Friday, August 31, 2012

ENGLAND TRIP: Day 9: Part 8: Windsor's Eton College

During our tour bus trip around Windsor and vicinity, we passed through the campus of Eton College. Eton College, usually referred to as Eton, is a British independent boarding school for boarding pupils aged between 13 to 18 years. It is a large boys' school, with over 1,300 pupils, and was founded in 1440 by King Henry VI. Eton is a full boarding school.

ETON'S FAMOUS STUDENTS
Many famous Britians were educated at this school, including Princes William and Harry. Prime Minister David Cameron also went there. George Orwell author of "1984"and Ian Fleming of James Bond fame both attended Eton.
 In 1678, there were 207 boys. In the late 18th century, there were about 300, while in the modern era, the total has risen to over 1,300.

ETON'S INTERESTING HISTORY
King Henry VI founded the school and he granted a large number of endowments like land and a plan for buildings. When Henry was deposed by Edward IV in 1461, the new king annulled all grants to the school and moved most of its assets and treasures to St George's Chapel, Windsor.
 According to legend, though, Elizabeth "Jane" Shore (c.1445 – c.1527) one of the many mistresses of King Edward IV of England intervened on the school's behalf and saved a large part of the school.

ETON'S ONE HAUNTING 
Yes, there's one ghost known to haunt Eton, and it's the ghost of the woman who saved it. Elizabeth Jane Shore is said to haunt Eton College's Lupton Tower and the Cloisters. According to paranormaldatabase.com, she appears as a lady in grey, haunting the tower where she died in 1526.

 
FLOGGING - Eton used to be renowned for its use of corporal punishment, generally known as "beating". In the 16th century, Friday was set aside as "flogging day."

UNIQUE CELEBRATION - The "Fourth of June" is an event that takes place before the first weekend in June to celebrate the birthday of King George III, Eton's greatest patron.

FILMS MADE AT ETON - It was surprising to learn that there have been many movies made on the Eton campus. Some we recognized include: Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2012); Shakespeare in Love (1998); Chariots of Fire (1981);and Young Sherlock Holmes (1985) among others.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

WASH POST: Fact checking the GOP convention’s second night


We are posting this article verbatim- just as it appeared in the Washington Post (a conservative newspaper), that is doing fact-checking on BOTH political parties. Everyone should read it, not just Democrats. - Rob

 Fact checking the GOP convention’s second night


at 06:02 AM ET, 08/30/2012

(Win McNamee/GETTY IMAGES)

