Full Of It

Lately, I’ve noticed some unusual events – small, barely recognizable paranormal incidents that seem to be increasing in frequency. Now this immediately presents a credibility issue for me because I’m a researcher – a self-proclaimed title that carries with it the mandate for supposed objectivity. Plus, I’ve always been suspicious of those whose involvement with the other side increases proportional to their activity in the field. To put it nicely, I think they probably benefit from an overly active imagination. Another way to say that is, they’re full of it.

I don’t want an overly active imagination, and I certainly don’t want to be full of anything – especially “it.” But I know what I’ve seen and heard! And lately, some strange stuff has been going on all around me. I almost don’t want to admit to it, because It makes me feel like one of those cops who chases the UFO down Main Street only to watch it dart away at incredible speeds. “What’d you see out there, Bill?” Uh… nothing. And I understand, because no one wants to feel everything he says or does will be suspect because of it. People frequently assume that you’re no longer able to be objective, and that sucks.

Well, a few nights ago I heard a deep throated woman giggle while I was smoking at the back door. I turned right away, but no one was there, so I chalked it up to something natural that my distracted mind misinterpreted. A day later, I heard it again in the bedroom – louder and more prolonged. My wife didn’t hear it, so again, I ignored it, but this morning while frying bacon, the same giggle. I decided something had to be going on.

Last month it was a mist in my mothers living room – twice, and the month before that a voice saying “hello,” and before that there was something else, and then something else… Frankly, I’m a little annoyed by all this other worldly attention. Assuming, of course, that’s what it is. I probably am too immersed in the subject; I could somehow be creating everything in my mind – for reasons unknown even to me. I could be making it up! Except, I’m not.

So it leads me to wonder whether or not personal experiences increase as one’s paranormal involvement grows deeper. In other words, are spirits choosing to communicate more frequently and in different ways – as in “the more you seek, the more you find?” Does that even make sense? I never would have thought so before – I truly would have argued against it, because I’ve seen too many non-sensitive people proclaim a new found sensitivity almost overnight. I don’t want to join that club.

I’m sure we all know someone who began to develop mediumship after only a few weeks in the field. Turned out she was always able to feel and see spirits; understood exactly what they wanted – she just never knew it before. It’s hard to investigate with someone like that – they already know everything, so I don’t even need to be there. But am I joining her ranks now? God I hope not, but other people aren’t hearing what I’m hearing, or seeing what I’m seeing, and that means either something has changed in my relationship with the spirit world, or I’m one psycho dude. I don’t want to be psycho, but I also don’t want to be “one of those” either. I’m perfectly happy searching blindly for my results – I don’t need the fast track, instant gratification of an “I already know” attitude.

Well, at least these spirits have stopped at merely making themselves known – so far. I shudder at the possibilities. Hopefully, they realize what a rotten conduit I would be, and are unwilling to take it any farther. I can only hope my spirit guide is fending them off for me. Maybe it’s cyclical and all of this will go away and return to normal, or maybe it’s just my turn, ya know? Wait! Did I just say something about a spirit guide? Oh no! Too late – it’s already started. Drat!
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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.

It’s All So Exhausting

I’m mentally tired. For a lot of reasons, actually. Some of them are to be expected – pick up the kid, answer the phone, clean the house, blah blah blah… But some stuff is instantly annoying. For example, I’m getting phone calls that burglars have selected our neighborhood and are specifically targeting my block. Fake FBI robo-calls have convinced my neighbors that there’s real danger afoot, and that the world’s most vicious and unstoppable crime lords will be stealing all our big screen TVs any day now. I wonder what someone does with so many of those?

I’m tired of corporate promises that suddenly evaporate. For instance, my bank promised we’d “never have to pay for checks again.” I suppose what they forgot to add was “until you run out.” My mother has asked her cable company to turn off the voice mail feature eight times, but it’s still working. There is a circle of corporate insanity out there, with the electric company, grocery store, and my insurance provider – all charter members. The phone company can’t add all of a sudden. Mom’s doctor couldn’t spot arrhythmia. I just don’t understand it, and it’s all so exhausting!

I don’t feel I should have to endure all these roadblocks along the path through life, do you? I know some of it seems harmless – just part of normal commerce (or questionably educational), but I’m willing to take my chances without so much absurdity at every intersection along the way. So, if we meet one day at the mall, or mulling over tomatoes in the market; if our paths cross at a baseball game or we discover we share the same taste in cinema; if we just happen to find ourselves face to face for no reason at all, here are some things you shouldn’t mention. I can’t say for sure what will happen if you do, but I’m certain it will exceed your expectations. You’ve been warned.

