Archive for the ‘Amazing people’ Category

Anilbalan’s new Ghost Cities blog post: The Secret History of Sherlock Holmes

October 18, 2015

Hugh Paxton’s Blog is a Sherlock Holmes fan, and a Conan Doyle fan and if he went off the rails in his later years with all this belief in fairies and the afterlife and mediums it was motivated by a desire to rationalize the mental illness of his father. His books stay firm in my library and on thundery nights when sleep is uneasy I stick on a Holmes tape in my cassette player and am soothed to sleep by the sound of Watson building his model ship, Mrs Watson complaining about the fug of pipe smoke, and Holmes inert suddenly springing to life and shouting “Yes! Why I did not see this from the first! The answer lies in Berkshire! With the liveried swine that did not eat! Ask yourself! Why did the pigs not eat?”

Watson: “I thought we were looking at the Snort Mallingham vanishing and the mysterious business of the odious stench at Whistledon Manor?”

“Arm yourself my dear Watson! There is devilry afoot! Are you prepared to visit Berkshire? There is a train leaving from Paddington – I have the connections here. We shall arrive if I am not incorrect in time to greet Squire Grizzeldon at the appointed time! The pigs, Watson!”

“Holmes, I wish you would clarify things!”

“Why didn’t the swine eat the mush? They were full! Full of five Grizzeldons! The man weeps in public but feeds his entire family to hogs…” etc.

Doyle never wrote a story about the Grizzledon pigs. I just made that whole lot of rubbish up. But his stories are like that and I enjoy them a lot. Anilbalan provides any Holmes enthusiast with more food for thought in the following post…

From: Ghost Cities []
Sent: Sunday, October 18, 2015 8:07 AM
Subject: [New post] The Secret History of Sherlock Holmes

ghostcities posted: "While Arthur Conan Doyle’s fictional master detective, Sherlock Holmes, is known for his astute logical reasoning, his ability to adopt almost any disguise and his use of forensic science to solve difficult cases, rather less is known about his early life"

Respond to this post by replying above this line

New post on Ghost Cities


The Secret History of Sherlock Holmes

by ghostcities

While Arthur Conan Doyle’s fictional master detective, Sherlock Holmes, is known for his astute logical reasoning, his ability to adopt almost any disguise and his use of forensic science to solve difficult cases, rather less is known about his early life and family. This is in part due to the nature of Doyle’s stories, which purposely focus on the investigation rather than the detective and eschew details about Holmes himself, often using the framing device of his colleague Doctor Watson’s narration. Although this is highly effective as a narrative device, it raises as many questions as it answers when it comes to Sherlock the man, as opposed to Holmes the master investigator. Where was he born and educated, did he have any family apart from his brother Mycroft, what happened to him after he finally retired from detective work? etc. Whilst Doyle’s stories allude only distantly to these issues, the many fans of Sherlock Holmes have, somewhat appropriately, through careful detective work of their own, managed to come up with a number of theories, explanations and answers in what is usually described as ‘The Great Game’: a concerted attempt to resolve anomalies and clarify details about Holmes and Watson from the Conan Doyle canon. You may be surprised to hear that, as a result of this exercise, evidence has been found in Doyle’s own work that, among other things, Holmes and Mycroft have another elder brother and even a younger sister!

Read more of this post

ghostcities | October 18, 2015 at 2:00 am | Tags: Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle | Categories: Book, Mystery, Writer | URL:

Comment See all comments
Unsubscribe to no longer receive posts from Ghost Cities.
Change your email settings at Manage Subscriptions.

Trouble clicking? Copy and paste this URL into your browser:

Thanks for flying with


China Days: The Scythian Connection

September 8, 2015

Another beautiful piece and photos from John MacKinnon in China!

The Scythian connection.pdf

Brigitte’s Pick: Village in Afghanistan … Incredible!!

May 28, 2015

Hugh Paxton’s Blog agrees with Brigitte on this one. Incredible, indeed! Also highly creative and very cozy! I’ve seen troglodyte dwellings in Turkey and have heard that 30 million Chinese live in caves (I haven’t actually seen them doing it) but when it comes to world class excavations these Afghans are serious contenders for the cup!

Thanks for sharing this, Brigitte!


Subject: FW: Village in Afghanistan … Incredible!!

Village in Afghanistan … Can you believe it??

