Sunday, September 30, 2012

Visit Rob at the Baltimore Book Festival Today 12-7pm

After several years of trying, I was finally accepted to appear under the "Authors Tent" at this year's Big Baltimore Book Festival! 
  Come see me on Sunday, Sept. 30, from 12-7 p.m.
I'll be signing copies of my two books: "Lessons Learned from Talking to the Dead" and "Ghosts and Spirits: Insights from a Medium"
The Authors' Tent is located on Charles Street, Baltimore, Md. 
The Baltimore Book Festival features hundreds of author appearances and book signings, 100+ exhibitors and booksellers, non-stop readings on multiple stages, cooking demos by celebrity chefs, poetry readings and workshops, panel discussions, walking tours, storytellers and hands-on projects for kids, street theater, live music, and a delicious variety of food, beer and wine.

ONE OF THE HIGHLIGHTS:  City Paper Book Swap
Bring a book, get a book! City Paper’s Book Swap returns with books, from the lesser-known to classics. Visit the tent, located in the North Park (east side), to trade your used books all weekend long.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Meeting the Governor at a Marriage Equality Event

We attended a Maryland Marriage Equality fundraising event this past weekend.
Governor O'Malley Sings!
It was so great to see all of the support from so many elected officials - Governor O'Malley, Lt Governor Anthony Brown, and Attorney General Doug Gansler were all in attendance. Governor O'Malley stated during his remarks that the opposition to Prop 6 is overwhelming, they have much more money, and their misleading hate ads will begin airing in the DC Metro market beginning Oct 8.
The governor gave us a treat and picked up a guitar and played a song- and had everyone singing along. If it wasn't for Governor O'Malley the marriage equality law would not have passed in the state. Now, because of churches, it's on the ballot for Marylanders to decide in November (why can't they just leave the law alone and stop being so idiotic?). 
Anyway, the evening was nice, and we got to watch a moving 1 hour film about how aging gay people are struggling - and how some have been thrown out of aging care facilities. It was enough to make you mad and make you cry at the same time.
MD Atty General Doug Gansler
The Governor sings.

L to R: Atty Gen. Doug Gansler, Lt. Gvnr Anthony Brown, Gvr Martin O'Malley, Rep. Chris Van Holland, Marriage Equality Mgr

Doug Gansler - Who said MD must recognize out of state marriages

Lt. Governor Anthony Brown

Governor O'Malley


Friday, September 28, 2012

Cooper Progress!

Cooper on a walk
Our former foster dog Cooper is doing GREAT in his new foster home with Shayne, Meagan and their two girls. 
Cooper taking a break
  Shayne's company is still building a sidewalk for us so he brought Cooper back to the house on Tuesday when I (Rob) was working at home - so Cooper could hang out with Dolly, Franklin and Sprite. 
Harper, Shayne and Cooper
  I could see that Cooper had immediately taken to Shayne with all the love and attention he was giving Shayne. It was SO great to watch!   
   Here are a couple of pictures from that day. 
We are so happy that Shayne and Meagan took little Cooper in!


Thursday, September 27, 2012

Fast Food Politics: Chains That Don't Support Conservative Ideals

from the HUFFINGTON POST: Fast Food Politics: Chains That Don't Support Conservative Ideals 

According to campaign finance reports, most fast-food restaurants have a PAC, and overwhelmingly those committees donate to Republicans. In the interest of an informed electorate voting with their dollars, here are five fast-food restaurants that support liberal causes. 

Popeye's Chicken John Goodman makes a great Col. Sanders eager to cash in on Chick-fil-A's homophobia in Funny or Die videos. But in truth KFC-owned Yum! Brand's gave 81 percent of their donations to conservatives in 2012. If you want a business that truly shows no sign of being ideologically opposed to your gay chicken money, go to Popeye's. While the company doesn't have a PAC to track, company chair John M. Cranor III donates to Democrat politicians in his home state of Florida. He also serves on the board of the National Stem Cell Foundation, with the shockingly reasonable mission to fund, promote and support research. That puts him in opposition to Republican veep nominee Paul Ryan who's voted against promoting stem cell research four times in the House. Plus, they're open on Sunday.

Dairy Queen
  Warren Buffet's Berskshire Hathaway acquired DQ in 1998. The Oracle of Omaha backed Barack Obama in his first run and has supported higher taxes on the one percent, of whom he is certainly a member.

