Hope 4 Humanity – WIF Inventions

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Inventions That

Will Give You

Hope for Humanity

Some days, it can seem that the best minds on earth are all preoccupied with projects like developing robot soldierslaunching crypto-currencies, and designing slot machines. While those activities may (arguably) have some societal value, it’s hard to see their primary mission as unambiguously beneficial. But don’t lose all faith in humanity. Below are 10 examples of inventions that may not make a ton of money and may not make their creators famous, but do make the world a better place…

10. Prosthetic dolphin tail

Winter the dolphin did not have an easy start in life. At 3-months-old, she was found by a fisherman tangled in a crab trap line. Winter, named after the season in which she was found, was cut from the line by the fisherman, who then called in a rescue crew. Despite the best efforts of the marine hospital where she was taken, the line had cut off circulation to her tail fluke and it was lost, along with two vertebrae. Normally, this is a fatal injury for a dolphin, but, in her new aquarium home, Winter learned to swim using a shark-like side-to-side motion (instead of the usual up-and-down motion dolphins usually employ with their tails) and using her flippers for momentum. While this provided a temporary solution, the unnatural motion posed a long-term risk of scoliosis and Winter’s health was worsening.

Enter Kevin Carroll and Dan Strzempka, two prostheses with Hanger Orthopedic Group. Carroll heard Winter’s story on the radio, and convinced his colleague Strzempka, who also happened to be an amputee, that they could help. Carroll and Strzempka quickly volunteered to try to craft a prosthetic tail for Winter. While aquarium staff initially thought Carroll’s call was a prank, they quickly agreed to let the men, who offered their work pro-bono, work with a team of trainers and vets to try to find a solution. After several iterations, the team developed a viable prosthetic tail for Winter, as well as a gel that provides cushioning for the prosthesis. Not only was Winter able to swim normally again, her story, which spawned the movie Dolphin Taleprovided inspiration for people all over the world, including children with disabilities and wounded soldiers. Additionally, the gel that Carroll and Strzempka developed has also helped human amputees manage their prostheses.

9. An anti-tremor spoon

While working on his doctorate, engineer Anupam Pathak worked with the Army Research Lab, looking for ways to stabilize rifles for soldiers in combat. Pathak succeeded in identifying ways to make the hardware for motion cancellation very small and realized his innovation had the potential to help another group of people needing steady hands—those with Essential Tremor or Parkinson’s Disease.

One of the most salient impacts of those diseases comes when patients eat. Often, hand and arm tremors make it impossible for those experiencing them to feed themselves. However, Pathak worked to refine and commercialize his technology to make a spoon that would cancel out the tremors, giving patients back their autonomy over one of their daily functions. Using Pathak’s motion cancellation technology, the Liftware Steady spoon cancels out more than 70% of shaking, allowing many of those with hand tremors to feed themselves. The company was acquired by Google and has since reduced the price of its products, and introduced a second product—the Liftware Level, a spoon which assists those with limited hand and arm mobility by keeping the utensil level, even when the hand moves unpredictably. One user with Essential Tremor explained the impact of this device on her life, noting that the Liftware spoon made eating less embarrassing and gave her more confidence, making eating enjoyable again.

8. Railway tunnels for turtles

What happens when Japan’s high-speed trains meet its low speed turtles? In the past, it hasn’t been pretty for either party. Near Kobe, Japan (which is on the coast), turtles trying to cross the tracks sometimes fell in the space between them and couldn’t get up. They’d walk between the tracks until being run over by a passing train or until they got to a junction, at which point they’d get squished during signal switches. This wasn’t just a problem for the turtles, but also for the train and its passengers, with turtle-related incidents causing 13 service disruptions between 2002 and 2013.

To combat the turtle vs. train problem, West Japan Railway Co. partnered with the Suma Aqualife Park to find a solution. They came up with “turtle tunnels,” concrete ditches that pass under the tracks near switch points. If staff find any turtles in the tunnels during their track checks, they rescue them and send them to the aquarium. A train company spokesman noted that, “The system prevents turtles from getting into accidents and avoids causing trouble for our passengers. We hope to continue using it.”

7. Biodegradable 6-pack rings

Plastic packaging poses a threat to wildlife on land and in the sea. The Pacific Ocean has a “garbage patch” made up of almost 80,000 tons of discarded plastic, covering an area three times the size of France, posing a threat to the sea life it encounters, who can be entangled and killed in the floating trash pile. While plastic 6-pack rings (that hold cans of soda or beer) make up a tiny fraction of the discarded plastic, consumers have long been warned to cut them up before discarding them, because they can injure or kill animals that become trapped in them.

However, one company, E6PR, has come up with an even better way to ensure that animals don’t become victims. It has created an eco-friendly 6-pack ring, made from by-product waste (wheat and barley) and designed to be compostable. Even if it doesn’t end up in a compost facility, it will break down in weeks and, unlike plastic, won’t hurt animals if they happen to ingest it. The product had its commercial debut in early 2018 on cans of beer from Florida’s Saltwater Brewery. As of mid-2018, the company is working to refine the product and ramp up production to be able to supply the 6-pack to all the beverage manufacturers who want to offer it. That’s a development animals all over the world should want to toast.

6. PARO the robot seal

PARO, an interactive robot that resembles a baby seal, may be best known for its appearance on Aziz Ansari’s sitcom, Master of None. However, PARO, which was designed in Japan, does most of its work in nursing homes and hospitals—helping provide patients with the benefits of animal therapy. Like a trained therapy animal, PARO responds to users’ voice and movements with its own motions and vocalizations. However, unlike real animals, PARO doesn’t need food, breaks, or clean-up, doesn’t play favorites amongst patients, won’t trigger allergies and can be used with patients whose unpredictable behavior might pose a risk to a therapy animal.

In a study of nursing home residents, those who interacted with PARO for an hour twice a week over 12 weeks, showed significant declines in loneliness over the period of the study. For those who worry about the dehumanizing effect robotic therapy animals might have, research suggests that in addition to engaging with PARO, residents who did so were more social with other residents and staff. Another study of dementia patients found that sessions with PARO lessened anxiety, increased social interaction, and helped lethargic patients remain alert.

