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.  

Returning to Sensibility

Sometimes, there can be a real problem separating actual life from one’s paranormal activities. When every day centers around pouring over evidence, before you know it the floors are filthy, and the bathroom has become a giant science experiment. Instead of taking care of business, huge chunks of precious time revolve around this cat and mouse game we have with the afterlife, and reality gets lost. It really has to stop.

Returning to sensibility isn’t always as easy as we might hope. It’s really boring staring at the infrared video of a chair for 8 hours, but it does beat the heck out of grocery shopping or paying the bills. Who cares if the dog hasn’t been out in a week, he’s smart – he’ll figure something out. Besides, there’s several hours of thermal footage to go over! One has to keep his priorities in order, right?

But at the end of the day, what do you really know about the afterlife anyway? I’ve always tried to learn something new each day, but if your entire consciousness is tied up in the evidence analysis of some tedious old house by the river outside of town, there’s a good chance the only thing you’ll learn is how quickly you can become sick and tired. I’ve tried to remedy that in any way possible, and even if the extent of my learning consists of nothing more than useless, non-paranormal facts, at least that’s something. For instance, did you know that Americans spend an average of two weeks a year on the toilet? Or that King Farouk of Egypt was a kleptomaniac who once stole Winston Churchill’s watch. I didn’t, but I do now, and I’m sure it’s useful information, no?

Human nature fascinates me more than most subjects, so I couldn’t resist a quick break from the monitor to watch a Science Channel special on the topic. Good thing too, because I didn’t learn a thing from my research, but I did learn that unbroken eye contact is not a sign of honesty, but a good clue that someone is lying instead. That’s kinda useful info, but how many of you knew that? Plus, people are more likely to lie when they’re in a hurry. Fascinating! Believe it or not, eight percent of Americans even lie on their resumes. You know who you are, but “holy honesty, Batman.” I thought more people were trustworthy than that.

Speaking of lying, it turns out that Olympic medalist Stella Walsh was considered one of the fastest female athletes of her time, until upon her death, she was discovered to have a penis. A penis! Not too much stock in Apple, or an infatuation with other people’s toes… She had (dare I say it again) a penis. And speaking of “those,” it seems that the CIA trades Viagra to aging Afghan warlords in exchange for information. I thought gentlemen weren’t supposed to tell.

See! It’s an interesting world, so I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised at the amount of functional insanity that’s loose within it. Maybe that’s what drove me to paranormal studies in the first place – a little peace and quiet from all this exciting normalcy, though admittedly, I’d like to be able to say that all the hours spent scrutinizing paranormal evidence has taught me something more significant than mindless trivia. But alas, the living are every bit as intriguing as the dead. In 2013, a woman from Jonesboro, Arkansas, suspected of DUI, was arrested when she tried to flee police on a battery-powered toy truck after crashing her car. I challenge you to top that one with something paranormal. Ghosts are entertaining, but they can’t hold a candle to that poor soul.

Well, intriguing as mankind is, the one thing we don’t know anything about when it comes to the human experience is the afterlife. We guess and theorize, and we use our imaginations at every stop along the way but it’s been a very long journey, and we don’t actually know for sure where we’re going, much less which path to take. South Carolina police were once able to track a convenience store burglar right to his house by following a trail of Doritos. Too bad spirits don’t eat Doritos – we could sure use a break like that. Ah well, back to the video.

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

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

Dear Brunhilda

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Even Pirates Have Integrity

Once upon a time, only a few years ago, I was a marginally respected member of the so-called paranormal community. People came to my book signings and waited patiently for me to write something personal and witty on the title page. I made a few dozen radio appearances and gave several lectures. People seemed to like my writing style, and I felt encouraged in my chosen direction. I was even asked to make an appearance on a national TV program once, which I turned down. I thought my integrity would come into question if I did the show, and no amount of fickle fame is worth one’s good reputation in this field.