Checkers  Seemingly concerned normal fast-food provided too many frills, Checkers boiled the model down to the basics of two drive-through windows, late hours, and fat, greasy burgers. The company that owns them, Wellspring Capital, doesn't have a PAC but founding managing partner Greg S. Feldman contributes to Democrats Dianne Feinstein and Clyde Williams.

Panera Bread

The only restaurant on this list without a pick-up window, Panera Bread is still as much a fast-food place as anyone, albeit one where you can convincingly tell yourself the food is, if not healthy, at least further from horrible than a greasy spoon. Save yourself calories with the black bean soup and political guilt knowing that the company's founder and CEO Ronald M. Schaich has given $30,000 to the DNC and $5,000 to Barack Obama this election cycle 

Starbucks The Seattle bean roasters have done well by progressive causes. They have fair trade products, a National Recycling Coalition Recycling Works Award for advances in food packaging, and they give out used grounds for composting upon request. For a while, CEO Howard Schultz was happy to pass some of the profits along to Democrats through the company's PAC and personal contributions to Barack Obama. Then in 2011, he issued a statement that he'd stop contributing to any politician long as they chose "to put partisan and ideological purity over the well-being of the people." Schultz finished his call to close checkbooks with a statement any reasonable person should agree with when looking to Washington D.C. over the last few years: "Our country is better than this."


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

VIDEO : Matt Harding Leads Happy People Dancing on Planet Earth

Tom found this video of this cool guy getting people to dance all around the world. It will make you smile for sure. Enjoy! 
Happy People Dancing on Planet Earth
Video Credit: Matt Harding & Melissa Nixon; Music: Trip the Light
Explanation: What are these humans doing? Dancing. Many humans on Earth exhibit periods of happiness, and one method of displaying happiness is dancing. Happiness and dancing transcend political boundaries and occur in practically every human society. Above, Matt Harding traveled through many nations on Earth, planned on dancing, and filmed the result. The above video, the latest in a series of similar videos, is perhaps a dramatic example that humans from all over planet Earth feel a common bond as part of a single species. Happiness is frequently contagious -- few people are able to watch the above video without smiling.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Our New 2 Day Foster Dog! Meet Cooper

 We've been working with the Dachshund and Weimaraner rescues for years, and now that Chance the Weimaraner is in the best-ever home with Whitney and Mike, we're turning back to the Dacshund rescue, and just in time.
  On Friday, Sept. 21 we received an email from Melissa, the Coast-to-Coast Dachshund Rescue coordinator, who was desperately looking for a foster home for a dachshund.
  We talked about it for a minute and agreed to take in Cooper. Cooper is a 1 year old dachshund who is a very happy boy, housetrained, and knows some commands (sit, stop). He loves people! He follows us around the house wagging his tail non-stop. He loves going on walks and has a strong prey drive to go after squirrels (just like Franklin and Sprite). Cooper weighs about 10-11 pounds and is a red-brown smooth-haired dachshund.
He loves stuffed toys, curling up under a blanket either in his round bed, or against your legs in your bed. He's very, very affectionate.
  He has separation anxiety, so we crated him when going out and leave the radio on.We also put treats with him and a toy. He calms down after awhile. He likes to jump up, so we working to calm that already.
Cooper Close up!
     On Sunday afternoon, we met his temporary owner who surrendered him to the rescue. The woman, named Lisa explained that this little guy belonged to an elderly man in Wisconsin, whose wife passed and the man was going to put this puppy into a kill shelter. Lisa took the dog, despite having 3 OTHER DOGS, 2 Cats and 3 young children. Lisa and her husband moved to Maryland in the last month and realized they couldn't give this pup the attention he needs in his developmental years, so they called the rescue to find him a good home.
  FOSTER PLACEMENT IN A GREAT HOME - In the meantime we got a wonderful couple with two little girls cleared for approval to become new dachshund foster parents. We met Shayne when we hired his company to install a new sidewalk on the side of our garage. When he saw our dachshunds he said he and his wife always wanted to adopt one, so we told them about the foster program- and there was a dog coming in that needed a foster home: COOPER.
  I did a home visit and the house was perfect. Shayne and his wife Meagan were ready for a dog. Once I got the approval, I talked it over with Melissa, the Rescue coordinator, and we agreed that Cooper would be a perfect first foster dog.
Cooper and Shayne

