peace - love - reason

Jill Of All Trades

Ringing in updates with a Triptych

14.12.07 by literaghost

Well, finally fixed the layout. Hope to have a more steady stream of content than's been going on in the past.

AerialsAn older poem of mine, but one I think could use some fresh air:

Triptych

In all the expanses of Heaven,
There are no angels, there is no sunlight.
There are no harps and hearts and feathers.
There, witches offer pink cotton candy,
And there, demons dwell in pastel crayons.

Under the chapel is the ninth gate of Hell.
Here lay the thinkers, the rebels, the magicians of light and death.
We question, converse, keep ourselves company.
The greats are with us, those before their time,
Who used their allotted world-tolerance too early.

The unfinished works and businesses hover over the lawn,
Passing through time, to pass the time,
Until their time has passed on and below.
They walk, north-south, south-north, in the skylights,
And cling to the stones of the gate as they drift.

--

More writings (and updates on what I've been doing since the last post/summer) coming shortly. I hope.

- Miz L.

Wrote my Congressman

13.12.07 by literaghost

Regarding House Resolution 847: "Recognizing the importance of Christmas and the Christian faith" (text; Friendly Atheist post).

--

Dear Representative Chandler;

My name is [X]. I'm not sure if you remember me, but I introduced you to the Congressional Award Program a few years ago by being the first Kentuckian to whom you presented their medals.

Over the years, I believe you have represented our state extremely well. I have applauded your efforts to support Kentucky's environment and the people in it; I have urged many of my friends and family members to vote for your re-election.

This is why I was shocked, and deeply saddened, to discover that yesterday you helped to approve House Resolution 847 ("Recognizing the importance of Christmas and the Christian faith").
I have thoroughly read the text of this bill as it was written by its sponsor, and have come to the following conclusion: If it was introduced as simply a symbolic gesture, it was a waste of legislation time and the taxpayer dollars that funded it. If it is ever acted upon, or if it is used as the basis for further legislation that "expresses ... support for Christians," it ruthlessly violates the First Amendment of our Constitution.

I think I can understand why you voted for this bill. In today's political climate, it is dangerous to appear "anti-Christian." Candidates of all parties, in all regions, and for all positions have been tripping over themselves to prove their piety - despite our Constitution's "no religious test" clause, which says they shouldn't have to. I understand that it takes a great deal of courage to stand up to this climate; indeed, in the case of this bill, only nine did. I can understand how one might give in to these pressures - but I cannot respect it. Climates such as this make adherence to the letter and spirit of our Constitution ever more important.

Mr. Chandler, through the Congressional Award Program I have worked with many outstanding Kentuckians of all backgrounds, ages, genders, races, and classes. I have worked side-by-side with people of many different beliefs and religions, and with people of no religion. H. RES. 847 does them a great disservice, and shows an extraordinary amount of disrespect for their efforts. As a Congressman, it is your duty to represent all Kentuckians, not just those of a particular faith. Laws do not exist for the protection of the majority, for those are not the ones who need the protection.

This resolution specifically states, "the House of Representatives ... expresses its deepest respect to American Christians and Christians throughout the world." However, a clause in our First Amendment states that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion." Perhaps I show my youth by preferring a document just over 220 years old to a religion established towards the end of the Roman Empire.

I hope that in future legislative action, you will further your record of keeping the diverse interests of Kentuckians in mind - and that you will also keep in mind our country's founding principles.

Sincerely,

[signed]

[literaghost/Miz L.'s name]

Five Principles for Peace - A Personal and Philosophical Perspective

25.11.07 by literaghost

(The last of the Peace Studies assignments/musings.)
--

Enough "P" alliteration for you?)

Yes, I wrote another novel... The first two postulates are the longest, as they lay the foundation for the rest. If you can get through those, you should do fine. Good luck! :)

Summary: The first two postulates focus on personal responsibility and on interconnectedness. The last three focus on the principles of balance, strength, and flexibility. None of these alone will suffice; they need to be used together (interconnectedness); in addition, they are your own tools to monitor and use (personal responsibility).

