Raiders of the Lost Ark?

3 03 2008

I caught the program last night about the guy who went out searching for the Ark of the Covenant.  No, not Indiana Jones…it was Dr. Tudor Parfitt’s journey in search of the elusive Ark which has not been seen since sometime around the take over of Judah by the Babylonians in the Old Testament.  No word of the Ark’s fate exists.

For centuries people have wondered what’s become of the ark.  Where is it? Who took it? Is it still intact? Is it still powerful?  As seen in Raiders of the Lost Ark the Nazis opened the Ark and were destroyed.  Those who know about the Christianity know that if the Ark was around today, it probably would not have the same powers because the Holy Spirit resides in followers of Christ.

Dr. Parfitt’s journey took him to Jerusalem and then his journey went to Egypt, Yemen and into the wilds of Africa.

He claims to have found the latest incarnation of the Ark in a Musuem in Zimbabwe, made of wood and used by a tribe on the South African/Zimbabwe border for hundreds of years.

Dr. Parfitt’s quest for the Ark amount to me leaving home telling you that I’m going to go buy a new car…and then returning with only a ham sandwich.  One has nothing to do with the other.

What is interesting is the retracing of the steps of some of the Jews as they fled Judah as Nebuchadnezzar was about to break the walls in Jerusalem.  These Jews, mentioned in the Bible as the ones who fled to Egypt, worked their way south into deep Egypt and eventually deeper into Africa.  Another group arrived in Africa via Yemen. 

Centuries later, reports came out of an African Tribe that somehow practiced the Jewish traditions…though Israel was some 3000 miles away.  This tribe ate kosher, followed the laws of the Jews and even carried around their own “Ark” like object into tribal war.  What’s really interesting is that DNA test show that they are in fact kin to Jews in Israel…so there is validity to the fact that the Jews who fled Nebuchadnezzar somehow ended up in modern day South Africa.

As for the Ark…if it does exist, it is lost somewhere or hidden somewhere very well.  Some say Israel has it hidden somewhere, others say the Muslims have it hidden somewhere, some say it’s in Ethiopia under heavy guard.  It would be astounding to find it, but maybe God does not wish for us to find it as we may be tempted to worship that and not Him. 

But we all know that really the Ark of the Covenant is locked away at Area 51 after being found by Dr. Henry Jones.

Harry Landis; 1899-2008

6 02 2008

Mr. Harry Landis of Tampa, FL died at the age of 108.  Mr. Landis is one of the last known American Veterans of World War I.  A Mr. Frank Buckles of Charles Town, West Virginia is now the only surviving veteran of World War I.

Mr. Landis enlisted in 1918 and trained to go to Europe, but never got the chance to head overseas.  The war ended before his unit shipped out.

The Associated Press (via the Richmond Times-Dispatch) has an article about Mr. Landis.

Mr. Landis was born in 1899.  His life spanned three different centuries.  When he was born, William McKinley was President of the United States, and the Spanish-American War had just concluded the previous year.

In his life the world transformed from the industrial revolution to what we have today.  Amazing.

It’s always weird when you think about how close we are to distant times.  Mr. Landis was born in 1899.  Let’s say there was someone of the age that Mr. Landis was in 2008, 108.  That person would have been born in 1791.  And if we continue that equation…a person who by chance was 108 in 1791 would have been born in 1683.

So three people could have spanned the time period of 325 years.  Astounding!

We can put it into more personal contex…I know a gentleman at church who’s grandfather was alive and present at the Battle of Cold Harbor in 1864.  He remembered riding out the day after the battle and being told to keep his head down and not look out, but he could see through the boards of the buggy the bodies strewn along the ground.  So there is only one person between me and the Battle of Cold Harbor.

It’s weird when you think of it like that, because these things seem so long ago.


Library of Congress’ flickr site

29 01 2008

It’s amazing and true, the Library of Congress, the official repository of the written word, photographs, motion pictures, etc. of the United States of America has a flickr site.

I came across it by doing a Google News Search for the word “flickr”.

Go check out the site, there are over 3000 photos on there so far.

