering the mines of Paris. You will need them all.
Halloween is one of the oldest holidays with origins going back thousands of years. The holiday we know as Halloween has had many influences from many cultures over the centuries. From the Roman’s Pomona Day, to the Celtic festival of Samhain, to the Christian holidays of All Saints and All Souls Days.
Hundreds of years ago in what is now Great Britain and Northern France, lived the Celts. The Celts worshipped nature and had many gods, with the sun god as their favorite. It was “he” who commanded their work and their rest times, and who made the earth beautiful and the crops grow.
The Celts celebrated their New Year on November 1st. It was celebrated every year with a festival and marked the end of the “season of the sun” and the beginning of “the season of darkness and cold.”
On October 31st after the crops were all harvested and stored for the long winter the cooking fires in the homes would be extinguished. The Druids, the Celtic priests, would meet in the hilltop in the dark oak forest (oak trees were considered sacred). The Druids would light new fires and offer sacrifices of crops and animals. As they danced around the the fires, the season of the sun passed and the season of darkness would begin.
When the morning arrived the Druids would give an ember from their fires to each family who would then take them home to start new cooking fires. These fires would keep the homes warm and free from evil spirits.
The November 1st festival was called Samhain (pronounced “sow-en”). The festival would last for 3 days. Many people would parade in costumes made from the skins and heads of their animals. This festival would become the first Halloween.
During the first century the Romans invaded Britain. They brought with them many of their festivals and customs. One of these was the festival know as Pomona Day, named for their goddess of fruits and gardens. It was also celebrated around the 1st of November. After hundreds of years of Roman rule the customs of the Celtic’s Samhain festival and the Roman Pomona Day mixed becoming 1 major fall holiday.
The next influence came with the spread of the new Christian religion throughout Europe and Britain. In the year 835 AD the Roman Catholic Church would make November 1st a church holiday to honor all the saints. This day was called All Saint’s Day, or Hallowmas, or All Hallows. Years later the Church would make November 2nd a holy day. It was called All Souls Day and was to honor the dead. It was celebrated with big bonfires, parades, and people dressing up as saints, angels and devils.
But the spread of Christianity did not make people forget their early customs. On the eve of All Hallows, Oct. 31, people continued to celebrate the festivals of Samhain and Pomona Day. Over the years the customs from all these holidays mixed. October 31st became known as All Hallow Even, eventually All Hallow’s Eve, Hallowe’en, and then – Halloween.
The Halloween we celebrate today includes all of these influences, Pomona Day’s apples, nuts, and harvest, the Festival of Samhain’s black cats, magic, evil spirits and death, and the ghosts, skeletons and skulls from All Saint’s Day and All Soul’s Day.
http://www.allaboutpopularissues.org Have you ever wondered about the origin of Halloween colors? It is the custom of the celebration to use orange and black in decorations and costumes. Retailers embrace this holiday because it’s one of the most lucrative of all.
As the Celtics are given the most credit for beginning the holiday as the festival of the harvest, a color of autumn is used. Orange, being the most prevalent autumn tone, is derived from the pumpkin and leaves.
Many people use pumpkins hollowed out as urns or vases to hold masses of fall mums or carve them into ghoulish or scary jack-o-lanterns with lit candles or mini electric lights inside to cast an eerie glow.
The color orange also signifies strength and endurance. We don’t know if that is for the holiday or strength and endurance at the harvest time. Since the Celtics were involved in wars with Julius Caesar, they may have believed the color orange gave courage to those who wore the color during battle. Little is know about this idea.
Halloween was once (and still may be in some areas) a festival of the dead. Death is usually associated with darkness and absence of light signified by the color black.
Black cats, witches hats, cauldrons, and streamers are a few of the items that are reminders of the holiday. Most candies at this time of year are in black and orange wrappers.
Traditionally, Halloween is always celebrated after sunset. The blackness of the night cloaks the revelers and hides their misdeeds or tricks if they don’t receive any treats.
Walking into any retail store that carries Halloween costumes, candy, or decorations, you will find masses of black and orange items. You know that it’s Halloween time, because the distinctive color combination is only used for this season. Not too many people use this color combination for their house or clothing!
The exact origin of Halloween colors is unknown but we all know that with practice and use, the uncommon becomes commonplace.
