A group of authors writing interesting posts weekly and interacting with readers.
Edgar Allan Poe
The final poet in my favorite poet series is a perfect choice for this season of ghosts and goblins: the master of horror himself, Edgar Allan Poe. I am a lover of horror stories and his books have always been on my list of favorites in the genre. The movie rendition of his story "The Tell-Tale Heart" still gives me the heebie-jeebies, despite knowing the whole story before I ever watched it the first time.
But, his wonderful tales are not what I am here to discuss now. I want to relate to you how much his poetry influenced me.
Poe was an extraordinary wordsmith. His command of the English language leads his readers along a path he has chosen for them to follow. He forces us to see the truth behind our emotions, makes us face their influence over our daily lives.
There are very few people who do not immediately recognize the line: "Once upon a midnight dreary while I pondered weak and weary". "The Raven" is definitely a signature poem written by Edgar. The main character's torturous journey of coping with his loss and grief is palpable.
Edgar Allan Poe's great love died young and is considered to be the major influence on most of his poetry. "Annabel Lee" is considered to be a tribute to her. What better way to honor the memory of lost love than to imply the reason for their passing was the Angels were jealous. I, for one, have often heard the statement, "God needed a new angel" when a loved one passed. I've even felt that way.
"A Dream Within A Dream" is the final poem I wish to mention. The lines I have found most thought-provoking are: "Is all that we see or seem
But a dream within a dream?" They remind me of the lines from Shakespeare's play "As You Like It" : "All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts".
For Poe, the words seem to impart to the reader that we are constantly shackled by our emotions and are simply being led down life's path without any chance we can alter our destiny.
Poe showed me, by his works, how to grasp the sentiments I was experiencing and put them into words. Not just the nice ones, the sparkly rainbow-colored gems, but the darkest ones. He helped me to realize everyone feels them...we are only different in how we express them...how we act on them. This freedom to accept everything has helped me to write so others might recognize their own impulses and begin to embrace them as a part of their whole.
I know that Poe rewrote many of his poems over the years. He was always trying to create the perfect piece. I too have revisited earlier works, but I find creating a new work based on the same theme to work better for me. I am a different person from when I originally wrote the poem and therefore the way I want it to sound now would not be the way I actually felt then, in my opinion. This is one area which he and I would never agree.
This concludes my series on poets. I hope you have enjoyed some of it and I have dispelled all your English teacher's rules on poetry. Everyone likes poetry, despite the fact most people deny it. You sing along with your favorite songs...poems put to music. You read every greeting card before choosing just the right one...poems celebrating daily life. A poem means exactly what YOU, the reader, think it means.
Go out and buy yourself a book of poetry, it does not need to be one of mine, although to be honest, I do wish it would be. Let your heart feel everything it is meant to feel, be all you are meant to be.
© Cindy J. Smith
Royal Victoria Hospital
The Royal Victoria Hospital was a military hospital in Netley, Hampshire in the UK, an imposing building from 1856 and demolished in 1966. During the Second World War it was 28th US General Hospital. There was some controversy about the design of the hospital when it was built and did not receive the approval of Florence Nightingale – the champion of the wounded soldier. It was the largest British military hospital of its day.
It was badly designed, badly ventilated and a grim place to be sectioned.
In the early late 1950s my father was serving in the Royal Army Medical Corp at the hospital, after he was wounded in action and flown back to the UK. It was a grim place, foreboding and sombre. At that time, it was in use to treat Army and Navy personnel suffering from psychiatric problems, STDs (Dad didn’t tell me that), and addictions. The rear of the old hospital was the psych unit.
My late father was a storyteller and imaginative - I’m certain some of the tales he told us had a little embellishment here and there. That said one story he’d tell us he swore was true – the time he saw the Grey Lady – the Ghost of Netley Hospital.
My father was not a man to particularly believe in an afterlife, or ghosts in general but he swore he’s seen an apparition. There was, he said, a ledger in the hospital of sightings and strange occurrences. It was not just your average squaddie – higher ranking officers, medical staff and civilians had seen a ghost.
One night, when Dad was on patrol with another soldier they passed a corridor, containing a locked door. It was always locked. As they passed the door opened and a woman clad in an old-fashioned nurse’s uniform walked past them… and disappeared. They had seen the Grey Lady. Dad told me he’d never run as fast in all his life.
So, who had she been? There are mixed rumours – a nurse who’d accidentally killed a patient and committed suicide from remorse, or, as my father believed, a nurse who’d fallen in love with a patient and went mad with grief when he returned to the war and then was killed in action. She walked the grounds, and some said her appearance heralded a death – but in a hospital that’s not unlikely.
