How to Become a History Buff

Peace, Love MuseumsI think our interest in history begins with our own family. Parents and Grandparents talk about their own past, their parents and even farther back in your own history if you are lucky.

The first thing I ever did myself was to record my Grandmother’s sister, Alice, talking about her life, her past and what she remembered from when she was a girl living in Ireland. In school we made family trees, but that wasn’t something I had done on my own initiative. I still have the tape recording, I just don’t have a machine I can hear it on. Technology isn’t always our best friend.

Many people get into genealogy and stop there when it comes to history. Not me. I have researched many people (mostly women adventurers and fighters of one kind or another) and places (mainly local history, places I have found through my own exploring). I also like to research the history of paranormal things and creatures like dragons. (Can you prove they don’t exist?)

Try the history buff quiz for fun.

How to Learn About History on Your Own

Narrow your focus.

Choose a time period, an event, a country, a building, a person or some other smaller area of history you want to learn more about. Narrow your focus a bit because history is huge as a topic. Every moment becomes history as we live it.

Start a journal.

Pick a notebook (or bring a laptop) to take notes, write down facts and information as you find them. Keep notes about the resources you have used too. You may want to use the same book, website, etc. again or find the author of the book for more information, even an interview.

Keep a pen and pencils handy. Along with the journal you might want to draw maps, sketch a face, or use colour pencil crayons to organize your notes. Consider a hand scanner which you can take to scan a document or pages in a book rather than giving yourself writer’s cramp.

Review your notes and pull things together in a report.

It isn’t enough to have a rambling collection of facts. When you put all your information together to create a report (just for yourself even) it really helps you see everything as a bigger picture. You also notice details which you hadn’t seen connected before.

Join a local history society or group.

It’s okay to go it alone when you can’t find anyone to share your interest. But, most towns will have a local museum and a local history society too. Of course cities may have more resources for you once you begin looking. If the person or place you are researching is something local then the historical society will likely invite you to present your research to the group at a meeting. (Of course, this is up to you to do or turn down if you just can’t handle public speaking).

yesterday is history

Where to Learn About History on Your Own

  • Visit museums and libraries and talk to the staff there. Let them know about your interest in history – they usually have suggestions you wouldn’t have thought of.
  • Get on the mailing list so you will know when a new exhibit comes to your local museum or library.
  • Visit the art gallery and look at paintings/ illustrations from the time period you are looking at.
  • Make the trek to bigger cities and visit those museums and libraries too.
  • Look at genealogy. It’s a lot of information but a nice way to track down ancestors and find out where the bodies are buried, literally.
  • Get online and track down other people who share your interest. Read their websites or weblogs. Leave comments or notes for them. Ask questions. If they really seem to know a lot ask if you can send them some questions, even interview them through email.
  • If your interest is something local, get out there with your camera. Take photos of the places where history happened. Talk to people like urban explorers or look them up online and see the photos they have taken too.
  • If your interest is Medieval history talk to people who like Renaissance Fairs and create their own costumes to wear based on the authentic clothing worn in the time period.
  • If you have an interest in prehistory, find out about anyone who has been digging up history in the area you are researching. Try to find them online and get information from the source.
  • Read fictional history books too. In most cases the authors will talk about their research and any liberties they took in changing history for their fiction. Meanwhile, you will be reading an account based on all their own research of the time period, the place or person you are researching too.
  • Keep an eye on the news, online and through the television and radio too. History happens all the time. New finds and discoveries come up in the news more often than you may think.
  • Talk to people who were there for history in this century. Read biographies from people in earlier times. You may even find autobiographies which they wrote themselves versus a biography which was written about them.
  • Watch for TV programs, documentaries, coming up for your history interest. Talk to your librarian and see if any documentary can be ordered in for you. Talk to the people who were interviewed in the documentary and, of course, the people who created the documentary would be a great source of information. (The narrator is not always a great source, look for the people who produced the documentary).

Where to Find History Online

On This Day in History…

Photobombing

photobombedThe best description I read for photobombing was “any photo where the main subject is unintentionally upstaged”. Of course, it’s not always unintentional and those photos can be funny too. But, the funniest are those where someone didn’t look behind them before taking a self photo. Or, the person taking the photo (of someone else) didn’t pay attention to the background or just chose to take the photo in spite of someone behind the main subject of the photo.