And you wonder why they can’t find Osama Bin Laden?

Brigitte’s Pick: : Mongolian Nomadic tribe lives among the reindeer

May 28, 2015

Hugh Paxton’s Blog thinks you’ll enjoy this latest from Brigitte. My beloved wife is often in Mongolia doing good environmental works (as usual) and speaks very highly of the people and scenery, wildlife and immensity of wilderness. Her photo library bulges with wolves, yaks, sturdy men on ponies, eagles and precipices. Reindeer, too. But none quite as dramatically captured for posterity as these!

Subject: FW: : Mongolian Nomadic tribe lives among the reindeer

Mongolian Nomadic tribe lives among the reindeer

Thought this most interesting…….. and great photography

When we think of reindeer, most of us jump

to the same imagery: the North Pole, snow and Christmas time.

When you think of reindeer, your mind might not immediately go to the Altai Mountains of

Outer Mongolia in Central Asia. Here, a nomadic tribe lives among the reindeer.

The lives of the real-life reindeer riders have fascinated outsiders for generations.

The idyllic land was described in 518 B.C.E. by Greek poet Pindar as "Hyperborea" and the

tribe as a healing race living peacefully with "neither disease not bitter old age is mixed.

in their sacred blood; far from labor and battle. "

The tribe’s contemporary name is the Mongolian Taïga Dukha, for the Taïga region mountain range

in Khövsgöl, Mongolia.

It’s neighbored by the Russian border and the remote Darkhad valley.

Much of the area is under natural protection, although it’s noted for its inaccessibility and

remoteness, even by local standards.

Although the Dukha call the area home, they are certainly not a dominating force: they

readily share their space with an incredible array of their animal neighbors.

Wild horses, bears, eagles, and wolves are all common to Khövsgöl’s landscape.

The Dukha have for generations bred docile reindeer, although never for meat. Their

unique form of reindeer husbandry is keenly conscious of the area’s conservation and bio-diversity.

The reindeer provide a great means of transportation along the rough terrain for

migrating, hunting and occasionally taking trips into town. Nearby villages will often

purchase and collect the antlers the reindeer naturally shed during wintertime.

Beyond the reindeer, Dukha have a tradition of eagle hunting.

The Dukha practice Tengrism, a shamanistic religion that emphasizes totemism, the spiritual

connection and kinship with animals, plants and spirit beings.

There’s a seamless blend from totemism in religious practice and everyday life.

For example, one of the most honorable titles passed down by generations is the eagle hunter

who tames and trains eagles to hunt small prey for food.

Photographer and Mongolia/Tibetan language scholar Hamid Sardar-Afkhami spent some

time with this incredible Himalayan tribe to bring these incredible images.

I found this information. Deep in the Larch Forests of Northern Mongolia lives a tiny tribe of people known as the Dukha. For more than 3,000 years they have survived as nomads, moving camp 10 times a year across the mountains. Their existence is pinned on one animal: the reindeer. But their unique way of life now hangs in the balance.

Getting to the taiga, where the Dukha live, is a long and arduous process. From the traffic-choked streets of Mongolia’s capital, Ulaan Bataar, it’s an hour’s flight to the tiny city of Murun. From there it’s two long days of intense off-roading through the vast, wild landscape of the Mongolian steppe.

Our guide was Dan Plumley, an American who first encountered the Dukha more than 10 years ago and who went on to create the Totem People’s Project, an organization that works to empower and protect nomadic reindeer herders in Northern Mongolia and Eastern Siberia.

"They just basically grabbed me by the lapels and said, ‘You can’t leave us, you’re the only who knows that we’re challenged people and we’re facing extinction and we need help,’" Plumley explained.

The final stage of the journey into the taiga is the most grueling: a 10-hour trek on horseback, crossing three mountains through thick mud and dense forest. And then, in the distance, we catch the first glimpse, almost surreal, of a Dukha man riding a reindeer.

There are 52 Dukha families in the taiga. They live in small groups in tepees spread out over an area of some 6 million acres. Unlike most reindeer-herding cultures, the Dukha raise their deer primarily for milk production. Reindeer milk, reindeer yoghurt and reindeer cheese are the staples of the Dukha diet. Only a small amount of reindeer are actually slaughtered for meat and pelts.