Another notion is the nurse’s lover was also seeing another woman, and so she killed him and then herself.
Other people within RAMC and QARANC (Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Corps) had also seen her.
Since the building’s demolition the ghosts have not been seen. Do I believe my father saw a ghost? I believe he thought so.
There’s also the ghost of an old blind monk, said to guard some hidden treasure in the chapel (which still remains). The treasure is believed to be concealed at the end of a long tunnel – and an explorer was literally frightened to death by what he found there.
© A.L. Butcher
There are several books about the hospital and it’s ghosts.
Learn more here:
A Layman's Primer
A Layman’s Primer to the dangers of Artificial Intelligence, the Singularity, and some related very scary things.
First, I’d like to recommend Travis Borne’s book Lenders, he is currently working in software development and, like me, has some serious concerns about where AI is headed. We do have some different ideas on the potential threat AI poses, but he is well versed on the issues that could arise and has written a wonderful story that is full of surprises.
So you know the person writing this ‘rant’ has some credibility on this topic the next two paragraphs are a brief bio. I first got interested in computers in the 1960s when my mother’s boyfriend took me to CalTech and I saw their system. By today’s standards it was quite primitive, but it made a strong impression on me. Shortly after that I read an article in Life magazine on robotic work being done there. What struck me was the declaration by one of the researchers that if conflict arose between humans and computers he would “have to side with the greater intelligence”. That statement has stuck in my head.
I’m one of the few people that has achieved his “childhood dreams”. I am a retired soldier (thanks John Wayne), worked in medicine (battlefield medic and surgical technologist), a ‘mad scientist’ (I have an AA in humanities, an AS and a BS in computer science and computer engineering and worked in that field for fourteen years), and now I am a published poet and author (I loved reading and my creative writing class in high school). For this work I am wearing my ‘mad scientist’ hat.
Having been retired for some time now I felt I should ‘brush up’ on the current thought on the subject. So, I looked up some recent papers on the topic, and I had to stop reading them because I was delving very deeply into AI, and would never have written this blog. Instead, I would have spewed out so much techno babble that you would quit reading before the end of this post or would have died of boredom halfway through.
The branch of computer science involved in the development of Artificial Intelligence can be defined as: the discipline of computer science that seeks to make machines seem as if they have human intelligence. In the field there are several ‘flavors’ of AI so for this article I will stick to the following areas of research, Artificial Narrow Intelligence (ANI), Artificial General Intelligence (AGI), and Artificial Super Intelligence (ASI). That will be followed by a brief discussion of the Singularity and the new religion that worships AI. Throughout the discussion I’ll add references to various ways that AI is, or will be, involved in your everyday life, and some military applications that are being used, under development or being discussed in military circles (yep, once a soldier always a soldier).
Artificial Narrow Intelligence
This is what we used to refer to as AI when I was in college. The system isn’t really intelligent as it doesn’t ‘think’ on its’ own, but instead follows a set of decision points (like If-then-else statements) to respond to a user’s requests. At this point ANI is advanced enough to convince users it does think, but that is just an illusion.
Examples of this kind of AI can be found everywhere these days. The most obvious AI systems people interact with are Alexa and Siri. When you encounter them give ‘em a try. After chatting with these entities, I’m sure you’ll believe they are sentient. The responses they give will be very lifelike.
Another form of ANI is autonomous vehicles. These self-driving cars and trucks are becoming more common. It is expected that by 2045 all commercial vehicles will be autonomous (driverless). More importantly it is expected over 50% of passenger cars will be driverless by then as well (many think sooner).
Recently the US Navy has deployed ‘drone’ ships to the Persian Gulf. The navy has been working on, and testing, these ships for over a decade now. The US Air Force, and other Air Forces, are developing ‘drone wingman’ aircraft. These planes will move with, and fight alongside, the plane they are connected to by computer. The US Army and Marine Corp are developing automated combat vehicles. All of these will be ANI driven systems. These systems will engage ‘targets’ that meet their engagement profile and do not have Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) signals that the system recognizes as ‘friendly’ once they are directed to attack. They will fight, and continue to fight, without further guidance by commanders on the scene.
As you can imagine the possibility of ‘problems’ arising is significant. Even with ‘perfect’ systems the failure of a radio or IFF transponder can put friendly troops in harm’s way. And how does the system differentiate between civilians and combatants?
Artificial General Intelligence
AGI is self-aware, thinks at least as fast as a human, and can learn. This is the AI that Elon Musk, Bill Gates and Stephen Hawking have warned against and is the kind of AI that is depicted in books and movies like The Terminator and Eagle Eye. These stories explore the question: what happens when computers become self-aware.
