Archive for September, 2008

Farm Adventures – Part 2

Posted in Everyday Life on September 29th, 2008 and tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

One thing I forgot to touch on in my previous post is the danger of corn mazes.  Maybe I’m just a paranoid person – well, that I already know – but I was wondering how come there’s never been a major disaster at a corn maze?  I mean, what if the thing goes up in flames?  It’s a concern I was able to stash in the back of my mind during our visit Friday night; mostly because the particular maze we visited seemed safe.  They have a watch tower in the middle of it along with various emergency exits and “corn cops” to help guide you out should an emergency occur.  But the first corn maze we visited a few years ago had none of these precautions, and I couldn’t help but let my mind wander, exploring various disasterous scenarios in my head.  “Maybe they’re not very flammable.” my husband said about corn mazes, but that theory was dispelled the other night when we saw all the signs warning about how flammable the corn maze was.  Well, anyway, nothing horrible happened, thank goodness, and I’ve never heard of disaster befalling a corn maze, so until something happens, we’ll be able to enjoy the pastime of corn mazing for years to come.

So onto the rest of the weekend…  Saturday was the day of our town’s Fall Fest, so we walked the kids up to the town square, enjoyed the ambience and picnicked for lunch.  We ran into a few friends, and came home with an extra kid who spent the afternoon with us when we visited a local alpaca farm.  Here are the kids enjoying the bouncy castle at the fall fest with their friend.

Before the alpaca farm, we visited another local farm where they have an annual Halloween display – it’s really neat.  They go all out for Halloween, and they even made a little train for the kids to ride that’s pulled by a tractor.  Every family that visits gets little Halloween toys, home-grown apples, and a plate of cookies to take home – and it’s all free; done by nice people who just want to share Halloween with their visitors.  Last year we asked about donating money so they can continue their yearly traditions, but they said their insurance company said they can’t except cash but baking supplies and Halloween props would be appreciated.  My parents visited with us last year and enjoyed the Halloween farm so much that they gave me some baking supplies to donate, so Saturday while we were out that way in the country, we dropped them off.  Of course, they wouldn’t let us drop stuff off without taking home a plate of homemade cookies…  these are the nicest people.  Their home is sparsely furnished – yes, they invite everyone in for a visit – which leads one to think that if they have extra money, it’s spent on baking supplies and Halloween stuff.  Also, the woman is in a wheelchair, but none of that stops them from putting up this elaborate Halloween display every year and baking hundreds of cookies to give away.  When we went to their place for the first time a few years ago, we had just moved here from Chicago, and I’m embarrassed to admit that we were confused.  In the suburban Chicago area, there just aren’t many nice people doing things soley for the enjoyment of others, especially at their own expense.  People like that are few and far between and in an area that’s so over-populated, you’re lucky if you run into anyone like that.

Wow, I find myself having to recover from yet another tangent!  So anyway, after the Fall Fest downtown we went to the alpaca farm.  Saturday was National Alpaca Farm Day, meaning that any alpaca farm who wanted to participate had an open house on their farm for people to visit and learn about these animals.  Not only are they cute, but they are profitable as well.  Their fur sells for $12/oz, and one alpaca can yield 140 – 160 oz per year!  And it’s a method of farming that I approve of since it doesn’t injure nor kill the animal.  This farm had a 3-week-old baby alpaca (top picture below), and another one due any day, which is also fascinating because the expecting alpaca didn’t even look pregnant.  The farm also had a wild mustang that they had just rescued from Wyoming (bottom picture below).  Apparently the wild mustangs out there are running out of pasture and food, so people are bringing them to farms so they don’t starve.  This gorgeous animal had never touched a human being until a few weeks ago, and his first contact with humans was them putting him into a trailer and driving him across the country – that must have been frightening for him.  But you couldn’t tell by looking at him.  He was so well-adjusted and was coming up to all the people who were visiting.  They said he had gained lots of weight since he had arrived on the farm also, so that’s great.