She was alright when she left here…

27 01 2008

An interesting Time Magazine article about design plans to revitalize the old Harland & Wolff Shipyard in Belfast, Northern Ireland into a residential and commercial center.  The largest waterfront redevelopment in Europe if approved.

Check it out!

Rail-to-Trails: Seaboard Air Line Railroad Trail – Chesterfield County

19 12 2007

Was looking through a book about hiking trails made from abandoned railroads.  What a great idea!  It’s being done all over the nation, and here in Virginia there are some popular ones in the western part of the state and around Washington.

It got me thinking…this idea could be done here in Richmond.  We have several old rail lines and abandoned railbeds that could be converted into hiking trails.

The first that hit me was the old Seaboard Air Line Railroad through Chesterfield.  The line was abandoned in the 60s I believe.  It runs just over 13 miles from Centralia to Petersburg. 

I’ve marked it on page.

Richmond should take notes from Alexandria…

10 12 2007

The Richmond Times-Dispatch‘s website had an article today about the City of Alexandria in Northern Virginia.  It’s an interesting article about how Alexandria a long time ago decided to capitalize on its history.  Something Richmond needs to do, but due to…..ignorance….has not.

Richmond Master Plan…or…We can make a fancy book and so can you!

27 11 2007

This week the City of Richmond released their draft of the Downtown Master Plan.  The lengthy description covers things like transportation, housing, recreation and the like.

A lot of items in the plan are good…some are questionable, but okay we’ll go along…and others…well, we’ll see.

I have no idea if turning one way streets to two way streets is even worth the effort.  There are those who know better than I.  Planting trees and improving the street-scape will never hurt.  I love the idea of bringing back the streetcar.  I’d use it. 

The plan calls for Mayo’s Island to become a park and incorporated into the James River Park System.  This would be awesome, and perhaps better than developing it.  Development is probably not likely due to it being in the middle of the river beyond the protection of the flood wall. 

Magnificent renderings of downtown scenes are featured in this book:

Marshall Street

Above: The Future of Marshall Street?  Why not?

Below: The renewal of Hull Street in Manchester, which is now considered “downtown”…

Hull Street

 Two items that struck me…

One: the desire of the city to have a signature building at the northern end of the Manchester Bridge (see below):


 …and secondly…


This is most interesting to me.  Apparently there’s a movement (unknown how intense and/or serious) to have the USS Zuni, a World War II vessel, to dock at Richmond as a permanent fixture downtown.  This would be tremendous, awesome and fantastic all at the same time.

Bottom line…

Any and all parts of this would not hurt the city.  But would it be good for the city?  Perhaps.  I have been very optimistic about the city’s future…in spite of itself.  Richmond is a unique place in this nation.  Faced with the same challenges as any other comparable city, we seem to have a slightly different spirit than most.  It is difficult to explain.

The City really needs to embrace its history while at the same time focus on its future.  The opportunities are endless if those in charge can figure out this balance. 

 I wish this plan well and hope that the ones who will implement it will have success.

I’m hopeful.

Petersburg, Virginia

16 09 2007

Saturday was an absolutely gorgeous day!

I took the opportunity of the pleasant weather to head down to Petersburg to take some photos.  For weeks now I’ve been wanting to get down there for that.

First, let me just say, if you read nothing else know this: If you change out the trees that line Petersburg’s Old Towne for Palmetto Trees, you would think you’re in Charleston, SC.  Petersburg has that feel to it.

Now, I went into Old Towne to photograph the area because it is a mix of old Alexandria and Charleston.  But in saying that, it’s not really fair to compare because Petersburg has her own identity that perhaps has similar traits to her sister southern cities.  Enough ryhmes and alliterations.

I am SO enthralled with Petersburg.  Walking the streets you get a real sense of the potential for this area.  I checked out some of the antique shops, got some coffee from Java Mio and walked the streets.  Taking over 30 megabytes of photos, I posted the vast majority of them on Flickr.  My family has our roots in Petersburg, VA.  The John Baird house in the city is my great-great-great-great-great-etc. Grandfather’s.  I wanted a picture of it, but the batteries died in the camera and, alas, I didn’t bring a spare set.