5. Pugedon recycling receptacle

The Pugedon recycling receptacle aims to address two problems at once—promoting recycling and feeding stray cats and dogs. The machine, which is about the size of a refrigerator, is placed on the street and powered by a solar cell. When someone throws in a recyclable bottle, the machine dispenses food for hungry strays. If users want to empty their water bottles before disposing of them, the machine also funnels that leftover water to a bowl that the strays can access. The profits garnered from the sale of the recyclables pay for the kibble dispensed by the unit. The machine was introduced in Istanbul, Turkey, which is home to more than 150,000 stray cats and dogs. Engin Gargin, the machine’s inventor, said he was inspired by the idea of giving residents a cost-free way to help strays, while improving Turkey’s recycling rates.

One of the concerns with the units was that they would attract hordes of hungry dogs, but according to one article, that has not transpired. In India, the machines were planned with a slightly different user in mind.  Pugedon units have been placed near areas where pet owners walk their dogs, in the hopes that the prospect of a free dinner for their canine companion may encourage residents to recycle.

4. The Upsee harness

Debby Elnatan, an Israeli mother of a son with cerebral palsy, was determined to see her son walk, despite doctors that counseled her that her 2-year-old, “didn’t know what his legs are and has no consciousness of them.” Elnatan worked with her son to build his walking skills, an arduous task. Elnatan says the idea of the Upsee, a harness that attaches a child to an adult, allowing the child to stand upright and to take steps with the support and motion of the adult, came from the “pain and desperation” she experienced while trying to find a way to help her son walk.

A group of 20 families with mobility-challenged children tested an early version of the product, and shared favorable results: the children enjoyed using the harness and the Upsee enabled families to undertake more activities together. The Upsee was put into mass production by Irish company Leckey, and is now improving the lives of children with mobility challenges around the world.

3. Embrace infant warmers

Complications from preterm births are responsible for approximately 1 million infant deaths a year. A major contributing factor to these deaths is the hypothermia many premature babies experience, as they lack the body fat needed to regulate their temperatures. In wealthier settings, where preemies can be placed in incubators in hospitals, they have much better outcomes than those preemies who are born in resource-poor settings, where hospitals may be distant, electricity may be intermittent, and incubators that can cost up to $20,000 just aren’t affordable.

Addressing this gap in care was the challenge faced by Jane Chen, Rahul Panicker, Linus Liang, and later, Naganand Murty, who first received the project in a Stanford class called “Design for Extreme Affordability.” Using design thinking and rapid prototyping the team developed the Embrace Infant Warmer, a sleeping-bag type warmer that relies on paraffin pouches for heat and costs hundreds of dollars, instead of thousands. The product has since helped more than 300,000 babies worldwide. In order to ensure the product’s sustainability, the company introduced a for-profit sleep sack, the sales of which support charitable distribution of the Embrace Warmers throughout the developing world.

2. Lifestraw water filter

The Lifestraw story begins with Guinea worm, a tropical parasite that incapacitates those who consume its larvae by drinking unclean water. In 1986, Guinea worm disease afflicted more than 3.5 million people in Africa and Asia. By 2017, the disease was nearly eradicated, with only about 30 reported cases. One of the factors driving down the incidence of the disease was a filter developed by Vestergaard, a Swiss-based company, which removes Guinea worm larvae from drinking water.

After its success with the Guinea worm filter, Vestergaard turned its attention to dealing with other water contaminants. In 2005, it introduced the LifeStraw, a personal straw-like filter, designed for use in emergency situations and in the developing world, where clean drinking water may not be easily accessible. Today, the company offers a range of products based around this idea, from water bottles for hikers to larger community-level water purification systems. For each product purchased, the company commits to providing clean water (via school-based systems) to a child in the developing world for a year. LifeStraw’s philanthropic efforts have provided clean water to more than 1 million children in the developing world.

1. Be My Eyes App

The idea for this app, which helps people who are visually impaired by crowdsourcing volunteer assistance with short, simple tasks, came from founder Hans Wiberg’s own experiences as a visually impaired individual. Wiberg’s blind friends shared that they often relied on FaceTime or other video phone apps to ask for help from family and friends for help with everyday problems like reading the expiration date on a milk carton or the departure board at a train station, though many of them worried that they were burdening their loved ones with a plethora of micro-tasks.

Wiberg saw an opportunity to connect the visually impaired with a network of volunteers who could help with things like identifying the contents of cans, or reading the amount of an electric bill. After pitching his idea at 2012’s Startup Weekend in Aarhus, Denmark, Wiberg quickly connected with a team that helped turn the idea into a reality, and the free mobile app was launched for iOS in 2015 and Android in 2017. Since the app’s launch, more than 80,000 blind and visually impaired individuals have been helped by more than 1.3 million sighted volunteers. There are so many volunteers that they have to be quick to the draw to be able to help; as of late 2017, the app’s response time averaged 20 seconds, meaning that most users were able to get help almost as soon as they needed it.


Hope 4 Humanity –

WIF Inventions

Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 28

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 28

…Sister Joe lets slip one very important previously unreported detail…

Constance appears to wander aimlessly through the halls, looking for tangible clues left behind by eclectic, if not curious assortment of men. She checks all the waste baskets she can find, not exactly an ordinary thing to do.

“Forgive us, but the custodian is on a leave of absence. Coincidently, we have no bookings scheduled for the next three weeks, too cold for folks I guess. I haven’t had the chance to take out the trash.”

“That’s okay, just hoping to find something, anything about the Pope… I’m a big fan.” More like big liar, but her sticky fingers do net some scraps of paper with, hopefully debris from the meeting of the six eclectic men.

Sister Joe lets slip one very important previously unreported detail.

“There was a briefcase left alongside the conference table in the conference room, but when I told Will about it, he said it wasn’t his. It requires a key, so he said it must belong to that man that government gentleman. I left it right where I found it. Wouldn’t that Mr. Wolfgram come back for it if it was important?”