 

There is just something about being on a farm that makes me feel peaceful.  The rolling countryside is beautiful, and I don’t even mind the stench of farm animals.  I would love to have a farm some day, providing we had enough money to pay a staff to maintain it.  They are lots of work I know, and I don’t know the first thing about running a farm.  But someday I think I’d like to try, and if that’s a route we explore in the future, alpacas will definitely be part of the venture!

 

How Hot Is TOO HOT?

Posted in Current Events on September 29th, 2008 and tagged , , ,

I was working on my second post about my weekend at the farms, but my attention was diverted by the following news story.  Since I know a few people who really enjoy spicy food, I’m sharing this as a warning to you!

An aspiring chef died after eating a super-hot chilli sauce as part of an endurance competition with a friend.

Andrew Lee, 33, challenged his girlfriend’s brother to a contest to see who could eat the spiciest sauce that he could create.

The fork-lift truck driver, who wanted to cook for a living, prepared a tomato sauce made with red chillies grown on his father’s allotment. After eating it, however, he suffered intense discomfort and itching. The following morning he was found dead, possibly after suffering a heart attack.

Toxicology tests are being conducted to try to establish if he suffered a reaction to the food.

An inquest was told that Lee, from Edlington, England, was in perfect health and had just passed a medical examination at work. He was a keen cook and would often prepare meals for his parents. It is believed that Mr Lee had never prepared a dish as hot as the one he made the night before his death.

Lee’s sister, Claire Chadbourne, 29, said that he took a jar of the sauce to the home of his girlfriend, Samantha Bailey, and challenged her brother Michael, 29, to see who could eat it. “Andrew just ate the chillies with a plate of Dolmio sauce,” she added. “It was not a proper meal because he had already eaten lamb chops and potato mash after work.

“He apparently got into bed at 2.30am and started scratching all over. His girlfriend scratched his back until he fell asleep. She woke up and he had gone. It is incredible. Who would have thought he could have died from eating chilli sauce? We don’t know of anything else that could have caused his death. The postmortem showed no heart problems.

“He loved cooking for his friends. He always said he wanted to be a chef but didn’t want to start at the bottom.”

An inquest was opened and adjourned in Doncaster last week.

A Twisted Episode of Survivor

Posted in Kids, Travel on September 29th, 2008 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I had a wonderful weekend.  It all started with another visit to a haunted house on Friday night.  Although I enjoyed my previous haunted house experience at Ghostly Manor earlier this year, I just wasn’t feeling the Halloween vibe enough to subject myself to scariness – I didn’t sleep well the night before and little sleep makes me feel claustrophobic – weird.  But anyway, the haunted house was actually a haunted corn maze and they had other things to do at the farm, so I enjoyed myself immensely hanging out with my kids and the coolest teenager I know.  There is just something about farms that make me feel an inner peace; something that was illustrated again during the weekend – more on that in my next post.

Literally a cornfield in the middle of nowhere, Leader’s Family Farms has things to do to keep all ages entertained.  There were even a few things we didn’t even get a chance to try after spending so much time being lost in the corn maze.  Next time I will have to check out the hayride and the coop shoot – I have a special affinity for hayrides because they remind me of the week-long vacations to a dude ranch I took with my family as a kid.  But one thing about Leader’s that really impressed me was their ability to make appealing and fun attractions without the large budget or the mechanical reliance that a major theme park would have.  The “Barnyard” or family area had several things for the kids to play with: bouncy castles, a zip line, haystacks to climb on, a hay maze, slides – all physical activities which would guarrantee kids’ exhaustion giving the parents some “mommy-daddy time” at the end of the evening – the problem is everything was physical for Mommy and Daddy too, and like the DJ noted, “I don’t know who is getting tired out more – the parents or the kids!”  But that illustrates my point about the ability to entertain every age group without spending big bucks – and that is true for both the patron and the establishment.  Actually, let me back up for a minute and go off on a tangent – the purpose of the site, right?  🙂  Why do they call it a hayride when you’re actually sitting on straw?  I learned from a display at the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo that hay is green and made from grass.  Straw is yellow and made from wheat.  So the kids were climbing on straw stacks, they played in a straw maze, and people were enjoying straw rides…  doesn’t have quite the same ring to it as hayrides, I guess…