1. Do not tell me to quit smoking! I know it’s a filthy habit and it’s killing me – this is not news. And I don’t wanna hear how easy it was for you to quit.
2. Do not mention that I’ve gained weight. So have you, fat head.
3. I don’t want to hear Obama and Hitler in the same sentence ever again, so unless public displays of ignorance are your thing, hush.
4. When you find out I do paranormal research, don’t tell me your wife is psychic. I don’t care. Besides, she’s not, or she’d have warned you not to tell me that.
5. Don’t ask me if I’m still married to “whatshername.” If we haven’t seen each other in that long, just keep walking, for god’s sake.
6. No, the grand kids are not keeping me young.
7. Yes, I remember you. And yet, I never tried to stay in touch. Hmmmm…
8. If you heard I was dead, don’t bring it up. I promise not to mention how often I heard you were stupid. I’m clearly not dead, but stupidity is unavoidable.
9. Don’t ask me if I’ve accepted Jesus Christ as my personal savior. It’s not the question – it’s everything that follows.
10. Don’t tell me so-and-so turned out to be gay unless he’s getting married and you know where he’s registered. I’d rather buy a crystal serving dish for some guy I haven’t seen in forty years than spend one minute gossiping about his sexuality with you.

There are others, but if you embrace these ten suggestions, I can handle anything else. Unless you start on politics or religion, and then all bets are off – I don’t have time to “straighten you out,” and you’ll force me to try. In case you’ve forgotten, I understand the true meaning of the word obnoxious, and I know how to execute. Life’s tough in the big city! So, peace… Smiley face… Go Orioles!
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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.

Science Doesn’t Do Lucky

So this EVP researcher walks into a bar… Okay, there isn’t a punch line, but the bar is abandoned and run-down, barely visible or accessible due to wilderness creep, and is verifiably empty – no one is within half a mile in any direction. He pulls out his trusty digital recorder and places it on the bar, in full view of the video camera he has positioned to document everything. The session continues for about an hour, until the researcher leaves to analyze his efforts on computer. The session was a great success, yielding several quality EVP, and each recording was deemed clear of outside contamination.

The results from this session in the wilderness cannot be duplicated or predicted. There are no witnesses or technicians to monitor the equipment or the researcher, and even though the nature of the EVP responses preclude the possibility of man-made or electronic interference, the session is labeled inconclusive. It might as well have never happened.

The EVP researcher doesn’t have a lab from which he can control circumstances. He doesn’t have expensive equipment to monitor his recording devices, cannot construct an acceptable research environment around an isolated location, and he’s unable to provide acceptable, lettered observers to serve as indisputable authorities on the veracity of his results. He cannot guarantee the location is completely shielded from outside electromagnetic anomalies, and to add insult to obvious injury, his reputation is suspect due to the nature of his research. He might as well be labeled a liar, although no one would do such a thing – there’s no need, because scientific governance will disavow his experiment immediately. End of story. He might as well have suggested the universe is made of sponge cake.

Now this may sound a little bitter to some of you. Perhaps I’m also resentful or jealous of the necessary precautions required by every credible scientific experiment ever destined to find universal acceptance. But I’m not bitter or resentful. I’m not jealous. I understand that this is how it must be. There was a time when I wanted science to embrace paranormal research as the long lost brother it surely was, but no more, because I know it can’t happen. The paranormal doesn’t work under proper, reasonable, controllable conditions because in order to succeed, it requires cooperation from the other side.

If a spirit doesn’t speak, there are no EVP, and everyone in our field knows they speak when they choose. Sometimes, you actually do have to travel to extremely remote locations just to talk to them. You have to “feel” your way through situations, find ways to pique their interest, or worse – return home empty handed. It doesn’t matter where you go, or what kind of conditions you’re forced to work under, communicating with the spirit world isn’t guaranteed. It’s a phone call, and they don’t have to pick up.

I can’t imagine the scientific community embarking on such a journey, and I fully understand. I wouldn’t want them to go about their work the way we do. I expect them to be methodical and operate under painstaking scrutiny; to be clinical, analytical, detailed, precise, and all sorts of other things not conducive to spirit communication. Of course, I realize there are aspects of EVP research that could withstand some sound scientific method, but the absolute bottom line relies on the willingness of those beyond the veil to participate. We understand we have to get lucky, but science doesn’t do lucky.

So, this EVP researcher walks into a bar and asks, “Is anyone here?” Later, he hears an unexplained voice answer, “Does it really matter?” Probably not, the researcher thinks, but he’s going back anyway.
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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.

Downside

There’s an upside and a downside to everything. You can’t have one without the other – like good and evil, beautiful and ugly, smart and stupid. You know how it works – if you don’t have one, how do you define the other? So, the downside of researching anything paranormal begins when people outside the field expect you to have answers. Most of my responses have to begin with “I have no idea,” because I don’t. Occasionally, I feel a little bit like a terminally ill patient being asked to conjure a cure. In both cases, a non-committal shrug seems appropriate.

“So, don’t you think it makes sense that…” Well, I guess so, but it’s a little more complicated than that. “Maybe everyone is a sensitive and we just don’t know it.” Maybe so, but if literally no one knows it, how would we be? And why do so many people want to be sensitive anyway? “Ghosts only show up at 3:00 am, right? How come?” Do they? I don’t actually see a lot of ghosts – almost never, but I think it can happen any time. “As long as it’s dark, then?” Good grief, I don’t know!