The most important function of the reindeer is as a means of transportation. The deer may look small, but they have extremely strong necks from the heavy weight of their antlers, which weigh up to 50 pounds.

From a very young age, Dukha children learn to ride the deer, often without saddles. The relationship between the Dukha and their deer is very loving — these are the oldest domesticated reindeer in the world.

Sanjin is a revered Dukha elder. His son is also a reindeer herder.

"The reindeer are our life," he said, "Everything we do is connected to them."

"It’s a great heritage from our ancestors," added his son.

Without Electricity, Running Water, Dukha Separated from Modern World

Life for the Dukha tribe is simple and hard. There is no electricity or running water, and the temperature can drop to 40-below-zero in the winter. While they are starting to incorporate elements of the modern world, such as solar-panel batteries and satellite dishes, into their daily life, they are doing it at their own pace.

"They’re interested in bettering their life, but they want to do it on their terms," explained Plumley, "And living on their terms is a window for us from a harried world into what’s really important in life: friends and family, spending time laughing and telling stories, seeing nature and all of its beauty."

It’s easy to get swept up in the dramatic beauty of the landscape and the velvety fur of the reindeer. But the animals face very real threats to their existence. Increased mineral prospecting, gold mining and timber cutting are destroying the reindeer habitat."

Happiness Unlimited -1 – Sister Shivani (English)

March 18, 2014

Take a look at this video on YouTube:

This is Sister Shivani’s Happiness Unlimited series.
There are 28 episodes. I found it very helpful

“We have to be the generation to stop the illegal wildlife trade” – Prince Charles And Prince William Speak Out Against The Illegal Wildlife Trade – In Key Languages !

February 11, 2014


HRH Prince Charles says in the Unite For Wildlife video, “We must treat the illegal wildlife trade as a battle.”

This week the London 2014 Illegal Wildlife Trade Conference will mark a key milestone in the campaign to end wildlife crime. UK’s Prime Minister, David Cameron has invited leaders from 50 countries to attend the conference and it is hoped that this will help win the war .

Prince Charles says “It will take action from all of us to beat back this highly organised criminal activity,”

We can all play a part in wildlife protection

The Princes delivered the last part of their message in multiple languages including English, Swahili, Arabic, Spanish, Mandarin and Vietnamese in keeping with the global scope of the campaign which has developed in tune with ambitions of the UN COP16 CITES conference in Bangkok. The campaign aims to address the demand side of the problem as well as the supply side. Getting the message across in all these languages is crucial. The resounding message from this video is “Together we can stop the illegal wildlife trade. Let’s Unite For Wildlife.”

HRH Prince William urges us all to make our voices heard in the social media and to support world leaders and conservation organisations in their efforts to end wildlife crime.

Why not join the social media thunderclap to support action to protect wildlife and habitat from criminal gangs?

To add your voice click

and follow the directions.


Wild Open Eye - Natural Vision, News from Wild Open Eye

“Our profound belief is that humanity is less than humanity without the rest of creation. The Destruction Of These Endangered Species Will Diminish Us All”    HRH The Prince Of Wales, Feb. 8th 2014

If you are worried about the illegal wildlife trade, take comfort from the video above.

Sunday morning’s BBC news showed HRH The Prince of Wales and Prince William, The Duke of Cambridge, speaking out in defence of  endangered species in their Let’s Unite For Wildlife video. Prince William’s United For Wildlife Foundation is the kind of powerful cooperative partnership of influential organisations needed in the fight against wildlife crime, but if humanity hopes to make headway against the organised criminal gangs responsible for much of the world’s illegal wildlife trade the Princes make it clear that we all need to be supportive and unite for wildlife.  In view of these efforts and long term commitments to…

