The Giraffe Riddle on Facebook

moo

The giraffe riddle is taking over Facebook!

Here’s how it works: Answer the riddle below, if you get the answer right, congrats! You may keep your profile picture. If you get it wrong, you’re meant to make your profile picture a giraffe for a day.

Do you have what it takes?

‘It’s 3 a.m., the doorbell rings and you wake up. Unexpected visitors! It’s your parents and they are here for breakfast. You have strawberry jam, honey, wine, bread and cheese. What is the first thing you open?’

Thanks for playing!

THE ANSWER: “Your eyes” or “the door”

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Taurids Meteor Shower: November 4, 5

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The Taurids is a long-running minor meteor shower producing only about 5-10 meteors per hour. It is unusual in that it consists of two separate streams. The first is produced by dust grains from Asteroid 2004 TG10. The second stream is produced by debris left behind by Comet 2P Encke. The shower runs annually from September 7 to December 10. It peaks this year on the the night of November 4. This is an excellent year  because there will be no moonlight to spoil the show. Best viewing will be just after midnight from a dark location far away from city lights. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Taurus, but can appear anywhere in the sky.

The expected peak will fall on the night of November 11-12 (late evening on Monday, November 11, until the wee morning hours on Tuesday, November 12). But by then, a larger and brighter waxing gibbous moon won’t set until a few hours after midnight. If you’re blessed with clear nights this weekend, take advantage of them because you’ll have more moon-free viewing time than early next week!

Although the North Taurid meteor shower is not expected to peak until early next week, the meteor rates may be comparable throughout the weekend. In a dark sky, you might see up to 10 meteors per hour. This shower favors the Northern Hemisphere, but no matter where you live worldwide, the best viewing hours are usually in the wee hours just after midnight.

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Rare ‘Hybrid’ Solar Eclipse on Sunday, November 3, 2013

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A partially eclipsed setting Sun as seen from Dallas, Texas on May 20th, 2012. This weekend’s eclipse will offer U.S. East Coast residents a similar sunrise view.

A hybrid solar eclipse occurs when the Moon is almost too close to the Earth to completely block the Sun. This type of eclipse will appear as a total eclipse to some parts of the world and will appear annular to others. The eclipse path will begin in the Atlantic Ocean off the eastern coast of the United States and move east across the Atlantic and across central Africa.

It’s almost upon us. The final eclipse of 2013 occurs this coming weekend on Sunday, November 3rd. This will be the fifth eclipse overall, and the second solar eclipse of 2013. This will also be the only eclipse this year that features a glimpse of totality.

This eclipse is of the rare hybrid variety— that is, it will be an annular eclipse along the very first 15 seconds of its track before transitioning to a total as the Moon’s shadow sweeps just close enough to the Earth to cover the disk of the Sun along the remainder of its track.

An animation of the path of the November 3rd hybrid solar eclipse. (Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center).

An animation of the path of the November 3rd hybrid solar eclipse. (Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center).

How rare are hybrid solar eclipse? Of the 11,898 solar eclipses listed over a 5,000 year span from 1999 BC to 3000 AD in Fred Espenak’s Five Millennium Catalog of Solar Eclipses, only 569, or 4.8% are hybrids.

Who can see this eclipse?

People from northern South America, across the U.S. Eastern Seaboard and up through the Canadian Maritimes will see a brief partial solar eclipse finishing up around 30 minutes after local sunrise. The brief annular “ring of fire” portion of the eclipse begins at sunrise just ~1,000 kilometres east of Jacksonville, Florida, as it races eastward across the Atlantic. See the timeline, below.

Eclipse prospects for the US East Coast. (Courtesy of Michael Zeiler at EclipseMaps)

Eclipse prospects for the US East Coast. (Courtesy of Michael Zeiler at EclipseMaps)

Nearly all of Africa and the southern Mediterranean region including Spain will see partial phases of the eclipse, while greatest totality occurs just off of the coast of Liberia and heads for first landfall on the African continent over Wonga Wongue Reserve in Gabon. At this point, the duration of totality will already have shrunk back down to 1 minute and 7 seconds. The shadow of the Moon will then cross central Africa, headed for a short but brilliant sunset total eclipse over Uganda, Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia.

The global path of this weekends eclipse-click to enlarge. (Credit: Michael Zeiler, at EclipseMaps).

The global path of this weekends eclipse-click to enlarge. (Credit: Michael Zeiler, at EclipseMaps).