The highlight of the second night of the Republican National Convention was Rep. Paul Ryan’s speech accepting the vice presidential nomination. (As a longtime Condoleezza Rice watcher, The Fact Checker was also fascinated by the enthusiastic response to her prime-time speech.) We will devote most of this column to analyzing claims in Ryan’s speech, but at the end we will also assess a few other interesting claims made by other speakers.
“Right there at that plant, candidate Obama said: ‘I believe that if our government is there to support you … this plant will be here for another hundred years.’ That’s what he said in 2008. Well, as it turned out, that plant didn’t last another year. It is locked up and empty to this day.”
In his acceptance speech, GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan appeared to suggest that President Obama was responsible for the closing of a GM plant in Ryan’s home town of Janesville, Wis.
Obama gave his speech in February 2008, and he did say those words. But Ryan’s phrasing, referring to the fact the plant did not last another year, certainly suggests it was shut down in 2009, when Obama was president.
Ryan, in fact, issued a news release in June 2008, urging GM to keep the plant open after the automaker announced it would close it.
The plant was largely closed in December 2008 when production of General Motors SUVs ceased — before Obama was sworn in. A small crew of about 100 workers completed a contract for production of medium-duty trucks for Isuzu Motors, a contract that ended in April 2009.
Note that Ryan called the plant “locked up” rather than “shut down.” That’s because the plant has not been completely shut down; it remains on “standby” and could reopen if GM production reaches the right level, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
“The plant in Janesville remains in ‘standby’ status waiting for the recovery – and jobs – President Obama said would come with his bailout of the auto industry,” said Ryan spokesman Brendan Buck. “When the president picked his winners and losers, Janesville lost.”
Buck also pointed to a campaign statement by Obama in late 2008, when it was announced production would end, that he would “lead an effort to retool plants like the GM facility in Janesville.”
“What did the taxpayers get out of the Obama stimulus? More debt. That money wasn’t just spent and wasted — it was borrowed, spent, and wasted. It went to companies like Solyndra, with their gold-plated connections, subsidized jobs, and make-believe markets. The stimulus was a case of political patronage, corporate welfare, and cronyism at their worst. You, the working men and women of this country, were cut out of the deal.”
There is a lot to unpack in this paragraph. First of all, people will forever debate whether the stimulus was effective, but a survey of 15 studies by our colleagues at Wonkblog found that most studies (12 out of 15) concluded that it did have a positive effect, while only two definitively concluded it did not. So Ryan’s statement is much too sweeping to be very credible.
Ryan, who as a congressman requested stimulus funding for his state, gets a bit closer to the mark when he raises the specific case of Solyndra, a failed solar-panel manufacturer that received $535 million as part of the president’s $80 billion clean-energy initiative, which was part of the 2009 stimulus.
As we wrote in a lengthy look at Solyndra, “overall, the facts of the Solyndra matter represent a strong case for Romney’s claims of crony capitalism, but they don’t provide conclusive evidence.” But some other charges of crony capitalism are overblown, and it is a stretch to portray the whole stimulus bill (which was about one-third tax cuts) as a political payoff scheme.
“After all that work, and in a bad economy, it sure doesn’t help [businesses] to hear from their president that government gets the credit. What they deserve to hear is the truth: Yes, you did build that.”
This old saw again. As we have previously noted, Republicans have repeatedly mischaracterized Obama’s rhetorical point. He certainly did not say the “government gets the credit” for business success. He was arguing that society, including taxpayer-funded education and infrastructure spending, plays a role in every person’s success.
“They needed hundreds of billions more. So, they just took it all away from Medicare. Seven hundred and sixteen billion dollars, funneled out of Medicare by President Obama. An obligation we have to our parents and grandparents is being sacrificed, all to pay for a new entitlement [Obamacare] we didn’t even ask for.”
Ryan, as House Budget Committee chairman, probably knows he’s playing a rhetorical game here. Federal budget accounting is so complex that it is easy to mislead ordinary Americans — a tactic used by both parties.
Ryan is correct that in the health-care bill, the anticipated savings from Medicare were used to help offset some of the anticipated costs of expanding health care for all Americans. But all government money is fungible.
Under the concept of the unified budget, money that is collected by the federal government for whatever purpose (such as Medicare and Social Security payroll taxes) is spent on whatever bills are coming due at that time. Social Security and Medicare will get a credit for taxes collected that are not immediately spent on Social Security, but those taxes are quickly devoted to other federal spending.
Under the health-care law, spending does not decrease in Medicare year after year; the reduction is from anticipated levels of spending in future years. Moreover, the “cuts” did not come at the expense of seniors. The savings mostly are wrung from health-care providers, not Medicare beneficiaries — who, as a result of the health-care law, ended up with new benefits for preventive care and prescription drugs.
The House Republican budget plan crafted by Ryan retains virtually all of the Medicare “cuts” contained in the health-care law, but diverts them instead to his Medicare overhaul. Republicans argue that that is a more effective use of the savings.
“He created a bipartisan debt commission. They came back with an urgent report. He thanked them, sent them on their way, and then did exactly nothing.”
Ryan is referring to the Simpson-Bowles Commission, and he is correct that Obama did not act on its report. But Ryan left out the fact that he served on the commission and voted against the final “urgent” report, largely because he believed it did not do enough to overhaul health-care entitlements such as Medicare.
David Brooks, a New York Times columnist sympathetic to Republicans, recently labeled Ryan’s “no” vote as “Ryan’s biggest mistake,” because he gave up “significant debt progress for a political fantasy” — that a Republican victory in 2012 would allow for real reforms without Democratic support.
Ryan spokesman Buck said that “Paul Ryan worked in a bipartisan manner in the commission and has worked tirelessly since then to solve these big challenges.”
***
“The big-government bureaucrats of the Obama administration have set their sights on our way of life. Instead of preserving family farms and ranches, President Obama’s policies are effectively regulating them out of business. His administration even proposed banning farm kids from doing basic chores!”
— Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.)
It’s a striking charge, but an exaggeration that, when we first looked at the issue, earned a Republican lawmaker Two Pinocchios. But Thune ups the ante even more with his rhetoric.
What happened? Last year, the Department of Labor proposed revisions to child labor rules that apply to the agricultural sector. Among the most significant changes: banning children under age 16 from operating power-driven equipment such as tractors and prohibiting people under the age of 18 from working in grain silos, feed lots and stockyards.
The Labor Department tried to avoid controversy by emphasizing that children working on their parents’ farms would be excluded from the proposals. That exemption is actually a matter of federal statute under the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. The Labor Department lacked the authority to change it.
Indeed, a Labor Department summary of the proposed changes stated clearly that the parental exemption “allows the child of a farmer to perform any task, even hazardous tasks, at any age on a farm owned or operated by the parent.”
Nevertheless, the Labor Department announced in April that it was abandoning its proposals altogether. A press release from the department said, “to be clear, this regulation will not be pursued for the duration of the Obama administration.”
“Then you have Barack Obama, who never started a business — never even worked in business.”
— Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio
“For four years, we’ve given a chance to a man with very limited experience in governing, no experience in business whatsoever and since taking office, mostly interested in campaigning, blaming and aiming excuses at his predecessor, the Republicans and people in business.”
— Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee
We are not sure why Republicans would emphasize Obama’s lack of business experience on a night when they nominate a vice presidential running mate (Ryan) who has worked in government his entire life.
But it’s going too far to say Obama never worked in business. He worked briefly at Business International Corp. in New York after college, and then also was an associate and a partner at a law firm for 11 years. That’s not a lot of private sector experience, but it’s more than none whatsoever.
***

ENGLAND TRIP: Day 9: Part 7: Windsor's Frogmore House

Frogmore House. Credit: ukstudentlife.com
After our visit to Windsor Castle we got on the hop-on-hop-off bus for a driving tour of the small city and the surrounding area.  The tour bus took us past The Long Walk, whiich is a path that leads from Windsor Castle down "Kings Road" to a statue of King George III. It's over a mile long.

