Paul Buchheit: The Super-Rich and Sordid Tales of Selfishness

This article is excellent. Puts my thoughts in to words better than I ever could. “Eat the rich,” just doesn’t carry the same effect as a well thought out argument.

Normally I don’t reblog, because I honestly don’t understand reblogging etiquette. But as someone who has first hand experience in the last few months dealing with a man who ruined the lives of several good employees because he made slightly less than the year before, I’m going to break my rule.

Subscribe to Vox Populi. Everything they put out is well said. Even if you don’t agree with a piece it’s still presented in a solid way. I wish I had found the blog sooner honestly.

The Bachelor Disaster: The Gods demand a sacrifice

As promised, the second part of Bachelor day! Much less scary than the first, but still entertaining.

However, I did have another creepy thing happen today. When coming back inside from taking Bailey out I heard the toilet cistern refilling from the guest bathroom. No one else is in the house. I am assuming and hoping it is a slow leak that caused a flush.

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I was married in September of 2012. Earlier in the summer, my best man Graham  and other best friend Mike surprised me with an awesome idea for a bachelor party. The three of us have been outdoorsmen for a while. We grew up together in Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts, regularly go camping at Graham’s farm, and recently did a backpacking trip into a wilderness reserve in Indiana.

We have fun making our bodies hate us.

For my bachelor party they wanted to plan something special. They wouldn’t tell me what it was in advance, only that I needed to bring formal wear, camping equipment, video gaming stuff, among other things. The only things they told me not to worry about was any paintball clothing or target shooting gear. I spent the night at Graham’s apartment and they finally told me: put the formal wear in the car, and grab your camping gear. We’re hitting the river at 11am tomorrow.

Anyways, the idea was for us to go canoe camping along the Wisconsin River. Now, if you’ve never gone canoe camping, the gist is you get dropped off at a departure point by a rafting company, load up the canoes with as much beer as they can carry, and then make a little room for camping gear. You then canoe downriver and drink until you find a suitable sand bar in the river for camping. Finally, play drinking games, camp, and the next day canoe to the pick up point.

A group of about 11 guys went with, with myself, Graham, and Mike having the most experience on the water. We divided up 2 to a canoe, and divided up gear among the boats. For instance, Mike and Graham had the keg, so their equipment was distributed among other boats. The last guy took the kayak and carried what he could in the small craft.

My good friend Adam, who was going to be the photographer for my wedding, brought his dog Arwen. Arwen is a total sweetheart but we didn’t know how she would take to a canoe, so I volunteered to go with. After all, if someone should be dumped into the water it should be the bachelor in question right? I gave my gear to some of the others just in case.

So, we somehow jammed way too much beer and camping equipment into 10 canoes and a kayak, and set off. The water level on the Wisconsin River that year was super low. A foot at best from where we set off, and about 4 feet at its deepest. So all the other boats disappear around the bend in the river, and we get ready to set off with Arwen and… she jumps out. Again! Onwards to victory! Wait… where the hell did the dog go? Repeat this a few times and we found our answer to whether Arwen liked the boat. Out on the water she would shift her weight, slowing us down as Adam had to calm her, so I was sure we were going to be the only boat to tip.

Arwen, happy to be on dry land. Copyright Adam Arcus, 2014. http://arcusphotography.com/
Arwen, happy to be on dry land.
Copyright Adam Arcus, 2014. http://arcusphotography.com/

10 minutes. We had been in the boats 10 minutes and Adam and I are paddling like hell to catch the main group. Coming around the bend the first sign something is wrong is the beer cooler floating down the river next to us and lodging itself on a downed tree.

10 minutes.

I see my friends Matt and Lengkimly wading in chest high water trying to drag their upturned boat onto the shore. The other canoes pulled in to help, and one just sat there in the water and took pictures.

Remember I gave my gear away because I was worried about it tipping? I gave them my equipment.

My unprotected sleeping bag, tent, and clothes.

10 minutes.

While I quietly stewed, arms crossed and yelling at the others to help like a cranky Poseidon, Matt did the impossible and fought against the current and saved the cans of Stella, which made me a bit happier.

