5 Sherlocks and Watsons

Here are five pairs of Sherlocks and Watsons, as created by my Diverse Character Generator.

Sherlock Orbeliani is an ethnic Georgian who grew up in London. He and his parents were upper-middle class professionals, allowing them to send their children to elite boarding schools in the UK. He was teased for his odd name when he was a kid. His parents picked it from a list of traditional English baby boy names, not realizing that it would be perceived as strange. He is a former private detective. He’s done pretty well for himself, but was known for his liberal and eccentric views. For example, he is a self-declared “Zenarchist” who was known to reject gender norms. Currently, he only works with the police on a consulting basis, due to his aging and his ongoing battle with oral cancer.

Abd al-Hamid Saab is the 29-year-old son of Bahraini immigrants. He didn’t get a college education, so he works long hours as a hospital custodian. Ostracized for his Arab appearance, estranged from his family for his rejection of Islam and effeminate ways, and working long hours, he generally feels depressed about life.

He runs into Sherlock frequently while the two men are at their respective jobs, often within the same hospital complex. Abd al-Hamid is fascinated by Sherlock’s eccentric and wild mind, wrapped up in an old and sick body. Sherlock sees himself as Abd al-Hamid’s mentor, and hopes to get the young man interested in a more intellectually rigorous field, such as forensics. Whenever Abd al-Hamid is off work–or out of work–Sherlock brings him to his own place of work as a kind of human social crutch.

Sherlock Holmes is a 76-year-old private detective who keeps active through motorbiking. While on a vacation Motorbike Adventure Tour in Vietnam, he realizes too late that his tour guide has scammed him, abandoning him in the Vietnamese countryside.

Stranded, lost, and unable to speak the language, Sherlock wanders aimlessly until he meets John Watson.

Years ago, Watson fell in love with Vietnam when he was serving with Doctors Without Borders. He chose to stay, and now works in a Vietnamese “peace village,” providing medical care for victims of Agent Orange. He had a religious revelation, and now practices a form of Buddhism called Hòa Hảo.

Abdul-Haqq bin Haron is a private detective. He has been hired by an unlikely client: an adorable 12-year-old redhead named Jannette Watson. Jannette has called Haqq to investigate the disappearance of one of her boarding school classmates.

Intrigued by the case, Haqq goes to the school. He learns that Jannette has a rare disability called schizencephaly. She needs crutches, glasses, and seizure medication in order to function, and is ostracized by her classmates.

Over the course of the investigation, Haqq and Jannette form an unlikely friendship based on their common experiences with exclusion.

Zacharias Diarra is a 58-year-old former detective who has been living on disability since the onset of severe joint damage. He is a genderqueer Christian of Soninke and Jewish descent.

Enter a young man calling himself Yahya, the child of a closed (anonymous) adoption, who has hired Zacharias to help him find his birth parents.

Zacharias’s first meeting with Yahya proves that his case is extremely complicated. For one thing, Yahya is thirteen years old. He has had a long history of contention and disagreement with his parents. Suspecting that he was not his parents’ biological child, and spurred on by his high school classmates, Yahya went behind his parents’ backs and had genetic testing done. It turns out that not only was he adopted, but he isn’t even the same race as his parents; they are ethnically Gujarati, but he is ethnically Pashtun.

To make matters more complicated, Yahya’s real name is Lakshmi Chandratre. He is transgender and gay, and has a disorder called lissencephaly, which impairs his mobility and vision and causes seizures.

Having just moved to the island of Hawaii, adult brothers Sherlock (19) and John (22) Holmes start an online crime solving business. In this version, Sherlock wears prism glasses to compensate for double vision, caused by a cranial nerve injury when he was younger.

In addition to crime solving, Sherlock and John’s adventures take them on a journey through Hawaii’s historic landscape, and together they learn about the religion, culture, and traditions of their beautiful island home.


Diverse Character Generator

During my year at college, I became sensitized to the need for representation and diversity in the media, as well as the richer context it can bring to a story. For now, a discussion on how and why representation matters is beyond the scope of this post. If you’d like to learn more about representation, check out the “We Need Diverse Books” campaign. It’s an awesome source of personal and expert perspectives!

For the purposes of this post, I want to focus on my method for creating diverse characters. You’re going to need to access random.org, resources on writing diversely, and a lot of patience! Here are a few good resources to get you started!

The basic spirit of my method is, imagine your character first. Picture them clearly in your mind. Imagine their character arc. Hear them speak in your head. Then, and only then, assign your character a more diverse identity.

I’ll demonstrate how it works by using my favorite fallback character, Sherlock Holmes.

To start, go to random.org and generate a number between 1 and 11. This will give you the number of traits (listed below) that you change.

I roll an 11, so I have to change all 11 characteristics.

1. Age
2. Appearance
3. (Dis)Ability
4. Gender Identity
5. Language
6. Race
7. Relationships
8. Religion
9. Sex
10. Sexual Orientation
11. Socioeconomic status

I’ll start by changing his age. My generator says:

  • For age, generate a number between 1 and 2.
  • If you roll a 1, make your character younger than you originally imagined.
  • If you roll a 2, make your character older than you imagined.
  • Use your good judgment to create a specific age. Most TV protagonists are between twenty and sixty years old, so youth and elders could use some good representation.

I roll a 2, so I need to make him older. Benedict Cumberbatch is 38 years old. I’ll set another random number to determine my Sherlock’s age. I don’t want him younger than 60, and I don’t want him older than 95, either. I set the random generator to a number between 60 and 95… And I get 60.

Next is his appearance. My generator says:

  • For an appearance change, generate a number from 1 to 10.

1. Body shape
2. Clothing style
3. Gender expression
4. Hair color
5. Hair style
6. Personal grooming
7. Piercings
8. Skin coloration
9. Tattoos
10. Weight

Next is his ability or disability. My generator says:

  • For a disabled character, generate a number from 1 to 874.