FROGMORE HOUSE
We also saw "Frogmore House" from a distance. Frogmore is a 17th-century house located in the middle of a large estate. The house is set far back from the road and has a lot of gardens. It's located about a half-mile from Windsor Castle. We didn't get out and walk to it because it was quite a distance, and we wanted to see the rest of the town before other things closed. We also had to make sure we got to the local library where we could connect to the Internet and check in for our flights, and that closed at 5 p.m.


Our picture of Frogmore from the bus- It was far away!

HOUSE HISTORY: 
The original house on the site was a farmhouse known as Gwynn's Farm and then Frogmore Farm. It was rented from the Crown by the Gwynn family, followed by their heirs, the Aldworths. The present Frogmore House was built in 1680–1684. Frogmore was purchased by King George III as a country retreat for Queen Charlotte in 1792. Today, Frogmore House is no longer a Royal residence, but the house and gardens are sometimes used by the Royal Family for official purposes such as receptions.

Duchess of Kent's Mausoleum

The Royal Mausoleum
FROGMORE'S FAMOUS MAUSOLEUMS
There are two famous mausoleums located on the property of this estate.
Our closest view of Frogmor
The first one is within the Frogmore Gardens. That's the burial place of Queen Victoria's mother, Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, the Duchess of Kent. The Duchess lived in Frogmore House during the latter part of her life


Our Bus. Credit: city-sightseeing.com
The second mausoleum is in the grounds of Frogmore, close by the Duchess of Kent's Mausoleum. The Royal Mausoleum is much larger than the Duchess' resting place and is the burial place of Queen Victoria and her consort, Prince Albert.

NO FROGMORE GHOSTLY LEGENDS
I've been unable to learn of any ghosts haunting Frogmore. Maybe that's because it hasn't been investigated. I'm sure there could be something lingering in there. Regardless, there was ONE MORE GHOST that we encountered in Windsor. Stay tuned for that one. 

    

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

ENGLAND TRIP: Day 9: Part 6: Ghostly Legends in Windsor Castle

Windsor Castle Ghosts

Although we didn't find any ghosts in the 10 rooms we were able to walk through in Windsor Castle, there are a number of them that have been reported.

According to: http://www.real-british-ghosts.com/windsor-castle-ghosts.html  the following ghosts were reported:


Henry VIII's ghost
Henry VIII hasn't been seen, but has been heard in the Cloisters, groaning and dragging his ulcerated leg (which led to his death). He's buried at Windsor Castle, in a vault in St. George's Chapel. 
Queen Elizabeth I's ghost
Queen Elizabeth the first was Henry VIII's youngest daughter. She is reputed to haunt the Royal Library. People have reported hearing her heels on floorboards in the library and adjacent inner room.   She's been seen at a window in Dean's Cloister, wearing a black gown and shawl. 
A dreary, haunted Windsor Castle
King George III's ghost
King George III is buried at Windsor Castle and he was locked in a room below the library whenever he went mad.  Some guards have reported seeing him in the window.   . Guardsmen have occasionally been startled to see his face still looking out through the window.


Crests of kings in Windsor Castle's floor
Hern the Hunter
Hern the Hunter is the most famous ghost at Windsor, and he haunts the Windsor Great Park. Hern was King Richard II's huntsman. Hern threw himself in front of a raging stag to save King Richard II. Legend has it that as Hern lay dying, a wizard appeared and said that the only way to save Hern's life was to cut off the stag's antlers and to tie them to Hern's head. This was done and Hern recovered and found favor with the king. Other huntsmen were jealous and the king reluctantly dismissed Hern to keep peace in the kingdom. Hern was crushed and hanged himself in the forest. His ghost is seen in the forest and sometimes he is wearing antlers on his head and is covered in chains.
 In 1962, a group of youths found a hunting horn in the forest and blew it. Immediately, the call was answered by another horn and the baying of many hounds. Then Hern himself appeared with the antlers on his head and riding a black horse. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

ENGLAND TRIP: Day 9: Part 5: Windsor Castle - Our Tour

Outside Windsor Castle
  The castle was established by William the Conqueror in the 11th century. We learned that Henry VIII actually lived in Windsor Castle at one time. During our tour, there were only about 10 rooms open for tour because the royal family still lives in the castle. We learned that the Queen does spend weekends here.

The gray skies over Windsor Castle
Tom and Rob outside Windsor Castle

Being goofy outside Windsor Castle!
    We did see a lot of priceless paintings in the castle, including some by Botticelli,Rembrandt and others. We also saw a dollhouse exhibit that looked more like architectural scale models of a classic building, complete with all the furnishings.

We got to walk through a long and elaborate dining hall that had caught fire in 1992 and was destroyed. It was rebuilt by 1997. 