This particular eclipse part of saros series 143 and is member 23 of the 72 eclipses in the cycle. The first eclipse in this saros occurred on March 7th, 1617, and the last one will occur on April 23rd, 2897.

Saros 143 also has a checkered place in  eclipse history. The last eclipse in this series crossed south eastern Asia on October 24th, 1995.

The first detailed picture of a solar eclipse was also taken of a saros 143 member on July 28, 1851. And one saros later, a total solar eclipse on August 7th, 1869 may have saved the butt of astronomer and explorer George Davidson while traversing the wilds of Alaska. And one more saros period later,  Dmitri Mendeleev (he of the modern periodic table) observed the total solar eclipse of August 19th, 1887 from a balloon.

A daguerreotype image of the 1851 eclipse captured by Berkowski of the Royal Observatory in Königsberg, Prussia. (Public domain image).

A daguerreotype image of the 1851 eclipse captured by Berkowski of the Royal Observatory in Königsberg, Prussia. (Public domain image).

A brief worldwide timeline for the November 3rd hybrid eclipse has been compiled. Keep in mind, the shift back off of Daylight Saving Time occurs on the same morning as the eclipse for North America, putting the U.S. East Coast  once again back to -5 hours off of Universal Time (UT):

10:04 UT: The partial phases of the eclipse begin.

11:05:17 UT: annular phases of the eclipse begin.

11:05:36 UT: The eclipse transitions from an annular to a total along its track.

12:46: The point of greatest eclipse, occurring off of the SW coast of Liberia along the coast of Africa. The path will be 57 kilometres wide at this point with a maximum duration for totality at 1 minute & 40 seconds.

14:27 UT: The total phases of the eclipse end.

15:28 UT: Partial phases end.

Remember that solar safety is paramount while observing an eclipse during all partial phases. This is especially critical, as millions of viewers along the U.S. East Coast are poised to catch the eclipse at sunrise over the Atlantic on Sunday. Use only glasses designed specifically for eclipse viewing or welder’s glass #14. One project headed by Astronomers Without Borders is also working to provide eclipse glasses to schools in Africa.

Projecting the Sun onto a wall or a piece of paper is also a safe method to observe the eclipse. Construction of a Sun Gun, a pinhole projector, or even using a spaghetti strainer or colander to project the partially eclipsed sun are all fun projects to try.

Shooting pictures of the rising eclipse is also possible using a DSLR. To capture the disk of the Sun plus an outline of the foreground, you’ll want to use a combination of low ISO 100 and a fast shutter speed (1/4000 or faster) and a zoom lens of at least 200mm or greater. Keep in mind, DO NOT look at the Sun through the camera’s view finder— simply set the focus to infinity and aim via projection. It’s worth practicing your technique a morning or two prior to the main event!

The sky over Gabon during mid-eclipse.

The sky over Gabon during mid-eclipse.

As the partial phase of the eclipse progresses, keep an eye out for “tiny crescents” that may litter the ground. These are caused by gaps in things such as leaves, latticework, etc that may act as natural “pinhole projectors”. Those lucky enough to stand in the path of totality may snare a look at shadow bands sweeping across the landscape as totality approaches, as well as catch a brief glimpse of Baily’s Beads and the pearly white corona of the Sun.

Totality will last less than a minute across most of central Africa, giving viewers a very hurried view before partial phases commence once more. Venus will be easily visible at magnitude -4.4 just 47 degrees east of the Sun. Unfortunately, prospects aren’t great for air or seaborne viewers in the mid-Atlantic to catch sight of comet ISON during the frenzied moments of totality, which will sit 50 degrees from the Sun between magnitude +7 & +8.

Sunspot activity has also been on the upswing as of late, making for a photogenic Sun heading into the partial phases of the eclipse. A well-placed, naked eye Coronal Mass Ejection on the solar limb also isn’t out of the question. Eclipse historian and expert Michael Zeiler notes that a CME last occurred during a total solar eclipse way back in 1860.

Sunspot activity as of October 28th… will it stay active until this weekend’s eclipse?

Sunspot activity as of October 28th… will it stay active until this weekend’s eclipse?

Totality for this eclipse passes over some wild and largely wifi free areas; few plans to broadcast the eclipse live have surfaced thus far.

Slooh plans a broadcast, as did a proposed Indiegogo project whose current status is unclear. BRCK also plans to broadcast the eclipse live from the shores of Lake Turkana, Kenya.  Got plans to webcast even the partial phases of the eclipse? Let me know!

And speaking of eclipse chasing, we plan on heading to the Florida Space Coast Sunday morning at o’dark thirty to nab the partial sunrise eclipse over the Atlantic.