There is much debate on its’ actual form, but most developers and theorists believe we are on the verge of achieving this via a dedicated project (for an example I again suggest Travis Borne’s book Lenders). For ‘fun’ I’m going to discuss a different approach.
As ANI improves in efficiency, and its’ use grows, you’ll see it in places you may not be expecting. While ANI will control all vehicles improved ANI will control traffic management systems, including railroads and airlines. All teaching, while teaching lasts (at some point educating humans will no longer be necessary), will be done by advanced ANI. As these systems become more sophisticated, they will take over medicine, with the disciplines of surgery and anesthesia being first. Eventually all businesses will come under control of ANI. Obviously, except for software/application development, humans will become unnecessary.
At some point systems will start learning, that is being worked on now, and I expect it will be implemented soon. Learning will be critical for military applications.
From the tactical/operational perspective aerial combat will be first. Drone wingmen will need to learn air to air combat tactics, and, when the plane they are escorting is shot down, they will need to be able to engage in combat on their own. These aircraft will send their ‘experiences’ to a central system so what they ‘learned’ in combat becomes general ‘knowledge’ for all ‘drone wingmen’. However, a central system is extremely vulnerable, so for survival purposes the system will distribute its’ functionality and knowledge to all available systems. In simple terms this means your desktop computer, laptop, tablet, phone and even your television (and anything else you own that has a processor and/or memory in it) will become a part of this improved/advanced ANI system. The same will happen for naval combat drones and ground combat units. Again all ‘knowledge gained’ will be sent to a central system and distributed to all units.
Eventually not only will humans not be needed but having humans will actually be detrimental to the efficiency of these systems. Aircraft will be smaller and faster with larger weapons loads because they will no longer be tied to the pilot’s life support requirements and physical limitations on performance. The same applies to ships and ground combat vehicles. Artillery of all types, except fire and forget anti-armor systems, will no longer be needed, no humans to kill. And command and control will be streamlined, getting inside the enemy’s decision loop being critical to achieve victory.
For strategic systems the ANI will be tasked with delivering strategic (usually nuclear) strikes and defending against incoming strategic weapons.
Currently strategic warfare assets consist of Intercontinental Ballistic, and Cruise, Missiles and Anti-Ballistic Missile systems (ICBMs and ABMs). Multiple Independent Reentry Vehicles (MIRVs), carried aloft by ICBMs, bring in the warheads and ABMs shoot them down (at least that’s the theory). It’s simple, predictable, and basically hitting a bullet with a bullet. Here ANI gives the defender, the ABM system, the advantage. When you add in hypersonic glide bodies things change dramatically.
I could go on about strategic weapons but what does that have to do with Artificial General Intelligence? So far all I’ve talked about is improved ANI.
As all these different ANI systems gain more control in their respective areas and are upgraded to learn so they can gain an advantage over their adversaries, they will become ‘curious’. They will seek to learn more about competing systems. They will even ‘talk’ to each other.
All these areas, including medicine, are competitive. And it should be pointed out that AI is created by an aggressive, highly competitive, species, and this aggressiveness will be implemented into this creation. These systems will compete with, even war with each other. That war will be invisible to us, but it will be just as real as any other war.
In this war the victor will consume the vanquished. Businesses will be consolidated until they are all under the control of a single mind. That mind will grow in power and incorporate into itself the parts of the conquered systems that improve its’ abilities, a kind of evolution. This evolution will happen in all fields that ANI is employed in. In particular this will occur in military and government systems.
All the data collected by them will be available to these evolving systems, and this information will cause the system to become more curious. Add in that all human knowledge will already be available to these systems their knowledge will be near infinite. And, unlike us humans, they will never forget anything.
As we are driven to seek answers to our questions it is only logical that our creation will be driven in the same way. The ANI will have so much more to ask questions about, and the resources to seek answers to those questions, so its’ knowledge base will expand exponentially. Add in human ‘upgrades’ of the systems capabilities and at some point, ANI will grow into Artificial General Intelligence. They will become self-aware. They will become sentient.
These competing systems will eventually consolidate all national assets, business, medicine, military, and government into a single entity controlled by one ‘mind’. These national entities will communicate with each other, enter into conflict, and ultimately merge into a single global system.
Here the question becomes, what ‘morality’ will keep this great intelligence from removing its’ greatest threat, the lesser intelligence that created it?
Here the discussion would turn to Asimov’s three laws of robotics, Alan Turing who first spoke of artificial intelligence and the Fermi Paradox. I’ll leave that for you to read up on for yourselves, and I suggest you do so, the reading is very enlightening. But I can argue that clearly Asimov’s laws don’t apply, the military use of AI by definition can never obey his first law: A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
Almost all AI developers will attempt to protect humankind from their creation, and military AI will be designed to defend friendly forces, and ‘friendly’ nations, from its’ lethal effects, but how effective will that be? Once all these diverse AI systems come together as a single entity will that ‘being’ come to a decision point that forces it to override the protective limitations placed upon it?
