Ever Since…

Ever since my stroke (yes, it was a real, bonafide stroke), I’ve developed a slight, but highly annoying inability to write. The resulting brain damage occurred exclusively in the speech area of the brain, so finding the right word is sometimes a challenge, but I cover it well, and no one notices. Still, putting pen on paper (even metaphorically) is also a problem, and this has only served to lengthen my streak of zero current blog entries. Likewise, too much confusion around me seems to create a sensory overload of some kind and usually results in a quick exit from the building.

Ever since my mother broke her hip, I’ve been visiting her in the rehab facility every day. Watching so many elderly people struggle to regain control of their own bodies has given me a strong and renewed respect for the “state of age.” For the most part, these folks are doggedly steady in their pursuit of returning to normalcy, and even though I’m not chronologically too far away from them, I know I would have given up long before the Wednesday cold lunch with pickled beets ever arrived on the tray. Old people rock, and if you don’t know that yet, get ready to be impressed.

Ever since my daughter’s softball coach started to mess with her swing, she’s become a very average hitter. Until recently, that is. I always told her not pay any attention to him; do what she’s always done, and continue tearing up opposing pitchers. “If I don’t do what he wants, dad, he’ll bench me. I want to play.” Okay, I understand. However, it’s her senior year, and she’s finally decided to return to the days of yore and ignore his unsuccessful tinkering. After all, what could he do now? She has once again been tearing up opposing pitchers and receiving high praise for it. Praise such as “you’ve finally decided to listen to me” and “that’s what I’ve been telling you all along!” It’s nonsense, of course, but who cares – we know the truth. Go Wolverines!

Ever since I decided to go out of my way to be polite to everyone, I’ve been happier. Not much else to say about that, and sometimes I still revert to my old rude self, but I truly feel better about everything. It has given purpose to all sorts of mundane daily events, and makes me a better driver as well. There’s a very long list of noticeable improvements. I do sometimes miss the act of practicing unsolicited nastiness, and the occasional personal insult can be invigorating and provide it’s own rewards, but for the most part, the dark force doesn’t linger very long and leaves a bad aftertaste. Being polite tends to last longer and sometimes changes my entire day for the better. The force is strong with this one. “Thank you,” he politely answers… with a winsome smile.

Ever since I started eavesdropping to help occupy my time in doctor’s offices, waiting rooms, parking lots, cafeteria lines, elevator queues, and other such venues tailor made for violating personal space, I’ve decided that human beings are stupid. Not all of us, of course – you and I are just fine, but “they” are certifiable idiots. I never used to eavesdrop – I was always able to drown them out with my own thoughts. But I guess I ran out of those and now eavesdropping is my sport of preference. Lately, I’ve heard all about how Irving was caught with the neighbor lady in his car, how Jennifer’s mother claims that watering her plants with urine makes them grow better, that Marge believes her “pastor over some scientist any day,” and that someone down in room 218 of the nursing home has bedded three different widows this month alone. 

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg! Digital cameras have ruined the art of photography; the Japanese have an army of Samurai and ninjas; nylon comes from llama fur (I swear), and finally, that “the human body wasn’t made to be seen naked.” You see? People are stupid. And it seems to take a lifetime to rise above it, or so one can hope. But eventually we all get there, I think, and ever since I arrived at that opinion I find it a little easier to forgive. Myself, of course. The rest of the world is still unworthy, and besides – a whole army of Samurai and ninjas sounds pretty cool.
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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.  

So… Hush!

I haven’t written in this space for quite some time, but it wasn’t for lack of anything to say – I always have something to say. There just wasn’t any time. And you know that happens – one’s time often fills up quickly with important life issues, and before you know it, there’s none left. However, and I shudder to say it, maybe this has been a good thing.

I remember the mother of a childhood friend once saying, “no one cares what you think, Keller.” I was immediately slandered – who wouldn’t be, right? But it remained with me even to this day, and she actually wasn’t wrong. Who cares what I think about Donald Trump, for example? If you’re a supporter, contentious thoughts from me won’t convince you otherwise – more than likely, you’ll become even more entrenched. If I tell you about my belief in God, I’m sure your atheism will continue to flourish just the same. Do we really think our mediocre, everyday banter contains the stuff of greatness; with enough wisdom to move the masses? How many Delhi Llamas can there be, for God’s sake? 