There’s so much more that I don’t know than I do, and the more experience I gain, the truer that seems to be. It’s not like being a mechanic or a doctor. There are no paranormal carburetors to fix, or broken bones to set, and you can go years without any results whatsoever. I cringe when their interrogations begin because I can see the expectation in their faces. Surely I must know something I can share with them; some other-worldly secrets; some kind of scoop on where the dearly departed have gone.

What they want, I think, are lots of really good, provably true ghost stories. Like the one where the old man walks the halls with an ax every night and watches the children sleep, or how the beautiful heiress meets her dead lover once a year in dreams. (It could happen!) I mean, why would anyone do this kind of research if there’s no payoff, right? It doesn’t make sense to keep coming up empty-handed time after time. Which means I’m either a terrible researcher, enjoy wasting my time, am unwilling to share, or I’m incredibly stupid. Hmmm… I wonder which one fits?

I often try to answer the questions with one of my own – “What do you think?” This usually results in some crazy scenario that I then feel compelled to deflate – out of professional pride, of course. Well, I can’t let them think deceased family members are turning into demons on the other side, or that when someone dies in the house it automatically becomes haunted. It’s a vicious circle! I have no answers, but I better come up with something, or else… Don’t misunderstand me, I don’t mind sharing what I’ve learned, and offering a theory or two is certainly not beneath me, but the bottom line is always the same – I know a lot more about what is not paranormal than what actually is paranormal.

The other day, an old friend called me full of questions, and I had absolutely nothing to tell him. “Well, you don’t know anything,” he finally said – incredulously. Oh, we know a lot, I told him – we just don’t know anything conclusive. There’s not very much we can prove. “Let me know when you figure it out,” he snarked. “Okay?”

Sure thing! I’ll get right on that. Whatever happened to “How’s the family?”
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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.

A Non-Existent Event

This past week I conducted an experiment I’ve been longing to do for at least five years – I video taped myself sleeping. I bet that sounds incredibly boring to everyone except me, but indulge me while I set it up for you. It seems that some of my most successful EVP sessions occur while I am asleep. I just turn off the lights, press record, close my eyes, and psyche myself up for four plus hours of next-day listening to heavy breathing. But I’m never alone for these sessions – there is often a menagerie of unexplained voices. So basically, I added an IR camera to the mix, and even though the usual suspects seem to have developed a slight streak of camera shyness, the results were interesting.

But why was I compelled to attempt to capture video corroboration of my EVP? Because of the noises. In addition to these unexplained voices, I usually record a lot of non-exigent noises as well. I don’t believe noise can qualify as EVP, but something or someone is making a lot of it while I sleep. There are often the sounds of drawers opening, of objects sliding across dresser tops, containers opening and closing, and a fascinating assortment of taps, knocks, and thuds. I wanted to see what’s behind all the ruckus! Can you blame me?

The current episode of The Voices Podcast reveals results from this session, as well as a self-analysis of fear, but there was something else worthy of discussion – a 37-minute gap that occurred as my digital recorder was apparently being manipulated. In all my years of paranormal research, this is a first, and therefore for me, an exciting moment worthy of note – especially since the video shows that I never left the bed.

With this kind of research, the possibility of a perfectly natural explanation looms very large on the paranormal event horizon. It just makes sense to look at our known world for understandable rationale before declaring solutions that emanate from one whose existence we can’t even verify. But when all the debunking is fruitless, and the scientific possibilities offer no answers; when common sense comes up empty, and every fiber of your intellect is stumped, what is left but to enter a reasonable plea for the paranormal?

A “gap” of any length represents something that truly does not exist, and still, I’ve spent some days now attempting to resolve as much about it as I can. Even though all avenues led to dead ends (I’ll spare you the details), something deep inside suggests I’ll never find a real-world explanation for this non-existent event – that this “missing” incident may indeed be some kind of inexplicable anomaly; something potentially paranormal.

Unfortunately, too often we demand that a paranormal explanation must include factual evidence of such, thereby loosing sight of the very nature of something paranormal. There must be a tape that reveals the action, or audio that definitively ties the voice to it, but sometimes even evidence lets us down. When all reasonability fails, that paranormal explanation becomes every bit as potentially accurate as any piece of unknown science or any vain and failed exercise in logic. Sometimes, it makes just as much sense to consider something unthinkable. Maybe something that doesn’t even exist at all can occasionally show us the way.
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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.

Ah, Vacations…

Vacations are probably the best part of the year. They trump any holiday mankind has ever created. Even if Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Halloween were all rolled into one; even if I were given fifty presents, a perfect turkey dinner and all the “fun-sized” Milky Ways I could eat, I’d still choose a genuine vacation every time. So it’s important not to waste these precious, extra-curricular moments of life. A trip to Granny’s is great, but no matter how long it lasts, it will never qualify as a vacation. The same is true for one of those “just stay home, sleep in and relax” things. Or a week of day trips. Any time you hear yourself say “we didn’t feel like going anywhere this year,” you’re lying, and it’s not a vacation. It’s blasphemy, and you could maybe possibly be punished.