Martin Kamen nods emphatically, doing his level best to keep Mary Joseph’s attention away from the girls, who by now are scurrying through Tolentine like mice in the cover of darkness.

“Not here,” says one.

“Not here,” says the other in passing.

“Nothing.”

“Notta.”

“Got it!” Fanny proclaims.

“Head straight for the car, Fan. Tell Eddie to stay at the ready. Me and Marty will try to get some more info from her even though I don’t think she has no clue about what has gone on here.”

“Neither does us.”

“Maybe no, maybe yes, but we are about to know more about something, so get out to the car before she sees you with that thing!”

Sainted Aunt Mary had one thing of value to share about her nephew’s stay. “He seemed normal to me, said he would invite me over for Christmas, us both being alone for the holiday. I guess he had a change of plans; never heard back from him.”

Related image“Yes, something unexpected came up.”

“Tell him that I love him, when you see him.”

“We will Sister Franks,” Martin promised, hoping they would get the chance to deliver the message.


Constance Caraway P.I.

Forever Mastadon


page 27

Finders Keepers – Losers Weepers – WIF Treasure

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Hidden Treasures

Found in

Strange Places

When we imagine someone finding hidden treasures, we may think of uncovering massive shipwrecks under the ocean, or explorers discovering the legendary golden city of El Dorado. It turns out that ordinary people can find hidden treasure just about anywhere in the world. In these 10 stories, people were just going about their normal lives when they stumbled upon an unexpected fortune.

10. Golden Opportunity

Life as a janitor is never easy, and it’s not a career path that normally leads someone to become a millionaire. But for one sanitation worker in South Korea, another person’s trash is truly someone else’s treasure. In April 2018, a janitor working at the Incheon International Airport was changing the bags in a garbage can, and discovered solid gold bars hiding at the bottom of the bin that were wrapped in newspaper. They were worth 70 million won, or $64,807 US.  This employee (who wished to remain anonymous) turned the bounty in to the police, since he suspected that the gold bars were most likely connected to some sort of crime.

In South Korea, there is a “finder’s keepers” law, which says that anyone who turns in an item to the police is entitled to keep it if it is not claimed after six months. There is also a “lost articles act” which says that even if the original owner shows up to get their bars of gold, the janitor still gets to keep between 5-20% of the total value as a reward for turning it on. Considering that these bars were hidden for a reason, the likelihood of the real owner claiming them is slim-to-none.

9. Always Double-Check

The Cerezo family was going through an awful series of tragedies. 14-year-old Savannah Cerezo died in 2012, and in 2015, the family was going through financial problems, and their home went into foreclosure. Most people who buy lottery tickets watch the numbers on live TV with eager anticipation, but for Ricardo Cerezo, he simply bought lottery tickets every week out of habit, because he had some small hope that everything would get better.

Before she died, Savannah gave her parents a cookie jar as a gift. Ricardo treasured one of the last tokens of his daughter’s memory, so he kept all of his lottery tickets and other valuables in the jar. After several months of accumulating tickets, Cerezo’s wife threatened to throw out the slips of paper if he didn’t clean up. So, Cerezo took all of the tickets to his local gas station to have the clerk scan them. One of the tickets said, “file a claim.” He called the Illinois State Lottery, and found out that his ticket was worth $4.85 million.

8. Unique Taste Pays Off

Sometimes, when you go to a museum, a piece of artwork looks so simple, you cannot help but think, “I could do that.” Ben Nicholson is one of those artists. In his most famous works, he layered blocks of colors, and sometimes did landscapes and sculptures. One woman named Jo Heaven was doing some thrift shopping in 2015 when she spotted a picture with a scene of horses, deer, and houses screen printed on cloth.

Despite the fact that the image looked like an elementary schooler created it on MS Paint, Heaven recognized the name of English artist Ben Nicholson, because her mother was an art teacher. She also had a taste for art that was weird and quirky, so she actually intended to keep it for herself, and had no idea it was worth anything. When she got home, she was shocked to find out that it was actually pretty valuable. She eventually sold it for £4,200 or $5,691 at auction, and gave 10% of that back to the charity shop in Swindon where she originally purchased it.

7. Between the Pages

In 2012, a man named Carlos went to his local book exchange in Marlborough, Massachusetts. The program allowed locals to bring in their old books, and they could pick an equal amount to trade and take home with them. When Carlos got into his car with the stack of books, he opened one to skim the pages. He was shocked to see that it had been hollowed out, and had roughly $20,000 inside, along with other valuables. Instead of keeping it a secret, he tried to figure out who the original owner was. There was no name written in the book, and he had no idea who left it behind.

Carlos contacted the local news, saying that if the true owner comes forward by sending him an e-mail, he would give it back. They just needed to identify the name of the book, the approximate amount of money inside. They also needed to identify the other valuable objects that were hidden away. There was never a follow-up to this story, so we’ll probably never know if he got to keep the money, or if he reunited the treasure with its owner.

6. Under the Sea

A fisherman living on the Palawan Island in the Philippines dropped the anchor of his boat, and he noticed that it was stuck on something. He dove underwater to check, and the anchor was caught on the biggest clam he had seen in his entire life. He pried the mouth open, hoping to possibly find a pearl that he could sell to a jeweler. Instead of the stereotypical ball-shaped pearl, he found a massive white mound that weighed 75 pounds. It was unlike anything he had ever seen before.

Since this wasn’t the typical pearl that could be made into a necklace, he assumed it was worthless, and decided to keep it under his bed as a good luck charm.

The man’s aunt, a woman named Aileen Cynthia Maggay-Amurao, works as a tourism officer for Palawan Island, and she was looking for ways to attract more people to come visit, bringing in some much-needed tourist dollars to help the local economy. Her nephew figured that this was such an odd object, maybe people would be interested in seeing it. So he brought the pearl to his aunt, and she put it on display behind glass. Once word got out about the story of this massive pearl, they discovered that it was valued at $100 million.

5. Hard Work Pays Off

The Elliot family had been tenants of a farm in Somerset County, England for years. After working the land for decades, they were finally able to get a mortgage to purchase the property in 1998. Cousins Kevin and Martin Elliot were running the farm together, so they decided that since the land now belonged to them, they could get out a metal detector and see if they could find anything buried on the land.