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And as always, the question posed immediately after totality is: when’s the next one? Well, the next annular eclipse graces Australia on April 29th, 2014. The U.S. will also see a partial solar eclipse on October 23rd next year… but totality will not touch the surface of our fair planet until a high Arctic eclipse on March 20th, 2015..

Good luck, clear skies, and safe journeys to all who are chasing after this one near and far, and don’t forget to share your pics on social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc.

On the Web:

Hybrid solar eclipse from the Americas to Middle East on November 3

Get ready! Hybrid solar eclipse on November 3

Partial Solar Eclipse Sunday Morning, Nov. 3rd

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Early Morning Sky Brings Leo, Coma Berenices, Bootes and Virgo

skychartEarly Risers: The eastern morning sky brings the arrival of spring constellations Leo, Coma Berenices, Bootes and Virgo.

Easy to find using the well known asterism of the Big Dipper, these spring constellations, and especially Coma Berenices and Virgo, comprise the “realm of the galaxies,” where we look away from our own Milky Way and out towards deep space.

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HAPPY HALLOWEEN, from 1,200 light years away!

cepheus

THE GHOSTS OF CEPHEUS present a cosmic view with the chiaroscuro that the old great painters might have applied to their canvases. Here a few bright stars illuminate an otherwise dark and cold molecular cloud of gas and dust some 1,200 light years away.

Their ghoulish and scalloped shapes are as surprising as they are rare in other similar clouds. Note the conical outflows on the right side of the cloud where a star is forming and blowing dust from deep within.

Optics 32-inch Schulman Telescope (RCOS)
Camera SBIG STX CCD Camera
Filters Astrodon Gen II
Dates Summer 2011
Location Mount Lemmon SkyCenter
Exposure LRGB = 360:70:70:70 minutes
Acquisition ACP Observatory Control Software (DC-3 Dreams),TheSky (Software Bisque), Maxim DL/CCD (Cyanogen)
Processing CCDStack (CCDWare), Photoshop CS5 (Adobe)

Top Five Halloween Objects:

1. M45 – The Pleiades
2. The ET Cluster, NGC 457, in Cassiopeia
3. M11 – The Wild Duck Cluster in Scutum
4. M13 – The Great Hercules Cluster in Hercules
5. M31 – The Great Andromeda Galaxy in Andromeda.

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Halloween Spookiness: America’s Hidden Gateways To Hell

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Scattered around America are numerous “portals to hell”.. if you’re brave, tonight might be the perfect night to explore one near you..

Sick of the same old costume parties and predictable haunted houses? If you’re looking to really experience some face melting terror this Halloween, forget the festive corn mazes, load up on holy water, and visit some of America’s Gateways to Hell.

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9th Gate of Hell
Franklin County, VA 24151 US

9 Gates to Hell – These nine consecutive gates are rumored to be located in Franklin County, VA.

Though not wildly known as the most famous of all the American “gates to hell” , this particular location has been home to some of the most terrifying supposed paranormal activity.

The first gate is located at the opening of an L shaped cemetery, which is located at the slope of a large local hill. Supposedly the caretaker’s home was located in the center.

The cemetery is broken up in 9 separate sections by small iron gates, these’s are the apparent “9 gates of hell”.

The grounds of the cemetery are currently in disarray, and visitors haver reported coming across partial caskets, and strange smells.

Many  who have visited the cemetery report making it to the third gate, but most don’t make it past this point. Thrill-seekers who have visited the cemetery report hearing the screaming voice of a child and wailing screams that don’t sound human at all.

Rumor has it that no one to visit the 9 Gates of Hell has ever made it past the 9th gate.

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Stull Cemetery
N 1600 Road
Stull, KS 66050 US

Stull Cemetery – The cemetery located in Stull and has gained an amount of dubious recognition due to various urban legends referring to the Devil, the occult, and as being a supposed gateway to Hell.

Stull Cemetery is supposedly the most evil place on earth, with a hidden staircase that descends directly into the bowels of hell. Rumor has it that even the Pope will not fly his plane over the grounds of Stull, because it is cursed.

One of the many legends surrounding Stull Cemetery involved the church, which is no longer standing. Before the building had been demolished many had reported that rain would not fall within the walls of the building, even though their was no roof to cover the insides.

Local police have discouraged curiosity seekers from entering the cemetery, especially on Halloween, and some people have been arrested for trespassing there.