--

1. Everything begins with yourself. You have the capacity to change the world for the better; everyone does. (Movements, after all, break down into individuals.) There is no excuse to wait for someone else to clear the path, whether it be a politician or a classmate ("If only they'd just pass that bill," "If only they'd just listen to me for once"...). Make the first move, and speak only for yourself - the first steps have to come from changes within yourself, not from changing other people. (Thus, this entire manifesto-type-deal is essentially my talking to myself. [Hello, there, self - how are you today? Had a nice break?] Feel free to adopt what ideas may strike a chord, but under no circumstances take this as "[Miz L.] telling me what to do.")

2. There is no "Other." There is no "They." The polarized mentality of "Us vs. Them" makes us that much more easily led into atrocities, whether it be of nationality, creed/religion/philosophy, economic status, sex and/or gender, or even profession. We can see this in the discussions leading up to wartime - and we can see it in ourselves. Whether we're blaming all our troubles on "terrorism," "society" (ex. - "the secularization of society," the militarism of society"), "the administration," or "the media" (ex. - "the mainstream media," "violent video games"), the fact is that finding something to scapegoat does nothing. Whether or not they actually have a factor in our problems, there is nothing they do that is without our agreement, explicit or implicit. It doesn't matter how much we complain, or what we're complaining about, if we still do nothing to change (see above point).
In addition, it is important to remember that despite our surface differences, we all come from the same source - whether it be the dust of the earth, or the same molecules that have cycled through different forms since the Big Bang. Every action has an effect, an equal and opposite reaction, no matter how small. Even if the flap of a butterfly's wings in Brazil doesn't set off a tornado in Texas, it at least shifts the atmosphere surrounding it. "No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main [...] therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee." There is no "other" - for we are the other.

3. In all things, maintain a sense of balance, moderation, and perspective. Passion and emotion are valuable; so are logic and keeping a cool head. It is important to reduce/minimize harmful emissions from transportation, but it is equally important to travel, and to explore other cultures and environments. Pay attention to your instincts, but don't let them rule you. Pick your battles, but don't give up the bus seat that would change the world. Choose wisely - is it really a big deal? Is it really harmless? Also remember, the "everything" in "everything in moderation" includes moderation.

4. Don't let yourself get burned out - but don't give in to cynicism or apathy. Achieving peace, especially positive peace, covers an enormous amount of issues. Just "staying informed" can be overwhelming. Rest when you need to ("everything in moderation..."); enjoy the life you have. Perhaps work on "inner peace" for a while. But don't give up, or stop caring. Dust yourself off and go at it again. Remember - you are never the only one. There's always someone else who feels overwhelmed, too - and, more importantly, there are always others who are working for the same goals. They're helping you; go help them.

5. There are no hard-and-fast rules...including these. People do have differences, and situations have differences. Stay flexible.

Lost? Confused? Might want to re-read the summary...

Not lost? Good for you! Please turn in a brief analytical summary on Wednesday. ;)

- [Miz. L.]

--

Ties in nicely with Thivai's post on the Yes! Magazine article.

How does religion promote war and/or peace, if at all?

18.11.07 by literaghost

(Musings for another Peace Studies assignment.)

--

These are my scattered musings on the role of religion in fostering war and peace, and on religious in/tolerance more generally (as I see the two to be linked). I'm not sure if they'll all make sense, because I have a lot of different thoughts on this topic running around screaming simultaneously in my head. Take a deep breath...

...Here goes.

--

What first comes to mind is an experience/revelation I had at an academic conference/"camp"/thingus this past summer. My roommate of the five weeks was the daughter of a Christian preacher, and worked at a Christian radio station. She told me she had only gone to one church - her dad's - for her entire life. While she was at the "camp," she and her group of friends made an effort to visit a different kind of church every week - going to a Catholic church and one with a different racial base, among others. For a little while, I thought, "Great! They're actually learning to accept...

...Other...forms of Christianity."

And then I realized how far we have to go.