Bachelor’s Grove: Most Haunted Cemetery in America

Hey everyone! A bit of housekeeping first. Yesterday I had my 50th post and broke my previous view record! 133 page views compared to 105 after I was published by Listverse, so that feels like an awesome thing since I haven’t been published in a while. Thank you all so much for commenting and sharing and liking! It was awesome seeing that record break, and I’ll admit I had a celebratory Bulleit Bourbon on the rocks while writing this next post last night.

I’ve decided to share 2 true stories with you regarding Bachelor’s. First about Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery, called the most haunted in the United States. Second, about my bachelor party, which nearly killed us and would have left a plot of land in Wisconsin the most haunted site in the US. Enjoy! Thanks so much again everyone!

Oh, also creepy side note. I’ve been waking up each morning at 5am (those who know me can tell you that’s scary enough,) however today when I was gathering my writing materials and about to walk out the bedroom door, I could’ve sworn I heard talking in our kitchen and movement. I looked through the house, checking every room, door, and window. Nothing was disturbed. My life is apparently turning into ‘The Map.’ I’m thinking it’s still just my brain waking up and hearing things even though I had been awake for 10 minutes at my time because that’s a nice thing to tell myself.

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Bachelor’s Grove

I grew up near Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery in the south suburbs of Chicago. Legend has it that it is the most haunted cemetery in Illinois, if not the entire US. The cemetery is a run down and ill kept plot of land fenced off in the woods, just off a major thoroughfare. Driving along the road, your car will pass over a bridge looking over a pond in front of the cemetery, with the overgrown tombstone in the distance.

It’s more famous cousin, Resurrection Cemetery on Archer Avenue is one of the birthplaces of the phantom woman hitchhiker myth, but Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery is infinitely creepier. There have been several groups that go out periodically and clean up the area, but each time I’ve been there it has been in disarray and overgrown.

There are quite a few legends regarding the location. The aforementioned pond supposedly was a dumping ground for victims of mob hits in the 20’s and 30’s, however it seems like quite the distance to drive at the time when there would have been quite a few better options closer to the city. Some of the stories claim a phantom Packard automobile will chase lone drivers at night. Having been down that road very often near midnight, I’ve never been lucky.

There is also a picture taken of one of the benches showing a spectral woman who was supposedly not there when the photo was shot. I have a hard time believing it, only because it looks too perfectly staged, and the woman looks too defined. However, other unconfirmed reports also include black masses being held on Halloween, animal sacrifices, and a strange glowing orb that can be seen moving through the woods.

Unfortunately, the only thing I have personally seen is desecration of graves by destruction of tombstones. Markers can be seen dumped in the pond in front of the cemetery leading to the idea that the disturbance and insult to the dead is what causes the area to have that mysterious haunted aura.

Now, I haven’t mentioned my favorite story of Bachelor’s Grove. Legend has it that if you walk along the access road, occasionally you will see a farmhouse in the woods, lantern burning in the window. The legend diverges that if you approach the house it will disappear, you will never get close, or if you enter you’re never seen again.

Some of the accounts I’ve read state that no farmhouses had been in the area. My father has aerial maps from the 1930’s showing the region, and indeed there were no farmhouses within a few miles. He acquired the maps specifically to find long gone farmhouses, as they would dump their trash in holes the farmers dug so you can still find bottles and other cool relics from the 1800’s.

I love the idea of a haunted house that wasn’t ever there. It seems much more alien and mysterious than a simple ghost or strange lights in the woods. The idea of a spectral building and what you find inside seems far scarier to me than any normal phantom, hitchhiker or not.

Last time I went to Bachelor’s Grove we also went hiking in the woods around the property. Less then a quarter mile in the woods we found the remains of an old well.

Just past that, the ruined foundation of a small, long gone farmhouse, barely outlined through the forest undergrowth. It doesn’t appear on my dad’s map. It gives me a chill just thinking about it.

One day I plan on going back to Bachelor’s Grove, but honestly, I have no idea what I’d do if I saw a farmhouse just outside the entrance, door slightly cracked open, with the warm, inviting glow of lamplight trying to welcome me inside.