Harper, Shayne and Cooper
  ON MONDAY, SEPT. 24th, COOPER WENT TO HIS NEW FOSTER HOME - I (Rob) brought him to Shayne and Meagan's house and spent an hour going over stuff, and watching Cooper meet his new family. I could  see how much they fell in love with him.  It was tough to see Cooper go to his new home, but we have become friends and will see the little guy and get to know Shayne, Meagan and their girls! What a great and happy ending.
Meet Cooper!

a Cooper Cuddle

Tom holds a sniffing Cooper

Monday, September 24, 2012

New Fence Installed!

old fence removed -looking at 2 neighbors' yards
Old fence removed and new posts installed
The Derecho severe weather event of June 29, 2012 with sustained winds near 80 mph really weakened our 14 year old fence (despite us replacing sections of it each year over the last seven years), so we gave in and decided to replace it with one we would no longer have to keep repairing. So, we opted for the more pricey vinyl fence. Despite the financial pain, it was well worth it. We have a sturdy fence, more privacy (it's a little higher with no see through slats), and the neighbors even really like it, too.
Here are some pictures of the fence being installed and finalized!

New gate!

the new fence is in!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Tom's Architectural Post 3: Shorter Commute Demands

Post 3:  Shorter Commute Demands
One of my favorite bloggers is John Kunstler; a writer on many topics from peak oil to architecture, he travels the country and the globe lecturing and writing on his favorite topics.  Mr. Kunstler is a strong proponent and prolific writer on the topic of small scale, walkable urbanized communities that are self-sustaining and not reliant on the automobile.  In his effort to shame architects into improving their act, he posts a monthly feature on his blog entitled “Eyesore of the Month” where he opines on a particular structure or urban setting that fails to meet the objectives about which he continuously writes.  In just about every single case, I’ve agreed with him, even when a firm I had worked for was represented in this category.

As the cost of gasoline continues to rise, and as the window begins to close on the opportunity to invest serious dollars in the development of  sustainable modes of transportation that are reliable and on a scale that’s anywhere near what is required, Mr. Kunstler writes that we must, as an alternative, invest public money in redeveloping our country’s network of railroads and modes of public transit, and not on infrastructure that sustains and prolongs our dependence on automobiles or airplanes as he sees these modes of transportation in particular evaporating within the next 50 years.  Of course, concentrating mixed-use development projects around transportation nodes is consistent with Mr. Kunstler’s objectives – providing a key component to small, walkable urbanized communities.  “Projects located within reasonable walking distance of public transportation have a much greater chance of success in today’s urbanizing climate.”[1] 

What isn’t readily apparent in the articles that I’ve read thus far is that the type of mixed-used development we’re talking about can best be defined as low to mid-rise, in other words a maximum height of four stories.  The reason for this is that if the elevator doesn’t work, no one will want to walk up more than four flights of stairs carrying their bags of groceries.  So if this type of development truly begins to take hold and begins to reshape our urban fabric, we should begin to see the decline of the skyscraper as a building type.  We should begin to see the decline of buildings with inoperable windows.  We will begin to see buildings that front onto streets rather than being arranged around the perimeter fringes of massive acres of asphalt paved parking lots. 

We’re beginning to see cartoons of this type of development as the shopping mall is being abandoned for the town center concept; cartoon meaning that all of the parts and pieces are present – benches, gas-lit lamps, splashing water fountains – but their implementation and use have been poorly executed.  I posit that a reason for the lack of success of these developments to date are due to the lack of pedestrian scale, the materials are cheap, and one often has to drive to one of these places in order to experience them in the first place.  We need to study the classic cities of Europe, discover why they are successful, and then replicate their success here.  Most recently, Rob and I had the opportunity to visit England.  Save for London, virtually every other city that we visited – Canterbury and Bath are two that immediately come to mind – has a successful shopping district that is devoid of cars, literally packed with pedestrians because people want to be there, and not a single structure more than four stories in height.  The materials are appropriately scaled to the pedestrian, they are not cheap (we did not see a single building that used veneer wall construction or fake stucco), and the workmanship is well executed.

Thanks for reading my series of posts on the rise of mixed-use development.  It will be interesting to watch as architects and developers work together over the next 15 to 20 years to perfect this type of construction and adapt it to American demands.           