But back to Leader’s – they had a DJ, who hosted Karaoke and played wedding-style audience-interactive songs like Hokey-Pokey, The Chicken Dance, YMCA, and Shout.  I was trying to teach Disney (my almost 2 year old) the YMCA, but she only liked the part where we clapped.  Maybe next time we will get down on the dance floor – this time my other girls were too shy and tired was I.  My insanely brave (or psychotic, depending upon who you ask) 4-year-old Sammie was intent on going into the haunted house, and my husband was actually going to take her in, but before she could even enter, she was frightened away from the experience by the scary music alone.  We got a cell phone call just as we were entering the corn maze, and so we retreived Sammie and let her enjoy the experience of the corn maze, which ended up being what I would describe as a twisted game of Survivor.  Take 4 kids, all under the age of 9, into a corn maze and wander around in the dark for over an hour.  No bathrooms, no snacks, and you only have enough stroller for two of them, so the other two have to walk.  It was fun, but also quite an experience.  I would love to go back and explore the maze – without kids though.  And when I got home, I looked at an aerial photo of the thing, and now it all makes more sense.  Here is where I spent my Friday night:

You enter at the small white building at the bottom of the picture and go left.  Where we really started losing it was around the back tire and the spoiler of the race car.  You can see how many forks and circles there are in the paths in that area.  And again, while in the thing, I had no idea what it looked like because I didn’t think to check a map before going in.  I would also bring a flashlight next time; well, maybe not if I didn’t have kids to worry about.  We were using our cell phones for light, but then the other half of our group who went into the haunted house called to see where we were and when I said I didn’t know, the cell phone lost service – adding to the stranded feeling we were experiencing.  I must have stashed my cell phone on top of the stroller really quick because my daughter had turned backwards in her seat and was falling out, so after I fixed her, I frantically searched for the cell phone with no luck – apparently it had fallen off the stroller in the corn maze.  So when we finally got out, I had to tell the staff that I lost my cell phone in there.  As they laughed at me, they asked if it was on vibrate or silence mode – “Of course it is!”  I said, because it would have been too easy to find it otherwise, and let’s face it – a lost cell phone in a corn maze wouldn’t be funny if you could call it and hear it ring.  So a small black silent cell phone lost in a corn maze in the dark?  Forget it.  They did call me the next day though, saying that they did eventually find it, probably with the light of day.  Well, anyway, the corn maze with 4 little children in the dark was quite an experience.  Not horrible, but not recommended…  quite an experience – I can only describe it as having felt like I came through an ordeal after we got out…  it was kind of like being stranded in the wilderness, not knowing when rescue would arrive.  Sure, there are “corn cops” and all you have to do is yell, but I don’t know how they’d hear you and I honestly didn’t want to be the group that yelled for help.  We did it on our own, and for that, we got the satisfaction of accomplishment.

Well, I’ve rambled about that long enough…  I had fun.  I loved the serenity of the farm at night, and it was a beautiful night weather-wise.  It was cool but not cold, and being in rural Ohio meant that we were navigating the maze under a canopy of thousands of stars…  I would love to go back and explore the maze without worrying about the kids being hungry, thirsty, having sore feet or having to go to the bathroom.  And someone remind me that if I have any more kids, a corn maze is NOT a good activity for a pregnant woman – too much walking and not enough bathrooms.  This post is so lengthy I’ll have to save our alpaca farm adventure for the next post…  stay tuned!

My Kids

Posted in Kids on September 26th, 2008 and tagged , , , , ,

Everywhere we go, I get the comment, “You must have your hands full.”  Since I usually only have my younger two with me while the older two are in school, people have no idea how right they are!  Here are some recent pictures of my angels – they grow so fast and this is for relatives and people who haven’t seen them in awhile:

Christopher is a Cubs fan, of course!

Good thing I checked on Christopher during his “tummy time” – this is what I found and he wasn’t even making a peep!

Disney loves her Homer doll even though she calls him “SpongeBob”

Here are all 4 of them together: Disney is almost 2, Sammie is 4, Taylor is 8, and Christopher is 2½ months

Christopher doesn’t have the hang of holding his own bottle yet

Everyone says Sammie and Disney look like twins, years apart.  Sammie really wanted us to take this picture
of them holding her Samantha sign – no one had the heart to tell her it was backwards

The Question Phase – Already?