View original post 560 more words

Anilbalan tackles Beethoven enigma: Immortal Beloved

July 14, 2013

New post on Ghost Cities


Immortal Beloved

by anilbalan

Ludwig van Beethoven remains one of the most famous and influential of all composers, a household name even for non-musicians. He was a virtuoso pianist and composed 9 symphonies, 5 concertos for piano, 32 piano sonatas and 16 string quartets. What he is lesser known for, perhaps, is the Unsterbliche Geliebte (German for ‘Immortal Beloved’) – the mysterious addressee of a love letter which he wrote on 6–7 July 1812 in Teplitz. The apparently unsent letter, written in pencil and consisting of three parts, was found in the composer’s estate after his death. At the time even an exact dating of the letter and identification of the addressee was speculative, since Beethoven did not specify a year or a location. It was only in the 1950s that an analysis of the paper’s watermark yielded the year, and by extension the place. To this day, however, scholars have been divided on the intended recipient of the Immortal Beloved letter. This intriguing musical mystery inspired a Hollywood adaptation, 1994’s Immortal Beloved, starring Gary Oldman as Beethoven, which focuses on the efforts of the great composer’s biographer Anton Schindler to ascertain the identity of the intended recipient of the famous letter. While the film, and the many theories put forward in the years both before and since, have identified some likely candidates, a definitive solution to this particular mystery remains somewhat elusive.

Read more of this post

anilbalan | July 14, 2013 at 2:00 am | Tags: Beethoven, Immortal Beloved | Categories: Conspiracy theory, Legend, Music, Mystery, Urban Legend | URL:

Comment See all comments
Unsubscribe or change your email settings at Manage Subscriptions.

Trouble clicking? Copy and paste this URL into your browser:

Thanks for flying with


Brigitte’s Pick:: ” JUST A TYPEWRITER “.

July 8, 2013

Hugh Paxton’s Blog thinks this post from Brigitte is lovely! I’m sure you will agree!

Let’s begin!

He lived at Rose Haven Nursing Home (Roseburg, OR) for years.

Paul Smith, the man with extraordinary talent was born on September 21, 1921, with severe cerebral palsy. Not only had Paul beaten the odds of a life with spastic cerebral palsy, A disability that impeded his speech and mobility but also taught himself To become a master artist as well as a terrific chess player, even after being devoid of a formal education as a child.

"When typing, Paul used his left hand to steady his right one." Since he couldn’t press two keys at the same time, he almost always locked the shift key down and made his pictures using the symbols at the top of the number keys. In other words, his pictures were based on these characters ….. @ # $ % ^ & * ( )_ . Across seven decades, Paul created hundreds of pictures. He often gave the originals away. Sometimes, but not always, he kept or received a copy for his own records. As his mastery of the typewriter grew, "He developed techniques to create shadings, colors, and textures that made his work resemble pencil or charcoal drawings."

This great man passed away on June 25, 2009, but left behind a collection of his amazing artwork that will be an inspiration for many. You know that saying about, “when life closes a door, God opens a window"?
Well, I think God just helped this man build a whole new house.
Please share this Typewriter Art. Can you believe that this art was created using a typewriter?

"I Shall Look At The World Through Tears. Perhaps I Shall See Things That, Dry-Eyed, I Could Not See".—Nicholas Wolterstorff.

There comes a time in life, when you walk away from all the drama and people who create it.
You surround yourself with people who make you laugh, forget the bad, and focus on the good.
So, love the people who treat you right. Think good thoughts for the ones who don’t.
Life is too short to be anything but happy.
Falling down is part of LIFE… Getting back up is LIVING

Brigitte’s Pick: WHY I LOVE AFRICA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

May 3, 2013

Hugh Paxton’s Blog finds Brigitte bemusing. She lives in Africa and while hating it loves it! I was rather similar actually. It’s that sort of continent. Anyway, Brigitte’s African so she’s stuck with it!

Enjoy this lot!


Good Books, Good Writing Good ideas: Pendergast meets Slappy, the ventriloquist dummy

April 25, 2013

Hugh Paxton’s Blog loves good books and in my opinion Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child are a must. A sleepless night, a lengthy railway journey, five minutes waiting for an Indian bureaucrat to issue a visa (then ten more hours to finish the book while he does the seven day tourist welcome to India paperwork).

No matter the bullshine, the location, the crummy plastic chairs, the flight delays, if I’ve got one of their books in my lap and (perfect world a gin and tonic within reach plus nibbles) I could happily survive an Air Sudan Flight. I have only flown with them once and they have only caught fire once while I was flying with them. I wouldn’t like to imply that they were a health hazard. Local colour.

But screw Air Sudan. This isn’t a crappy Islamic Airline review.

Books. That’s what I’m talking about.

Preston and Child get it right repeatedly.

Good books, complex, clever, lots of scents and flavours – when the characters are in a desert the authors take you there, you smell the plants, the zing of ozone of an impending storm. When the bad guys are bad they are very very bad. But not all the time.