Is a photo spoiled by a photo bomb or is it just all the more sincere and silly? Of course, that’s in the eye of the beholder and depends on the pride of the main subject. Can they see the humour or do they feel upset? I wouldn’t like someone being intentionally rude in the background but something kind of clever or silly I would at least try to get over and laugh about. It’s not easy to give up the limelight if you are upstaged, but it can be done.

Photobombing: How to Deal with It

Some PhotoBombing History

One of the first famous photobombers (if not the first) was Rollen Stewart, AKA “The Rainbow Man” who became a pop culture phenomenon in the late 70’s and early 80’s by wearing a rainbow-colored afro wig, while holding up signs reading “John 3:16” at sporting events nationwide.

From Know Your Meme: Photo Bombing

Later in life Rollen Stewart ended up going a bit too mad over the photobombing sort of behaviour. He is in prison for attacking prominent places and people and then keeping a hotel maid held hostage. A bit overboard and beyond the realm of college prank sort of stuff.

Another Summery Day

It's been awhile since I posted here. I haven't entirely forgotten LiveJournal but I have a few other sites I'm writing for, my own and a couple for a friend. Since the advent of social media, or since social media became something more than a chatty thing, there isn't enough time to fit everything and every site in. 

Today I got reading back to my oldest posts in LiveJournal. I'd forgotten some of the people and places along the way in the past years. I liked remembering some of them. Funny how the guys I was dating who made me feel so bad at the time but now I can really only remember one of them. The only one I actually spent time with in the real world, not just online. Shows how seriously I should have taken all that offline romance. Not seriously at all or in any way. 

I'd like to say I'll post here again but the fact is that I probably won't. I notice a bookmarklet up there, seems new (or new to me). I might add it to my browser and see if I can keep this old site from falling stale again. 

Happy Summer, 

Laura

Where the Wild Things Are: How do you Feel about Your Religion?

Originally posted to ‘BackWash: Where the Wild Things Are’ newsletter, December, 8, 2003.

What would it feel like to live in your own skin if it was all new to you? I’m thinking about hearing the blood in your veins. Feeling your food being pushed along to digestion. Taking each breath rather than leaving it on auto-pilot. All those things we have grown so used to that we don’t even feel them when we try. How different would your body feel if you felt everything going on inside yourself? How would you feel about your body? It would be kind of creepy I think. Too much information about all those regular functions we take for granted.

I was reading a book, one of those historical fiction type things. It’s a different version of the story of Arthur and Guinevere. But, the book is turning into an advertisement for Christianity and the one true god. I hate it when that happens. First, it makes light of what people felt back then, how seriously they took their religion and the world they lived in. Secondly, it tries to make what I believe look foolish. The first part annoys me far more than the second.

You may be surprised. But, I don’t have to defend my beliefs, I know what they are. I’m not on a crusade to promote Witchery or Paganism in general. I can be quite happy if all the world isn’t Pagan. I’m willing to share but I’m not forcing anyone to see things my way. That’s why I don’t feel overly angry about the way my beliefs are treated in this book.

However, it’s wrong to have someone convert to Christianity for no real reason. In the book the main character is a Pict woman, Guinevere. She has a slave (a Briton taken in war) translate when the tribes meet to discuss a treaty. Anyway, the slave is Christian, a monk previously as it turns out. She decides to learn the language since she becomes betrothed to one of Arthur’s noblemen. During this time she is curious about the slave’s religion and asks him about his beliefs. That’s fine, I expect young people were curious about a lot of things, still are. But, I can’t see her converting to another religion for such flimsy reasons as are presented in this book. The reader is expected to believe she suddenly finds her own religion hollow and meaningless just because the slave talks to her about one god. She goes to a sacred place and gets no answer to her prayers to the gods. So she prays to the one god of the slave instead. There’s no answer there either but that’s not mentioned in the book.

She asks the slave a lot of questions, doubting the existence or sincerity of his god. But even though he has no real answers beyond having faith and believing she accepts that. How would a real person back then choose to accept that over what she has always known? What her family and tribe continue to believe. It’s like telling someone they have a third leg and expecting them to just believe it cause you said they should. It’s based on nothing but the word of one person. Whereas her own religion is all around her, her ancestors and the people of her tribe.