Posted in Kids on September 26th, 2008 and tagged , , , , , ,

My daughter Disney is not yet 2 and has already entered the question phase – a time of life when a child asks questions about anything and everything.  It seems a little early for this; I don’t seem to remember her two older sisters entering the question phase until about 3½ or 4 years old.  Heck, at Disney’s age Samantha was busy painting with poop!

But as we know, all kids are different (thank goodness for that because we already have a Sammie), and so we welcome Disney’s transition into the question phase.  Since it’s just beginning, she doesn’t yet ask questions about how things work, but rather about where her favorite people are.  It’s really cute since she gets this little inquisitive look on her face and because she’s not even 2 yet, her questions aren’t very well formed.  We know what she means though, and try to answer the best we can.  Some of her favorite questions are:  “What Daddy doin’?”  “Where Taywer (translation: big sister Taylor) go?”  “What Sammie doin’?”

I guess most of her questions do revolve around the whereabouts of her loved ones…  an example of her super-sweet nature.  Disney truly cares about other people and she is such a sweet little girl – always saying please and thank you even when it’s not expected of her.  So this isn’t a full example of the questions phase – that title will be reserved for the sometimes difficult-to-answer questions that revolve around “why”?  Like…  Why is the sky blue?  Why does Sammie get more candy than I do?  Why can’t we have a kitty?  Why do I have to go to school?  Why is Mommy’s hair turning gray?

Disney’s inquisitive face:

Is Lakeview Terrace Fireproof?

Posted in Movies on September 25th, 2008 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I saw the movie Lakeview Terrace yesterday, and I decided to merge it with the title of another movie, Fireproof, for my post title because Fireproof almost stole the show.

An action thriller starring Samuel L. Jackson, Lakeview Terrace is about a tough Los Angeles cop who does not like his new neighbors, seemingly because they are an interracial couple.  He makes indirect threats, among other things, and the couple has trouble at first determining whether or not they’re making something of nothing.  As the tension escalates however, it soon becomes clear that their neighbor is in fact mentally unstable, and as he comes closer and closer to cracking, the couple has no one to call for help because of the camaraderie between police officers known as the “blue wall of silence”.  The movie was entertaining to watch; it wasn’t as good as I had hoped but just as good as I expected – one of those movies where they showed most of the good parts in the previews.  It was very predictable yet also very good at establishing mood throughout.  For instance, at times, the tension that was built in the movie – and the theater – was so thick you could have cut it with a knife.  They did a nice job of setting the mood of the neighborhood also; a nice homey-like cul-de-sac, complete with barking dog nestled in the California hills gave it both a nice family feeling and also played up the isolation factor.  I thought Samuel L. Jackson was really good in this movie – the way he delivered some of his lines was effective in subtly portraying his disdain for his neighbors.  And the reason for his racial prejudices was surprising and an interesting addition to the plot.  The movie did put the spotlight on many racial issues in a thought-provoking manner.

Overall, a very entertaining movie, even though some of the events that I think were meant to surprise the audience did not because the movie was predictable.  The other criticisms I have with it are that none of the characters were likable – it was difficult to root for the couple who was being picked on by Jackson because they each had some serious character flaws.  Also, it was not believable that an LA cop would have enough money to be able to afford the house where he resided – nestled in the hills outside of Los Angeles, the houses featured in the movie had spectactular views, gorgeous landscaping, and the neighbors had a beautiful in-ground pool.  How the neighbor could afford what would probably be a multi-million dollar house as his “starter home” on a grocery store management position’s salary, I do not know.  Hey, Jamiahsh, when you get your house in the hills of LA with your in-ground pool and luxury patio furniture, can we visit?