If you have any stories of cemeteries around where you live I’d love to hear about them. Local legends are the best legends, and I love a good story.

10 Lesser Known Disasters That Shaped Chicago

Chicago has a famous and extensive history of tragedies from both before and after its founding. While known as an amazing city with great culture and history, it undoubtedly has a dark past. The stigma of Mafia violence and corruption in the city government remain famous, but some of the darkest points in the city’s history have been often overlooked. Just about everyone knows about the Great Chicago Fire, or the Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre that both often pop up in history books. Many of the other defining moments of the region have either been forgotten or overshadowed by other famous events. The Great Chicago Fire actually happened on the same day as the Peshtigo Fire just 250 miles to the north in Wisconsin. The Peshtigo Fire actually killed more than four times the amount of people as the Great Chicago Fire, yet it remains relatively unknown. This isn’t a complete list of events, but 10 parts of the Chicago’s relatively unknown tragedies I found interesting. Although morbid, many of the disasters led to new national regulations that have saved countless lives over the years.

10. S.S. Eastland Disaster

Arguably the most famous of the tragedies on this list, the S.S. Eastland disaster is still not very well-known outside of Chicago. On July 24th, 1915, the S.S. Eastland had been chartered along with four other ships to transport the employees and their families of the Western Electric Company to a picnic in Michigan City, Indiana. The Eastland, largest of the ships and first scheduled for departure, quickly reached it’s passenger limit of 2,500. While still docked along its mooring on the Chicago River, the ship slowly started listing towards its port side. Passengers took little notice as the crew tried to move them around to distribute the weight during loading. As the passengers began to move to the starboard rail, the port side was still listing dangerously low enough that water started to slosh onto the main deck through its scuppers, the drainage holes along the boat to drain any water that ended up on the deck. Despite the warning signs from the ship and another ship captain on the dock, Captain Harry Pedersen ordered the moorings released and to prepare for departure. Below in the engine room, the engineers were having trouble getting the ballasts to fill with water and right the ship. After a brief window in which no evacuation order was issued, the boat began to tip over. Within two minutes the ship slowly rolled over into the twenty-foot deep Chicago River. Of the more than 2,500 people on the ship, 844 died. It is still the greatest maritime disaster on the Chicago River and Great Lakes. 22 families were completely wiped out while stuck below decks, in stairwells, or not able to make it into the water. Many of the deceased were moved into the basements of local buildings serving as temporary morgues, including what would become Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Studios, leading to rumors of the buildings being haunted.

9. Our Lady of the Angels

On December 1st, 1958 a small fire started at the bottom of a stairwell in the Our Lady of the Angels grade school. The fire, thought to have started in trashcan in the basement, soon spread to the stairwell itself. Smoke started filling the second floor of the 1,600 student school. The school was built in 1910 and was exempt by a grandfather clause from recent fire regulation that required new schools have sprinkler systems, fire doors, and direct emergency lines to the fire department. Although the nuns teaching the classes saw the impending danger, many did not evacuate their classrooms. Rules were that a fire evacuation and ringing of the evacuation bell itself could only be ordered by the Mother Superior, who was not to be found. The Fire Department was not notified of the fire until 40 minutes after it had started due to this delay since the call had to be made outside of the school. One of the teachers finally rang the fire bell and started an evacuation of the building, however the wood and plaster that made up the building accelerated the spread of the fire, trapping students on the second floor. Many children either jumped to safety or were rescued by the fire department, however 92 children and 3 nuns, perished in the blaze. Within days, the tragedy led many cities to force schools to modernize their fire safety equipment and ended up being the driving force to set national regulation for fire prevention in schools. It remains the third deadliest fire in Chicago history.