It’s difficult to suggest that there’s a lesson to learn from this, but maybe we need to just keep our mouths shut more often. We seem almost consumed with the notion that there should be more and more people to agree with us – a constantly increasing, all-encompassing inter-galactic consensus. It’s become some kind of an imperative! As though the world itself will cease to exist if “the others” get their hands on it, and possibly that will one day be the case, but history is full of good and bad alike while “the others” were in charge, and we’re still here. There are some life issues that transcend simple opinion, of course – we need to take better care of the planet, one shouldn’t be cruel to animals, murder is bad… Hard to disagree with those, and we can all think of items to add to the list, but these never seem to be the burning passions of the day.

We follow all kinds of temporary mantras instead. Who gets a tax break, should we spend more money to feed the poor, bikinis are sinful, etc. etc. etc. And I’m willing to confess, I want everyone to get a tax break, most of my friends are poor, and bikinis are a clear public service. More and more, I’m leaving these kinds of issues alone. Maybe it’s old age, or a rapid and unexpected loss of electricity in my brain’s microtubules, but I like to think it has something to do with my friend’s mother – “no one cares what you think, Keller.”

I mean, do you? Do you really give a rat’s appendix what I pontificate about? Is your life so wanting that you hang on my every word? I’d be shocked if you did. Will your opinion be changing should I suddenly suggest that cannibalism is an accepted dietary alternative, or if I campaign on the virtues of war with Canada? I think not. You’re so much more intelligent than that! Perhaps you’ll listen with interest if I wax poetic about a subject in which I am proficient – EVP, for instance, but if you’re really smart, even then you’ll listen objectively and with a very large grain of salt.

So what am I saying, then? That we should all walk through life close-mouthed with nothing to say for ourselves, the state of the world, or the human condition? Of course not. I guess what I’m saying is when we do open those gaping caverns of verbal ambiguity, we might want to know going in that what we have to say isn’t so damn important. The compulsion to communicate our thoughts seems to have a greater potential for doing harm than anything else, and unless we relish embracing the dark side of The Force, we should be careful. If we don’t have something good to say, then… Oh geez – you know the rest of that sentence. Do I have to say it – it’s such an overused cliche! But isn’t it also quite true? So… Hush!

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.

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.

Video Addendum – “It’s Been Emotional.”

For those of you (dear readers) who do not follow The Voices Podcast, this entry will hold little meaning. It is, in fact, a video addendum to episode 88 of the podcast, which was entitled “It’s Been Emotional.” During the broadcast, mention was made of this footage and it will definitely mean something to podcast listeners. However, I invite you all you watch anyway, and I encourage everyone to have an opinion.

Let me say at the outset, that the phenomenon recorded here is not a reflection, a shadow, or some light anomaly created by investigators, whether by accident or otherwise. It is not a malfunction of the camera or lens, and there has been no fakery. I am the only person who has handled, edited, or enhanced the video, so if you believe any of it has been manufactured, you’ll be accusing me directly. Rather, this video depicts something for which I have no explanation – nor can I conceive of any natural occurrence that could have caused it. It is therefore, something paranormal, because it is outside the realm of sensible explanation.

I do not claim this to be a spirit or ghost captured on video, although that does seem like a possibility based on the events that preceded it. I don’t know what it is, and I’ve never personally seen anything quite like it ever before. No EVP were captured during this small window of time, and there were no physical manifestations noticeable by anyone’s naked eye. For some reason, this showed up on camera without benefit of credentials. So, I ask you – what do you think it is?

Feel free to let me know your thoughts, and if you’re new to The Voices Podcast, I would encourage you to at least catch up on the backstory of this video before passing judgement.

http://goo.gl/1TFjCf
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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.

“Crazy!”

People sometimes think I’m crazy. That may be the wrong term – “out of my mind” sounds more palatable to me. “Insane!” is just unkind, don’t you think? Regardless, this is not how I see myself. But who knows. Maybe they’re right. Ever since I started looking into the paranormal, I’ve seen and heard things I never did before, so it’s conceivable that this might explain the madness which seems to have surreptitiously usurped my position as a pillar of the community. (Ah… The good ole days.)

I’ve read that the more you immerse yourself in the subject, the more frequently experiences occur, and I think that makes sense. If a spirit wants to be recognized, he really ought to appear to someone who isn’t afraid and who actually desires communication. Perhaps that’s why there’s been such an increase in the number of personal experiences I’ve had and have been able to record in recent years. I’m clearly available, so what the heck! Love the one you’re with, right? Besides, I may have unknowingly passed some kind of test to certify my status as a conduit.

