house on loon lake

Creepy stories, particularly those of old forgotten places have always had an appeal to me. Here’s a great episode of This American Life I’ve been listening to. Usually the show is divided into multiple stories. Adam Beckman’s recounting of a mysterious abandoned house is so good, they’ve decided to devote the whole episode to it.

Click “stream episode” link on this page to listen to entire episode

Host Ira Glass explains that our show’s a little different this week. It consists of one long story, lasting the entire hour, about a young boy, an abandoned house, and the mysterious family who once lived there but seemed to disappear without a trace.

Act One.
Adam Beckman tells the first part of his story, about how, back in the 1970s, he and his friends broke into an abandoned house in the small town of Freedom, New Hampshire. The home turned out to be a perfect time capsule, containing the furniture, letters and personal effects of an entire family … abandoned for decades. It seemed like the family just vanished one day, leaving salt and pepper shakers on the table, notes on the bedroom mirror, and a wallet with money still inside. Adam and his friends read the letters, saving some as clues, and never forgot. (30 minutes.)

Act Two.
Adam Beckman continues his story. He returns to the town in New Hampshire where he discovered the abandoned house as a kid and tries to find out what happened there. It turns out he’s not the only one looking for an answer to that question. (25 minutes)

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fannie mae and freddie mac on charlie rose

What is one of the largest pinch-points of the current economy in the United States? Mortgage loans and the housing bubble, of course. This is only one corner of the multi-faceted tower that comprises the country’s stability as a whole, and its syncopation into the world system. The government acquisition of the lending giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac signal one of the largest bailouts in history, a new set of rules, and standards yet to be written by federal political policy.  What future does this spell for those whose loans were previously under the wing of these entities?  More importantly, does this signal a growing trend and endgame for other businesses under the same strain and state as Fannie and Freddie?  A diverse group of experts get real and extrapolate the issue on this episode of Charlie Rose below.

A discussion about the U.S. government’s takeover of mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac with Mohamed El-Erian, co-CEO co-CIO for PIMCO, Gretchen Morgenson, Floyd Norris both of The New York Times and Nouriel Roubini of New York University.

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the giant pool of money..or excessive programming?

This episode deals with the tailspin of supply and demand. I had a different take on this episode, though. Actions that we take in life are never the real problem, they are only the symptom to a state of mind, myself included.


What you have are people playing in a foolish way on both sides of the fence.

The here-and-gone collectives that package the loans to sell are in it to make as much money as they can. They break countless rules in the process with no desire to build a long-term quality product. In a race against what other brands offer, they continually decline standards to meet the needs of a lowest common denominator.

Their existence, however, is determined by a demand. A demand by many people hoping to achieve what they understand as the “American Dream”. In many ways the idea of taking out a loan on a $300,000 house when they can’t afford to pay groceries is something that is programmed by what we are exposed to as a symbol of status. Excessive acquirement is something that is trained in a repetitive way, by continual exposure on a daily basis without alternative.

The alternative, unfortunately, is something that is more real to previous generations. It’s simple responsibility, living within your means, and realizing that the real value in life are the things we cannot acquire by monetary exchange. Not enough people listen to their grandparents or know how people survived BEFORE the days of no-doc loans. In an ironic and sad way, it’s as if the spending habits of government have trickled down to the individual.

If every person did their part, there would be no more demand for competing companies to offer a ridiculous financial product and the cycle would be broken. It starts and ends with us.

A special program about the housing crisis. We explain it all to you. What does the housing crisis have to do with the collapse of the investment bank Bear Stearns? Why did banks make half-million dollar loans to people without jobs or income? And why is everyone talking so much about the 1930s? It all comes back to the Giant Pool of Money.

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into the wild: the story of chris mccandless

Just recently I finished watching the movie Into the Wild. Wow. I was thoroughly amazed and inspired by the true-life story of Chris McCandless.

In search for real answers, Chris assumes the identity of Alexander Supertramp and embarks on a great adventure across the country. While facing the elements alone and making good friends along the way, Chris ultimately journeys within to make sense of life on his own terms. The expression ‘into the wild’ describes Chris’s goal of finding his way to Alaska, which he deems as “absolute freedom”.

into the wild

The movie is an adaption of the original novel by John Krakauer and was released last year in theaters, directed by Sean Penn. It has been referred to frequently as a contemporary rite of passage. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that Eddie Vedder composed the soundtrack for the film.

The movie opens with a quote from Lord Byron’s Childe Harold:

“There is pleasure in the pathless woods
There is rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society where none intrudes,
By the deep sea and the music in its roar;
I love not man the less, but Nature more.”