8. American Airlines Flight 191

Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport is one of the busiest in the world, and the day of May 25th, 1979 was no exception. American Airlines Flight 191, a DC-10 jumbo jet destined for Los Angeles, began its take-off from Runway 32-Right. As it took off, the No. 1 engine ripped free of the left-wing and caused the plane to begin pitching to the left. The tower radioed the plane asking which runway it would like to land on, as emergency training generally provided a way for the pilot to recover enough to land. The plane kept climbing despite the emergency procedures executed by the crew, since the lost engine had also torn away the hydraulics used for the cockpit controls. As the plane banked to the left with the change in aerodynamics from the lost engine, the nose dropped towards the ground. Flight 191 hit the ground and exploded into a fireball nearly a mile from the runway. All 271 souls on board were lost, and 2 people on the ground were killed as well. Investigation revealed no fault of the pilot and crew, terrorism, or weather incident. Maintenance crews in Tulsa, OK, had taken shortcuts in the engine removal and repair process that caused a tear between the engine pylon and wing. It finally failed completely as the plane took off from Chicago. DC-10’s were grounded and investigators found that other maintenance teams from other airlines had taken the same shortcut and caused the same structural tear that would have eventually led to other DC-10’s crashing in the same way. The FAA fined American Airlines for improper maintenance and grounded all DC-10’s until safety upgrades could be installed. It is still the deadliest civilian airliner accident in US history.

7. Fort Dearborn

Shortly after the start of the War of 1812, Fort Dearborn was a US Army outpost built in what would now be Chicago’s Loop. It existed on the edge of American expansion, with the closest US fort being in Fort Wayne, Indiana. As the War of 1812 started, the British and allied Native American forces captured Fort Mackinac on Mackinac Island, Michigan. Fort Dearborn’s commanding officer, Captain Nathan Heald, was ordered to evacuate the fort as his superiors felt that supplies to Fort Dearborn would be disrupted. A rescue group was dispatched from Ft. Wayne, composed of Miami warriors and Captain William Wells. Heald met with the local Potawatomi tribe, informing them of his intention to evacuate the fort, and asking for safe passage. He offered the fort’s surplus provisions as payment, including whiskey and weapons. Regardless, Heald ordered them be destroyed as to not fall within the hands of tribes allied with the British. One of the local Potawatomi Chiefs, Black Partridge, warned Heald of an impending attack by a faction of his tribe. The evacuation party of 93 people: soldiers, militiamen, women, children, and the 30 Miami warriors, began the trip to Fort Wayne. About a mile and a half south of the fort the party came into contact with 500 Potawatomi warriors waiting in ambush. Whether Heald betrayed the truce by destroying the whiskey and weapons leading to the attack, or if it was an attack of opportunity, remains debated. What is known, is that Heald ordered his forces to fire and charge the Native American forces. The fight lasted about 15 minutes, with Heald and half of his force, in addition to women and children, dead in addition to 15 Potawatomi. Survivors were killed or ransomed. Long known as the Fort Dearborn Massacre, recently some historians, Native groups, and the city itself now call it the Battle of Fort Dearborn due to the evidence that Heald may have broken the truce, also as it was part of the War of 1812.

A real moment that scared the hell out of me

I don’t scare terribly easy in life. Movies and video games can kick in fight or flight, but in real situations if I’m with other people it’s not too bad. One event though sticks out in my mind. The night I think I saw a Skinwalker.

A Skinwalker is a Native American shaman that can change shape by wearing other creatures skins. They are said to be immortal, can run as fast as cars, and invulnerable to bullets. As a legend, they are comparable to the Wendigo as a cautionary tale. Many of the Native American stories I’ve read over the years are metaphors. The Wendigo for instance, is a cautionary tale about cannibalism even in the worst of times. Eating the flesh of men will turn you into a monster that hungers for the flesh of men but is never satiated.

The Skinwalker message though, is to avoid and beware witches.

So why I think I saw one.

My extended family owns a ranch in California that butts right up to a Native American reservation. Remains of earlier habitation can be found among the ranch grounds, such as grinding stones, arrowheads, and the like. Now, it truly is a beautiful place with remarkable views. I proposed to Karen out there. But night time gets a bit ominous.

I love when we visit the ranch. I get to see my family from California that I don’t have many chances to see, the grounds are gorgeous, and I have miles of land to target shoot on.

