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

Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 10

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 10

…“No, problem. We have Eddie!” Outside in his idling yellow auto, Eddie Dombroski has nodded off, unaware of what is in store for the rest of this Christmas eve-‘ning…

The basement door is in fact unlocked –

“Curious.” Martin Kamen points down the rickety stairs. “Watch your heads; cover your hair from the dust and spider webs.”

“No one uses these stairs and yet there is a pair of footprints in the dust, in both directions.” Fanny is first down.

“Check for booby traps Fan!”

“Very funny.” Instead of trip-lines Fanny traces the stray telephone line to what looks like a transmitter. “Look, the yellow and black wires are hooked up to this thing, but the red and green continue on to what must be other extensions.”

Fishy.

Related image“We need to get out of this building, before we discuss anything other than the weather.” You never know who may be listening.

“William has the car, but there is a café over on 57th.”

“That’s swell, but we need to get down to business in a hurry.”

“We have a safe room out at Argonne, but how do we get there? The University bus doesn’t run on Sundays.”

“No problem. We have Eddie!” Outside in his idling yellow auto, Eddie Dombroski has nodded off; unaware of what is in store for the rest of this Christmas eve-‘ning.

The three of them pile into the spacious back seat of the Checker auto, could even fit two more of slight build if needed, as they roust the driver to action.

“Argonne National Laboratory!” Constance Caraway belts out the order, passing a 100 dollar bill up to the front seat.

“That’s that Top Secret place out Westmont way. Yeah, down on the way to Saint Louie on Route 66; some great taverns out there. I can pick it up at Jackson Blvd.”

“Stop by your house on the way and tell your wife you have been commandeered by two beautiful government agents for a secret government mission… not to worry, we will have you home for Christmas morning.”

“You folks aren’t school teachers are you?” Eddie senses something greater than that.

“He is.” They both point to the man in between them.

Martin David Kamen timidly raises his hand.


Constance Caraway P.I.

Forever Mastadon


page 12

Unusual Buildings Around the World – WIF 10 Cent Travel

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Strange/Great Buildings

From Around

the Globe

There is no doubt that art and architecture can depict the unusual. And when artistic licence meets the concrete world of construction, the results can be nothing short of mind-boggling. In this account, we take a tour in which we discover a horizontal skyscraper, a circular skyscraper, a robot building, a bizarre towering castle of wood, and the world’s largest bread basket, among other constructions that will expand your mind and even end up on your travel itineraries.

10. Horizontal Skyscraper – Vanke Center (Shenzen, China)

When is a skyscraper a skyscraper in name and shape, but not in behavior and function? When it is a fairly typical looking skyscraper that has been painstakingly constructed to lie on its side! The building logically would look totally typical if you were to turn your head 90 degrees to the side when you examine it, for the building’s position is what makes it weird. Why? Because the structure is an eerie sideways skyscraper, built horizontally along the ground but in the form of a skyscraper. Strange and thought provoking. The brainchild of Steven Holl Architects, the Horizontal Skyscraper – Vanke Center in Shenzhen, China may look normal in shape, in sharp contrast to the oddity of its physical position

Standing on supporting pillars, the building is actually the length of the height of the Empire State Building, while its physical location is stretched along an immaculately landscaped garden with grass, woody plants and pools of water. The construction of the building extended from 2006 to 2009. While bizarre, the building has both ample glass and ample class. It serves its purposes including office and conference centre functions plus apartments and hotel suites, creating both a distinctive place to work and live while providing a modern and iconic place to visit. Considered a winner, the project was recognized with a 2010 Honor Award from the American Institute of Architects, showcased as an example of excellence.

9. The Wooden Skyscraper (Archangelsk, Russia)

A house of cards may not stand well, but a wooden skyscraper? If one is creative enough to think out of the box and crazy enough to construct a monster castle of boards, then one may well be on their way to scraping the heavens with a tower of mere timber. A work of a madman, a convict, and a potential mad genius, albeit one flouting building regulations in a concerning way, the Wooden Skyscraper of Archangelsk in Russia is a towering monstrosity that is best described as a monument to one man’s personal journey to Babel in the sometimes frozen North.