Urge Overkill released “Stull EP” in 1992 which features the church and a tombstone from the cemetery on the cover. The legends also form the plot in the film Turbulence 3: Heavy Metal. The cemetery is also the site of the final confrontation of the Apocalypse in season five of the television series Supernatural.

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Spider Gate Cemetery
901 Pleasant Street
Worcester, MA 01602 US

Spider Gate Cemetery – There have been rumors that the Spider Gates are the eighth gate to hell or that as you move closer to the center of the cemetery the closer you get to hell. Although paranormal investigations are not permitted by the Worcester Friends Meeting, professional ones have taken place on the grounds as well as numerous amateurs trying to find the source of the haunting.

Theories regarding this source range from the alleged hanging of a boy from a tree near the front of the cemetery, the brutal murder of a young girl on the cemetery grounds, and even that the center of the cemetery, known as “the Altar” due to it being raised and surrounded by trees, is used for Satanic rituals. If one is there after dark, banned by the Worcester Friends Meeting, you can supposedly hear roars and voices coming from the woods that surround the area.

A mysterious white ooze seeps up from the ground. There are strips of land where no grass grows. There are stones with ancient runes etched into them. And that there is a second, smaller cemetery nearby, that can be found only once, then vanishes.

While some, if not all, of these seem like tall tales, they have nonetheless led to a series of investigations. The only claim that has any evidence is that there was a girl murdered in the area, however she was not mutilated and left in a nearby cave as the stories suggest.  According to some there was also a hanging nearby but there is no evidence of such an event in any police logs or papers.

Some Spider Gates conspirators attribute this to the Southwick’s political power in the area particularly with the Leicester authorities where they have been residents for generations. With this power, they are believed to suppress any bad press that happens in the area but a more likely scenario is that, over time, anything bad that happens in the area, ends up being told as occurring at Spider Gates.  Another popular tale is the Legend of Marmaduke’s Grave. This myth focuses on the grave of Marmaduke Earle, a member of the Earle family buried here. If you walk around Marmaduke’s headstone ten times at midnight, then say, “Marmaduke speak to me” and kneel putting your head on his grave, he will begin to talk to you.

This legend has also been related to the finding of coins on the tops of headstones in the cemetery. According to some, this resembles the Greek practice of burying someone with a coin to pay Charon, the ferryman who would take them across the River Styx. This has been connected to the nearby Kettle Brook, which may act as the stand-in River Styx for this myth.

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Red Gate to Hell
Sawmill Rd
Downingtown, PA 19335 US

Red Gate to Hell – This location got its nickname because of the massive gates painted blood red, that barred people from entering a long and winding gravel road.

The myth of the Red Gate to Hell begins with a mentally unstable father who owned a huge estate beyond the iron gates. Sometime during the 1950’s he supposedly killed his wife and childeren in a fit of rage, before turning the gun on himself.

Many who have visited the Red Gates tell stories of their cars staling on the road, and of hearing horrible screams coming from beyond the dark and winding road.

There have been many rumors of cult activity, and even reports of a thrill-seeker being chased by a group of people in black hoods.

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Seven Gates of Hell
Trout Run Rd
York , PA 17406 US

Seven Gates of Hell – Last but not least is one of the most famous entrances to the netherworld, and reportedly one of the hardest to find.

There are two popular versions of the myth, with numerous variants of each. One states that a mental institution used to be located on either Toad Road or Trout Run Road, depending on the source, in Hellam Township, Pennsylvania.  It was erected in a remote location so as to isolate people deemed insane from the rest of the world.

One day in the 1800s, a fire broke out and, due to its remoteness, firefighters could not reach the hospital in time to save it. Many patients died in the flames, while others escaped and were soon beaten to death.

The gates’ role in the story is disputed. Some say that the gates were put up by the local search party to trap the remaining inmates. Others say that, completely unrelated to the asylum story, an eccentric physician who lived on the property built several gates along a path deep into the forest.

Both accounts agree on only one gate being visible during the day, but the other six can be seen at night. According to the legend, no one has ever passed the fifth gate, but if they passed all seven, they would go directly to hell. Another story about the gates of hell is of a man in the 1950s who murdered his wife and children with a shot gun and impaled their corpses on the spikes of one of the gates.

Before the house was torn down, bullet holes were visible in the garage door and in the wall on the side of the house where the garage door was located.

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Pre-Halloween Spookiness: Lizzie Borden’s Crib

Lizzie Crib

It’s the place where one of America’s most gruesome unsolved crimes took place and you can spend the night there, too!

READER DISCRETION ADVISED: Some of the photos and accounts of the case may not be suitable for some readers.

