Easter Island’s Statues

The statues of Easter Island are definitely the most easily recognizable thing about the island to most people. These stone monoliths have transfixed many scientists ever since they were first encountered by Europeans thousands of years ago. What they were used for isn’t known for certain, but it’s theorized they were primarily used for religious traditions. It’s possible that they represented important figures in the island’s history or ancestors of the Rapa Nui. We do know that they were essential to the island’s culture, and whatever ceremonies they were used for were intensely important to the Rapa Nui.

If these were so important, then why aren’t they practiced now? That is most likely because, for a long time, the island was in complete anarchy. Disarray was the norm, and many of the statues were knocked down. Why were they knocked down? If these represented ancestors, then it might’ve been viewed as a threat to rival groups. If your ancestor’s statue was knocked down, then they couldn’t protect your kin group and you would be weaker against other kin groups. It could’ve also just been a byproduct of all the fighting. With that much chaos, it’s no surprise that some things were destroyed; and without a writing system, nothing of the past culture was written down.

These statues, for the longest time, were thought to be solely of heads. This was strange enough, but now we know that the statues were actually buried with their heads sticking out. These statues have bodies as well. This makes the statues even bigger than originally thought when just the heads were measured.

While most of the moai are on stone platforms called ahus, some were abandoned along the way because they were either unfinished, unneeded or the transport was interrupted for whatever reason. These statues dot the entire island, some completely submerged in the Earth and others on their side, destroyed at the bottom of the statue quarry.

Statues like this aren’t unique to Easter Island. They’re found all over Polynesia, specifically in the Marquesas, Austral Islands, and Tahiti. It’s possible that this was one of many large-scale Polynesian religious practices. Perhaps a specific group that migrated out of Southeast Asia developed this technique and took it with them as they explored these places. Perhaps one group developed this technique and later groups adopted them.

It’s theorized that the original Rapa Nui did not develop the moai and the ahu. It was the second group, the Long-ears, that did this. They brought the custom with them and forced the Rapa Nui to build these statues and platforms. After the Long-ears were mostly gone, the rest of the islanders continued to build statues. It’s not exactly known why that is, but it could be a sense of obligation as, by that point, they had probably been building these statues for many decades.

The exact number of statues isn’t actually known, but it’s estimated to be around 800 to 1,000. One giant moai is 65 feet tall and weighs 270 tons. It was unfinished because the builder realized it couldn’t be moved by humans. There are over 360 ahu shrines on the island.

Moai on an ahu platform.

The Inner Quarry, where the statues were sculpted.

A few unfinished statues.


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Magic in Iceland!

Are fantasies and realities like oil and vinegar; they can be together but never fully mixed? Or are they more like sweet honey in warm tea? I vote for the latter option and so do the Icelanders. What’s life without a little magic?


What I enjoyed most learning about Iceland was the folklore of the island. More than half of Icelanders believe in the existence of elves. While about 5% of the population claim they have had an encounter with these magical beings. They apparently live in gardens and on rocky terrain. Usually, they are quiet and out of the way but they are known to cause trouble if bothered. Two bulldozers and a television camera malfunctioned repeatedly and inexplicably when they tried to plow over an elven habitat.

The traditional Icelandic folklore has underlying morals to ensure that humans and nature will stay in harmony. Iceland is one of the few islands that coexist with their environment and the presence of humans did not disturb the balance of nature. Their survival heavily depends on the environment. All of its energy is eco-friendly and is either hydroelectric or geothermal which provides for a virtually pollution-free environment.


Now that I broke you in with the elf talk, would you believe me if I told you that time travel happens in Iceland? No? Yea, me neither. But due to the island’s location, they have 23 hours a day of sunlight in the summer. Do you ever have fun in the summer but then the moon ruins it and you wish that you could rewind time and do it all over again? Well go to Iceland and you can! Let’s throw out the science part and call it magic, shall we? Summer isn’t the only fun time of the year. In the winter the Aurora Borealis can be seen (northern lights).

