Hold Me Up


Have you ever taken a close look at what is under the bridge you drive over? Nah, me neither. And after I looked at the bottom of the bridge that goes over the Queechee Gorge in Vermont, I don’t think I want to!

Today’s photo was shot just this past August when we went for a walk down along the underside of the bridge. I shot it with a shallow depth of field, but you can still make out the rusty spots on the support structures underneath the bridge. This large tri-span, spandrel-braced, deck arched bridge is 285′ tong, 41′ wide, and sits 163′ above the dramatic setting of the Ottauquechee River.

163 feet above the river.  Not a place to walk if you are afraid of heights (like I am!), and if I had seen it before driving over it, I might have had second thoughts. Metal doesn’t last forever. And don’t you think that a bridge that was built nearly 100 years ago (1927), has to be weaker today than when it was built?

Still, it made for an interesting photo.

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1421 a storm in the North Sea battered the European coastline. Over the next several days, approximately 10,000 people in what is now the Netherlands died in the resulting floods.

The lowlands of the Netherlands near the North Sea were densely populated at the time, despite their known vulnerability to flooding. Small villages and a couple of cities had sprung up in what was known as the Grote Waard region. The residents built dikes throughout the area to keep the water at bay, but fatal floods still struck in 1287, 1338, 1374, 1394 and 1396. After each, residents fixed the dikes and moved right back in after the floods.

Even the St. Elisabeth’s flood of November 1404 (named after the November 19 feast day for St. Elisabeth of Hungary), in which thousands died, could not dissuade the residents from living in the region. Seventeen years later, at the same time of year, another strong storm struck the North Sea. The resulting storm surge caused waves to burst hundreds of dikes all over Grote Waard. The city of Dort was devastated and 20 whole villages were wiped off the map. The flooding was so extensive this time that the dikes were not fully rebuilt until 1500. This meant that much of Zeeland and Holland–the area that now makes up the Netherlands–was flooded for decades following the storm. The town of Dordrecht was permanently separated from the mainland in the flood.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: In Swaziland, the chance of a 15-year-old boy living to 50 years is 28%. For a girl it is just 22%. Before AIDS, it was 92% and 97%, respectively.

It’s been a long haul…


Whew. I’ve been busy…super busy, in fact.  I was traveling, then I got sick, then I had to go on another trip for 12 days.  Just got home yesterday.

You know that old saying about “There’s no place like home”?  Well, let me tell you, it’s true. Some think it must be glamorous to travel, stay in a hotel, eat out…but it isn’t. Not at all. I’m so glad to be back home!

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to take my camera with me and I’ve not shot much of anything for so long now that I’m not sure I’ll know how to work my camera any more (just kidding…but it feels that way!)

So, here’s another picture I took a while back. It’s a piece of “art” with a portion of a Beatles’ song on it, Let It Be. I remember when the song came out. I was a teenager in high school. It surely seems to have been an easier time…and safer, too. With recent events in Paris, with threats being made about attacks in the US and in Washington, I think we all long for those simpler, more sane times.  Let it be…

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1957, infamous killer Edward Gein murders his last victim, Bernice Worden of Plainfield, Wisconsin. His grave robbing, necrophilia, and cannibalism gained national attention, and may have provided inspiration for the characters ofNorman Bates in Psycho and serial killer Buffalo Bill in The Silence of the Lambs.

Gein was a quiet farmer who lived in rural Wisconsin with an extremely domineering mother. After she died in 1945, he began studying anatomy, and started stealing women’s corpses from local cemeteries. In 1954, Gein shot and killed saloonkeeper Mary Hogan, piled the body onto a sled, and dragged it home.

On November 16, Gein robbed Worden at the local hardware store she owned and killed her. Her son, a deputy, discovered his mother’s body and became suspicious of Gein, who was believed to be somewhat odd. When authorities searched Gein’s farmhouse, they found an unimaginably grisly scene: organs were in the refrigerator, a heart sat on the stove, andheads had been made into soup bowls. Apparently, Gein had kept various organs from his grave digging and murders as keepsakes and for decoration. He had also used human skin to upholster chairs.

Though it is believed that he killed others during this time, Gein only admitted to the murders of Worden and Hogan. In 1958, Gein was declared insane and sent to the Wisconsin State Hospital in Mendota, where he remained until his death in 1984.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: Thailand set the world record of the longest line of washed plates in May 2010 when 10,488 washed plates were lined up. However, that record was crushed on April 6, 2011, in India when 15,295 washed plates were lined up, equaling more than 2.36 miles.