And that's when I got depressed again.

So here's the first of my thoughts: organized religion seems to be inherently exclusive. Some may be exclusive on greater or lesser levels, but they still are.

Take "interdenominational" efforts. The premise seems to be, "We're accepting, all right! We accept all forms of Christianity!" Translation: If you're Buddhist, get out.

Then take the "interfaith" efforts. "As long as you believe in God/some sort of higher power, you're all right by us!" Tough luck, atheists and agnostics.

Organized religion - like so many other organized social constructs - can be used to unite people (for many purposes). But at the same time, they divide them against "The Other" - whether that be people of a different religion, people of no religion, or people who don't interpret their religion in the same way. With these divisions often (not necessarily, but often enough) come conflict. There's conflict, for example, between those who interpret their religion "for peace" and those who interpret it "for war."

--

Which brings me to thought part two: try as we might, there is just no way to determine that a peace-promoting interpretation of religious doctrine is any more "right" or "valid" than a war-promoting one, much as we cannot determine the opposite. We can agree with one more than the other, sure; we can argue that one is more beneficial, or useful, or practical, or just. But we cannot argue that one is more legitimate - at least not based on that doctrine. Doctrine can support almost anything, if you know where to look.

Let's take that old favorite standby of religious arguments for an example - the Bible. Many will argue, "Oh, all that weird 'stoning and vengeance' stuff is just in the Old Testament. Jesus didn't actually say any of it (he, naturally, only said peaceful hippie stuff), so we shouldn't pay attention to it."

At this point, I should admit the influence of Marvin Harris, controversial anthropologist. In his book "Cows, Pigs, Wars, and Witches: The Riddles of Culture" (chapter: The Secret of the Prince of Peace), he includes this table:








Blessed are the peacemakers. (Matthew 5:9)Think not that I am come to send peace on earth, I come not to send peace but a sword. (Matthew 10:34)
Whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. (Matthew 5:39)Suppose ye that I come to give peace on earth? I will tell you nay, but rather division. (Luke 12:51)
All that take the sword shall perish with the sword. (Matthew 26:52)He that hath no sword, let him sell his garments and buy one. (Luke 22:36)
Love thine enemies; do good to them that hate you. (Luke 6:27)And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them out of the temple...and poured out the changer's money and overthrew the tables. (John 2:15)


Needless to say, it's difficult to assimilate the attitudes of the two columns simultaneously (although many apologists have made a living using rhetorical and/or logical and/or historical contortions to do so). Thus, many who try to follow its teachings focus on either one column's perspective or the other's.

I think this stems from an inherent difficulty of using any one document - written by many people, over many time periods, whether divinely inspired or not - as the sole basis for one's life choices. It's like the joke about George Washington's axe - "This is the original he used to cut down the cherry tree. The handle's been replaced six times, and the head only five." After all that, can you really say it's the same axe? The same "essence" may be there, but we'll never really know, having only fragments of (what we think are) the originals. In this case, even the original axe's head was made at a different time, by a different person, than its handle - and they possibly never fitted together very well in the first place.

--

And so, thought the third: what are religious groups working for peace doing, anyway? To me, it seems a little like a knitting club deciding to join the peace effort. Perhaps their reasoning is "It's harder for people to knit when they're worried about being bombed, so we should try to stop the bombing so more people can concentrate on their knitting." Sure, okay, whatever. Their heart's in the right place, I suppose, and we could certainly use whatever help we can get. But I have trouble seeing the connection - or, at least, I have trouble seeing how the connection's any stronger than, say, that of an underwater basket weaver's guild.

Perhaps the connection lies in the sort of poetic justice that comes when religious groups come together to solve a conflict instead of causing one, especially when it was the cause in the first place. "You started it - you end it." In that case, treaty agreements between groups of different philosophies or politics that have been in conflict are on the same level. It's just one more tool, or one more cultural classification method to get around. Lyrics from John Lennon's "Imagine" come to mind: "Imagine there's no countries./It isn't hard to do./Nothing to kill or die for,/and no religion, too." Here, and in the rest of the song, I think Lennon's referencing some of the things that divide us - Christian or Muslim, Capitalist or Socialist, Rich or Poor, Saved or Sinner ("Imagine there's no heaven..."). While some can unite within those labels, most of the time they're just obstacles to be worked around in order to really reach other people.