Another thing I found strange about Lakeview Terrace was the impending wildfire that threatened the neighborhood – I didn’t see the point in it.  Maybe to further illustrate the isolation the couple felt as their neighbor tormented them?  I don’t know, but it fits in well with the title of my post because of another movie that’s coming out called Fireproof.  As we bought our tickets, the worker at the movie theater asked if we had heard of Fireproof and gave us a flier.  We hadn’t heard a word about it, and she said that some church bought up all the vouchers they were selling for the movie.  They weren’t going to get the movie if they didn’t sell enough vouchers, but apparently they sold well over what they expected.  I was intrigued because I hadn’t heard of the movie before and wondered why it was getting so much underground buzz.  Since we got home late last night and went right to bed, before I had a chance to look it up it was talked about on the Dr. Phil show this morning.  Apparently it stars Kirk Cameron, and it’s about a firefighter who tries to save his marriage by doing a 40-day experiment called “The Love Dare”.  Hmmm, I still don’t really get it, but I think it’s neat that it’s getting so much buzz without being a mainstream movie and showing previews and all that jazz.  It’s supposed to be a really good movie, thought provoking and well-written, and that isn’t just coming from Kirk Cameron – it’s on imdb.com.  Hopefully it will be at the theater for longer than its limited run so I can check it out.  A bit of interesting trivia I found out about it – Kirk Cameron made a promise to Chelsea Noble, his wife of 17 years that he wouldn’t ever kiss another woman, on screen or off.  So in the part of the movie where they needed a shot of him kissing his movie wife, his real wife was a stand-in so they could get the shot of the husband and wife kissing.  I think it’s sweet, but some people used it as a reason to pick on Cameron saying he doesn’t understand acting…  Oh, well, you can’t please everyone!

Williams County Murders

Posted in Uncategorized on September 24th, 2008 and tagged , , , , ,

The other night some friends and I had a conversation about local murders that have taken place in our county.  Because we are a rural county, murders here are few and far between.  A resident city council member who is also a local historian gives a yearly presentation, usually on Halloween, detailing the murders in Williams County, Ohio.  Because many people know everyone else, he doesn’t cover anything past the 1950’s, but I was able to find some information on my own.  For the incidents that did take place a long time ago, many of the circumstances are interesting as they reflect the moods and cultural attitudes of times past.  Being both a researcher of local history and a true crime buff, I’ve attended several of these presentations and decided to share the notes I’ve taken for those who are interested:

Williams County Murders

6/20/1847 – W. Unity – David Schamp murdered by Andrew F. Tyler and Daniel Heckerthorne.  Buried in German cemetary on Cty Rd. K.  Botched ransom kidnapping – family farm is 1/2 mi. W of US127.  4 pg article in Bryan Times on 150th anniversary.  In 1939, Ralph Gall wrote several articles in Inside Detective Magazine (June, July, Aug) about the crime.
3/23/1865 – Bryan – Conrad Rutman murdered by unknown – found hung in outhouse
12/1/1868 – West Jefferson – Unknown female infant by unknown
12/3/1873 – Bryan – Peter Himes by Ben Evarts
4/8/1875 – Bryan N. Main St. – unknown infant found in cigar box just N of RR trks
5/17/1877 – Denmark – unknown male infant
2/21/1878 – Bryan – unknown male infant
7/25/1878 – W Unity – Infant Loveless by mother, Lucy Loveless.  Father of infant was mother’s brother in law.
4/7/1880 – Edgerton – Unknown f infant
6/3/1880 – Edgerton – James Marshall by unknown
9/11/1880 – Bryan, dwntwn, N side of square – John Burchell, Jr. by William Everett – gut cut in fight
5/2/1883 – Melbern – Jacob Nihart killed with ax by mentally ill wife, Saloma Nihart.  Both buried in Brown cemetary.
7/21/1889 – Edgerton – Sarah Hoadley (71) and Christian Newman (72) by Hiram Hoadley, Jr. (45).  Murder / Suicide – in process of divorce, didn’t want to pay $2,000.  Divorce announcement in same issue of newspaper as the murders.
8/26/1891 – Montpelier – Milton Hogue by Perry Yoder
1/11/1892 – W. Unity – Infant Hayes – female, by Dr. Frank O. Hart
2/20/1892 – Bryan, SW corner of Beech and High.  Tom Murphy age 63 by unknown
5/4/1892 – Bryan.  Alley next to Christmas Manor went thru to High St. before Central School building was there.  Arthur Brown, about 22 yrs old, was at a saloon bragging about having a lot of money.  He was murdered by George and Michael Burchell, Walter Plummer, and William Elkins.  Witnessed by little girl from window of her house on W Butler.  Story featured in “Native Sons Gone Wrong” booklet.  Victim buried in Old Pulaski cemetery across from Winery.
5/8/1898 – Florence – Unknown Male infant
7/2/1904 – Bryan, just N of overpass.  Noah Schartzer shot by unknown.  Buried in Brown cemetery.  Case of mistaken identity.  Stopped and checked every train between S Bend and Toledo.
6/7/1905 – Montpelier – unknown infant
9/21/1905 – Montpelier, E of Bryan on RR trks – August Julius by unknown
2/7/1914 – Bryan, W side of Portland St. 2nd blk. Portland and Mulberry – murder/suicide – Blanche Stauffer by Charles Stauffer.  12 pg suicide letter – “She was a hard person to live with.”
11/10/1914 – Pioneer – Joe Varada by Joe Dohon.  argument over wheelbarrow, shovel over head, both Hungarians.
3/14/16 – W. Unity – Mrs. Andre by Wilson Andre
6/12/18 – Montpelier – Alex Grant by James Morgan.  Morgan (Afrcn/Amer.) wanted to get from Chicago to Detroit, didn’t have any $, so he hid in the btrm on a train where Grant was conductor.  Morgan was executed in Columbus, picture from OH Dept. of Prisons
9/29/27 – Montpelier – James Andrews (Afrcn/Amer.) by unknown
12/11/27 – Stryker – Celina Huber by Camiel Clark who was fined $125 for liquor violations.  Huber, age 39, was cut during fight, went to lay down, bled to death.
1/4/32 – Bryan – Fred Wonser, Jr. and Margaret Wonser by Lewis Wonser
12/28/36 – Bryan – Frank Lewis by William White
12/1/38 – Edgerton – Vern Eck, age 42 by Nona Goeltzenluchter.  Murder-suicide.  Having an affair, though both married to other people.  She was accusing him of seeing yet another woman.
6/14/45 – Pioneer – Murder/Suicide.  Mary Jane, Earl, Alice May, Betty Lou, Alva Stoner by their father, Alfred Stoner, age 38, just gotten back from WWII, distant cousin of Mark Kelly (murders in Wms Cty speaker).  Drove himself and kids into gravel pit S of Pioneer while wife was in hospital giving birth to baby 6.  Over 1,000 people showed up to watch the search for the bodies.
9/19/46 – Bryan – Emily Abernathy, age 30 by James Engle, age 21.  Jim was drinking a coke across the street at the bowling alley when the body of his victim was found in the library – rumor has it he watched them secure the crime scene as he was sipping his coke.   She had been strangled, beaten, and cut with a pen knife, died from strangulation.  Jim confessed – said he wanted to see what it was like to kill someone.  Paroled in 1974, moved to Bryan in 1989, currently resides in local nursing home.  Crime was chronicled in tv show “The Big Story”, but the show upset Bryanites.
5/5/1948 – Bryan – John (age 56) and Pearl (age 63) Gabriel by Ervin “Bud” Ingle, age 14, “King of 8th grade”.  They were his neighbors, and he wanted to borrow their car.  There is a rumor that Mrs. Gabriel liked young boys, and John did the killing.  Years later, Bud was a chauffer for the governor, and the governor thought highly of him and wrote a book.  There was a photo of Pearl’s body in the newspaper.
1/2/50 – Edgerton – Helen Bigger by Vernon O. Bigger – father in law of victim, possible molestation.
5/5/50 – Melbern – George and Evalina Fisher by their grandson, Jack Hartman.
9/12/51 – West Unity – Celia Walters by Edwin Walters
8/18/59 – Pioneer – James W. Elliott by unknown
9/11/59 – Blakeslee – William Bigger by Harold H. Bostater
12/29/61 – Blakeslee – Howard Tanner by Ned Eugene Tanner
8/18/63 – Montpelier – Dean Allen Nichols by David W. Nichols
6/22/64 – Pioneer – Dr. William Crall by Frank Patalon
5/21/66 – Montpelier – John McCamis by Raymond Burgess
8/31/68 – Stryker – Eben Henry Harney by William O. Bolster
10/12/71 – Stryker – John F. Meisner by Thomas E. Elliott
9/30/72 – Stryker – Judi Hagerman by Jon Garber
4/28/76 – Edgerton – Deborah Unger by Jeffrey Ailiff
3/15/77 – Bryan – Danny Hanisko by Lawrence E. Finn
6/19/90 – West Unity – Genieve Willene and Orlo E. Ansley by William Ansley
2/2/91 – Montpelier – Travis Pospeshil by Timothy Kelley.  Invol. mansltr. released from prison 9/11/06
2/7/92 – Montpelier – Torilyn Contreras by Jonathon Leggett – Invol. Mansltr.
9/30/96 – Melbern – Brenda Sue Kafai by Rocky W. Kafai – invol. mansltr. released 9/23/06
2/15/98 – Edgerton – Beth Garber by Shane Frisbie
12/6/98 – Edgerton – Terri D. Swearengin by William M. Swearengin
12/7/00 – Holiday City – Mary Kosier by Jason Crawford and James Jones Jr. – they kidnapped Mary who was an employee of Econolodge near toll road for robbery, killed her near covered bridge
6/30/01 – Bryan – Thomas G. Flint by Linda Ames (**NOTE** – a reader left a comment below containing additional info about this event.  I have not verified the source and am still in the process of research)