So what does any of this have to do with the beginning of this? It’s all about feeling your religion. I don’t think religion or beliefs are something you can take off as you change your clothes. They shouldn’t be something so light. You need to feel it all the time, in all kinds of ways and places. If you aren’t feeling something special then you need to reconsider and investigate other ways, other paths. Like your body, if you forget how to feel the blood in your veins you’re not really living fully. Maybe you’re taking too much for granted and should start fresh, with a new perspective.

Anyway, I’m not sure if I’ll finish the book. It’s getting bogged down in dogma for me.

Why I Like the Old Houses

I was asked to write why I like documenting the old, abandoned houses. I had different ideas in mind right away but none really fit. Since then other elements have come along and I’ve tried to build the full picture. Part of it the loneliness of the old place and yet their strength in standing, enduring.

Today, while watching a documentary about the geography under the Great Lakes I had another idea:

I like the old houses because they show our own history, the impact we have had on the land and at the same time the old places erode and become part of the physical geography, just another bump on the land of rocks, earth and water.

The Sun is in Sagittarius

From Cafe Astrology:

Birth Chart

This birth chart report shows the positions of the planets for Laura .

The Sun represents vitality, a sense of individuality and outward-shining creative energy.

Sun in Sagittarius

Restless, cheerful, and friendly, Sun in Sagittarius people are generally on the go. They have a love of freedom, and a disdain for routine. Generally quite easygoing, Sagittarians make friends with people from all walks of life. They love to laugh and tease, and get along well with both sexes. Sagittarians have an often blind faith in people, and in the world. Their optimism is infectious, although it can get them into trouble from time to time. These are curious people who love to learn. Their idealistic nature is hard to miss.

Although generally easygoing, Sagittarius is a fire sign. This gives natives a generally quick temper. Fortunately, they’re usually as quick to forget what got them angry in the first place. The need for escape is generally strong, and some Solar Sagittarians come across as a little irresponsible. They’re generally easy to forgive, however. After all, their direct, honest approach in life is admirable.

Short description:

She is good, idealistic, enthusiastic and warm-hearted. She is independent, has a taste for travel and freedom. She is curious and fair-minded.

Weaknesses: She is too adventurous and leaves things to chance: takes risks which cause problems: she is rebellious and sometimes tactless when offering opinions.

-35 Opposition Sun – Moon

You have an internal struggle between your needs and your wants. You can lack focus and be indecisive as a result. Your ability to be objective is both an asset and a liability, simply because when you decide on one route, you are pulled in another direction at the same time. Something tugs at you, and you begin to question your stance. “But what if…” and “on the other hand…” are statements you can’t help but make, and that might plague you. You are always aware of the opposing point of view and the other side of the coin.

401 Conjunction Sun – Mercury

Because your ego and your mind are aligned, you possess much mental energy. You are always in a position to think about what you want, and in many ways, this is an interruption of the will. You are highly intelligent with a great drive to communicate with other. You invest a lot of pride in your intellectual capacities. You may not always listen as well as you speak, however! You might be too busy thinking about what to say next. But you are very curious and although you enjoy expressing yourself, you usually don’t dominate conversations completely. As far as studying or learning goes, you are better off reading the material than listening to a teacher. These traits come from a strong need to take an active role in communications. It is very hard for you to passively listen and absorb information.

Your opinions are usually strong and you are an independent thinker. You tend to be proud of your opinions and thoughts, and might easily get a bruised ego if you are not “heard”, if your opinions are pushed aside or ignored, or if your opinions are criticized. You are expressive and possibly a very animated speaker. You are also very witty and others enjoy your playful and sometimes mischievous sense of humor.

111 Sextile Sun – Saturn

It is easy and natural for you to accept responsibilities, to lead a rather ordered life, and to apply caution in your financial and business dealings. You rarely jump to conclusions or take uneducated risks. You have a certain amount of patience and enough self-discipline to slowly but surely achieve what you set out to do. Although somewhat undemonstrative, you are generally loyal and responsible people to those you care about. You take your time in most endeavors and generally use a step-by-step approach to most projects–but you steadily reach your goals. You are naturally trustworthy, and you don’t have much patience for those who don’t show respect for others, who take foolish risks, and who lead disorganized lives.