They knew that the property was very old, and it had been used as farm land for thousands of years. So when they pulled out the metal detector, they were not disappointed. They found 9,213 silver Roman denarius coins. There were so many, they had to carry them in buckets back to the house. After they were confident that they found all of the coins, they sold them to the Somerset County Museum for £265,000, or $358,224.35 US. While there is no report as to what the Elliot’s did with the money, it very well may be that the land paid for itself.

4. A Frugal Shopper’s Fantasy

Almost everyone who moved into their very first apartment had to buy things from a thrift store to furnish it, but almost no one has ended up with a fortune because of it. In 2007, a college student living in Berlin, Germany needed by buy a couch, so she headed to a local flea market to save money finding second-hand furniture. She paid $215 for a couch with a pull-out bed.

When she got it back to her apartment, she pulled out the bed to test it, and a tiny 10-by-12 inch painting was hiding inside. There was no signature on it, and she was unsure of its value, so she brought it to a local art auction. It turns out that the painting was from the 1600s, and it was painted by a friend of a famous Venetian painter named Carlo Saraceni. It was given the name “Preparation for Escape to Egypt” and it sold for $27,630.

3. A Gift From the Past

In France, crumbling chateaus are passed around to extended family every generation. The amount of work that would go into fixing up a mansion or castle and the responsibilities that come with it far outweigh the building’s actual value. Many older homes in aristocratic families remain untouched for several generations, and they fall into disrepair when the children choose to live their own lives in modern-day houses and apartments rather than dealing with their ancestor’s home.

So, when one heir (who wished to remain anonymous) inherited their family home in Normandy in 2016,  it was still filled with antiques and old belongings from years before. They decided to move the furniture, and there were tin boxes covered in a thick layer of dust. Hidden inside were gold bars and coins that were worth $3.7 million. The one and only downside it that they have to pay inheritance taxes after the sale. Even so, that should be more than enough money to make necessary renovations on the crumbling estate.

2. Scraping the Bottom of the Barrel

Recycling plants take in scrap metal to melt it down and re-use. The plants hold various metal parts inside of bins, and an employee of Blue Grass Recycling in Burlington, Kentucky named Mike Rogers was cleaning out one of these barrels when he spotted green at the bottom. They were vintage US savings bonds that ranged anywhere from $50 to $500 each, and they were worth a total of $22,000. Someone must have accidentally donated a coffee can or metal container that held the bonds.

When he got home from work, Rogers and his wife did some research to figure out who the original owner was.  After doing some research, the only information he got was that these were purchased by a woman named Martha Dobbins, and they were for “Robert Roberts.” It may sound like a name that no one would dare to give their child, but Rogers actually found hundreds of men named “Robert Roberts” and he had no idea how to find the real owner.

Instead of giving up, he contacted every single Robert Roberts in the country, simply asking if they knew a woman named Martha Dobbins. When he finally found the right man, it turns out that he was 82-years-old, and his mother had died years before. She was secretly saving bonds for her son as a way to thank him for caring for her in her old age, but she died before she could tell him about it, which is why the money was accidentally given away. Just a few days before Christmas, Mr. Roberts got a huge gift he would have never expected.

1. Underground Bling

A farmer in Uekan, Switzerland was walking around his cherry orchard when he spotted something shining underneath the dirt. He started to dig, and found silver Roman coins. There had been a nearby Roman settlement 1,700 years ago in Switzerland, and that field was used for farming back then, as well. Thankfully, there had never been any homes built on top of the land, so the artifacts had remained untouched for all that time. The owner of the orchard called in professional archaeologists to dig up the cherry orchard in order to uncover as many artifacts as they could. In the end, they recovered 4,166 coins. Historians estimated that this amount of money would have been equal to one or two years of wages for a Roman.

Sadly, this farmer doesn’t get to sell the coins for thousands of dollars. There is a law in Switzerland that says that these kinds of historic artifacts belong to the Swiss people, even if it was found on private property. So the farmer got a finder’s fee, and the coins went to a museum.


Finders Keepers – Losers Weepers –

WIF Treasure

Sinister Ministers – Haunted Places of Worship

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Haunted

Places of Worship

Around the World

Temples, churches, mosques, shrines, synagogues, and so on are meant to protect us from evil, or at least serve as temporary refuges. Even the demonic gargoyles and grotesques on Gothic Christian cathedrals, as well as their cross-cultural counterparts, are only supposed to remind us of the forces of darkness—never to invite them inside.

And that may be why so many places of worship appear to attract ghosts, as lost, tortured souls in search of belated salvation. But some of them are allegedly haunted by worse, particularly, though not always, once they’re abandoned…

10. Ari Sephardi Synagogue, Israel

The Ari Sephardi Synagogue of Safed, the most elevated (and coldest) city in Israel, was already pretty ancient when Yitzchak Luria moved to the area in 1570. The old Jewish mystic, founder of modern Kabbalah, is said to have met with the long-dead Prophet Elijah there to discuss the mysteries of the Torah. And to this day, the tiny, cave-like room where they stood is considered a sacred spot.

But the building has also been haunted by apparently more malevolent entities. On a visit to Safed in 1921, the young Baba Sali, Rabbi Israel Abuhatzeira of Morocco, was told that demons had infested the temple. Anyone who went in, he was warned, never came out alive. In fact, things got so bad that the beadle (a kind of usher) had locked up the synagogue for good.

At first he refused to allow even the Baba Sali to get through the door, insisting the building was full of immovable corpses and that entry meant certain death. Eventually, however, the gatekeeper acquiesced—albeit begrudgingly and only to avoid obstructing his visitor’s “holy mission.” Besides, the Baba Sali assured him, the temple would be clear within minutes.

With his aide clinging to his side, the Moroccan stepped through the door and into the main synagogue, finding it filled with a strange blazing light despite the sun setting outside. Undeterred, the Baba Sali made his way to the Ark and read aloud from the Torah scroll, followed by some chants of prayer, until he felt that the danger had passed. He then invited the beadle to come through, dismissing the old man’s sheepish apologies for earlier refusing him entry. Since that time, the synagogue has been open to the public.