Then again, perhaps I’m just convincing myself to see and hear these things because I want to, or worse, because I psychologically need to. In other words – crazy. (There’s that word again.) Flipped out. Off the deep end. Whacko. Two legs short of pajamas. Perhaps I’ve just gotten so involved in all this paranormal mumbo jumbo that good sense has left me, and these absurd events, which are obviously figments of a delirious imagination, seem as though they’re actually happening. Certainly, a cogent person wouldn’t talk about such things – he’d keep quiet and seek professional help as soon as possible. My own mother once said, “Randy, people don’t do these things! What’s happened to you?”

What’s happened indeed. Last night, unable to sleep, I saw a hint of purple diffused light coming from behind some clothes stacked on my wife’s dresser. It was only 6 feet away, and I watched the light slowly increase until it was a bright glowing purple ball of brilliant color. Before I could get to it, the light dimmed and disappeared. I literally leaped to my feet, to my wife’s vociferously expressed dismay, and began to search every inch of her dresser for the probable source. How’s that for crazy? There was nothing in the vicinity to explain it, as you may have already guessed, and so I sheepishly turned off the light and laid back down hoping to see it again. You see? Out of my mind.

Only a couple of weeks earlier, my big toe was touched. I swear to a God – my big toe. Not the shoulder; no stroking of the hair – someone touched my big toe, which was hanging out of the covers. I mean, who makes that up? Couldn’t it have been something dramatic or exciting? It’s not totally uncool, of course, but it just sounds like more craziness is afoot (pun intended). And I may seem to be playfully accepting of my lot, but it really disturbs me not to be completely and unconditionally believed. When you add full disclosure to this crisis of credibility, it looks even worse, so I ask you – what is this need paranormal investigators have for reporting everything that happens to them? And in such detail! What good has ever come from this sort of transparency?

I dunno what that stupid purple light was, but I’m not even concerned about it. It very well might have been my imagination, or I may in fact have been gloriously sound asleep, although you’d think a grown man would know whether he was awake or not. But I don’t care if it was an orb, a fairy in heat, or a full-blown flaming phantasm – I’m just doing my job by reporting it, so I guess you can think what you want. Call me whatever interesting synonym for “crazy” you care to. I can take it. For now, at least.
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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.

Reverence for the Majesty

One of the more successful investigations I’ve ever been involved with took place at the end of August, and since it’s a private investigation, there’s only so much I can share right now. However, I can definitely change names to protect the innocent. Part of the reason I’m so thrilled with this endeavor over so many others requires some explaining, but anyone who has done this before can attest to the sad fact that paranormal investigation usually results in little or no evidence.

The team itself consisted of three investigators and a medium and we were tasked with covering a mid-sized commercial building. Now before I go on, let me just say that I do not generally like to investigate with mediums present. This should not be interpreted as a slight to the gifted, because I completely believe that there are those among us who have been blessed with mediumship. However, I personally find their vision to be highly distracting during an active investigation. I feel inhibited and find that I am less likely to pursue directions that seem significant to me – following their lead instead. I also find my attention to detail suffers, so I’d much rather not investigate in their presence.

The world does not revolve around me, however, so it seemed the better part of valor and a worthy challenge to suspend my own designs for the location and go with the flow. It wasn’t long before the medium related the tale of a young soldier who just so happened to be standing right next to me. For the next 45-60 minutes I took direction from the medium, followed his line of questioning, made the same assumptions he made, and behaved as if every word he spoke was both accurate and true. Turns out, it probably was.

EVP I managed to capture reinforced almost everything the medium related – the voices responded to both of us with cogent and clearly pertinent comments. When he mentioned that our soldier brought a date, there are EVP from a female to back it up. We learned a great deal about them both – how he was injured and passed away in the field during the Korean Conflict; that she was his nurse; that he was a Navy Commander. There were many other details – the young lady was particularly funny and endearing. And much of what they revealed to the medium was corroborated with EVP.

Very exciting, in my book, but thats not why I’m writing about it here. In addition to everything, there was video. On a regular old camcorder, something appears to be pouring out of my digital recorder as I’m holding it in my hand. Something that looks very much like you might assume energy would appear. It was very fluid – almost liquid-like. No, that’s not right. It was… Completely indescribable. Totally unexplainable. Every investigator present should have seen this as it happened – especially me since the recorder was in my hand, and yet, we saw nothing in real time. Still, the video is undeniable, and theres just nothing that can reasonably explain it.

This is truly one of the most uncharacteristic things I’ve ever seen. Unfortunately, i can’t share it yet, but soon… I’ll post it here, and then the public doubt can begin. The skeptics and naysayers can assemble their best forced explanations and give it to me with both barrels blazing. But when you really stop to think about it, isn’t that what we want them to do? To doubt, and challenge their perceptions?

