Saturday, September 27, 2014

Abandoned House

Have you ever passed an abandoned place, home, building, thing, and wondered what happened? Why was it left? Curiosity is a strong motivator, and it seems many of us have an obsession with abandon anything, but especially buildings. Need proof? Just Google 'abandoned building' and amazing images show up. Perhaps it is a desire to act the archeologist, and discover some precious treasure. Sometimes it must be to prove you've been somewhere as proven by the graffiti covering, and sometimes it is just the desire to hasten destruction — to smash and destroy.

I have passed this old, debilitated house for five years. When the tree leaves emerge in late spring until when they fall in the autumn, you can barely see the structure from the street. Through all of the winter, it stands a stark, barren structure. You can't see it beneath the snow, but even the roof is only wood planks, no shingles or other protective roofing left.

What happened? Why was it left to rot? With the DIY drive among many adults, and so many TV programs dedicated to fixer-uppers, why wouldn't someone have taken on this house when it was still possible? Perhaps gutting it to update plumbing and electric was too expensive. However, the house isn't too far from good community centers, so I can't believe the problem was how distant it was from everything. It's only four miles to the nearest town and about fifteen miles from Lake Michigan. Was there a major issue with some aspects of the house? Asbestos? Too much lead paint?

I think what attracts me to this sad house is its symmetry and the proportions of the building. I imagine it as a proud farmhouse at some time in the past. Does it still belong to the last family who used to live in it? Are they sad to see its condition or do they no longer see it at all? Was it a happy home or one everyone who lived in it sought to escape and would rather forget?

I've seen abandoned houses in cities. Most look to be very sad, graffiti-covered, broken glass, with busted doorways, and sometimes, curtains still attached to the windows the wind lifting the fabric to wave through the window at a passerby. Often these structures are in poorer parts of towns, but recently, they are found in middle-income neighborhoods. I know this farmhouse has been visited, and I'm sure the curious have ventured inside. There is nothing left to prevent their entry but the threat of falling debris and weak wood floors. No one can guess when this structure will fail, but I guess soon. This old house has lost its porch, doors, and windows long ago. You can see the pile of debris at the front door. Yet it still stands as a testament that it once offered shelter to a family... do they haunt it? If it is, then it must be a happy haunting as daffodils planted in happier days still bloom in what was once a must have been a side garden.

Skye Taylor
Helena Fairfax
Connie Vines
Rachael Kosnski 1
Rachael Kosnski 2
Marci Baun 
Anne Stenhouse
Judith Copek — Judith was going to participate but a death in the family occurred. I'm sure all the participants' sympathy goes out to her family.
A.J. Maguire
Ginger Simpson
Beverley Bateman 

Friday, September 26, 2014

Fifth Friday Six Bits from Crewkin

Following the previous post, the next morning after the initial meeting, the rest of the crew gathers for breakfast — which Renna declined. Their conversation gives hints of things to come.

~ * ~
“Yeah, like what do they suspect? Are the longhaulers committing some evil against the galaxy?” Lock yawned and stretched. “Well, let's hope our Ren is as highly trained as rumor proclaims podders to be. Her efforts will save us a lot of energy. I never want to experience a run like the last one.” Lock groaned. “Nobody looked more normal or fit-in better than our last hires, and look how strange they turned out. Plus, we wasted lots of time on their training, too. Rather Renna be strange starting and end normal.”

“You think a podder will turn out normal?” Ezry jeered, her voice rising to soprano.

“The bunch of you talking about normal is bizarre,” Zak said. “One of you walks around the ship near-naked except for hair, one like she's a galactic goddess, and one a sexhibitionist. I'm surprised the podder didn't bolt the moment she saw you.”

“It’s like visiting a year-end quad carnival, isn’t it?” Lock laughed. “She nearly did. Jake had already locked-down. We spooked her good.”

“Jake's seldom a fool.” Zak rose, pin-precise as any Astrocorps officer.

“Yeah, and always way too demanding,” Ezry said.
~ * ~

Monday, September 22, 2014

All Things Four

Here is the non-mathematical scoop on four. You should hope to be as solid and square as four, but most of us seldom are. Four is an even number which often leads to boredom, but it is the most stable of numbers. Designers often use odd numbers to prevent that stasis, but four is also considered the most balanced of numbers, and a sacred number, to boot. Here are the symbolic representations of four.
~ * ~

Cardinal: FOUR
Hindu-Arabic: 4
Ordinate: Forth

Roman: IV
Greek: Delta
Pythagorean number: The tetra
1+1+1+1; 2+2; 1+3; 1x4; 2x2

Four is the first square number, and not because a square has four sides, but because it is the square of 2 (2 x 2 = 4). However, the four-sided square is a symbol of four. From the sheer number of groups of four, it is an important number. We have the four seasons of winter, spring, summer, and fall. The ancient thought there were four elements of earth, water, fire, wind or air (or aether), and traditionally the four winds of east, south, west, and north. The four ages of man include infant, adolescent, manhood, old age. The four-color process uses magenta, cyan, yellow & Black. President Franklin Roosevelt espoused our four freedoms of speech, worship, and freedom from want and fear.

