Wednesday, September 24, 2008

I want to visit Forks!

This is a fun article about Forks, Washington, a small town on the Olympic Peninsula, that author Stephenie Meyer used for the location of her Twilight Saga. She found it by Googling the "rainiest place" in the United States.

AP: Visitors flock to timber town for Twilight's magic---

FORKS, Wash. - Pounding rain and heavy mist are constant in this timber town where logging's decline left a graveyard of rusting timber mills and unemployment. Businesses shut down. Parts of the local high school were condemned. Families started to drift away.

Until an unlikely cast of vampires breathed new life into the town.

"I fell in love with it," says 18-year-old Samantha Cogar, who dragged her grandparents on a 2,500 mile roadtrip to Forks from Louisville, Ky., earlier this summer. "I can't wait to go back."

Cogar is one of thousands of visitors who have flocked to Forks in response to "Twilight," the hottest series to hit shelves since "Harry Potter." Set in Forks, on the gritty edge of the Olympic Mountain Range, the books have captured the hearts of readers around the world.

In a town framed by towering Douglas fir, hemlock and spruce and the occasional western red cedar, where rough, blue collar edges are tangible, the unexpected attention seems to be a second chance for the economy. Inspired by a world of make-believe, "Twilight" fans are bringing the town back to life.
[. . .]
As the pages kept coming, the series' cultlike following increased. Before long, fans started showing up in Forks, looking to see if magic would spark when imagination collided with reality. What they found was a two-stoplight town where more than a foot of rain falls each month. A place where success is measured in sweat and four-wheel drive.

But Forks was quick to embrace the frenzied fans.

Forks' "Twilight"-inspired turn has been nothing short of magical, Marcia Bingham, executive director of the Chamber of Commerce, says.

"We've probably had more than 100 people a day," says Bingham, who has eagerly watched as van after van of giddy readers — mostly female — pull up in front of the town's visitors center.
I would love to take a trip to Forks!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Life is Sacred

This is one of the most honestly powerful videos I have seen in a long time. If you are Catholic (and even if you aren't), you ought to watch it and take the message to heart before you vote on 4 November 2008.

Curtsy to Hot Air.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Items of Interest: Medieval Jewish Capital

AP: Scholar claims to find medieval Jewish capital---

MOSCOW - A Russian archaeologist says he has found the lost capital of the Khazars, a powerful nation that adopted Judaism as its official religion more than 1,000 years ago, only to disappear leaving little trace of its culture.

Dmitry Vasilyev, a professor at Astrakhan State University, said his nine-year excavation near the Caspian Sea has finally unearthed the foundations of a triangular fortress of flamed brick, along with modest yurt-shaped dwellings, and he believes these are part of what was once Itil, the Khazar capital.

By law Khazars could use flamed bricks only in the capital, Vasilyev said. The general location of the city on the Silk Road was confirmed in medieval chronicles by Arab, Jewish and European authors.

"The discovery of the capital of Eastern Europe's first feudal state is of great significance," he told The Associated Press. "We should view it as part of Russian history."

Kevin Brook, the American author of "The Jews of Khazaria," e-mailed Wednesday that he has followed the Itil dig over the years, and even though it has yielded no Jewish artifacts, "Now I'm as confident as the archaeological team is that they've truly found the long-lost city,

The Khazars were a Turkic tribe that roamed the steppes from Northern China to the Black Sea. Between the 7th and 10th centuries they conquered huge swaths of what is now southern Russia and Ukraine, the Caucasus Mountains and Central Asia as far as the Aral Sea.
Do read the rest. It has lots of interesting info on the Khazars and what happened.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Wednesday Hero

Lt. Cpl. Jason Hanson
L/Cpl Jason Hanson
21 years old from Forks, Washington
3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force
July 29, 2006
U.S. Marine Corps.

Lt. Cpl. Jason Hanson died when a gasoline truck near a building he was in exploded, causing the building to collapse in Al Anbar province, Iraq. Three other Marines were also killed in the blast. Lance Cpl. Anthony E. Butterfield, 19 yrs. old, of Clovis, California; Cpl. Phillip E. Baucus, 28 yrs. old, of Wolf Creek, Montana; Sgt. Christian B. Williams, 27 yrs. old, of Winter Haven, Florida.

Hanson graduated in 2003 and joined the Marines in 2005. He married his wife just before shipping out.