[1] Ibid. 34.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Tom's Architectural Post 2: Younger Generation Demands

Post 2:  Younger Generation Demands
This one I found particularly interesting.  The built environment that we know today – seemingly endless, unplanned, car-dependent, urban sprawl – was shaped by the demands of the Baby Boomer generation; this environment is now being replaced by the demands of the Gen-X, the Gen-Y, and Millennium generations.  In their quest for a “better balance of work and life,” the newer workforce wants flexible work hours and to play more, which is realized in a built environment by workplaces that are clustered around public transportation nodes and near lots of entertainment and dining options.[1] 

Due to the pressures of the economy and recession, companies are rightsizing their workforce.  Because more work is being done online, there is less of a requirement for storage space.  And because of flexible work hours and telecommuting options, the workforce is commuting less to an office.  All of these market forces translate to a correction in demand for office space.  “Companies are looking at nontraditional office space like townhouses and storefronts because the younger workers do a lot of brainstorming and teamwork, and these nontraditional types of buildings are popular with those tenants.”[2] 

While this is true for office (commercial) space, it remains to be seen whether the same market forces will have downward driving impact on the demand and the size of houses.  Recent articles that I have read state that the new jobs being created in this economy are relatively low paying, retail positions, and with the younger generations graduating with $23,000 in student loan debt (on average), the potential for this sector of the population being able to afford to buy the houses of the Baby Boomer generation as they retire, downsize, and want to sell their houses, remains to be seen. 

In terms of quality of construction, it is worth noting that the large McMansions that have been the rage since the early 2000s, and the construction of which has been used as an indicator to determine the health of our country’s economic condition, for the most part have been constructed with contractor-grade materials which have a lifespan of between 15 and 20 years.  As the cost to replace and upgrade these materials begins to evidence itself, we will soon begin to see the ability of homeowners to keep up with the required maintenance on these large structures beginning in 2015 and soon thereafter.

[1] Ron Burton, "Trends in Office Buildings/Mixed-Use Facilities," Door & Hardware (September 2012): 33.
[2] Ibid: 33.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Tom's Architectural Post 1: Greener Construction

Post 1:  Greener Construction
By now everyone is probably familiar with the term “green” – sometimes referred to as sustainable design.  The acronym used in the design and construction industry is LEED, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. 

Here's how it works.  There’s an organization based in Washington, DC called the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), and they ascribe numerical points to certain amenities and construction techniques or practices employed in the design and construction of a building or development.  This organization derives its income from fees paid to “register” projects, and requiring that projects be supervised by, or at minimum be associated with, an Accredited Professional (AP) who has taken the USGBC’s prep classes, passed an examination, and also pays a periodic maintenance fee.  The workings of this council, its decisions, and its policies are not regulated by any state government, regulatory body, or any other independent third party organization. 

Here's what rubs me the wrong way about this whole sustainable design racket.  When first introduce to LEED and its guiding principles, my initial thought was that any good architect or engineer should already be employing these principles as part of their routine practice.  The need to pay money to an organization and add unnecessary expense to the overall cost of a project is totally unnecessary.  To substantiate my position, the point system derived by the USGBC makes no sense and is completely arbitrary.  For example, 1 point is assigned to a bike rack which may cost several hundred dollars, while an equivalent 1 point is assigned to an energy-saving, high efficiency heating and cooling system which costs multiple thousands of dollars.  This poor scoring method results in one building owner paying substantially more to obtain the very same LEED certification for his building than another, even though the energy savings realizes by a better performing HVAC system far outweigh the benefits of a bike rack.  I heard a firsthand account of an architect that scammed the system and achieved a LEED certification for his project by minimizing the amount of wood construction in his design (easy to do in non-combustible construction by using only metal studs and gypsum board) and satisfied the requirement for 50% recycled wood content by installing a small plaque in the building’s lobby fabricated of FSC-certified wood. 

The USGBC should be commended for the tremendous job it has done of hoodwinking the industry and convincing the public and agencies of the U.S. Government that a LEED certified building is a good thing, when in actuality it can add up to 40% to the overall cost of a project and is completely unnecessary.  If architects and engineers would get back to basics, and practice good, sound design principles, the need for this organization would simply go away.  The USGBC is a leach on society and needs to be eliminated.

Thursday, September 20, 2012


Tom has taken over the blog today and for the next couple of days to talk about interesting architecture-related topics. Enjoy and learn! - I did! -Rob

The mixed-use Portwalk development project in the City of Portsmouth, N.H.