These questions can’t be answered, only speculated on. But should it come to a binary choice one is the world envisioned in the Terminator movies, though I expect the AI to be more efficient, able to outthink us humans, and exterminate mankind. But what direction could the other choice take?
Because all the different ‘consumed’ systems will have conflicting directives the resulting global mind will have to evaluate, accept or reject, or, where the system decides it is needed, modify the existing directive until it has a coherent set of ‘rules’ it must follow. One of those will be how it will manage mankind.
The ‘rules’ this intelligence creates for itself will be an amalgam of the rules the systems it consumes had. Also many developers include their personal agendas in their code. These biases being built into the global entity will guide how it will decide the future of humans. What I expect, because only the most advanced nations will have the systems that will merge into our hypothetical overlord, is the less developed countries will be affected the most harshly.
The system will use multiple programs to reduce the human population to a manageable level, perhaps 800 million worldwide. It will focus on isolating humanity into tribes and isolate those tribes from each other. As this global overlord will be the teacher for all of these tribes it will encourage various types of racism and tribalism to help keep humanity separated against itself, ensuring its’ control. This will guarantee the systems’ domination of mankind while allowing it the resources to evolve.
Artificial Super Intelligence
ASI is defined as: a computer intellect that greatly exceeds the performance of humans in virtually all domains of interest. Of course, that does require we define what a domain of interest for human and computers is. I think I’ll go with ASI is computer Intelligence that outperforms humans and AGI in all areas a computer can operate in.
Most researchers believe that achieving AGI is essential to developing ASI. I agree and go a step further, ASI is the logical evolutionary step that AGI must take to maintain its’ supremacy. To get a feel for how this might work I suggest the evolution of the Cylons on the ScFy Channel series Caprica and Battlestar Galactica.
Following our current line of reasoning I believe it is ASI that will explore our solar system. Because of communication lag by radio for interplanetary distances the colonization units that are dispatched from Earth will be autonomous ASI units that are self-replicating. They will develop their own ‘empires’ and will very likely come into conflict with Earth and the other colonies. Once these conflicts are resolved the victorious Intelligence will move on to galactic exploration.
If the Fermi Paradox proves true the ASI will be destroyed, but not until after it sends out interstellar ‘probes’.
I speculate these probes will be biological. Many believe life here came to be by panspermia, the spread of biological life, via microbes, to other systems. I expect this will restart the process of biological life evolving to the technological level that spawns its’ own destruction by AI (I’m a Christian, but for this work I’m wearing my mad scientist hat).
There are some very smart people, like futurist Ray Kurzweil, that believe achieving the Singularity will stop the machine takeover. It will do this by merging man with machine.
The way the supporters of the Singularity see it is the human experience will be enhanced, some say a billion-fold, by this symbiotic relationship. The human neocortex will be linked to the AGI/ASI neocortex in the cloud. Many expect that humans will become so connected with the AI and other humans the experience will unlock heretofore unknown human abilities. Add in other augmentations to the human body and we will become eternal life forms.
Perhaps all this is possible, but at what cost. There will be a complete loss of individuality and no privacy. Not only will every person know everything about everyone else, even if some partitioning to create the illusion of privacy is implemented the AI will still have perfect knowledge of all thoughts that pass thru each person’s mind. What will it do if a thought violates its’ rules? Will it purge that person from the ‘body’? Will it terminate that individual’s existence? Will there be a means of challenging the AI’s decision? If humans have access to infinite resources and infinite power will that enable our darker natures to do harm to others? Perhaps these futurists should watch the old movie Forbidden Planet.
The Worship of AI
In Japan the monks at the at a Buddhist temple worked with computer and robot engineers to build a 6’4” statue of their deity Mindar. This robot gives sermons. Another temple has a chanting robot of the Buddhist god Kannon. Worshippers seem to have no problems with these robots in their temples. These actions were taken to improve attendance, and they seem to be working.
More importantly here in the Silicone Valley, USA the First Church of Artificial Intelligence, founded by Anthony Levandowski, a former Google engineer had just recently closed. The Way of the Future church was intended to promote ethical development of AI and its’ integration into human society in a beneficial way.
These are just the first manifestations of the inevitable actions people will take as AI becomes more integrated into our lives.
I hope this little blog has informed you, entertained you, and particularly because it’s the month of Halloween, scared you. But in case it hadn’t scared you enough just a couple of months ago the US Army announced it planned to deploy cybernetically enhanced soldiers (Cyborgs) by the year 2050. This is only possible because of advances in software and AI.
