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Knowledge of our past is our inheritance. What we do with that knowledge will shape our destinies...

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Crime Tidbit: Hinterkaifeck

Former Hinterkaifeck Farmstead (Source)
March 31, 1922. On an obscure homestead situated between the Bavarian towns of Ingolstadt and Schrobenhausen, roughly 70 km north of Munich, a family of five and their maid are brutally murdered in one of the most puzzling crimes in German history. The murders remain unsolved today.

The farmstead didn't have a true name. Kaifeck was a larger homestead roughly 1 km north. Hinter is a German prefix meaning "behind."

The inhabitants of the farmstead were Andreas Gruber, his wife Cazilia, their widowed daughter Viktoria, and her two children little Cazilia and Josef, who were 7 and 2 years old respectively. It was whispered among the neighbors that Josef was the son of Viktoria and Andreas, who had an incestuous relationship. The final victim was the maid, Maria Baumgartner.

Six months prior to the crime, the Gruber's maid left their service, claiming the house was haunted. The new maid, Maria, arrived only days before her own death.

In the days before their deaths, Andreas told neighbors about finding footprints in the snow leading out of the woods and to the homestead, but none leading back. He heard creaking in the attic and found a strange newspaper on the farm as well. The day before, the house keys went missing, but Andreas reported none of this to the police.

Though no one can say for sure what happened that night, it is believed that somehow the elderly couple, their daughter Viktoria, and her daughter Cazilia, were lured one by one into the barn where they were killed with a weapon resembling a pickax. Then the killer or killers went into the house and killed Josef, who slept in his mother's room, and Maria the maid, her own bedchamber.

When none of the inhabitants of Hinterkaifeck had been seen for several days, and young Cazilia hadn't shown up for school, neighbors went to the farmstead to check and found the grizzly scene. 

Autopsies, performed the next day on location, showed that 7-year-old Cazilia lived for several hours after the assault. Lying beside the bodies of her mother and grandparents, she tore her hair out in tufts before succumbing to her injuries.

Inspector Georg Reingruber headed up the original investigation and over the years, more than one hundred suspects have been questioned. The most recent questioning took place in 1986, but all to no avail.

Shrine near Hinterkaifeck Farmstead (Source)
At first, robbery was a suspected motive, but a great deal of money was soon discovered in the house. It's believed that the perpetrator(s) stayed at the farm after the murders, perhaps for days. They fed the livestock and ate the food in the kitchen. Neighbors reported seeing smoke from the chimney over the weekend, after the family would already have been dead, so there was plenty of time to discover the money.

The death of Karl Gabriel, Viktoria's husband who had reportedly died in the trenches of WWI in 1914, was called into question. His body had never been found.

In 2007, students of the police academy in Furstenfeldbruck were tasked with investigating the mystery with modern methods. They came to the conclusion that after so many years and the loss of so much evidence, it was impossible to solve the crime for certain. Tey did zero in on one person as a main suspect, but wouldn't release the name out of respect for still-living relatives. (Grrrh.)

Today, many amateur investigators still pour over the case.

What do you think of this case? Who do you think the main suspect in the 2007 investigation was?

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Movie Review: God's Not Dead

Source
My sister brought God's Not Dead home from Redbox over the weekend. It's a Christian film that features Kevin Sorbo as it's only recognizable star. While I've been a Sorbo fan since I was just a kid and thought the special effects in Hercules: The Legendary Journeys were pretty darn cool, I still didn't have particularly high hopes for the film. While Christian cinema always has great stories that, because I am one, I can always get behind, they also tend to be low budget and somewhat lackluster. I figured this film would be the same way.

Boy was I wrong! I liked it so much I watched it not one but three times over the course of the weekend. Not just one my own, of course. First I watched it with one sister. Then another. Then on Saturday my parents and brothers showed up, and when I gushed about how great it was, they wanted to watch it too. So yes, I watched it thrice. And yes, I cried each time.

So the ever-hansome-and-charismatic Kevin Sorbo is a philosophy professor at prestigious college, who on the first day of the semester, asks his students to sign their names to statements saying that God is dead. He does this because he is an atheist and hates the whole god argument so much that he just wants all of his students to agree with him so they can skip that aspect of the course.

But of course our MC, Josh Wheaton (played by Shane Harper) is a Christian who refuses to sign the statement. The professor then gives him the chance to defend God's honor in front of the class. This poor freshmen is up against a hard-nosed atheist/philosophy professor in his own classroom, in front of his peers! Talk about a pressure cooker. But he puts his shoulder to the wheel, coming up with amazing arguments, all while struggling under a full course load, and dealing with his failing relationship with his fiancee.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Historical Tidbit: The Lost Colony of Roanoke

Do you know...about the lost colony of Roanoke?

Of course you do! It's one of the most famous unsolved mysteries in the history of, er, unsolved mysteries.


Map of area, including Roanoke
Island, drawn by John White
(Source)
The facts: 

Monday, August 11, 2014

Historical Tidbit: Madame C.J. Walker

Sarah Breedlove (Source)
Did you know...that the first self-made female millionaire in America was a black woman?

It's true! Sarah Breedlove was born as the one of six children in December of 1867. She was the first in her family to be born free, after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed. At age 14, she got married to escape the abuse of her brother-in-law, with whom she was living. Six years later, her husband died. She was twenty years old, with a 2-year-old daughter to care for. She moved to St. Louis, where three of her brothers lived, and got work as a washer woman, earning less than $1 a day. She was determined to earn enough money to get her daughter a formal education, though.