Very few professional trade magazines are free these days.  But there is one that I receive and enjoy reading.  It’s a publication by the Door and Hardware Institute and simply entitled “Doors & Hardware.”  Each month I faithfully read each issue from cover to cover; the September 2012 issue was no exception.  This month’s issue is dedicated to the growing trend in the construction industry for mixed-use development.  For the benefit of the regular readers of this blog that are not architects, this term simply means that instead of segregating different occupancies like housing (residential), stores (retail), and office (commercial) space into separate isolated communities (called zones), we collocate them in one structure or cluster them in one development.  At one time, that is how our cities developed:  apartments were located above stores and worker housing was constructed immediately adjacent to the factories.  But with the development of trollies, light rail, and eventually the invention of the automobile, the character of our cities began to change with the development of the outlying suburbs by people that wished to escape the undesirable living conditions of the city.  So now, we’re actually beginning to see a return to a type of development that we once had.
Mixed-use development in California
While on the surface the renewed interest in mixed-use development seems to satisfy what the public wants these days, it does present challenges to architects and developers because the requirements for each of these groups can conflict – particularly with regard to life safety (how we get everyone out of the building in the event of an emergency), sound attenuation, and security.  In some instances, today’s building codes require that these different occupancy types be isolated from one another by fire-resistive construction, which can be expensive.   But here’s what I found interesting.  The drivers of this type of construction are:  the public’s desire for “green” construction, the desire to meet the growing demands of the younger generation, and society’s demands for less time spent on the road.  Each of these points will be discussed in separate posts.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Terri Visits from Wisconsin!

Terri with Sprite, Franklin and Dolly
Dolly, Rob, Franklin, Tom and Sprite (front)
 Last week our friend Terri visited us for a couple of days. Terri worked at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and now runs her own company doing science writing and editing. During her stay we arranged for her to have a tour of NASA Goddard, and she got to interview one of NASA's leading climatologists for an article she was writing. Of course, Dolly, Franklin and Sprite took right to her, and she enjoyed their company, too.
  We took Terri to our favorite Mexican restaurant and were joined by our friend Elvina for a night of fun and laughs.Terri departed just before the severe thunderstorms that knocked out our power, cable and Internet. We enjoyed her visit and look forward to the next time!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Vikings Player Chris Kluwe Explains Gay Marriage To The Politician Who Is Offended By An NFL Player Supporting It

We don't follow football, but we truly have a NEW respect for Vikings' Chris Kluwe and Ravens'  Brendon Ayanbadejo who told off hateful Md. politician Emmett Burns- that Rob had a run-in with last year over the same topic. The man is a fool.  Here's the letter from Chris Kluwe to Emmett Burns. We LOVE THIS!!

“They Won’t Magically Turn You Into A Lustful Cockmonster”: Chris Kluwe Explains Gay Marriage To The Politician Who Is Offended By An NFL Player Supporting It