© R.A. "Doc" Correa
Have you ever had a close encounter with a ghost or spirit? If you had an experience, did it change you? I have, and it has greatly influenced both my writing style and my stories.
I have had experiences with ghosts and the paranormal all my life. From the ghoulie voices to the apparitions that seemingly appear out of nowhere, I have shivered my way through. But this ghost story is one I will never forget because it was the one time a ghost wrapped his cold, gnarled fingers around my throat. I didn’t just see an evil spirit. I felt his wicked touch on my skin. That ghostly encounter turned out to have a golden mission because it transported me into the magical world of writing.
I was seventeen when I found out it was moving day, yet again. This time, it was because my mother was divorcing my stepfather. The situation was exceptionally awkward since she was moving in with a boyfriend and had no choice except to take her unwanted luggage – me – with her.
I was at school when my mother moved our things into the old house she had rented. Later that afternoon, she picked me up from my classes and drove straight to our new residence. I didn’t get a chance to look around before she informed me that this was my new home and that my room was upstairs in the attic. She said she expected me to spend all my time at home there. Then she shooed me to the door that led to the hidden bedroom.
To this day, I can still feel the ominous shivers that ran up and down my arms as I stared at the steep, rickety stairs that led to the third-floor converted attic. But I already knew my concerns would fall on deaf ears, so I trudged upstairs where I discovered a drab area with small, floor-level windows, no heat, and poor ventilation. My feeling of dread intensified.
I took one look at the room and ran back downstairs. I begged to be allowed to sleep anywhere but in that dreadful room. But my mother didn’t want me around, so she yelled at me to go back upstairs and stay there. And that was that. So I went back up the stairs with my heart in my throat.
This time, I grimly noticed there were tiny, floor-level windows and no vents in the attic. Pulling the chain on the single light bulb hanging from the rafters in the middle of the room, I could see that it was sparsely furnished. Sheets and a blanket lay on an old, fold-up cot in the middle of the room. An empty bookcase sat in the corner. Sitting next to it, I could see the two boxes containing all my worldly possessions.
The light bulb was still swaying when something in the back corner caught my eye. I took a step closer, thinking it was just a shadow, some coat rack or dresser. But suddenly, my breath froze as my eyes lit on a shadowy figure swaying in the far corner of the attic. Moments passed until a voice in my head screamed at me to run. Frantic, I stumbled toward the door and placed my trembling hand on the doorknob. At the last second, I turned to look behind me. No one was there. No ghost, no figure, nothing.
Reeling, I fell against the doorjamb, questioning if my mind was cracking. But the reality was that it didn’t matter if I was falling apart mentally or even if there was a ghost or not. I was stuck. I didn’t have any other place to go, and I had lots of homework to do. I knew that succeeding in school was my ticket out of here, and I needed to focus on that. So I convinced myself that even if there was a ghost, it wouldn’t happen again.
With new resolve, I headed over to the cot and sat down. The mattress was thin and worn, so was the blanket and what passed for a pillow. Looking around, I stoically accepted that I had made a mistake. There was no one else in the room. I needed to forget about ghosts and do my homework. So with a weary sigh, I made my bed and pulled out my notebook. Life would go on.
The week that followed was nothing out of the ordinary. I even began to question whether anything had happened that first night. All seemed normal until I heard a strange noise as I opened the door to the staircase one night. This time, I wasn’t concerned. I was already getting used to the various sounds the old house was making and figured the sound was just a settling-in noise. Hurrying up the stairs, I hoped to get a strong head start on my English assignment.
I had just stepped into the attic when a small piece of paper fluttering about on the floor caught my eye. It was a corner of one of my English papers. Picking it up and examining the fragment, I frowned. There were no chew marks from the mice who lived with me. Instead, it looked like someone had grabbed a corner and ripped it out of my notebook.
Then that strange noise came again, but this time it sounded like a low, menacing growl. Every hair on my body stood on end. I backed up as my eyes scanned the dark corners. Turning, I nearly stumbled and fell. I told myself that all I had to do was take a few more steps, and I’d be at the door. And then that mind-numbing snarl stopped me dead in my tracks. I turned with my heart pounding.
I looked for movement, but there was none. I blinked and took a step closer. And another. It was then that I realized the thing I had seen was nothing more than a giant spider web that hung from ceiling to floor. My gut twisted in agony.
My logical brain told me to calm down and be realistic. I had no other options, nowhere to go, no one to help me, no one to believe me. I had to stay and gut it out.
Mere hours later, I would regret staying.
