{ font: $(body.font); color: $(body.text.color); background: $(body.background); padding: opx; $(body.background.override) } expr:class='"loading" + data:blog.mobileClass'>

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Social Media

Social Media.  Love it, or hate it, we are all in this thing together.  I will warn you that in the beginning of this post, I may sound like a real cynical soul, but deep down, you probably can relate to at least some of what I am trying to convey.

I admit it.  I have twice deleted my Facebook profile, because I grew tired of...

The negativity...
The unrelenting narcissism...
The advertising...
The ad nausea of political rants...
[Unnecessary] Pictures of wounded animals...
or babies who are seriously ill...
The ignorance...
The unoriginal 
The overshared...
The perverts...
The selfies...
The cryptic posters...
The attention seekers...
The game requests...
Facebook "Suggestions"....
and...who the hell is this person?

I could go on all day.  But, not long after I deleted my profile, I somehow felt I was missing out on life, and reinstated my account.   There are innumerable factors why I dislike this social media platform, and only a few reasons why I like it.... So, why do I stay?  I don't scroll down the "feed" for a long time, to see what I missed. I generally look at a few of the newest posts, maybe click "like" and then get disgusted or bored, really fast.  The suggestions I receive feel like an intrusion and to me, the overall redundancy is obnoxious.  Folks, let's be honest, there is nothing that is unique or original.  It's all been done...over and over again.  


And, sometimes, there are no words that can explain stupidity.  Here is a hilarious look at a few of the stupidest things ever conveyed: Dumb Facebook Posts

I will be the first to tell you that I am guilty of some of the same posts that I dislike...and I use it to promote this blog....and, yet, I stay.  

Apparently, there is a psychology behind our love of Facebook, that taps into the pleasure center of the brain.  We feel connected to others, and our posts or comments are the means in which others will get to know us, or how we strive to express ourselves, which is the reason we all attempt to present ourselves in the best light.  Yet, there are also good things that happen when we connect to social media, too.  Examples would be finding a lost person, sharing a link to an important event or a news article that you find interesting, supporting a friend or family member during a rough time, or growing your business.

We extract sympathy and feel comforted when we share our feelings.  It is a like receiving a cyber hug (acceptance and understanding) that we all desire. Yet, technology and communication march on.  Go ahead.  Pick your poison: Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, Google+, YouTube, Reddit and LinkedIn.  I am guilty of connecting to at least 6 of these social media sites, and recognize the addictive tendencies attached to having these accounts and there are statistics to support this theory.  
What ever your pain or pleasure may be, as you consider your attachment to any social media platform, it is a means of communication.  

The oldest known form of communication are cave paintings made by Homo Sapiens, which date back to around 35,000 B.C., where man first began to pass along information.  On the island of Sulawesi, in Indonesia are some of the oldest examples of cave paintings of animals ever found  on earth.  Other significant discoveries have been located in the Chauvet Cave, in France, and in the Coliboaia Cave in Romania, dating back approximately 30,000 to 32,000 thousand years ago.

20,000 years passed, and man began to carve information onto rock surfaces.  Known as "petroglyphs", stones were carefully arranged and left (possibly) as a form of a message; symbols were carved into wood or rock formations. 

Next, "Pictographs" became the means in which communication was transmitted.  The difference between petroglyphs and pictograms is that petroglyphs showed an event, but pictograms told a story about the event.  This was a way of recording events chronologically.

Image source: ancientexplores
Pictograms evolved into "ideograms" which are graphic symbols that actually represent an idea. "Their ancestors, the pictograms, could represent only something resembling their form: therefore a pictogram of a circle could represent a sun, but not concepts like 'heat', 'light', 'day' or 'Great God of the Sun'. Ideograms, on the other hand, could convey more abstract concepts, so that for example an ideogram of two sticks can mean not only 'legs' but also a verb 'to walk'.  Because some ideas are universal, many different cultures developed similar ideograms. For example, an eye with a tear means 'sadness' in Native American ideograms in California, as it does for the Aztecs, the early Chinese and the Egyptians." - wikipedia

Image source: thevikingmuseum
Writing then evolved from these methods, and the earliest form of writing is known s the the Futhark. Symbols, numbers or alphabet letters were carved into clay, bone, tortoise shells or rock, known as runes.  To make a long story short... Eventually these symbols were connected, and through phonetics, alphabet letters together formed words.  Words became sentences, and so on.   Think of 
Egyptian hieroglyphs and you will understand that this was one of the first "true" writing systems.  

Image source: google

But ideas that were carved in stone, were not portable.  It was not functional as a means to deliver messages; so, the ancient Egyptians developed papyrus to carry messages.  Papyrus is derived from the pith of a plant bearing the same name, and once formed and dried, they were then written upon and then rolled into scrolls. 