• For a disabled character, generate a number from 1 to 874.
1. 18p deletion syndrome
2. 1p36 deletion syndrome
3. 2,4 Dienoyl-CoA reductase deficiency
4. 2-Methylbutyryl-CoA dehydrogenase deficiency
5. 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-CoA lyase deficiency
6. 3-hydroxyacyl-coenzyme A dehydrogenase deficiency
7. 3-Methylcrotonyl-CoA carboxylase deficiency
8. 6-Pyruvoyltetrahydropterin synthase deficiency
9. Abdominal epilepsy
10. Aboulia
11. Acatalasia
12. Accessory breast
13. Aceruloplasminemia
14. Acheiria
15. Achondroplasia
16. Acromegaly
17. Actinic cheilitis
18. Acute chest syndrome
19. Acute disseminated encephalomyelitis
20. Addison’s disease
21. Adenylosuccinate lyase deficiency
22. Adie syndrome
23. Adiposogenital dystrophy
24. Adipsia
25. Adjustment disorder
26. Adrenal cortex cancer
27. Adrenocorticotropic hormone deficiency
28. Adrenoleukodystrophy
29. African iron overload
30. Agenesis of the corpus callosum
31. Agranulocytosis
32. Agraphia
33. Aicardi syndrome
34. Akinetopsia
35. Alagille syndrome
36. Albinism
37. Alcoholism
38. Aldolase A deficiency
39. Alexander disease
40. Alkaptonuria
41. Allergies
42. Alpers’ disease
43. Alpha 1-antitrypsin deficiency
44. Alpha-mannosidosis
45. Amastia
46. Amazia
47. Amblyopia
48. Amelia
49. Amnesia
50. Amniotic band syndrome
51. Amusia
52. Amyloidosis
53. Androgen deficiency
54. Androgen insensitivity syndrome
55. Angelman syndrome
56. Angina bullosa haemorrhagica
57. Angular cheilitis
58. Anismus
59. Ankyloglossia
60. Ankylosing spondylitis
61. Anorexia nervosa
62. Anterior cerebral artery syndrome
63. Anterior spinal artery syndrome
64. Anterograde amnesia
65. Anti-synthetase syndrome
66. Antisocial personality disorder
67. Antley–Bixler syndrome
68. Aphthous stomatitis
69. Aplastic anemia
70. Apperceptive agnosia
71. Apraxia
72. Apraxia of speech
73. Arachnoiditis
74. Arakawa’s syndrome
75. Argininemia
76. Argininosuccinic aciduria
77. Arnold–Chiari malformation
78. Arrhinia
79. Arteriosclerosis
80. Arteritis
81. Arthrogryposis
82. Asemia
83. Aspartylglucosaminuria
84. Asperger’s syndrome
85. Associative visual agnosia
86. Astereognosis
87. Asthma
88. Ataxia telangiectasia
89. Ataxic cerebral palsy
90. Atelophobia
91. Athelia
92. Athetoid cerebral palsy
93. Athetosis
94. Atransferrinemia
95. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
96. Atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome
97. Auditory agnosia
98. Auditory processing disorder
99. Auditory verbal agnosia
100. Autism spectrum disorder
101. Autoimmune hemolytic anemia
102. Autoimmune inner ear disease
103. Autoimmune neutropenia
104. Autoimmune pancreatitis
105. Autoimmune polyendocrine syndrome
106. Autoinflammatory syndrome
107. Autosomal dominant cerebellar ataxia
108. Autosomal dominant hypophosphatemic rickets
109. Autosomal dominant nocturnal frontal lobe epilepsy
110. Autotopagnosia
111. Avoidant personality disorder
112. Bahima disease
113. Barbiturate dependence
114. Barth syndrome
115. Batten disease
116. Beals syndrome
117. Behçet’s disease
118. Bell’s palsy
119. Benign cephalic histiocytosis
120. Benign symmetric lipomatosis
121. Benjamin syndrome
122. Benzodiazepine dependence
123. Beta-ketothiolase deficiency
124. Beta-mannosidosis
125. Beta thalassemia
126. Bibliomania
127. Bickerstaff’s encephalitis
128. Biliary atresia
129. Binasal hemianopsia
130. Binge eating disorder
131. Binswanger disease
132. Biotinidase deficiency
133. Bipolar disorder
134. Birt–Hogg–Dubé syndrome
135. Bitemporal hemianopsia
136. Black hairy tongue
137. Bladder cancer
138. Blindness
139. Bloom syndrome
140. Blount’s disease
141. Body dysmorphic disorder
142. Bone cancer
143. Bonnet–Dechaume–Blanc syndrome
144. Borderline intellectual functioning
145. Borderline personality disorder
146. Brain cancer
147. Brain tumor
148. Breast cancer
149. Brugada syndrome
150. Brunner syndrome
151. Budd–Chiari syndrome
152. Bulimia nervosa
153. Burning mouth syndrome
155. Calcific tendinitis
156. CAMFAK syndrome
157. Campomelic dysplasia
158. Canavan disease
159. Cannabis dependence
160. Carbamoyl phosphate synthetase I deficiency
161. Cardiac dysrhythmia
162. Cardiomegaly
163. Cardiomyopathy
164. Carnitine-acylcarnitine translocase deficiency
165. Carnitine palmitoyltransferase I deficiency
166. Carnosinemia
167. Caroli disease
168. Carotid-cavernous fistula
169. Cartilage–hair hypoplasia
170. Cataplexy
171. Catatonia
172. Caviar tongue
173. Celiac disease
174. Central facial palsy
175. Central nervous system cavernous hemangioma
176. Central pain syndrome
177. Central pontine myelinolysis
178. Centronuclear myopathy
179. Cerebellar agenesis
180. Cerebral atherosclerosis
181. Cerebral hemorrhage
182. Cerebral salt-wasting syndrome
183. Cerebral vasculitis
184. Charcot–Bouchard aneurysms
185. Charcot–Marie–Tooth disease
186. Charcot–Wilbrand syndrome
187. Chédiak–Higashi syndrome
188. Cheilitis
189. CHILD syndrome
190. Childhood disintegrative disorder
191. Cholecystitis
192. Cholemia
193. Chronic blistering
194. Chronic fatigue syndrome
195. Chronic granulomatous disease
196. Chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy
197. Chronic pain syndrome
198. Chronic pancreatitis
199. Chronic progressive external ophthalmoplegia
200. Churg–Strauss syndrome
201. Citrullinemia
202. Claude’s syndrome
203. Claustrophobia
204. Cleft lip and palate
205. Coagulopathy
206. Cocaine dependence
207. Cockayne syndrome
208. Coffin–Lowry syndrome
209. Collagenous colitis
210. Colon cancer
211. Colorblindness
212. Complex regional pain syndrome
213. Congenital adrenal hyperplasia
214. Congenital disorder of glycosylation
215. Congenital distal spinal muscular atrophy
216. Congenital dyserythropoietic anemia
217. Congenital estrogen disease
218. Congenital heart disease
219. Congenital insensitivity to pain with anhidrosis
220. Congenital vascular defect
221. Conjugate gaze palsy
222. Conn’s syndrome
223. Conradi–Hünermann syndrome
224. Constructional apraxia
225. Cornelia de Lange syndrome
226. Cortical deafness
227. Cowden syndrome
228. Craniosynostosis
229. CREST syndrome
230. Cri du chat
231. Crigler–Najjar syndrome
232. Crohn’s disease
233. Cronkhite–Canada syndrome
234. Crouzon syndrome
235. Cushing’s disease
236. Cushing’s syndrome
237. Cutaneous small-vessel vasculitis
238. Cutis laxa
239. Cyclic neutropenia
240. Cyclothymia
241. Cystic fibrosis
242. Cystinosis
243. Cystinuria
244. D-Glyceric acidemia
245. Dandy-Walker syndrome
246. De Vivo disease
247. Deafness
248. Deep dyslexia
249. Dejerine–Roussy syndrome
250. Delayed sleep phase disorder
251. Delusional parasitosis
252. Dental abscess
253. Dentatorubral-pallidoluysian atrophy
254. Dent’s disease
255. Depersonalization disorder
256. Depression
257. Derealization
258. Dermatomyositis
259. Dermatosis
260. Dermatothlasia
261. Developmental coordination disorder
262. Diabetes
263. Dicarboxylic aminoaciduria
264. Dichromacy
265. Diffuse myelinoclastic sclerosis
266. DiGeorge syndrome
267. Dilated cardiomyopathy
268. Dopamine beta hydroxylase deficiency
269. Double vision
270. Down syndrome
271. Duchenne muscular dystrophy
272. Duret hemorrhage
273. Dwarfism
274. Dysarthria
275. Dysautonomia
276. Dyscalculia
277. Dyscravia
278. Dysgraphia
279. Dyskinesia
280. Dyslexia
281. Dyspareunia
282. Dysphagia
283. Dysprosody
284. Dysthymia
285. Dystonia
286. Eating disorder – not otherwise specified
287. Ehlers–Danlos syndrome
288. Enteric neuropathy
289. Eosinophilia
290. Eosinophilia–myalgia syndrome
291. Eosinophilic fasciitis
292. Epidural hemorrhage
293. Erb’s palsy
294. Erotomania
295. Erythema nodosum
296. Erythroid dysplasia
297. Erythromelalgia
298. Erythroplakia
299. Esophageal atresia
300. Esophageal cancer
301. Essential tremor
302. Excoriation disorder
303. Exhibitionism
304. Exploding head syndrome
305. Expressive aphasia
306. Eye cancer
307. Fabry disease
308. Factitious dermatitis
309. Familial amyloid polyneuropathy
310. Familial atrial fibrillation
311. Familial dysautonomia
312. Familial dysbetalipoproteinemia
313. Fanconi syndrome
314. Farber disease
315. Fecal incontinence
316. Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder
317. FG syndrome
318. Fibrinogenolysis
319. Fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva
320. Fibromyalgia
321. Fibular hemimelia
322. Finger agnosia
323. Fissured tongue
324. Foix–Alajouanine syndrome
325. Foreign accent syndrome
326. Foville’s syndrome
327. Fragile X syndrome
328. Fregoli delusion
329. Friedreich’s ataxia
330. Frontal lobe epilepsy
331. Fructose malabsorption
332. Fucosidosis
333. Fugue state
334. Fumarase deficiency
335. Galactosemia
336. Gallbladder cancer
337. Gangliosidosis
338. Ganser syndrome
339. Gastric antral vascular ectasia
340. Gastrointestinal cancer
341. Gaucher’s disease
342. Generalized anxiety disorder
343. Generalized eruptive histiocytoma
344. Genodermatosis
345. Geographic tongue
346. Gerodermia osteodysplastica
347. Gerstmann syndrome
348. Gigantism
349. Gilbert’s syndrome
350. Global aphasia
351. Glucose-galactose malabsorption
352. Glutaric acidemia type 1
353. Glutaric acidemia type 2
354. Glutathione synthetase deficiency
355. Glycine encephalopathy
356. Glycogen storage disease
357. Goodpasture syndrome
358. Gout
359. GRACILE syndrome
360. Grandiose delusion
361. Granulomatosis with polyangiitis
362. Grave’s disease
363. Gray matter heterotopia
364. Griscelli syndrome
365. Guanidinoacetate methyltransferase deficiency
366. Guillain–Barré syndrome
367. Hallucinogen-related disorder
368. Hard of hearing
369. Harderoporphyria
370. Harding ataxia
371. Hartnup disease
372. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis
373. Hawkinsinuria
374. Heart neoplasia
375. Hemeralopia
376. Hemihypertrophy
377. Hemochromatosis
378. Hemoglobin Lepore syndrome
379. Hemoglobinemia
380. Hemolytic anemia
381. Hemolytic-uremic syndrome
382. Hemophilia
383. Hemosiderinuria
384. Hepatic veno-occlusive disease
385. Hepatitis
386. Hepatorenal syndrome
387. Hereditary fructose intolerance
388. Hereditary multiple exostoses
389. Hereditary pancreatitis
390. Hereditary pyropoikilocytosis
391. Hereditary spastic paraplegia
392. Hermansky–Pudlak syndrome
393. Hernia
394. Herpes simplex
395. Hirschsprung’s disease
396. Histiocytosis
397. Histrionic personality disorder
399. Holocarboxylase synthetase deficiency
400. Homocystinuria
401. Homonymous hemianopsia
402. Horizontal gaze palsy
403. Horner’s syndrome
404. Horror fusionis
405. Hunter syndrome
406. Hurler syndrome
407. Hurler–Scheie syndrome
408. Huntington’s syndrome
409. Hyper-IgD syndrome
410. Hyperaldosteronism
411. Hypermethioninemia
412. Hyperparathyroidism
413. Hyperprolinemia
414. Hypertension
415. Hypertensive encephalopathy
416. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy
417. Hypertryptophanemia
418. Hypervalinemia
419. Hyperviscosity syndrome
420. Hypochondroplasia
421. Hypochondriasis
422. Hypoparathyroidism
423. Hypopituitarism
424. Hypothalamic disease
425. Hypothyroidism
426. Hypotonia
427. I-cell disease
428. ICF syndrome
429. Ideomotor apraxia
430. Idiopathic short stature
431. IgA nephropathy
432. Illusory palinopsia
433. Iminoglycinuria
434. Imperforate anus
435. Inclusion body myositis
436. Incontinentia pigmenti
437. Indeterminate cell histiocytosis
438. Infantile neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis
439. Infectious intracranial aneurysm
440. Inflammatory bowel disease
441. Insomnia
442. Integrative agnosia
443. Intracranial aneurysm
444. Intraparenchymal hemorrhage
445. IPEX syndrome
446. Irregular sleep–wake rhythm
447. Ischemic heart disease
448. Isobutyryl-coenzyme A dehydrogenase deficiency
449. Isovaleric acidemia
450. Jargon aphasia
451. Jeavons syndrome
452. Johanson–Blizzard syndrome
453. Joubert syndrome
454. Juvenile idiopathic arthritis
455. Juvenile myoclonic epilepsy
456. Juvenile primary lateral sclerosis
457. Kallmann syndrome
458. Kawasaki disease
459. Kleine–Levin syndrome
460. Kleptomania
461. Klippel–Feil syndrome
462. Klippel–Trénaunay syndrome
463. Klumpke paralysis
464. Kniest dysplasia
465. Knobloch syndrome
466. Kohlschütter-Tönz syndrome
467. Korsakoff’s syndrome
468. Kostmann syndrome
469. Kowarski syndrome
470. Krabbe disease
471. Kyphosis
472. Lactose intolerance
473. Lacunar amnesia
474. Lafora disease
475. Lambert–Eaton myasthenic syndrome
476. Landau–Kleffner syndrome
477. Latent iron deficiency
478. Leber’s congenital amaurosis
479. Leigh’s disease
480. Lennox–Gastaut syndrome
481. Leprosy
482. Lesch–Nyhan syndrome
483. Leukemia
484. Leukocyte adhesion deficiency
485. Leukocytosis
486. Leukodystrophy
487. Leukoencephalopathy with vanishing white matter
488. Leukopenia
489. Leukoplakia
490. Levocardia
491. Lichen planus
492. Light chain deposition disease
493. Lipodystrophy
494. Lipohyalinosis
495. Lipoid congenital adrenal hyperplasia
496. Lipoprotein lipase deficiency
497. Lissencephaly
498. Liver cancer
499. Locked-in syndrome
500. Loeys–Dietz syndrome
501. Logorrhea
502. Long-chain 3-hydroxyacyl-coenzyme A dehydrogenase deficiency
503. Long QT syndrome
504. Lordosis
505. Low vision
506. Lung cancer
507. Lupus
508. Lymphedema
509. Lymphocytic colitis
510. Lymphocytic immune system disorder
511. Lymphocytic leukemia
512. Lymphoma
513. Lysinuric protein intolerance
514. Lysosomal Acid Lipase Deficiency
515. Mabry syndrome
516. Machado–Joseph disease
517. Macroglobulinemia
518. Maffucci syndrome
519. Major depressive disorder
520. Maladaptive daydreaming
521. Malingering
522. Malonyl-CoA decarboxylase deficiency
523. Maple syrup urine disease
524. Marchiafava–Bignami disease
525. Marcus Gunn phenomenon
526. Marfan syndrome
527. Maroteaux–Lamy syndrome
528. Marshall syndrome
529. McCune–Albright syndrome
530. McLeod syndrome
531. Megalencephalic leukoencephalopathy with subcortical cysts
532. Megalencephaly
533. Melanoma
534. Melkersson–Rosenthal syndrome
535. Metachromatic leukodystrophy
536. Metamorphopsia
537. Medium-chain acyl-coenzyme A dehydrogenase deficiency
538. Melkersson–Rosenthal syndrome
539. Ménière’s disease
540. Menkes disease
541. Meralgia paresthetica
542. MERRF syndrome
543. Mesothelial hyperplasia
544. Methemoglobinemia
545. Methylmalonic acidemia
546. Mevalonate kinase deficiency
547. Microcephaly
548. Microinfarct
549. Micromastia
550. Middle cerebral artery syndrome
551. Migraine headaches
552. Millard–Gubler syndrome
553. Misophonia
554. Mitochondrial myopathy
555. Mitochondrial neurogastrointestinal encephalopathy syndrome
556. Mitochondrial trifunctional protein deficiency
557. Mixed connective tissue disease
558. Mixed transcortical aphasia
559. Möbius syndrome
560. Monoplegia
561. Morbid jealousy
562. Morgagni Stewart Morel syndrome
563. Morning pseudoneutropenia
564. Morquio syndrome
565. Morvan’s syndrome
566. Motor neuron disease
567. Mowat–Wilson syndrome
568. Moyamoya disease
569. Mucolipidosis
570. Multiple myeloma
571. Multiple sclerosis
572. Multiple sulfatase deficiency
573. Multiple system atrophy
574. Munchausen syndrome
575. Munchausen syndrome by proxy
576. Muscular dystrophy
577. Muteness
578. Myasthenia gravis
579. Myeloperoxidase deficiency
580. Myoclonic epilepsy
581. Myomatous erythrocytosis syndrome
582. Myopathy, X-linked, with excessive autophagy
583. Myxedema
584. N-Acetylglutamate synthase deficiency
585. Narcissistic personality disorder
586. Narcolepsy
587. Necrotizing periodontal diseases
588. Nephrogenic systemic fibrosis
589. Neuro-Behçet’s disease
590. Neurofibromatosis
591. Neurogenic diabetes insipidus
592. Neuromyelitis optica
593. Neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis
594. Neutropenia
595. Neutrophilia
596. Neutrophil immunodeficiency syndrome
597. Nevoid basal cell carcinoma syndrome
598. Nezelof syndrome
599. Nicotine withdrawal
600. Niemann–Pick disease
601. Night eating syndrome
602. Nightmare disorder
603. No reflow phenomenon
604. Nonverbal learning disorder
605. Noonan syndrome
606. Nutritional anemia
607. Nyctalopia
608. Nystagmus
609. Obesity
610. Obsessive-compulsive disorder
611. Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder
612. Occipital horn syndrome
613. Ochronosis
614. Oculocerebrorenal syndrome
615. Oguchi disease
616. Ohtahara syndrome
617. Omenn syndrome
618. Opioid dependence
619. Oppositional defiant disorder
620. Opsoclonus myoclonus syndrome
621. Oral cancer
622. Oral florid papillomatosis
623. Oral mucocele
624. Oral submucous fibrosis
625. Ornithinaemia
626. Ornithine aminotransferase deficiency
627. Ornithine transcarbamylase deficiency
628. Ornithine translocase deficiency
629. Orofacial granulomatosis
630. Orthorexia nervosa
631. Osteogenesis imperfecta
632. Osteoporosis
633. Otosclerosis
634. Overactive disorder associated with mental retardation and stereotyped movements
635. Pachygyria
636. Palindromic rheumatism
637. Palinopsia
638. Palmoplantar keratodermas
639. Pancreatic cancer
640. Pancytopenia
642. Panic disorder
643. Panmyelosis
644. Pantothenate kinase-associated neurodegeneration
645. PAPA syndrome
646. Papillon–Lefèvre syndrome
647. Paragrammatism
648. Paranoid personality disorder
649. Paraplegia
650. Parasomnia
651. Parastremmatic dwarfism
652. Parkinson’s disease
653. Paroxysmal tonic upgaze
654. Parry–Romberg syndrome
655. Pathological gambling
656. Pathological lying
657. Pelizaeus–Merzbacher disease
658. Pemphigus
659. Pendred syndrome
660. Perfectionism
661. Pericardial disorder
662. Persecutory delusion
663. Pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified
664. Peutz–Jeghers syndrome
665. Phagocyte bactericidal dysfunction
666. Phencyclidine-related disorder
667. Phenylketonuria
668. Pheochromocytoma
669. Phobia
670. Phocomelia
671. Phonagnosia
672. Phonological disorder
673. Photophobia
674. Photosensitive epilepsy
675. Pica
676. Pleomorphic xanthoastrocytoma
677. PNP-deficiency
678. POEMS syndrome
679. Poly drug use
680. Polyarteritis nodosa
681. Polychromasia
682. Polycystic kidney disease
683. Polycythemia
684. Polymyalgia rheumatica
685. Polymyositis
686. Polyneuropathy
687. Porencephaly
688. Porphyria
689. Post-traumatic embitterment disorder
690. Post-traumatic epilepsy
691. Post-traumatic stress disorder
692. Post stroke depression
693. Posterior cerebral artery syndrome
694. Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome
695. Prader–Willi syndrome
696. Pragmatic language disorder
697. Primary biliary cirrhosis
698. Primary hypertrophic osteoathropathy
699. Primary progressive aphasia
700. Primary sclerosing cholangitis
701. Primrose syndrome
702. Progressive bulbar palsy
703. Progressive nonfluent aphasia
704. Progressive rubella panencephalitis
705. Prolidase deficiency
706. Propionic acidemia
707. Prosopagnosia
708. Proteus syndrome
709. Pseudo-Hurler polydystrophy
710. Pseudothrombocytopenia
711. Psoriasis
712. Psychogenic amnesia
713. Psychogenic pruritus
714. Psychotic disorder
715. Pulmonary alveolar proteinosis
716. Pulmonary heart disease
717. Pure alexia
718. Pycnodysostosis
719. Pyoderma gangrenosum
720. Pyostomatitis vegetans
721. Pyromania
722. Quadrantanopia
723. Quadruple amputee
724. Rasmussen’s encephalitis
725. Reactive attachment disorder
726. Receptive aphasia
727. Regressive autism
728. Reflex epilepsy
729. Relapsing polychondritis
730. Reticulocytopenia
731. Retrograde amnesia
732. Rett syndrome
733. Rheumatoid arthritis
734. Roussy–Lévy syndrome
735. Rubinstein–Taybi syndrome
736. Rumination syndrome
738. Sakati–Nyhan–Tisdale syndrome
739. Salla disease
740. Sanfilippo syndrome
741. Sarcoidosis
742. Sarcosinemia
743. Schindler disease
744. Schizencephaly
745. Schizoaffective disorder
746. Schizoid personality disorder
747. Schizophrenia
748. Schizophreniform disorder
749. Schizotypal personality disorder
750. Sciatic nerve injury
751. Sciatica
752. Scleroderma
753. Scoliosis
754. Seasonal affective disorder
755. Seckel syndrome
756. Selective immunoglobulin A deficiency
757. Selective mutism
758. Semantic dementia
759. Sensory Dysfunction Disorder
760. Separation anxiety disorder
761. Septo-optic dysplasia
762. Severe combined immunodeficiency
763. Severe mental retardation
764. Shaken baby syndrome
765. Short bowel syndrome
766. Short-chain acyl-coenzyme A dehydrogenase deficiency
767. Short QT syndrome
768. Shwachman–Diamond syndrome
769. Sialidosis
770. Sickle cell anemia
771. Silver–Russell syndrome
772. Sitosterolemia
773. Sjögren’s syndrome
774. Sjögren–Larsson syndrome
775. Skin cancer
776. Sleep paralysis
777. Sleep terror disorder
778. Sleepwalking
779. Sly syndrome
780. Smith–Lemli–Opitz syndrome
781. Smith Martin Dodd syndrome
782. Smith–Magenis syndrome
783. Social anxiety disorder
784. Social-Emotional Agnosia
785. Social phobia
786. Somatization disorder
787. Somatoform disorder
788. Sopite syndrome
789. Sotos syndrome
790. Spastic diplegia
791. Spastic quadriplegia
792. Spherocytosis
793. Spina bifida
794. Spinal and bulbar muscular atrophy
795. Spinal muscular atrophy
796. Spondyloepiphyseal dysplasia congenita
797. Spondyloepimetaphyseal dysplasia
798. Stendhal syndrome
799. Stereotypic movement disorder
800. Stockholm syndrome
801. Stomatitis nicotina
802. Strabismus
803. Stroke
804. Sturge–Weber syndrome
805. Stuttering
806. Subarachnoid hemorrhage
807. Subdural empyema
808. Subdural hematoma
809. Succinic semialdehyde dehydrogenase deficiency
810. Sucrose intolerance
811. Sulfhemoglobinemia
812. Surface dyslexia
813. Susac’s syndrome
814. Symmastia
815. Syringomyelia
816. Systemic primary carnitine deficiency
817. Tangier disease
818. Tay-Sachs disease
819. Temporal lobe epilepsy
820. Tetra-amelia syndrome
821. Tetrahydrobiopterin deficiency
822. Thyroid cancer
823. Thyrotoxic periodic paralysis
824. Timothy syndrome
825. Topographical disorientation
826. Torticollis
827. Tourette syndrome
828. Transaldolase deficiency
829. Transcortical motor aphasia
830. Transcortical sensory aphasia
831. Transient erythroblastopenia of childhood
832. Transient lingual papillitis
833. Transverse myelitis
834. Treacher Collins syndrome
835. Trichotillomania
836. Trigeminal neuralgia
837. Trimethylaminuria
838. Triosephosphate isomerase deficiency
839. Tuber cinereum hamartoma
840. Tuberous breasts
841. Tuberous sclerosis
842. Tyrosinemia
843. Ulcerative colitis
844. Unverricht–Lundborg disease
845. Urbach–Wiethe disease
846. Urinary incontinence
847. Usher syndrome
848. Valvular heart disease
849. Vertebrobasilar insufficiency
850. Vestibular hyperacusis
851. Villaret’s syndrome
852. Vitiligo
853. Visual agnosia
854. Visuospatial dysgnosia
855. Von Hippel–Lindau disease
856. Waardenburg syndrome
857. Waterhouse–Friderichsen syndrome
858. WHIM syndrome
859. White coat syndrome
860. White sponge nevus
861. Williams syndrome
862. Wilson’s disease
863. Winchester syndrome
864. Winged scapula
865. Wiskott–Aldrich syndrome
866. Wolf–Hirschhorn syndrome
867. Wolman disease
868. Woolf syndrome
869. X-linked agammaglobulinemia
870. X-linked ichthyosis
871. X-linked lymphoproliferative disease
872. Xeroderma pigmentosum
873. Zellweger syndrome
874. Zollinger–Ellison syndrome

