So you've certainly noticed by now that I haven't posted anything in nearly a year. That's probably because I've completely forgotten about these blogs.
I should have posted a note like this
earlier, but I kept putting it off. I'm no longer updating the blogs. I
won't be even in the foreseeable future.
I will however
leave the blogs as they are. The links all still work and the
navigation bar on the right side still links between the blogs. It'll be
open for however long Blogger keeps it up, and available for you all to
I may come back to it. I may not. I did enjoy
doing it for a while, but then it started to feel like a second job and
drained the fun out of it.
Enjoy yourselves and thanks for reading.
Sunday, August 28, 2011
The Winchester Mystery House is a well-known mansion in California. It once was the personal residence of Sarah Winchester, the widow of gun magnate William Wirt Winchester. It was continuously under construction for 38 years and is reported to be haunted. It now serves as a tourist attraction. Under Winchester's day-to-day guidance, its "from-the-ground-up" construction proceeded around the clock, without interruption, from 1884 until her death on September 5, 1922, at which time work immediately ceased. The cost for such constant building has been estimated at about US $5.5 million (if paid in 1922; this would be equivalent to over $71 million in 2010).
Deeply saddened by the deaths of her daughter Annie in 1866 of marasmus, and her young husband in 1881, Winchester consulted a medium on the advice of a psychic. The "Boston Medium" told Winchester that she believed there to be a curse upon the Winchester family because the guns they made had taken so many lives. The psychic told Winchester that "thousands of people have died because of it and their spirits are now seeking deep vengeance."
Although this is disputed, popular belief holds that the Boston Medium told Winchester that she had to leave her home in New Haven and travel West, where she must "build a home for yourself and for the spirits who have fallen from this terrible weapon, too. You must never stop building the house. If you continue building, you will live forever. But if you stop, then you will die."
Winchester left her New Haven home and headed for California. In 1884 she purchased an unfinished farm in Santa Clara Valley, and began building her mansion. Carpenters were hired and worked on the house day and night until it became a seven story mansion.
Before the 1906 earthquake, the house had been seven stories high, but today it is only four stories. The house is predominantly made of redwood, as Mrs. Winchester preferred the wood, however, did not like the look of it. She therefore demanded that a faux grain and stain be applied. This is why almost all the wood in the home is covered. Approximately 20,500 gallons (76,000 liters) of paint were required to paint the house. The home itself is built using a floating foundation that is believed to have saved it from total collapse in the 1906 earthquake and the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. This type of construction allows the home to shift freely, as it is not completely attached to its brick base. There are roughly 160 rooms, including 40 bedrooms, 2 ballrooms (one completed and one unfinished) as well as 47 fireplaces, 10,000 window panes, 17 chimneys (with evidence of two others), two basements and three elevators. Winchester's property was about 162 acres (650,000 m²) at one time, but the estate is now just 4.5 acres (24,000 m²) — the minimum necessary to contain the house and nearby outbuildings. It has gold and silver chandeliers and hand inlaid parquet floors and trim. There are doors and stairways that lead nowhere and a vast array of colors and materials. Due to Mrs Winchester's debilitating arthritis, special "easy riser" stairways were installed as a replacement for her original steep construction. This allowed her to move about her home freely as she was only able to raise her feet a few inches high.
Sunday, August 21, 2011
The Walker Branch Library is a branch of the Hennepin County Library system in the East Isles neighborhood of Minneapolis, Minnesota. It is located on Hennepin Avenue one block north of Lake Street.
The original building was built in 1911, when the Hennepin/Lake area was sparsely populated. T. B. Walker, the president of the library board at the time, donated some land for the site of the library. The opening of this library coincided with the opening of a streetcar line on Lake Street, and it helped fulfill head librarian Gratia Countryman's wishes to expand the library system and bring books closer to people. Local architect Jerome Paul Jackson designed the library in a Classical Revival design. The portico, with Ionic columns, shows Beaux-Arts characteristics.
In 1981, the growth of the library required a new building, which was built just across the street at 2880 Hennepin Avenue South. The two main floors of the building are underground. There is a large "LIBRARY" sign on Hennepin Avenue with an entry pavilion to indicate the presence of the library. Although the library was built underground to conserve space and save energy, the underground building is not very visible, and has problems with water seepage. As of 2006, proposals were being considered to replace the library with something that would be more visible.
Sunday, August 14, 2011
Aokigahara, also known as the Sea of Trees, is a 35 km2 forest that lies at the north west base of Mount Fuji in Japan. The forest contains a number of rocky, icy caverns, a few of which are popular tourist destinations.
The forest, which has a historic association with demons in Japanese mythology, is a popular place for suicides; in 2002, 78 bodies were found, despite numerous signs, in Japanese and English, urging people to reconsider their actions.
Due to the wind-blocking density of the trees, and an absence of wildlife, the forest is known for being eerily quiet.
The forest is a popular place for suicides, reportedly the world's second most popular suicide location after San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge. This popularity is often attributed to the 1960 novel Nami no Tō by Seichō Matsumoto, which ends with two lovers committing suicide in the forest. However, the history of suicide in Aokigahara predates the novel's publication, and the place has long been associated with death: ubasute may have been practiced there into the 19th century, and the forest is reputedly haunted by the ghosts of those left to die.
Since the 1950s, more than 500 people have lost their lives in the forest, mostly suicides, with an average of approximately 30 counted yearly. In 2002, 78 bodies were found within the forest, replacing the previous record of 73 in 1998. In 2003 the rate climbed to 100, and in recent years the local government has stopped publicizing the numbers in an attempt to downplay Aokigahara's association with suicide. In 2004, 108 people killed themselves in the forest. In 2010, 247 people attempted suicide in the forest, 54 of whom were successful.
The high rate of suicide has led officials to place signs in the forest, in Japanese and English, urging those who have gone there in order to commit suicide to seek help and not kill themselves. The annual body search, consisting of a small army of police, volunteers and attendant journalists, began in 1970.
Sunday, August 7, 2011
Centralia is a borough and ghost town in Columbia County, Pennsylvania, United States. Its population has dwindled from over 1,000 residents in 1981 to 12 in 2005, 9 in 2007, and 10 in 2010, as a result of a mine fire burning beneath the borough since 1962. Centralia is one of the least-populated municipalities in Pennsylvania.
It is not known for certain how the fire that made Centralia essentially uninhabitable was ignited. One theory asserts that in May 1962, the Centralia Borough Council hired five members of the volunteer fire company to clean up the town landfill, located in an abandoned strip-mine pit next to the Odd Fellows Cemetery. This had been done prior to Memorial Day in previous years, when the landfill was in a different location. The firefighters, as they had in the past, set the dump on fire and let it burn for a time. Unlike in previous years, however, the fire was not extinguished correctly.
The fire remained burning underground and spread through a hole in the rock pit into the abandoned coal mines beneath Centralia. Attempts to extinguish the fire were unsuccessful, and it continued to burn throughout the 1960s and 1970s. Adverse health effects were reported by several people due to the byproducts of the fire, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and a lack of healthy oxygen levels.
Very few homes remain standing in Centralia; most of the abandoned buildings have been demolished by humans or nature. At a casual glance, the area now appears to be a field with many paved streets running through it. Some areas are being filled with new-growth forest. The remaining church in the borough, St. Mary's, holds weekly services on Sunday and has not yet been directly affected by the fire. The town's four cemeteries—including one on the hilltop that has smoke rising around and out of it—are maintained in good condition. There is also a notice board posted near Hammie Hill, about 500 yards from the cemetery, protesting the evictions and demanding former Governor Rendell intervene.