2 cups warm water 1 tablespoon yeast / One 8 oz pkg 1 tablespoon vegetable oil 1 tablespoon sugar 2 teaspoons salt 5 -5 1/2 cups bread flour
Yeilds 2 loaves
Total Time: 50 mins Prep Time: 20 mins Cook Time: 30 mins
1 Dissolve yeast in warm water (110 degrees) and sugar in large bowl; allow yeast to proof or foam (about 10 minutes). 2 Add salt, oil, and 3 cups flour; beat for 2 minutes. 3 Stir in 2 cups flour to make a stiff dough. 4 Knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. 5 Place in oiled bowl, turn dough to coat all sides, cover and let rise until doubled. (30- 60 mins) 6 Punch down and divide in half. 7 Shape dough into two long slender loaves. 8 Grease and sprinkle with cornmeal either a french bread pan or large cookie sheet. 9 Place loaves in pan and cut diagonal gashes on top of each loaf (I use scissors). 10 Cover and let rise until doubled. 11 Bake at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes. 12 Note: You can sprinkle or spray water on the loaves during baking if you want a really crunchy crust.
Early on a January morning in 1891, Slumach’s life ended at the gallows. The Katzie Indian had killed a man called Louie Bee. Bee and the sole witness, Seymour, were sitting in a canoe when Slumach shot Bee from the shore of the Alouette River. The victim, “a welldeveloped man of about 25 or 30 years of age,” according to the physician who did the post-mortem, was described in court as quarrelsome, always harassing Slumach, with threats of violence that made the old man fear for his life. Did the elderly Slumach feel threatened by the man approaching the shore—did he act to protect himself?
Whether he killed in self-defence or not, at the time under Canadian law the penalty for murder was death by hanging. This was a pretty straightforward case for the Crown, and after deliberating for all of one quarter of an hour, the jury returned with the verdict that Slumach was guilty of murder. Today, considering the absence of any indication of premeditation in testimonies heard, and the known threats and provocations by Bee, a court might come up with a verdict of “voluntarily manslaughter.” Taking into account Slumach’s advanced age and that this was a first offence, punishment would probably be a few years in prison. But in 1891 under Canadian law the Crown claimed Slumach’s life.
Under normal circumstances old Slumach and his tragic ending would have been long forgotten. Both victim and culprit were without social status in the white community, and the crime had no exceptionally daring or gruesome elements that could give it a place in local memory. What assured Slumach’s name a permanent spot in local lore was his supposed connection to the legendary gold of Pitt Lake. The legend of Pitt Lake gold, or Slumach’s gold as it became known, has its roots in the years of the Fraser Canyon Gold Rush, when maps were printed in California for the comfort of gold hunters heading north to the Fraser. These maps showed words like “Gold” and “Indian Diggings” in the country above Pitt Lake. Stories about an “Indian” finding gold in the Pitt Lake area kept circulating. In a 1915 interview Wilbur Armstrong, a Washington prospector preparing for his tenth and last search for Pitt Lake gold, identified the Indian who first discovered the gold as “Slumagh…hanged in the jail yard at New Westminster in 1891.” Some prospectors at that time made money guiding gold hunting parties into the rugged Pitt Lake country, and a good story was needed to attract and convince investors and customers. Armstrong and his colleagues honed the old stories to perfection, creating the basis for all later tales.
In the 1940s Slumach was given a new life. Pulp writers and journalists made Slumach into a much younger man, the centre attraction of New Westminster, where he supposedly frequented the bars, paying with raw gold. He received the flattering attention of dance-hall girls, and he took some of them with him into the wilderness—none returned. The press hanged Slumach again, this time for the murder of one of the girls, and had him taking the secret of the location of the mine with him, placing a curse on anyone trying to find it.
If indeed anyone had walked around town with as much gold as the stories want us to believe Slumach did, there would have been a riot in New Westminster. It would be a miracle if Slumach had survived the torture of the mob trying to beat the secret of the location of the gold out of him, and there would have been a stampede to the Pitt Lake area. In those gold-crazed late 1800s the newspapers would have been full of stories about Slumach and Pitt Lake gold—but there is nothing about that in the local press of that time. Nevertheless Slumach’s name has remained linked to the legendary Pitt Lake gold to the present day, and there are many who still believe in the legend of his finding of an Eldorado, out there in the wilderness of Pitt Lake.
We know very little about the real Slumach. The 1898 fire in New Westminster destroyed the records of the Indian Agent, and an important source of Katzie history went up in flames. In the surviving documents Slumach’s name only appears in an 1879 census showing him, “Slum.ook,” as one of seven adult Katzie staying at the Pitt River village at the south end of Pitt Lake. Slumach’s brother Smum-qua (Tsa mem.kwahm) was the head of that settlement.
From the court records we know that Slumach had a daughter called Annie, who was present at the trial, and a 1926 newspaper article mentions Slumach’s widow. What else we know is all related to the crime. For their stories most journalists and writers relied heavily on the often flawed reports in New Westminster’s Columbian of 1890 and 1891. Some writers have excused themselves from studying the legal records by claiming that they were lost.