What We All Need

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Double click for a larger image…

Many of the songs on the radio, whether you are talking about rock, rap, country, jazz…the primary theme of most songs has something to do with love.  Everyone wants to be loved, and to have someone to love.  Maybe I didn’t say that strongly enough: we don’t just want to love and be loved – we all need it. Some folks never find love from another human, but they find it from a pet or from their God. What would a life be without love? How much would we be missing if we missed knowing and experiencing love.

At the Johns Creek Art Festival that we went to a bit over a week ago, one book had art that was taken from words from rock songs. Stills/Nash/Young, the Beatles, Lynyrd Skynard and others were represented. I thought it was rather creative, but I don’t know if he is violating copyright laws by doing this or not.  Still, it was interesting.

You didn’t grow up in my generation without knowing these songs. It was the greatest era of popular music ever, in my humble opinion.

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1994, Susan Smith reported that she was carjacked in South Carolina by a man who took her two small children in the backseat of her car. Although authorities immediately began searching for three-year-old Michael and one-year-old Alex, they could find no trace of them or of Smith’s car. After nine days of intense national media attention, Smith finally confessed that the carjacking tale was false and that she had driven her Mazda into the John D. Long Lake in order to drown her children.

Both Susan and her husband, David Smith, who had had multiple affairs during their on-and-off relationship, had used their children as pawns in their tempestuous marriage. Apparently, Susan was involved with another man who did not want children, and she thought that killing her children was the only way to continue the relationship.

Ironically, Smith’s murder came to light because she had covered her tracks too well. While believing that the car and children would be discovered in the lake shortly after the search was started, she never anticipated that the authorities might not be able to find the car. After living under the pressure of the media’s scrutiny day after day, Smith buckled. She was convicted on two counts of murder and sentenced to life in prison.

In a book David Smith later wrote about the death of his children, Beyond All Reason, he expressed an ambiguous wish to see Susan on death row because he would never be able to relax and live a full life with her in prison.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: When Pluto was discovered in 1930, many people wrote in suggesting names for the new planet. Some suggestions were Cronus, Persephone, Erebus, Atlas, and Prometheus. Eleven-year-old Venetia Burney suggested the name Pluto. She thought it would be a good name since Pluto is so dark and far away, like the god of the underworld. On May 1, 1930, the name Pluto became official, and the little girl received a £5 note as a reward.

Oil-Can Geetar Man

Double click for a larger version of the oil can guitars...
Double click for a larger version of the oil can guitars…

“Who draws the crowd and plays so loud, baby, it’s the guitar man
Who’s gonna steal the show, you know, baby, it’s the guitar man
He can make you love, he can make you cry
He will bring you down and he’ll get you high
Somethin’ keeps him goin’ miles and miles a day
To find another place to play”

So sang the band, Bread, in Guitar Man. Billy Joel sang about the piano man. I would imagine that many of the main-line instruments have had people sing about them at one time or another. But I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone sing about the piccolo person, have you? Or they cymbals player? Why is that? I don’t get it!

Anyway, I shot this picture this past Saturday at the Johns Creek Art Festival in, of all places, Johns Creek, Georgia. It wasn’t really so much an art festival as a craft fair with lots of booths and people hawking their wares. There was some original art, some dance and music, but as an art festival, I was disappointed, but I did get some pictures, like this, that helped me feel better about it.

I don’t think that I’d ever seen oil cans built into guitars before. Of course, they are, I think, just works of art and not really playable, but I wonder what they would sound like, don’t you?

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1944, two liquid gas tanks exploded in Cleveland, Ohio, killing 130 people. It took all of the city’s firefighters to bring the resulting industrial fire under control.

At 2:30 p.m., laboratory workers at the East Ohio Gas Company spotted white vapor leaking from the large natural gas tank at the company plant near Lake Erie. The circular tank had a diameter of 57 feet and could hold 90 million cubic feet of the highly flammable gas. Ten minutes later, a massive and violent explosion rocked the entire area. Flames went as high as 2,500 feet in the air. Everything in a half-mile vicinity of the explosion was completely destroyed.

Shortly afterwards, a smaller tank also exploded. The resulting out-of-control fire necessitated the evacuation of 10,000 people from the surrounding area. Every firefighting unit in Cleveland converged on the East Ohio Gas site. It still took nearly an entire day to bring the fire under control. When the flames went out, rescue workers found that 130 people had been killed by the blast and nearly half of the bodies were so badly burned that they could not be identified. Two hundred and fifteen people were injured and required hospitalization.

The explosion had destroyed two entire factories, 79 homes in the surrounding area and more than 200 vehicles. The total bill for damages exceeded $10 million. The cause of the blast had to do with the contraction of the metal tanks: The gas was stored at temperatures below negative 250 degrees and the resulting contraction of the metal had caused a steel plate to rupture.

Newer and safer techniques for storing gas and building tanks were developed in the wake of this disaster.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: According to Irish legend, Jack O’Lanterns are named after a stingy man named Jack who, because he tricked the devil several times, was forbidden entrance into both heaven and hell. He was condemned to wander the Earth, waving his lantern to lead people away from their paths.

Meet Ms. Asparagus Head

Double click to see Ms. Asparagus is a stunningly larger image (if you dare!)
Double click to see Ms. Asparagus is a stunningly larger image (if you dare!)

Do you remember Mr. Potato Head? I thought that Mr. Potato Head was long gone until I was playing with my youngest granddaughter a few months back. Much to my great surprise and delight, she pulled out Mr. Potato Head and we played with it for a while! Yeah, I grant you that it doesn’t take great genius or even serious thought…but it was…and to my surprise still is….fun!

Well, today’s photo isn’t one I took of Mr. Potato Head, but this image reminded me of Ms. Asparagus Head.  Doesn’t it sort of look like asparagus that is growing out of the top of her head?  Or at the very least, some kind of green, leafy vegetable? No, this is not a chia head…it’s plaster of Paris and is a decoration, but I was asking myself (in spite of the bright colors which I like), “Why?”

I got no answer. So now you must be plagued by it, too. Oh, by the way, you’re welcome! (Misery loves company!)

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1812, one month after Napoleon Bonaparte’s massive invading force entered a burning and deserted Moscow, the starving French army was forced to begin a hasty retreat out of Russia.

Following the rejection of his Continental System by Czar Alexander I, French Emperor Napoleon I invaded Russia with his Grande Armée on June 24, 1812. The enormous army, featuring more than 500,000 soldiers and staff, was the largest European military force ever assembled to that date.

During the opening months of the invasion, Napoleon was forced to contend with a bitter Russian army in perpetual retreat. Refusing to engage Napoleon’s superior army in a full-scale confrontation, the Russians under General Mikhail Kutuzov burned everything behind them as they retreated deeper and deeper into Russia. On September 7, the indecisive Battle of Borodino was fought, in which both sides suffered terrible losses. On September 14, Napoleon arrived in Moscow intending to find supplies but instead found almost the entire population evacuated, and the Russian army retreated again. Early the next morning, fires broke across the city set by Russian patriots, and the Grande Armée’s winter quarters were destroyed. After waiting a month for a surrender that never came, Napoleon, faced with the onset of the Russian winter, was forced to order his starving army out of Moscow.

During the disastrous retreat, Napoleon’s army suffered continual harassment from a suddenly aggressive and merciless Russian army. Stalked by hunger and the deadly lances of the Cossacks, the decimated army reached the Berezina River late in November but found its route blocked by the Russians. On November 26, Napoleon forced a way across at Studienka, and when the bulk of his army passed the river three days later, he was forced to burn his makeshift bridges behind him, stranding some 10,000 stragglers on the other side. From there, the retreat became a rout, and on December 8 Napoleon left what remained of his army to return to Paris with a few cohorts. Six days later, the Grande Armée finally escaped Russia, having suffered a loss of more than 400,000 men during the disastrous invasion.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY:  Elias Howe (1819-1867) said one inspiration for his invention of the sewing machine came from a nightmare he had about being attacked by cannibals bearing spears that looked like the needle he then designed.

Beware the Frog!

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Double click for a larger version of the image…

Did you know that there are around 5000 species of frog in the world?  Every continent has them except for Antarctica. The largest frog in the world is the Goliath frog. It can grow as long as 3 feet when stretched out, and can weigh as much as a human baby (7+ pounds). They are found in Equitorial Guinea and Camaroon in western Africa, lack vocal sacs (so they make no noise) and can as long as 15 years.

The recently discovered Paedophryne amauensis is not only the world’s smallest frog, but also the world’s tiniest vertebrate.  It is about the size of a housefly, averaging 7.7mm long, living solely on the rain forest floor leaf litter detritus in New Guinea.

The Goliath frog could be quite alarming due to its size, the Paedophryne amauensis is interesting because of it’s diminuitive size, but the poison-dart frog is the deadliest of all the croakers. On average they are about 6/10ths of an inch long and are native to central and South America. They are called the “poison-dart frog” because four species of them are used to kill prey by some of the indigenous tribes. They dip the tip of their blow darts into the poison secreted by the frogs and the darts are used to kiill prey…and on occasion, undoubtedly, people. It is said that a single drop of the poison will kill a human being within three minutes.

So, instead of “Beware of Dog”, I thought this item which I saw at a craft fair on Saturday, gave new meaning to “Beware of Frog!”

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: on this day in 1998, a pipeline explosion in Jesse, Nigeria, killed 700 people. The resulting fire burned for nearly a week.

Nigeria is an oil-rich country on the west coast of Africa. The oil fields are controlled by several multi-national corporations in cooperation with the Nigerian government. Very little of the proceeds from oil exports reaches the average citizen of the country and millions of people live in abject poverty. In fact, gas pipelines run right through impoverished villages.

One such pipeline ran through the town of Jesse, where it became commonplace for residents to steal oil from the pipeline to supplement their meager incomes. This was known as “bunkering” and was taking place on October 18, when a helicopter was dispatched to disperse the people assembled at the pipeline. Just after the helicopter arrived, a massive fireball shot up 100 feet into the sky. The exact cause of the explosion remains unknown.

The pipeline explosion incinerated hundreds of people instantly. Others died from agonizing burn injuries. The fire burned so hot that rescue workers could not approach the scene for six days. Meanwhile, survivors, some suffering from terrible burns, were afraid to go to the hospital for fear that they would be charged with theft or be blamed for causing the fire.

Finally, specialists from Houston, Texas, arrived with firefighting foam that helped the firefighters extinguish the blaze. Heavier security surrounding the pipelines was instituted in the wake of this disaster.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: Speed dating, invented by a rabbi from Los Angeles in 1999, is based on a Jewish tradition of chaperoned gatherings of young Jewish singles.

Hanalei Bay Sunset

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Double click for a larger version of the image…

This is a picture I took a few years back of a sunset, looking westward, at Hanalei Bay on the island of Kauai in Hawaii. Why am I sharing this picture now?  Not because I’m going back there any time soon, but just because this photo whispers peace to me. It was a very gentle evening, warm, but not overly hot, a soft breeze caressed everyone delightfully.

I believe I shared this photo back in the days shortly after I shot it, but I share it again now because perhaps you need some peace in your life. Get lost in the palms, the colors of the sky and sea, and relax. Shaka, bro! Aloha!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1947, U.S. Air Force Captain Chuck Yeager became the first person to fly faster than the speed of sound.

Yeager, born in Myra, West Virginia, in 1923, was a combat fighter during World War II and flew 64 missions over Europe. He shot down 13 German planes and was himself shot down over France, but he escaped capture with the assistance of the French Underground. After the war, he was among several volunteers chosen to test-fly the experimental X-1 rocket plane, built by the Bell Aircraft Company to explore the possibility of supersonic flight.

For years, many aviators believed that man was not meant to fly faster than the speed of sound, theorizing that transonic drag rise would tear any aircraft apart. All that changed on October 14, 1947, when Yeager flew the X-1 over Rogers Dry Lake in Southern California. The X-1 was lifted to an altitude of 25,000 feet by a B-29 aircraft and then released through the bomb bay, rocketing to 40,000 feet and exceeding 662 miles per hour (the sound barrier at that altitude). The rocket plane, nicknamed “Glamorous Glennis,” was designed with thin, unswept wings and a streamlined fuselage modeled after a .50-caliber bullet.

Because of the secrecy of the project, Bell and Yeager’s achievement was not announced until June 1948. Yeager continued to serve as a test pilot, and in 1953 he flew 1,650 miles per hour in an X-1A rocket plane. He retired from the U.S. Air Force in 1975 with the rank of brigadier general.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: When McDonald’s opened in 1986 in Rome, food purists outside the restaurant gave away free spaghetti to remind people of their culinary heritage. (If you ever invite me over for dinner, Italian is my favorite cuisine, hands down!)

Sister Purple Hair Surprise

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Double click for a larger version…

For those of us who were from that era, you’ll recognize the words to chorus of this song:

Well, I keep on thinkin’ ’bout you, Sister Golden Hair surprise
And I just can’t live without you; can’t you see it in my eyes?
I been one poor correspondent, and I been too, too hard to find
But it doesn’t mean you ain’t been on my mind.

The rock group, America, recorded the song titled “Sister Golden Hair” on their fifth album, Heart, in 1975. Although the song is a message from a man to his lover, explaining that he still loves her despite her not being for marriage, the title was initially inspired by the mothers of all three members of the group, all of whom were blondes. The song reached #1 on the US Billboard Hot 100.

Well, the model for today’s shoot is Sister Golden Hair, but more like, Sister Pinky-Purple Hair. She was one of the models about 2 weeks ago at the photo shoot in the studio close by. With the nose ring, dots above the right eye, purple-pink hair, and weak purple lip stick, she was quite a contrast to most of the other models, but she made for an interesting subject!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in a 35-year career that ran from the rockabilly genius of “Lonely Weekends” (1960) to the Countrypolitan splendor of “Behind Closed Doors” (1973), the versatile and soulful Charlie Rich earned eleven #1 hits on the Country charts and one crossover smash with the #1 pop hit “The Most Beautiful Girl” (1973). The man they called the Silver Fox displayed a natural talent for pleasing many different audiences, but his non-singing performance before one particular audience in 1975 did significant damage to the remainder of his career. On this day in 1975, the man voted Entertainer of the Year for by the Country Music Association of America one year earlier stood onstage at the CMA awards show to announce that year’s winner of the Association’s biggest award. But a funny thing happened when he opened the envelope and saw what was written inside. Instead of merely reading the name “John Denver” and stepping back from the podium, Charlie Rich reached into his pocket for a cigarette lighter and set the envelope on fire, right there onstage. Though the display shocked the live audience in attendance, John Denver himself was present only via satellite linkup, and he offered a gracious acceptance speech with no idea what had occurred.

In the aftermath of the incident, Charlie Rich was blacklisted from the CMA awards show for the rest of his career. But what point was he trying to make, exactly? It was widely assumed at the time that Rich was taking a stand on the side of country traditionalists upset at a notable incursion of pop dabblers into country music at the time (Olivia Newton-John, for instance, had won the Most Promising Female Vocalist award in 1973, for instance). But Rich himself was often accused of being “not country enough,” so that may not have been his intent. While it made better newspaper copy to suggest that he specifically resented John Denver’s win, Rich was also, by his own admission, on a combination of prescription pain medication and gin-and-tonics that night.

As his son, Charlie Rich, Jr., has written of the incident, “He used bad judgment. He was human after all. I know the last thing my father would have wanted to do was set himself up as judge of another musician.”

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: during the Great Depression, Californians tried to stop migrants from moving into their state by creating checkpoints on main highways called “bum blockades.” California even instated an “anti-Okie” law which punished anyone bringing in “indigents” with jail time.

Without a Leg to Stand On

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Double click for a larger version…

The statue (or what remains of it) that is the topic of my photo for today stands in Oakland Cemetery in downtown Atlanta, GA. I thought it was interesting because it was both headless, missing part of her right arm and the lady is also missing one leg…yet she still stands, thanks to the fact that her gown or dress forms part of the support for the statue.

I wondered who took the head and if they were also the ones who took the leg. There is a low cement wall that runs along the south side of the cemetery and I would imagine that someone probably hopped that fence one night and decapitated the statue and broke off one of the legs, too. It’s a shame. I would have liked to see this statue when it was whole.

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1940, cowboy-movie star Tom Mix was killed when he lost control of his speeding Cord Phaeton convertible and rolled into a dry wash (now called the Tom Mix Wash) near Florence, Arizona. He was 60 years old. Today, visitors to the site of the accident can see a 2-foot–tall iron statue of a riderless horse and a somewhat awkwardly written plaque that reads: “In memory of Tom Mix whose spirit left his body on this spot and whose characterization and portrayals in life served to better fix memories of the Old West in the minds of living men.”

According to Mix’s press agent, the star was a genuine cowboy and swaggering hero of the Wild West: He was born in Texas; fought in the Spanish-American War, the Boxer Rebellion and the Boer War; and served as a sheriff in Kansas, a U.S. marshal in Oklahoma and a Texas Ranger. In fact, Mix was born in Driftwood, Pennsylvania; deserted the Army in 1902; and was a drum major in the Oklahoma Territorial Cavalry band when he went off to Hollywood in 1909.

None of these inconvenient facts prevented Mix from becoming one of the greatest silent-film stars in history, however. Along with his famous horse Tony, Mix made 370 full-length Westerns. At the peak of his fame, he was the highest-paid actor in Hollywood, earning as much as $17,500 a week (about $218,000 today).  Unfortunately, Mix and Tony had a hard time making the transition to talking pictures. Some people say that the actor’s voice was so high-pitched that it undermined his macho cowboy image, but others argue that sound films simply had too much talking for Mix’s taste: He preferred wild action sequences to heartfelt conversation.