The Moon represents the emotional responses, unconscious pre-destination, and the self-image.

Moon in Cancer

This is the most subjective position of the Moon. The Moon is “at home” in the sign of Cancer, as the Moon is the natural ruler of the sign. Moon in Cancer natives have a large potential to be able to get in touch with the feelings and moods of others. Often, they are quite wrapped up in themselves. Their memories of the past are outstanding, especially for all things emotional. Moon in Cancer people are never detached–they cling to things, their home, and people they care for. They seek out security and familiarity in all they do. They look for peace and quiet. Their attachment to all that is safe means they are a little leery of change. These peace-loving souls dislike superficiality in all of its forms. They are devoted and accommodating. The insecure ones accumulate things in an attempt to feel secure.

Because of their strong attachment to, and memory of, the past, others may complain that Moon in Cancer natives tend to whip a dead horse. They may dwell on hurts long after everyone else has moved on. When they feel they have been taken for granted (which may be often!), they don’t always confront others directly. This is when they can use roundabout ways to get your attention. In fact, these natives, when they are insecure, can become quite manipulative. They can also be victims of habit. These people can have a hard time compartmentalizing their lives, simply because their watery Moon tends to know no boundaries. Sometimes, as a result, they may act irrationally.

One of the most delightful characteristics of Moon in Cancer people is their loony sense of humor. These people can be extraordinarily funny. Their moodiness can baffle others, but their unique outlook on life is something most people can appreciate. When treated with tenderness and understanding, Moon in Cancer natives return the favor with warmth and protection. Give them security, and you’ll take the crabbiness out of the Crab, at least for awhile. These people are wonderfully dependable overall, despite their occasional mood swings. Make a friend of Moon in Cancer, and you will be taken care of for life.

Short description:

She is likeable and sociable. Very sensitive to environmental conditions and surroundings. She likes home, habits, comfort and her little world. Very caring and protective of loved ones.

Weaknesses: subject to indolence, inertia. She is impressionable and too sensitive. Family problems.

48 Trine Moon – Saturn

She controls her feelings. She has a sense of duty, of self-esteem and is prudent. She can concentrate on a long-term task, manual or intellectual. She perseveres and is serious in everything she does.

Mercury represents communication, Cartesian and logical spirit.

Mercury in Sagittarius

Enthusiastic, humorous, and sometimes moralistic. She has strong opinions, and often shares them! Democrat, philosopher, tolerant, respectful of laws. Interested in foreign places and learning more languages. Believes that everything teaches you something.

-1 Square Mercury – Mars

While her spirit is lively, it is also cunning. She often acts without thinking, she throws herself into things and exaggerates – and this can bring certain problems. She is nervous and irascible. She can develop others’ ideas, while they hesitate – she never does: she presses on.

Venus represents an interest for emotions and values, exchange and sharing with others.

Venus in Sagittarius

When Venus in Sagittarius people are in love, they need to feel they can grow and expand their horizons through their relationship. They want to learn new things, and experience everything together. These are idealistic lovers who want you to appreciate their beliefs, visions, and ideals. They can be a confusing mix of the lighthearted and serious. They are roamers and seekers, and don’t commit in their relationships as easily as others. Venus in Sagittarius men and women turn others on with their big smiles and laughs, their jokes, their grand schemes, their dreams, and their friendly, flirtatious behavior. They pride themselves on their open minds, but you may notice they can be judgmental too. They are threatened by inhibitions on the part of their lover, dullness, and emotional overkill. They are restless, and won’t put up with lovers who dwell on any one thing. When the going gets tough in their relationship, they have an overwhelming need to run away. Usually this only means getting out and experiencing something new before they come back, but sometimes it can be for good. They are attracted to people in love with life. You don’t need to be refined, polished, or graceful to win their favor.

Pleasing Venus in Sagittarius involves allowing them lots of room in the relationship to grow. Avoid getting stuck in a rut, and understand their need to move on. Learn to laugh, but take their rants and raves seriously. Avoid criticizing their beliefs, join them in debates, and philosophize along with them. When they feel the need for more experience, join them! Learn to look past their clumsiness with you and your feelings, and avoid cornering them or forcing them to commit.