--

Which, in a roundabout way, brings me to thought number four: why religious contributions, and what differentiates between theirs and those of any other philosophy? To me, religion is mostly "Philosophy + Supernatural [beliefs]." So, what distinguishes "religious contributions" (or detractions) from simply "philosophical" ones might be the "supernatural" part - which, by definition, we can't verify. Not very useful.

Perhaps the importance lies in sheer numbers, or power. Given the clout many religions have (if only because they're "divinely backed"), getting them on the side of peace would be immensely beneficial to the peace movement - at least in the short run. Much like making a peace alliance with the former USSR might have been, or one with North Korea might today. However, at least to me, it would have similar problems in the long run. Say you've got a major world power on your side, working for peace (or at least for disarmament). What do you do when you find out about its humanitarian crises, about the critics getting silenced and the women getting beaten? It makes for a careful compromise, especially when in negotiating a positive peace.

--

So that's the end of my Sunday-night thoughts about Religion and War and Peace. Might have to come back later if any more get shaken out of the tangle.

Made it to the end? Congratulations! Have a cookie. If you're brain's hurting by now, go relax.

- [Miz L.]

We're Here

17.9.07 by literaghost

Berea won't know what hit it...

The Front Porch Mountains

Our new view. (Welcome home.)

[Berea photostream]

Response to the Iraq Veterans Memorial

16.9.07 by literaghost

(Another response for the Peace Studies class. Site referenced is the Iraq Veterans Memorial. From the site: "The Iraq Veterans Memorial is an online war memorial that honors the members of the U.S. armed forces who have lost their lives serving in the Iraq War. The Memorial is a collection of video memories from family, friends, military colleagues, and co-workers of those that have fallen.")

--

My cousin left for Iraq in August. My mother's half-sister (his mother) relays me e-mails about his state of being; as I read them, I realize just how little I know about him. I was always closer to his younger sister, Meredith - when we were small, we girls would gang up against him in extended sibling rivalry, which usually involved one side barricading a door against the other. I would traipse about town and exchange clothes with Meredith, but I barely spoke to Jesse. Now, my mother asks me to help compile jokes and magazines for his care packages, but I have no idea what to include. What does he think is funny? What interests him? What sort of food does he like? What does he want to do with his life? What did he do on the weekends? And I wonder if I'll ever get another chance to know him.

War memorials can be strange things. The Iraq Veterans Memorial is different than most I've seen, and not just because it's online. The Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, D. C. - and, to a greater extent, our state one in Frankfort - attempt to make casualty statistics more personal by listing individual names instead of numbers. However, with these memorials, victims are still just names etched in cold stone. We still wonder what the people with those names were like, who knew them, and how they're remembered. The Iraq Veteran's Memorial does more than list names - it brings you face-to-face with the people behind the names and those who knew them; it shows you exactly who they were, what they looked like, what the faces of their friends and family in mourning look like. It also reinforces a detail many of us would rather not think about: That could be you.

I know more about the soldiers on the Iraq memorial website by watching a minute's worth of videos than I've known about Jesse my entire life. I can barely write him a letter - what would I put in a eulogy? I know full well how ill-prepared for that possibility I am. Too often we are fooled into thinking it won't be us, it won't be our friends or relatives or neighbors who won't come home. But it's always someone's - and they're not much different from us. What if we get the next blow?

Moving Day

15.9.07 by literaghost

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Pack up the cats, we're moving.

What? How would you do it?

Posts should resume shortly.

