Not Quite Being a Paranormal Writer

I applied for the Paranormal topic at About.com today. But, I tried 3 times over the afternoon, the site keeps giving me a 404 error when I send the application. So, for personal posterity, here is what I sent.

Time travel, mad science, aliens, cryptozoology, the supernatural, lost worlds, the unexplained, weird science, history, and magic absorb me. I would enjoy exploring and writing more about these topics and others for About.com. Of course, it isn’t possible to write about anything without burying yourself in it and exploring your way out again, eventually. Getting lost is part of the adventure and with anything paranormal getting lost is expected. We don’t have all the answers, if we did it would all just be science.

I am an urban explorer, photographer, history geek, Pagan, artist and I’ve just joined the local archivist group in Barrie, Ontario.

I love history and old places. I’ve been interested in the paranormal since I was a kid but I’ve grown to be skeptical about a lot of it. I do believe there are mysteries and unexplained things we just are not able to understand with our current knowledge. I like theories and I will read about pretty strange, unexplained and unusual stuff but I like to make sense of it in some way. I also like reading theories I don’t agree with because we need to hear from both sides and, often, you can find something that does make sense or gives you better insight from those who disagree with you.

I believe in ghosts and I believe places can be haunted, but I am not a ghost hunter. I have a friend who runs a ghost hunting group in Colorado but I don’t think it is really possible to make contact with ghosts or spirits on our level of existence. I do believe in reincarnation. I do believe places can be haunted but not by ghosts who can interact with living humans. I don’t think anyone is going to be having a social cup of tea with a ghost. Ghosts are something leftover from life. I prefer to think we don’t hang around after death but get recycled/ reincarnated and move on to something new instead. Possibly not always a human being, people seem to take that for granted.

I photograph old and abandoned houses, mostly in rural Ontario. I’ve been doing so for more than 10 years now. I’ve never seen a ghost or felt a presence. I did get attacked by bees, birds and once I think I stepped on a frog – that was the grossest thing. Afterwards I couldn’t find it but it still squicks me (gives me sick shivers). I’ve also seen my share of mummified animals. But, it’s the living animals which usually keep me from entering an abandoned house. I also don’t like the idea of trespassing beyond what I feel is polite. I am Canadian.

I have been a Pagan since my college days, officially. I always questioned religion but didn’t do much about it until I was out in the world, on my own. I think of myself as an Atheist Earth Witch because I don’t believe in gods but I do believe in life, nature and people. I’m a quiet Pagan, a lot of what I do is personal, just for myself. But, I do like to help anyone who is interested in learning more.

I read about issues involving ecology, history and science. These seem very connected to me. If I could go back in time (and not die right away) I would like to be an alchemist. They didn’t just get stuck at turning things into gold. They were early scientists in the time of herbalists and Witches. No doubt they had thousands of great theories which didn’t get written down somewhere – or more likely did get scribbled out somewhere, had something spill on it and wound up being used for kindling.

Looking forward to getting started!

Laura

Social Media:

I am an editall editor at dmoz. I’m careful about how I use this but it does enable me to at least list my sites.
Twitter is my favourite social media but I do have Facebook and other sources, like Scoop.it. I have three active blogs, two of those are listed on Alltop, Writing and History topics.
http://laurabrown.ca/
http://wordgrrls.com/
http://wreckyratbird.com/
http://asciiartist.com/
https://twitter.com/thatgrrl
https://www.flickr.com/people/thatgrrl/
http://thatgrrl.tumblr.com/
http://pinterest.com/thatgrrl/
https://www.facebook.com/ThatGrrl
https://ello.co/thatgrrl
http://www.scoop.it/u/laura-brown
http://www.dmoz.org/editors/profile/view?editor=shedragon

Stop Calling them Uniforms

mountiecostumeWhen a uniform becomes customized for various cultures it stops being a uniform. A uniform is… uniform. When it isn’t uniform, all the same, then it becomes similar, not uniform. If the Mounties, police, fire fighters, etc. want to adapt their uniform doesn’t it become a costume? I think allowing various cultures (I am purposely not being specific because the specific culture is not the issue) to have different uniforms makes the uniform mean less.

The original point of a uniform was identification, everyone looking the same, being recognizable and having respect. You see the Mounties and know who they are by the uniform. If you see someone wearing a Mountie costume, you think they are on the way to a party and you don’t consider them someone you need to pay much attention to. Badges don’t mean much from a distance, behind a door or to anyone who couldn’t tell a real badge from a fake one.

People in authority like Mounties, military and government employees need to be recognizable in order to have that authority and be trusted. Since we were children we have seen Mounties in their dress uniforms and we expect a Mountie to be in that uniform.

But, more than the public, what about the Mounties themselves? Why change the uniform which has severed generations of Mounties of all cultures up until now? I’m assuming all Mounties have two arms, two legs, one head so they should all be able to wear the standard uniform. What is the real need for change in this very old tradition worn with pride by generations of people.

I don’t know. But, I do think they should stop calling them uniforms, because they aren’t uniforms any more. That tradition has been lost. mountie

Photographing the Obsolete as it Happens

What could you find to photograph for history? Typewriters, wrist watches, maps on paper… so many things which have been made old fashioned, and obsolete. I miss the mechanical things like the old phones, watches and a compass. Inventions which were treasured while their time lasted.

The Obsolescence Project. 2013 – Ongoing.

Initially begun as a 30 day photographic blog project, it became a 365 day blog documenting things that are obsolete or about to be, about the nature of obsolescence and occasionally a modest and brief history of stuff.

Source: The Obsolescence Project – Photography by Deanne Achong

Tapestries: An Exploration of World Maps

Reprinted from an article directory. I couldn’t resist posting information about maps in history.

Article by: Angela Dawson-Field

People have always been curious about the world around them and the development of maps has echoed this historical fascination. Maps were once considered to be valuable objects and were treasured by their owners and regarded as works of art in their own right. These objects attracted the attention of artists as well as skilled draughtsmen and maps became quite ornate and decorative items, capturing the imagination of those who wondered what lay beyond the horizon.

Early maps tended to reflect what people knew or remembered and were largely topographical in nature. Often, these early pieces depicted myth and lore, combining to create “living maps” that were passed form generation to generation. Formalising the topography into early maps, knowledge became standardised and sowed the foundation of early cartography.

By the Middle Ages cartography had slowed in that accuracy became replaced by religious depiction through maps. Examples of strong belief can be seen in some maps where the Holy Land is shown to be at the centre of the earth. Another example is Europa Regina by Johannes Bucius which shows an early and elongated map, depicting Europe as the Queen of the World.

The Age of Seafaring during the 16th and 17th centuries saw new interest in map making, particularly the British and the Dutch taking to the seas and exploring new lands. At this time maps became increasingly artistic. An East Indies map in tropical colouring with pineapple trees and other exotic flora and fauna, designed to capture the imagination and evoke the scent of spice in the air is a typical example. As the demand for cartographers grew in the 17th century the artistic nature of maps from a purely functional item to a work of art began to evolve.

Maps were often decorated elaborately with sea creatures or mythical characters. Many of these very accomplished draughtsmen created quite unique works of art from map making. Maps designed by Petrus Plancius (1552-1622) or Abraham Ortelius (1528-1598) were frequently found embellished with intricate pictorial content. A successor to Abraham Ortelius was the Dutch cartographer Jan Baptist Vrients (1552-1612) who designed Obis Terrae Compendosia. The world is split into two hemispheres and surrounded by ornate and detailed pictorial decoration. The map brings a perception of how the world looks and a plethora of exotic creatures and landscapes from the far flung shores of the globe.

Another famous example is Nova Totius Terrarum, designed by Henricus Hondius (1597-1622), a Dutch Cartographer. This 17th century map is an ornate depiction of the world and is surrounded by detailed nautical scenes, perhaps reflecting the age and drama of exploration by sea as mythical creatures rise from the ocean and men are seen contemplating their journey.