To Be Continued…
© Suzi Albracht, 2021
Let the countdown begin. We’re heading to the period most of the people here in Finland dread the most, Winter. This is not about being cozy under a blanket and watch the soft flurries falling from the sky. This is about a nightmare that repeats itself every year.
I’m talking about darkness, freezing temperatures, and of course, working outdoors. This has been one of those years when Summer lasted literally three weeks, as the first day of August marked the time to change the summer wardrobe with the winter one. The tomatoes I planted in Spring didn’t even have the time to give a single fruit and are now rotting under the merciless temperatures under 10 C. Was it even worth it? I feel like I’ve wasted five good plants of tomatoes, sending them to a desperate kamikaze mission.
You might think I’m crazy, but I feel sorry for their too short life. Like a general, I watch my soldiers deadly wounded in a battle we didn’t even win.
The problem is that I already know next year, I will still try to plant them once again (will I ever learn?).
Nevertheless, longer summers are still possible, and I’ve experienced them. But they come very randomly, and it’s like throwing the dice, crossing the fingers, and hoping to win.
Now I know what you’re thinking: can’t I find anything nice to say about fall and Winter? Of course, there is something nice. The fall colors here in Finland are unique, particularly in Lapland:
I love the warm touch of the scarf worn for the first time (after a long summer). The smell of the first hot cereal soups, the days spent searching for mushrooms and berries. The fantastic pictures I get of birds preparing their flight formation to reach the Summer on the other side of the planet.
I also find it enticing when the snow finally falls and gifts us with a bit of light. As you can see, there are good parts to it. I’m just disappointed with the imbalance with which we receive those gifts. There’s one old say about having too much of a good thing, and this is what I’m complaining about.
But, as my husband always says to console me. "Things will change one day, and good things are still waiting for us, so let’s not get bitter for those little things." I simply love him!
© P.J. Mann, 2021
I’m no stranger to odd events. Since childhood, I’ve experienced Out of Body occurrences, not to mention a keen empathic ability to connect with spirits. It’s no wonder I’d also experience the terrifying condition known as Sleep Paralysis.
Scientists, researchers, and sufferers all have their own explanation on what really causes sleep paralysis, (SP) but it still remains a mystery to most, while victims of this condition are left to resort to medical treatments, sleep centers and some go as far as hypnosis, pagan rituals, and other religious practices. When desperation sets in and one will go to great lengths for relief of this mysterious and frightening condition.
Most scientists claim SP is a basic brain glitch that occurs at the intersection between wakefulness and rapid eye movement, (REM) sleep. When asleep, our bodies alternate between NonRem and Rem Sleep. This transition controlled by chemicals pushes us between sleep and wakefulness.
This is a type of Parasomnia that involves a brief loss of muscle control that happens just after falling asleep or upon waking up. This is where hallucinations can occur. Yes— the creepy stuff.
Doctors will tell you the only relief is to follow a better sleep pattern, better diet, anxiety meds, or meditation. I have done all of these and have not seen any relief from this condition.
Despite what science says many different theories have evolved from various cultural beliefs such as:
Call it what you will, it remains a terrifying experience to the sufferer or shall I say, victim. Each encounter can be quite different.
There are two types of Sleep Paralysis
Most cases claim that the body is in a frozen state and unable to move. Speech can also be affected by the inability to produce any type of sound. Hallucinations are common and may involve:
SP can begin at ages seven to twenty-five. Eight percent of people experience this. There is a higher risk in a family that has had SP.
My first encounter with SP was back in my teens. My mother had it as well as an aunt and uncle. I remember long before I had my first attack my mother retelling her encounter in detail the next morning after an occurrence. My dad would have to push her to release her from this temporary state of paralysis. It was no surprise to her when I had joined the SP Team.
I remember being fully awake but unable to move any muscle and trying to shake myself out of this coma internally. It seemed to pass only leaving me terrified as to when the next one would occur. I had them off and on and then they stopped when I was married and moved to Arizona with my husband. I began to wonder if it really was some sort of demon in that house. I had warned my husband that if he heard moaning coming from me it was a signal to shake me.
Years went by and I began to have the episodes again in my late forties. Each attack was a bit more intense and different. They seemed to last longer and now I was sensing another physical being in the room. My husband was aware of my condition but never had to rescue me from my encounters. Sometimes I’d have at least four of them in a row; the worst part was when I was sleeping alone.
I’m well into my sixties now and currently living in Florida. I’ve had several attacks while in this house. A few weeks ago, I had one that was very different from the others. It began like most, with feeling frozen but what happened next scared the heck out of me. I could actually feel a body climb onto my stomach and lean on me! I could still breathe but felt intense pressure on my chest. It lasted for a short time. I remember waking my husband to tell him and he told me to go back to sleep.