Roman used quattuor for four, which we changed to the prefix quat or quad for quarter, quartet, quadruplets, and quadrangle. The Greeks used tettares for four, which gave us tetrad, tetrahedron, and tetrapod.

April is the fourth month, and in the Northern Hemisphere, fulfills spring's promise of regeneration in many blossoming flowers, and the ceasing of winter’s bleak fury. Wednesday is the fourth day of the week when Sunday is the first day, often called hump day because the workweek is half over.  Wednesday comes from the Germanic god Woden, who is related to Mercury. The hours have four quarters, and the year has four seasons. In the United States, the Fourth of July is a National holiday celebrating the birth of the nation. If, however, your week starts on Monday, Thursday is the fourth day.

Before the discovery of atoms, matter consisted of four universal elements, fire, wind, water, and earth. In today's matter, Beryllium’s (Be) atomic number is 4 on the periodic table. Time is considered the fourth dimension. North, east, south, and west are the four points of the compass. In money, four quarters equal a dollar, but four bits is slang for fifty cents. Every gallon contains four quarts. Egyptian pyramids have four sides, not counting the base, and the sides of great pyramids line up on the compass points. The ancient Egyptians believed the four sides of the world rose to a conjunction point where God existed, and so the eye of God is at the top of the pyramid's point. Through various permutations, the pyramid was printed on the U.S. great seal as represented on the one-dollar bill.

The Christian religion has four evangelists or apostles, Matthew (symbolized by a human or angel), Mark (symbolized by a lion), Luke (symbolized by a calf or an ox), and John (symbolized by an eagle). It also has the four horsemen of the Apocalypse (Conquest, War, Famine, and Death). The Fourth Commandment is “Remember the Sabbath day, keep it holy.” In the Bible, the river out of Eden parted into four heads, which is often confused with the four rivers of Jordan. Four represents the cross, and the cross was an early sign of the four compass points. In other religions, we have the Four Noble Truths of Buddha, and Druids believed the 4-leaf clover had magical powers giving the holder of one supernatural sight. Many ancient cultures had four-lettered names for God: Allah (Arabian), Adad (Assyrian), Amun (Egyptian), Itga (Tartar), and Esar (Turkish), showing four as a sacred nature.
Four plays a part in the Bible’s Revelation, too.
Revelation 4:7 In the center, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and in back. The first living creature was like a lion, the second was like an ox, the third had a face like a man, the fourth was like a flying eagle.

Revelation 6:7 When the Lamb opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, "Come!"
Revelation 6:8 I looked, and there before me was a pale horse! Its rider was named Death, and Hades was following close behind him. They were given power over a fourth of the earth to kill by (1) sword, (2) famine, and (3) plague, and by (4) the wild beasts of the earth.
Revelation 7:1 After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth to prevent any wind from blowing on the land or on the sea or on any tree.
Revelation 9:14 It said to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, "Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates."
Revelation 9:15 And the four angels who had been kept ready for this very hour and day and month and year were released to kill a third of mankind.
Revelation 16:8 The fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and the sun was given power to scorch people with fire.
Revelation 21:19 The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald...

Sports and games also have many representations of four. We have a golf foursome. A 4-Bagger or home run happens in baseball. If a four-horse team pulls a carriage, the drive has four-in-hand. You can have a four spot, a four hander, or four-of-a-kind when playing cards.

In numerology, the alpha letters of four are d, m, and v. (Adding up the number derivations in the letters of your name and then adding the numbers of the resulting sum gives you your personal number.)  In Astrology, the Fourth House is that of Cancer and the moon. These lead to many prophetic references for four. Because the square has four sides, it is the basis of solidarity and stability. The Pythagoreans esteemed four as the primogenitor number, the root of all things, the fountain of Nature and the most perfect number. Pythagoras believed that the soul of man consisted of a tetrad, its four powers being mind, science, opinion, and sense. Four is also an intellectual number and the first geometric solid. Four represents the world, the Earth, the Establishment, the number of foundation and solid matter. The points of the compass, the seasons, the elements, the winds. Four is a ‘safe’ feminine number. Four’s keywords are impetuosity, strength, the key keeper of nature and harmony (mother nature), and it is often associated with Hercules, Mercury, Vulcan, and Bacchus. How did Bacchus get in there?