Dramatic Auroras In Iceland

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Plum Island and its Daunting Secrets


Plum Island, part of Suffolk County, is a small island with many controversies and a rich history of its own. Most of that live on Long Island have never heard these stories and would probably shock us to an extent. There has also been a lot if important research done on Plum Island that have prevented foreign animal diseases from reach our soil before it was too late.


The earliest controversy on Plum Island dates back to when the research facility opened in 1954. The position of Director of the facility had twice been offered and rejected by Dr. Eric Traub, a former Nazi who worked directly under SS Heinrich Himmler. Traub was a active member of Camp Sigfried and though he didn’t take the job, he was still involved in extensive research on the island.


There have been some outlandish rumors about Plum Island such as the origin go the “Montauk Monster, a creature spawned in the lab had escaped into the sea” and “alien experiments” were taking place (www.cbsnews.com). The more debated and convincing happenings on Plum Island come from accounts in Michael Carroll’s highly criticized 2004 book Lab 257 named after one of the key research labs. The biggest claim was that Lyme Disease in this country had entered through an outbreak from ticks being studied Plum Island. To back this up he points to the fact that there are more cases of  Lyme Disease reported in Eastern Long Island than anywhere else in the world. One response to Carroll’s  claims came from Lyme Disease Expert at Yale University Durland Fish who said “He should stop making these things up. It just scares people.” All experts and former employees have denied Carroll’s claims.

One livestock disease that has been studied extensively on Plum Island for years is Foot and Mouth Disease. It affects the feet and mouth of the infected animal and when it affects livestock, they are no longer safe to eat and must be put down. It is a disease that is also contagious from one animal to the next.  The effects of an outbreak would be devastating to our economy as seen in Europe in 2001 where “the slaughter of millions of animals and the loss of billions of dollars to the economy” occurred (www.cbsnews.com). From 1978-1983, three outbreaks of this disease on the island have been acknowledged but in recent years, a vaccine to the disease was discovered through research on Plum Island.

Today, Plum Island has served its purpose for the Department of Homeland Security. While it is currently not being used for any further research, future plans include all work done there to move to a new and much safer Manhattan, Kansas facility. It is a slow move but will happen at some point in our lifetime. With all that is going on in our country at the moment, it appears to have slipped to the back of the minds of those deciding where to budget our money. For the island itself, no longer in the government’s hands, its is been decided to market it for sale, but not without opposition with those who think it should be transformed into a wildlife sanctuary.




hc-ed-save-plum-island-stop-its-sale-20151023-001                                   plum-aerial

Lab 257 presently                                                                                   Plum Island from the sky

k6095-20iAnimal Research being conducted at Plum Island

This photo of the "Montauk Monster" was taken by Christina Pampalone. Photo received on July 31, 2008.

This photo of the “Montauk Monster” was taken by Christina Pampalone. Photo received on July 31, 2008.                                         

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Rhodes is a beautiful island in Mediterranean  Sea. It is 11 miles away from Turkey and is the fourth biggest island in Greece. Because of its close distance, it is often regarded as the bridge between Europe and Asia. In Greek Mythology, it is the home of the Sun god,
Helios. He named it after his wife, Rhode. Because of this story, the islanders respect the Sun god, and built one of the Seven Wonders, the Colossus of Rhodes. It says that the Statue of Liberty is the echo of the Colossus of Rhodes, because the wonder also represented  freedom at that time.

The Colossus of Rhodes was built after the War with Demetrius as a celebration of the victory in 292 BC. It was 110 feet high and was built from Bronze plates. The architect of this wonder was Charlie Lindos. Tales say that he died before the statue was finished. There are several stories about him committing suicide. One version of the story tells that he died from feeling ashamed of having flaw in his project. Another version of the story tells that Rhodes city wanted Charlie to double the size of the statue. He only doubled his fees but forgot to calculate the fees that need to buy the materials. He eventually became bankruptcy and committed suicide. However, no one ever proved any of the version was the true story.

The statue stood on the island for 56 years. In 226 BC, an earthquake hit Rhodes and the Colossus of Rhodes was destroyed. Tales said that the Egyptian king at the time offered to pay the islanders to reconstruct the statue, but they refused. They believed that the statue may offended Helios, so he created an earthquake to destroy it. The remains of the statue stayed at its place for another hundreds of years until the Arabs conquered Rhodes in 7th century. The invaders broke the remains into pieces and sold it. Hence, this ancient Wonder disappeared  from the world forever.