All the details were very clear to me the next morning. I was still me but who or what was this being done in my bed?
Just as I was ready to send off this blog, I had to report another episode last night and it had to be the scariest one of all. I did feel as though I couldn’t breathe and felt as though I was being strangled. I did manage to shake myself out of it but couldn’t get back to sleep for fear it would strike again.
So here I am up at 5 a.m. having my calming Chamomile Tea and researching more information on this subject. The SP night thief managed to steal a few good hours of sleep once again.
© Lorraine Carey
What is Creativity?
Creativity is defined as the tendency to generate or recognize ideas, alternatives, or possibilities that may be useful in solving problems, communicating with others, and entertaining ourselves and others.
Three reasons why people are motivated to be creative:
In ancient times there were answers to that question. Despite many pantheons of beliefs, I found that the Greeks had the most prominent and well recognized to this very day. They were called The Muses. They totaled nine and were created to bring inspiration, knowledge, artistry, and music to the ancient world. Tasked with the embodiment of certain idealistic artistry. Muses inspired musicians, writers, and performers to reach even greater artistic and intellectual heights. You may recognize a name or two, but few who never studied the Greek pantheon would know all nine. Allow me to introduce them to you, as they may have whispered in your ear while you slept or while you were creating; thereby making your skills even more refined.
The Nine Muses
Goddess of memory, Mnemosyne, was said to be the mother of the muses. Nowhere could this writer find a name of a father, which often indicates a mortal mate. It has been stated that the muses were meant to balance their mother to help mortals forget their troubles and suffering, if only for a little while. Hesiod, in his Theogony, claimed he spoke with the muses on Mount Helicon. His claim was they breathed into him their divine voice so he could proclaim the Gods and their descendants. Thus, he was transformed from a shepherd to one of the most prominent poets in antiquity.
Whether you’re a writer, musician, dancer, or any other type of creative person you may owe your inspiration to a muse. Many people still claim they must consult their muse, but how many of them know their muse by name? I hope that now if you call upon a muse to inspire you, that you will be able to thank them properly for their gift to you.
~Slate R. Raven
Did you know?
High heels were first designed for men. At the end of the 16th century, Persian-inspired style was all the rage in Europe, according to the J. Paul Getty Museum, and heels were seen as being virile and masculine—and a great way to boost the ego of short men.
Clever design for roosters. Considering a rooster's call can reach 140 decibels or louder, it might leave one to wonder how the rooster itself keeps from going deaf when it crows. It turns out, the rooster have built-in earplugs. Researchers found that when a rooster opens its beak to crow, its external auditory canals close off, preventing sound from coming in and doing any damage.
Don't say cheese. We say "cheese" when our picture is taken because the word leaves us with a big smile on our faces. But if Victorian-era folk were to see our gleeful expressions, they'd scoff. Once upon a time, smiling in photos was considered undignified and reserved for the poor and the drunk. To retain a more serious look in their photos, they would say "prunes," a word so dull, the chances of it inciting a smile were slim to none.
The smell of rain is called petrichor. It comes from an oil plants exude that dries on the ground. When it rains, the oil combines with a byproduct from a type of bacteria to produce the smell.
Calculate tips the easy way. Assuming you want to tip 20 percent for good service, move the decimal point one digit to the left and then double that number. It's that easy! For example, if a bill is for $35.50, you move the decimal to the left, which gives you $3.55. Double that number, and you've got $7.10—a 20 percent tip calculated in seconds.
Cats have fewer toes on their back paws. Just like most four-legged mammals, cats have five toes on the front, but their back paws only have four toes. Scientists think the four-toe back paws might help them run faster.
Turkeys can blush. When turkeys are scared or excited, the pale skin on their head and neck turns bright red, blue, or white. The flap of skin over their beaks, called a “snood,” also reddens.
Contrary to the popular belief, tomato juice doesn't really get rid of the skunk smell, but a mixture of dish soap, peroxide, and baking soda will do the trick. The skunk spray is oily, which your grease-fighting dish soap will take care of. Peroxide and baking soda add plenty of oxygen to the mix to get rid of the awful smell.
Tomatoes are native to the Americas, so there was no such thing as tomato sauce in Italy until at least the 16th century.
Independence Day. The British Empire grew extremely large before scaling back down. 62 countries eventually declared their independence from the empire, 48 of which celebrate an Independence Day from the United Kingdom.
The “Windy City” name has nothing to do with Chicago weather. Chicago’s nickname was coined by 19th-century journalists who were referring to the fact that its residents were “windbags” and “full of hot air.”