Still, the Ari Sephardi’s close proximity to the Safed Old Jewish Cemetery, which has graves dating back to the first century AD, as well as the devastating earthquakes that twice leveled this synagogue to the ground, all continue to uphold its formidably spooky reputation.

9. The Amherst Synagogue, USA

At the other end of the synagogue spectrum, on the surface at least, is the Amherst Synagogue in Williamsville, New York. Built in the 1980s, it remains a modern building even by American standards, with a red brick facade, large windows, and picnic tables outside; but nowadays it sits largely forgotten.

According to local rumor, the bodies of several kidnapped children were buried here, having been lured to their deaths by a mysterious man—a theory attested to by the people who claim to have seen their ghosts. One group of friends, for example, all swear they saw “a ghost child come from the ground.” Another visitor claimed they usually emerge at midnight.

The synagogue is also alleged to have been built on Native American land, hence the (admittedly dubious) photo of a phantom Indian in ceremonial garb at the site. Ghost hunters claim to have witnessed other entities too, including “a heavy set woman, something not human, and a priest or Spaniard … [with]long brown hair and a cross.” Some even say they’ve been chased away by someone or something with an axe. Suffice it to say that many visitors to the site consider it the most haunted they’ve ever been to.

Yet despite three men apparently having lost their lives during the synagogue’s construction, there’s very little information about it.

8. Oiwa-inari Tamiya Shrine, Japan

The suburbs of Tokyo are supposedly home to many vengeful ghosts, or onryo—spirits believed to be capable of causing physical harm. They’re so entrenched in the city’s mentality, in fact, that property developers sometimes forgo profits to avoid disrupting their haunts.

Perhaps the best known—thanks to numerous stage, film, book, and TV dramatizations—is the restless spirit of Oiwa, a woman killed by her cheating husband in 1636. Her ashes are meant to be buried outside the Buddhist Myogyo-ji Temple in Sugamo, where she is said to appear as a horrifically twisted, or “molten,” face in a lantern—her husband’s choice of poison having also destroyed her beauty.

According to legend, Oiwa’s onryo immediately set about destroying her husband’s remarriage from beyond the grave, forcing him to poison his new wife and family. And when she killed him off as well, her remaining relatives built a Shinto shrine to placate her ghost.

While there are justified doubts as to the truth of this story—with some claiming it was all just made up by the kabuki playwright Tsuruya Namboku IV—theatre and media companies are known to pay their respects at the Oiwa-inari shrine before embarking on any adaptation of her story, apparently to avoid fatal “accidents” during production.

7. Avebury, UK

It’s unclear whether the Avebury stone circle in Wiltshire was erected as a place of worship, but it has become one for Neopagans and Druids. Older and larger (by total area) than Stonehenge to the south, Avebury has long been steeped in magic and mystery. And, unsurprisingly perhaps, it has also seen its fair share of hauntings.

In the 1960s, for example, a passing driver claimed to see ghosts in period dress dancing among the stones. Dwarf-like creatures have also been seen here, as well as other phantom “fairy folk.” Some of the stones themselves may even be haunted; for instance, the 40-tonne “diamond stone” to the northwest of the site is said to uproot itself at midnight and cross the A4361 road, while the “devil’s chair” stone to the southeast allegedly spews black smoke.

Poltergeists are also said to be common, particularly in the cottages around Avebury that were built using sarsen stones from the site. Meanwhile, St. James’ Church, which lies entirely within the confines of the stone circle and dates back to the 11th century, is reputedly haunted by a little Victorian boy who hops up and down on a tomb by the door.

6. Doryo-do Temple Ruins, Japan

Officially, the ruined Shinto Doryo-do temple in Hachioji, Tokyo, was named for the kami(spirit) Doryo, but its ambiguous name can also mean “End of the Road Temple.”

It was built alongside a major highway during the Edo period and enjoyed regular foot traffic until the opening of the Yokohama Railway in 1908, when it fell into relative obscurity. But it gained some notoriety in 1963 when its elderly caretaker was brutally murdered—stabbed through the heart and slashed across the throat—during a robbery of the temple’s funds. Two years later, visitors began to report sightings of her ghost among the surrounding trees, as well as the sound of her weeping.

Then in 1973, a university professor lured his pregnant undergraduate mistress to the temple and strangled her to death. Since he threw himself, his wife, and two children from a cliff just months later, her body went undiscovered for some time. Allegedly, it was only when locals heard a young woman crying out “Here! I’m here!” in the woods near Doryo-do that her buried remains were found.

The temple was finally closed in 1983 and torn down in 1990. But to this day the Otsukayama site where Doryo-do once stood (and only its foundation remains) is considered “the most haunted graveyard park in Tokyo,” and possibly the whole of Japan, attracting ghost hunters and paranormal investigators from around the world to uncover the ruins’ secrets.

5. St. Botolph’s Church, UK

Named for the East Anglian patron saint of wayfarers, a man reputed to have cleared demons from swamps, St. Botolph’s Church in Lincolnshire, England, shouldn’t by rights be haunted. But for decades this abandoned 13th-century building, protected by English Heritage and the Churches Conservation Trust, has apparently been a hotspot for ghosts, ghost hunters, and alleged “Satanists.”

In the 1970s and ’80s, when Christian worship here ceased, it was even nicknamed the “Demon Church” by locals. According to the rector of nearby Louth in 2004, the isolated site had been repeatedly desecrated by devil-worshipers starting fires, sacrificing animals, and painting black satanic symbols on the masonry.

Many visitors to the site feel a sudden chill upon entering the graveyard, even on sunny days, along with a sense of doom. Some have also reported phantom footsteps and the sound of thunder, ghostly hooded monks, and the grip of icy cold hands on their own. Eerily, some of the sunken graves apparently show skeletons within.

Local investigators, the Bassetlaw Ghost Research Group, spent a night at the church in the summer of 2003. Among other things, they claim to have seen “small babies among the gravestones and grass.” They also claim to have recorded hundreds of cylindrical “rods” up to a foot in length shooting across the sky.