Response to the Sixth Anniversary of 9/11

11.9.07 by literaghost

(Written for a section of my Peace Studies class.)
--

9-11 TributeYes, it's really been that long. Stop rhetorically asking, already. You know it's been that long. You can feel it. You can see it in our eyes - we're already weary of trying to summon the old heartache that just won't come anymore. We're weary of trying to remember what we were doing when we found out the news, making it the Kennedy Assassination on our generation's cultural timeline.
All the same, I discover myself still trying. I'm saddened, but not particularly surprised, to find that my memory's hazy, frayed, and fragmented. At times it resembles a threadbare and moth-eaten patchwork quilt. Maybe I'm holding on to it for sentimental value (could it be my security blanket?), but it could never have much practical use now.

What do I remember? I remember taking a break from my piano practice to go into the kitchen, and the kitchen TV was on. It had been several hours after it actually happened. The news was frenzied, and jumbled, and repetitive. My parents had to explain what was going on. They did so simply and to-the-point, although they were doubtlessly as clueless or confused as I was. My aunt Kathy (now buried somewhere in Monticello) called us about it, wondering if we knew, if the news was on here - that TV again. Was I numb then, or am I just numb now?
I remember feeling frightened for our Muslim neighbors, who lived at the corner of the cul-de-sac, whose younger children played games in the street with the others and whose older daughters walked to school in their headscarves and backpacks. I had been studying American history that year. I remembered all too well what had happened to the Japanese after Pearl Harbor fever.
Ahh, the Majesty of the Corporate FlagI remember a sudden blooming of red, white, and blue. Stars threatened to blind me; stripes reached to ensnare me in their candy-cane tentacles. (Maybe the Libyan family would have avoided harassment if they swathed their heads in Old Glories?) People set up booths outside of the mall, selling flags on dowel rods to "support the families of 9/11 victims." My mother bought a few. The money never got where it was supposed to.
The first Sunday after, my mother insisted we go to church. We hadn't gone in months. Now, in her mind, it was "the right thing to do." I don't remember the service. I remember the sanctuary was packed, though. Did I listen? Was I fed propaganda; was I stirred by it? Did we fear judgment day - and who was supposed to be judging whom?

I remember our restaurant slowly losing business as people increasingly preferred to huddle in front of the television (that TV again!) than to get out of the house. We closed that restaurant after a year of struggle. My father now works for his former competitor.
I remember making an ungainly attempt to defend my beloved French from my then-best friend. I don't think either of us knew what we were talking about.
I remember being swept up in the patriotic tide like everyone else. I was snagged by a dissenting twig along the way, though, and I'm grateful for it. I wish more branches took hold.

Six years later, and my memory fades by the day. Six years later, and we speak of "cultural amnesia." Given how little we knew in the first place, I doubt it would do us much good to remember. Meanwhile, the future keeps coming - and we keep trying, instead of rebuilding. Where do we go from here?

Return from (Unannounced) Hiatus

23.8.07 by literaghost


Clear off! This is our park!, originally uploaded by Reciprocity.

I'm back. Miss me? Yeah, didn't think so.




--



I wonder what caused that bridge collapse...could it be due to government corruption? Shoddy infrastructure? The Wrath Of God?


Nope! Pigeons!


Experts say the corrosive guano deposited all over the span's framework helped the steel beams rust faster.


Although investigators have yet to identify the cause of the bridge's Aug. 1 collapse, which killed at least 13 people and injured about 100, the pigeon problem is one of many factors that dogged the structure.



I think the best responses to this come from my mom, and a commenter on the CBS page -


Mom: "THAT'S RIGHT-BLAME THE PIGEONS!"


Commenter ("AaaBee"): Poop, huh? Nope, ain't buying it. The White House is still standing after 7 years of shit.


More posts coming as soon as I have time. Recordings from where I've been during the hiatus also coming, as soon as I can figure out how to upload and post them properly. Damn computer troubles...


- Miz L.

12.6.07 by literaghost

According to The Gender Genie, 13 of my (21 entered) writing pieces were really written by a male version of myself.

I somehow suspected it'd turn out like that...hmm.

May post some snippets later tommorow, we'll see.

Nowhere to Go but

by literaghost


Nowhere to Go but, originally uploaded by literaghost.