The next evolution was the development of parchment using animal skins and its use was somewhat revolutionary, and differing from papyrus which could crack as they became brittle and fragile.  The parchment sheets were folded and then put together to form the earliest books or codices.  Papyrus was eventually used in the same way, for a long time.  Both mediums were used to record history, scholarly texts, ideas, science, religion and so on.  

Other ancient methods of recording the written word have been found around the world. In India, palm leaves were dried and smoked and used as a writing surface. During the medieval era, pointed or sharp instruments called a stylus, were used on wax tablets.  And, in the Himalayan region, birch bark was used to capture text (specifically, mathematical information). 

Image source: pluspets.net
As we consider historical events, like the conquering of various nations, it is important to remember that speed in delivery is an important factor.  Unrelated, but still relevant, was the development of how urgency invented new ways to swiftly carry news.  Consider Genghis Khan used homing pigeons to deliver messages.  The Romans and Persians used couriers on horse back, and Native Americans used smoke signals to convey warnings or victories.

Eventually, mass printing was invented thanks to Germany's Gutenberg in the mid 1450's, and simultaneous printing was developed.  The printing press is a huge success and other countries such as Italy, Spain, Hungary and Switzerland began to use this invention as a means to produce books.  

Speeding forward to the 1600's printing begins to take a new face in the form of propaganda, and pamphlets are used during Luther's Reformation against the Catholic Church, and later, pamphlets were used for information during the Thirty Year War.  People were thirsty for news, and the printers delivered "Newsheets", which eventually developed into today's newspaper (circa 1609 - 1630's).

Image source:  Time
As early as the 1630's a system of mail delivery was established, during war time, known as official posts, in which letters were transferred via messengers on horse or by boat. 

Signal flags were invented by Robert Hooke, in the year 1684, called Semaphores or Maritime Flags.  This was essentially a way of hand waving using flags. 

In 1836, the Morse Code was developed.

In 1867, the first book published from a typewriter was "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" by Mark Twain. 

In 1876, Alexander Graham Bell, introduces the telephone. 

Image source: thesmashinglists
Photography eventually is invented and through much trial and error, becomes a fast an effective way to deliver news. 

Image source:  archives.gov
During the American Civil War, a team of photographers were sent out to the field, to capture images of the conflict and some 10,000 pictures survive.

In 1920, the first commercial radio broadcasts features opera singers from "The Met".

1925, enter the television.

The first word processor is introduced in 1964.

1971, the first email is sent.

1992, "Merry Christmas", via text.

1995, Say hello to my little internet phone.

2004, Facebook is launched.

2006, Twitter begins with a tweet.

And we have come full circle, my Friends.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Glass Houses

Though these buildings are mostly abandoned, there is a haunting beauty that exists twixt their former state and how nature has consequently intervened.  Branches tangle, and new growth emerges from the neglected spaces.  Moss and mushrooms materialize, and I can almost feel the dampness of fog which has crept around the corners of each building.  I contemplate what scents I would discover and my mind searches for the term to describe the peppery, forest fragrance.   

"Those who live in glass houses should not throw stones" is a European proverb relating to hypocrisy. It generally means that one should not criticize another, for having the same fault or weaknesses as themselves.

"A greenhouse or glasshouse in botany, is an enclosed structure that is primarily built with with glass, plastic, or fiberglass.  Its environment is controlled by warm temperatures, natural humidity and ventilation to grow plants.   Greenhouses often depend upon much of the facility being heated by the sun, and in the winter months provides a safe haven for young plants by  protecting them from extreme cold or heat."

The World Encyclopedia gives this fascinating explanation of how the Greenhouse came into being:
"The idea of growing plants in environmentally controlled areas has existed since at least Roman times. The cucumber was a favorite of Roman emperor Tiberius, who "was never without it" (Pliny the Elder 77 C.E. in Bostock and Riley 1855). The Roman gardeners used artificial methods (similar to the greenhouse system) of growing to have it available for his table every day of the year. Cucumbers were planted in wheeled carts, which were put in the sun daily, then taken inside to keep them warm at night under special conditions (Pliny the Elder 77 C.E.). The cucumbers were stored under frames or in cucumber houses glazed with either oiled cloth, known as "specularia," or with sheets of mica."

Images source: Pinterest
Information:  World Encyclopedia, Wikipedia

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Vampire Defense

“Evil is a point of view. We are immortal. And what we have before us are the rich feasts that conscience cannot appreciate and mortal men cannot know without regret. God kills, and so shall we; indiscriminately He takes the richest and the poorest, and so shall we; for no creatures under God are as we are, none so like Him as ourselves, dark angels not confined to the stinking limits of hell but wandering His earth and all its kingdoms.”  ― Anne Rice, Interview with the Vampire

The vampire is a loathsome creature, who appears in human form, and is sustained by drinking the blood (also known as "feeding") from living beings, like you and I.   Naturally, we want to defend ourselves from an immortal existence and there are many ways in which we can employ self-protection.