The site continues to attract paranormal investigators and explorers. Just last year a drone operator ran into some technical interference over the church and stuck the video on YouTube.

4. Fengdu Ghost City, China

Fengdu Ghost City sits on the bank of the Yangtze River in Chongqing, China, and comprises numerous shrines, temples, and monasteries, as well as plenty of statues of ghosts. Visitors to the site, which combines Confucian, Taoist, and Buddhist elements, are invited to rehearse their own passage to the afterlife, crossing over the “Bridge of Helplessness” in their journey to the underworld—or Diyu, upon which the entire complex is modeled.

On the surface, Fengdu Ghost City is something of a quirky, if religious, theme park, showcasing the various hells and punishments that await the less pious among us. But at night, it is said to swarm with the souls of the dead who are making the journey for real.

3. Le Grand Cimetière, Haiti

Death is so firmly a part of the Haitian Vodou tradition that cemeteries become places of worship.

At le Grand Cimetière (Grand Cemetery) of Port-au-Prince, for example, services and ceremonies are held among the graves in makeshift marquee churches. People also make offerings and animal sacrifices to the loa (deity spirits) at altars scattered throughout the grounds. Some worshipers even come to bathe naked with the bones of the dead.

The tombs themselves, as well as the trees, are often covered in symbols, slogans, dolls, and other artifacts of the religion—usually in reverence of Baron Samedi, the loa of the dead and ruler of the underworld.

Naturally, le Grand Cimetière is also thought to be haunted—although ghosts wandering through the graveyard may be the least of visitors’ problems. Simply leaving a gift for the loa—a couple of Cuban cigars, for instance—can be fraught with paranormal danger. Specifically, after making their offering, if one doesn’t “close the door” to the underworld by knocking three times on the loa’s altar crucifix, the spirit could accompany them home. And given that some are associated with violence, it may be prudent to go along with the custom.

2. Jamali Kamali Mosque and Tomb, India

Another allegedly haunted ruin, this one in Delhi, dates back to the early 16th-century and the rise of the Mughal Empire. Now part of the Mehrauli Archaeological Park near the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Qutub Minar, the Jamali Kamali Mosque and Tomb is among the better known sites on this list. But it tends to be eerily quiet. Even the one security guard on duty can seem like a specter at times.

This is the final resting place of the Sufi saint “Jamali,” aka Shaikh Fazlullah or Jalal Khan, and another man (or possibly woman) known only as “Kamali.” Although the official description outside the entrance to the site describes the pair as brothers, some believe they were actually gay lovers—or at least two men bound in the traditionally loving Sufi master-and-disciple relationship. Either way, it’s thought that Kamali died first and Jamali, who enjoyed considerable influence at the time, commissioned the elaborate tomb.

While access to the burial chamber is reportedly limited, visitors to the abandoned mosque have noted all kinds of paranormal activity—from strange white lights and apparitions to the sounds of animals growling. A few become convinced of a presence in the building with them—someone or something watching them from behind a pillar, for instance—while others hear ominous laughter. At least one person claims to have been slapped by an invisible force while exploring the historical site.

Whether these experiences can be attributed to ghosts, or indeed jinns—the Quranic trans-dimensional entities with a fondness for derelict spaces—was a question one visitor posed to the security guard. His response, given the vandalism at the site, was that humans are more problematic.

1. Mehandipur Balaji Temple, India

The problem of humans is far more in evidence at the Mehandipur Balaji Temple in northwest India, where even just queuing outside can turn into a fight for survival against a crowd heaving and stampeding to get in. To be fair, though, most are seeking help with ghosts or demons of their own. Not only is Rajasthan’s so-called “witch temple” said to be haunted but actual exorcisms are routinely carried out here.

The building itself is imposing but old, with towering columns, grimy brickwork, blocked up windows, and crumbling balconies. Pilgrims travel for miles through lifeless desert to get there, only to find themselves in a “dusty haze,” as author Edward Hower puts it, surrounded by “scrawny children,” “ghostlike women,” “scab-eared” dogs, and crows circling overhead “like ashes rising from a smoldering fire.” Inside the temple, the air is filled with pungent smoke and the agonized cries of the “possessed,” while visitors are encouraged to offer strange black balls into fires.

Some families keep their supposedly demon-inhabited loved ones here for weeks on end, putting them up in dharamsala (religious rest houses) and contributing years’ worth of their savings to heal them. This often entails having a priest chain up and mercilessly beat their relative until they purge out the offending preta (hungry ghost). Many families then invest in a kind of gravestone outside, a marker to keep exorcised spirits from following them home. Visitors are also warned not to look back as they leave, or to consume anything at all—even water—because of how densely haunted the area is thought to be.

Understandably, while most psychiatrists tend to think of these “possessed” individuals as merely neurotic, even the most skeptical of visitors are bound to find this strange Hindu temple unsettling.


Sinister Ministers –

Haunted Places of Worship

Making the World a Better Place – WIF Spotlight

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People That Made

the World

a Better Place

Nowadays, giving to charity has become an almost social experience. With challenges and campaigns like “PuberMe,” the idea of giving has transformed into more of a public domain movement. As a result, the anonymity and personal nature of donating to a cause has lost most of its meaning. There are, however, many people who donate without the public spectacle. Men and women who have made the world a better place without the fanfare. Here are 10 people who made the world a better place, while their actions remained largely hidden from the spotlight…

10. Chuck Feeney

The decision to give away his fortune was easy for Chuck Feeney. When asked about his generous actions, he said, “a man can only wear one pair of pants at a time.” Which, while not technically true, is a lovely sentiment nonetheless. In the 1960s, Feeney made his fortune by setting up duty free shops at airports which soon turned into a booming business. That, coupled with many shrewd investments in technology start-ups, left him with a net worth north of $7 billion. At the age of 85, that number had dwindled down to only $2 million.