If you are thinking about traveling to Rhodes, the Old Town of Rhodes is definitely in top of  my recommendation list. It is the largest well preserved  Medieval town in the world. In 1988, it was designated as a World Heritage City by UNESCO.

I also would recommend the Acropolis of Lindos. It is dedicated to the goddess, Athena. It is now buried beneath the modern city Lindos and only the few remaining monuments stand there remind the prosperity of the ancient city. It said that ancient Lindos was founded by the son of Hercules.  The city had its golden age during the Archaic period.

There are also many wild animals on Rhodes. 257 birds are recorded. I found the bee-eaters as one of the most beautiful birds in the world.

There are also mammals on the island.

Beach Marten

Greater mouse-eared bat

                                                       Etruscan shrew



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Final Islands Post

Allow me to introduce a cultural icon from the Galapagos: Lonesome George

Lonesome George was the last remaining Pinta Island Tortoise in existence.  The Galapagos Islands are famous for their wildlife; sporting a wide diversity of breath taking animals.  Best known for its finches, iguanas and vast marine life the Galapagos Islands are also home to giant tortoises.  Many different types of tortoise exist on the various islands, but some had issues dealing with invasive species.  The Pinta Island Tortoise for example was decimated by the introduction of the goat.  The goat attacked the tortoises’ habitats, ravaging it and forcing the species to extinction… or so scientists thought.  In 1971 a Pinta Island Tortoise was spotted on the island.  It was brought into captivity with the hopes a female could be found to help restore the population.  Sadly, no female was ever found.  This tortoise was thusly given the nickname “Lonesome George”.  Strangely enough TV comedian George Gobel had the same nickname…

I don’t see the resemblance, nevertheless people around the world loved Lonesome George. People came from all over to see him in captivity, marveling at an animal that was truly the last of its kind.

Lonesome George was in good health at the time of his passing in June, 2012.  He was over 100 years old.  Many people were deeply saddened by his death as it marked the extinction of an entire species.

The Galapagos Islands are home to many animals of all shapes and kinds, but none will be as beloved as Lonesome George.

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The Island of Crete

A  major theme that is signified through island is the development of close knit communities which does not happen on mainland because of people constantly coming in and out. All though Crete is a relatively large island most of the population shares a very strong culture which is why they came together to hold off the Germans during WWII.

Kreta, Landung von FallschirmjägernDuring WWII the Germans decided that taking over Crete would be strategically important so they decided to air raid the island. They sent tons of paratroopers that landed on the island and steadily took over the whole island. The British troops left the island because they could not fight against the Germans. The natives decided to start guerilla warfare against the Germans which proved to be a huge hassle to the Germans.

The Germans decide to start burning down whole villages to try to stop them from fighting. They did not stop fighting which shows how close everyone is cause they are willing to give up there life for there culture.

The Cretans have always been overseen by other countries like Romans, Germans, Austrian, and Greek. They are known for being rebellious, which is shown by rebelling against the Germans and more recently for the starting of the movement to segregate from the Greek government.

The Crete island shows how people are close together, even tho it is a large island.

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Christmas Island

Tis the season to be…. wait…. Christmas Island actually has nothing to do with reindeer or jolly large men leaving presents.  However, this Australian territory in the Indian Ocean has one of the most spectacular migrations anywhere in the world.

About 120 million crabs migrate from the forests to the beaches to mate every year.  This great migration can take up to 18 days.  Culminating with the crabs laying their eggs in the ocean.

Christmas Island was also once a nuclear testing site for the British in the 50s and 60s.  It was desired originally because it has very rich phosphate mines.  Christmas Island is famous for being a blend of many different cultures.  This is because while it has only been owned by the British and Australia, many Chinese immigrants came to work in the phosphate mines during the 1890s.

Today, 63% of Christmas Island is protected as a National Park however, snorkeling and seeing the beautiful and diverse marine life is a large attraction to tourists.