Ya gotta plan a vacation, and it has to include doing stuff at a place you’ve never been before. I’m sorry. There aren’t many rules to this, but those are non-negotiable, because “vacation” is itself a holy word, and should therefore not be taken in vain. If your phone or computer is in any way an integral part of your plans, you are in danger of a spiritual crisis. In fact, receiving text messages, emails, and checking one’s Facebook status are among the worst infractions of The Vacation Code.

In case you’re thinking this point of view is a bit extreme or at the very least, overly zealous, here are some interesting tips about vacations that may have escaped you.

1. Vacations do not discriminate. For example, murderers and politicians are known to frequently partake. Should you run across one of these in vaca-mode, don’t panic. Move away from the raw bar and order something less ostentatious.
2. If you’ve read more than four books during a seven day period, you are not on vacation. (Guide books do not apply.)
3. Bringing actual work on a vacation is patently irreverent and parts of your body will begin to fall off.
4. You are required to tell everyone you meet where you live. “Hello, my name is Hans and I come from Dusseldorf.” Keep in mind, if you can get away with it, lying is acceptable.
5. There is no such thing as “over-packing.” That is a despicable rumor created by AARP.
6. There are secret, government Vacation Vouchers available. This is very hush-hush, so if you’re uncertain whether or not you qualify, you don’t.
7. Always plan on not being able to drink the local water. Generally, potable deficiency figures are higher for the more beautiful locations. But don’t be discouraged – Coca Cola products are in abundance everywhere, as well as vodka, and many variations of rum.
8. Always exceed the limits for carry-on luggage. The rest of us will take great delight in watching the flight crew force you to check it. After all, spectacle is everything on a plane.
9. Do not try to see the world alphabetically. There are too many A’s.
10. Dress appropriately. Flip flops and cut-off sweats belong at the beach, not the airport. Usually, if you think your appearance is of no consequence, you’re tacky, and even though you’ve just slathered on the Mitchum, others will assume you smell bad.

And there you have it. I hope these observations have been helpful and I wish all of you “happy trails” this year. We’ve just returned from our vacation – it was spectacular. Next up? Fun-sized Milky Ways, of course.
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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.

Peanut Butter Is Dangerous!

On Baltimore morning radio, two blockheads, whose paranormal expertise is no better than that of a duck and a ball bearing, discuss ghosts. One boasts that he believes and points to a typical Gettysburg experience, while his buddy is having none of it. “The whole thing is just stupid,” he rants, but three days later he’s singing a different tune. Apparently over the weekend, his motion sensor hallway lights were triggered for no reason, and his garage door opened by itself. Ah, how quickly they turn.

“We’re moving,” he said. “My wife’s mad at me for angering the ghosts and now they’re driving us crazy. We’re gonna hafta move.” His amused buddy wants to know why such a harsh reaction, and proposes calling someone to help find out for sure what’s going on. “I don’t want those idiots in my house! I’d rather move.” I assume he’s kidding, but being one of those “idiots” myself, I’d rather he not call me. Well, he won’t, because the show’s producer suggests a mouse and a power surge – problem solved. This idiot concurs – I doubt the ghosts are angry.

But isn’t it kind of typical? Local media rarely seems capable of dealing with any paranormal subject seriously. They’re always filming some investigators on Halloween doing and saying completely ridiculous stuff. Or, they might feature a local witch – someone in full-Goth mode sporting a pointed hat. They ask her really dumb questions, which she always answers predictably – it’s so sad. Stereotypes and bad punch lines is how anything paranormal is handled locally. “Well Bill, it takes all kinds.” and everyone chuckles. Yes indeed, it does – unfortunately.

Two Halloweens ago, I was invited to explain EVP on the local independent station. I declined. “But it will help your book sales,” he said, thinking that would surely bring about a change in heart. I thanked him politely and also declined his next three attempts. They ran a story about “real life vampires” instead. I still thank my angels for helping me dodge that bullet.

I guess the paranormal still qualifies as one of those “it’s a whacky-world” human interest stories that local anchormen can’t resist every October. One way or another, some poor soul with good intentions is destined to become a laughing stock as he trades his credibility for two minutes of inglorious hometown stardom sandwiched between nonsense and the sports. I don’t know why we do it – I’d rather have strep throat and several staff infections, but every Halloween it’s the same. We’re like mice wandering into one of those plastic traps in search of peanut butter. I thought we would have learned by now – peanut butter is dangerous!

Thank God for BlogTalk radio and other alternative venues. Not all the hosts are exactly charismatic and some of the guests have refined the art of being tedious to a science, but that’s okay. At least Billy Bob doesn’t have to sound like an escapee from Clown College; at least he can maintain his dignity, and his family doesn’t have to cringe themselves to sleep. I suppose I shouldn’t be so hard on the local media – they’re just Lucy pulling back the football one more time. That’s their nature. It’s Charlie Brown who is to blame, you know. When will he learn?
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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.