Psychic or Fraud?

Posted in TV Shows on September 24th, 2008 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I don’t really believe in psychics.  I believe that some people may have a gift where they are psychologically in tune with others and / or nature; leading them to be able to predict happenings or events with some accuracy.  For instance, I used to be able to tell who was calling when our phone was ringing (in the days before caller ID).  It’s not that people called us at regular times or intervals, but I could just “feel” who was on the other end of the line.  Not that I think I’m psychic or anything; I think I just learned the behavior patterns of the people who called our house.  So I believe that people can have what could be called psychic abilities, especially if they practice and hone their skills, but I don’t believe anyone can see the future or anything like that.  And I don’t believe the self-proclaimed psychic Sylvia Browne possesses any special skills other than the abilities to defraud and manipulate people, if you want to call those things abilities.

While flipping channels and feeding the baby the other day, I came across the Montel Williams show.  Apparently Montel is on his way out after 17 years of being on the air.  During the episode the other day, he got teary-eyed as he bid his weekly guest Sylvia Browne good-bye.  It got me to thinking; does Montel believe that Sylvia is psychic, or did he just like his audience’s reception of her?  After a few internet searches on wikipedia.com and youtube.com, I was armed with evidence that Sylvia Browne is a fraud (not that I really needed any, but I found plenty anyway).  Here is the first example where Sylvia tries to tell a greiving woman that her missing boyfriend is in water.  The woman is confused because her boyfriend was a fireman killed in the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, and no trace of him was ever found.  Watch as Sylvia tries to cover her tracks, backed up by Montel, I might add, with some lame excuse about how the boyfriend might have drowned when they were extinguishing the fire at the World Trade Center.  What?!?  That doesn’t even make sense!

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 Not only that, but she was on Larry King Live a mere 8 days before the September 11 attacks and didn’t say a word about the impending doom.  After the attacks, she claimed that she had dreams full of fire in the weeks before the attacks – yet she failed to mention such premonitions on her September 3, 2001 appearance on Larry King!

One more example is the case of Shawn Hornbeck, a preteen who went missing in 2002.  Sylvia Browne told Shawn’s devastated parents that he was abducted by a dark man with dreadlocks and murdered, and she also provided details about where they could find his body.  Four and a half years after his abduction, Shawn was found with Michael Devlin, a white man who had abducted Shawn – a far cry from the so-called “dark man with dreadlocks” who “murdered” him.  In this case, it’s a very good thing she was wrong – those parents got their son back alive, but one can only imagine the pain they felt when this so-called psychic told them that their son was dead.

There are plenty more examples of this woman’s fraudulent behavior – I’m just not going to waste my time writing them nor your time reading them.  If you want to see more, go to youtube.com and do a search for “Sylvia Browne”.  For fun, you can add words like, “wrong”, “fraud”, or “lie” to your search and see what you come up with.  There is also an interesting site called stopsylviabrowne.com that’s maintained by one of her biggest opponents.  He talks about his experience encountering Sylvia, how she hired a private detective to research him, and his experience at one of her live shows.

Well, enough of that, like I said, I consider the woman a fraud, therefore she’s not worth any more of our time to go through the hundreds of instances that prove she is full of BS.  I don’t know how she can live with herself when she toys with the emotions of the grief-stricken.  I suppose she could tell herself that she is helping to give them closure, but if that’s the case, I would say to her, “Stop fooling yourself lady, you’re causing more harm than good!”

Burn After Reading

Posted in Movies on September 22nd, 2008 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I’m not a huge Coen brothers fan, but I do find their movies interesting.  Like many of the Coen’s movies, Burn After Reading is about normal people who come across an illegal way to make lots of money, become obsessed with it, and consequently watch their lives unravel.  Frances McDormand, a Coen brothers movie regular (and I found out why – she’s married to one of them), was great in this movie.  She plays a woman named Linda Litzke, a gym employee who is obsessed with reinventing herself via plastic surgery.  She, along with a gym co-worker played by Brad Pitt, come across a CIA agent’s (played by John Malkovich) disk at their gym and bumble through a scheme to use it as blackmail.  They are truly a couple of idiots, and Brad Pitt’s performance as the big doofus Chad is hilarious – might have been my favorite part of the movie, and this is not coming from a Brad Pitt fan or anything like that.  Not that this movie is a comedy, don’t get me wrong.  I suppose it could be classified as a dark comedy, but I would say it’s more of a suspense film with some comedic moments.  As with any Coen brothers movie, there are numerous twists and turns, so I’m going to cut my synopsis short for fear of revealing any spoilers.  Go see it, watch how the events unfold, and you’ll be entertained.  Besides Brad Pitt’s character, my favorite part of the movie was how they told the story – as a case file being discussed by a couple of FBI agents.  If you’re a Coen brothers fan already, then I’m sure you’ll love it – it is everything Coen: money, foiled scheme, setting – the Coens are famous for making the setting of their movies very integral in the plots, and this one is no exception.  Washington, DC and the surrounding area of Virginia is the locale of choice for this one, and it’s all very important to the relation of the events and how they unfold.  This movie features a few Coen movie regulars like Frances McDormand, George Clooney, and Richard Jenkins (who also gives a great performance as the forlorn gym manager, by the way – they really make you feel sorry for his character).  Better than No Country for Old Men, The Ladykillers, and O Brother, Where Art Thou?, Burn After Reading is second only to Fargo when comparing it to other Coen brothers movies in my opinion.  An entertaining 96 minutes at the movies – this one goes by fast.  And make sure you pay attention; if you miss something, I could see where it would be difficult to catch up – a lot happens in those 96 minutes!

GO CUBS GO!!!

Posted in Sports on September 22nd, 2008 and tagged , , , , ,

As you’ve probably heard by now, the Chicago Cubs have clinched their division.  They WILL be going to the playoffs in 2008!!!!  YAY!  It’s been a great year; even though with my busy schedule I only got to see less than 10 games.  But that’s ok – I always said I won’t plan my life around baseball.  Tempting, but I won’t do it, at least not until my kids are grown and I have nothing better to do.  A prime example of this is the fact that we’ve planned a trip to Florida during the playoffs and world series.  If the Cubs make it to the world series, I won’t get to see that either.  Luckily, we’ll be home in time for game 4 of the world series, so I’ll at least be able to see one game, possibly more if they need to play them.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.  First the Cubs have to make it to the world series.  Given the way the team has played all year, I think there’s a pretty good chance, but all we can do is wait and see.  For now, it’s comforting to know that they’ve already clinched their playoff spot and I got to watch that happen!  GO CUBBIES!!!!!