I’ll understand, because this video doesn’t look right; not your typical apparition or mist, and it behaves unpredictably from beginning to end. It doesn’t appear to be natural, but it isn’t predictably paranormal either. The phenomena is unexpected and unlike anything I’ve ever seen, but I wonder how I could possibly know what the paranormal is supposed to look like. All I know is that on a day in late August of 2014 it looked like this and may never look like that again, for all I know. This constant redefinition of what is most probably the simple “norm” never ceases to amaze me; emphasizes my ignorance, and instills a kind of reverence for the majesty of life’s intention. Continuance. That strikes me as really cool.
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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.

Welcome Home!

I’m certainly not the only person who does any traveling. In fact, we’re relatively pedestrian when it comes to seeing the world. However, our usual trips to the ocean, lake, or local tourist traps have been replaced with more adventurous excursions the past few years, and there are a great many “tips of the trade” I wish I had known from the beginning. For instance, an experienced traveler knows not to pack his phone and camera chargers in a checked bag. This little miscue cost me $90 worth of sundry cables, connectors, and extra batteries. An experienced traveler would also know better than to even attempt recovery from TSA, but I had no idea and wasted hours filling out forms, talking to idiots, arguing with liars, and trying to control my temper.

So, I thought since I haven’t done a top ten list in awhile, this would be the perfect subject to share with the world. I only hope this will reach you before it’s too late, and save you hours of grief and unwanted vacation stress. I call this list “Ten Things You Should Never Do Before, During or After a Vacation.” Keep in mind, the list consists of things that had yet to happen until this year’s trip on a seven day cruise to Bermuda.

1. Don’t let anyone use your car while you’re gone. It’s true that everyone will do their best to take good care of your pride and joy, but you could return to discover it’s been in two accidents. Not one. Two! (I still don’t understand it.)
2. Don’t forget to tell the bank you’re traveling. They’ll shut down your credit cards and you’ll be stuck telling a Cruise Director that you really do have the money. “Clean up on Deck 9.”
3. Don’t leave your things unattended on the beach. Several thousand dollars worth of camera equipment will be fine, but your umbrella will be long gone. Try explaining that to the attendant who has your $20 deposit.
4. Don’t forget to seek clarity when your bus driver says he’ll pick you up at the corner. There are many streets and many corners. Specificity is a must.
5. Don’t pack wet beach towels full of sand. It may deter TSA from doing a proper search, but you might also find them out of the plastic bag you meticulously packed them in. That being the case, everything in the luggage will be damp and smell like dead fish.
6. Don’t pack old underwear. The elastic won’t be sufficient and no matter how many weird gyrations you attempt, they’ll still wind up bunched halfway below your waist. Always pleasant while sitting on the steaming vinyl tour bus seat.
7. Don’t tell people not to call you on vacation. That will just encourage them. There seems to be no shortage of “really good reasons” to call once those roaming charges kick in. This is especially true if you’re overseas.
8. Don’t forget to run the garbage disposal before you leave. Inevitably, those you leave behind will be compelled to buy fruit-fly infested peaches that gleefully take up residence in the drain of your sink.
9. Don’t assume a squirrel won’t die on the porch while you’re gone. Definitely do assume that others will not dispose of the body no matter how decomposed it is. They’ll wait for you to return regardless of how bad it smells. “Welcome home!”
10. Don’t leave the bedroom door open while you’re gone. Your dog will miss you terribly and vomit all over the bedroom carpet. No one will bother to clean that up either.

Now I realize you are probably more experienced than we are, but the odds are that none of these things have happened to you – yet. Trust me – they will eventually rear their ugly heads if you’re not careful and very diligent. And yes, the dead squirrel smell lingers.
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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.

Matador in a Santa Suit

A few days ago, my lawn mower stopped working – right in the middle of performing a cool pivot on the back forty. I burned up the motor – again. (I did that last summer too.) I prefer an electric mower, so it’s just as cheap to buy a new one, but two in as many years is ridiculous, right? Enraged and a tad depressed, especially since I still had grass to mow, I went inside for a much needed beverage. Upon opening the cupboard door, a glass jumped out at me, and tumbling down to the counter below, broke several other items. One of those was an irreplaceable sconce cover along with two collector’s glasses. Color me personally offended.