333

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been waking up at the same time every night – at 3:33 am. At first, this was greatly amusing – I even chuckled aloud once or twice. But then, I began to wonder why, and of course I thought there might be a paranormal connection. What else, right? Oh, I realize how frequently people manage to awaken themselves like this with their own inner clocks, but that’s no fun. Given my proclivity for things paranormal, a supernatural explanation should not be unexpected. You know, I even started to look forward to it.

But last night, as I opened my eyes to the now familiar 333; stood and started on my way to the bathroom; as I reached the bedroom door, something caught my t-shirt and held me back. It was actually difficult to pull away – whatever had me used a lot of force. I checked for nails, small slivers of wood – anything out of the ordinary, and I removed the shirt to search for snags, tears, or whatever. You can imagine – there was nothing. Was this what all these 333 moments were about? Was a spirit preparing me for this small tug of war just to let me know he was there? Was this actually paranormal?

Probably not. You know, I realize that we’re not exactly on top of things in the early morning hours; that we’re groggy when we wake up, and our senses are not to be believed. But this was a hefty pull, and I was awake, dammit! I know many of you might prefer I keep this to myself – why incur further embarrassment. You don’t want to think of me as confused and blindly accepting of such esoteric explanations. But what’s the difference? Something pulled my shirt. In fact, it lasted 3 or 4 seconds before I could break free. Does it matter which explanation suits me more?

It’s not so terrible to believe a spirit has been waking me at 333, and pulled my shirt. Mankind has always believed in things that go bump in the night, so frankly, it seems more normal than a lot of rational explanations based on maybe and what if scenarios. In my little world, I reserve the right to believe this fantasy and unexplained nonsense any time I choose.

I think what gets me; what chafes my thighs the most, is that because of this I have become a sleepwalking, dream-dazed, unaware old man, whose commentary on the things he does is now completely unreliable and specious. I couldn’t possibly be getting it right because I was asleep 5 minutes earlier. It couldn’t be a ghost or a spirit. Really? But why on earth does it matter? Why can’t it be Aunt Sue here to tell me that she’s present? “Because that’s just silly!” Who cares?! I like that possibility. It pleases me to think some spirit – whoever he or she might be, went to all the trouble of tugging on my shirt. I like all the foreplay of waking me up every night at 333. And it’s never going to be explained, so I think I prefer the nonsense explanation to the “walking dead” theory.

Even if I am wrong about this, it will never matter. It’ll just be one more fascinating little piece of life that makes me smile. Forget all the serious stuff, and my betrayal of duty as a modern man in a world full of incredible, but true explanations. When I pass this plane, I’m gonna ask everyone I meet on the other side if they pulled on my shirt and woke me up at 333 every night. I’m gonna ask until I find the guy who did it, and then I expect to smile about it all over again.
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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.

Indisputably Worthless

It has been suggested that I write the occasional movie review here on The Voices Blog. Well, it’s true that once upon a time I knew everything there is to know about film, and since I have a BFA in Cinema, I still should, right? But over the years, all the knowledge has slowly drained from my brain into an amorphous lump of unfortunate drivel usually based solely on nothing more than what I like. Since quality is no longer a major concern, I’ve obviously become one of the “great unwashed.”

To help explain this… For me, The Walking Dead isn’t good because of camera angles or point of view; character development is of incidental importance. The rhythm of the editing is meaningless, the acting inconsequential, the special effects of secondary significance, and the underlying definition of the human condition is irrelevant. The Walking Dead is good because there are cool zombies and crazy people. You see? It’s taken a lot of years, but I’ve finally forgotten every last thing I learned in college. When they told me a college education would come in handy, I didn’t think there was an expiration date. It no longer comes in handy.

These days, my usual comments about the films I watch are so pedestrian and personally indulgent that I don’t even enjoy hearing my own opinions as I state them. So, in case you’re still not convinced, here are just ten of the reasons why my opinion on film is totally and indisputably worthless.

1. I have developed an intense hatred for slasher movies. Every time someone gets cut I have to look away. I usually turn to whomever I’m with and say, “This is just stupid. Do you like this crap?”
2. I think “2001: A Space Odyssey” is ground-breaking and seminal, and I still laugh at the instructions for using a zero gravity toilet.
3. When did Monty Python stop making movies? They were just getting the hang of it!
4. I liked “Mama.”
5. I’ve seen “That Thing You Do” 27 times, and I’m not ashamed of it. I want to tell you my favorite part, but it’s too embarrassing.
6. My favorite genre is alien movies. I like ghosts and demons too, but all it takes to get my money is a Gray in his birthday suit.
7. I couldn’t sit through an entire romantic comedy if my life depended on it. Lord save me! Doesn’t matter how much sleep I’ve had the night before, I’m bagging zzzz’s well before that fool decides he can’t live without her. Sometimes I even fall asleep with popcorn still in my mouth.
8. If Bruce Willis is in it, I’m there!
9. I have actually heard myself say, upon occasion, that Tom Cruse is a good actor. When you couple this with the Bruce Willis thing…
10. The whole Jack Sparrow persona still hasn’t gotten old for me.