There's like, 1 place to shoot rifles outdoors near Chicago. Here I am in Heaven wasting a dollar a shot in .303 British for my Enfield.
There’s like, 1 place to shoot rifles outdoors near Chicago. Here I am in Heaven wasting a dollar a shot in .303 British for my Enfield.

As I’ve mentioned multiple times, I enjoy camping and don’t have a problem stomping around at night in the dark woods. The ranch though, is completely different. Just dark, open fields and a few horse barns all nestled in a valley between dark mountains. Anytime I’m there at night I feel the sensation of being watched. One night things came to a head.

My friend Graham had accompanied my family and my sister’s boyfriend at the time, to the ranch for a week one summer. There’s a guest house on the property we stay in, and about a quarter-mile away there are offices, barns, warehouses, etc. My extended family has their main house about a half mile away.

Now, the only satellite TV was in the office. A two-story building set about a half mile from the main house, and the quarter-mile from where my parents were. My uncle offered to take us over there to watch a scary movie, so we loaded up in golf carts and drove over.

We watched the Ring 2, and it sucked so bad my uncle left midway through. He asked us to lock up, took a golf cart, and left us to finish the movie. The movie and CGI was so bad it was laughable, and left us in a good, normal mood. We started switching off the lights and happened to glance out the window towards the road.

Now, the road that ran throughout the ranch was generally dark and branched off a few times. The road back to the guest house had 2 street lights that provided a small amount of light piercing through the darkness. About 100 feet from the office were two fenced in paddocks for horses and cattle. The 5 1/2 foot tall fences were separated from the road by about 6 feet of grass.

So, the four of us were talking while watching those circles of light. All of us looking.

Something the size of a man leapt over the left paddock fence, ran directly through the light while hunched, and leapt over the right fence. It was too fast to notice details, but it was almost like it was specifically waiting for us to all look. It could have chosen a quarter-mile of darkness to cross the road, but it chose to make its impossible jump right underneath the light.

My blood froze, and we debated what to do. Finally, and anticlimactically we ran to the golf cart, and made a 10 mph escape.

I’ve never seen anything like it since. One of the common stories of the Skinwalker is that they’re known to play pranks and try to scare people. If that’s what it was, it sure as hell succeeded.

They also know when you’re talking or thinking about them, so, well, sorry.

Karen’s gone out with me to the ranch a few times since then. She’s a a photographer and decided to take a time-lapse photos of the stars since light pollution from Chicago prevents that around here. The photos end up with really cool ghostly curves as the stars move through the sky, and the slow shutter speed picks up enough ambient light that the surroundings become visible. It’s a long process that can take hours depending on the wanted effect. She wanted me to come outside with her since it was creepy at night, which I gladly did. I just happened to bring my .45 I had brought for target shooting.

See? Cool as hell.
See? Cool as hell. 17 minute exposure.

She gets scared easily. While we were outside I told her it was for coyote. Coyotes don’t attack people, but I didn’t tell her the real reason I brought the 1911 out until we were safely back inside.

I love exploring that place, but there I know that the safest thing to do is to just wait for daylight.

Keep Writing Everyone

Bailey was mad I wasn’t holding the elk antler for her while writing this, so as compensation she gets top billing.

I love WordPress.

I just have to say that right out of the gate. It really is one of the ‘social media’ style sites where I feel connected to people all around the world through our shared love of writing. Each day I see people put their emotions on display, inner thoughts, news, and feelings. The fact that I have to stop myself from writing more for fear of being annoying with my amounts of updates is probably proof of point how much I love this site.

A few weeks ago I was having problems writing. I was a bit down on myself as my laptop broke and I was having issues concentrating in one spot at a time (tethered to my gaming desktop computer.) Now that I’ve gotten a tablet and have been writing from various spots I’ve gotten my groove back. A lot of it is thanks to my followers and those I follow. I get a huge kick out of seeing everyone develop and hit milestones, and it may be selfish, but I love having a place to keep a history of my own accomplishments. It really is a mood raiser, and a great way to conquer the glum moods brought on by winter. Putting up a new post and seeing different countries popping up as having visited the site is amazing, and a bit of the positive side of globalization.

