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.  

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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.