An adjoining room to the dining hall had also caught fire, and restoration experts wound up flipping over the boards in the wooden floor to preserve them from the period they were built. 

The display of wealth was overwhelming, and we just saw 10 rooms! 




NO GHOSTS WHERE WE WERE - We didn't sense any ghosts in the 10 rooms that we walked through, but that didn't mean that there weren't any in other parts of the castle. In fact, in the next entry, we'll highlight the ghosts that were reported in the castle.

  

    



Monday, August 27, 2012

EDUCATE YOURSELF: 12 Reasons Why We Need "Obama-Care"

We find it hard to believe that 50% of the American Public STILL doesn't understand the benefits of the Affordable Care Act (aka: Obamacare), so in order to make it easy, we've researched and VERIFIED 12 reasons why "Obamacare" should remain in place.  
 - For those who are VISUAL- here are some slides courtesy of www.ConnectTheDotsUSA.com, that highlight the benefits.

**Repealing it would ONLY benefit Insurance Companies and Drug Companies AND raise the DEFICIT! *REALLY*
 


According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, the Affordable Care Act 
1)  Extends the solvency of Medicare 8 years by cutting waste and abuse on the provider side.  It does NOT eliminate or lessen Medicare coverage, in fact, it does the opposite.


2) It closes the "donut hole" for seniors which reduces their out-of-pocket expense for prescription drugs

3)  it extends coverage to children of insured parents (to 26 years old) because kids are taking longer to finish their college education and are having difficulty finding employment once they get out of school 


4) It eliminates the lifetime cap excuse that ruthless insurance companies were using as a reason to drop coverage for very ill individuals


5) it eliminates exclusion for pre-existing conditions
Insurance companies can no longer limit or deny benefits to children under age 19 due to a pre-existing health condition
6) Offers Insurance Pools for coverage: If you need insurance coverage or have been rejected due to a health condition or disability, you may be eligible for coverage through one of several programs.

7) Tax Credits for Employers: Tax credits and new programs are available to small businesses to help make care more affordable for employers, employees, and early retirees.

8) Already Have Insurance? The ACA provides NEW consumer protections can help you get the most out of your plan.
EX) You NOW have the right to ask your plan to reconsider a denial of payment for services.
EX) You may be eligible to receive recommended preventive health services at no cost.


9) Choose YOUR OWN Doctor
You have the right to choose the doctor you want from your existing Health Care plan’s network or seek emergency care at a hospital outside of your health plan’s network.


10) A right to Grandfathered Plans
You have the right to keep your “grandfathered” health plan if you were covered before the health care law was enacted. Grandfathered plans do not have to provide some of the rights and protections under the Affordable Care Act.


11) Insurance Companies Can't Cancel IF You Made a Mistake on Policy

Insurance companies can no longer cancel your coverage just because you made an honest mistake on your application.Before the health care law, if your insurance company found that you’d made a mistake on your insurance  application, the insurance company might “rescind” your benefits — that is, declare your policy invalid from the day it began. Your insurance company might also ask you to pay back any money already spent for your medical care.
Now, an insurer cannot rescind your coverage simply because you made an honest mistake or left out information that has little bearing on your health.

12) Your Coverage Made Easier-to-Understand!!!Starting September 23, 2012 or soon after, health insurance issuers and group health plans will be required to provide you with an easy-to-understand summary about a health plan’s benefits and coverage. The new regulation is designed to help you better understand and evaluate your health insurance choices. 

The new forms include:  A short, plain language Summary of Benefits and Coverage, or SBC
and A uniform glossary of terms commonly used in health insurance coverage, such as "deductible" and "copayment"




and much, much more. 

DON'T BELIEVE US?  CHECK THE FACTS: http://www.healthcare.gov/law/index.html  
REVIEW FROM NON-PARTISAN POLITICO.COM: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0312/73852.html





Sunday, August 26, 2012

Email to a "Knight of Columbus" who Told People to Vote Our Marriage Law Down

A good friend of ours received an email from someone who belongs to the Catholic Knights of Columbus, telling people to vote down Maryland's gay marriage law when it appears on the ballot in November.  Our great friend (who is straight) wrote him back and told him she will vote for gay marriage and cited several examples of people who have suffered without being legally recognized. 
  As someone who grew up Catholic, and went to a lot of Knights of Columbus events with my dad, I was furious.  I sat down and wrote the following email to this person I don't know, and I only hope he reads it and "gets it." I thought it important to share it with everyone else, too - if you know anyone that wouldn't support us in our marriage. 
   People who don't believe that we should be legally married are not friends. We've been together 7 years and married for 3 of them. All we want are the legal protections marriage offers (and the word "marriage" is a LEGAL term, btw. That's how our laws recognize it. 'Civil unions" have over 1,000 less protections. I'll share the differences in the future.  - Rob
  Here's my letter:

Dear XXXXXXXXXX
As a gay man, who has been legally married to my partner since 2009, I cannot understand the hatred and opposition to Maryland's gay marriage law (it IS the law),  when Maryland's law allows all churches to NOT perform gay marriages. The churches have nothing to lose, and will NOT be affected. So why the hatred?