-105 Square Venus – Saturn

This aspect sometimes means unhealthy sensuality. She is hard, and does not know how to express her emotions. She is frightened of showing her love, and this leads to disappointments, break-ups, lack of satisfaction. It is likely that she had problems with her mother, who did not know how to love her or give her self-confidence. She doubts, is suspicious and jealous. She will learn how to be happy in love, to be at ease with herself and to control her jealousy in the second half of her life, thanks to an older person, who gives her self-confidence back to her, so she can then trust others.

Mars represents the desire for action and physical energy.

Mars in Virgo

These productive and busy people are goal-oriented, practical people. Although they can be a little scattered at times, simply because they are doing so many things at any give time, Mars in Virgo natives get things done–quite well! They have a knack for handling a wide variety of tasks at once, and a tendency to take on perhaps too much at the same time. Most Mars in Virgo natives are not particularly aggressive by nature. Although they can be a little hard-nosed and critical at times, they rarely resort to pushing others around. Still, an annoyed Mars in Virgo native can be difficult to be around! Arouse their anger and they turn into complaining, over-critical nags. Generally, these natives don’t make themselves nuisances, so this stage is unlikely to last for very long. It is a sensitive position, however. It doesn’t take much to make these people nervous.

Mars in Virgo people are quite protective about their “system” for getting things done. Although rather humble in a general life sense, they can be quite particular about their methods–how they organize and accomplish their goals, mostly with work. Theirs is a nervous energy. Although they have some staying power, they can be restless and are not given to sticking with the same projects for too long. These natives derive plenty of energy and life force from the things they do–their work, hobbies, and any kind of projects they take on. An idle Mars in Virgo native is a sorry sight, indeed. Fidgety, nervous, worried…all of these things are a sure sign that Mars in Virgo people have either too little to do, or far too much on their plates. There is a perfectionist at the heart of all people with this position. They’ll be the first to deny this, but it’s there! They worry when they are not producing anything, and they worry about whether what they’ve produced will measure up.

An earthy and sometimes nervous sexuality generally characterizes people with this position of Mars. In a sense, their performance in bed is similar to their work. These people want to be good at what they do. They will generally be open to experimentation, if only to feed their curiosity and to feel savvy. There’s often a shy and humble side to Mars in Virgo in any area that involves putting themselves out there and letting go (areas ruled by Mars). But experience and knowledge are important to these natives, and this drive generally wins over their natural reticence.

69 Trine Mars – Jupiter

She has a good sense of organization, she is jovial, frank and sincere. She is full of dynamism and over-abundant energy. She loves life and takes all it has to offer. She likes sports and the outdoor life. She is successful professionally and emotionally. She usually has lots of children.

She is honest and forthright in her dealings with others, and she tends to trust others readily. She can be a bit careless about spending money, however, and this is probably because she is so eternally optimistic that there will always be plenty around. The possibility of failure does not enter her mind, although success itself is not that important to her.

179 Conjunction Mars – Uranus

She possesses exceptional energy. She is impulsive but bold. She takes on risky enterprises for the good of the community, with all the energy she possesses. She has a great need of her independence, likes her freedom of action.

124 Sextile Mars – Neptune

Her feelings are dominated by wisdom and geared towards the ideal. She likes water, sea voyages. She likes odd people.

181 Conjunction Mars – Pluto

She is ambitious, has a great capacity for work, has self-confidence and goes to the end of her plans.

Jupiter represents expansion and grace.

Jupiter in Taurus

She attracts the most good fortune when she is charitable, generous but discriminating, and patient. Watch for over-indulgence. Delights in sensual pleasures and wants the good life.

59 Trine Jupiter – Uranus

She knows what’s going on at a glance. She thirsts after knowledge, and is a good organizer. She is very independent, likes her freedom of action, is a non-conformist. She is very agreeable company and is always in demand.

-108 Opposition Jupiter – Neptune

She is easily influenced. She is a dreamer, who lets herself be seduced by fine words, which are not always sincere. She does not see wickedness and is often fooled by people.

56 Trine Jupiter – Pluto

She likes to direct, is intelligent and is an organizer of the first order.

Saturn represents contraction and effort.

Saturn in Pisces

Misanthropic, with a sullen humor. She likes to live in solitude, in contemplation. Likes to work alone.