Transferring his massive wealth to Atlantic Philanthropies, a collection of several different charities that he had funded, Feeney began giving away his wealth to causes and issues he felt strongly about. In the 1990s, he promised financial support for paramilitary groups in Northern Ireland if they abandoned armed conflict and accepted electoral politics. Feeney also donated to create a public health system in Vietnam as well as to provide anti-retroviral treatment for AIDS victims in South Africa. What makes Feeney’s work so commendable is that it was a business dispute that forced disclosure of his payments to Atlantic Philanthropies.

9. Richard Leroy Walters

There’s very little chance our readers know the name Richard Leroy Walters, and that’s okay. Few even knew him when he was alive. Rita Belle, one of the few who came to know Walters, learned that “he gave up all material things that we think we have to have.” Never married and estranged from his brother, Walters and Belle became friends.

She later discovered that Walters was homeless and sleeping on the grounds of the senior center. Walters would reveal to Belle that he ate at the hospital and used a telephone there or at the center. Despite being homeless, Walters was not poor. He was in fact a millionaire who would, in his will, donate millions to charities including  National Public Radio and the Catholic Church Mission. With his final act, Walters honored his friend. It was clear to Belle that he was an atheist, and she, as you probably guessed, was a Catholic.

8. Ronald Read

Like Richard Walters, Read did not show off his wealth or even give any indication that he was rich at all. The Vermont man was known for wearing a particularly tattered hat around town. A woman knitted him a replacement, fearing that it would not hold up in winter. On another occasion, his meal was paid for by another customer because it was feared he’d be unable to pay.

The truth would only be revealed after his death, when Read left Brattleboro Memorial Hospital and the Brooks Library $4.8 million and $1.2 million, respectively. The donations might seem random, but it was soon revealed that Read would visit the Brattleboro Memorial Hospital frequently for coffee and breakfast. It’s safe to say he paid them back for it.

7. Prince

The iconic artist of hits like “Purple Rain,” “Kiss,” and “When Doves Cry” changed the world in more ways than one. Prince’s death revealed another side of him that he was careful not to publicize: his philanthropy. Van Jones, an environmentalist, was working on George W. Bush’s clean jobs act when he received an anonymous donation check for $50,000. He remembers returning it, but then weeks later getting the same check again. Unwilling to accept a check, at that price, without knowing the sender, he returned it again, only to get a call from a Prince representative.

Jones asked who the sender was, and the representative refused to say, but revealed his favorite color is purple. That’s just one example of Prince’s generosity and the manner in which he displayed it. There are countless others, like his unprompted donation to a senior center in Minnesota, his donations to the victims of the bridge collapse in his home state, and to his support for public schools purchasing musical equipment and a studio to help foster the next great musician. Prince will be missed not only for music, but for his big heart.

6. George Michael

Another musician who doubled as a philanthropist was British singer, songwriter, and record producer George Michael. Although his public life was a matter of national headlines in the UK, he kept his philanthropy under wraps and out of the newspapers. It wasn’t until his death that people came to realize how generous of a man he really was. An employee at a homeless shelter revealed that Michael worked their repeatedly but told employees not to tell anyone of his presence.

His charity also was random and spontaneous. A woman on Deal or No Deal said she needed thousands for IVK treatment. The next day she received a phone call from Michael, who offered to pay for treatment. When a waitress told him of her debt incurred trying to become a nurse, Michael tipped her £5,000. Again, she was sworn to secrecy, only revealing her mystery benefactor after his death. Probably his most generous act was his decision to give royalties from his 1996 number one single Jesus to a Child to the charity to Childline, a free counseling service for young people. Childline’s founder estimates the donation gave millions and saved thousands of lives.

5. Jack MacDonald

Jack MacDonald lived in a small, one bedroom apartment. His clothing had holes in them. In short, he didn’t live the life of a multi-millionaire. MacDonald cared about much much more important things: people. Inheriting his parent’s meat packing business, MacDonald turned his inheritance into more than 180 million dollars through prudent investments.

Throughout his life, he made anonymous donations to hundreds of organization. That continued even in death. A widower without children, MacDonald left his entire fortune to the Seattle Children’s Hospital, the University of Washington Law school, and the Salvation Army.

4. Roberto Clemente

Although Roberto Clemente is well known for what he did on the baseball field, his impact extends far beyond the diamond. Clemente was one of the first Latin American ball players to become a baseball star, and the native of Puerto Rico believed that he had to be a shining example to his country and people. Clemente would host baseball clinics for underprivileged children free of charge, and most notably helped deliver food to communities in need.

Unfortunately, like many of our other cases, his death is a big part of how we’d come to see Clemente’s tremendous character. After a massive earthquake caused devastation in Nicaragua, Clemente organized shipments of aid, but soon realized that corrupt officials were keeping them from reaching the victims. Under the belief that his presence would make a difference, he boarded the next plane to Nicaragua only for it to crash, killing everyone aboard. Clemente lives on in his work, with a community service award named after him in the MLB.

3. Eldon Foote

Sometimes you think you know someone, and they surprise you. There’s no better case of this than the life of Eldon Foote. The lawyer used his background to avoid paying taxes, he abandoned his family for a new romance, and even switched careers to become a marketing executive. Everything about Eldon Foote screamed that he was self-centered and egotistical.

Foote didn’t exactly have an easy life, growing up during the Depression and enlisting in the army during World War II. He returned home and got married, eventually raising five children. However, he became unhappy and not only divorced his wife, but switched careers entirely. He’d grow unhappy again, and after a contentious divorce from his second wife, Foote sold the business and married for the last time. His philanthropy began on a whim. As his hometown prepared to host a massive, international athletics event in 2001, the sports field at the University of Alberta was in dire need of refurbishment. Needing a donation of $2 million, the athletics department approached Foote, a former track athlete. Foote obliged, sending them the full amount. Soon after Foote was diagnosed with cancer, and died only a month later.

His will would reveal that he was leaving the vast majority of his net worth to charitable organizations. Foote would leave 160 million to the Edmonton Community Foundation, the largest donation the organization ever received. Foote’s family was not at all pleased by his decision. They sued, and eventually lost. The impact of Foote’s donation is still being felt in the low income neighborhoods of Edmonton.