...Up.

Or is it down?

When the door's locked, nothing to do but turn around and start over.

(Craft house, Kenyon College, Gambier, Ohio.) .

Paris, condensed (pt. 2)

by literaghost


Paris, condensed (pt. 2), originally uploaded by literaghost.

Hip Gypsies

by literaghost


Hip Gypsies - 16, originally uploaded by literaghost.

A few belly dancers at Berea's International Festival (taken May 18th). They call themselves "The Hip Gypsies."

Go check out my Flickr page - got an account update, so my photos are better organized now. Huzzah!

- L. W.

A Brief Correspondence

by literaghost

Open Letter to Certain Nonprofits*


To Whom it May Concern;

Sometime last year, I certified my backyard with the National Wildlife Federation as a Wildlife Habitat. Shortly after my contact information entered the NWF database, I began to receive a barrage of mail from non-profits of all shapes and sizes (that would be you*), often with enclosed free stuff, and all with one ultimate goal: to solicit donations.

Now, I have no problem with this, in itself. You're nonprofits, after all - never asking for donations would be suspicious, at best. However, I feel it is my responsibility to warn you that I am a student (and, honestly, a bit of a spendthrift). What little money I have, I spend on books.**

In summary, while I apprecitate everything you do for the world, you probably shouldn't expect monetary help from me anytime soon - maybe when, you know, I actually get a job. Until then, I will continue to snag the free stuff out of your petitions and solicitations, and toss the rest into the recycling bin.

Sincerely,

[L. W.]

*You know who you are.
**Well, and postage, but that's to get more books. Besides, the decade's supply of return-address labels you've sent me by now only aggravates matters.





Response from Certain Nonprofits


Dear [L. W.];

In your letter dated [...], you write:

What little money I have, I spend on books [...] and postage[.]

To this, we reply:

Tree-killer.


Sincerely,

[The Nonprofit Conservationist League]

26.5.07 by literaghost

Moo Matisse


Cow paintings in the window of an art gallery, somewhere in northern France.


Not Quite Free Yet


It seems it was just yesterday that everyone spoke of "freedom coming to Russia." Did their wings get stuck at the critical moment, also?
(Monument in Moscow, Russia.)



Pick a Letter


Letter cutouts on a craft house worktable - Kenyon College, Gambier, Ohio.

And now, your regularly scheduled photo-flood.

by literaghost

Guardian of the Fake Sushi


Window display for a Japanese restaurant - downtown Nashville, Tennessee.


Memorial


D-day memorial on one of Normandy's beaches.


Opposing Pair


Towers in the Old Kremlin - Novgorod, Russia.




Shall break for the night after the next round.

Interlude for a Widget

by literaghost



Your regularly scheduled barrage of photos shall continue shortly.

by literaghost

Infinite


Stained glass inside the Sainte Chapelle cathedral on the Ile de la Cite - Paris, France.


Long On Fun!


Playing with focus and perspective. Some sort of taffy-thing, found and shot in a discount convenience store.


Body in the Bathroom


Random, innocent bodycast found in an upstairs bathroom of the craft house. What can I say, I guess they're predisposed to mildly philosophical setups. I had nothing to do with it, I swear. (Kenyon College, Gambier, Ohio.)

by literaghost

History is Bunk


Perhaps a better title would have that phrased as a question.
(Partially destroyed German bunker at one of Normandy's beaches.)



Keely & Frasier


Two young writers in the upside-down tree - Kenyon College, Gambier, Ohio.


St. Sophia


Saint Sophia cathedral in Novgorod, Russia (under renovation).

by literaghost

Exodus


Group exiting the Kremlin - Moscow, Russia.


Family


Family gathering (Easter '06) - Okolona, Louisville, Kentucky.


Find Peace


Is this even where you can find it, where it's such a small and hidden-away part compared to all the other ostentation?
(Inside a St. Petersburg cathedral.)

by literaghost

Clarity


Gondoliers outside the Venetian hotel and casino - Las Vegas, Nevada.