On the day he died, Mix was driving north from Tucson in his beloved bright-yellow Cord Phaeton sports car. He was driving so fast that he didn’t notice–or failed to heed–signs warning that one of the bridges was out on the road ahead. The Phaeton swung into a gully and Mix was smacked in the back of the head by one of the heavy aluminum suitcases he was carrying in the convertible’s backseat. The impact broke the actor’s neck and he died almost instantly. Today, the dented “Suitcase of Death” is the featured attraction at the Tom Mix Museum in Dewey, Oklahoma.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: In 2007, a dog named Rocco discovered a truffle in Tuscany that weighed 3.3 pounds. It sold at auction for $333,000 (USD), a world record for a truffle.

Biker Chick

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Double click for a larger version of the image…

Can you sense it in the air? It’s just a bit cooler and less humid here in Georgia than it has been, but that shouldn’t be surprising as we’re almost 1/3 of the way through October! (Where has this year run off to?!?!?!) It won’t be that long and there will be frost on the pumpkin that sits on the front porch, all ready for Halloween.

Halloween means there will be ghosts and goblins, witches, black cats, pumpkins of every sort, shape and size. The stores will be hawking their candies to give to the kiddies (but if the truth is told, I used to see tons of candy in the office around Halloween – and yes, I did avail myself of my share!). I always enjoyed Halloween as a kid. Now I get to enjoy it with my grand kids AND my kids whenever I can. And there is still, after a fistful of decades, still something magic about the feeling of fall in the air!

Today’s photo was another I shot in Dahlonega, GA, during their scarecrow festival a while back. This is a biker chick…and she’s probably on her way to the store to get candy for the little humans who will be coming to her door. She doesn’t look too scary to me…but that’s all right. We don’t need scary! We just need CANDY!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 2009, two people died and more than a dozen others were hospitalized following a botched sweat lodge ceremony at a retreat run by motivational speaker and author James Arthur Ray near Sedona, Arizona. A third participant in the ceremony died nine days later.

The sweat lodge exercise was part of a five-day “Spiritual Warrior” event held at a rented retreat center located six miles from Sedona. Participants paid more than $9,000 each to attend the retreat. At the time, Ray, who was born in 1957 and raised in Oklahoma, was known for such books as his 2008 best-seller “Harmonic Wealth: The Secret to Attracting the Life You Want,” and had appeared as a guest on a number of TV programs, including “The Oprah Winfrey Show.”

Ray’s sweat lodge ceremony, modeled after a Native American custom intended to purify the body and spirit, was held in a wood-frame structure covered with tarpaulins and blankets. Inside the enclosed space, water was poured over heated rocks to create steam and the temperature became dangerously high, causing many of the more than 50 participants (who had been encouraged to fast for 36 hours prior to the event) to develop breathing trouble and become disoriented. Witnesses later reported Ray had urged people to remain inside and endure the intense heat as a form of personal challenge.

Two people, Kirby Brown, 38, and James Shore, 40, fainted but were left inside the sweat lodge and perished from heat stroke. More than a dozen other people were hospitalized for dehydration and other medical issues. On October 17, a third ceremony participant, Liz Neuman, 49, died.

In February 2010, Ray was indicted on manslaughter charges. When his case went to trial the following year, the prosecution argued that the self-help guru had acted carelessly and shown no regard for the people who got sick during the ceremony. The defense claimed the participants were free to leave the sweat lodge at any time, and said the deaths were an accident and might have been caused by unknown toxins in the ground. During the four-month trial, witnesses claimed that people had become ill or injured at previous retreats run by Ray, and Native American groups expressed outrage over his misuse of their sacred sweat lodge tradition.

On June 22, 2011, a jury in Camp Verde, Arizona, found Ray guilty of three counts of negligent homicide. On November 18 of that same year, he was sentenced to three two-year prison terms, to run concurrently, and ordered to pay some $57,000 in restitution to the victims’ families.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: The country whose people eat the most chocolate is Switzerland, with 22 pounds eaten per person each year. Australia and Ireland follow with 20 pounds and 19 pounds per person, respectively. The United States comes in at 11th place, with approximately 12 pounds of chocolate eaten by each person every year.

Pictures and Thoughts from a Day in Galen Dalrymple's Life


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