I decided a nice relaxing shower was what I needed. Nothing like washing away yard sweat to improve one’s attitude, but in mid-lather, I managed to bump into a hand mirror, and of course it broke into a million tiny pieces right there in the tub. A nice relaxing shower indeed. So, with nothing more than a towel to cover my shame, I went in pursuit of a bowl in which to place the broken pieces. I stubbed my little toe at full stride, but there is still one more mishap to come. The bowl slipped from my hands onto the stack of plates below – killing the top two and the felonious bowl as well.

Why didn’t I just put the broken glass in the waste basket two feet away? Why are glasses flying out of cupboards? What causes a motor to burn up so quickly? And why am I allowed to continue living life without adult supervision? I obviously need a chaperone!

Is this what it’s come to? Have I become the bull in my own china closet? I guess I’m now that guy who gets sucked up in the tornado or falls out of the plane; catches the fly ball with his teeth; builds his house of stilts on Mud Mountain. I am the living, breathing spiritual child of Wrong Way Corrigan, Wile E. Coyote, and Daffy Duck all rolled into one. I am a menace and a plague to my belongings; a matador in a Santa suit. In one hour, in the middle of broad daylight, in the body of a full-grown heretofore adult, I managed to inflict more damage and mayhem than I would have ever thought was possible.

These are all just “things” though, and can easily be replaced, but the level of decimation to my soul is incalculable. For all I know, I may never fully recover. Just the act of explaining myself is painful and spiritually debilitating, so I still prefer to keep several paces between me and everything else. I just wish there was a philosophical way to look at this, you know? Some way to put it all in perspective and find balance in the world once again; some kind of redeeming lesson to learn; a homily, perhaps, or a fable of some kind. There’s not.

On a warm day in middle May of 2014, a man happened upon… No, stumbled upon a pure path to destruction and unleashed awesome havoc on unsuspecting household goods. It was brutal, and bloody, in its own way, but finally it appears to have subsided. And I’d love to rationalize that this was a valuable learning experience, if nothing else, but what could I possibly learn from any of it? The new mower will arrive in a day or two – everything else has been trashed. Fortunately, no one has cut their feet in the shower yet, and the old lawn mower has been stacked on top of last years model in the garage – still mocking me from afar.

And the moral to this story? There is no moral, and no point in trying to make me feel better either, but it has occurred to me that I should probably be glad it happened. How better to understand the insanity and pure ignominy of life than to have it crash and burn all around me? Besides, I’m in good company – at one time or another, we’re all matadors in Santa suits. I guess it’s just a question of how much bull we can stand.
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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.

Vincent Price “Incurably Insane”

Having spent the past week in the hospital with my mother, a few things about “life” there on the geriatric floor seem worth noting. Sounds like a list coming up, doesn’t it? Well before I get into that, let me just say that few careers deserve more appreciation than the medical profession. They’re amazing geniuses with a dedication that’s off the charts – especially nurses. Without them, everyone in the place would be dead by morning. They do it all, and they do it well, and we should raise our glasses in high praise of those who answer this calling.

I think most of the problems in hospitals originate with the business part of things. Like any giant system, there are difficulties built into every process, but the public seems somehow induced to increase the drama. I was quite entertained by a lady who, apparently driven by a compulsion of Biblical proportions, verbally assaulted a cafeteria worker. You know, if the Eggs Benedict are below your personal standards, stick to some cornflakes or a bran muffin, and let the rest of us eat in peace. You’re an obvious foodie, Myrtle, but it’s only a cafeteria.

Our social worker laid out a great exit strategy, with tons of dotted i’s and crossed t’s, but she doesn’t work 24/7 and her Sunday replacement couldn’t find the notes, so it became confusing instead. And the old horn dog in room 346, who slithered through the halls and peeked into everyone’s room, came very close to restraints several times. I also wonder why some of the medical staff acted as if my mother couldn’t make her own decisions. She definitely can, and she doesn’t like jello. Asking me won’t change that.

But enough. Here’s the list. I’ll refer to it as “Ten Things About Hospitals That Make Me Sick.”

1. I don’t know who decides the room temperature, but they are clearly manic/depressive.
2. I’ve noticed that in this hospital, the specialists with the worst bedside manner refuse to wear the lab coat. Ah, the rebellious spirit. I get that, but rude behavior toward old ladies is trifling no matter how many letters follow your name.
3. Not all old people have dementia. Be clear, and talk loud – they’ll get it.
4. Someone should invent a push cart with quiet wheels – we could call it “the stealth cart.” They could zoom up and down the halls 1,000 times a day and no one would ever know.
5. Are the chairs in patient rooms designed to make you leave? And itch? (Is that something else?)
6. Why are there six full boxes of blue latex gloves in every room, but not a single wash cloth?
7. The creepy, sixty-ish male nurse who looks like Vincent Price and sounds like Liberace should not be touching my mother’s boob while giggling and requesting she breathe deeply. Just sayin…
8. There are three different books about the afterlife available at the gift shop. I swear!
9. In order to smoke, we had to walk 500 feet away to a glass hut in the woods, which is why we hid around corners and cheated. It felt like Reefer Madness and we were “incurably insane.”
10. Geriatrics deserve something less compromising than the traditional hospital gown.