These brave men and women sacrifice so much in their lives so that others may enjoy the freedoms we get to enjoy everyday. For that, I am proud to call them Hero.

We Should Not Only Mourn These Men And Women Who Died, We Should Also Thank God That Such People Lived

This post is part of the Wednesday Hero Blogroll. For more information about Wednesday Hero, or if you would like to post it on your site, you can go here.
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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Happy Birthday, Bella!

If book characters were real people, we would celebrate their birthdays. So, today I'm celebrating Bella Swan's birthday!

Bella is the main character in one of my favorite series, the Twilight Saga. If you haven't read the four books, I highly recommend them. The titles are:

Twilight (The Twilight Saga, Book 1)
New Moon (The Twilight Saga, Book 2)
Eclipse (The Twilight Saga, Book 3)
Breaking Dawn (The Twilight Saga, Book 4)

The Twilight film comes out 21 November 2008 and stars Robert Pattinson as Edward Cullen and Kristen Stewart as Bella. I can't wait for it.

My posts on the Twilight Saga are here.
Author Stephenie Meyer's website is here.
And here are links to a couple of my favorite Twilight world websites:
Twilight Lexicon (Bella's bio here---beware spoilers!)

Happy Birthday, Bella!


Thursday, September 11, 2008

9/11 Links

Here are some links I have come across today, while I have been remembering September 11, 2001, all our fellow Americans who were murdered that day, those who gave their lives for others, and everything else I WILL NEVER FORGET.

The President today at the Pentagon. Beautiful remarks.

Items from over the years that are worth reading again:

Barbara Olson was one of my absolute favorite political analysts. I remember coming home from school on 9/11/01 and learning from my parents that Barbara was on the plane that hit the Pentagon. I hadn't thought my heart could hurt anymore than it already did that day, but Barbara's death . . .

Here are some links about Barbara:
Lucianne Goldberg-13 September 2001: “What Do I Tell the Pilot?”
Fr. Macafee-17 September 2001: 'We Are People of Life' A sermon for Barbara Olson--and for America.
Ted Olson, Solicitor General of the United States at the time, on his wife, Barbara-November 2001: Ted on Barbara
My Remembrance of Barbara Olson from 9/11/05

As a way to remember all 2,996 people who were murdered on 9/11/01, in 2006 the 2,996 Project was launched. Bloggers volunteered to write memorials honoring victims of the attacks and post them on 9/11. I was blessed to write about Betty Ann Ong, who was a flight attendant on American Airlines Flight 11. My memorial to Betty's memory is here.

Pope Benedict spoke at Ground Zero 20 April 2008 and said this beautiful prayer:

O God of love, compassion, and healing,
look on us, people of many different faiths and traditions,
who gather today at this site,
the scene of incredible violence and pain.

We ask you in your goodness
to give eternal light and peace
to all who died here—
the heroic first-responders:
our fire fighters, police officers,
emergency service workers, and Port Authority personnel,
along with all the innocent men and women
who were victims of this tragedy
simply because their work or service
brought them here on September 11, 2001.

We ask you, in your compassion
to bring healing to those
who, because of their presence here that day,
suffer from injuries and illness.
Heal, too, the pain of still-grieving families
and all who lost loved ones in this tragedy.
Give them strength to continue their lives with courage and hope.

We are mindful as well
of those who suffered death, injury, and loss
on the same day at the Pentagon and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
Our hearts are one with theirs
as our prayer embraces their pain and suffering.

God of peace, bring your peace to our violent world:
peace in the hearts of all men and women
and peace among the nations of the earth.
Turn to your way of love
those whose hearts and minds
are consumed with hatred.

God of understanding,
overwhelmed by the magnitude of this tragedy,
we seek your light and guidance
as we confront such terrible events.
Grant that those whose lives were spared
may live so that the lives lost here
may not have been lost in vain.
Comfort and console us,
strengthen us in hope,
and give us the wisdom and courage
to work tirelessly for a world
where true peace and love reign
among nations and in the hearts of all.
Debra Burlingame, whose brother Chic Burlingame was the pilot of Flight 77, which crashed into the Pentagon on 9/11, wrote this last 11 September 2007, reminding us that 9/11 WAS AN ACT OF WAR UPON THE UNITED STATES, not merely a tragic accident: We must always remember. Read it. Remember.

Some 9/11 Resources here.