Gaining Perspective


Abbey courtyard/garden - Monastery of Mont Saint-Michel, France.


Descent


Stairs of a partially-destroyed German bunker - one of Normandy's beaches.

by literaghost

Waiting...


...For the moment of freedom.
(Taken through a gate at the Keeneland race track - Lexington, Kentucky.)



Dead and Lush


Not long before the rest fall.
(Dried reeds in our backyard.)



Far from Home


Wherever home is.
(The landscape just outside Novgorod, Russia.)

by literaghost

Art Lovers


A scuplture of lovers inside the Hermitage museum (St. Petersburg, Russia). Outside the window is Palace Square, and its entrance through the General Staff building (the archway).

Attention to Detail


One of my group-mates getting splashed by one of Peterhof's fountains (Peterhof being the summer palaces and gardens of Peter the Great) - outside St. Petersburg, Russia.

Ceremony


Inside the chapel of the cathedral at Mont Saint-Michel (France), where they still hold services.




Once again, pictures link to their original (borderless) versions in my deviantART gallery.

Beginning the siege of photo posts

25.5.07 by literaghost

I've been working on adding borders to some of my better photos - think I'll need to play around with widths and such. Any comments?




Branches


These roots run deeper than you'd expect.


10


Part of the old water tower (now arts center) - Louisville, Kentucky.


Camera-Shy


Photo collage - Orphanage #4, St. Petersburg, Russia. This particular orphanage "specializes" in (if you could call it that) mentally and physically disabled children. All of the orphans there have some degree of schizophrenia, and quite a few of them have conditions that leave them permanently infant-like, despite being well into their teens. Many stories here...*




Pictures link to original pics in my dA gallery. (Borders added using Picnik.)

More photos coming soon, and continuing - at least until I get other posts written, and perhaps even after that.

*Explanation of title: here, taking photos directly of the children felt boorish and awkward to me - instead, I took a picture of pictures. Which of us could be called "camera-shy," then? Hmm.

24.5.07 by literaghost

Well, I've forgotten what else I was going to post.

Besides that one thing. Which is for later.

Ah, well. Photo posts starting tomorrow, while I'm trying to remember what I was doing.

THE CATACOMBS OF LEXINGTON!

22.5.07 by literaghost

Much ado has been made about my sideways mentioning of an attempted Urban Exploration stint a while back. Thus, without any further of said ado, I give you...the rest of the story.




LEXINGTON IS BUILT upon the dust of an ancient walled city of vast extent. In 1776 hunters discovered catacombs 300x100 feet, fifteen feet below the surface, in which there were numerous mummies...*

Several years ago while browsing through a library, I chanced upon some poorly-researched book on ancient and paranormal-y sites, of which my city (Lexington) had a passing mention. According to the book, the city as it stands had been built on several underground Native American catacombs. My first thoughts were "Ooh, catacombs!" and "Hey, why haven't I heard of this before?" However, the book was rather vague on both where these supposed catacombs were located and how to access them - and as my research skills were nowhere near where they are today, the matter died.

Two or three months ago, the matter resurfaced (I can't quite remember how), and I returned to the hunt for answers.

My trail led to the accounts of Thomas Ashe, an Irish adventurer/historian of the early 1800's, who quickly gained notoriety as being "a slippery fellow" who told people what they wanted to hear. The story stuck, however, being picked up by the historian George W. Ranck in 1872 ("History of Lexington," pub. Cincinnati, OH). Mentioned also was a Prof. Rafinesque, one-time teacher at Lexington's Transylvania University, and referred to in a 1902 article as "the highest authority on the mounds and reliques [sic] of the Mississippi Valley" - despite the fact that he was a professor of botany, which his career seemed to be limited to.

In 1873, a year after the publication of Ranck's History, William Leavy published his own "Memoir of Lexington," which included a scathing critique of Ranck's inclusion of the catacomb story. However, while Leavy might have made a convincing case by critiquing Ranck's dubious sources, he instead simply lists a bunch of people who were in Lexington at the time of Ashe (not even saying "and they didn't see anything of the sort"). Helpful for genealogists, maybe, but...
Um. Yeah.