I roll a 621. He has oral cancer! 😦

Next is his gender identity. My generator says:

• For gender identity, generate a number between 1 and 12.
1. Butch
2. Demienby
3. Demigirl
4. Demiguy
5. Female
6. Femme
7. Genderless
8. Genderfluid
9. Male
10. Mixed genders
11. Multiple genders
12. Third gender

I roll a 2, so Sherlock Holmes is demi-enby. This means that he identifies somewhat as nonbinary (not male or female), and somewhat as something else. (What can I say? My generation is weird.)

Next is his language proficiency. My generator says:

  • For language, generate a number from 1 to 7.

1. This person is fluent in the language of the country where they currently reside.
2. This person is proficient.
3. This person can carry a simple conversation.
4. This person does not speak the language.
5. This person is proficient in two or more languages.
6. This person is proficient in multiple languages, none of which are useful where they currently live.
7. This person is some kind of linguistic genius.

Next is his ethnicity. My generator says:

  • For ethnicity, generate a number from 1 to 313.

1. Abaza
2. Abkhaz
3. Acholi
4. Afar
5. African-American
6. Afro-Arab
7. Aimaq
8. Ainu
9. Aja
10. Ajam of Bahrain
11. Akan
12. Albanian
13. Alur
14. Amerindian
15. Amhara
16. Arab
17. Armenia
18. Aromanian
19. Ashkenazi Jewish
20. Australian Aboriginal
21. Austrian
22. Austronesian
23. Aymara
24. Azeri
25. Azerbaijani
26. Baharna
27. Bahun
28. Bai
29. Bakongo
30. Balinese
31. Balkan Egyptian
32. Baloch
33. Baluchi
34. Bamar
35. Banda
36. Bangladeshi
37. Bantu
38. Banyan
39. Bariba
40. Basarwa
41. Bashkir
42. Basotho
43. Bemba
44. Beja
45. Belarusian
46. Bengali
47. Berber
48. Betammaribe
49. Bihari
50. Bilen
51. Black
52. Black Carib
53. Bobo
54. Bosniak
55. Böszörménys
56. British
57. Bulgarian
58. Buyei
59. Caprivian
60. Catalan
61. Chechen
62. Chewa
63. Chhetri
64. Chilean
65. Chinese
66. Chuukese
67. Chuvash
68. Circassian
69. Copts
70. Creole
71. Cuban
72. Cuman
73. Cushitic
74. Czech
75. Dai
76. Damai
77. Danish
78. Dendi
79. Dinka
80. Dong
81. Dutch
82. East Indian
83. Ethiopian
84. Ewe
85. Fijian
86. Filipino
87. Flemish
88. Fon
89. French
90. Fula
91. Gaelic
92. Gagauz
93. Garifuna
94. Gbaya
95. Georgian
96. German
97. Gio
98. Gorane
99. Greek
100. Guaraní
101. Gur
102. Gurung
103. Gurunsi
104. Guyanese
105. Hadjarai
106. Haitian
107. Hani
108. Hausa
109. Hazara
110. Hmong
111. Hola
112. Hui
113. Hutu
114. Icelandic
115. Indian
116. Indonesian
117. Inuit
118. Iranian
119. Irish
120. Irish Traveller
121. Italian
122. Jamaican
123. Jassic
124. Javanese
125. Jewish
126. Jola
127. Kabar
128. Kabye
129. Kalanga
130. Kami
131. Kanem-Bornou
132. Kaonde
133. Kayin
134. Kazakh
135. Khalkha
136. Khmer
137. Khmu
138. Kimbundu
139. Kirat
140. Kpelle
141. Krou
142. Korean
143. Kunama
144. Kurd
145. Ladino
146. Lala
147. Latvian
148. Lamba
149. Langi
150. Lao
151. Latino
152. Laz
153. Lebanese
154. Levantine
155. Lezgin
156. Lhotshampa
157. Li
158. Limba
159. Lithuanian
160. Livonian
161. Lobi
162. Lor
163. Lozi
164. Lunda
165. Luvale
166. M’Baka
167. M’Bochi
168. Macedonian
169. Magar
170. Malagasy
171. Malay
172. Maltese
173. Mambu
174. Manchu
175. Mandaean
176. Mande
177. Mandija
178. Mandinka
179. Maori
180. Madurese
181. Makua
182. Mapuche
183. Marshallese
184. Maroon
185. Maya
186. Mayo-Kebbi
187. Mboum
188. Melanesian
189. Merina
190. Mestizo
191. Metis
192. Miao
193. Micronesian
194. Middle Eastern
195. Moldovan
196. Monégasque
197. Mongol
198. Montenegrin
199. Moor
200. Nama
201. Namwanga
202. Nara
203. Nauruan
204. Negrito
205. Newar
206. Ngalop
207. Ngoni
208. Nilotic
209. North-East Indians
210. Nsenga
211. Nubian
212. Nuer
213. Nuristani
214. Ndebele
215. Ossetians
216. Oromo
217. Ouaddai
218. Ovambo
219. Ovimbundu
220. Pakistani
221. Papuan
222. Pashtun
223. Persian
224. Pohnpeian
225. Polish
226. Polynesian
227. Portuguese
228. Punjabi
229. Quebecois
230. Quechua
231. Rashaida
232. Romani
233. Romanian
234. Rotuman
235. Russian
236. Rusyn
237. Saho
238. Sami
239. Samoa
240. San
241. Sangha
242. Sara
243. Sarakatsani
244. Scandinavian
245. Shan
246. Sherpa
247. Shilluk
248. Senufo
249. Sephardic Jewish
250. Serahuli
251. Serb
252. Seychellois
253. Sharchop
254. Sindhi
255. Slovak
256. Slovene
257. Somali
258. Somba
259. Soussou
260. Spanish
261. Sri Lankan
262. Sudanese
263. Sundanese
264. Surinamese
265. Swahili
266. Swazi
267. Swedish
268. Swiss
269. Syrian
270. Taiwanese
271. Tajik
272. Tamang
273. Tamil
274. Tandjile
275. Tatar
276. Teke
277. Temne
278. Thai
279. Thakali
280. Tibetan
281. Tigre
282. Tigrinya
283. Tonga
284. Tsonga
285. Tswana
286. Tujia
287. Tumbuka
288. Turkish
289. Turkmen
290. Tutsi
291. Tuvaluan
292. Twa
293. Ukrainian
294. Uyghur
295. Uzbek
296. Venda
297. Vietnamese
298. Vlach
299. Welsh
300. Wolof
301. Wopkaimin
302. White
303. Xhosa
304. Yakoma
305. Yao
306. Yazidi
307. Yi
308. Yoruba
309. Yugoslav
310. Zarma
311. Zazaki
312. Zhuang
313. Zulu

I roll a 96.
He is ethnically Georgian. Georgia is a small country that (I think?) used to be part of the USSR.

Next is his relationships: My generator says:

  • There is no random generator for relationships. The character’s relationship to the other characters can only be determined by you, the author, and on the other data created by this generator.

Really? OK. I guess I’ll have to wait until after I design Watson before I figure this out.

Next is his faith. My generator says:

  • For religion, generate a number from 1 to 327.

