Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Memorial Day

Because today is Memorial Day, I've decided to write a letter to my ancestors, and ask them for advice on something,

Dear Ancestors:

I can remember when Chapel Hill was a place where people lived without fear.
Doors were never locked. Cars would be parked on the street with windows down on summer days. Bicycles were simply leaned against something when its owner went into a store. Wherever something was placed was where it was likely to be when looked for again. Parents were always sure their teenaged offspring would arrive home safely on their own, or would call if they needed a ride.
We used to hitchhike a lot.
No one was ever afraid of anyone.

This was the Chapel Hill that I discovered in 1970.
I was a 15 year old boy from Washington, DC.
I grew up where people were afraid of each other.
I fell in love with Chapel Hill at first sight.

Now I'm afraid to count how many years ago that was, but it's easy to count. My question is;
What happened?

Now if I can get an answer to that one, I'd like to ask another question, if I may.
What can I, as an individual, do about it?

Signed -- Wild Bill

Well, it wasn't until the wee hours of the next morning when the reply came back, and here it is.

Dear Bill:

We appreciate when you folks who are still living remember us.
Remember that we as a civilization have always made progress by adapting to changes. Change is inevitable.

The fact that a small North Carolina town can go from Mayberry to Gotham City in the course of a lifetime is indeed a disturbing sign of the times.

What you, as an individual, can do is always the same as what we, as a people, can do. And that is;
We can make choices.

We can choose to gripe and complain that nothing is the way it used to be, or we can choose to learn how to live in the world we have today.
Those who fear change go senile long before they die.
He not busy being born is busy dying.

When the world you live in goes into a direction you don't like, you might try calling attention to it. There's always the chance someone else will see it too, and respond to you.

While there are many terrible and frightening things in the 21st Century that we didn't have before, we can also use modern technology to our advantage. Blogging is a tool you have that we did not. Just having a newspaper was a major accomplishment for any human civilization. Think of the advances we've made since the printing press.

There are always a majority of people who see things going on that they don't understand, and so are afraid to mention them. When someone else says, "I see it too!" it assures us that we are not having a delusion. Get enough people talking about what needs to be fixed. and it's more likely to get fixed. Communication has always been humanity's greatest ally.
See if you can make it work for you.

Remember the little boy in "The Emperor's New Clothes"? Mention something you see, (or don't see) and maybe others will have the confidence to see it too.

Humans work like that, you know?
We can't help it. We are a social creature. It's in our nature. Modern technology cannot take that away from us, but it can provide us with another way to communicate.

"Stop, Hey! What's that sound? Everybody look what's going down!"
You get the idea.

Whenever you do cross over to the other side to join us, we'd like for you to tell us how it worked.

Signed -- Rolling in our graves

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Ira Y - Amazing Journey

Now lookie here what I found on YouTube.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

What I've Learned about "Ira"

Yesterday I went to the memorial service at CHHS.
It lasted between 10:30 and 2:30.
That was 2 hours longer than I expected, but it was all good!
What I saw was an inspirational presentation of the life of Irina Yarmolenko, told in slideshow, song, and poetry.
I consider the time very well spent!

What have I learned about Irina Yarmolenko?
I learned that the people who knew her called her Ira. (pronounced, sort of like, EE-ra)
That she was a beautiful child, whose smile could melt the hardest heart.
That her life reigned from May 2, 1988 to May 5, 2008.
Adding to the tragedy is that she was killed 3 days after her birthday, when she turned 20 years old.

This is where she has lived, since she was born.
1988 - 1996 -- Kharkov, Ukraine
1996 - 1997 -- Greensboro, NC
1998 - 2006 -- Chapel Hill, NC

Ira was very popular in Chapel Hill, and still has a lot of friends in the area. She graduated from CHHS before attending college at UNC-Charlotte.
She was the kind of girl who made friends instantly wherever she went.
She was known for her charm, her spunk, her playful spirit, and generous nature.
Ira excelled in theater, photography, and poetry, as well as in winning people's hearts.

Ira was a strong advocate of non-violence. This makes some people ask why she died the way she did. Some say perhaps this is a part of her message to us.

I was left very impressed with the impact her life has left in the world she lived in, for only 20 years, and the influence she still has on the people who knew her.

A man who spoke about her said that her name, IRA, means "Is Really Awesome."
Another person said, "Hope is the world that Ira lived in."

There is some speculation that her murder could be related to the missing persons case of Jamie Fraley, missing from Gastonia, NC, since April 8
See Jamie's story here.


After the service, I had the honor of shaking the hand of Ira's brother, Pavel Yarmolenko. I told him I hope to meet him again.

I also enjoyed the opportunity of meeting with some young people I was introduced to, thanks to Joy, who was there with me, who told me about stories they want to share, that I look forward to sharing with readers of this blog, hopefully soon!

Remember that guestbook I told you about? It's full of personal testimonies like these, and I have since then discovered another cool thing about it. You can enter your e-mail address, and be notified whenever a new entry is made in it. It's still fairly new, and bound to fill up pretty fast.
Here it is again.


I plan on following this story closely, and sharing what I find.
Some of Ira's friends I've spoken to have indicated some interesting parallels between her story, and the story of Debbie Key. I get the feeling that the more we look into these parallels, the more interesting this case will become.

If you knew Ira when she was still with us, I ask that you please share your stories with me, either here, or in her guestbook.

It does my heart good to know this beautiful person will always be remembered.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Memorial for Irina at CHHS

For those who have missed the funeral, here's another chance.