2. George Steinbrenner

Brash and bombastic, who knew that Steinbrenner was quietly a philanthropic person? In 1992, when a hurricane laid waste to South Florida, Steinbrenner appeared at the Salvation Army central distribution center in Tampa and simply said, “Put me to work.” Steinbrenner didn’t just sit in the lobby and show his face; he helped load 500 gallons of water into the back of a 20-foot truck. Afterward, he drove six and a half hours to Homestead, and delivered the water to the victims of the hurricane. He did this all without fanfare. No cameras, no press, just Steinbrenner.

Although Steinbrenner was viewed as rash and quick to lose his temper; he was just as quick to help someone in need. He paid the funeral expenses for a family mourning their murdered son, he paid for damaged instruments of a local school band whose band room was vandalized, and when he witnessed a deaf child struggling to get an autograph he purchased the child hearing aids.

1. Julius Rosenwald

It’s a mystery as to why Julius Rosenwald has not become a household name. He didn’t even finish high school, yet he managed to become the chairman of Sears, Roebuck & Company and a life-changing philanthropist. In the early 1900s, Rosenwald gave away $62 million, which would be valued at a billion dollars today.And while the amount donated is important, what makes Rosenwald so special is who he gave the money to.

Nearly all of Rosenwald’s donations went to helping African Americans get a better education by building schools and community centers. As a Jewish man who had been the victim of discrimination, Rosenwald identified with African Americans. He did not help from afar, but was an active voice in these communities. He rallied African American communities to match the funds he had committed to build a school or community center. Their work wasn’t easy, as several schools were burned down, but that didn’t deter Rosenwald or the community. The schools were just built up again.

Rosenwald changed the lives of thousands of black children, and the example he set for his own children would save more lives still. Years later, his children and cousins saved the lives of 300 Jews fleeing Nazi Germany. A Rosenwald yet again making the world just a little bit better.


Making the World

a Better Place

The NULL Solution = Episode 173

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The NULL Solution = Episode 173

…Do you realize that I have never stepped foot on Earth once? I was born in space, on that ship over there,..

Francine Bouchette-Crippen is Earth’s appointed representative to Harmonia, having passed the muster required; married to a space-geek-world-leader-type AND experience with communication. So far, she has only been “called in” for a Harmonia Tower and Earth Obelisk orientation. She is still freaked out by the instantaneous location transfers. Fitch has assured her that she is not being disassembled and reassembled by a molecular scrambler. “Such a device has yet to be perfected,” he claims. Chasonn, the Seljuk inventor is unbeknownst to him.

Speaking of Chasonn, he has yet to return to his homeworld from Eridanus. It seems that a certain blue-eyed lass is interfering with his clarity of thought, thereby causing him to designate his Third-in-command as their Harmonia appointee. His Second must tend to Seljukian immediate interests. The Third has gone through the orientation and still cannot believe his eyes, though the concept of Harmonia is an agreeable one.

“I hear talk that the McKinneys are leaving Eridanus for their homeworld, is this true Deimostra?”

“Now who told you that?”

“Skaldic did tell me you were leaving and that I should do the same.”

As an object of desire, Deimostra is uncomfortable with her choices. The choices are fine, how those two choices fit into her family equation is the fly in the ointment. Of course Skaldic would want Chasonn out of the way.

“Returning to Earth is a dream, that’s all Chasonn. Do you realize that I have never stepped foot on my world once? I was born in space, on that ship over there,” she points to the NEWFOUNDLANDER, back to collecting dust in the lineup of possible Eridanian escape ships.

“You live with your parents, you are fortunate. Mine were taken away by the Ÿ€Ð before I could know them.”

“That is terrible. Skaldic’s disappeared right after he was born.” She has now gotten sob stories from both her suitors; Chasonn’s parents were as a result of leadership cleansing – Skaldic’s Nullian roots because they happened to produce a Gifted child.

“Do you prefer Skaldic over me?”


The NULL Solution =

WHAT’S A GIRL TO DO? SIGH by ASHLEY SWARTS

Episode 173


page 169

The NULL Solution = Episode 167

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The NULL Solution = Episode 167

…Deimostra cannot help but recall the two suitors that are traveling with Daddy…

Eridanus is in on the otherwise inside joke. Skaldic makes sure that his planet receives Harmonia’s message of peace loud and clear. Not a single solitary soul in the Milky Way has a greater appreciation of a universe administrated by the concept of equal footing.

Ekcello, Cerella and the rest of the Gifted are listening and learning. Keen attention is required. They have a unique duopolistic connection out at the Terran territory, just as they have witness a multicultural melting pot at home.

Who knew that a doomed exploratory mission an eon ago would eventually lead to this?

That they would abandon spaceflight only to be drawn back in with both feet?

To think, that they thought they had things all figured out.

For Celeste, Deke and Deimostra, the “plan” is finally coming together, as accidentally as it may be.

“Dad and Skaldic are on their way home,” declares a watchful Deke.

Deimostra cannot help but recall the two suitors that are traveling with Sampson. “What about Chasonn? It is his ship.”

“Yes of course, him too – ‘rub a dub – dub, three men in a tub’.”

“What kind of nonsense is that Deke?”

“It is a nursery rhyme that Mom sang to me while she bathed me. Haven’t you ever had a bath?”

She can only glare, until Mom recites:

“Rub-a-dub-dub,

Three men in a tub,

And who do you think they were?

The butcher, the baker,

The candlestick-maker,

They all sailed out to sea,

‘Twas enough to make a man stare.

 

Hey! rub-a-dub, ho! rub-a-dub, three maids in a tub,

And who do you think were there?

The butcher, the baker, the candlestick-maker,

And all of them gone to the fair

 

 Rub a dub dub,

Three fools in a tub,

And who do you think they be?

The butcher, the baker,

The candlestick maker.

Turn them out, knaves all three.”

“Daddy is the knave. Skaldic and Chasonn are knights and gentlemen.”

“Are you sure?”


The NULL Solution =

THE ARTWORK OF JOHN TRABBIC III

Episode 167


page 163