Enough Already!

I recently read an article about EVP on a website called Academia. I won’t mention any of the pertinent details because I can not justify providing even a smidgen of free publicity. Suffice it to say, while steeply couched in faux scientific reasoning, the theme of the article was to deny the existence of true EVP as paranormal artifacts. All the usual reasons were presented – rogue transmissions, misinterpreted sounds; even audio matrixing. And certainly, these are the usual suspects when researchers try to uncover the truth about a questionable EVP, but the article went two steps beyond the normal skeptic’s approach.

First, it “proved” that some investigators were hearing their own voices, and being so hellbent to hear from the dead, were unable to discern the truth of who was speaking. And second, the author used a very small sampling of paranormal teams in an anecdotal way to advance a poorly devised experiment upon which he would base all of his conclusions. He claimed to have reached out to each of the country’s almost 2,000 paranormal teams. Really? He found a national registry online (as if), and even though I have never heard of such a list, he stated that less than fifty teams professed interest in participating in his experiment. Regrettably, only four of them actually showed up for the festivities. However, in his mind, they were among the cream of the crop – highly respected and greatly proficient, so he was able to proceed. Of course, they were not the cream of any crop.

His experiment focused on mistakes and evidentiary disagreements between the four teams, and then pointed out how silly and hyper-suggestive they were when it came to analysis. He seemed to take great satisfaction from this and gloated quite a bit between the lines until, of course, he felt completely justified to declare the study of EVP as a waste of foolish time. Sources were listed, bibliographics noted – his “white paper” on the irrationality of people like me was all tied up with a confident bow.

Surprise surprise, he was writing on behalf of a national magazine for skeptics, although the article’s appearance on a site named Academia through me for a bit of a loop, but I guess his point of view was to be expected. I was still greatly disturbed by it. I was deeply bothered reading his unfair comments about my brothers and sisters in the field. No one knows any better than I about how abysmal a bad paranormal team can truly be – I have taken my fair share of potshots at them from my own bully pulpit, and probably will again. But I’ve always considered paranormal investigators the same as plumbers or doctors or whatever – some are great, most are okay, and some are God awful. Paranormal teams run the same gamut.

But it seemed personal with this writer, even though his vitriol was hidden between the scientific buzzwords and an air of superior mental acuity. At first, you weren’t sure where he would fall on the subject, but then… Slowly, and with the steady hand of a surgeon, he began to cut as deep as he could, resulting in the successful removal of EVP as a topic even worthy of discussion. In his mind, he had delivered the death blow – his logic unchallengeable, his clever manipulation of the subject quite superb, and his laser-like dissection of the field flawless and clean.

Now, if you’re still reading, you may know that I can be very hard on skeptics for their larceny of science and their fascistic attitudes toward the paranormal. But I don’t actually object to hearing skeptical opinions when good, solid scientific method rules the day. What I fail to understand is this “by any means necessary” approach applied to the task of discrediting any and all things paranormal.

Is it really necessary to resort to the extremes of lying and name calling? Must they question the sanity and intelligence of those who would disagree with them? And why publish a bogus paper in a site named Academia? Such a lofty name – I wonder what sort of credentials accompany such a high and mighty moniker.

I don’t really know where to go from here. Maybe I’m hurt – no one likes to feel that others see them as delusional – or worse. Maybe I’m outright insulted because the intensity of the hypocrisy was based on lies in order to accuse us of fakery and malpractice. Maybe I’m sad because it weakens my desire to share results and findings. Pearls before swine, ya know?. But I think I’m just tired of it. Enough already! They don’t appreciate our work. They attempt to despoil our credibility incessantly and refuse to view our evidence objectively. I’m tired of it! Not angry tired – I’m just over it. No more for me. You can color me gone from these kinds of people, and that’s a shame. We could have learned from one another – I always thought we would; that’s how it was explained to me in the beginning. We were all wrong though, weren’t we? That’s our biggest failure; our most significant mistake of all – thinking we all just wanted the truth.

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Voices From Forever by Randall Keller http://goo.gl/ZBBmj Available on Amazon

There Is No Silence by Randall Keller http://goo.gl/U6KY7 Available on Amazon.

Dead Departed Deceased

Last couple of months have been tough! I’ve been surrounded by death itself or impending death. Half a dozen good friends have passed – two folks I knew from school, a couple of old work buddies, and two ladies in the neighborhood. Add to this 4 co-workers of my wife’s, and it’s been a rather serious autumn. My mother is hanging on for dear life at 97, I have a very sick aunt, and we know of two terminal cancer victims. But I’m not finished yet. Several friends have lost parents, a couple of businesses have failed, old people I know keep falling, and a car accident did some unfortunate damage to three friends of the family. There. That’s it. But what’s next?

Frankly, I haven’t felt much like writing or even talking about the paranormal because so much of it is centered around death, and I’ve had my fill! I just want all this doom and gloom to pass and stay as far away from me as possible. It kinda feels like I could be next, ya know? I’m not immune. I’m already older than several of the recently departed, and I don’t like the odds. Normally I wouldn’t worry about such things but today could be “the” day, ya know? My standard outlook on life isn’t typically dark and gray; I’m not afraid ghouls will take over my brain or that zombies will eat it, but there are no guarantees. There have been 199 Friday 13th’s since I was born, so what might number 200 have in store? A marauding bus on the rampage? An escaped convict with a 38? I could get food poisoning at my local fast food giant – it happens. Anything can happen for that matter, and you know I’m right!

Luckily, it hasn’t yet. I’m still well, and I promise to never leave the house without a month’s supply of nitro pills. But even though life’s good fortune is still with me, I’d be less than honest if I didn’t admit that it’s been remarkably depressing. I don’t even like watching the news. Last week, a one year old boy was killed by some idiot crashing into a cop car (which, in turn, hit the boy). He’d just learned how to walk. And this whole ISIS thing doesn’t improve my desire to leave the house any time soon. Republicans don’t seem to be getting any better with important facts, and my recently merged bank has cost me around 500 big ones.