There will be a memorial service for Irina Yarmolenko at Chapel Hill High School on Saturday May 17 at 10:AM. (or 10:30, I'm not sure.)

The service will be held in the CHHS Auditorium, which is the big building on the left of the school, if coming from Homestead Rd.
If coming from Seawell School Rd., it is the big building across from the baseball fields.
Saturday is not a school day, so parking should not be a problem. However, I have been warned there may be a big crowd.
Well I hope so!

Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Irina Yarmolenko

When I received the news of Irina Yarmolenko, I was not ready for it.

Oh God! Not Again!

It wasn't until last Saturday morning that I got the news, and only because I went to Who Killed Theresa? that morning. (Thank you, John!)

Oh God! Her funeral is today! Why didn't I know about this before?
Brain goes into spin while processing all the events of the passed week.
I was looking forward to a nice quiet weekend, with nothing more important to do, after some errands, than to write something about Debbie in Chris's Crime Forum, and check on the progress of my video project.

I was not ready to deal with yet another beautiful young woman from Chapel Hill being murdered, for no apparent reason.

My God! Haven't we had enough!?
(deep breath and chill out)

I kick myself for not picking up the story when her body was found on Monday.
It was in Mt. Holly, NC. I know someone who lives there. I have been there a couple of times. Her body was found next to her car on the bank of the Catawba River. It sounds like someone tried to drive her car into the river, but was defeated by a stump.

Then I remind myself of what I had going on that week. Would I have been in a better place to deal with it then? I also remind myself that murder very rarely, if ever, occurs at a convenient time for us.

All this spins through my head, but with a lot more detail, as I go through my morning coffee and e-mail ritual. I'm still in "wake up" mode, and asking myself if I can include a funeral in my plans for today.

As the coffee takes its effect, I then reflect upon a pleasant interview I've had with this nice lady, talking about Debbie Key.
At the time, I was collecting personal testimonies from people who knew Debbie, which I used to compose "My Eulogy to Debbie."
It was this lady who gave me the "She had a great talent for cheering people up, making people laugh, and inspiring people to get off their butts..."

I decide immediately that this is the very inspiration that I need right now.

Long story short, I compromise my plans for the day to include a drive down Legion Road, which runs behind the Chapel Hill Memorial Cemetery, at the time the graveside service was taking place.
At least I get a view of how many people showed up.
Looks like a pretty good number to me.
Driving to my final errand of the day, I wish I could do more.

Since last weekend, I've been looking for something about Irina Yarmolenko to post in here. I've also had the opportunity to talk to some young people who knew her. It's a familiar story, perhaps too familiar.

Good person, never did any harm, loved by everyone, witty, charming, good natured, and why the hell would anyone want to kill her?

Way too close to home for us, for sure!
Now check out this cool guestbook I found for Irina on the 'Net.


Thursday, May 08, 2008

Skeletons Found in Wilmington

Two human skeletons were found in Wilmington, NC on Saturday April 26.
Both are believed to be white, female, and murdered.
Efforts are now being made to ID the discoverd remains.
One is believed to be a woman in her 30s, and the other to be in her 50s.
Both skeletons were found in a wooded area near Carolina Beach Rd. and Raleigh St.

There are a number of missing women in the Wilmington area. Among them is Allison Jackson Foy. Several families are awaiting the results of ID testing.




Monday, May 05, 2008

That Time Again

I love North Carolina in the springtime!
Oh how I love driving down that road going home in the afternoon, observing azaleas, redbuds, dogwoods, fruit trees, and all manner of botanical wonders that decorate our roadsides every spring.

Lately there's something new. Every few years it happens. These flat rectangular plants on two stems, with people's names on them, appear on lawns and roadsides. They seem to pop up overnight, like mushrooms, but two dimensional.

So I come in my door with my groceries, and I see the red light blinking on my answering machine. There are 4 messages.
The first one is from Hillary Clinton. She's reminding me of everything I value and believe in, and why I've gotta go vote on Tuesday.
The second message is from Jeremiah. Nevermind.
The third one is from Bill Clinton, reminding me to vote for Hillary. Haven't heard from Bill in a while. He's the last presidential candidate I voted for who actually won.
Now are you ready for this?
The fourth message is from, no, not Chelsea, but Andy Griffith. He wants me to vote for Perdue for governor.

How does that song go?
"Always something there to remind me..."

I wanted to write about the beautiful Sunday afternoon I had yesterday at Carrboro Day. I went to see my favorite local rock 'n' roll band, Storm Front, performing like they do every year at Carrboro Day, except they keep on getting better. With me is Alex, a teenaged wizard who knows more about computers, CDs, and video equipment than I ever will know about politics. We get footage of Storm Front doing what they do best.

When what to my wondering eyes should appear but one of Carrboro's most popular living citizens, Ellie Kinnaird. Ellie used to be mayor of Carrboro. Now she's our senator. We are all so proud of her. She's here to remind us that she's running for re-election, and I want to remind everyone of all the great things she's done for us, so I walk with her.
I can't help it. I love this lady a lot, and I don't mind saying so.

I love my community. I love my friends and neighbors. I love our country and our planet.
But Lord! our government sure scares the hell out of me!
Let's hope we do better next year.
Let's hope we can still afford to drive.

Please remember that the road to hell is paved with republicans.
I'm still not convinced Carl Fox really is a democrat.

Check out www.elliekinnaird.org and see why Ellie Kinnaird is so special to us.

Yep, it's that time again;
and the seasons, they go round and round,
and the painted ponies go up and down.