1. Abenaki
2. Abkhaz neopaganism
3. Adonism
4. Agnostic
5. Ahmadi
6. Akamba
7. Akan
8. Aliran kepercayaan
9. Alchemy
10. Alternative Jewish
11. Amish
12. Anabaptist
13. Anglican
14. Animist
15. Anishinaabe
16. Anthroposophist
17. Archeosophical
18. Arian
19. Arya Samaj
20. Asatru
21. Ash’ari
22. Ashanti
23. Atheist
24. Australian Aboriginal
25. Aquarian
26. Ayyavazhi
27. Azali
28. Aztec
29. Bábism
30. Baha’I
31. Balinese
32. Baltic
33. Bambuti
34. Baptist
35. Batuque
36. Behmenism
37. Benedictine
38. Benzhuism
39. Bhakti
40. Bimoism
41. Blackfoot
42. Bon
43. Brahmo Samaj
44. Brethren
45. Buddhism
46. Bulgarian Orthodox
47. Bushongo
48. Calvinist
49. Candomble
50. Cao Đài
51. Cargo Cult
52. Celtic
53. Chan Buddhist
54. Charismatic
55. Cheondoism
56. Cherokee
57. Chickasaw
58. Chinese
59. Choctaw
60. Christadelphian
61. Christian Gnostic
62. Christian Orthodox
63. Christian Scientist
64. Christian Universalism
65. Church of All Worlds
66. Church of Aphrodite
67. Churches of Christ
68. Circle of Reason
69. Congregationalist
70. Confucianist
71. Conservative Jewish
72. Coptic Christian
73. Cree
74. Crow
75. Daejongism
76. Daesun Jinrihoe
77. Dahomey
78. Đạo Bửu Sơn Kỳ Hương
79. Đạo Dừa
80. Đạo Mẫu
81. Deist
82. Demonolatry
83. Din-e Ilahi
84. Dinka folk
85. Disciple of Christ
86. Dominican
87. Donyi-Polo
88. Druze
89. Dudeism
90. Eastern Catholic
91. Eastern Orthodox
92. Ebionite
93. Eckankar
94. Efik folk
95. Elcesaite
96. Episcopalian
97. Erastian
98. Eskimo
99. Essene
100. Estonian
101. Evangelical
102. Falun Gong
103. Feraferia
104. Finnish
105. Fourth Way
106. Franciscan
107. Gasin
108. Germanic
109. Ghost Dance
110. Gnostic
111. Goddess movement
112. Greek Orthodox
113. Guarani
114. Haida
115. Haitian folk
116. Hare Krishna
117. Hellenismos
118. Hermeticist
119. Hindu
120. Hòa Hảo
121. Ho-Chunk
122. Hoodoo
123. Hopi
124. Humanist
125. Huna
126. Hungarian
127. Ibadi
128. Igbo folk
129. Iglesia ni Cristo
130. Inca
131. Indian Shaker
132. Inuit
133. Iroquois
134. Isoko
135. Jain
136. Japanese
137. Jehovah’s Witness
138. Jesuism
139. Jesuit
140. Jewish
141. Jeung San Do
142. Juche
143. Kabbalah
144. Karaite
145. Kebatinan
146. Keetoowah Nighthawk Society
147. Kemetism
148. Khoisan folk
149. Konkokyo
150. Korean Shamanist
151. Koshinto
152. Kuksu
153. Kulam
154. Kumina
155. Kwakiutl
156. Lakota
157. LaVeyan Satanist
158. Leni Lenape
159. Lingayatism
160. Longhouse
161. Lotuko folk
162. Lozu folk
163. Luciferian
164. Lugbara folk
165. Lutheran
166. Macumba
167. Magick
168. Mahayana
169. Mami Wata
170. Manchu Shamanism
171. Mandaeist
172. Mapuche
173. Marla
174. Maronite
175. Martinist
176. Masai
177. Matua Mahasangha
178. Maturidi
179. Maya
180. Meivazhi
181. Melanesian
182. Melkite Greek Catholic
183. Mennonite
184. Methodist
185. Micronesian
186. Midewiwin
187. Millerite
188. Miwok
189. Mohism
190. Moravian
191. Mormon
192. Mu’tazila
193. Murji’ah
194. Mun
195. Nation of Islam
196. Navajo
197. Nazarene
198. Neo-Druidism
199. Neopagan
200. Neoplatonism
201. Neoshamanism
202. Neo-völkisch
203. New Thought
204. Nonconformism
205. Nootka
206. Obeah
207. Odinist
208. Ohlone
209. Old Catholic
210. Oomoto
211. Oriental Orthodox
212. Orthodox Jewish
213. Oyotunji
214. Pagan
215. Palo
216. Pawnee
217. Pentecostal
218. Philippine
219. Pietist
220. Polynesian
221. Pomo
222. Pow-wow
223. Presbyterian
224. Progressive Jewish
225. Protestant
226. Protestant Reformed
227. Puritan
228. Pythagoreanist
229. Quaker
230. Quimbanda
231. Quranist
232. Raëlism
233. Ramakrishna
234. Rastafarian
235. Reconstructionist Jewish
236. Reform Jewish
237. Reformed Christian
238. Roman
239. Roman Catholic
240. Romanian Orthodox
241. Romuva
242. Rosicrucian
243. Russian Orthodox
244. Sabbatean
245. Sabian
246. Salish
247. Samaritan
248. Sami Shamanism
249. Santeria
250. Satanist
251. Satya Dharma
252. Scientology
253. Seicho-no-le
254. Seiðr
255. Selk’nam
256. Semitic
257. Seneca
258. Serbian Orthodox
259. Sethian
260. Seventh-day Adventist
261. Shabak
262. Shaivite
263. Shaker
264. Shakti
265. Shia Muslim
266. Shinmeiaishinkai
267. Shinto
268. Shrauta
269. Siberian Shamanism
270. Sikh
271. Smartist
272. Slavic
273. Spiritism
274. Spiritual Baptist
275. Spiritualist
276. Subud
277. Sufi
278. Sun Dance
279. Sunni Muslim
280. Swaminarayan
281. Swedenborgian
282. Taaraist
283. Tantrist
284. Taoist
285. Technopagan
286. Temple of Set
287. Tengrist
288. Tenrikyo
289. Theistic Satanism
290. Thelemite
291. Theosophist
292. Theravada Buddhist
293. Tibetan Buddhist
294. Traditionalist Catholic
295. Tsimshian
296. Ua Dab
297. Ukrainian Orthodox
298. Umbanda
299. Unificationist
300. Unitarian
301. Unitarian Universalist
302. Universalist
303. Urarina
304. Ute
305. Vaastu Shastra
306. Vaishnavist
307. Vajrayana
308. Vietnamese
309. Vipassana
310. Vodou
311. Waldensian
312. Wiccan
313. Witchcraft
314. Wotanist
315. Wyandot
316. Xiantiandao
317. Yazidi
318. Yiguandao
319. Yoruba folk
320. Zalmoxianist
321. Zealot
322. Zen Buddhist
323. Zenarchy
324. Zanrinkyo
325. Zionist
326. Zoroastrian
327. Zulu
328. Zuni

I roll a 323. He is a follower of Zenarchy, “a noncombative, nonparticipatory, no-politics approach to anarchy intended to get the serious student thinking,” according to the founder of Zenarchy.

Next is his sex. My generator says:

  • Generate a number from 1 to 100.
  • If you roll a number below 50, your character is a female.
  • If you roll a number above 50, your character is a male.
  • If you roll 50, your character is intersex.

I roll a 72. He is still a dude.

Next is his sexual orientation. My generator says:

  • For sexual orientation, generate a number from 1 to 6.

1. Asexual
2. Bisexual
3. Heterosexual
4. Homosexual
5. Pansexual
6. Polysexual

I roll a 3. He is heterosexual.

Next is his socioeconomic class. My generator says:

  • For socioeconomic class, generate a number from 1 to 7.

1. Elite
2. Upper middle class
3. White collar worker
4. Blue collar worker
5. Laborer
6. Chronically unemployed or homeless
7. Slave

I roll a 2. He is upper middle class.

As you can see, this is a completely different version of Sherlock Holmes. With all of the information we’ve gathered, we can piece together a complete picture of this new Sherlock. With a little finesse, we can put together a really compelling character.