Watching film is something I do incredibly well – probably because it’s so easy! I do a lot of it too, in one form or another – everything from television shows to movies to footage of my last investigation. I watch it on a big screen tv, iPad, computer, iPhone, and of course, in the theaters. If something has been immortalized on video, celluloid, or digitally mastered, I’m all about it and looking for a front row seat. Problem is, I might know what I like, but I’m no longer certain why. Fortunately, I haven’t lost all semblance of intelligent thought, because I’m smart enough not to attempt a movie review. I wonder what happened to me?
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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.

Physical Evidence

For each of the last three investigations in which I have participated, I’ve returned home sporting a small bruise. Each has been almost identical – on the inside of my upper right arm, smaller than a dime, and circular in shape; very dark at first, but quick to disappear. Folks, these are not major bruises and there has been no pain, itching, burning, or other annoying irritation. (Thanks for your concern, though.) It’s mind-boggling, and I wish I had an explanation.

I’d have taken a photo, but it didn’t seem important until now – three times in a row seems to defy coincidence, doesn’t it? It’s such an unusual occurrence, to say the least, and one would think the investigator in me would have chosen to document it, but frankly, I feel a little silly even mentioning it. So before you jump out of your seat trying to be the first to insist that it’s not paranormal, relax! I’m making no such claims. It’s just so odd, though; doesn’t make a lick of sense; defies all logic, and there’s nothing to make me think it’s related to the esoteric portion of the investigations in question.

But hold on a second. I can’t seem to debunk the darn things. I don’t even know where to begin! It doesn’t come from a camera strap, the clothes I wore, close proximity to chemicals or fire, or the seat belt in my car (which I don’t wear, by the way because that’s just how I roll). I’m reasonably certain a disease is not involved, and the only consistent factor is a proximity with paranormal investigations. This lack of a credible explanation has me stumped, even if there is physical evidence. I don’t bruise easily – never have, so what ever could it be?

Well, some have suggested these bruises are the possible entry points of spirits attempting to temporarily possess me. Uh huh. If it weren’t for evidence discovered in analysis, you wouldn’t even know there was activity at these locations, so I don’t think spirits entered my body and left a bruise. And likewise, I don’t believe they represent a place where a spirit touched me. I also refuse to accept alien abduction as the culprit, or an ectoplasmic allergic reaction, over-exposure to electro-magnetic fields, an outward manifestation of fear, a warning from God, or radiation poisoning from Hell.

I suppose it could be psychosomatic, but logic suggests I’d have chosen something a little more dramatic. A cry for help? I doubt it. A latent need for attention? Please. My absolute favorite suggestion included my wife’s hair iron, a deep sleep, and her subconscious need to inflict revenge of some kind. I assure you, that’s not the case either. She may have good reason, but she’s not spiteful.

However, it did occur to me that this situation is very much like the paranormal in one overwhelmingly obvious way – it’s unexplainable and will probably remain so. Of course, I’ll be ready after the next investigation. Cameras, meters, and a crack team will be poised for installment number four, but I think we all know how it will go down. Much ado will be made and nothing will happen. Just when I’m primed, prepared, well-equipped and full of my “mature” version of youthful exuberance, nothing will show. Skeptics will suggest I made it up, team members will be supportive, and friends will be polite, but I bet these incidents stop at three. Sigh… Here we go again.
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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
Theree Is No Silence by Randall Keller http://goo.gl/U6KY7 Available on Amazon.

Fool’s Gold

My wife and I watched spellbound as a strange, translucent shadow moved back and forth in the hallway outside our bedroom door. It moved inconsistently at about human height, and bore a strikingly similar shape to that of a person. We watched a while, anticipating movement; looking for clues to its identity; commenting on what we thought it might be. Eventually, I got out of bed and proceeded to the only light source available – the crack in my daughter’s bedroom door. Inside, by the glow of a night light, I found a very small balloon dancing about near a fan and reflecting a faint shadow into the hall through the barely open door. End of mystery. Certainly not paranormal, though it looked every inch the part.

Yesterday, my dog was standing in the kitchen waiting for his snack. This was a bit of a shocker, because Oliver was outside, tied up, and barking. How could he be in two places at once? Was he astral projecting? The spirit of his deceased father, perhaps? His doppelgänger? I’m a trained observer, dog-gone-it, and I know what I saw. Clear as a bell, it was. But it wasn’t. I am always amazed at how such hallucinations are possible, but this was a brief sighting, and obviously not an accurate one – my brain somehow found a way to create Oliver’s “second” and make it appear acceptably real.

This is what we face as paranormal investigators – the natural occurrences of normal life can confound us in a heartbeat, and our imaginations will trigger without any perceivable encouragement. How to recognize the validity of our observations (barring audio or video assistance) becomes a major task, because it appears painfully obvious that we’re terrible eye witnesses and simply can’t be relied upon for accuracy. Occasionally, the things we see are more difficult to dispense with – especially when they span more than a few seconds and are seen by more than one person. Other times, our paranormal experiences are fleeting. They find us alone, and while no less real to our senses, present the same problem – how do we differentiate between reality and illusion. Do we stop trusting our eyes and ears? Is this just part of what it means to be human?

Absolutely it is, but this is not a black and white issue – it is ten thousand shades of gray. Seeing my dog where he was not doesn’t deny the existence or the richness of credible paranormal experiences. The weight of one single incident has no bearing on any other. The fact that our minds are capable of manufacturing such visions does not categorically explain or discredit every unexplainable event we encounter. The truth is always found in the middle – between the obvious and the impossible; in spite of belief or doubt. Our job as investigators is to accurately recognize enough of the facts to shed a small light on what is real, while never losing sight of the false or the convincing.

Things paranormal can offer up a frustrating road to travel; can make us appear foolish and gullible, and frankly, will waste our time. The paranormal can be fool’s gold, as it cloaks the truth amid just enough glitter and shine to catch our eye and capture our imaginations. But just because we can be deceived, doesn’t mean we are. Sometimes, there truly is “gold in them thar hills” – buried between the facts and the deceptions. Ya just gotta keep looking, and learn to laugh at yourself along the way.
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Definitely Kinda Sorta

I have a problem. I’ve captured video of some thingy that travels unpredictably, is incredibly fast, changes shapes, and casts its own very bright light. I recorded it during a private daytime investigation, so duh… It’s not a bug, flashlight, or car lights. Besides, no one was even in the building. But listen, I know what it’s not – I just don’t know what it is.

At first I was disappointed to see it a second time because that suggested a naturally recurring situation, but everything about it was completely different from the first one, so I labeled both of the anomalies as temporarily unexplainable. Likewise for the third, fourth, and fifth occurrences – each different, and each completely without sensible interpretation. However, by the time number six arrived, I was pretty jaded and with much chagrin, decided that I couldn’t accept any of them as paranormal. Into the proverbial trash with them all.

No, I had to re-evaluate. I knew eventually I would have to discredit the darn things because that’s my job, so I pushed it aside for later and moved on to the final video file. And there it was – number seven. This time, it was the shape and size of a bright orange baseball. I watched transfixed; spellbound and incredulous, as it moved up the stairs casting a soft, golden glow on the far wall of the stairwell. Basically, I just stared at the screen – fully awake and focused – watching it take the shape of a perfect orb, and slowly float away.

Wait. An orb? Oh Lord, not an orb! I don’t believe in orbs. Not even a little bit. In order for me to believe in an orb it would have to introduce itself verbally and sit in my hand while singing Handel’s Messiah and juggling. Orbs are never paranormal, dammit! And that’s final. But I dunno what this is! It was round just that once, which suggests I can probably avoid the word “orb,” so I’m calling it a light anomaly. But just because I don’t know what the phenomenon is, doesn’t mean I don’t know what I think, and I definitely kinda sorta don’t think it’s paranormal. Am I just being stubborn? I prefer prudent, cautious, and sensible, but if that’s so, then why does it feel so wrong? Well, it’s one of those things, right? Sometimes it doesn’t matter how unexplainable something appears to be, ya just can’t call it paranormal. Sometimes you just suck it up and try to muddle through.

But why? Am I actually going to ignore this just because it’s an orb? I could have been wrong all these years. Orbs might actually be paranormal. Not the silly ones that supposedly have faces and only happen at the exact same moment as lens flare, of course, but what kind of investigator refuses to recognize evidence just because it differs from his “other” world view? Either this is real or it isn’t – there’s no middle ground here. But an orb? Sigh… I’d have preferred a tap dancing T-Rex.

Well, I’ll be okay – don’t worry about me. I’ll just do a lot of shoulder shrugging and say things like, “I dunno what it is. What do you think?” My reputation will stay in tact; my credibility will come back. There’s nothing to fret about because it is sooo not an orb, but then what is it? Okay, I know. I get it! It’s a light anomaly, and there’s an explanation out there somewhere. I’ll figure it out. Geeez… Why me?
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Uninformed and Misled

This week I read a very thought provoking blog post on The Big Seance entitled “How Does the Skeptic View Paranormal Folk?” It features a stunning video from a young lady which everyone in the paranormal field should see. Truthfully, I found most of what she said to be mildly offensive, and I thought she exhibited a surprising and willing lack of intellectual faculty concerning the paranormal field. However, I won’t dwell on her unfavorable opinions of us. She is well within her rights to speak her mind, and I would never object to her expression of those ideas, but I found it eye-opening. I recommend you read this blog entry and see the video – you can draw your own conclusions.

However, even though I won’t concern myself with the negativity, I’d like to focus instead on the one area in which she and I agree. I even recorded an entire podcast episode about the same subject entitled “No Scientists.” It centers on what I feel is a fact – paranormal investigators are not scientists. That shouldn’t be a shocking revelation. I do believe we have fiercely stepped into a gaping void we call “paranormal studies,” but we’ve done so out of love for the subject, passion for the possibilities, reverence for the unknown, and because the scientific community has almost to a man, ignored it. Regardless, we’re not scientists – not by determination or default.

We don’t do things scientifically, carry out our work according to any accepted scientific methods, record and store our data in any reasonable scientific manner, or draw conclusions in an organized and sensible fashion. If we’re being honest, almost nothing about what we do is definitively scientific.