History, literacy, mystery, hi-tech, spectacular cuisine, anasazi monsters, MR James, the books rush you along and before you know it you are in a luxurious trans-Atlantic cruise ship plagued by murders and an anti-Buddha, or your are in a laboratory deep beneath a desert where all the researchers are going insane. Just a few examples there.

The point of this post is that these two men have managed to write the books together. Two authors. One book.

I tried this with my brother, Charles, and the result was The Cunning Man. Now re-christened Tragus Rootboone. It was great fun in the writing and involved plenty of give and take, beer, long rambling, inventive nights and the end product was in my view a gem. Not yet on the NYT bestseller list. Next time we get together we will work on a flab free diet and instant riches publication.

Charlie and I worked on our co-authored novel (although it was always his – he had most of the ideas) and the book worked.

Where Preston and Child break boundaries is they keep doing it. Again and again.

Two men, creative men, men with an instinct for the intriguing and bizarre, and the ‘damn it, I’ll be up in a minute, I just want to finish this chapter’ factor that keeps them guaranteed to disrupt marriages and keep me awake thumbing through different worlds and philosophies and techniques. I’m not sure what Freud would have made of it but their psychoanalysis of a tyrannosaurs is convincing. Not couch material. Freud wouldn’t have a couch large enough and the hypothetical guest would have lacked any memory. Just an urge for lunch.

Quite a long preamble. What’s the point of this post? Basically it is about getting two writers together to get something together.

Here we go on their latest project. Personally, myself and co-author can’t wait to see what happens.

Over to them. Both of them. Preston and Child.

Share This: email.pngtwitter.pngfacebook.pnglinkedin.png
Greetings to our valued friends and readers–This is Doug Preston writing to you. I wanted first to tell you about an amazing project Linc and I completed with the writer R.L. Stine. Then I’d like to let you know about a Kindle Single I’ve written, which has just been published for 99 cents.

R.L. Stine, Linc and I have written a story for a new anthology tentatively called Faceoff. In this anthology, pairs of authors are banding together to “face off” their major characters in a short story. Dennis Lehane will be writing a story with Michael Connelly, Sandra Brown with Heather Graham, Lee Child with Joseph Finder, Steve Berry with James Rollins, among other pairings.

In our own story, called GASLIGHTED, our respective characters come face to face: Special Agent Pendergast meets Slappy, the ventriloquist dummy. And this story is most definitely not for children—it should be noted that in addition to his unbelievably successful Goosebumps series, R.L. Stine also writes terrifying novels for adults, the most recent being RED RAIN.

As a special preview for our newsletter subscribers only, we wanted to give you the opening to this creepy story. Here it is:


There was a tap-tapping sound. That was all. Was it a clock? No: it was too loud, too irregular. Was it the creaking of an old house? The ticking of a radiator?

The man listened to the sound. Gradually he became aware of certain things—or rather, the absence of things. The absence of light. Of sensation. Of a name

The anthology will be published about 18 months from now. We’ll be sure to let you know the date as soon as it is fixed.

* * *

And now, I have just published a Kindle Single. It is called:

Trial By Fury

Internet Savagery and the Amanda Knox Case

The Amanda Knox murder case generated one of the most vicious outpourings of commentary the Internet has ever seen. There are blogs calling for the murder, hanging, and electrocution of Amanda, along with her family, friends, and supporters.


In Trial By Fury I explore this dark netherworld, identifying the people involved and investigating their motives. It is an ugly story, not recommended for the squeamish. I was drawn into the Knox case by accident. Giuliano Mignini, the chief prosecutor in the case, was also the prosecutor in the Monster of Florence case, the infamous serial killer who terrorized young lovers in the Tuscan Hills, which I wrote about.

You can buy Trial By Fury here for $0.99.

Even if you don’t have a Kindle, you can still read it by downloading a free Kindle Reader program here for your PC, Mac, iPad, or phone. With this fantastic free app, you can read Kindle books or singles on just about any platform.

If you get a chance to read Trial By Fury, let me know what you think.

All best,

Doug Preston

P.O Box 162 | Convent Station, NJ 07961 AFThis email was sent to paxton.bkk. To ensure that you continue receiving our emails, please add us to your address book or safe list.

manage your preferences | opt out using TrueRemove®.

Got this as a forward? Sign up to receive our future emails.

powered by emma


%d bloggers like this: