Tuesday, May 22, 2012
When I first heard about the Mayan prophecies for this year I admit, I laughed it off. I thought, sure, more Y2K rhetoric only with an ancient rather than technological face. I laughed because it just seemed so silly. More doomsday naysayers trying to evoke fear reactions in the masses. Then, this month, I began to notice the unusual astronomical events that seem to be taking place and started doing some research.
My first concern was the lengthy duration with which the moon has not been visible from my vantage point. My kids are avid moon watchers, even the two year old, and I haven't been able to show her the moon in weeks. Since the full moon in fact. When I looked in to it I discovered that this was a supermoon year - a year when the moon's perigee (The point at which the moon is closest to Earth) coincided with the full moon on May 5th. They say we are lucky that the moons perigee didn't coincide with the Earths closest approach to the sun which last occurred January 3, 1912 and reportedly caused the sinking of the Titanic due to the tidal response to the planetary alignment.
So, supermoon? That would lead one to believe that the moon would be more visible during the new moon when it generally disappears from the visible sky, right? No. While the moon was waning, the sun was experiencing its own transition to alignment for the solar eclipse on May 20. At this time, the Earth, moon, and sun are in perfect alignment with Pleiades, the center of the galaxy. Since the light from the sun is hitting the moon on the side that is not visible from Earth, we still can't see the moon. This event is also responsible for the appearance of the solar ring of fire on the pacific coast on May 20th. It has been 2600 years since this alignment last occurred.
This is all very interesting but what does it have to do with Mayans? Simple, the Mayan long count calendar accurately predicted these astrological events. The fact that a calendar created in pre-Columbian Mesoamercia has a remarkable astronomical relevance in 2012 has astounded me. This same calendar appears to have accurately predicted the tsunami's and hurricanes that plagued the planet in the period between 2004 and 2006.
So, the Mayan long count calendar has an end date of December 21, 2012. Some believe that this date represents the beginning of an apocalypse, the end of mankind. Others, believe it will mark the beginning of the Golden Age of man, a time when humans will embark on a positive transformation. Still others believe the calendar is inaccurate and that revisions have been found among the relics recovered from the ancient Mayan cities. For me, I find it difficult to believe that nothing will happen on that day since this calendar has been so on point thus far. I will simply hope that the New Anger's are right and that mankind will transform for the good because we sure do need a wake up call.
Monday, May 21, 2012
Taking a break from the Not Forgotten series to work on a new project. It is a collection of short e-books (non-fiction) that delve in to the unique paranormal history of Louisiana. The first book is entitled: Haunted Louisiana - The Voodoo Queen and will outline the life, legends, and current lore of famous New Orleans Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau and others like her.
Monday, May 14, 2012
Wednesday, May 2, 2012
When I was in my twenties some friends and I decided to check out an old cemetery in upstate New York. If you didn't know it was there, you would never find it. There are no signs or gates marking the location, it's just a field of old headstones on an overgrown dirt path. We did our usual gravestone rubbings with charcoal pens and then sat to chat for a while. As the sun began to fade, we all seemed to be overcome by a strange, uncomfortable feeling. For me, it was the feeling that we were being watched. I found myself looking over my shoulder to see if anyone was there. A little creeped out, we decided to leave.
It was a long walk back down the dirt road to my friends’ house and we were chatting away as we walked. At one point, I swore I heard footsteps coming from behind me. My friend Rusty heard them too and turned to see who had fallen behind. As he turned, I felt what I could only describe as icy fingers touch the center of my back and then felt Rusty push me forward. He began running and we all followed having no idea what we were running from. When we finally reached the end of the road, we all turned around to see an empty path behind us.
Rusty swore that when he looked back he saw a hand reaching out of a white mist and touching me on the back. We stood there for a long time in silence and finally decided to yell out an apology to the spirits of the cemetery for having disturbed and disrespected their resting place. We never went back.
The good, the bad, and the ugly truth about online content sites
I have spent a great deal of my time posting informational articles on online content sites for some time now. As many of you know, I was recently laid off from a career that drove me and provided for my family for over eight years, so yes, one of my primary desires in writing for these sites was to earn an income. I love to write, but with no job, I couldn't devote a lot of time to unprofitable devices. I also supply content to SEO sites that sell my articles anonymously, allowing the purchasers to take credit for my work and as any writer knows, there is a certain sting that comes from selling your work without a buy line. It's a hard pill to swallow. So, let's look at this online writing thing.
The ugly truth
No matter how good you are, or think you are, it is difficult to earn an income from writing for the web. Content source sites like Helium, Suite 101, Bright Hub, and Associated Content don't pay well. When you do earn an upfront payment on an article, it is only a dollar or two and you have to spend more time marketing than writing in order to see a return from revenue share. It takes a great deal of research to figure out how to write strategically for profit and you need a keen understanding of how search engines work and what topics are popular and trending. Writing articles for SEO content sites that require you to give up all rights to your work may pay a bit better. Writer Access pays a decent rate for highly rated authors and even Textbroker will earn you more upfront as a 3 star writer than Associated Content pays out in upfront payments. Helium does seem to provide a better stream of residual income than the others mentioned here and, if you do the leg work by posting links to your articles in places like StumbleUpon, Digg, and Reddit, you can see your traffic and page views grow.
To make a living in the business, you can't depend on these sites. You MUST market yourself and your business on Freelance Job Boards, bid on assignments, and develop your own professional client base. You can, however, supplement your income with these content source sites with earning potentials in the hundreds or thousands of dollars. The key lies in the quality of the content and the frequency of publishing. That said, it would be far too depressing to boil that down to an hourly rate! Sites like Constant-Content are good launching points for writers that are new to the game. Here you can post work for customers to browse and possibly purchase and you can accept assignments that have been posted by customers. This may not be the long term solution, but it is a good place to refine your skills and build your confidence.
Evil doers, many from foreign countries and lacking a conscience when it comes to stealing from the fat and spoiled Americans have seen the struggles associated with this business and have developed scams to steal your work, your identity and more so you must always be diligently on the lookout for fraud. One such criminal hires writers under the guise of an educational non-profit and tells writers that their parent company accidentally sent them a check for more than their monthly fee. They ask the writer to cash the check, keep their payment, and send back the remaining funds. Anyone who does this will end up getting arrested for check fraud because the checks are fake.
A lot of the online content sites like Triond, for example, have a very bad reputation because they allow anyone to publish there and lack editorial influence. Poor grammar, spelling, and SPAM abound on sites like this. This is not an American company and many of the writers here speak English as a second or third or fourth language. Because their quality of work is horrendous, good writers on the site suffer from poor rankings on search engines. Sites with better reputations work very hard to keep them and may have stringent editorial guidelines. For some new writers in the game, this may mean more rewrites and editing. In many cases, it just isn't worth the money in the end.
Finally, the good
Writing for reputable online content sources provides you with an opportunity to become published and build a portfolio. You now have a growing stockpile of links that can be used to provide potential customers and employers with access to your work. The more you write, the better you become. These sites allow you to hone your skills and develop as a web writer, which is a bit different than writing for print. Many of these sites have online training courses that are accessible to their writers providing them with a free education on things like marketing, grammar, and AP style guidelines.
These sites are communities of writers and it is possible to make valuable connections here. Writers learn from each other, collaborate and critique each others work, and share information that can lead to higher paying jobs and valuable partnerships. If you are writing for one of these sites, or thinking about doing so, don't despair. Look at the reality of the business and know that these endeavors will not make you rich but can reward you with a free education, experience, and an online presence if you can manage to invest some time in them.
Online petition writing on sites like Force Change can provide up to $7 per piece in earnings and give you the personal satisfaction of supporting causes that you are passionate about. I have written for them and they are helpful, courteous, and pay their writers on time via monthly PayPal deposits.
Tuesday, May 1, 2012
I took this video with my phone while I was working and Meghan was playing in the living room. I've had a paranormal investigator look at it and have tried to recreate the movement with no luck. I love how Meghan pauses to step over 'something' before walking away with the ball!
In recent year’s vampires, ware wolves, aliens, ghosts and zombies have all risen in popularity. Movies, books, video games and even television shows depicting the supernatural, the paranormal, and psychic phenomena are drawing audiences of all ages and all walks of life.
There are three primary human conditions that provide fodder for the paranormal. The first is fear. Children don’t imagine monsters under the bed until they are old enough to understand that a monster is a frightening thing. In adulthood, when we feel insecure about our place in world, we begin to revert back to the monster under the bed. We being to wonder if there may be something else out there that is causing our fear and uncertainty. It has been proven that there is a direct correlation between countries at war and U.F.O sightings. Does this mean U.F.Os’ are attracted to human conflict? Perhaps it is more logical to believe that when people are under extreme emotional turmoil, they begin seeing monsters again.
The second human condition is confidence. When a society is fat and full, when they are economically strong, well fed both physically and emotionally, and happy with their place in the world they begin to feel like there should be other worlds to conquer. We settled the west, we traveled to space, grew technologically by leaps and bounds. Human beings are genetically conditioned to seek, explore, and conquer. Not everyone can cure disease or create world peace, but everyone can explore a haunted house, search for a strange creature, and look for a U.F.O. When we feel secure, we hunger for new things to believe in. This is in large part the reason that we have made so many advances in technology.
Finally, the third human condition associated with interest in the paranormal is insecurity. When a society begins to lose faith in their leaders, their economy, and their security, they begin to question their priorities and beliefs. Some turn to religion and become more active in their churches. Others look for the answer in the unexplained. It is human nature to look for more when we begin to question the meaning of things. We need purpose and understanding. If what we thought was the best way to live our lives is no longer giving us what we need or desire, we look for something else to provide us with fulfillment.
Of course there are those, like me, who have always had a healthy interest in the paranormal. We are intrigued regardless of our current life position. We watch the movies and read the books when we are happy, sad, confident and insecure. But it is our human condition to question why when we see our membership rolls grow so quickly and so vast. This genre has grown and declined in popularity with noticeable peaks and valleys for over one hundred years of recorded history and will likely see another decline as world politics and economic concerns become more stable but for now, there is definitely a plethora of entertainment out there to satisfy the hunger of an eager audience.
There are many places in America that are well known for their ghostly activity. I particularly love Louisiana because there is such a vast and diverse array of history related to the stories of the paranormal that we hear today. That history is in the air and can be felt by any visitor willing and open to the experience. Here is a list of just some of my favorite Louisiana haunts.
Kisatchie National Forest is a vast section of pine growth in Louisiana used for recreation, hunting, camping, and fishing. The forest expands over 7 Louisiana Parishes and is approximately 600,000 acres in size. I am fortunate enough to live in an area surrounded by this forest. There have been multiple accounts of paranormal activity in the forest. The most common being the unexplained sound of chanting and drum play coming from the dense pine cover. The forest was a primary hunting ground for Native Americans as it once housed large flocks of indigenous wild turkeys.
The Myrtles Plantation in St. Francisville, Louisiana is considered one of the 10 most haunted places in America. The Myrtles is visited by hundreds of tourists each year who hope to find some proof of the paranormal. While there seems to be a lot of myth and legend associated with the plantations past, there are definite examples of paranormal activity that take place in the residence on a regular basis. A ghostly woman in a green turban has been reported on the property by visitors, workers and previous owners of the estate. Footsteps, hand prints on mirrors, and a piano that plays by itself have also been reported. This plantation makes my list because it seems to have attracted spirits from several different periods in history and has a large number of reported sightings of apparitions.
The Joseph Jefferson Estate on Jefferson Island is reportedly haunted by the spirit of the late actor himself. While it was never a primary residence for Jefferson, he acquired what was then Orange Island and built the estate as a private hunting lodge. No one has been able to explain why Jefferson would have attached himself to this home rather than a more prominent location like his birth home or the estate in Florida where he died. While I would not claim to know who haunts the home on Jefferson Island, I have heard chilling accounts of a male apparition casually walking in to a parlor filled with as many as 10 onlookers at one time.
Of course no article about haunting in Louisiana would be complete without mention of New Orleans. New Orleans is famous for its connection with voodoo and the occult. New Orleans is considered a city that welcomes the paranormal and for this reason, gets it in abundance. This place has a rich history and diverse cultural background that beckons spirits from the American Civil War, slavery, dirty politics, oppression and opulence all in one location. A ghost enthusiasts could spend weeks in New Orleans and still not explore one half of its reportedly haunted locations.
Here in Rapides Parish, Alexandria was showcased on the 2011 season premier of the hit television show Ghost Hunters. The group investigated our Diamond Grill Restaurant, Hotel Bentley, and Finnegan’s Wake Pub. They determined that there was unexplained activity in the locations but that the activity did not seem to be tied together linking the three locations though similar activity. This area is also known for haunted grave yards, plantations, and school houses.
Louisiana is also the place where noted criminals Bonnie and Clyde met their death in a shoot out with police just outside Gibsland. The sound of phantom gun fire on this stretch of highway is still reported today.
I have yet to meet anyone who lives in Louisiana who doesn’t have a tale or two to send chills up your spine. There is a true air of mystery in the air here. For those sensitive to spiritual energy, Louisiana can be both a blessing and a curse. Some have said that being here is like being in the middle of a circus tent full of used car salesman all screaming for your attention.