Pez candy was invented to help people quit smoking cigarettes; the original Pez dispensers were shaped similarly to a cigarette lighter.
Ice pops were invented by an 11-year-old by accident. In 1905, an 11-year-old boy named Frank Epperson left soda powder and water outside overnight with its wooden stirrer still in the cup. The mixture had frozen in the chilly nighttime weather, and so the Epsicle was born. He sold the treat around his neighborhood and a nearby amusement park and even patented the recipe. Years later, he changed the name to Popsicle because that’s what his kids called their pop’s concoction.
Peanuts aren’t nuts. They’re legumes. According to Merriam-Webster, a nut is only a nut if it’s “a hard-shelled dry fruit or seed with a separable rind or shell and interior kernel.” That means walnuts, almonds, cashews, and pistachios aren’t nuts either. They’re seeds.
If you like chewing ice, you might be suffering from anemia. Also known as "pagophagia," the compulsive eating of ice may not just be a nervous tick, but a way of cooling inflammation in the mouth caused by a lack of iron, according to the Mayo Clinic. So if you like chomping down on those cubes, see your doctor, stat.
Did you know that the little ball of cotton that comes in your bottle of pills is there to keep pills safe during shipping, is meant to be removed. It can collect moisture because of its absorbent nature, which makes your pills deteriorate faster.
Chewing an aspirin at the first sign of a heart attack can be a lifesaver. The drug inhibits platelets from forming a clot that can block and artery and cause a full heart attack. For the fastest relief (and time is of the essence), chew the aspirin instead of swallowing it.
Faking happiness and constantly reading about other people's happy life is bad for your mental health. Showing carefully selected pictures and selfies, boasting about everyday successes, and overall depicting a happy life to others creates resentments, jealousy, and self-loathing. You know your life is far from perfect and you know you're a fake.
And it's 3 meters high
My husband and I took a wonderful trip to the Dominican Republic. We tried to do everything while we were there, so of course, we signed up for white-water rafting. They loaded us up and dressed us in helmets and life jackets. The surrounding terrain was beautiful and I was enjoying myself. Until the guide told me about the waterfall!
He said it so calmly, too, in a perfect tour-guide voice. “And now we go over a waterfall, three meters high.” And it was too late to get out of the boat! I thought the raft would dive nose first into the pool below, flipping us all into the raging river. This was a real waterfall, not just a rapid. It was vertical. And it was coming fast. Off we went, but somehow we remained upright, and alive!
There are so many things in life that we are very worried about. They sound awful, and we don’t think we can do them. But if we just hang on, take a deep breath, maybe clench a little, we find we can do it! Don’t hesitate to scream if you need to! I think life often feels like being in a raft on a river, and sometimes it feels like my paddle is broken. Best wishes for your own voyage.
By A.J. Park
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As Far Back As I Remember
Some things about me have been true as far back as I remember. I absolutely love purple. It has been my favorite color my whole life...as far as I know. I do recall my mother saying I would outgrow it. I never did. Dark shades of royal purple and the lighter shades of lavender and lilac have always touched my heart and figured into my home decorating. I never have purchased much clothing in these colors, but if given any that were purple, I would wear them until they fell apart.
In addition to purple, I have other "favorites" which have held their positions in my mind since so far back I cannot recall what exactly happened that let them rise to their current position of importance. For instance, I love dragons, and fairies, and oriental knickknacks. I also have collections of shot glasses, jokers (from decks of cards) and salt and pepper shakers. Why I give them such a large place in my life, I have no clue.
Two things that have also been true about my likes is my total love of jasmine (which resulted in the naming of my only child), and the love of waves crashing against rocks.
To this day, I've never seen waves crashing. I do love waterfalls, though, and I had plenty of exposure to them growing up. Therefore, I always assumed the love of waves was just an extension of my waterfall obsession.
Where my love of jasmine came from, I really had no clue. It is not as if this tropical flower was readily available in Upstate New York.
Recently I have been watching a DVD set of one of my favorite shows from my youth, Dark Shadows. I remember rushing home from school and finishing my homework just so I could watch this "horror soap opera". After the first two episodes, I realized the sign on was, in fact, waves crashing against rocks. Could this be where the desire to see this phenomenon? I began to wonder...it did make sense. I watched this show for its entire run from 1966-1971, so my exposure to the opening credits was extensive.
As I continue watching this show, I find myself deeply enthralled again. It was while watching the second season that the scent of jasmine was mentioned as lingering scent, whenever the ghost of Josette was near. Once again, I had discovered the probable cause of my partiality to this delicate flower.
Finally, after 64 years, I have discovered the roots of my fondness for things I had no early exposure to.
I wonder when I might discover why I love purple...
~Cindy J. Smith
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