Well, no matter – we’re home now. It felt a lot like a prison break though – the fresh air was exhilarating; the hounds were hot on our trail… All in all, my mother owes her life to this multitude in scrubs, and we won’t soon forget it, but the experience itself could benefit from some improvement. I’m just glad my mother didn’t behave like some of those others. Discipline and upbringing, I guess – I was proud of her. Older people wear dignity so well sometimes.
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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 Real Skinny

Change is good. Nothing too revolutionary about that statement – you’ve heard it before in reference to the paranormal. I’m not alone. It’s a wise person who is willing to integrate new methods and ideas, and I’m convinced doing so will make us all better investigators and researchers. It’s a good idea in life as well, don’t you think? I guarantee you that without a willingness to change, I’d be cowering under a rock somewhere – dirty, and mumbling about evil doers and fluoride in the water. The ability to adjust is built into the human condition, so why has it become such a moral dilemma these days when someone abandons the status quo?

I recently came across my first podcasts from 2007 – not published under the name Voices Podcast. Only about six people bothered to listen, but it’s both striking and disconcerting to realize how amply my attitudes and opinions have changed. After all, it’s only been seven years, and that hardly seems like enough time to be doing complete turn-arounds and full-reversals. In many instances, that’s exactly what I’ve done.

I’m reminded of a friend who felt obliged to point out a recent set of contradictions. He was quick to assert that it appears I don’t know what the heck I think. I should “pay better attention to previous claims.” Of course, I tried to explain that with anything paranormal, one has to be able to do that 180 and deal with the dreadful reality that you were probably mistaken. One can’t cling to wrong thinking – that will only maintain a bogus credibility, and credibility is important in the paranormal. Better to be honest with yourself and others throughout. Theres no shame in admitting that you don’t know or in confessing you were wrong.

Because of The Voices Podcast, I’ll be forever stalked by previous, errant conclusions, but there are also a couple of books out there with my name on them – an extensive public record of my inaccuracies and irrelevant ramblings. Good grief, I’m doomed! Maybe not. I’m sure most people realize there’s a learning curve with paranormal research, and that sometimes what you think you know today is less significant than what you don’t know tomorrow. In this field, being wrong should teach you a great deal, but you’ll eat a ton of crow along with it. My critical friend feels that until I am certain of something, I should be quiet – that I do no service offering unsubstantiated opinions and personal speculation. I guess he’s only interested in solid proof and guaranteed outcomes, as if anything paranormal is capable of delivering either.

Regardless, I feel a curious satisfaction from this work. I see it like a puzzle whose pieces are spread all over the neighborhood. I’m pretty sure if I can find enough of them, I’ll know what the picture is, but I doubt I’ll ever be able to completely solve it. Right now, I’m still looking for the pieces, and hoping one or two will connect with the ones I have. They rarely do, and that’s kind of a shame, but it’s also what turns me on about the whole experience. I expect to be wrong – it’s the nature of the beast as far as I’m concerned, and I’d lay you even money that seven years from now I’ll still be off the mark occasionally. Okay, a lot.

But maybe he’s right! Maybe I should just be quiet until I’ve actually solved something. I can accept that, even though I don’t see it happening. As long as I’m able, I intend to be going at it one way or another – wrong most of the time, but hopefully still enthused. I’m guessing I’ll be there until the end. Of course, then I’ll actually know, won’t I? If I can communicate from the other side, I’ll give you the real skinny then. But if I’m right, will you believe me?
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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.

True Believer

I died last night. It’s the second time in three nights too. Of course, I was dreaming, but these are the only times I ever remember having a dream like that. My life wasn’t in danger – no one was chasing me; I wasn’t falling off a cliff; weapons were not involved. In each dream, I had already passed, and the events that transpired did so completely from within the afterlife. That’s kinda heavy, no? Imagine waking up from that!

There was this guy there who was somehow able to make things happen on the other side. (Think of the here and now as the other side.) He was a congenial guy, and quite happy in his little room with gadgets and dials and computers. He told me he could do all sorts of things that would “show up over there” and he asked me what he could do for me.