Whale shark, Christmas Island National Park

Christmas Island may not be a winter wonderland, but it is without a doubt a cool place to visit.



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From 1934 to 1963 Alcatraz Island had one of the hardest to escape prisons in the world.  This prison was home to some of the greatest criminal masterminds so despite the tight security the prison had there were many escape attempts.  Despite the 14 attempts by 36 different prisoners none successfully were able to escape the island.

The closest a group ever came to escaping were Frank Lee Morris, brothers Clarence and John Anglin.  Now known as “The Great Escape”, the men used lifelike dummies, water rafts and life preservers.

The inmates were incredibly resourceful. They crafted tools for digging from objects gathered around the prison, and built life preservers by gluing rain coats together.  However, the most impressive thing the inmates created were the dummies.  They built the heads out of a homemade cement powder mixture, toilet paper and soap. The men stole skin colored paint from the prison art kits and hair from the barbershop to make them lifelike.

The inmates dug through and increased the size of the ventilation shaft in their cells, and some even ate less in order to lose enough weight to squeeze through them.  The inmates then made a thirty-foot climb up the plumbing to the cell house roof, walked precariously 100 feet across the rooftop, and then carefully maneuvered down fifty feet of piping to the ground near the entrance to the shower area.

This was the last time any of these men would ever be seen.  There has been much speculation over the years as to whether or not the men successfully navigated the bay in their raft and reached safety.  An FBI investigation determined that the plan had failed and they died of dehydration or hypothermia in the waters surrounding the island.

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Homemade cures from Ireland 1940s-1960s

The following cures are from a first hand account of treatments commonly used in Ireland during the 1940s-60s . The treatments with an * are treatments that were used on the person who I spoke to. The treatments with an ^ are treatments that were commonly used but she never used.

  • Teething/ Tooth aches (child)*: Rub a little whiskey, rum, what ever the hell ya have on the gums of the child, don’t give them a lot, then that should shut ’em up.”
  • Tooth aches (adult)*: “Swish whiskey around in your mouth and then swallow it, never spit it out that’s good liquor ya know. If the pain is still there take a few swigs of the whiskey, no need to swish it, that should dull the pain. If by some reason that doesn’t work go see a doctor.”
-Chilblain infection of the foot

  • Chilblains*- an inflammation of the toes usually occurs when a person goes from a cold temperature to a sudden warm temperature, causes itching. “The chilblains hurt like hell. The only thing that helped me was me father melting Vaseline and adding milk into it then apply it to the feet. Itching went away in minutes.”
  • Arthritis^- “The only thing that seemed to work for me Aunt Ronny was eating raw celery, she swares it takes the pain away.”
  • Flu/Cold***- “Their is only one thing that will cure the flu, ya don’t need that medicine the fecking doctors give ya all ya need is a good old hot toddy. Their are two different ways to make a hot toddy ya know. The Scottish way is to boil rum and add sugar, whole cloves and some water do dilute it a bit. Then serve it hot. The Irish way, works a hell of a lot better and quicker. What ya do is ya take whiskey and boil it, but not too long you want a lot of the alcohol to stay, next you mix in sugar, honey and lemon juice and stir it all up. Then take two aspirins and swallow them down with the hot toddy and get into bed and get ready to sleep. Side effects were uncontrollably sweating and coming in an out of sleeping a lot. Possibly throwing up but that’s probably from the aspirin just take two more and some more of the hot toddy.”

If you want to know an Irish cure just text it in the comments below and I’ll see if my person knows a trick or two.

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Wallace and Darwin

David Quammen sets up a kind of scientific adventure story: the race between two men to explain the origin of species and how species vary so dramatically around the world.  Islands feature prominently in the story as the laboratories in which evidence is found and must be interpreted into meaningful theory.  All this is fraught with danger and suspense because the world around them is clinging to a biblical story that cannot account for facts.  Now we see no problem with accepting the best scientific explanation of evolution.

That is… unless you are Ben Carson.

A brief video to orient us to the Wallace/Darwin race to formulate the theory of evolution from their respective studies on biogeography.


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