Below is an interview with both Sean Penn and Eddie Vedder on Charlie Rose.

nobody’s family is going to change

Listening to this had me thinking about all the adventures growing up in a family of…well…contrasting personalties. If you’ve experienced the love of sarcastic wit from any one of your brothers or sisters, you may find this episode to be interesting.

vintage family photo

Host Ira Glass describes a children’s book from the 1970s called Nobody’s Family Is Going to Change by Louise Fitzhugh, the author of Harriet the Spy. On the surface, it sounds like a rather menacing title for a kids’ book. But in fact, the story is about how kids can finally find peace if they stop hoping that their parents will ever be any different. The question is, though: is it true? Does anyone’s family ever change?

Act One. So a Jew, a Christian, and a Recording Crew Walk into This Bar.

Julia Pimsleur travels to Alaska to spend some time with her brother, hoping he might change a little—just as he hopes that she’ll change a little. She made a documentary film about her trip, from which the sound in this story comes, called Brother Born Again. (27 minutes)

Act Two. Matching Outfits Not Included.

What can happen if a sibling relationship doesn’t ever change. Hillary Frank brings us the story of two sisters, now in their seventies, who have preserved the same relationship they had as girls…for better or worse. (10 minutes)

Act Three. The Artist Formerly Known as Dr. Sarkin.

What happens when you want your dad to change—and he wants to change, too—but there’s literally nothing that can be done to change him. Jon Sarkin was a chiropractor with workaholic tendencies. Then in 1988, something changed in his brain, something his family is still getting used to. (14 minutes)

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the ghost of bobby dunbar

I was listening to a podcast today by Chicago Public Radio called This American Life. Every episode is filled with personal stories that happen to everyday people. They pick a theme and divide it up into three or four short stories that demonstrate the diversity of subject matter through different eyes. Todays show, however, focused solely on one story.

It was highly interesting and had me thinking about history, how facts and truth can obscured by time, and how we as a collective society interface with information. Furthermore, what is the past is often how we identify who we are, culturally speaking at a macro level to the family tree at a more personal one. The question is whenever that is shown to be totally false or alternate to another’s reality, how people process that.

bobby dunbar

In 1912 a four year-old boy named Bobby Dunbar went missing in a swamp in Louisiana. Eight months later, he was found in the hands of a wandering handyman in Mississippi. (The picture above was taken just days later.) In 2004, his granddaughter discovered a secret beneath the legend of her grandfather’s kidnapping, a secret whose revelation would divide her own family, bring redemption to another, and become the answer to a third family’s century-old prayer. We devote our entire episode to the story.

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collective rights of a society

Below is a debate I just listened to that raised some great issues. It was recorded at the National Constitution Center. The overarching theme, I think, was in relation to a collective society’s operative knowledge of what rights a public official is mandated. Namely, the president. In that respect, the authority of leaders determine a society’s rights that fall under their jurisdiction, so it is important to be aware of what regulations come into play when discussing the system.

Click here to listen to the debate.

Larry J. Sabato, founder and director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia and author of “Divided States of America” will debate with the authors of “The Genius of America: How the Constitution Saved Our Country and Why It Can Again”, Michael Oreskes, executive editor of the International Herald Tribune and Eric Lane, professor of law at Hofstra University School of Law.

photos from paul in hong kong

I enjoy listening to the show “Coast to Coast AM” with George Noory. It starts at midnight where I live and runs until 4 or 5 in the morning. I usually can’t listen for more than an hour before I have to go to bed. Maybe I’ll have to subscribe to the podcast soon. When I’m working on art projects into the early morning, it keeps my mind active with weird thoughts. Sometimes I have turn it off when they start talking about ghosts because I start to get scared. Hahaha.

On top of being a show filled with interesting discussion, there is a section on their website where listeners can submit photos from their world, whether it be strange or random. There is one listener, “Paul in Hong Kong”, who posted some off-beat images. I will be blogging about future Coast to Coast shows and post other photos as I find them.

…..We listen in our offices in Hong Kong and China. The show starts at the end of the lunch hour and makes living in Asia easier. Keep up the good work. I have attached some photos for your website. China, in preparation for the summer games, is trying to change many signs to read in Mandarin Chinese and English. Sometimes the literal translation is not the ‘correct’ translation. The first photo is of a sign that is not politically correct in regards to disabled people.

china sign

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old time radio shows

I like listening to podcasts while I’m working on projects late into the night, especially old-time radio shows. There’s this website that I stream them from called They’re always rotating new shows with old ones, and try to broadcast same-date shows from however many years ago they ran. A few of my favorites are Gunsmoke, The Cisco Kid, The Shadow, The Whistler, Magic Island, and Challenge of the Yukon. Most shows run in half-hour segments, with Big Band music playing in between. If you’re into picture-making and being entertained by stories of different genres at the same time, you might want to check them out.