Like most people in her day, she expected hair loss due to poor diet and living conditions. She learned about hair and hygiene from her brothers, who all worked in barber shops. She sold hair car products on commission for Annie Turnbo Malone, a haircare enterpreneur, and soon after emerged as Madame C.J. Walker, "an independent hairdresser and retailer of cosmetic creams." (Source)


C.J. Walker's grave (Source)
Sarah remarried, had her stepdaughter run the mail order part of the business, while she and her husband traveled the country, expanding. Eventually she began training other women, especially African Americans, in the concepts of beauty products, sales, and business models. Her business expanded beyond the United States to Cuba, Jamaica, Panama, Costa Rica, and Haiti.

She eventually got involved in politics, gave massive amounts of money to charity, and upon her death was considered the wealthiest African American in the country. It is unclear whether she was actually worth more than a million dollars at the time of her death, but in by today's standards, she would have been many times over. (For more details on her amazing life, see this link.)

There is so much entitlement in the world today; a massive movement of people who believe that certain people, especially minorities, ought to be given absolutely everything. But Sarah Breedlove defies that model. She was born during Civil War times, and came up very humbly in the world, with little chance for education or wealth. Yet, she pulled herself up by her bootstraps and became one of the wealthiest, most successful women of her day. The entitlement movement won't tell this story because it flies in the face of their most sacred dogma. Yet, Sarah Breedlove (a.k.a. Madame C.J. Walker) is a heroine of not only success and wealth, but education, women's empowerment, and the overall betterment of society. 

Now, most people who read my blog probably aren't members of this Entitlement Movement I speak of. (After all, we wouldn't be aspiring writers and authors if we didn't believe we have a chance to attain our dreams.) But, for the record, it's my belief that if more people were like Sarah Breedlove, our society would have vastly fewer problems than we are currently facing.


Remember, knowledge of our past is our inheritance. What we do with that knowledge will shape our destinies...

What do you think of C.J. Walker? Have you ever heard her story before?




Citadels of Fire


In a world where danger hides in plain sight and no one aspires to more than what they were born to, Inga must find the courage to break the oppressive chains she’s been bound with since birth. 

As a maid in the infamous Kremlin, life in 16th-century Russia is bleak and treacherous. That is, until Taras arrives. Convinced that his mother’s death when he was a boy was no mere accident, he returned from England to discover what really happened. While there, he gains favor from the Tsar later known as Ivan the Terrible, the most brutal and notorious ruler ever to sit upon the throne of Russia. Ivan allows him to take a servant, and to save Inga from a brutal boyar intent on raping her, Taras requests Inga to stay in his chambers.

Up against the social confines of the time, the shadowy conspiracies that cloak their history, and the sexual politics of the Russian Imperial court, Inga and Taras must discover their past, plan for their future, and survive the brutality that permeates life within the four walls that tower over them all, or they may end up like so many citizens of ancient Russia: nothing but flesh and bone mortar for the stones of the Kremlin wall.


Friday, August 8, 2014

Funny Friday: Never Argue With Children!

Just had to post this. Hope it brightens up your Friday! :D



Never argue with children that know their bible stories, right? :D Have a great weekend, Everyone!

What's your reaction to this smart little cookie?

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Thoughts for Thursday: Taking a Stand

Thoughts for Thursday is a new feature hosted by Musings on Fantasia and LKHill.  In this meme, we share thoughts or quotes that we know or have recently come across. Each week there is a specific subject or theme. These can be quotes from books, quotes by famous people, (quotes by YOU, perhaps ;D). Anything from anywhere is game, though we do ask that you keep your quote to a few sentences at most. Don't quote, for example, entire passages of a book or essay. These can be funny quips, cool sayings, hair-raising antidotes, movie lines, any kind of quote you can think of!

Just have fun, collect awesome sayings by awesome people, and try to be inspired!

This week's theme is Taking a Stand!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Book Review: The Success Principles

Source
So my brother, Lucas, who is all about self-help, success, and motivational speaking, gave me this book six months ago. I might have even started it around Christmas time and I'm just now finishing! (Dah!) Don't let that fool you, though. It has nothing to do with how good the book was or wasn't. This might just be one of the most inspiring, motivational book I've ever read.

This is a non-fiction book. Jack Canfield is the ridiculously successful co-author of the Chicken Soup for the Soul books. But he's more than just an author. He's an entrepreneur and motivational speaker, among many other things. He lays out 52 principles he's gathered over the years that are essential for success. (Hence the title of the book.)

These principles encompass everything from attitude adjustment to taking risks to changing your mindset to having faith. The reader not only gets valuable information from someone who's done it all and been enormously successful, but he tells stories and gives real life examples so we can see the principles in action.

Some of my favorite quotes (There's about a billion, but here are a few):


"Ninety-nine percent of all failures come from people who have a habit of making excuses."--George Washington Carver
"You only have control over three things in your life--the thoughts you think, the images you visualize, and the actions you take." (pg. 109) 
"The world doesn't owe you anything. You have to create it." (pg. 13)

My favorite principles (Again, they're ALL awesome, but...):


1. Take 100% Responsibility for Your Life 
25. Drop out of the "Ain't it Awful" Club and Surround Yourself with Successful People 
55. Be a Class Act 
58. Pay Yourself First 
63. Start Now!...Just Do It!

If you've ever wanted to begin a new endeavor, run a business (yes, your writing counts!) learn a new skill, or simply find success at anything you are doing or want to do, this book will be invaluable. I'd recommend it for absolutely everyone. After all, what is life without its pinnacle successes?

Has anyone else read The Success Principles? Which is your favorite principle?