Never Forget.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Items of Interest

Back in June I posted about how scientists have determined the date of Odysseus' return from the Trojan War.

Now, scientists may have finally discovered the location of Ithaca, Odysseus' home island.

Editor's Note, Sept. 3, 2008: For more than 2,000 years, scholars have been mystified—and intrigued—by a question central to our understanding of the ancient world: where is the Ithaca described in Homer’s Odyssey? The descriptions in the epic poem do not coincide with the geography of the modern island of Ithaca, one of the Ionian islands off the western coast of Greece.

Since 2003, an interdisciplinary team of geologists, classicists and archaeologists has proposed a paradigm-shifting answer to that longstanding mystery. Their breakthrough thesis—that the peninsula of Paliki on the Ionian island of Cephalonia is the site of ancient Ithaca—was revealed in Odysseus Unbound: The Search for Ancient Ithaca, published to acclaim by Cambridge University Press in 2006.

Today, in the journal Geoscientist, the team of pioneering scholars releases detailed results and photographs from research conducted during the first year of sponsorship by FUGRO, the global geotechnical, survey and geoscientific service company. The wealth of new data provides dramatic support for the thesis that Paliki is indeed the site of ancient Ithaca.

According to the Odysseus Unbound project, “The new research shows that [Paliki], this 6 kilometre-long and up to 2 kilometre-wide isthmus contains no solid limestone down to at least 90 metres below today’s surface. The fill is loose material, some of which originated through catastrophic rockfall from the earthquake-prone mountain range to the east.”

The newly released data provide significant support for the theory that the peninsula of Paliki, today connected to the island of Cephalonia by an isthmus, was once separate, low-lying island of Homer’s Ithaca. As scholar Gregory Nagy of the Center for Hellenic Studies in Washington, D.C., told Smithsonian Magazine in 2006: “We’ll never read the Odyssey in the same way again."

Robert Bittlestone is standing above the village of Petrikata, looking over red-tile roofs down upon a narrow isthmus that connects the two parts of the island of Cephalonia, off Greece’s western coast. In the valley below, farmers in overalls are harvesting olives. A light breeze carries the scent of oregano and thyme. “This looks like solid ground that we’re standing on,” Bittlestone says. “But everything under us is rockfall. Across that valley was the ancient island of Ithaca.”

Bittlestone, a management consultant by profession, believes he has solved a mystery that has bedeviled scholars for more than 2,000 years. In Odysseus Unbound, published this past October by Cambridge University Press, he argues that a peninsula on the island of Cephalonia was once a separate island—Ithaca, the kingdom of Homer’s Odysseus some 3,000 years ago. He believes that the sea channel dividing the two islands was filled in by successive earthquakes and landslides, creating the peninsula of Paliki, as it is known today.
There is a lot more in the article. Do read it!

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Wedneday Hero

Lance Cpl. Ryan T. McCaughn
Lance Cpl. Ryan T. McCaughn
19 years old from Manchester, New Hampshire
1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force
November 7, 2006
U.S. Marine Corps

"I just can't believe it," said Nicole Cote, mother of L/Cpl. McCoughn. "It's not supposed to happen this way. Your kids aren't supposed to leave you." McCoughn joined the USMC during his Senior year of High School. "He said he needed to do this. He said if he could keep one dad from going to Iraq and he could take his place instead, then he'll feel like he's accomplished something."

Lance Cpl. Ryan T. McCaughn was killed on November 7, 2006 while conducting combat operations in Anbar province, Iraq. He leaves behind his mother, father, step-father and two brothers.

These brave men and women sacrifice so much in their lives so that others may enjoy the freedoms we get to enjoy everyday. For that, I am proud to call them Hero.

We Should Not Only Mourn These Men And Women Who Died, We Should Also Thank God That Such People Lived

This post is part of the Wednesday Hero Blogroll. For more information about Wednesday Hero, or if you would like to post it on your site, you can go here.
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Tuesday, September 02, 2008

The Office: Season 4 Out Today! Yay!

One of my favorite tv shows is The Office and I'm very excited today because Season Four comes out today. This season was interupted with that stupid and wasteful writer's strike, so hopefully they have added a lot of great extras to make up for it (because the price certainly isn't lower even though there are fewer episodes!).

More official info on the dvd here.

Office Tally has a great dvd buying guide, detailing the different special gifts one can get with the dvd at various stores. I don't know where I'm going to buy my copy yet, but I'm going today!