So who cares about ghosts and specters and aliens and furry creatures that look like blood sucking dogs and Bigfoot tracks in the garden? Truth is, no one has the inclination to care about such things when real life is so scary, but I’m trying to get my priorities back in whack. Maybe Thanksgiving will help. Christmas cheer might possibly do the trick. A few hot toddies never hurt a playa…

But all this death and stuff happens to everyone at some point in life, so why should I escape unscathed? We all lose loved ones and close friends, and we all know people going through the same thing. The number of people in my mother’s life who have died is staggering – there’s literally almost no one left. It is the way things happen; part of the cost of a long and healthy life is to watch everything around you become deceased.

In her life, she’s witnessed 24 presidential elections and 48 blue moons. It is estimated she has laughed over 600,000 times during that time, and had approximately 200,000 different dreams. There have been in excess of 305 billion lightning strikes since the day she was born and every one of them missed her, while over 4.5 trillion chickens have been killed in the name of dinner. The actuarial table of her estimated life expectancy bottomed out quite some time ago – it currently predicts her death will occur “today.” So what the heck do I have to complain about? I’ve still got 944 Saturdays left, or so they say. We’ll see, of course, but there’s plenty of time for the paranormal. Or maybe it just doesn’t matter all that much.
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Voices From Forever by Randall Keller http://goo.gl/ZBBmj Available on Amazon

There Is No Silence by Randall Keller http://goo.gl/U6KY7 Available on Amazon.

Dear Brunhilda

“Oh my God! Where have you been? Don’t tell me you’ve stopped writing in The Voices Blog!” No,
Brunhilda (a fan, no doubt) I’ve just been very busy. “Busy? Surely there’s time to scribble a few lines once in awhile.” Alas, no! Since my last entry here, I’ve been on vacation, increased the time with my 96 year-old mother, entered into a numbingly rigorous physical therapy regime, and been saddled with an entire renovation of the second floor. Of course, there have been quite a few investigations as well, which means endless hours of boring black and white infrared video to watch. Plus, I’m old now – very very old, so be gentle, whippersnapper!

There just hasn’t been very much of a paranormal nature to write about, but as I settled in for today’s 4-minute nap, I realized I’ve actually had a lot to say – I just haven’t said it. I might have forgotten there even was a blog; it may have escaped my addled mind completely for some awful reason. Can’t blame it on the heat. We conveyed the grass-cutting duties to someone named Buzz. War hasn’t devastated the community. There’s been no alien abductions in the family, and I’m fairly certain I still possess the necessary faculties to actually make a blog entry.

Then perhaps my brain has gone soggy watching all that mindless video. Even though I’ve been spreading it out to avoid the creation of a permanent blank stare, there could be other effects I’m unaware of – colorless eyes, black and white nightmares, attempting to pause and rewind life itself… Viewing investigation footage is more of a commitment than most people realize, and more demanding than a family ever is. I mean, you can’t imagine how many tons of dust I’ve watched fly through the air, or the insane amount of bugs that live in people’s homes. Infrared cameras don’t miss much, and after awhile, I just wanna clean stuff. I can’t see all the nastiness with my eyes, but I know it’s there.

Of course, even though watching investigation footage is like waiting for bark to dance, there’s always the spectacular possibility that you’ll see something unimaginable along the way. Some other-worldly event; an apparition, perhaps – something totally unexplainable and completely not relatable to anything human. And it’s like a drug, kinda, because once you’ve witnessed something, the possibility is always there with each new investigation. I’ve been blessed to have seen something a few times, so I’m irreparably hooked.

So, what have the infrared gods shown me this summer? What have I discovered that was worth the sacrifice of all my free time, sleep time, 4-minute nap time, and quality time with my long-suffering family? Well, nothing really. “Oh come on. Surely you’ve seen something – some anomalous blob or maybe just a little mist. An orb!” Nope. I’ve got something really “cool” on the thermal imager and loads of EVP, but nothing on infrared, full spectrum, or visible light video. It’s been rather unrewarding but also quite exciting in a bizarre sort of way. The Law of Averages being what it is, I’m due to see something again soon, and the suspense is killing me.

I mean, that’s how it goes, right? Results just pop out of nowhere. You’ve been staring at the same ugly carpet and antiquated furniture for hours and all of a sudden, there it is – the holy grail of paranormal evidence. A few, brief seconds of something no one could ever explain, and then it’s gone forever – you’re back to staring at the same atrocious carpet and furniture. But, for those few moments of glory… God forgive me if I ever look away and miss it. 

So, sorry Brunhilda. I meant to tell you all about it, but trust me – my number is due and I can just feel it. I’ll have something to write about real soon, assuming I can stay awake. Now if you’ll excuse me, it’s time to throw some Prussian Blue at a wall.

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Voices From Forever by Randall Keller http://goo.gl/ZBBmj Available on Amazon

There Is No Silence by Randall Keller http://goo.gl/U6KY7 Available on Amazon.

“Nothing Here”

I am always amazed when we walk away from an investigation under the opinion that there’s “nothing here.” It’s pretty rare to arrive at such a conclusion so early in the process, but sometimes you can’t help it. The house is neat and tidy, the family is close, there are no unusual noises, bumps, footsteps or bangs. The location seems to be a well balanced, peaceful place. “Nothing out of the ordinary here. This house is clean.”

Still, I always handle a paranormal investigation as a total believer – every one of the client’s claims are true for me, and with good reason, I think. First, by automatically accepting spirit to be present, I have a better chance of actually hearing or seeing one. Second, without evidence one way or the other, a client feels better thinking you are a total supporter. After the data has been gathered, the experiences logged, and analysis completed, there is plenty of time to decide whether spirits were present or not. Unfortunately, more often than not, we come up empty.

But what does that say about the client? Are they simply mistaken? Stupid or crazy? Surely, most people are smart enough to know that ice machines make a racket; that an AC unit is noisy throughout the day. They even realize that sometimes people think they’re hearing voices when in fact, they aren’t. There are house noises, creaky floorboards, and faulty wiring. Most of the clients I’ve dealt with are just normal people who have long ago eliminated these “easy explanations,” and they’re not overly imaginative or prone to outlandish exaggeration. Most clients are honest, concerned people who truly think something is wrong with their life or their space, and they’ve asked us for help.

They open their homes to us; extend hospitality – trust us alone with their worldly goods. They put their fears and sleepless nights – their faith – into what they hope are “professional,” capable hands. In other words, they give us the total respect they deserve in return. Sometimes the stories they tell are just horrific – the children are being bothered by a shadow man every night; someone has tried to push mom down the stairs; you can hear footsteps walking the halls… Sometimes it’s even worse, and they don’t know where to turn.

So how do we tell them that the evidence doesn’t support a single claim? Obviously, there are ways to guild the Lily well enough to soften the blow, and honestly, just because nothing happened while we were there doesn’t mean it never has, but is that salvo enough to actually help? Probably not. They hope for definitive answers; an end to their personal horror. Maybe they just need to verify things for no other reason than to assure themselves of their own sanity. Sometimes knowing you’re right gives you the strength to live with the paranormal.

It must be difficult to hear “we found nothing while we were here.” That’s a truth we have to tell, but the hard reality of such a statement doesn’t absolve us of our duty to believe them. Paranormal things do not parse well with actual science, so our observations and data analysis seem rather hollow when the children are still being frightened by the man with the mean face in their closet. We may not have found him, but it seems completely reasonable for him to hide from us. The question becomes “what other approaches can we take?”

We have to keep in mind that our empirical findings, or the lack thereof, are not the end all and be all. Evidence isn’t proof of spirit anyway, and the lack of it doesn’t prove the client is wrong. Our efforts to help them do not end when we come up empty-handed – instead, that’s when they begin. And just because there’s “nothing here” doesn’t mean there isn’t.

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Voices From Forever by Randall Keller http://goo.gl/ZBBmj Available on Amazon

There Is No Silence by Randall Keller http://goo.gl/U6KY7 Available on Amazon.

That Just Stinks

I need a break – from life in general, actually. It’s getting tough out there! You know what I mean, and I bet I’m not the only one who feels this way from time to time. “But a break from life? Isn’t that a little overly dramatic?” Well yes, but occasionally it feels as if something better change soon or I’ll awaken one day buried up to my receding hairline in the psychic debris modern existence keeps creating.

Of course, I’ll get through it. Like almost everyone else, I’ll pull my beleaguered brain out of the permafrost of life and back to normalcy before I become just another senseless victim. (Yes, the drama continues.) But I ask you, haven’t we all been here at least once? For instance, there’s never enough money and always too many expenses. Sound familiar? The cost of bare essentials rises faster than the Atlantic Ocean on a global warming binge. I used to think I was one of “the smart ones,” believe it or not – that just maybe I could rely on intelligence and accumulated knowledge to get me through this slag heap of a life I’m mired in. Okay, I’m exaggerating as well as over-dramatizing, but that’s how it feels sometimes, right? You’ve been there, so don’t even try to deny it.

Do you smell a list coming? I haven’t done one in awhile, but this one contains no complaints about the blight of existence; no cutesy attempts at humor. This is just a list of random “stuff” I learned this week – diversions from reality; things that don’t do anyone any good, have no real value, and make no promises to alter existence one iota. I mean, who doesn’t want to know that there are more dogs in Paris than people? Or that the average elephant weighs less than the tongue of a blue whale? 

This may not be important stuff, but it’s still cool. This list of useless facts is a guaranteed diversion from the quagmire you’ve created for yourself as well as the long-suffering folks who love you. It’s a public service! Oh who am I kidding? I found this stuff in a book and it made me smile for a few lousy minutes, so here are ten things you never thought about before (for obvious reasons) and will probably want to share with others. Did you know that…

1. Like plants, children grow faster during spring than any other season.

2. A typical toilet flushes in the key of E flat.

3. The square most commonly landed on in the game of Monopoly is Illinois Avenue. (“Go” ranks second.)

4. The first stolen car was reported in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1905.

5. The king of diamonds in a standard card deck is designed after Julius Cesar. The king of spades is for King David; clubs for Alexander the great; and hearts for Charlemagne.

6. At any time, 0.7% of the world’s population is drunk.

7. When the first McDonald’s opened in 1955, a hamburger sold for 15 cents.

8. Brussels sprouts are the most hated vegetable in America.

9. The fastest nonstorm related wind ever recorded was 231 mph at Mount Washington, New Hampshire, in April 1934.

10. Breast reduction is the fifth most popular plastic surgery procedure for men.

Now maybe you already knew a couple of these, but admit it – you’re sorry there aren’t more of them, right? I promise to share more the next time I’m on the verge of going stark, raving mad. But here’s something to think about until then – National Bathroom Reading Week is always the second week in June. Missed it again, didn’t you? Well, that just stinks.

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Voices From Forever by Randall Keller http://goo.gl/ZBBmj Available on Amazon

There Is No Silence by Randall Keller http://goo.gl/U6KY7 Available on Amazon.

Fist Bump

Whenever I watch Ghost Hunters, which hasn’t been for awhile now, I typically cringe when they do the fist bump at the end. For some stupid reason it just annoys me. I don’t remember when my fist bump hostility began, but one evening I found myself in the middle of a tirade. My wife, who would rather not watch the show at all, remarked that if I hated it that much, I should stop watching. “It’s just the fist bump!” I said, completely flabbergasted. “That’s all!” Geeez! I mean, it’s such a small thing, right? I keep all of that to myself now, of course, but I confess, for some reason it’s like fingernails on a chalk board to me. Indeed, when Grant left the show, I was sure the ritual would go with him. It didn’t.

But this morning I accidentally discovered a video lampooning the series, and I’m ashamed to admit I watched just to see if the fist bump would make an appearance there as well. Fittingly, at the end, it did. Now I have to say that watching Ghost Hunters wander through the dark to a soundtrack of fart noises wasn’t particularly amusing to me, and that was the only punchline in this parody. Maybe it’s my age, but when I hear the sound of passed gas, it conjures unpleasant memories, so I rarely find it humorous. Plus, Jason and the team represent something to me that has nothing to do with flatulence, so it just didn’t strike me funny. 