 - Our marriage is one of love and commitment. We are NOT  of your religion, and this is NOT about religion. It's about a loving, legal commitment between two people, to enable us to have security and protections of the law.    I can't understand why people who claim to follow Jesus, would want others to suffer.

Let me cite an example of why this law is so important to us as fellow human beings:
 We know of a couple who were together 32 years, much longer than most straight couples. When one fell ill and died, the partner could NOT claim his partner's BODY!
Instead, the hospital contacted an estranged brother of the deceased over a week later to claim the body. The estranged brother, which disowned his brother 30 years before after
learning he was gay, then TOOK the house that had been shared by this committed gay couple for all that time. The house was not in both names.
The estranged brother then threw this elderly gay man out on the street!
 The man in his 70s had to be taken into a friend's home. How in the world is that Christian?   

That's not the Jesus I learned about growing up.
  
  I'm telling you this because like you, we are adults, human, tax payers, and have the same ability to have a legal loving commitment as any straight person.
I am incensed that people of a religion would be the first to want to cause others in society agony and pain, and treat them as unequals.
It's fine to have your beliefs as long as they don't infringe upon the legal rights of others.

Let me Ask YOU:   If you follow the bible, then are you  stoning divorcees or non-virgins?  Have you tried to ban shellfish, lobster, etc.? 
Are you lobbying to shut down tattoo parlors?  These are all things that the bible endorses.
  Do you know there are 30 times more references to preventing divorce in the Bible than there are referring to gay people?
  Are you divorced? Do you know someone who is?  Well, the Bible instructs you to kill them. Are you going to do to that? - Do you treat your slaves well? 
 Do you see the point here?  You cannot legislate "all men are equal" by the bible. The bible never looked at slaves or people from other "tribes" as equals.

This is not about Christianity. It's about the U.S. law, not the law of the bible. There are many religions and non-religions in our country.
This is the United States of America and we have a law that protects all citizens and treats them as equals.
The Declaration of Independence states "All men are created equal...":
No one is better than anyone else, and we ALL deserve the same rights.
 
I urge all on this email to NOT take MY marriage and MY legal protections away.
I can sleep soundly knowing that I love everyone equally and I treat everyone with kindness.
People who vote to prevent allowing legal protections of marriage to gay couples can't say the same.
I am the same as you are, and I would never do that to you. Neither would Jesus.

 

Saturday, August 25, 2012

ENGLAND TRIP: Day 9: Part 4: Outside Windsor Castle

Tom outside Windsor Castle
Before we entered Windsor Castle we took a couple of pictures and a short video from the Visitor's Path to get a feel for the size of the castle. 
  We learned that Henry VIII lived there for a short time. 
  During our tour, we only got to see 10 rooms, all of which were very ornate. Some of the famous painters featured in the home were Rembrandt and Botticelli - priceless paintings.

Rob in the garden of Windsor castle

Rob wondering if the sun will finally come out

Windsor Castle

Friday, August 24, 2012

ENGLAND TRIP: Day 9: Part 3: Knights and "Stall Plates"

When we were in St. George's Chapel on the ground of the Windsor Castle, we got a lesson in Knighthood in the U.K. and learned that a "Stall Plate" was a memorial to knights.
 
Stall plate of the Duke of Norfolk,  executed for treason in 1572
When we were near Henry VIII's tomb in the choir loft of the chapel, we saw his  "Stall plate." This was a small metal plate engraved with his name when he was named "Duke of York" at 9 years old. There are plates that date back to the 1400s and they're hung on the wall of the choir loft, behind seats where knights sat. 

HISTORY OF A "STALL PLATE"
According to midgleywebpages.com/chapel.html , On the 10th August 1348, when the plague swept through England, the founder knights filed  in pairs into St. George's Chapel. It was then that stall plates started and became a tradition for some reason! From then on, when a knight was created they were given a brass and enamel stall plate which was affixed to their stall in the chapel. In addition to the stall plate, a crested helm and banner were put up. On the Garter knight's death the banner and helm were taken away but the stall plate remained.

HENRY'S KNIGHTS
All of the men who were Knights of the Garter during Henry’s reign (1509-47) had a "stall plate." Fifty-two engraved and enameled plates still hang in the stall they occupied during the Order’s ceremonies in St George’s Chapel. During Henry’s reign the plates were introduced to St George’s within a year of each Knight’s installation. Each plate contains the Knight’s arms and name, the office he held and sometimes his motto. However, if the knight was found guilty of treason, their plates were removed.


BANNERS AND CRESTS 
Above the stall of each knight in the choir loft is a banner, some of which have been passed down through many generations. Below each banner is a crest on top of a helm. A half drawn sword below the helm indicates the readiness of each member to defend his Sovereign and religion. 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

ENGLAND TRIP: Day 9: Part 2: Henry VIII's Burial Place

The last full day of our trip in England was in Windsor. Windsor Castle is the main attraction there, and we were surprised to find out that a church on the grounds was the final resting place of Henry VIII.