Antique maps are increasingly popular in the modern home and make elaborate tapestries in home décor. There are a number of ways in which an antique map can add charm and elegance to the home, whether in poster, print or tapestry format and are much appreciated by connoisseurs of good taste.

Copyright © The Tapestry House, all rights reserved.

About the Author: Angela Dawson-Field writes extensively on home
decor and tapestry & textile art. The Tapestry House
http://www.thetapestryhouse.com/products/index.html
http://www.thetapestryhouse.com/

Source: Reprint this free article (318215) by Angela Dawson-Field at Isnare.com Free Articles Directory

Highway History Exploring

Ontario Road Map  – Road map collector. Site by Neal.

The King’s Highway – The history of Ontario’s King’s highways. Site by Cameron Bevers.

Ontario Highways – Site by Christopher J. Bessert, Cartographer, GIS Specialist, Highway Historian.

The Ontario Highwayman – Site by Chris Beach.

The King’s Highway Ends Site – Old site by Earl Andrew Washburn.

Ontario Road and Highways – Yahoo group (active).

Asphalt Planet – Ontario, Quebec and US road history and photographs. Site by Scott Steeves.

Historic Roads – Dedicated to the identification, preservation and management of historic roads. Site by Paul Daniel Marriott & Associates. Washington, DC.

Historic Bridges – North American bridges.  (Ontario link). Site by Nathan Holth.

misc.transport.roads – Google Groups.

Have you found a lost road and photographed it?

They aren’t that tough to come across. Read local history to find where routes were changed. Not every road grew into a bigger road, some were bypassed and forgotten. Those are the old roads to look for, or to start with. As you find old roads you will soon find other old and forgotten roads. Bridges too.

What about dead ends, do they count as a lost road or not?

Meanwhile, the links above will get you started with your own research and exploring.

oldontarioroad

Information for Highway Explorers

I found some US highway history.  Likely the information will be similar for Ontario and Canadian highways and roads but… that will be another post. So far I found a lot of Canadian (and Ontario specific) resources but I haven’t done the research yet.

Prior to the Federal Interstate Highway system, the United States was criss-crossed by roads built by for profit groups. During the 1920s many of these roads could barely be called roads as they were more mud, dirt and ditches than road. But, as Henry Ford continued to churn out automobiles, more and more of these state highways popped up across the landscape. Most of these roads followed old trails or Transcontinental Trails like the Oregon and Santa Fe. One of the first transcontinental highways was the Lincoln Highway from New York to San Francisco. It was a rock road and privately financed; Henry Ford wanted nothing to do with it because he thought roads and highways should be funded by the government. As the 1920s progress other groups formed to build and promote their own highways. By 1925, there were over 250 named highways, each with their own colored signs, names, and random sign placement. Without government oversight, many of these roads were re-routed into cities so that the clubs and groups that built them could profit from them.

In the midst of this chaos, the Federal government got involved in 1924 and started numbering all of these roads. Odd numbers ran North to South with the numbers increasing from East to West, and Even numbers run East to West with the numbers increasing from North to South. So, U.S. Route 1 runs along the Eastern Seaboard while U.S. Route 10 runs along the Canadian border.

When the Interstate Highways came along, the government decided to use the mirror image of the numbering system to avoid any confusion. Interstate 10 runs through the southern states while I-5 is in California. Thankfully, the government was wise enough to help avoid the classic “How could you get us lost?” fight between drivers and map readers. Where the two systems, the routes and the Interstates, meet in the middle of the country it was decided that there would be no Interstate 50 to avoid confusion with U.S. Route 50 which runs from Sacramento, CA to Ocean City, MD. This is the same for Interstate 60.

via –  9 Things You May Not Know About the U.S. Interstate Highways | From The Kitchen Cabinet

When the Interstate Highway Act was passed, most Americans thought it was a good idea. But when construction started and people, especially in urban areas, were displaced and communities cut in half, some started to revolt. In the 1960s, activists stopped construction on highways in New York, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., and New Orleans, which resulted in several urban interstates becoming roads to nowhere.