L to R: Chris Kluwe, Brendon Ayanbadejo, IDIOT: Emmett Burns
Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo has spoken out in favor of a Maryland ballot initiative that would legalize gay marriage. Yahoo has published a letter that Maryland state delegate Emmett C. Burns Jr. wrote last week to Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti, urging him to "inhibit such expressions from your employee." This is Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe's response to Burns.
Dear Emmett C. Burns Jr.,
I find it inconceivable that you are an elected official of Maryland's state government. Your vitriolic hatred and bigotry make me ashamed and disgusted to think that you are in any way responsible for shaping policy at any level. The views you espouse neglect to consider several fundamental key points, which I will outline in great detail (you may want to hire an intern to help you with the longer words):
1. As I suspect you have not read the Constitution, I would like to remind you that the very first, the VERY FIRST Amendment in this founding document deals with the freedom of speech, particularly the abridgment of said freedom. By using your position as an elected official (when referring to your constituents so as to implicitly threaten the Ravens organization) to state that the Ravens should "inhibit such expressions from your employees," more specifically Brendon Ayanbadejo, not only are you clearly violating the First Amendment, you also come across as a narcissistic fromunda stain. What on earth would possess you to be so mind-boggingly stupid? It baffles me that a man such as yourself, a man who relies on that same First Amendment to pursue your own religious studies without fear of persecution from the state, could somehow justify stifling another person's right to speech. To call that hypocritical would be to do a disservice to the word. Mindfucking obscenely hypocritical starts to approach it a little bit.
2. "Many of your fans are opposed to such a view and feel it has no place in a sport that is strictly for pride, entertainment, and excitement." Holy fucking shitballs. Did you seriously just say that, as someone who's "deeply involved in government task forces on the legacy of slavery in Maryland"? Have you not heard of Kenny Washington? Jackie Robinson? As recently as 1962 the NFL still had segregation, which was only done away with by brave athletes and coaches daring to speak their mind and do the right thing, and you're going to say that political views have "no place in a sport"? I can't even begin to fathom the cognitive dissonance that must be coursing through your rapidly addled mind right now; the mental gymnastics your brain has to tortuously contort itself through to make such a preposterous statement are surely worthy of an Olympic gold medal (the Russian judge gives you a 10 for "beautiful oppressionism").
3. This is more a personal quibble of mine, but why do you hate freedom? Why do you hate the fact that other people want a chance to live their lives and be happy, even though they may believe in something different than you, or act different than you? How does gay marriage, in any way shape or form, affect your life? If gay marriage becomes legal, are you worried that all of a sudden you'll start thinking about penis? "Oh shit. Gay marriage just passed. Gotta get me some of that hot dong action!" Will all of your friends suddenly turn gay and refuse to come to your Sunday Ticket grill-outs? (Unlikely, since gay people enjoy watching football too.)
I can assure you that gay people getting married will have zero effect on your life. They won't come into your house and steal your children. They won't magically turn you into a lustful cockmonster. They won't even overthrow the government in an orgy of hedonistic debauchery because all of a sudden they have the same legal rights as the other 90 percent of our population—rights like Social Security benefits, child care tax credits, Family and Medical Leave to take care of loved ones, and COBRA healthcare for spouses and children. You know what having these rights will make gays? Full-fledged American citizens just like everyone else, with the freedom to pursue happiness and all that entails. Do the civil-rights struggles of the past 200 years mean absolutely nothing to you?
In closing, I would like to say that I hope this letter, in some small way, causes you to reflect upon the magnitude of the colossal foot in mouth clusterfuck you so brazenly unleashed on a man whose only crime was speaking out for something he believed in. Best of luck in the next election; I'm fairly certain you might need it.
Chris Kluwe
P.S. I've also been vocal as hell about the issue of gay marriage so you can take your "I know of no other NFL player who has done what Mr. Ayanbadejo is doing" and shove it in your close-minded, totally lacking in empathy piehole and choke on it. Asshole.
Chris Kluwe is a punter for the Vikings. Follow him on Twitter, @ChrisWarcraft.

Monday, September 17, 2012

MAINE TRIP: Boston History: Day 3: Part 5: Granary Cemetery Ghost

Granary Burial Ground - est. in 1660
GRANARY BURYING GROUND - While doing our quick walk through Boston, we stopped at this old cemetery and found the resting places of several signers of the Declaration of Independence...and a GHOST.

Cemetery sign
According to Wikipedia, this cemetery was founded in 1660. The Granary Burying Ground in Massachusetts is the city of Boston's third-oldest cemetery. Located on Tremont Street, it is the final resting place for many notable Revolutionary War-era patriots, including Paul Revere and the five victims of the Boston Massacre. The cemetery has 2,345 graves, but historians estimate as many as 5,000 people are buried in it, including: John Hancock, Robert Treat Paine and Samuel Adams- the 3 signers of the Declaration of Independence!

LOTS OF ENERGY AND A GHOST - Both of us sensed a lot of energy when we walked into this cemetery. Now, cemeteries typically aren't haunted, because ghosts usually stay in places they were familiar with or lived in, when they were alive as people. However, ghosts can be "summoned" to their physical remains whenever there's enough energy to power them up.
Ebenezer Wells' tomb- where the ghost was sitting
  Because there were a lot of people in the cemetery that morning, there was a lot of emotional energy - and that was all it took.