Sherlock Orbeliani is an ethnic Georgian who grew up in London. He and his parents were upper-middle class professionals, allowing them to send their children to elite boarding schools in the UK. He was teased for his odd name when he was a kid. His parents picked it from a list of traditional English baby boy names, not realizing that it would be perceived as strange. He is a former private detective. He’s done pretty well for himself, but was known for his liberal and eccentric views. For example, he is a self-declared “Zenarchist” who was known to reject gender norms. Currently, he only works with the police on a consulting basis, due to his aging and his ongoing battle with oral cancer.

Fun Fact Friday: Grand Central Station’s Secret Sub-Basement

(Text taken from http://io9.com/the-mysteries-beneath-new-york-citys-grand-central-ter-509564392)

Grand Central Terminal is a small village in one of the largest cities in the world. But this village has secret features that don’t appear on any map.

Through the decades of construction and renovation of Grand Central Terminal, one track remains a mystery. The secret track, Track 61, links Grand Central to the nearby Park Avenue Waldorf-Astoria, a hotel just five blocks away.

A publicly known connection between Track 61 and the Waldorf existed as early as 1929, but the rails never received much use. Track 61’s first official use came in the transportation of General John J. Pershing in 1938, who, after a near-fatal heart attack, traveled cross-country in a weakened state to attend his son’s wedding.

Grand Central Terminal authorities often kept a train car on Track 61 to handle emergency situations. FDR made use of the track at least once while in office. During this use, the train car on Track 61 held FDR’s favorite automobile, a bulletproof car by the now-defunct Pierce-Arrow Motor Car Company, and opened to allow for the car to be driven directly onto the Waldorf-Astoria’s freight elevator.

In addition to serving as a secret transportation route for Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Track 61 doubled as a bizarre event backdrop. A Boston-area clothing store held a fashion show on the site on in the late 1940s, while Andy Warhol held a party on the Track 61 platform in the mid-1960s. It is not known how (or if) Warhol received permission. In the 1990s, security workers found homeless New Yorkers living on and around the platform during winter.

Track 61 is now accessed only by guarded stairwell, as the freight elevator used to travel to the Waldorf-Astoria is welded shut. A train could, theoretically, be held in reserve for Track 61 today – the track would be a great way to leave New York Citduring an emergency.

While Andy Warhol enjoyed parties along Track 61, considerably less is known about the room dubbed “M42”. The hidden room contained the electric conversion units that kept trains running to and from Grand Central Terminal.

M42 once held extremely fragile rotary converters, machines that turned alternating current into the direct current necessary to power trains. Rotary converters are notoriously fragile, and at least one World War II-era German plot centered on sabotaging the converters in order to disrupt the flow of U.S. soldiers and supplies.

What exactly lies within M42 today is unknown. The room is believed to be as large as the Main Concourse of Grand Central Terminal; placing the massive basement at 250+ feet long and 100+ feet wide.

While the need for AC-to-DC rotary converters is gone, you cross making a stop at M42 on the way to dinner at Michael Jordan’s Steakhouse off your NYC to-do list. The sub-basement is left off modern maps of the terminal, with the location remaining a secret to the general population.

The Evil Parrot in My Brain

Everyone has self-talk. When you make a mistake, negative self-talk is that nasty inner voice that says, “You’re such an idiot. You can’t do anything right.” On the other hand, positive self-talk says, “I look good today!” Sometimes the inner voice serves a good purpose, reminding us of what is and isn’t socially acceptable. (For instance, when your self-talk reminds you, in your grandmother’s voice, “Don’t wipe your nose on your hand!”) Your inner voice can even be a source of strength, quoting a favorite Bible passage or motivational saying in times of distress.
Most often, for better or worse, our self-talk tends to repeat the words of significant people in our lives. When I’m struggling to understand something, it’s my mother encouraging me: “You’re a bright girl. You’ll get it soon enough.” When I’m angry, it’s my dad trying to teach me the Serenity Prayer. But when I’m feeling insecure, it’s the sound of my childhood bully. When I’m feeling ashamed, it’s the sound of the teachers in my life belittling me. And when I’m vulnerable, it’s the sound of my abuser spouting horrifying insults and lies to justify her abuse.
But recently, I might have stumbled upon a surprising way to make these voices less compelling.
Here’s what happened. One day—I can’t remember how long ago—I was scrolling down my tumblr dashboard, when I saw a montage video of a parakeet trying to quote Monty Python. The little green and yellow orator gave it his best effort, but still spectacularly scrambled the phrase. “Nobody expects the Spanish inner!” “Nobody expects (squawk) cheeseburger!” “Nobody expects the Spanish inqui-zippity-ay!” But eventually he was able to say it correctly. “Nobody expects the Spanish inquisition!”
Well, Disco the parakeet proved to be a kind of gateway drug, leading me to my current obsession with adorable parrot videos on YouTube. (I’ve placed some of my favorites at the end of this post.)
I’ve seen parrots argue with each other in gibberish (or possibly Portuguese), laugh, cry like babies, yell at their owners, and do many other things. Their behavior is surprising and fascinating in its complexity.
One of the most common of these behaviors is mimicry. There are a lot of videos with titles like “ULTIMATE SWEARING COCKATOO! MUST WATCH!” Honestly, I don’t care for these. It’s much more interesting—and less offensive—to watch parrots playing spontaneously.
My favorite video from the Parrot Imitating Owner genre is of an African Grey Parrot named Larry (link below). In this video, Larry emits a series of beeps, which we soon see is his imitation of dialing a phone. “Hi there,” Larry greets the imaginary person on the other end of the imaginary phone. “How ya doing?” He copies a lot of his owner’s conversational sounds—a whistle of amazement, a groan of sympathy, a chuckle, a questioning tone. At one point, I could even swear I heard him say, “Somebody at the door?” before pretending to hang up the phone.
Then Larry laughs. Parrots’ laughter sounds very human, but it also has a robotic tone to it. Larry’s eerie imitation of his owner’s laugh sank right into uncanny valley. I’m serious; he sounded like a Bond villain.
From then on, any time I saw something suspicious, sneaky, or morbid, Larry’s voice chuckled in my head. It became a kind of mental shorthand for anything creepy.
And before long, whenever I experienced negative self-talk, I could hear Larry’s amusingly creepy laughter.
Then I had a revelation: My self-talk is a lot like a parrot. It doesn’t think about what it repeats. It just mimics whatever is said to or near it. It’s not malicious, it doesn’t have any intention of its own, and it definitely doesn’t reflect objective truths about me or the world around me. Just like a parrot cursing at its caregiver, my self-talk just has some bad habits.

And last but not least: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wqUPZYhJCI0

Church of the Week: Daniel Ntoni-Nzinga

Today’s “Church of the Week” is not a group or a building, but a person. Daniel Ntoni-Nzinga is not only highly accomplished; the way he has invested his time demonstrates extreme dedication and strength of character. His home country is Angola, a southern African nation that has been repeatedly torn apart by war, and Ntoni-Nzinga has worked tirelessly to promote peace and stability.

Daniel Ntoni-Nzinga holds a bachelor’s degree in theology from Institut Supérieur de Théologie de Kinshasa, a bachelor of social sciences degree in Social Anthropology, and a Ph.D. in Theology and Religious Studies from the University of Leeds. He is a Christian leader, peace activist, an ordained Baptist minister, and a respected member of the Angolan Civil Society. Ntoni-Nzinga co-founded of the Grupo Angolano de Reflexao para Paz (also called GARP, which releases publications, organizes marches and prayer gatherings, and advocates for an end to the use of child soldiers). He also served as executive secretary of the Inter-Ecclesiastical Committee for Peace in Angola (also called COIEPA, which trains peace activists and partners with WHO’s Safe Injection Campaign), and executive secretary of the Evangelical Baptist Church in Angola, secretary general of the Angolan Council of Churches. He also speaks five languages: Kikongo, Portuguese, English, French, and Spanish.

 Daniel Ntoni-Nzinga was born in 1946, in the municipality of Uíge (“Weej”), in the province of Damba, in the nation of Angola. His birthplace has long been witness to Angola’s complex and turbulent history.

Before the arrival of the Portuguese, the region that is now Angola was home to a number of centuries-old African kingdoms, living in pretty close proximity to each other. The largest of these was the Kongo Kingdom, which was spread over much of central Africa. Prior to the arrival of the Portuguese, Ntoni-Nzinga’s hometown of Uíge was at the heartland of Kongo.