Today, one can easily find, online at auction or generally for sale, "Vampire Hunter Kits" - also known as - "Vampire Defense Kits".  Some kits may be vintage, but are not actually an authentic tool used during the height of this superstition.   These kits are most likely made in the 1930's or perhaps even later and were made to look older than they actually are.   These kits can even be "made to order", today.  Speculation is that they were produced after the publication of Bram Stoker's "Dracula" in 1897, and were more likely intended as souvenirs or novelties.    Buyer, Beware!

If the contents were indeed real, here are the many ways in which you may use to defend yourself against the un-dead. There are also many superstitions that may grant you some form of protection against these evil beings.  

"Apotropaics" or apotropaic magic are a means in which one may defend against evil or harm, and may deflect misfortune.  If you have a lucky charm, or sprinkle salt over your shoulder, or hang a horseshoe over your door, you are practicing this type of magic!  Common items, such as garlic or holy water that are supposedly used to ward off those who returned from the dead and are common in vampire folklore. 

Branch of a wild rose - may harm or ward off a vampire


Used for ceremonies like exorcisms, prayers, and seeing in the dark.

Crossbow and Bolts

Crossbows were useful when employed for range.  The tip of the bolt may be dipped in silver, however, silver is not effective means to ward off the vampire. 


A symbol of Christ, it was commonly held facing toward the vampire, who balked in its presence. Sometimes, it was attached to a chain from which the slayer could rapidly pull it out.  The crucifix was often made of silver.   This tool is one of the most important manners in which one can repel a vampire, and if it touches the skin of the undead, it will burn them similar to an acid.

Decapitation / Dismemberment

One of the easiest methods to kill a vampire is to simply lob off its head, and then to burn it along with the remaining body (which should also be dismembered). See "Fire". Decapitation was also the means in which one could expedite the departure of one's soul. 


It is common knowledge that a vampire will not enter your home, unless you invite him/her.  Once the invitation is extended, however, they may enter or leave at will. 


Holy wafers are used to place over the lips of the dead, as a form of protection against vampirism; or, may be placed around the grave as a circle of protection so that the undead may not enter. 


The method of burning a vampire is used in conjunction with the decapitation and dismemberment method.  After the body is in pieces, the remaining parts must be thoroughly burned. 


Garlic has been used in defense against vampirism, as they notoriously despise this herb and repel against it.  Consequently, garlic was placed into a deceased person's mouth to prevent a vampire from feeding upon the victim.


A vampire will not be able to use his power on consecrated grounds such as a church yard or a cemetery.  You will be safe to retreat to these places.


Some hammers were fashioned with a crucifix styled into the head. Its size was approximately six to seven inches long, and was what is used to drive a stake into the body of the vampire.

Holy Water

This was used to sprinkle on the vampire for both protection of the hunter, the surrounding area in which they occupied, or used directly on the vampire to harm it.


The pungent odor arising from this may have been used ceremoniously, whether it be used for protection or to ward off the evil spirit which lay in the vampire’s body.

Knives and Daggers

Some were used for throwing while others were specifically used for close combat.


In Saxon regions of Germany, a lemon was placed in the mouth of suspected vampires.

Metal Teeth Pliers

Nothing more than a common tool, these were used to remove the long teeth or fangs of vampires.  


Mirrors are used to ward off vampires when placed facing outwards, on a door.  You can also verify if the individual is indeed a vampire, as they do not have a reflection, or they may not cast a shadow which helps to substantiate their lack of having a soul.    

Mustard Seed

Sprinkled over the roof of one's home will protect you against these intruders.

Oils and Ointments

Commonly used as repellents, any consecrated oil or ointment can be used to place directly on oneself or an object

Prayer Book or Bible

Holy verses, quotes or readings may be used for performing exorcisms.


Everyone knows that bullets do NOT kill vampires.  Bullets - exclusively silver bullets - are used to kill werewolves, never vampires.

Running Water

Such as a brook or stream - vampires will not cross either.  I would caution you, however, to not rely on this as a means of defense, as a vampire can not only change forms, such as transforming into a bat or wolf, I would suggest that there is no reason why he would not leap over running water, if his thirst was great; or perhaps, his anger, high.


Stakes were driven into the hearts of the vampires by use of the hammer.  A suspected vampire's grave could be unearthed and a stake would be driven through the corpse, to pin it to the ground. Holy water, Eucharists, and/or oils or ointments could be administered directly onto its body to prevent it from reanimating and could be either driven through the mouth, the heart or the stomach depending upon from what region the superstition came.  Popular choices of wood to make stakes were Ash, Hawthorne or Oak.


One of the most vulnerable aspects of a vampire is to expose them to sunlight, which may disintegrate them, instantly.  This is why they are only active at night.

Here is my shadow... from the streets of Chicago...

...and, here I am, also in Chicago, - and my reflection is real.  Whew!  Glad we got that nasty piece of business out of the way!