THE GHOST OF EBENEZER WELLS - I (Rob) looked to the back right corner of the cemetery and there, sitting atop a raised tomb was a man in a dark suit, white shirt with ruffled sleeves sticking out of the jacket, and a dark colored hat. He also had a cane or walking stick and was just sitting there watching everyone. However, he was DEAD. Yes, it was a ghost and I saw him sitting there!  - Tom went over and read the name of the deceased and it was Ebenezer Wells. We didn't know who he was until we got home and investigated. What we found was very interesting!(although there is no existing photo of him that we could find)
Tom & Rob, grumpy in the cemetery
WHO WAS EBENEZER WELLS? - He was the man responsible for giving us the format for today's wills, or "Last will and testament." According to AmericanCenturies website at the University of Massachusetts, "Ebenezer Wells, born in Deerfield, Massachusetts, September 13, 1691, was sixty-five years old on May 3, 1757, when he wrote, or dictated, his last will and testament. Mr. Wells died on June 12, 1758, a little more than thirteen months after the document was written.Many New Englanders did write wills, but many did not. Those who died without a will were declared "intestate," and the courts apportioned their worldly goods and property [estate]. This insured that the man's debts were paid and that his wife and children received their just inheritances."

  What did format did he put in his will that we use today?   Mr. Wells first invokes the name of God and follows by naming himself a "gentleman" in New England. He states that he is of sound mind and memory but realizes he has reached an "advanced age" and does not know how soon he may be called from his earthly tabernacle.
After the above formalities, Mr. Wells then proceeds to "give and dispose of" his Estate.For more info about Mr. Wells:
John Hancock's grave marker

Robert Paine- Declaration Signer

Samuel Adams - Declaration signer

Sunday, September 16, 2012

MAINE TRIP: Day 3: Boston Part 4: Harrison Gray Otis House

HARRISON GRAY OTIS HOUSE - On our quick walk through Boston, we stopped outside of a huge home that belonged to Harrison Gray Otis. Who was he?
Harrison Gray Otis (October 8, 1765 – October 28, 1848), was a businessman, lawyer, and politician, becoming one of the most important leaders of the United States' first political party, the Federalists. He is a member of the Otis family.
One of the wealthiest men of Boston during his time, Otis was reportedly worth at least US$800,000 in 1846, which in 2010 would be equivalent to $5.6 Billion!
Harrison Gray Otis Home
  Tom really admired the architecture, and I was sensing a lot of residual ghostly energy around the home, but nothing walking around outside. 

Saturday, September 15, 2012

MAINE TRIP: Boston History: Day 3: Part 3: Misc. Photos

Tom at the Old State House
Here are a couple of other photos from our quick walk through part of Boston. We stopped by the Old State House Museum and Boston Massacre site.
Old State House

Some History for you:
Boston Massacre site
The Boston Massacre - called the Incident on King Street by the British, was an incident on March 5, 1770, in which British Army soldiers killed five civilian men and injured six others. British troops had been stationed in Boston, capital of the Province of Massachusetts Bay, since 1768 in order to protect and support crown-appointed colonial officials attempting to enforce unpopular Parliamentary legislation. Amid ongoing tense relations between the population and the soldiers, a mob formed around a British sentry, who was subjected to verbal abuse and harassment. He was eventually supported by eight additional soldiers, who were subjected to verbal threats and thrown objects. They fired into the crowd, without orders, instantly killing three people and wounding others. Two more people died later of wounds sustained in the incident. For more on the event, visit:
Tom says hello to a dachshund

A Boston Dachshund Hello - Next to the Old State House on a bench we ran into a older man who was playing a string instrument as a street entertainer. He had a long-haired dachshund with him on a bench, and or course we were drawn to the dog. We stopped by and chatted with him and made a donation. We learned that he adopted his German Dachshund directly from Germany. He said that it's relatively easy to adopt dogs like Dachshunds and Weimaraners from Germany. Interesting!

To FOSTER or ADOPT a Dachshund, go to the rescue we work with: Coast to Coast Dachshund Rescue:
Coast to Coast Dachshund Rescue (CCDR) is a National Non-Profit 501(c)(3), all-volunteer organization dedicated to rescuing needy Dachshunds and Dachshund mixes from coast to coast.  CCDR has been very successful in achieving the goal to find loving families and forever homes for the dogs we've taken in. If you would consider adopting a dachshund and would like more information, please click here. You will not be sorry!

Friday, September 14, 2012

MAINE TRIP: Day 3: Part 2: Boston: Omni Parker Hotel and Ghosts

This is the most famous hotel in Boston. I remember walking by it often when I worked downtown.  The Omni Parker House Hotel is America's longest continuously operating luxury hotel and is located along the historic Freedom Trail adjacent to Beacon Hill.

Anyone that comes from Boston would remember "Parker House Rolls" and bread. This hotel is the birthplace of those famous breads.