The Kongo Kingdom was heavily involved in trade with other kingdoms up and down the western and southwestern African coast, but not with countries further across the ocean. When the Portuguese first arrived, they were relatively peaceful. They traded with the kingdoms of the region, taught literacy, spread Catholicism, and sometimes even reindorced the dominance of the Kongo Kingdom over its neighbors. Power in the Kongo kingdom was held by aristocrats, who answered to no one but the king. Most of Kongo’s wealth came from trade, as it was a productive site for agriculture and minerals. Kongolese traders gave the Portuguese slaves, ivory, and minerals in exchange for firearms and other technology.

In that part of the world, a ruler was called a “ngola,” much like a ruler in central Asia might be known as a “khan,” or a Russian ruler might be known as a “czar.” When the Portuguese first arrived in southwestern Africa, they misunderstood the title of the ruler, ngola, with the name of the country. That is why the region is still known as “Angola” today.

But it wasn’t long before Portugal became interested in more than trade. In 1575, the Portuguese colony of Angola was established. Paulo Dias de Novais, an explorer and a fidalgo of the Portuguese Royal Household, established himself as the first Captain-Governor of Portuguese Angola. He brought with him a hundred families of white colonists, as well as 400 soldiers. They established themselves in Luanda, a former so-called trading post that was quickly becoming a city.

The region of Angola was very economically dependent on Portugal, making it was very sensitive to fluctuations in Portugal’s economic and political situation. The abolition of the slave trade (and later, a slump in the value of rubber) seriously upset traditional social orders, as formerly aristocratic traders were forced into cash crop agriculture as migratory workers. The most prominent of these cash crops was coffee. 

One thing that colonial governments in Africa were very good at was stirring up ethnic tensions. In Angola, the Portuguese privileged the Bakongo people (heirs of the now-defunct Kongo Kingdom) over people descended from other kingdoms. The Portuguese also succeeded in creating rigid ethnically-based social structures. Only the subjects that were legally considered “assimilado” (“civilized”) were granted the rights of full citizenship. All other subjects were considered “native”. A “native” subject of Portuguese Angola could apply for assimilado status, but that process required proof of some rudimentary Portuguese education and the keeping of a European lifestyle. The Portuguese also brought large numbers of white settlers into Angola, inciting greater anti-white and anti-mestiço sentiment in a situation that was already very tense.

This brings us to the lifetime of Daniel Ntoni-Nzinga. When he was born, in 1946, Angola was not yet an independent nation. Uíge was a center of coffee production. Most of the people of Uíge were of Bakongo descent, spoke Kikongo (the language of the Kongo Kingdom) or Portuguese, and were largely Catholic. Because of the relative wealth of Uíge’s residents, the inaccessibility of its location, and its rich pastoral soil, Uíge was becoming a hub of rebel activity. 

Detailed information about Ntoni-Nzinga’s life has been hard to come by. For instance, I have been unable to find information on when he graduated from college, or any English-language personal accounts of his experiences during Angola’s wars. However, I can cobble together a picture based on accounts of Ntoni-Nzinga’s career and historical data about Angola.

We know that Daniel Ntoni-Nzinga was 15 years old when the Angolan War of Independence began, when a group of Angolan peasants boycotting the cotton fields where they worked, demanding better working conditions and higher wages. The protestors burned their ID cards and attacked Portuguese traders, and the Portuguese retaliated by bombing villages in the area using napalm. The revolt quickly escalated into an all-out war, with Portugal struggling to maintain control of the colony, and rebels struggling to shake them off.

Three key rebel groups emerged in this struggle. The People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) was ostensibly a Leninist group that appealed to the young nation’s urban intelligentsia, and which was supported by the Soviet Union. The National Front for the Liberation of Angola (FNLA) was a center-right group that espoused an ideology of civic nationalism and Christian democracy. The National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA), based among the Ovimbundu workers, presented itself to foreign powers as a Maoist alternative to the Leninist MPLA and the right-wing FNLA. 

It was during this time, when Ntoni-Nzinga was 21 years old, that he began to work in conflict situations. And when the War of Independence ended in 1974, the 28-year-old Ntoni-Nzinga was ordained as a Baptist pastor, and secured a position as the first Executive Secretary of the Evangelical Baptist Church in Angola.

In 1975, no sooner had the War of Independence began than the Angolan Civil War began. Many different ideologies fought for control of the country. The Leninist MPLA, the conservative FNLA, and the Maoist UNITA were among them, but there were many, many other political parties that jostled to make their voices heard. Angola was quickly becoming a surrogate battle field for the Cold War. Nations like the Soviet Union, the United States, Cuba, South Africa, and Namibia, all of whom had a stake in the fate of Angola. The war also became entangled in the Second Congo War and the Namibian War of Independence.

Two years into the Civil War, Daniel Ntoni-Nzinga resigned his position as executive secretary, instead becoming General Secretary of the Angolan Council of Churches, a position that he held for eight years.

Though the war was long and bloody, there were periods of progress. In 1989, all foreign forces withdrew from Angola. From 1991 to 1992, there was a brief period of peace, during which Angola began to transition towards a multiparty political system. FNLA’s armed forces disbanded, and UNITA and FNLA became legitimate political parties.

During all this time, Ntoni-Nzinga continued to write, march, organize, pray, and appeal for peace. In 1996, he wrote a book called Democracy and the Ethics of Good Governance, and in 2000, he began to serve as Executive Secretary of the Inter-Ecclesial Committee for Peace in Angola.

The MPLA achieved victory in 2002 when UNITA leader Jonas Savimbi was assassinated. But the war had lasted for 26 years. In that time, 500,000 people had died, and 4.28 million people were displaced. 

Ntoni-Nzinga continues to call for peace in his country. In an interview with Ofeibea Quist-Arcton for AllAfrica.com in 2005, he said,

“We need to disarm our minds first. We need agreement on what kind of life we want to live, what kind of society we want, what kind of nation we want to be… So it is important that after silencing the guns, we get to the stage where we can talk about the real issue[s] that brought conflict between us. Many Angolans, especially those younger ones who were born in the 70s and 80s, know nothing else except the war… we have to make sure that people don’t think that that is the normal way of life, that there is a proper way of living without conflict.”

In a bio written for internationalpeaceandconflict.org, Ntoni-Nzinga said,

“My work over the last 20 years has made me wonder about the paradoxical role of Religion in Conflict development and Resolution in Africa, which has resulted in my interest in anthropological research on these spheres of life and their impact on life today. Related to this, are questions about the discourses on peace and sovereignty often associated to conflict resolution and peace-building exercises. Experience shows that these discourses have often played in the hands of those who benefit from the conflicts rather than serve the common cause, as pretended. With this comes as well the issue of identity in conflict and post situations, especially when the victims of the atrocities committed during the conflict are urged to fasten their belt while seated in the just boarded “plane of peace”, as it takes off in a flight piloted by the very “war lords”, who made them starve and bury their love ones, striving hard to consolidate their positions using slogans that promise democratic rules with no means for check and balance by the sovereigns they pretend to serve. My interest here is to research the role that religious values can play to contribute to conflict resolution and building processes that enable the Africans exercise their power of sovereignty, trust and use effectively the offered political options as instruments for the achievement of the common for all.”*

I find politics interesting as a Christian. I feel that my job is to be as Christlike as possible, within my human limitations. While Jesus definitely did and said inflammatory things in his lifetime, he wasn’t the political leader that others expected him to be. So, how are we as Christians supposed to participate in politics? What must we do when there are unacceptable things going on in our governments, whether that’s an unjust war, or racism, or child abuse? What if we, like Ntoni-Nzinga, are trapped in a dynamic where there are no obvious “good guys?” Some have criticized the organizations run by Ntoni-Nzinga as ineffective. Should we speak up for what we know is right, even if we seem to be fighting a losing battle? And to whom are we responsible? Is it just to our families, or just to the people in our community? Are we responsible to the entire world, or perhaps to whomever we feel called to serve? Those aren’t rhetorical questions, by the way. Let me know in comments.

* This comment has been edited for spelling and grammar only.