There must not be any respect left in the world, because surely they deserve better than that. Until it comes to that damned fist bump. I am frankly embarrassed at how easily that part entertained me. Not enough to replay it more than three times, but if one stupid laugh is what the satirists we’re going for, they eventually got mine, I’m sorry to say. 

Unfortunately, Ghost Hunters has always been susceptible to this kind of thing. For some reason, people like to analyze every second of every show – searching for fakery and staging, mostly, but also as fodder for the kind of sub-standard satire I witnessed today. And it’s a shame, because the program has had a tremendous impact on a lot of people. I won’t go on and on about it, but it’s almost impossible to successfully disregard the contribution of the show, whether as a catalyst for increased paranormal awareness, or as a primer for the millions of us who wanted to follow in their footsteps. Ghost Hunters is seminal, and represents the first sincere attempt to share anything seriously paranormal with the masses. 

In the beginning, the show was earth shattering, beloved, and highly valued but I guess it’s all come down to this sort of windy twaddle now, so I feel kinda guilty about the whole fist bump thing. After all, what would I have preferred in its place – a full embrace; a chug of Hennessy in the front seat of the van; congratulations over a giant, dovetailed doobie? 

Well, I understand the value in being free to make fun of our own culture, and I appreciate the talent it takes to do so successfully. Satire is not an easy form of humor to deliver, and someone is always going to be insulted, but fart noises? Really? I think I heard Louis C.K. once say that all fart jokes are funny. Maybe they are, but I wasn’t laughing this time. I just felt a little sad. Until it came to the fist bump, of course. I think that makes me some kind of a hypocrite, doesn’t it?
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Voices From Forever by Randall Keller http://goo.gl/ZBBmj Available on Amazon

There Is No Silence by Randall Keller http://goo.gl/U6KY7 Available on Amazon.

Denial

Over the past month, I’ve written and trashed several different blog entries. Each one fell unceremoniously by the wayside for a number of different reasons – boring, too self-indulgent, pretentious, overly political, and the blog has gone seemingly dormant as a result. Basically, I didn’t feel comfortable making any of those efforts public, so I may have saved you from some horrible writing about some horrendous topics. No applause necessary, just throw money…

Of course, I have always suspected that blogs in general are little more than emotional regurgitation – just a different kind of “selfie,” so why not flood the Internet with them; let the masses figure out what to do with them. Seems fair, I guess, in this new digital age. What used to be “quality first” has obviously changed – we emphasize quantity these days. Everyone appears to fancy themselves a writer and it’s so easy now to actually live the dream, that we are bombarded with page after page of horrid, self-aggrandizing, ego-inflating literary excrement – often in the form of a blog.

Uh oh. That makes me part of the problem, not part of the solution. That means there’s a high statistical probability that every word I’ve crafted here has been complete garbage. I don’t like that thought one little bit, and I’ll probably go into immediate denial about my own culpability in the furthering of this world-wide literary crisis. However, it should be obvious to anyone with a brain exceeding that of a toddler that entries here are painstakingly forged; that each word in every phrase is chosen carefully to extract just the right amount of pathos within the reader; that every subject discussed is fascinating and life-affirming… I could go on, you know – more superlatives are right on the tip of my tongue.

But deep down, I know it’s all just nonsense. Very little (if anything) separates my work from anyone else’s, and I could moan and groan about it until I passed this mortal coil, but at the end of the day, what am I actually gonna do about it? What are we all going to do? Surely I’m not the only blogger here, right, so the odds are high that many of us are going to be sharing the blame, and that includes you. “I’m not taking this rap alone, Rocky – if I go down, I’m taking you with me!”

I think we need to start by flipping things back to normal – quality over quantity once again. Who cares whether this is post number 900 if the reader has to endure cerebral torture or psychological torment? After all, do we really think anyone cares how we feel about all these things? We have to be better stewards of the words we choose; should resist sharing those moments of pure anger or ecstasy, and recognize them for the psychopathic, mental masturbation they truly are. 

But who am I kidding? By the time I pen my next entry, I’ll have either forgotten about all of this, or convinced myself that I am somehow exempt – free to continue my personal psychiatric experiment in text with the reassurance that my efforts are both interesting and significant. I suppose it’s possible any one of us could be an exception. There might be a Hemingway among us, or the next Dickens, or this generation’s answer to Hunter S. Thompson – hidden out there somewhere in the pseudo-intellectual soup. 

When I was a child, someone told me that if we provided monkeys with typewriters, eventually one of them would type the Bible word for word. I realize that statement was part of a science lesson – an example of probability or something, but still, what would monkeys do with computers, tablets, and smartphones? I wonder. Look at all we’ve accomplished so far, and we’re not even monkeys. So… On with the show, I guess. Whatever comes next should be better.
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Voices From Forever by Randall Keller http://goo.gl/ZBBmj Available on Amazon

There Is No Silence by Randall Keller http://goo.gl/U6KY7 Available on Amazon.

Soul to Soul

“That team is better because they have more equipment.” Not! Still, imagine for a second that quality paranormal research and investigation actually does hinge on possessing an abundance of gear. More is better. Bigger is better! Where have I heard that kind of thinking before? How discouraging…

Well, I guess a large library with a gazillion books is better than a small one. Assuming they’re quality books, of course – not just limited to bad romance novels and every Atlas known to mankind. It’s also probably true that a large urban medical group with dozens of specialists is more effective than old Doc Brown (third barn on the left), unless all those specialists are graduates of the Mozambique Academy of Archery and Medicine. That changes the perspective a bit. And certainly all those painters of motel wall art can’t be bad, right?

I still cry hogwash. More equipment does not mean a paranormal team is better. How many laser grids does one need? “Anyone want a FLIR? I’ve got two!” The first paranormal team I was associated with was anything but overly equipped and we managed to capture more evidence than any team I’d heard of, so you’ll never convince me that results have anything to do with how much really cool stuff you’ve got. But there are reasons our team’s investigations were fruitful, and it’s the same for every working paranormal team that succeeds. 

At the top of the list is using your resources wisely. Keep your equipment in working order, know when and how to use it, and understand that these wondrous devices are tools – it’s you who is doing the investigating. Pay attention to your surroundings and above all else, react to what you see and hear. Learn how to follow your core instincts, and don’t be afraid to go in the wrong direction. Be respectful and understanding of those whose environment you may be invading. And certainly not last or least, be as thorough as you can.

Investigating is actually a very dynamic situation – it becomes an entity of its own, and investigators feel their way through like the notes of a song in search of the melody. We become part of the darkness; a breeze in the wind, if you will. We are the peaceful representatives of the living world in a place where life may just be relative. We are ambassadors. “Yeah yeah, wax poetic, old man. A breeze in the wind indeed!” Well, overly hyperbolic or not, none of any of that requires even one piece of equipment. Investigation starts with the humanity of the individual, I think, and success doesn’t hinge on the lux of one’s IR bullet camera.

The team that spends its time bragging about their equipment, probably has their priorities out of line – a fairly understandable statement to make, I think. But what does that say about those of us who assume it makes them better? Not very much, I’m afraid. One doesn’t hire a surgeon for the number of scalpels he owns. His knowledge, creativity, and skill are better reasons. Why should it be any different with paranormal teams? Then again, I’d love to walk through a location armed to the teeth with every possible scientific apparatus available, but then how much time would I spend investigating? Equipment has its place – no doubt, and if used properly, can provide the evidence we all so covet, but I’ve always believed spirit communication is best achieved soul to soul. Equipment isn’t part of that equation.

I’m not saying less is best, or that a highly equipped team is automatically lacking – certainly, we need “things” to do our job, but most of today’s paranormal devices can’t prove a thing; won’t provide a shred of actual evidence. What we really need are well-trained, highly motivated investigators in whose hands to place all that equipment, and even then there are no guarantees.

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Voices From Forever by Randall Keller http://goo.gl/ZBBmj Available on Amazon

There Is No Silence by Randall Keller http://goo.gl/U6KY7 Available on Amazon.

“I’m Here”

Sometimes I wonder why EVP comments are usually so lacking in substance. What happened to all those revealing descriptions of the afterlife I’ve been asking for? The voices never even hint at what it’s like to be a spirit. I’d like to know how it was to meet Jesus. Surely a word or two about that could settle a few discussions here in the physical world. Is there a Heaven? Hell? Maybe there’s somewhere in between! How about just a little explanation guys? Nothing too detailed; it’s not like I want to know all the best secrets – maybe just a few…

Problem is, after a decade of research, and several thousand bonafide EVP later, I’ve decided this is a distinctly closed-mouthed bunch – they’re not gonna lay it all out on a silver platter for the likes of me. Oh sure, once in a blue moon someone over there slips up – no one’s perfect, after all. Occasionally, they’ll say something really spiritually titillating and I’ll get all worked up and think I’m actually on to something, but they seldom verify; rarely repeat; never elaborate. It seems almost as though certain subjects are automatically off the table, so I guess I’ll just have to grin and bear it; keep trying.

You know, I’ve posed a great many significant questions to spirits over the years, so they’ve had a lot of splendid opportunities to spill the beans. Still, I think I’ve been able to learn a few things by piecing together hundreds of similar comments from who I think are different spirits – kind of like Family Feud. “We asked 100 ghosts what it’s like over there, and the number one answer is…” But whenever I get too deep, there’s usually complete silence, and it seems a bit rude.

I don’t want to take it personally – I assume no one else is being given the real skinny about the real deal, but it’s hard not to occasionally feel rejected after all this time. I thought they liked me, but then how does one know? Maybe it’s all so amazing that I couldn’t handle the truth or even begin to comprehend it. They could be doing me a favor. Or perhaps there just aren’t adequate words to even offer explanations. It’s difficult enough to describe a butterfly, so astral travel must be a bitch to get a handle on. Or, maybe they just don’t know anything. Like us, they’re just where they are and the mysteries keep confounding, and the number of puzzle pieces keep growing.

I mean, we’re about as sophisticated as any generation on earth has ever been and we still aren’t completely positive we’re even actually here. We’ve been struggling with the concept of existence since the very beginning, so it’s quite possible they suffer a similar fate of cluelessness. Also, we tend to think spirits are tuned-in to the true wonders of pretty much everything, but maybe not. Some of us even assume we go straight to heaven and everlasting communion with God, but for all we know, there’s yet another entire lifetime of some sort to endure. Maybe several – each markedly different than our current state, but still nowhere near the realm of understanding. It just might be that a spirit’s answer to all our substantive questions would be as vague and inadequate as our own.

I once asked a spirit where he was. I expected him to say he was in Heaven, or the fourth astral plane, in the attic, or something dynamic, bazaar, and spectacular. But his answer was more revealing, I think, and infinitely more fascinating. “I’m here,” is all he said. Of course I don’t know where “here” is, and there are a bunch of ways one could interpret the comment, but maybe none of it matters anyway. “I’m here” kinda speaks volumes if you really take the time to think about it. And well… I’m here too, friend, and I don’t know how else to put it either. I wonder if anyone ever will.

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Voices From Forever by Randall Keller http://goo.gl/ZBBmj Available on Amazon

There Is No Silence by Randall Keller http://goo.gl/U6KY7 Available on Amazon.

Mackenzie is Sensitive

People are way too sensitive these days. I’m not talking about emotional reactions – I’m talking about the increased sensitivity to all things paranormal. I’m pretty sure there is now a sensitive on every corner. There are a couple in my neighborhood, in fact. “Oh! You’re a ghost hunter? You should talk to my Mackenzie – she’s a medium.” Really? The woman I hear screeching her kid’s name every evening at dinner time is a medium? The one in the too tight Ravens sweat pants; drives a Fiesta; the den mother of Troop 732? That Mackenzie? “Yeah! She communicates with her dead relatives all the time.”

Sure, but don’t we all? I talk to mine religiously – in the shower, washing socks, cutting the lawn… And sometimes, I swear, I think they answer, but I’m just not a sensitive. These neo-mystics are like 7/Elevens. They’re everywhere. The world is lousy with people who either commiserate with the deceased, get temporarily possessed, see phantoms in the corner, or burn sage literally everywhere. A chill in the air means a spirit has passed through them; a blowing curtain means grandma is visiting; misplaced keys are the handiwork of a playful poltergeist, and djinn are stealing the petty cash. Shadows in the hall have nothing to do with the dog and a night light – Mackenzie knows better. Mackenzie is sensitive.

Sometimes a paranormal researcher magically develops sensitivity. Where once was a good investigator is now an emotional volcano who already knows where all the spirits are hiding as she (he) offers her body so they can talk directly through her. I just wanna be there when one of them actually takes her up on it. Oh to be a fly on the wall of the afterlife for that! Talk about something being worth the price of admission!

When you think about it though, it’s pretty cool having a genuine sensitive at your beck and call. I should go to more neighborhood functions and make the rounds. Get as much advice as I can; improve my portfolio; rid my house of evil spirits. I don’t know, there must be something. Unfortunately, my initial reaction is to avoid these folks, and I’m very good at disappearing quickly. I don’t really want my future revealed over barbecue. I don’t understand why I need to “hang in there.” It’s good to know things will get better soon, but I thought everything was fine!

It’s a shame really. I’ve worked with real mediums before, you know. I can’t say they’re always spot on, but they have legitimate track records, and offer insight that coincides with evidence. They’re not a dime a dozen. It’s sad that their hard work and valuable contributions get so watered down by the likes of screechy Mackenzie and the metaphysical mavens of Essex Avenue.

Oh I know… I’m just no fun at all, but I truly don’t mean to be such a wet blanket. I just can’t help it, and I’d bet the entire farm I’m not the only one who feels this way. We’ve all had our run-ins with the occasional psychic correctness – I’ve predicted what will happen now and again; had a fleeting “feeling” that turned out to be right. I’ve definitely seen and heard things no one else did. It’s inevitable, really, but that no more makes me a sensitive than catching a foul ball makes me an athlete. It is also not a brief glimpse at my clairvoyant potential – no matter how hard I worked to develop it. I respect those who have the gift – I prefer my sensitives to be authentic, and I’m pleased as punch not to be one of them. I’ve got my own talents and skills; my own calling. That should be enough, don’t you think?
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Voices From Forever by Randall Keller http://goo.gl/ZBBmj Available on Amazon

There Is No Silence by Randall Keller http://goo.gl/U6KY7 Available on Amazon.

What We See

Over the years, I’ve learned that my eyes are not completely trustworthy. As a paranormal investigator, I’ve also learned to adjust them. When I witness something “ghostly,” or highly out of the ordinary, and before I assume that “paranormal” explanation, I look for clarification above my own nose. It turns out, there are a number of fascinating visual conditions which will cause us to see things that may not be there, and I seem to be susceptible to a few.

The first time I noticed a kind of misty, ectoplasmic looking entity floating around the room, it turned out to be the result of Blue Field Disorder. BFD is the ability to see the blood vessels in your eyes as imprints on the normal field of view. All it takes is the slight presence of blue light in a dark room, and depending on your sensitivity, this effect can continue for minutes after the blue light has been extinguished. It turns out I’m very sensitive to this, and for me, BFD is often triggered by no more than the pilot light of an electronic device. You can imagine the awesome creatures I’ve seen – lively and purposeful; each one appearing to interact with the environment, and very interested in being seen. But alas – Blue Field Disorder, and no more real than green cheese on the moon.

Another problem I have is the result of Fuchs Syndrome. It’s Fuchs (a pitting of the cornea) that required I receive a cornea transplant in the right eye. I still need to replace my left cornea, and until I do, I will see the most amazing juxtaposition of shapes and shadows when my eyes are deprived of light for awhile. Combine this with a compression of depth due to a previously detached retina, and I have been known to see full-bodied apparitions that turned out to be nothing more than a lamp and figurine on a shelf.

Now of course, I know how to recognize these issues the minute they occur, and have successfully developed methods to make them go away quickly. Still, even though I have never confused these problems with paranormal events, it does call into question the reliability of any investigator’s visual, anecdotal observations. What we think we are witnessing may, in fact, be nothing at all.

I realize this kind of talk sounds damning coming from an actual investigator, so I should apologize right now to all those paranormal folks whose observations and reports are unaffected by such lugubrious aberrations. Everyone’s vision is not the same, and that’s only one of the many reasons we use cameras. Cameras don’t get BFD. Precision lenses don’t develop Fuchs Syndrome, or become lugubrious. “But I know what I saw!” Of course you do, but if it’s not on tape, it’s not evidence, and therefore becomes just an interesting story you should expect almost no one to believe.

I’ve been doing this for awhile, and I do know the difference between an actual unexplainable phenomenon and a “blue field Fuchs spatial differential whatever anomaly,” but so what? And who cares if I can make it go away? Our eyes are still not completely reliable and are possibly responsible for creating more fantastic sightings than any of us would like to admit. At the end of the day, it’s only the evidence that matters and quite frankly, anything our senses reveal must be backed up with hard data. One cannot declare a haunting based on what is potentially the natural, convoluted misinterpretation of things by the observer’s own body.

Our senses play a major role in leading us through a location; in executing our pursuit; in refining our methods of recording what might be true. Our senses are of great value, but they can also be our most dynamic detriment because we are conditioned to believe what we see and hear above all things. By refusing to recognize this as a limitation, we lessen our effectiveness and diminish our chances for credibility. What we see is not always what we get, but sometimes, it’s not even what we see.

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Voices From Forever by Randall Keller http://goo.gl/ZBBmj Available on Amazon

There Is No Silence by Randall Keller http://goo.gl/U6KY7 Available on Amazon.

Trained

Somebody once told me I was a good investigator. I wasn’t sure what his criteria were, but a compliment is a compliment, and I get so few these days that I figured a “thank you” was probably in order. What I said instead was, “I had a lot of help.” Truer words were never spoken – I was trained, preached at, dragged kicking and screaming, and beaten within an inch of my life. Well, maybe it wasn’t quite that dramatic, but I was most definitely trained. I was molded in the image of my mentor, BJ Moylan, and I can honestly say that almost everything I know about paranormal investigation is the result of working alongside him.

Needless to say, field research is also a unique learning experience, and your teammates are your lab partners in a very intense endeavor. You learn and grow from each individual you work with, and the prime directive is to always maintain one another’s health and safety. Teammates come first. It’s therefore certainly necessary to work well with others but trust in the team is of major import. So is knowing your stuff, and being able to cover every base in any situation. We read articles and books, watched documentaries and interviews. We studied everything from angelology to the behavior of djinn in the hopes of being ready for the impossible; wanting to know rather than guess.

Not everyone was interested in committing the time; usually they weren’t convinced it mattered enough to warrant such “overkill,” so they didn’t last long. My training included long and intense discussions, attention to nuance, a dedication to detail, and tons of what-if scenarios, but everything I ever did needed to start with education and a thorough understanding of what was true and what was in need of proving. None of us had all the answers, and we were trained to look for solutions in ways that exceeded the current normality. We were taught to look beyond the obvious and that every success was just a logical stepping stone to the next level. We needed to seek that next level.

We were organized and never began an investigation without a plan. Individual ideas were encouraged, but since our best strategies often needed to change in mid-course, we were trained to maintain focus. We were expected to be respectful and diligent in maintaining decorum and attitude, whether toward the living or the dead, but we were taught to always remain in charge no matter what. We had worked hard to become good investigators, and we never let go of the need to continue in our growth.

Fear was never an option, so there was no giving in to it. There’s never a reason to be afraid anyway, but in those rare moments of human frailty, we knew to bury our fear with strength and good decisions. When we entered a location, we were confident – we had been trained well, and were prepared, so while fear can come upon you without warning, we knew how to anchor ourselves in reality – to finish our jobs and deal with misgivings later.

I think I am a good investigator – I agree, but I’d be lost without the gentle guidance of others. Without their help and strong presence, I’d have never succeeded; would never have lasted. Sometimes even the smallest event looms very large when you’re in the field, and I still find myself gratefully remembering those moments all these years later. There’s no substitute for strong leadership or a willingness to learn, and I can still hear BJ’s calm advice during certain situations; still remember what I gained from all that training. 

Paranormal investigation may not be rocket science or advanced medicine, but it’s a worthy subject that deserves the best effort we have to give. I’m just glad someone was there to push me in the right direction; someone who instilled a culture of competence and common sense. I’m grateful for his spirit of generosity. I’m grateful to have learned from the best.

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Voices From Forever by Randall Keller http://goo.gl/ZBBmj Available on Amazon

There Is No Silence by Randall Keller http://goo.gl/U6KY7 Available on Amazon.

Watching

I watched him wither – from a strong, well-considered, vibrant man to a fragile, mentally tortured soul. I watched as dementia quietly slithered inside – molesting his dignity and suffocating his self-respect. And I watched him become simple-minded and confused; cornered and afraid. I watched my father’s mind drift slowly away, as if to sea – a spec on the horizon, and then nothing. I watched his body follow suit; watched him wilt and decay; saw the life struggle to leave him, and then I watched him die.

When disease overwhelmed my sister, its devastation was sudden and careless – seized her essence as though it meant nothing at all; clueless as to the profane loss her absence would create. I could not watch as she quietly surrendered. I couldn’t witness the destruction of someone so dear, and I thought it should have been me. I was older; less significant. I would hardly be missed. But life is imperfect, so she moved along without me.

It is happening again. My mother’s frailty is slowly giving in; her will to live firmly renouncing its hold on life. She flirts with death each day and somehow manages to stay free of its insatiable appetite, but that won’t last long. We know there are no winners in this game – we’ve discussed it. Everyone loses sooner or later, and for her, it has long been later. I confess, there have been times when death seemed the better, more logical servant.

None of this is rare. Everyone has endured the loss of loved ones, and we each clutch a perspective worth adding to the narrative. Every unique point of view is as poignant as it is destructive, but then why should it be otherwise? Death, after all, is no accident. It is an appointment with eternity that escapes no one, offering the promise of everything, and guaranteeing nothing. We all have watched it happen. I know there are many others who have suffered so much more than I; their anguish almost inconsolable; their loss as close to complete as humans can endure. Death has visited me kindly, by comparison, and offered sweet resolution to destinies of pain, trepidation, and torment. 

Death brought peace to my loved ones, and for that I am grateful. But here I sit, once again watching, as my mother’s life slowly sneaks away, and the powers that be are forced to accept their inadequate defense against such a foe. I watch her spirit abandon countenance and leave only the frightening panic of facing a life she is no longer certain was of value. I watch as she questions her beliefs, doubts her resolve, and seeks a way to somehow regain her dignity and some meager assurance that there will be reconciliation and relief. I watch as fear slowly gives way to acceptance, while only sleep offers refuge from the horror of knowing your time is now measured in days. Hours.

We all go through it. We are all forced to see. Maybe so we will learn how to recognize our own short comings; possibly to prepare us for our own trip toward the end. Maybe we watch so that others can reveal the roadmap; a more prudent path to follow, perhaps. Maybe we watch because we are curious, or because it reassures us that nothing lasts longer than it should. Maybe we watch for no other reason than to accumulate last looks – some attempt to remember the animated soul before its evicted. More than likely, we watch because, at some point, that’s all we can do. It is life’s only inevitability. 

It doesn’t matter how difficult this journey becomes, or how easily we traverse each bump along the way. It always hurts, and sometimes in ways we never really understand. We watch death perform its perverse duty because we have to, and I suspect it watches us as well. Looking away is never an option.

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Voices From Forever by Randall Keller http://goo.gl/ZBBmj Available on Amazon

There Is No Silence by Randall Keller http://goo.gl/U6KY7 Available on Amazon.

A Work in Progress

I’m a nice person. I swear! For the most part. I mean, I’ve never gotten an award or testimonial for being nice; no keys to the city, but still… I recognize that there’s room to grow and I believe in trying to improve myself. So, I’ve managed to replace my natural acerbic attitude with politeness and pleasantries. That’s a great start, right? So trust me – I’m a nice person even if I am a work in progress.

But lately… It’s been difficult to maintain. Too many RNs, PAs, MDs, ADMs, Ph.Ds – the alphabet soup alone is taxing my patience, but again, I’m trying. Lately, very trying. I’ve snapped at more people in the last two months than in the previous ten years, and I can’t say the end results have been fabulous, even if it has allowed me to feel better. I need to stop doing that. I need to regroup and recenter my chi (or whatever), and go back to full-time amiability.