Parker’s Restaurant serves local specialties including Boston cream pie and the Parker House Roll.
Omni Entrance. Credit: Omni Hotels

OUR GHOSTLY ENCOUNTERS - We managed to get one quick photo of the lobby, but the lights were very bright, so everything came out blurry. That was actually fitting because we both felt that there was so much energy in there from people who passed, that we couldn't get a bead on it. 
Rob did see residual "people" walking through the lobby in late 1800s and early 1900s dress. The lobby was bustling with people, both living and dead. Why? Because whenever people are excited they leave a "thumbprint" of energy in a place that excited them. So, during the 1800s and early 1900s it was a big deal to stay at this hotel, and it was exciting. So, there are lots of residual energies in the lobby that appear as people walking through. I didn't detect an intelligent ghost, but there is one, according to the Omni Hotel's own website!

THE OMNI HOTEL'S FAMOUS GHOST - According to the website, here's the resident ghost of the Boston Hotel:
GHOST OF HARVEY PARKER- I first heard about the ghost of Harvey Parker when I began Working here in 1941,” explained longtime Omni Parker House bellman,  John Brehm, in a 1992 Boston Globe interview. “ They used to say he roamed the halls on the tenth floor annex. There were many stories, but one in particular happened around 1950. An elderly woman guest insisted she saw an apparition outside room 1078. At first it was a misty apparition in the air, then it turned toward her. She said it was a heavy set older man with a black mustache. He just looked at her, then faded away. She came downstairs, a bit jittery, and security went up to the tenth floor. They checked it out, but reported they could find nothing.”
To those who knew Harvey Parker, such sightings --- which have not been reported for two decades now --- could hardly come as a shock. A perfectionist who kept his hands in every detail of his restaurant and hotel operations, he played the ultimate host to ordinary folks and world-famous guests. A host, it would seem, who could never really bring himself to leave.
OMNI'S OTHER GHOSTLY ENCOUNTERS - According to their website: 
Elevators are always called to the third floor (the floor Charles Dickens occupied) without a button being pushed or a guest waiting for the elevator.
A security officer reported that late one evening he saw the shadow of a man on the wall in the Bosworth (oldest) section of the hotel.  When he stepped aside to let the man pass there was no one there.  One thing he later realized was strange was that the shadow was wearing a stovepipe hat.
In a room on the 10th floor, guests have reported the sound of a rocking chair that kept them up all night.  There are no rocking chairs in the hotel.
Bellmen have reported bright “orbs” of light floating down the corridor on the 10th floor then disappearing.
A mother and daughter were spending the night in room 1012. The daughter awoke around daybreak to find a gentleman dressed in period garments of the latter 1800's standing at the end of her bed.  The gentleman sported a large grin as if he was asking, “Are you enjoying your stay? “  When she smiled back the gentleman gracefully disappeared.  The woman was amazed to find the portrait of her nightly visitor hanging in the dining room when she went down for breakfast.  It was the portrait of Harvey Parke

Thursday, September 13, 2012


This Sunday, Sept. 16, Sun. from  8:00 to 8:30 p.m I'll be a guest again on .
- Rob returns to talk about the upcoming Baltimore Book Festival appearance and more. This paranormal Internet Radio Show is hosted by Eric Altman and Sean Forker. The show discusses all facets of the Parnormal. 

Call In: 1-877-677-2858

MAINE TRIP: Boston History: Day 3: Part 1: Old West Church/Omni Hotel

The day after the reception in Maine, it was raining in Portland, and our plane didn't leave until the late afternoon, so we drove back to Massachusetts (the plane was leaving from Boston, Mass.) and waited for my (Rob's) mother to wake up so we could visit. (She sleeps late).
So, I took Tom on a brief walking tour of some of the historic places in Boston. We haven't seen a lot of places, so given that he's an architect I knew he'd love some of the historic places.

West Church Historic Sign
The Old West Church at 131 Cambridge Street, is a historic church located in the West End of Boston, built in 1806 to designs by architect Asher Benjamin.
  According to Wikipedia and the sign that was hanging on the church's fence, the original church was built in 1737 as a wood-frame building on that site. It was occupied as a barracks by British troops during their occupation of the city prior to the American Revolution. However, the British tore the church down in 1775 when they suspected that American Colonials were signaling to Cambridge from its steeple (when it was the Old North Church nearby that was being used as a signal place). Today's Old West Church is the second church on the site.

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.

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