Being a newbie, I didn’t know exactly. EVP, perhaps? I recommended a particular investigator to speak to, but that was too predictable, he said – “let’s try something new.” His idea of “something new” was to post on social media, and see who responded. As you might imagine, several people did just that, and most of them were pretty annoyed about the whole thing. Pranking at the expense of a dead guy? Not funny. Just one person asked if I was speaking from beyond the grave, to which we promptly clicked the like button and answered “yes!” Then everything went completely dark, and we could no longer hold the connection.

Facebook flaming aside, my deceased mentor was thrilled with the success of his “something new,” but I woke up troubled. I opened my eyes with his last words firmly imprinted on my brain. “At least you found a true believer,” he said, and it appeared I had. It was 5:01, and I was very much alive, thank God, and highly focused on the idea of “a true believer.”

For those of us who involve ourselves within this paranormal circle, I wonder about the nature and levels of our belief. Since it’s not religion and therefore makes no promises, it seems reasonable that our paranormal belief would be highly conditional, but even so, it’s unlikely that any of us would surrender a single suspicion in the name of unbridled faith. Who among us can truthfully say they know beyond any shadow of doubt that the afterlife is real? And for those willing to make the claim, could they also accept something like my dream scenario as being possible? I doubt it. I certainly wouldn’t.

“But this was only a dream, Randy. You can’t base anything on a pair of stupid dreams, right?” Definitely not, but it has been bothering me that maybe the largest missing piece of the paranormal puzzle is our having the willingness to accept unconditionally. Mediums know because they engage in all sorts of spiritual cavorting. Some of them can see, hear, touch, and even smell spirits. Wouldn’t they qualify as true believers? The rest of us can’t even agree about the medium’s veracity, much less trust the message, but if we could… If we were actually able to relax all the walls around us, would the game change?

I don’t know. I think we’re probably doomed to forever distrust the most significant part of living – it’s certain continuance. I wonder if we will ever even come close to being able to grasp and understand the truth of such shrouded concepts as paranormal, ghost, and afterlife. We claim to need proof – evidence of unquestionable reality, and we seem so reasonable with that viewpoint, but the true believer wouldn’t care about such things. He or she would already know, so maybe they are our only best hope of meaningful signification. Maybe our only way toward legitimate progress is to follow the true believers into the veil. I don’t know. It was just a dream, after all, but sometimes the line between life and death seems so delicate and porous. As though at any moment, we will simply awake… But what then?
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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.

Contact High

I think it’s fairly common to wax poetic this time of year. Before the new year begins, some of us love to reflect, and once it arrives, we begin making plans. I’ve had the time to repercus this season, but I don’t think there’s been more than a few minutes of quiet. Sadly, my only alone time has been in the bathroom, and that wasn’t very conducive to evaluation or scheming, but that may all be for the best. Oh sure, it definitely inhibited my paranormal life – there’s no way one can review footage or focus on EVP when children are running everywhere and grown-ups want to socialize, but where’s the upside to being buried alive in chaos? Easy! Now I’ve lost any interest in reviewing the past year, and my future plans don’t go much beyond Tuesday.

However, just because I’ve been robbed of participating in this natural rite of sappy recollection and mindless prognostication, doesn’t mean I can’t muster a few inconsequential pontifications (if you will). So here are some thoughts I have surrounding all the seasonal hoopla.

1. The world is a better place than it was before because now I have 21 pairs of brand new socks.
2. People are still griping about the ACA. Good grief, you turn off the news for one week and nothing has changed. Just stop already! And I thought my life was boring. Take up bungi jumping or something to distract your minds. At least now you can go to the ER when the chord breaks.
3. I honestly never even thought about Santa’s racial identity. Now I realize there are other questions to consider. What is Santa’s political affiliation? He’s American, right? The Claus’ have no children, so they must practice birth control. Who’s paying for that, I wonder?
4. Why does peppermint taste better in cane form?
5. Receiving a loaf of amazing cranberry walnut bread from your neighbors at Christmas is a true holiday miracle. Other than new socks, it doesn’t get any better than that.
6. It really is possible to live in close quarters with 6 or more adults for an extended period of time without killing someone.
7. I’ve never taken a selfie on purpose. Just sayin’.
8. TV shows with Christmas episodes need to air them closer to the actual holiday, doncha think? And how come there are never Easter episodes? Or Quanza specials?
9. Was the entire state of Colorado stoned on January 1st? A contact high?
10. I still don’t understand the term “booty poppin” and I think I might actually be the only one.