“Okay dude, go for it, but why do I care and what does it have to do with the paranormal?” Well, I’m thinking that my EVP sessions may have suffered. I think spirits prefer talking to friendly, affable folks, but I’ve been too matter of fact and all business of late. That’s not good, and certainly not my usual demeanor. Typically, I try to be friendly; make an effort to show an interest in the spirit; try to build a rapport and be compatible. And I’m convinced that tact works well. It seems that I get better responses by asking them how they are than I do with “Is anyone here?”

I used to assume the attitude of knowing they were there, while going to great lengths to show them how important their opinions and feelings really were to me? That was always a winner in the past. “Have you been to see your wife lately? She’s so sweet, and man did she love you.” That sort of thing. None of this ” knock three times to let me know you’re there” kind of crap. I used to go out of my way to build up a camaraderie; I found things in common to talk about. You can’t ask a spirit to chat you up when all you’ve got to say is “why are you here?”

So I definitely need to get back to basics, or rather, my version of the basics (Talking to Spirits 101, by Your’s Truly). But if the living are going to continue to drive me batty, that will probably take more time. Truth is, sometimes I prefer talking to spirits. I often feel a kinship with them; an affinity that I sense might possibly go both ways. Sure they’re a little cryptic; hard to hear on occasion, and they don’t always have the best vocabulary, but spirits don’t break promises, answer with predilection, cut me off on the freeway, or drop my mail in a puddle. Spirits are good people! That’s been my experience, and we’ve always gotten along famously.

Oh, who am I kidding? If I can’t be bothered to actually talk to them and not at them, this relationship will dry up, and I’ll be just another EVP specialist without any EVP. I won’t be alone, of course, because there are a lot of those out there, but no one really wants to join that fraternity. There are already too many of us running around in the dark without a clue – there’s a definite glut of bollixed researchers clogging up the lines of communication and spoiling it for everyone else. I don’t wanna be one of them. It just might be a good idea for all of us to take some stock in our methods and try to improve our paranormal work ethic.

Starting today, I’m regressing – back to the days when I didn’t know what to say so I just had a conversation. Gone are the usual, canned questions and rote paranormal kitsch. I’m removing all those tired, worn out usual approaches from my investigation lexicon, and replacing them with sincere inquiries and honest interest. I’m going back to being a nice guy again – the kind of guy who is less of an investigator and more of a genuinely curious new acquaintance. I’ll still be a work in progress, but at least I’ll be someone worth talking to.
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Voices From Forever by Randall Keller http://goo.gl/ZBBmj Available on Amazon
There Is No Silence by Randall Keller http://goo.gl/U6KY7 Available on Amazon.

The Fun Factor

It’s difficult for me to find the right way to describe the “fun factor” of paranormal investigating. I know how much I enjoy being with my fellow investigators – 99 percent of them are interesting, easy to work with, and enjoyable to talk to. But it’s not as if a night out with “the team” is better than spending time with lifelong friends or family. I suppose it’s really not a fair comparison, but… Likewise, I can think of a dozen activities that easily rival walking in the dark, lugging equipment, and talking out loud to no one. Setting up cameras and running cables isn’t exactly the same as, let’s say, good sex. Or even bad sex. And having to deal with dead batteries in the dark doesn’t not suck.

So why do we always talk about how much fun it is to investigate the paranormal? I say it all the time and mean it. In fact, I don’t ever recall not totally loving it – before, during, or after. I may complain about the drudgery of listening to hours of boring audio the next day or two, but the truth is, I look forward to it. And I’d be the first to admit that watching all that static video is a lot like watching someone knit – it’s fascinating for a minute or two, but it quickly becomes mind-numbingly repetitive. Still, I wouldn’t miss a single second of it and sometimes I wake up early chomping at the bit to get started. I want to see if possibilities have been realized!

What is it that makes this whole thing so damned entertaining then? Is it a fascination with the cool gear and equipment? You know – boys and their toys? Sometimes I do just open my equipment cases to bask in the glory of each device and accessory. I clean them regularly and think of new ways to put them to better use. In some cases, I re-read the manuals just to guarantee I can operate the device blindly while in the field, but none of this explains the “fun factor.” I mean, I like the stuff, but I wouldn’t take it to a deserted island.

Still, just like every other paranormal investigator I’ve ever talked to, I’m quick to swear that investigating is a blast. Oh, I know it’s serious work and requires dedication and commitment, but so does anything athletic, and it’s not nearly as personally intense as writing or performing music. But the rewards can be spectacular. Good evidence of something unexplainable is like Christmas morning for an eight year old – you don’t know what you’re gonna find, but the possibilities are endless.

So, does that explain why investigating is so satisfying? It’s probably the combination of a bunch of things coupled with one’s own spiritual travels through life, but I have a sneaking suspicion it’s not nearly that complicated. We just need to know. We’re so much a part of the world; such control freaks; so intrenched in every aspect of life, that not knowing something is unacceptable. We take pride in understanding our universe and many among us will go to unbelievable lengths to understand even more. It may be one of our most basic instincts – it is who we are, so investigating becomes just one more way of celebrating our humanity, and reveling in this indefatigable need to know that certainly defines us. It gives us joy.

People have been wondering about our true place on the timeline of life since we first stood upright and felt the need to worship something. The afterlife is arguably one of the most significant parts of living, and the desire to know truth about it has driven us ever since we first recognized the possibilities. We’ve always been paranormal investigators! And scientists. And explorers. And several dozen other similarly curious things.

I think that’s why we do it. I don’t think the “fun factor” matters one bit – we’d do it anyway. We know this, and like it. I’m not even sure we have a choice. We’re a little like that dog in the park who chases the frisbee – even when we’re off by a mile, we never miss the chance to do it again. It’s fun!
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Voices From Forever by Randall Keller http://goo.gl/ZBBmj Available on Amazon
There Is No Silence by Randall Keller http://goo.gl/U6KY7 Available on Amazon.