Uranus represents individual liberty, egoistic liberty.

Uranus in Virgo

Interested in nutrition, new ways of doing a job.

136 Conjunction Uranus – Pluto

She fights to improve her daily life, she is persevering.

Neptune represents transcendental liberty, non-egoistic liberty.

Neptune in Scorpio

Willing to look beyond the superficial.

20 Sextile Neptune – Pluto

Pluto represents transformations, mutations and elimination.

Pluto in Virgo

Research and investigation come naturally.

House I is the area of self identity. The ascendant is a symbol of how one acts in life. It is the image of the personality as seen by others, and the attitude that one has towards life.

House II is the area of material security and values. It rules money and personal finances, sense of self-worth and basic values, personal possessions.

House III is the area of social and intellectual learning.

House IV is the area of home, family, roots, and deep emotions/sense of self-worth.

House V is the area of creative self-expression, romance, entertainment, children, and gambling.

House VI is the area of learning by material transaction.

House VII is the area of one-to-one relationships such as marriage and partnership, and of social and intellectual action.

House VIII is the area of emotional security and of security of the soul.

House IX is the area of learning that shapes the identity.

House X is the area of material action. The Mid-heaven represents the work one will do in his life, the place one will take in the world of society. It becomes more important as one grows older

House XI is the area of search for social and intellectual security.

House XII is the area of education and of emotion.

Flower Tree

The Flower Tree sounds like it should be the name of one of those soap and beauty shops like Soapberry, a long gone Canadian chain which once competed with The Body Shop. But, this flower tree is a brooch I noticed on Glamour Kitten.

Do you like to get scented soaps and shampoos from places like The Body Shop? I have a lemon body soap for the shower which is really nice. I used to have one which was peach but they stopped making it. My other favourite is pink grapefruit. I bought an orange and ginger shampoo and conditioner from Bath and Body Works recently. I love quality soap (the stuff from the drug store seems to irritate my skin) with a great smell to it. I like natural fruit smells best it seems. Too much floral just seems like a lot of perfume.

To Write Love on Her Arms

Something I found while wandering around online today. It’s probably for younger people by the look of the site. The link is worth passing along.

To Write Love on Her Arms

The Mission Statement:

To Write Love on Her Arms is a non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide. TWLOHA exists to encourage, inform, inspire and also to invest directly into treatment and recovery.

VISION:

The vision is that we actually believe these things…

You were created to love and be loved. You were meant to live life in relationship with other people, to know and be known. You need to know that your story is important and that you’re part of a bigger story. You need to know that your life matters.

We live in a difficult world, a broken world. My friend Byron is very smart – he says that life is hard for most people most of the time. We believe that everyone can relate to pain, that all of us live with questions, and all of us get stuck in moments. You need to know that you’re not alone in the places you feel stuck.

We all wake to the human condition. We wake to mystery and beauty but also to tragedy and loss. Millions of people live with problems of pain. Millions of homes are filled with questions – moments and seasons and cycles that come as thieves and aim to stay. We know that pain is very real. It is our privilege to suggest that hope is real, and that help is real.

You need to know that rescue is possible, that freedom is possible, that God is still in the business of redemption. We’re seeing it happen. We’re seeing lives change as people get the help they need. People sitting across from a counselor for the first time. People stepping into treatment. In desperate moments, people calling a suicide hotline. We know that the first step to recovery is the hardest to take. We want to say here that it’s worth it, that your life is worth fighting for, that it’s possible to change.

Beyond treatment, we believe that community is essential, that people need other people, that we were never meant to do life alone.

The vision is that community and hope and help would replace secrets and silence.

The vision is people putting down guns and blades and bottles.

The vision is that we can reduce the suicide rate in America and around the world.

The vision is that we would learn what it means to love our friends, and that we would love ourselves enough to get the help we need.

The vision is better endings. The vision is the restoration of broken families and broken relationships. The vision is people finding life, finding freedom, finding love. The vision is graduation, a Super Bowl, a wedding, a child, a sunrise. The vision is people becoming incredible parents, people breaking cycles, making change.

The vision is the possibility that your best days are ahead.

The vision is the possibility that we’re more loved than we’ll ever know.

The vision is hope, and hope is real.

You are not alone, and this is not the end of your story.