In Tarot, the fourth card is the emperor card, which represents leadership, thought, domination, war, and power. It is a card of authority and fatherhood, showing the fruits of toil, and the results of actions taken. The emperor is the embodiment of promise of the magician in the first card. When reversed it shows the opposite, a loss of power, injury in battle, a weakling or remaining under parental control. Four also has negative connotations like being off balance or off kilter, imperfect, rootless, vapid, flat, insane, stupid, or unholy. Each of the four suites also have a four card, and it usually indicates a time of thoughtfulness, a decision needing to be made, or inaction.

In music we have had The Fab Four, the Beatles, and the Motown singing group, Four Tops, with Abdul 'Duke' Fakir, Lawrence Payton, Levi Stubbs, and Renaldo 'Obie' Benson

Four shows up in common slang usage, too. You can go to the four corners of the earth, run into many four-footed beasts, and still find four-square monuments and buildings. Here are some more:
4-F (unfit for military service)
4-Striper (Captain in the Navy)
Four wheeler (All Terrain Vehicle)
Four way (goes in all directions)
Four Bits (50¢)
Four O’Clock (a flower)

Four part harmony
Four poster (a bed)
Forth class (cheapest rate)
four letter word (damn!)
fourscore (4x20)
Four Leaf Clover (One leaf for fame, one leaf for wealth, one leaf for a faithful lover and one leaf to bring glorious health)

So there it is — all aspects of four, but certainly a list that is not all-inclusive.
~ * ~
Wikipedia has a page on four. Sources
Some information was drawn from:
The Discoverers by Daniel J. Boorstin
A Complete Guide to the Tarot by Eden Gray
The Numerology Workbook by Julia Line
The Dartmouth Number Symbolism in the Middle Ages site offers much info on numbers in Christianity.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Fourth Friday Six Bits from Crewkin

Friday Freebits have been discontinued as many of the authors dropped out. I'm continuing with Ginger Simpson's idea, but I have changed the post titles to Six Bits. In this excerpt, one of Renna's new crewmates, Lock, guides her through the Vagrant Spirit.
~ * ~

Lock didn't need a participant in his conversation so Renna listened. She liked the organization and felt the first surge of optimism in ages. She could acclimatize to the colorful interior. The crew was a strange group, but someone knew ship business. Dom Jake’s influence? The unseen Zak? Or Cutter’s? The ship wasn't as desperate as she first thought, well supplied. Not the newest equipment, more tried-and-true with much well-applied sub-work. She felt comfortable with an existence of pared-down, yet adequate technology. If the crew was experienced, they might very well do in numbers. She let out a low, pent-up sigh of relief.

“Life-support, pumping station, ventilation, and climate system, and access to lateral engines are along here. This is Ezry's hydro-farm.”

He pushed the hatch open and walked into a lush, brightly lit compartment filled with plants. Ezry worked there. The dark woman gave Lock a slow smile which vanished when she saw Renna. Her expression was a look Renna recognized from her other short runs, one shouting, ‘you’re not wanted here, podder.’ She felt lucky hydroponics wasn’t listed in her work repertoire. Lock and Ezry exchanged disrespectful words for a few minutes with outrageous impertinence.

“Crazy bitch,” Lock said as they left. Ezry’s laughter followed them out of the compartment.

“We'll go aft now to the main engine compartment.” While he talked, Renna examined the ship. Even here, color danced on the partition surfaces. She wanted to touch the surfaces, to see if the color made her feel as alive as the partitions looked.

“Ship Dog! Showing the new crewman around,” Lock shouted as they entered the engine compartment. The burly engineer turned from where he disemboweled a console’s innards. He abruptly left for the far inner reaches of the compartment.
~ * ~

Friday, September 12, 2014

Third Friday Six Bits from Crewkin

Shortly after she reaches the designated deck, Renna's new captain literally pulls her onto his ship, the Vagrant Spirit, before she can change her mind. She then meets the crew of this very short-staffed ship.

~ * ~
After several minutes of silence, the man Cutter, who worked alongside her, asked, “What position Jake hire you to?”

Renna flashed a glance to him and back to her work. She didn't look at him again. In her experience norms didn’t like it. “Jake is Captain?”

“You didn't know?” Lock asked, his voice both androgynous and exuberant.

“I knew him as Captain, not by name,” she said as she carefully attended her duty. “He didn't specify a position. I've handled communications, ship’s systems, piloting, astrogation, maintenance, exvee, and engines. What position is open? What's the ship’s designation?”

Someone laughed. Renna cringed, sorry now she’d not cared enough to check the registry with the port authority. Earning laughter so soon was a bad sign.

“You hired on not knowing the captain's name, the ship's name, or your position? Jake found a podder as desperate as himself.” Ezry laughed and turned back to stowing gear.

“Crewkin,” Renna repeated. No one paid any attention.
~ * ~