Folks, Petersburg’s on the verge of something big.  It could be awesome with what they want do there.  I read the report some months ago about the master plan with the marina and the river front and along with the other plans it could be an incredible place to live, work and hang out.  Being there yesterday really made me want to have a house on Grove Avenue or somewhere around there.

The people that were around Saturday were extremely friendly.  There was no hesitation to greet one another as you pass by.  Some shop owners sat out in front of their stores greeting people and were extremely helpful with some of my questions.  If you love shopping for antiques, then head down to Petersburg, they have everything!!! Seriously, I saw it.

Bottom Line: Petersburg is an excellent place.  Full of history, the longest siege in North America occurred here, the Civil War battlefields are just minutes drive away, and the architecture is phenominal.  The people were friendly, the shops interesting, the coffee awesome! 

With the increase in population looming, more and more will get a chance to see this great city, be sure you’re one of them to check it out.  Keep reading in the news about the efforts to revitalize the city and support those who are working there.

Thanks Petersburg for an enjoyable afternoon!

P.S. – I amen my earlier post about Petersburg should get Part 3 of the Museum of the Confederacy.  It would fit nicely there in town.

Richmond Battlefields Association…*sigh*

12 09 2007

I received in the mail the other day the newsletter from the Richmond Battlefields Association, a local group involved in Civil War battlefield preservation.  In it was a story about the early attempts to secure and interpret battlefields in the 1920s & 1930s.  Douglas Freeman, among others were instrumental in saving a majority of the Battlefields that the National Park Service now owns around Richmond. The story goes into the old Richmond Battlefield Parks Corporation’s efforts to preserve the sites and build roads connecting them so that Richmond’s Battlefields would attract as many as go to see Gettysburg.

Okay, fast forward 80 some years later.  We have a good amount of battlefields protected, but A LOT not protected and even more lost forever.  The writer of this newsletter called the efforts to protect certain sites north of the James an “utter failure”.

That’s a little harsh.  True, the did not succeed, but it makes it seem like they slacked off and didn’t get the job done.  I have read that they tried to secure quite a bit of property to protect, but land prices were too high (surprise) and the Great Depression hindered fundraising.  I know they wanted to protect sites that still today are left to the whim of developers.  Powhite, Dr. Gaines’ farm in Hanover is one site, but it was just too much to afford in the ’20s (even today it’s way overpriced).  Grapevine Bridge area, just too expensive.

These folks worked hard to get the ball rolling on battlefield preservation.  True I wish their dreams had come true, but unfortunately, it didn’t.  That just leaves it to us to carry out this mission.

They efforts weren’t an utter failure in terms of certain sites, it was just too much of an uphill battle.

September 11, Genesis, Confederate Flag, et al…

11 09 2007

-Today is September 11, exactly six years ago today the nation if not the world changed forever.  In fact even the days of the week fall the same as they did six years ago as today is Tuesday, September 11.  Take a moment, remember where you were when you learned of the disaster and remember what you have today and thank God.


-I’ve been reading the book of Genesis lately.  You know reading the Bible is like any book, when you read it again and again you always find something new.  For instance, in the stories of the world pre-Noah’s Flood the people were able to craft bronze tools and the like.  It makes me wonder how advanced civilization was before they were wiped out?  There was a time I read that some Bible archaeologists think that the pre-flood world was as advanced as our 18th or 19th Century.  That would be amazing, but I don’t think there’s a way to know that until Heaven. 

But don’t get me started on who those beings were that were coming down marrying the women of man.  It was put in there so matter-of-factly, it seems there’s more to that than meets the eye.


-The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports this morning that yet another Confederate flag argument is flaring up in town.  This time is the argument about which Confederate flag to place in the Capital Building.  The leadership is wanting to put the second national while “heritage” groups want the Battle Flag of the Army of Northern Virginia to be placed in there.

Bottom line: put the second national in there, we really should put the third national, since that was the official flag at the time of the war’s conclusion in 1865.  But this’ll be another opportunity for extremists on both sides to scream and yell and behave like children with no sense.


-We’re getting a full service Starbucks here soon, the first on the east side of town (east of I-95).  That’ll be real convenient in the mornings, or whenever.  Looking forward to that.

Enjoy your Tuesday!