The case was memorialized in a popular skipping-rope rhyme:

Lizzie Borden took an axe

And gave her mother forty whacks.

When she saw what she had done

She gave her father forty-one.

Folklore says the rhyme was made up by an anonymous writer as a tune to sell newspapers. Others attribute it to the ubiquitous, but anonymous, “Mother Goose”. In reality, Lizzie’s stepmother suffered 18 or 19 blows; her father, 11 blows.

A photograph of Lizzie Borden appears in the Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast, in Fall River, Mass., Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2008. The owner of the site of the 1892 double murder has filed a federal lawsuit to prevent a new museum and shop in Salem from using the name of the infamous former Sunday school teacher who was accused in the hatchet deaths of her wealthy father and stepmother. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

A photograph of Lizzie Borden appears in the Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast, in Fall River, Mass. The owner of the site of the 1892 double murder has filed a federal lawsuit to prevent a new museum and shop in Salem from using the name of the infamous former Sunday
school teacher who was accused in the hatchet deaths of her wealthy father and stepmother. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

It’s August 4, 1892, a Thursday. A wealthy businessman and his wife are found brutally murdered in their Victorian home in Fall River, Massachusetts. The Accused: the youngest daughter, Lizzie. The Verdict: Not Guilty! So goes the lore of the most famous crime in the annals of American history.

The mystery remains: If Lizzie Borden did not wield the murder weapon, who did? Our beautifully restored Greek-revival home is now a first-class bed & breakfast. You are invited to choose one of 6 beautifully appointed bedrooms and roam the house to learn the true facts about Lizzie Borden and the murders of 1892.

Mr. Borden's crime scene photo

Mr. Borden’s crime scene photo

What were the thoughts of the first police officers on the scene? Who were the suspects? What was the publics reaction? Will you join the legions who think Lizzie guilty, or will you choose to be a stalwart defender?

The story:

Lizzie Borden’s father, Andrew Jackson Borden, despite being the descendent of wealthy and influential residents of the area, grew up in very modest surroundings and struggled financially as a young man. As he grew older, he prospered through the manufacture and sales of furniture and caskets. He later became a successful property developer and directed several textile mills including the Globe Yarn Mill Company, Troy Cotton, and Woolen Manufacturing Company.

Mrs. Borden's crime scene photo

Mrs. Borden’s crime scene photo

At the time of his death, he owned considerable commercial property and was both president of the Union Savings Bank and a director of the Durfee Safe Deposit and Trust Co. Despite his wealth, Andrew was known for his frugality.

The Borden home, for instance, lacked indoor plumbing on its ground and first floor, and was located near Andrew’s businesses; the wealthiest residents of Fall River, Massachusetts generally lived in a more fashionable neighborhood (“The Hill”) that was farther away from the industrial areas of the city and much more homogenous racially, ethnically, and socioeconomically.

Lizzie's room

Lizzie’s room

During the inquest, the Bordens’ live-in maid Bridget Sullivan testified that Lizzie and her sister rarely ate meals with their parents. Further during questioning by police and during the inquest Lizzie indicated that she did not call her stepmother “Mother” but rather “Mrs. Borden” and demurred on the subject of whether or not they were cordial with each other.

In May 1892, there was an incident in which Andrew, believing that pigeons Lizzie kept in the barn were attracting intruders, killed the pigeons with a hatchet. A family argument in July 1892 prompted both sisters to take extended “vacations”.

Photo of Lizzie Borden taken during the time of the trial.

Photo of Lizzie Borden taken during the time of the trial.

Tension had been growing in the family in the months before the murders, especially over Andrew’s gifts to various branches of the family. After Abby’s relatives received a house, the sisters demanded and received a rental property—which they later sold back to their father for cash —and just before the murders a brother of Andrew’s first wife had visited regarding transfer of another property.

The night before the murders John Vinnicum Morse, the brother of Lizzie’s and Emma’s deceased mother, visited the home to speak about business matters with Andrew. Some writers have speculated that their conversation—particularly as it related to property transfer—may have aggravated an already tense situation.

Lizzie's room

Lizzie’s room

For several days before the murders the entire household had been violently ill. The family doctor blamed food left on the stove for use in meals over several days, but Abby had feared poisoning—Andrew Borden had not been a popular man.

On August 4, 1892, Andrew Borden had breakfast with his wife and made his usual rounds of the bank and post office, returning home about 10:45 am. The Bordens’ maid, Bridget Sullivan, testified that she was in her third-floor room, resting from cleaning windows, when just before 11:10 am she heard Lizzie call out to her from downstairs, “Maggie, come quick! Father’s dead. Somebody came in and killed him.” (Sullivan was sometimes called “Maggie”, the name of an earlier maid.)

Lizzie Borden

Lizzie Borden

Andrew was slumped on a couch in the downstairs sitting room, struck 10 or 11 times with a hatchet-like weapon. One of his eyeballs had been split cleanly in two, suggesting he had been asleep when attacked. Soon after, as neighbors and doctors tended Lizzie, Sullivan discovered Abby Borden in the upstairs guest bedroom, her skull crushed by 19 blows.

The alleged murder weapon on display.

The alleged murder weapon on display.

Police found a hatchet in the basement which, though free of blood, was missing most of its handle. Lizzie was arrested on August 11; a grand jury began hearing evidence on November 7 and indicted on December 2.

Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast Museum
230 2nd St
Fall River, MA 02721 US

On the Web: Lizzie Borden

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Pre-Halloween Spookiness: Lalaurie Haunted Mansion, New Orleans

LLH1

In the French Quarter of New Orleans there is an ordinary looking house, but a closer look at the hidden past of the property reveals a more complicated history- tales of secret attics, murder, and…Nicolas Cage?

It’s all true in the haunted Lalaurie House.

The dark history of the Lalaurie House began in 1832 when wealthy doctor Louis Lalaurie and his wife Delphine moved into the mansion. The family was one of prominent standing in the community at that time- they were socialites and and threw lavish parties for their neighbors.
spooky
Despite the appearance of their charming lifestyle, whispers of more sinister things spread through the slave class. It seemed there was an extremely high turnover with the house slaves- not only did the Lalauries frequently purchase new slaves, but no one ever seemed to figure out what happened to the old ones. Until, that is, a fire broke out in the Lalaurie kitchen.

Marie Laveau, circa 1920s, oil on canvas by Frank Schneider after George Catlin.

Marie Laveau, circa 1920s, oil on canvas by Frank Schneider after George Catlin.

Some say it was a slave that started it in hopes to bring law enforcement into the house to investigate, but when authorities did show up, they discovered a secret attic with a grisly scene. Many of the former slaves who were thought to have disappeared were still within the house, in cages or attached to chains. All were disfigured and mutilated beyond recognition, tortured beyond belief. Many had died and their body parts were strewn around the room.

The house as it looked in the 1920s

The house as it looked in the 1920s

The town immediately gathered as an angry mob in order to arrest the couple, but the Lalauries barely escaped them by carriage, never to be seen or heard from again. It was then understood from multiple slave accounts that Delphine had been the mastermind behind the torture chamber, and her husband simply turned a blind eye to her horrendous experiments.

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Most historical accounts agree that Mme. Lalaurie did in fact flee New Orleans by way of St. John’s Bayou and Lake Pontchartrain. They also agree that she spent some time in a house/cottage on the banks of the Bogue Falaya River near what is now Covington.

interior2

From there, the trail dims. Some reports say she went to Mobile, Alabama; others say she fled to Paris. But, there are other, and we believe more truthful, reports that say she never left the Northshore. After all, her daughters were left behind in New Orleans, what mother would want to go as far away as Paris.

Based on my research, I believe that Delphine Lalaurie never left St. Tammany Parish. When she reached the sanctuary of the Northshore woods, she decided to stay and take revenge on those who she felt had harmed her.

Eugene Backes and the copper epitaph he found gave evidence today that Madame Lalaurie, mistress of the mansion at 1140 Royal street in the 1830s, died in Paris and was buried in a cemetery here, adding a new chapter to an almost legendary story. Descendants of Madame Lalaurie, upon announcement of the find, revealed that they had known of the burial here. For years the building was known as the "Haunted House," supposedly visited by shadows of slaves allegedly tortured there.

Eugene Backes and the copper epitaph he found gave evidence today that Madame Lalaurie, mistress of the mansion at 1140 Royal street in the 1830s, died in Paris and was buried in a cemetery here, adding a new chapter to an almost legendary story. Descendants of Madame Lalaurie, upon announcement of the find, revealed that they had known of the burial here. For years the building was known as the “Haunted House,” supposedly visited by shadows of slaves allegedly tortured there.

As she looked back on what had happened to her, the resentment and anger grew until Delphine Lalaurie became the perfect vessel for evil. Beginning with her mother’s death, purported to have been murder in a slave uprising, Delphine began to lose touch with the brightness of life and descend into a darkness from which she never emerged.

Each person she harmed and tortured provided another downward step. And, when she was driven from her house by the angry mob, her descent was complete. She now lived for nothing but the chance to do evil and persuade others to do the same.

At the same time, her friendship with Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau continued to grow. Laveau and Lalaurie lived just a few blocks apart in New Orleans and the two women became acquainted when Laveau did Mme. Lalaurie’s hair from time to time. So, with Marie Laveau’s help, she began to dabble in the occult – witchcraft, voodoo, satanic ceremonies – anything she could find.

The Northshore proved to be the perfect spot for Mme. Lalaurie for she was able to hide from prying eyes and yet attract those who wished to help her.

A second-floor parlor in the mansion, with its exquisite furnishings and works of art.

A second-floor parlor in the mansion, with its exquisite furnishings and works of art.

The more she learned about these “arts,” the more she became a disciple of them, particularly the satanic rites and rituals. As she became more proficient, she became known on the Northshore as the “devil-woman” and began to attract followers in surprisingly large numbers.

As recently as 1997, reporters were told by a witness who wishes to remain anonymous, that they had been involved in a satanic cult on the Northshore and as part of the initiation, had been buried alive! This person also had stories of human sacrifices and other terrible events. Reporters were taken to areas where these events were said to have occurred – although there was evidence of recent fires, nothing else was found, except an abiding sense of evil.

And there the trail ends – as we were warned numerous times not to pursue this any further or doom would befall us. We could tell you we ran out of time but in truth, it will take more than a few reporters to root out the evil that we only touched the edge of.

However, if you are out along the shores of Lake Pontchartrain late at night, away from the towns that dot it’s shores, you might see the brief flicker of a flame back in the woods. If you do, get away from there as fast as you can – you are in grave danger. For the legacy of Delphine Lalaurie lives on in the woods of St. Tammany where followers generations removed continue the practice of evil she began so long ago.

No one really knows what happened to Delphine Lalaurie once she fled New Orleans for the Northshore. There are even some who say she never left New Orleans at all, but simply remained out of sight in a more obscure part of town. The truth will never be known.

1140 Royal Street: One of the Most Beautiful Homes in America! This home was named the Lalaurie Mansion and is known for its ghostly history.

1140 Royal Street: One of the Most Beautiful Homes in America! Named the Lalaurie Mansion (formerly Warrington House) it is known for its ghostly history.

The following history of the mansion had been relatively quiet – being used at one point as a saloon and a music conservatory, until it was learned that Nicolas Cage purchased the building in 2007 under anonymous conditions. He held onto the property until 2009 until it foreclose, along with a number of his other properties. Today, the space still stands, as a private living space split into condominiums.

Lalaurie Haunted Mansion 
1140 Royal Street,
New Orleans, LA 70116 US

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The Hobby Horse-Style Bike

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For many, this unique bike will be a trip down memory lane.

It’s environmentally friendly, definitely won’t make you saddle-sore – and also resembles a hobby horse bike. But it might take a bit more than that to convince people to invest in a Fliz bike, which replaces pedals and saddle with a harness.

THE BIRTH OF THE BICYCLE

In 1817 a ‘walking machine’ was invented by Baron von Drais, who wanted to tour stately gardens faster.

He constructed a wooden machine, with two same-size in-line wheels, the front one steerable, mounted in a frame that the rider straddled and then pushed with their feet, so they ‘glided along’.

The machine became known as the Draisienne or hobby horse and was briefly popular – but its impractical function and inability to manage rough terrain meant it’s appeal quickly faded.

The frame works like a suspension whereas the belt replaces the saddle and adjusts your position. This design reduces pressure on the body and distribute weight while running.

The frame works like a suspension whereas the belt replaces the saddle and adjusts your position. This design reduces pressure on the body and distribute weight while running.

The 19th century hobby horse offered people a new way of getting around- allowing them to steer and use wheels to speed up their journey.

The 19th century hobby horse offered people a new way of getting around- allowing them to steer and use wheels to speed up their journey.

It’s unique frame resembles the old style of hobby horse bike, which lacked pedals and dates back to the early 19th century. Unlike the hobby horse, it curves over the spine, whereas the older model had a rigid, flat, frame with a seat on it.

To operate the Fliz, the user has to build up speed by running and then lifting their legs to settle on foot rests at the hub of the rear wheel. Momentum then sends the rider and bike on their way, a little like cartoon stone age man Fred Flintstone’s car.

The bike, created by German designers Tom Hambrock and Juri Spetter, is fixed to the rider with a belt system suspended from the machine’s frame under which the rider is fixed into pace.