And so I continued my search. That's when I started to run into trouble.

My archival resources online were rapidly dwindling, so I decided to enlist the help of a friend and search our main library's Kentucky Room - but, wouldn't you know it, a series of crises threw off my plans.

What happened:

  • Bad weather (after all, this was February).

  • Grandmother being rushed to the hospital (and grandfather, soon after she got out).

  • Exploration partner falling ill, and then just becoming lazy once he realized that we would not actually be digging up graves (keeping in mind that I only recently stopped looking...twelve, and it would be very unwise for me to wander the depths of downtown Lex on my own).


And, the kicker...

  • A pipe burst in the Kentucky Room, damaging quite a few books and temporarily closing it for repairs. If that's not angry Native American spirits wreaking havoc in an attempt to dissuade potential nosy explorers, I'm not sure what is.


All that was coupled with a growing sense that - if the shrines/catacombs even existed - entering them would probably require getting jackhammers and a backhoe in the middle of a busy downtown intersection, or persuading strangers to let us dig up their basements. It didn't help that most of the only recent mentions I've heard of the catacomb legend are coupled with either Illuminati conspiracy theories or internal analyses of the Book of Mormon.




So, that particular plan to go where no girl has gone before (well, at least not recently) has petered out. Unfortunately for those who have to deal with me, the urge to discover and rediscover local treasures has only been stoked.

Me and my army of bird-crafts will find those abandoned buildings yet. You'll see.

Anyone got the number for Origamaholics Anonymous?

17.5.07 by literaghost

What I should be/should've been doing:


  • Working

  • Updating blog

  • Explaining what the hell I was talking about in the beginning of my last post

  • Writing Morphine semi-tribute/music post

  • Working through Perilous Times before the library confiscates it or something

  • Responding to my dA comments

  • Responding to comments, period (I haven't forgotten you, Thivai, I swear!)

  • Getting butter, chocolate, gelatin, peppermint oil, and heavy cream from the grocery

  • Going through the 607 unread deviations on my dA watch

  • Probably 15 more things I've already forgotten about



What I've actually been doing:

  • Folding cranes


Lots...and lots...of cranes.
173, to be exact.



The smallest's slightly more than half-an-inch or slightly less than two centimeters in wingspan (depending on your country).



I know, I know, I'm crazy. I can't help it, though - this stuff is addicting!

Wait...why's my hand all spotty-looking in that last picture? Oh, no, it's...it's...

...THE FOLDING SICKNESS! Mother always told me to beware of those tricky Japanese handiworks, I should've listened...

Actual posts starting tomorrow night.

Good lord, I need to update this thing more often.

3.2.07 by literaghost


The search for the catacombs of Lexington is on! That's right, we're going into urban exploration.
...As soon as I get back in town for more than two days at a time, that is. Need to grab my notes on it next time we get back. When we get in full swing, the journey shall be documented here.


In other news, Kris Reisz = love. Check out his blog - see that clay crow a couple entries down? Yeah, I made that. Go me. Oh, and Josh Bernstein = love, too. Archeology? Swoon.


In other other news, Superman is a dick. (Likes showing his off, too, apparently.)


Despite the teacher raising the grading scale twice, my having very little idea what's going on, somehow making half the class hate my guts, and missing half the assignments for two weeks in a row due to being out-of-town, I still seem to be making an A in Advanced Economics. Let this be inspiration for the masses: If I can do it, anyone can! Hell, I even think Warren Buffet's the test-tube love child of Jimmy Buffet and Warren Zevon! (Politicians, you have no excuse anymore.)


I saw a werewolf drinking a pina colada at Trader Vic's

And his hair was purple*

Ah-whoo! Werewolves of London

Draw blood) Ah-whoo!...


*All lyrics sources I've found say that it's "perfect," not "purple." Honestly, I like my version better, so there it is.


More later. Over and out.

- L. W.