WHAT IS WINDSOR CASTLE?
Windsor Castle is a medieval castle and royal residence in Windsor in the English county of Berkshire, notable for its long association with the British royal family and for its architecture. The original castle was built after the Norman invasion by William the Conqueror. Since the time of Henry I it has been used by a succession of monarchs and is the longest-occupied palace in Europe.


ST. GEORGE'S CHAPEL, WINDSOR CASTLESt George's Chapel is the place of worship at Windsor Castle in England, United Kingdom. It is both a royal peculiar and the chapel of the Order of the Garter.


SO WHAT HAPPENED WHEN HENRY VIII DIED?  - Tom is an amateur historian on the Tudor reign of England and did some research for the blog. What he learned about Henry VIII's death is kind of gross. Judge for yourself:
Inside the Chapel- the rectangle is Henry VIII's burial place
"When Henry VIII died, he was a mass of rotten flesh. He died at Whitehall and his huge carcass was put into a lead coffin and taken on procession through the streets of London to Syon House at twilight." It was put down in Syon Chapel and there a horrific event took place.  According to a contemporary account:

"...the leaden coffin being cleft by the shaking of the carriage, the pavement of the church was wetted with Henry's blood. In the morning came plumbers to solder the coffin, under whose feet was seen a dog licking up the King's blood."
Henry VIII Burial Place
 The story gained wide circulation and people remembered Friar Peto's denunciation of the king from the pulpit of Greenwich Church four years previously, in which the bold friar compared Henry to Ahab (King of Israel, married to wicked Queen Jezebel, who was warned by a prophet that dogs would lick up their blood), and told him to his face 'that the dogs would, in like manner, lick his blood'.

HENRY VIII'S BURIAL PLACE: 
Henry was buried in St George's Chapel, Windsor, and had a large marble sarcophagus built over the burial spot. Today, however, Henry's burial place is marked only by a small memorial plaque on the floor. His marble sarcophagus was removed in the 18th century when George III ordered the burial vault, located below the floor of the chapel, to be enlarged to accommodate 48 coffins.

Henry VIII's sarcophagus was never replaced but rather was commandeered in the next century and is now the tomb of Viscount Nelson in St Paul's Cathedral, London."
Here is an etching of what the enlarged royal burial vault, below the floor of the choir, looks like:
WHO ELSE IS BURIED THERE? 
We learned that Jane Seymour, Charles I (who was beheaded) and one of Queen Anne's babies were also buried at St. George's Chapel.









Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Picture of the Day: He's dead already!

This snapshot came from a live news report in Charlotte, North Carolina. Do you think that the producer needs better education?  I do.
    On a side note, this comes from a state that has written into their State Constitution that gay people shall never be allowed to marry. I think instead of attacking gay people's rights, they should focus on educating people there. Especially the TV producers that are responsible for captions. Don't you? :)

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

ENGLAND TRIP: Day 9: Part 1: Arrival in Windsor/Dinner Challenge

Langdon House B&B
Paul Fogg, our B&B host!
We arrived at our next B&B in Windsor around 5:30 p.m. on May 14 and checked in.
A GREAT BED AND BREAKFAST
We stayed at a nice bed and breakfast called "Langdon House." (www.langtonhouse.co.uk/) We got to know Paul Fogg well and still stay in touch with him - what a great guy! Paul and his wife Sonja run the B&B. It was a short walk to downtown Windsor, very convenient, quiet and comfortable, and breakfast was great. The hospitality can't be beat, that's for sure!

THE DINNER CHALLENGE - After checking in, we decided to venture out into Windsor and get dinner. One thing we learned quickly was that some pubs didn't serve dinner on Mondays or it started late for some reason. One pub told us that dinner is served starting at 7 p.m., and we were famished, so we kept looking. We wound up walking into downtown Windsor to a restaurant/pub called the "51" that looked like a 1980s disco with huge 6 x 6 foot pictures on the wall and disco music playing. It was a little strange, but the fish and chips was good!

WHAT IS WINDSOR? 
Windsor  is an affluent town  in the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead in Berkshire, England. It's famous for being the location of the Royal Family's Windsor Castle, one of their official residences. Wndsor is located about 21 miles west of Charing Cross, London and south of the River Thames. 


WAKING UP ON THE LAST FULL DAY: 
May 15, 2012 was our last full day in England. During breakfast we met a woman and her mother visiting from Massachusetts (where Rob is from) and Texas, respectively. Small world.
  As I've said before, the weather was very chilly for May. That morning it was cloudy, damp, windy and actually bitterly cold!  The temperature was 37 Fahrenheit at 9 a.m. and stayed only in the 40s during the entire day. The wind chills were in the 30s during the morning and it was cold! It felt like winter time.
  

Monday, August 20, 2012

PHOTO Blog! Dog Driving

We're taking a break from the England trip blog today, because we've only got one more day to go- so here are some recent pictures of Dolly, Franklin and Sprite.
Franklin Smiling while Dolly snores!

Franklin and Dolly Enjoying the ride

Franklin: Wow, Dolly is really out of it!

Franklin sitting up - with injured paw: Pic: Ed C.