Thank you so much everyone for reading. I’ve decided I am going to start pulling together info for my non-fiction book, but I am going to keep writing here day in and day out. When I made a promise a few weeks ago that I would update 3 times a week, I never knew that it’d actually feel like a ball and chain just a few weeks later.

Keep writing everyone, and I’ll keep reading.

Cowboy Boots Are Cool: Some things I’ve learned from my father

I’ve lived in suburban Chicago my entire life. While I’ve spent time out west on a ranch every few summers, and time camping and riding horses through Boy Scouts, I really am a suburbanite at heart. Some of my friends think I’m weird as hell for not wanting to live in Chicago as soon as I was able to, but the truth is the city does not appeal to me at all. Don’t get me wrong, I love Chicago, but I hate being surrounded by so many people. I need my space and solitude. I convinced my wife to pick an obnoxiously annoying to maintain corner lot for our house because I wanted like, ten extra square feet in the yard.

For my father’s 50th birthday party we had a cowboy themed party. My father has grown up all over the world since my grandfather was an Air Force fighter pilot, but he never lost his southwestern drawl. Born in Texas and living everywhere from southern California to upstate New York, he’s traveled his whole life. It wasn’t until he and my mom met that he truly set down roots for a family.

I think I get my fondness for being close to home from him. Like him, I only like traveling sporadically and would much rather spend time close to home with friends and family than seeing a new city. New wilderness though, that’s our Kryptonite. Both of us love exploring the outdoors but for different reasons. He likes looking for old bottles from the turn of the century, and arrowheads. I like looking for caves that I never find, and camping. While we go out for different reasons, he’s the one who taught me to love the outdoors. He taught me a respect for animals that I have until this day. Even though I am a sport shooter, I’ve never considered hunting simply for the fact that it’s unnecessary for me in this day and age. I would rather catch a deer with a DSLR camera than a pump action shotgun.

Since that birthday party, I’ve had a pair of cowboy boots. A rich brown leather with only the most basic of designs stitched into the side. I let them sit in a closet all through college. It wasn’t until I got out of college that I put them back on. And you know what? It actually looked good on this suburban kid; wearing jeans and button down casual shirts. I can get away with it, and get compliments for it. Hell, casual Friday meant I wore my jeans and boots. I learned that from my dad. He’ll wear black cowboy boots with his work suits and make it work with no problem. I’ve reached that point in my life where I’m not scared to inject a bit of uniqueness into my style and I’m proud of it. I love my boots, they are comfortable as hell and make that satisfying thud with each step.

Now, I will never be able to pull off a cowboy hat, but the boots at least are staying.

Poll: Would you be interested in a non-fiction book about revisionism after the US Civil War?

Hello Internet,

I need advice. I’m still working on my novel, and The Map, however I have an itch to begin gathering information for a new project.

I kind of want to know if it sounds like a good, interesting idea. Maybe not something that’s your cup of tea particularly, but that you can see people reading.

I want to write a book about the revisionist history that happened after the end of the US Civil War.

The plan would be to tackle everything from the “State’s Rights” arguments for the war, to Sherman (I’m on a huge Sherman kick lately), to Lincoln’s popularity, and the issue of slavery in the North. I would try to keep it as non-biased as possible, however would be tackling a LOT of revisionism by post-Civil War Confederate veterans.

So! Can you vote and let me know what you think?

I’d be super appreciative!

Asylum: The Map Part 10

The flashlight I bought for the shotgun pierces the darkness in front of us. Even though it’s day out, the boarded windows prevent any hint of sunlight from entering the building. The building is four stories tall, connected to a few sub-buildings via an underground tunnel system. We have agreed to stay out of there.

Gaby is following close behind me, her hand on my shoulder. I can tell she’s having second thoughts. She didn’t bring a weapon, didn’t think she needed one. Now she’s probably regretting that. She grips my shoulder tighter and I know that she feels what I’ve been feeling for weeks. We’re being hunted.

The hallway is beyond decrepit. Water has done its damage on the walls and ceiling. Some hallways are completely impassable due to the floors collapsing.

Creak.

Continue reading Asylum: The Map Part 10