But all is not lost. There’s nothing wrong with observing accurately and reporting what we observe? That’s actually what we do. We’re reporters. That’s how I see it – we’re like this strange new kind of guerrilla journalist. A journalist, by definition, is “anyone who keeps a journal, diary, or any other record of events.” Likewise, a reporter is “anyone who reports”. Well, that’s us! We might also be able to call ourselves researchers since the dictionary states that research involves a “diligent, systematic, and often extensive inquiry or investigation into a subject in order to discover or revise facts, theories, applications, etc.” That fits like a glove, no?

We shouldn’t even hint that we do science (and you know, a lot of us do) because that would be truly inaccurate, but also because scientists are forced to deal only with facts and unquestionable truths. As paranormal investigators (reporters; researchers), we deal with the exact opposite. We may believe our paranormal realities are facts, and they may indeed be quite true, but there really is no proof. Not yet. That’s what we’re looking for, right? The data we gather is incredibly, and singularly important to that end, and some day, science may find that data to be priceless in determining heretofore elusive facts and truths. One day, they may move forward into the unknown on the back of our data. An unknown, we already know exists.

You know, the scientific community has a history of ridiculing those who don’t quite meet their standards and criteria. Today’s breed might deny that, of course, but it’s on the record – the facts don’t lie. Some scientists spend considerable time attempting to invalidate and dismiss us all as uninformed hobbyists or unfortunately misled souls. That time would be better spent looking at our data with the unbiased eye they so humbly claim to possess, but I don’t see that happening any time soon. Partly because they’re very good at missing the forest for the trees; partly because (if the aforementioned video is any indication) they just don’t want anything to do with us. Well, it doesn’t matter. We’re not scientists anyway, so they’ll do their thing and we’ll do ours. Much respect to everyone, but I’m not sure I want to enter a pitch black abandoned mental institution with a scientist by my side anyway. I prefer my “uninformed and misled” brothers and sisters. Peace!
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“When I’m 64”

I don’t know about you, but I like to do things my own way. I don’t need a bunch of people telling me how to behave, when to go to sleep, what to eat or wear, which movies to watch, and who I can choose for friends. I’m grown! So, because Tuesday was my birthday, and since we decided to go to my favorite seafood restaurant to celebrate, I decreed that everything should be “my way.” Naturally, I wore my camouflage shorts and Voices From Forever t-shirt, ordered two entrees for myself, spilled the wife’s soda (she’s so long-suffering), and over-tipped the busboy – all of which crescendoed into an over-stuffed food stupor with an order of pitiful groaning on the side. It was glorious! And I loved doing everything my way so much, I decided to make a list of some other things I’d like to do – maybe next birthday.

I call this list “My Paranormal Bucket List,” or “Ten Paranormal-related Things I’ll Probably Never Get To Do But Really Should Be Allowed To List.” Here goes, in no particular order.

1. Investigate Buckingham Palace. Who wouldn’t want to do this considering all the spirits in that place? Queen Elizabeth must not ever get a good night’s sleep. I want a full-on, no holds barred investigation, and I don’t care how many months it takes.
2. I want a brand new, top of the line, $40,000 color FLIR all to myself. In fact, make that two! ‘Nuff said.
3. Spend several days at Stonehenge, during the summer solstice – just me and 2 other investigators… Uninterrupted… All day, all night – catered.
4. I want to attempt to record John Lennon’s spirit voice. I’m not sure how I’ll do this just yet, but “with a little help from my friends…” (Old hippies will get the reference.)
5. I wanna spend the night locked in the Louvre with enough cameras to cover every nook and cranny. Just me and one other art-loving investigator who promises not to complain about the French Impressionists.
6. I want one of those nerdy safari vests with a gazillion pockets. Just sayin’…
7. Any investigation with Barry Fitzgerald will be just fine, thank you. It’s not exactly a spectacular item, and might be the most doable thing on the list, but I’m certain it’ll be the most enjoyable. P.S. I prefer my Barry Fitzgerald with a shaved head.
8. I want to artistically photograph any allegedly haunted place I so desire. I want total access and unlimited time so that my images will be breathtaking and completely express the true nature of each location. False praise of my final product is willingly accepted, of course.
9. I want the complete run of the Gettysburg Battlefield any time I like – especially after dark. Lets throw in certain select buildings in town as well.
10. I want the Kling brothers to give me the Ghost Lab. Of course the equipment comes with it! I’m actually not certain what all is in there, but it looks incredibly cool and sometimes that’s enough.

Thats it! Of course, none of these wishes will ever come true. I’m destined to end my days doing exactly what I’m doing now. That’s okay, of course, but a guy can dream, right? I feel a tad embarrassed that I didn’t include any charities on my list, and I probably should have said something about world peace or civil rights. But then, keep in mind that I’ve just recently consumed 3 lbs. of crab legs and a double portion of crab imperial – not exactly a testimonial for selflessness or common sense, so I’m probably not in my right mind just yet. Ain’t birthdays grand!
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