Known as Sutyagin House, the 144-foot building was begun in 1992 by underworld lord Nikolai Petrovich Sutyagin in defiance of both building regulations and architectural challenges. Impressive in stature, massive but clearly rickety upon close inspection, the giant building stood in the face of all imaginable building regulations before its reign of rebellion was brought to a close. Rising spire-like but resembling a skyscraper merged with a supervillain’s castle, the massive wood structure dominated the local region for years before deteriorating during his time in prison. After his release, city authorities finally succeeded in having the structure, which had been built based on inspiration from Japanese and Norwegian wooden structures and intended as a status symbol and as accommodation, to be demolished.

8. Robot Building (Bangkok, Thailand)

Technology and state of the art buildings often go hand in hand, but it is almost unheard of for a full size skyscraper to actually look like a robot. Technologically advanced buildings may boast their advancement with the right materials, shapes, and structural elements, but simply being constructed to look like artificially intelligent, non-living humanoids is a brave mechanical step in a radically novel direction. Built with an array of superficial features added on to a body, torso and head like structure, the high tech United Overseas Bank headquarters in the form of a robot building in Bangkok, Thailand forms a globally unprecedented and exceptionally striking project.

While looking just like a robot might seem laughable as a merging of architectural and technological oddity, the construction also constitutes a spectacular and unique example of creating a building with “robo-morphic” architecture. The idea was to reflect the high-tech nature of the bank through architecture and the work certainly did its job. The half window, half wall bump out eyes, antennae and ears combine nicely with the abdomen, torso and head to make a pretty cute, albeit huge and stationary robot headquarters. And where did Thai architect and genius Sumet Jumsai get his inspiration? He created the vision for the building based on the idea he developed by seeing his son’s toy robot after the Bank of Asia commissioned him to design them a new headquarters building.

7. Genex Tower (Belgrade, Serbia)

Eastern European architecture can gain the look of science fiction constructions, sometimes merging the modern and the castle-like in one building. Strange, awkward-looking in the eyes of some but also undeniably impressive in sheer size, the Genex Tower of Belgrade is an architectural monstrosity dating back to times of great conflict. Looking like a bizarre cross between the CN Tower and the Brandenburg Gate on steroids, the structure is extraordinary for its gate-like shape coupled with its narrowness and sheer height.

Built as the novel and daring planned creation of architect Mihajlo Mitrovic forms a massive arch built with two skyscrapers, the taller reaching a height of 377 feet, further distinguished with a huge yet remarkably incongruous revolving restaurant perched 459 feet above the ground. The restaurant’s circular shape is a prime example of the irregularity and incongruity of the different structural components of the tower’s form and strange spatial layout. The connecting section of the building that creates the arch shape consists of a two story bridge walkway extending between the unified towers. Walking between the two towers is a startling experience, with nothing below for hundreds of feet as you boldly walk the relatively short distance bridging the giant towers.

6. Burj Khalifa (Dubai)

Acclaimed as the tallest building on the planet, the Burj Khalifa is remarkable not only for its sheer size and height at 2,716.5 feet and more than 160 stories. The building holds a multitude of world records, including tallest building in the world, highest occupied floor, most stories of any building globally, highest outdoor observation deck, tallest service elevator, and tallest free-standing structure. (Oh, and there was also that time Tom Cruise climbed up the side.) Constructed of the gigantic building was started in 2004, while the exterior of the building reached completion in 2009 prior to the opening of the structure in 2010.

Built in part to increase tourism revenue, the construction was supported by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum in a bid to create an extraordinarily striking creation that would garner a significantly greater global recognition of Dubai. Containing hundreds of apartment and hotel suites, the building also boasts swimming pools and elevators that include equipment that can reach speeds of 33-feet-per-second. Constructed primarily from reinforced concrete with significant quantities of steel structural elements, the tower has both a stepped appearance and narrow spires that reflect Islamic architectural styles characteristic of Dubai.

5. Goldin Finance Tower (Tianjin, China)

Remarkable for its incredibly ordinariness and simplicity in shape coupled with impossible height and slenderness, the Goldin Finance Tower of Tianjin, China reaches an astonishing height of 1,957 feet but is essentially cube shaped and remarkably spindly. Almost a third of a mile high, the building has been likened to a huge walking stick due to its spindly appearance and supertall design as it nears completion. With 117 stories contained within its vertical rise, the Tianjin central business district landmark is deceptively ordinary in its almost stereotypical skyscraper shape. However, the sheer height of the building combined with its relatively narrow and square base shape in fact accentuates the dramatic appearance of the building, giving it the incredibly striking appearance of a giant square stick.

Unlike more bulbous or spire adorned tall buildings, the Goldin Finance Tower is at its heart a functional building that devotes the bulk of its construction to practical usage thanks to its continuous square shape that rises to great heights without being reduced to narrow spires and vanity constructions. With four prominent corner reinforcements rising vertically, the building contains finely designed, rectangle-shaped window patterns that add to the meticulous and functional look of the building’s construction. Inside, the construction includes sky lobbies and the world’s highest swimming pool, adding more distinctive elements to the already dramatic looking tower.

4. AlDar Headquarters (Abu Dhabi)

Built in Abu Dhabi, the bizarre AlDar Headquarters might shock first time visitors or lead to a false UFO crash report. Why? Because the enormous but beautiful structure is in fact the world’s first circular skyscraper. Towering at 360 feet tall, the building represents unity, stability and rationality as well as infinity and was completed in 2010. The structure resembles a gigantic plate that has been stuck into the desert ground, widened slightly and then packed with office space. The two sides of the building are interspersed with a continuous edge of windows that resembles a band that has been used to join two halves, but further increases the sideways landed UFO appearance of the structure.

Reinforcing beams crisscross the outsides of the building, creating the appearance of a myriad of diamond shape structures on the sides. On a smaller scale, within each diamond like face section, multitudes of diamond like lines define the shapes of multiple window panels grouped together. The result is the convex outer shape the building, which resembles two plates put together in form. While many buildings have been constructed with rounded foundation, the creation of a towering circle that is actually placed to stand upon its side like a UFO or a giant wheel is in fact unprecedented in architectural achievements.

3. Dancing House (Prague, Czech Republic)

The Leaning Tower of Pisa is remarkable, but its lean was certainly not intended and apart from the lean, its architecture is normal. Conversely, the Dancing House in Prague, Czech Republic was purposely built in such a manner that it may look at first glance to be in a state of collapse. Started in 1994 and finished in 1996, the structure consists of two leaning figures that represent dancers Fred Astair, depicted by the concrete tower, and Ginger Rogers, intended to be represented by the leaning glass tower that stands on concrete legs. The combination of the two indeed looks just like a man and a women in the moment of embrace while enjoying a graceful and intimate dance.

The result of architectural collaboration between American architect Frank Gehry and Croatian architect Vlado Milunic, who recruited Gehry to work with him in fulfilling the request of Dutch company Nationale Nederlanden to build an iconic headquarters building. The building where the Ginger Rogers structure stands had been destroyed during WWII by Allied bombing, while the structure that represents Astair, which survived largely intact, was the home since childhood of Václav Havel, who later served as Czech president and commissioned a study of the site by Milunic after Milunic shared his vision.

2. Longaberger Headquarters Basket Building (Newark, Ohio)

Is it bigger than a breadbasket? Well, this turn of phrase may be less useful as a generalization of measure when the breadbasket in question is not just over a foot long, but is an entire office building. Not a full skyscraper, but a building so remarkable in scale for what it represents and as a subject, we have to take our hats off to the Longaberger Company Headquarters building in Ohio. Why? Because the entire building is not only constructed as a gigantic bread basket but it actually looks like one, built to include even a textured exterior design that replicates the look of a woven basket.

The building is fully realistic, complete with metal handles weighing nearly 150 tons that are specially heated to keep them in good condition. The 7-story building was able to accommodate 500 employees, with a intricate and remarkable authentic macroscale weaving design. The spaces in between the replicated weaves formed the windows of the remarkably distinctive building. After facing financial challenges, the company, which specializes in baskets, pottery, and other home décor relocated to a “normal” building in 2016, to the disappointment of some and the satisfaction of others who expressed a preference for working in a more practical building.

1. Fake Hills (Beihai, China)

http://fave.api.cnn.io/v1/fav/?video=architecture/2017/09/11/ma-yansong-mad-architects.cnn&customer=cnn&edition=domestic&env=prod

The hills may be said to have eyes in horror films, but in Beihai, China, those hills that you see may definitely be filled with human eyes as people go about their business in a bizarre but awesome building complex that has been fashioned in the form of a hilly skyline. The Fake Hills represent a very bold expression of the urban planning concept of harmonizing building form and character with the surrounding environment. Extending lengthwise and paralleling the beach except for one unit at right angles, the fake hills form a silhouette of foothill like appearance that are accompanied by lush gardens interspersed with lower individual buildings in between the structures and the beach.

The main structure is unified and narrow, with a curving outline but having a straight across edge that is intended to contain numerous amenities and access points, allowing people to walk along the width of the laterally compressed hills as they undulate up and down. In December 2016, Beijing based MAD completed the first phase of the project as the fake hills get up and running toward being able to accommodate a rich diversity of uses. The towering hills are intended to reflect the hilly coastal scenery of the southern Chinese port city in which they stand, adding depth and character in a dramatic manifestation of economic development efforts compared to the more mundane form of standard apartments.


Unusual Buildings Around the World –

WIF 10 Cent Travel

Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 6

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 6

…You must be from China sister. That is clear down by the lake….

Once the Constance and Fanny retrieves their suitcases, they now must find their way to the University of Chicago. At least when traveling by train, the paths leading away from downtown Union Station are much easier to follow.

“I can see the skyscrapers from here, but this airport is out in the boonies,” laments the frustrated 3rd grade teacher.

As if on cue, a boxy yellow car pulls up alongside them.

“Where are you headed ladies?” yells the bold driver of a Checker automobile painted in striking yellow with a Taxi light affixed to the roof. “It’s mighty cold out and ain’t nowhere I can’t take you.”

“That’s a triple negative,” the librarian mentions.

Shush,” Constance pokes.

“We’re looking for the University of Chicago,” Fanny blurts “Is it nearby?”

You must be from China sister. That is clear down by the lake.

“We saw a thousand lakes on the way here, which one is it near?”

“Are you for real? Michigan, come-on, that big one over that way!” Eddie points.

“My friend was merely kidding sir; we know where the university is located. We just need a reliable way to get there.”

6137 South Kimbark

“My name is Eddie, not sir and Avondale Avenue will take us to Lakeshore Drive, bing-bam-boom.” Eddie Dombroski has been a cabby since his discharge from the Army at the end of the Second World War. “That’s unless the wind drifted that snow we got last night, then we could cut down State Street to 55th.”

“Splendid! 6137 Kimbark and don’t spare the horses.”

“Horses?”

“That is just a saying Eddie,” explains Constance. “Just get us there quickly.”

“I don’t speed on slick roads are Missy, but I do know all the shortcuts.”

“We have the utmost confidence in your driving.” They have no other alternatives, but just in case, that yellow taxi is built like a Sherman Tank.

“Let me introduce us: my name is Carolyn and this is Sara.” She points to Fanny, fending off an approaching elbow with a timely wink. “We are visiting a high school friend who has made it to the big time.”

“You mean like Benny Goodman, or maybe that Rita Hayworth? She ain’t got nothing on you, if I must say so myself.”


Constance Caraway P.I.

Forever Mastadon


page 8

Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 5

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 5

…“Chicago sure looks different from the air,” comments Constance in a moment  of rare wonderment…

1950 Chicago

The large two-propeller airplane from Florida approaches Chicago from the southeast and the terrain of some 15,000 feet below is changing radically as it descends; from the hills of Tennessee and Kentucky, the Ohio River Valley to the sprawling farm fields of the Midwestern Plain.

And then out of nowhere sprouts a cluster of buildings; one taller than the next, looking like they are daring the Great Lake called Michigan to wash them away.

“Chicago sure looks different from the air,” comments Constance in a moment of rare wonderment. She is well-traveled, some would say worldly, but she is accustomed to the perspective provided by a plodding train car or the rolling deck of a steamship.

“This is the view God has.” From Fanny’s perspective, that is exactly how she sees it.

Flight 12 from Tallahassee lands at Chicago Orchard, even though commercial air travel to and from Chicago is just revving up. The airfield had its beginnings as a Douglas Aircraft assembly plant, with close ties to the war effort. Just as World War II pulled up the United States by its bootstraps, out of the depths of the Great Depression, so did war-related industries create new venues for a growing nation.

Once the passengers walk down the stairs of the Pan American airplane, they are escorted to a newly built circular structure resembling giant spider; separate “legs” meant to serve the individual companies using the airport. Most of current air traffic moves cargo across the country, so the freight terminal, at the far end of the field, is actually busier.

After retrieving their suitcases, they now must find their way to the University of Chicago. At least when traveling by train, the paths leading away from downtown Union Station are much easier to follow.


Constance Caraway P.I.

Forever Mastadon


page 7

Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 4

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 4

…Let’s get our winter clothes packed and hit the road…

 Fanny points out that A-Bomb was tested out in the American Southwest..

img004

Fanny Renwick

“Yes,” deep breath, “but the spy was traced back to the Manhattan Project at Argonne National Laboratory, which is out west of Chicago.”

Fallow Deer of Argonne

“I didn’t know where we were. It looked like out by Campbell Lake, all the trees and country roads and such, though I did get some great pictures of those Fallow Deer.” Fanny was fascinated with animals, like these white deer, even took color pictures of something white.

“We were tailing a suspected double agent, that German spy in Ally clothing, on his way out to his drop area, not sightseeing for local animals.”

Constance fully expects to bring things into focus most times for Fanny, who disarms people in ways that her boss cannot. That occasional blank stare takes the attention away from Connie’s intense presence.

“You make sure Betty (the upstairs neighbor) looks after Molly. And tell her it may be a while this time. Let’s get our winter clothes packed and hit the road!

         A Christmas adventure is calling.

Having had a clarifying conversation with their prospective client Mr. Kamen, there is no doubt as to CCI’s involvement in the case of the missing the missing scientist, Mr. Willard Libby. There seems to be some problem getting unbiased P.I.’s in that city of Al Capone.

Constance and Fanny wait to board a Pan American DC-3, Flight 12 non-stop from Tallahassee Commercial Airport, a one runway operation, to the newly named Chicago Orchard [Douglas] Airport. Their fellow fliers, gathered in nice straight line, are an interesting mix of snow birds (an new trend for those who are originally from the north, but live in the south during the winter months) and holiday travelers (who want to experience the fairy-tale world of Christmas at Marshall Fields department store, on the famed Michigan Avenue of Chicago).

Not that any one would recognize either one of the women. Constance has her hair in a bun, dressed in a lace-collared blouse and calf-length shirt, looking every bit the 3rd grade school teacher. Fanny is wearing black rimmed glasses, like she would be helping you find a library book. Perfect disguises, “Two frumps on a log,” is how Connie put it.

They will need to blend into the college scene they are about to enter. If biochemist Martin Kamen is being watched by anyone, the two Floridian women cannot stand out any more than they already do; at 5’8 apiece, Constance and Fanny loom over most their gender brethren.


Constance Caraway P.I.

Forever Mastadon


page 6

“DANGER!” Traveler – WIF Around the World

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Natural Hazards

of Planet Earth

The Earth is not always your friend, and the planet upon which we developed may not treat us gently despite the effort with which we have colonized so much of its surface. In this account, we move beyond familiar floods, tornadoes and earthquakes to discover the really weird ways that an active and sometimes badly behaved planet can create a real but strange threat to your safety. Learn, and be safe; looking out not only for wild animals, but approaching the planet itself with care as you walk its surface.

10. Tree Wells

 

The Earth is defined by interactions between the rocks, the atmosphere and water. And when that interaction involves the accumulation of frozen water in the form of snow in places where there are trees, an extraordinary level of danger may form. It is not only a crevice that may threaten skiers. A much more common and sometimes worse danger comes from tree wells. Tree wells are an ever-present risk on mountainsides that suffocate many unwary snow sports enthusiasts when they fall into a gaping hole in the snow where a tree stands, concealing the snowy well around its trunk.

When a large conifer tree stands on a mountain, snowfall may pile up to a depth of many feet. Yet around the tree trunk and within the curtilage of the tree’s branches, snow is likely to be missing. The result is the presence of a diabolically well concealed hole or “well” around the tree. Upon beginning to pass a tree at too close a range, a skier or snowboarder may pitch forward into a tree well and be stuck, often headfirst. As a result, suffocation may occur from the fine snow material while limbs may be trapped in the snow. Giving trees a wide berth is the best defense against the actual issue of falling in, while skiing with a partner affords a far greater chance of being seen and rescued.

9. Gas Lake

We all know the danger of drowning in a lake, but surprisingly, the most dangerous lakes in the world are not those in which one could drown, but rather, create the effect of oxygen deprivation while the victims are still on land. When seismic activity, organic decomposition and toxic gas combine together in the gas lake phenomenon, the results are both horrifically eerie and costly in human lives. Lake Nyos in Cameroon is the most notorious gas-releasing lake, having killed 1,746 people when stored carbon dioxide was released en masse, annihilating nearby villages. On August 21, 1986, the eerie looking lake, surrounded by dark hills and containing settled areas in its curtilage, released a massive cloud of carbon dioxide totaling 1.2 cubic kilometers in volume.

As a result, the vast majority of those who encountered the cloud suffocated to death, unable to access oxygen as the cloud hugged the ground and spread throughout the village of Nyos and other nearby settled areas including Cha, Kam and Subum. Countless animals were lost along with human lives, while the extinguishing of candles indicated the arrival of the deadly cloud. Those resting close to the ground or first encountering the gas represented many fatalities, while some still standing survived as the gas remained closer to the ground. Now, equipment is in place to release gas to prevent another deadly buildup.

8. Large Hailstone Catastrophes

Frozen rain may sting slightly, but truly monstrous hailstones, sometimes weighing over a pound and measuring several inches in diameter, have been responsible for a disturbing range of fatalities throughout world history. Being struck on the head by falling ice is no laughing matter, particularly when that ice is formed into a rock-hard ball and is falling at maximum velocity. In the United States, a number of deaths, injuries and cases of extreme property damage have resulted from hailstones of substantial size and weight. Giant hail the size of a baseball may fall at speeds at around 100 mph. Hail 2.75 inches in diameter may smash windshields, while larger hail, up to 4.5 inches may punch a hole through a roof. Injuries can be horrific.

In one case, a runner was covered in welts and bruises, while a hail strike on a pizza delivery person in Fort Worth, Texas in 2000 was fatal. Previously, Fort Worth had hosted an ill-fated Mayfest gathering in May 1995 when hail pummeled a crowd of 10,000, injuring 400 people. A total of 60 people had to be sent to hospital. In 1988, 246 individuals in India lost their lives during a tragically fatal hail onslaught. While falling ice from the sky naturally poses extreme dangers, it is worth remembering that certain storms are better met with a riot shield than an umbrella. Better yet, just stay indoors if there is any indication of hail, as you don’t know how big the stones may get.

7. Sinkholes

Wishing the ground might open up and swallow one alive may be a clichéd expression, but in fact sinkholes, sometimes in urban areas, can cause untold devastation and shake our confidence in the Earth to the core. In some cases, sinkholes can kill as they swallow individuals, roads, and even entire buildings at depths of over 250 feet. In places around the world, the ground below the surface may be pockmarked with cavities and also less than solid. In certain cases, a thin layer of the uppermost portions of the Earth’s crust may conceal gaping holes capable of swallowing buildings, buses and pretty much anything else unfortunate enough to be in the way; that is, on top of such a hidden cavity when the inevitable collapse happens.

Sometimes triggered by an earthquake, sometimes by a sudden increase in pressure (as in certain construction projects), or as the result of flash flooding or the accumulation of slow-acting, groundwater-based erosion, sinkholes may result in catastrophic injuries, deaths and property damage. While even moderately sized sinkholes may be fatal, enormous sinkholes that bend the bounds of imagination have included such horrors as the monster sinkhole that opened in Guatamala City in 2010, spurred by tropical storm induced floodwater action. The hole measures around 60 feet wide and is estimated to be in the range of 30 stories in depth as judged by University of Kentucky hydrogeologist James Currens.

6. Geyser Attack

Geysers and hot springs may look fun, but they also present the risk of simply steaming or boiling careless viewers and adventurers alive. After all, erupting magma is obviously extremely dangerous, and most people will stay away from an erupting volcano, but many explorers are less aware of the danger of an encounter with what could turn out to be a killer geyser or a hot spring from hell. When viewing geysers or examining hot springs, don’t get too close, and in an uncharted walk in geyser country, be prepared to run for your life. Geysers in popular places such as Yellowstone National Park have killed a disturbing number of visitors, adding up to more than 20 documented deaths.

The most recent fatality to take place was in 2016, when a young man walked over 200 yards into the Norris Geyser Basin, only to die in a hot spring that boiled him to death. Many people visiting Yellowstone have been burned either by spraying geysers or by breaking through the thin layer of rock into boiling water underneath. In other cases, individuals have died when attempting to navigate over or around chasms or pools of boiling water, only to fall in and get fatally scalded. The moral of the story? Avoid stepping off marked paths and be sure to resist the temptation to pioneer, as the unknown is also the most unsafe when it comes to natural areas full of boiling water.

5. Lava Haze Encounter

It’s not just the liquid magma of volcanoes that presents a threat. Just as a lake filled with carbon dioxide can pose a great risk, volcanic activity can create highly dangerous situations where those in the vicinity of the action may be deprived of oxygen, exposed to toxic fumes and possibly risk loss of life. Unnervingly, grisly deaths have occurred from lava haze, where hot gases have accumulated and subsequently suffocated and burned the lungs of those explorers who engage in geo-tourism or attempt to study volcanoes. The ground may look safe and walkable near a volcanically active zone in certain cases, but accumulating gases may suddenly make such an area uninhabitable, with no air left to breathe.

As volcanic activity occurs, a plethora of chemicals are released, which may accumulate undetected, be suddenly let forth with little warning, or be greatly compounded through chemical reactions with solutions and compounds already present on the Earth. The lava haze capable of causing death can contain extremely dangerous chemicals resulting from the mixing of hot volcanic products with seawater. The deadly vapors can not only limit access to oxygen, but cause nasty, potentially fatal chemical burns and lung damage. The makeup of volcanically produced haze can include hydrochloric acid caused by the reaction of lava with seawater, sulfuric compounds, and carbon compounds. While less visible than lava, lava haze is another reason to keep your distance when the Earth is agitated!

4. Pyroclastic Bomb Drop

More than just air raids present the risk of being smitten from above. Nature does its best to rain down not only frozen hazards in the form of hail, but freshly launched weaponry in the form of pyroclastic bombs hurled forth as the result of intense volcanic activity. Extreme dangers are presented not only by flowing magma when a volcano erupts, but by the presence of flying pyroclastic bombs. These pyroclastic bombs are little less than natural weapons of mass destruction if encountered. The objects are one of the worst ways to get clobbered to death by rocks as angry volcanos not only spew molten magma, but launch the pre-hardened, bomb-shaped stones at incredible velocities to great distances.