The unique bike was entered into the annual James Dyson Award for technology, innovation and design open to international students and founded by the Dyson vacuum cleaner inventor. FLIZ comes from the German word ‘flitzen’ and means speeding – but with your feet.

The concept is to provide healthy, ecological mobility in overcrowded urban spaces.

The frame has a five point belt which is said, despite appearances, to provide a comfortable, ergonomic ride between running and biking.

The frame has a five point belt which is said, despite appearances, to provide a comfortable, ergonomic ride between running and biking.

The inspiration was the world's first personal transport device , a two-wheeled frame which resembled a modern day cycle but without pedals.

The inspiration was the world’s first personal transport device , a two-wheeled frame which resembled a modern day cycle but without pedals.

Strap yourself in! The unusual-looking bike could be the future of cycling - as long as riders know how to balance.

Strap yourself in! The unusual-looking bike could be the future of cycling – as long as riders know how to balance.

The frame has a five point belt which, despite appearances, provides a comfortable, ergonomic ride between running and biking. The belt replaces the saddle and adjusts your position.

The inspiration was the world’s first personal transport device; a two-wheeled frame which resembled a modern day cycle but without pedals. It was built by German inventor Karl Drais and unveiled in 1817.

A wheel-y good idea: The 19th century hobby horses were the forerunner of the bicycles.

A wheel-y good idea: The 19th century hobby horses were the forerunner of the bicycles.

The Dandy Horse and Gompertz's velocipede were only popular for a short period of time - but spawned a love of cycling.

The Dandy Horse and Gompertz’s velocipede were only popular for a short period of time – but spawned a love of cycling.

The velocipede appeared in 1865, and had pedals applied to the front wheels. It was popularly known as the 'Bone Shaker', as the combination of wood and metal tyres and cobblestoned streets made for a very uncomfortable ride.

The velocipede appeared in 1865, and had pedals applied to the front wheels. It was popularly known as the ‘Bone Shaker’, as the combination of wood and metal tyres and cobblestoned streets made for a very uncomfortable ride.

Known as a velocipede, the student team behind the FLIZ wanted to revive that principle but making it more modern with additional benefits. The team even tested a replica of the Drais machine to pinpoint it’s failings such as the unsafe steering and over large seat. The FLIZ prototype which was made of wood and tension belts has been tested and proved to offer a comfortable ride.

The designers said: ‘The frame integrates the rider and due to its construction it works both like a suspension and like a top carrier whereas the belt replaces the saddle and adjusts your position.’ The bicycle’s website boasts about how the bike will revolutionize cycling.

The Fliz may be reminiscent of the prehistoric past, but in actuality it is a new concept bike of the future.  It is currently still in the prototype phase but it is scheduled for immediate mass-production.

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27 Oct. 1922: First Navy Day Observance

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It’s 10 images of vintage Navy Day posters on the 91st Anniversary of Navy Day!

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Navy Day Poster, 1941. Issued 11 September 1941. Courtesy of the Naval Historical Foundation. NHHC Photograph Collection, NH 77239.

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Navy Day Poster, 1944. NHHC Photograph Collection, NH 72274.

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Navy Day Poster, 1945. NHHC Photograph Collection, NH 72280-KN (Color).

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Peacetime Navy Day Poster, 26 August 1946. NHHC Photograph Collection, NH 72288-KN (Color).

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Navy Day, 27 October 1942 Poster. Artwork John Falter, USNR. Donated by the Steamship Historical Society of America. NHHC Photograph Collection, NH 76341-KN (Color).

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Navy Day Poster, 1941. Issued September 1941. Courtesy of the Naval Historical Foundation. NHHC Photograph Collection, NH 77231.

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Navy Day Poster, 1931. Courtesy of Captain Joseph S. Evans, USN. NHHC Photograph Collection, NH 78621.

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Navy Day Poster, 1947. Issued September 1947. Courtesy of the Naval Historical Foundation. NHHC Photograph Collection, NH 78860.

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Theodore Roosevelt, Secretary of Navy, Rough Rider, governor and president, 1858-1919 / lithographed by Forbes Litho. Mfg. Co., Boston. Courtesy of the Library of Congress, LC-USZC4-11548.

Theodore Roosevelt, Secretary of Navy, Rough Rider, governor and president, 1858-1919 / lithographed by Forbes Litho. Mfg. Co., Boston. Courtesy of the Library of Congress, LC-USZC4-11548.

On the Web: History of Navy Day

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