Sprite looking very cute in the front seat

Franklin putting on his best begging pose

Dolly enjoying the ride and seeing the squirrels run outside!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

ENGLAND TRIP: Day 8: Part 5: Misfiring GPS & Surprising Spirit Helps

I mentioned previously that we received a sign from Ed's spirit when he dropped a coin in front of Tom while we were in Bath. After we got in the rental car to head to our next destination, Windsor, England, we really found out that Ed was around.

GPS GOES HAYWIRE FOR THE FIRST TIME
For several days we had used the GPS unilt and it got us to our destinations without incident. Not this time. After we left the city of Bath, we were headed to Windsor for our last two nights in England. The GPS got us on the highway and we followed it for about an hour, knowing we were going in the right direction. The GPS then instructed us to get off the highway and instructed us to go on a two lane road, so we followed it, thinking this was a short cut to another highway.


Similar to the street we were lost on
LOST
The GPS directed us into what appeared to be a rural neighborhood, and we kept wondering what was going on. It had not previously steered us wrong, so we thought that it was just going to take us on a back street to get to a highway. It didn't. We were in a hilly, rural, tree lined, winding neighborhood! The next sound from the GPS was "Take a left and go OFF ROAD!" I thought we were hearing things, and took the left to see a DIRT road before us with a large mound of horse manure in the middle of it. We were LOST. We backed out and pulled over.

WHAT HAPPENED? 
The GPS is programmed by postal code. Apparently, the postal code we had for Windsor was incorrect and took us to an unpopulated, misbegotten place where there were a few widely scattered residences, way off the twisting, winding, tree-liined road. It was like being in an horror movie setting. We couldn't remember the way back to the main road. Tom tried frantically to find the way out, using the GPS while I parked the rental car and got out. We were nervous and it was getting late in the afternoon. The sun had already dropped behind the trees.

ED'S DOPPLEGANGER COMES TO THE RESCUE
Our rescuer suddenly appears
Out of nowhere, literally, and over the hill behind us came a red "Royal Mail" delivery truck. I couldn't believe that someone would actually be coming through that remote neighborhood at that time, late in the day. I flagged the driver down and he pulled over.

He stepped out of the truck and was about my height, slender with a mop of hair flecked with grey and black. He had a thin face and glasses and looked hauntingly familiar to me. I explained what happened and he said that he just had 3 deliveries on that remote street left to do, and we can follow him to the highway. I got back in the rental car and looked at Tom, who said "he looks just like Ed would have looked, had he lived today." Ed passed in 1996 of an accidental mixture of prescription medications. I was stunned and totally agreed. I had seen enough photos of Ed to know that it very well could've been him. But who would expect Ed's doppleganger to come out of nowhere at a weird hour of the day, delivering mail in the middle of nowhere to save us? That's how spirits work. I still shake my head about this meeting, and feel as if I truly did meet Ed in the flesh.

Ed as he appeared in 1996, Just give him gray hair and glasses to see our rescuer
We followed Ed's doppleganger's mail truck to the highway and waved to him when he went a different way.

THE FINAL SIGN FROM ED
All the way to Windsor, we talked about Ed's doppleganger. We were astounded. Once we got into Windsor, we managed to find the rental car return location as the GPS was working again. After we dropped the car off, we took a cab to our next destination. On the way to the bed and breakfast, Tom saw a U.K. emissions testing sign (we later learned it means "Motorvehicle Operations Testing) that said "M.O.T. Testing."
  In 2008, "MOT" was something that Ed's spirit told Rob to call Tom when they were coming out of a Barnes and Noble store in the U.S. It was something that Ed used to call Tom when he was alive. Ed would call Tom "M.O.T" for "Mean Ole Thing." That was the final sign from Ed that he truly was with us on our trip to England, and we were both very happy to have him along.
















Saturday, August 18, 2012

ENGLAND TRIP: Day 8: Part 4: Sign from a Spirit

Coin that Tom found in the city of Bath
This entire episode is about how spirits (of departed loved ones who crossed over) can help us out when we're desperate. First, however, we received a sign from a spirit to let us know he was with us. He later rescued us in England. Here's the first part of the story, when the spirit made us aware that he was with us.


A SIGN FROM ED IN A COIN
While we were in Bath, Tom found a 10 pence coin on the ground. I told him "Ed's here." Ed is Tom's late partner who passed in 1996, and whom has come through to me many times with messages. In 2011, Ed's spirit gave me many disconnected signs, pictures, words and symbols that took us on a treasure-hunt like trip with Ed's father in Virginia, that proved that Ed was with every one of his family members the week before we arrived. The messages to me wound up being personal confirmations of things that his family members were involved with the week before we arrived - things I had no knowledge of (I had never before met the family). It was so amazing that Ed was able to help show his grieving father (of 15 years) that he was still around. I wound up including that story in my second book, "Lessons Learned from Talking to the Dead."

Ed, whose spirit dropped the coin
Anyway, Ed is a strong spirit and I've come to know him even though I never met him n life (yes, it sounds strange).

WHAT DOES FINDING A COIN MEAN?
So what does finding a coin mean? Often, when a loved one dies, they try and find a way to communicate with us. One of the easiest ways is to drop coins. Moving things from one place to another by supernatural means is called an "apport." When Tom's grandmother passed in 2006, he found a coin almost every day for a year. When my dad passed in August 2008, I found coins almost daily for a month. Of course, one day I found a $20.00 bill, and then Tom said that "my grandma really needs to step it up!" :)

I asked Tom if Ed ever went to England, and he said "no." Ed worked in landscaping and could never afford to travel overseas (when he was alive). I told Tom, "well, he's here with us now." When we left Bath in the car to drive to Windsor, England, we would find out just how close Ed was to us.

NEXT: How Ed Helped Us Out of a Mess






Friday, August 17, 2012

ENGLAND TRIP: Day 8: Part 3: BATH: Architecture (3 short video tours)


The Royal Crescent
Architects John Wood the elder and his son John Wood the younger built some incredible buildings in the City of Bath. So famous, that while Tom was studying architecture in school that some of the buildings were highlighted, so we had to see them! The Woods laid out Bath in quarters in streets and squares,and did it in a manner of palatial scale and classical decorum. 

The fence that hides the "Ha-Ha" trench


THE ROYAL CRESCENT BUILDING -  The Royal Crescent is a residential road of 30 houses laid out in a crescent in the city of Bath, England. According to Wikipedia, it was designed by the architect John Wood the Younger and built between 1767 and 1774, it is among the greatest examples of Georgian architecture to be found in the United Kingdom and is a grade I listed building. The Royal Crescent now includes a hotel and museum with some of the houses being converted into flats and offices.
 In front of the Royal Crescent is a Ha-ha, a trench on which the inner side of which is vertical and faced with stone, with the outer face sloped and turfed, making the trench, in effect, a sunken fence or retaining wall. The ha-ha is designed not to interrupt the view from Royal Victoria Park, and to be invisible until seen from close by.

VIDEO #1: QUICK TOUR OF THE ROYAL CRESCENT BUILDING FROM OUTSIDE
video

GHOST AT THE ROYAL CRESCENT? Some people report seeing an elegant coach drawn by four horses come up to the Royal Crescent. According to http://www.articlesbase.com, it's supposedly a residual haunting and the re-enactment of the elopement of Elizabeth Linley of No. 11, with Irish playwright and politician Richard Brinsley Sheridan. The story goes that Captain Thomas Mathews (a married man) also wanted Ms. Lindley and the Captain and Lord Sheridan fought two duels--with swords. Sheridan won her hand in marriage. However, he later cheated on her and she wound up dying of tuberculosis and died at age 38. It's a haunting story in itself. A bronze plaque at number 11 Royal Crescent marks the address from which she eloped.

The Circus
THE CIRCUS - The Circus building was the masterpiece of John Wood the Elder. According to Wikipedia, The Circus is an example of Georgian architecture in the city of Bath, Somerset, England, begun in 1754 and completed in 1768. The name comes from the Latin 'circus', which means a ring, oval or circle. Divided into three segments of equal length, the Circus is a circular space surrounded by large townhouses. Each of the curved segments faces one of the three entrances, ensuring that whichever way a visitor enters there is a classical facade straight ahead.  Sadly, John Wood the Elder never got to see this completed. 


VIDEO #2: TOM EXPLAINS THE CIRCUS BUILDING
video





STOPPED IN THE JANE AUSTEN MUSEUM - Tom's favorite movie of all
time is "Pride and Prejudice" by Jane Austen, so we had to stop in this small museum!
Celebrating Bath’s most famous resident, The Jane Austen Centre offers a snapshot of life during Regency times and explores how living in this magnificent city affected Jane Austen’s life and writing. We found out that Jane Austen actually lived about 5 houses down, so this was not her original home (very disappointing), so we didn't opt for the tour.
Photo here is of Mr. Darcy, the handsome man who gets the girl. :) - Rob's words, not Tom's. 

VIDEO #3: QUICK PAN OF THE CIRCUS BUILDING




Gift/Memorial Suggestions

Several of our friends have lost loved ones (human and pets) and we found that one of the best ways to honor their memory is to give to an animal charity.
What better way to recognize a life of love, than by giving another life a chance for love?
We donate to many animal rescues, but because we volunteer with
DC Weimaraner Rescue and Coast-to-Coast Dachshund Rescue, those are our 2 favorites.
Consider giving the chance of life to a dog or cat.

Great Books by our friends

Great Books by our friends
Check out these great books (yeah, Rob's are in there, too)

About us

We're two married guys who enjoy the simple things in life, especially our dogs. We volunteer for dog rescues, enjoy splitting dinners, exercising, blogging, helping friends and neighbors, ghost investigations, coffee and tea, Tudor history, weather, superheroes, comic books, mystery novels, traveling, 70s and 80s music, classic country, piano, gardening, writing books on ghosts and spirits, architecture, keeping a clean house, cooking simply, and keeping in shape. You'll find tidbits of all of these things on this blog and more.

Tom and Rob Thinking Hard!

Tom and Rob Thinking Hard!
Wondering what home project to do next

Podcast of Rob's 50 min. interview on Paranormal Filler Radio 7/13/14