Unfortunately, the desire of some amateur volcanologists to collect the bombs may create an even greater risk of being hit. If small, the objects may inflict bullet-like wounds. If large, the impact may cause immediate death through the force of impact. While extremely hot, lava bombs are not molten on the outside. The largest specimens may blast entire sections of a mountainside into the air when they land, and could easily demolish a car, tree, or house. However, the lava bombs present highly useful research opportunities as freshly ejected specimens of volcanic material from deep below the surface. Researchers may forget due caution as they put themselves within a volcanic bomb volley’s striking distance just to gather a specimen.

3. Lava Tube

Volcanic areas do not just present the risk of eruption; a risk comparable to a sinkhole from falling into open lava tubes makes walking near volcanically active areas a recipe for disaster in many cases. While a sinkhole may lead to crushing or falling injuries, a lava tube fall may result in more than just injury from a fall or limb entrapment. Lava tubes that are more open and accessible are sometimes explored by the intrepid who visit volcanos, but the areas are frequently fraught with danger. Further risks are presented by the presence of either hot lava, steam, or toxic gases. The physical structure of areas near to volcanic activity can be unpredictable and hard to clearly define and navigate.

Accidentally falling into a treacherous lava tube poses the greatest threat, as one does not know what may lie at the bottom or how far or hard one may fall. Lava tubes can be incredibly deep, with serious threats facing anyone who explores out of bounds and ends up falling into the tube. In one case, a 15-year-old boy fell a full 25 feet down into a lava tube while carelessly exploring after climbing a fence. Fortunately, the victim was able to be rescued, but the results of a mishap involving a lava tube can have a far more serious end. The presence of lava tubes goes to confirm why volcanically active areas must be treated with great caution, whether or not there appears to be active magma present.

2. Rogue Wave

Not a tsunami, a rogue wave may appear at any point on the ocean, causing death by sweeping people out to sea who are near the coast, even if a little ways inland. Rogue waves at sea present further immediate threats to ships, which may be swamped, hit by debris or capsized. As a result of the risk posed to the public by rogue waves, signs indicating the dangers of standing near the open sea have frequently been posted to discourage careless beach combing. Turning one’s back on the water is especially risky, while even facing the water is not advisable in rocky areas where being caught up in a sudden avalanche of water comes with the added risk of being dashed against the rocks.

Once believed to be mere tall tales told by overly imaginative sailors, rogue waves have been discovered to be real life events backed by physics through exploration of accounts and theoretical analysis. Rogue waves can not only be reported both on the high seas and when the strike near the shore, but statistical and physical analysis shows how certain waves at intervals may gain great power and size. In certain cases, ships have been downed by absolutely enormous waves, exceeding 80 feet in certain cases.

1. Maelstrom

The ocean is a massive water body, and where whirlpools form at sea, the results can be disastrous. Immortalized in Norwegian culture as the Maelstrom and described as a phenomenon in Sicily under the name Charybdis, the oceanic whirlpool is a force to be both feared and avoided, and also difficult to study for obvious reasons. In the Scandinavian regions, the exceedingly powerful Moskstraumen Maelstrom formed where the sea is actually very shallow, between 131 and 197 feet in depth. The resulting tidal movements of the water, exacerbated by the action of the moon led to grand legends forming of enormous whirlpools capable of bringing ships down to the ocean floor. While such a maelstrom indeed would be dangerous in many craft, the reports have certainly been, shall we say, bolstered by popular mythology.

In the case of the Charybdis, one notorious Mediterranean whirlpool was ascribed to the action of a sea monster (if you’ve ever read Homer’s Odyssey you’ll no doubt be familiar). The Strait of Corryvreckan is known to be home to one of the worst whirlpools on the planet. While not the largest or strongest, this whirlpool was “tested” with a dummy wearing a lifejacket, which was sucked out of sight and recovered some distance away, showing signs of scraping the bottom deep below the swirling waves, while the depth indicator read 226 feet.


“DANGER!” Traveler –

WIF Around the World