The red, white, and blue shields used to designate interstate numbers are trademarked by the American Association of State Highway Officials. The original design for the shield was drawn by senior traffic engineer Richard Oliver of Texas and selected out of 100 entries in a national design competition in 1957.

A major concern during Eisenhower’s presidency was what the country would do in the event of a nuclear attack. One of the justifications for the building of the interstate system was its ability to evacuate citizens of major cities if necessary.

via – 10 Things You Might Not Know About the U.S. Interstate System | Mental Floss

International Highway Sign Makeover

How would you design a traffic/ road sign? All the elements of sign design you never thought of, come into play when you really start planning a better road sign.

The idea isn’t new. I’ve saved screen captures from the Wayback Machine from the older site (below). Glad to see someone else has taken up the idea and kept it going on another site. I’m linking there first so people can see what’s new and contribute ideas of their own.

I used to send possible highway route signs to the owner of The Great International Highway makeover website, Mr. R. V. Droz, a while back. Well I found out recently that his email link at his website is inoperable. Rats. I hope it’ll work well in the future.

Source: International Highway Makeover 2

From the old site, by Robert V. Droz.

Highway route markers have gotten boring over time. In the 1940’s, there were many varied shapes and colors. Many governments opted for the MUTCD default (circles) or plain blank squares. The justification for those sparse designs is that they provide for increased number visibility and easy recognition. True enough, but nothing says you can’t design a useful sign that’s graphically attractive. Linked below are many examples of potential re-designs.

highwaymakeover1

highwaymakeover2

highwaymakeover3

highwaymakeovercan

highwaymakeoverab

highwaymakeovernorth

highwaymakeoveront

highwaymakeoverpq

highwaymakeoversk

highwaysignmakeover

Barrie in the Ontario Highway 11 Blog

The following is my comment on the post about Barrie, on the site about places along Highway 11 in Ontario.

I think your review of Barrie was good. I’ve been here about 10 years now. I grew up in Port Union, Ontario, before it became Scarborough, and after. Barrie is pretty suburban still. Downtown Barrie still has a lot of bars and drinking night life. The box malls and shopping in general didn’t get into downtown Barrie, just the outskirts. It helps keep traffic from being completely locked up during weekends when there are people out shopping and even more people navigating the cottage highway. There is a new mall going up not far from where I am. It will be right at the highway turn off for Duckworth, where the hospital and Georgian College are. The two lane bridge which ran under the highway is being done over. A big project but it has been needed for a long time. Living in Barrie I especially like being on the lake and actually seeing it. I grew up on Lake Ontario and I have missed having a big lake nearby – it was one of the reasons I picked Barrie. Last note, for anyone traveling to Barrie in the winter, it does get colder here as we are at least a couple of snow belts up from the weather in the GTA.

Source: Barrie | Ontario Highway 11 Blog

Nice idea for a blog/ site. If you are along the highway have a look at your town.

Ghost Preservation Worse Than Demolition?

This is not preserving history. It looks like a skin graft that didn’t take. A mask to be taken off when the party is over. I haven’t noticed anything like this before, but, I’m not living in Toronto these days.

Worse than demolition? I don’t know. I doubt something left like this will be maintained with the same effort as the newer building which really is part of the structure. How likely is the old facade to be left to crumble away when it really isn’t needed. Just an attempt at making peace with local historians.

This is why I love the photographs of the original places. It is sad that photographic technology hasn’t always had all the options for colour and detail which we have now. Yet, what will people a hundred years from now think of our obsolete images? Nothing can really be preserved, it can only be kept a little longer.

London is filled with grafted facades, nearly two-dimensional artifacts held in place while updated buildings are constructed behind them; many seem to haphazardly half-disguise the boring new stru…

Source: Saving Face: ‘Ghost Facade’ Preservation Worse Than Demolition? | Urbanist