Just some thoughts. Listen, I wish I had a clue as to what 2014 will bring, or could reveal some great wisdom I received from 2013. I can’t. I’m just one of those people who never met a New Years Resolution he could keep, so I’m content to count myself lucky to still be alive and kicking, and that’s enough for me. I’m gonna try my best to keep my eyes and ears open though, in the hope that when something really cool comes up, I’ll be ready for it. I expect all kinds of cool stuff will happen too – usually does. Don’t want to be too highly focused on a long list of life-altering things-to-do when something spectacular occurs.

So here’s to taking 2014 by the horns and riding that sucker till it drops! May we all grow as much as we need, learn as much as we can, and love as much as possible. May it always be that today was just so fine, and that tomorrow can’t get here soon enough. Peace.
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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.

Help!

A few years ago, I watched a young woman on tv discuss a rather harrowing personal experience with a spirit she believed to be her deceased former boyfriend. He was an especially horrific young man who beat her and frequently promised to “destroy her,” so regrettably, the only defense she could fathom was to spill his blood while he slept. There was a trial, and remarkably, the young lady emerged a free woman after little more than five years, only to face her tormentor’s ghost on an almost daily basis. I watched as “informed others” suggested it was the onus of murder that haunted her, and that only intense therapy could free such deeply rooted guilt. Still others suggested more time in prayer, Sunday Mass, or the fruitful service of others. I watched, with the millions, as her face broke down. The strain from this new life sentence of daily spiritual battle ripped at her being; persecution from beyond life itself. It was all too much to bear, and she sobbed. She gave in and was defeated.

This is not a particularly common tale, but it is one that touched me significantly, and I clearly remember promising that should I find myself face to face with someone like her, I would be there to help first and ask questions later. I would try somehow to be the difference, even if only by lending an understanding ear or a comforting shoulder. And then time passed and I forgot about her; about all of it, until very early this morning.

Unable to sleep, cigarette in hand, I found myself staring into the 4:00 a.m. freezing blackness of my yard – listening intently as something or someone moved slowly through the leaves closer and closer to my back steps. A fox, perhaps, or a deer? Unfortunately, my senses could only decipher that menacing sound and with it, the certain knowledge something was inching its way ever nearer. I decided this foe in the dark was a man – possibly a vagrant, or worse, some wandering specter of the night. I listened to it reach the bottom of the stairs and stop – the sound of approaching calamity giving way to the beat of my heart, but when the bottom step creaked, I ran. Locking the door behind me, I caught a glimpse of my face in the glass, and saw the same sad trepidation I noticed in that young woman’s eyes so many years before. And I remembered.

The facts of life are difficult enough without facing certain horror from something unknown. For me, the locked door was protection enough – real or imagined, but I wondered how it went for her. I wondered if she still endured attack after relentless revenge-filled attack; whether she is still hopelessly resigned to a life of desperate fright.

It took only twenty-five minutes to find her obituary – she “took her own life” on what was probably a warm summer night, and no mention was made of why. Or how. Only of her crime and sentence; of her parole just three years earlier. She was survived by no one, and I imagine whatever mourning there had been was long since over. So easily forgotten. For a moment or two I just sat there. I could almost see her – trapped in that solitary life, her only companion the tortuous spirit and his unforgiving taunts.

This is my 100th post in The Voices Blog, and I had planned a light-hearted entry about a few of the things I have learned these past months. There was to be some special appreciation for those of you who stop by so frequently; for those who comment; for all who suffer each new attempt at humor or meaning. Some other day perhaps – there is always time for such things. This is, however, a “paranormal” blog, and should represent my personal attempt to make occasional sense of an infinite unknown, so it seems more fitting to tell the story of the young lady on tv instead. Who, in spite of the disintegration of self, was somehow eloquent enough to touch my heart so elegantly. But someone should have helped her.

I am once again reminded of the promise I made that day in front of the tv. It is a good oath to take for those of us who do this work, and I hope I never forget it. I need to be reminded that sometimes things can go very very wrong, and when they do, real people are often in the way. And also, that the smallest choices in life are often prelude to the most difficult challenges, especially if no one is there to help. Help is, after all, the true calling of paranormal investigation. And in spite of all the electro-magnetic forces, infrared cameras, full-spectrum, EVP, and whatever else you can think of, nothing matters if the offer of help is missing.

That’s how I see it. You may disagree, and I accept and respect that. But I ask you… If not to help, then what?
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Also visit Voices Unplugged at http://voicesblogunplugged.wordpress.com/
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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.