Then, life happened. Things changed when almost out of nowhere, family matters became my main concern. They replaced the daily writing regimen, relentless hours of experimentation, late night radio interviews, and book signings. Still, people encouraged me to press on anyway and “bang out” a third book. Tempted is a better word, but I wouldn’t give in, because if I couldn’t do it right, I wouldn’t do it at all. Integrity had to be considered.

Most of us have our own very personal definition of integrity, and I would guess there are as many of those as there are people. Each one of us takes a stand on some kind of perceived principle and draws a line in the sand we refuse to cross. Doing so would be perilous to our self-respect, and it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks, says, or does – we’re prepared and willing to stand valiantly and victoriously tall in our principle. After all, there is honor among thieves, people true to a hopeless cause, and religious martyrs. We’ve all heard “just the facts, ma’am,” and “do unto others,” and the unflinching cries of “never compromise” that all represent someone’s notion of integrity.

Personal integrity is often complicated by specific loyalties, one’s individual sense of responsibility, and large amounts of very intimate distinctions. No one appreciates having their integrity brought into question. You can make a pirate walk the plank without a whimper for almost any reason, but question his adherence to the pirate’s code and you’ve got an angry brigand on your hands. I’ve had my paranormal ethic questioned now and then, and you better believe my defense came fast and furious. After all, we spend the better part of a lifetime deciding where to draw those lines in the sand – it’s not likely we’ll allow others to question our sincerity so easily.

Unfortunately, humans just don’t often seem to understand that someone’s self-worth and decency is tied up in their concept of integrity. We’re convinced of our own resolve, but someone else’s? Not so much. I’ve run across a great many paranormal folks with whom I do not agree. I think their premises are based on faulty knowledge, their evidence is weak and suspect, and the conclusions they draw are suspiciously convenient. I’ve had those same things said of me – the only difference being that we each recognized our own integrity, while everyone else’s was questionable at best.

So, it seems the time has come to stop the nonsense. Thank God we’re all so different. It’s truly a blessing to be able to believe in the veracity of others; to not question their virtue simply because it differs from our own. There is not one commonly acceptable set of truths in the paranormal, so with such diversity must surely come an increased opportunity to learn. We should be taking advantage of that, not looking for the “gotcha” moment or laying ready to pounce at the first sign of deviation.

Our paranormal integrity should probably be simple and direct – honesty, and when called for, a willingness to be wrong. Maybe then we can get off each other’s backs and move this field forward to the place of reverence and dignity it deserves. Perhaps this current “paranormal craze” can finally move toward an enduring acceptability and be allowed to grow legitimately. There have always been respected researchers, you know, but with so many new participants, just imagine how much more we could accomplish together. Seems like a waste otherwise, and I think the question of integrity will probably take care of itself.
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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.

Two!

About a week ago, The Voices Blog quietly celebrated a birthday. It’s been two years since I wrote my first entry and waited pensively to see if anyone would read it. I think if you had asked me then how many people would still be paying attention two years later, I might have suggested it would be a terrible flop and that my singular follower would probably stop actually reading in a few weeks. Well, this blog won’t be breaking any records, but I’m grateful to have exceeded “one” of you, and I’m thrilled every time someone clicks “like.” Everyone wants to be liked, right?

I haven’t strayed too much from my original plans for the blog – once in awhile, maybe. No one is perfect, and sometimes the temptation is just too strong to resist, but I’ve only gone on one political rant. I count that as a major personal victory, because I surmise the rest of you aren’t here for the party polemics. I’ve also only talked about purely personal things a few times – my vacation, time management issues – stuff like that. I’ve tried to write about subjects that are important to me as they relate to the paranormal – to the art of investigation, or the wonder of EVP; perhaps a ghost story or two; occasional humor. I feel successful in that regard, so please, feel free not to burst the bubble with comments accentuating the obvious flaws in my self-analysis.

But after two years, I recognize there are subjects I haven’t touched on as yet that could possibly be of some value to others. Maybe. You probably realize that I’m about to share some of those with you now. So here are ten things I wanted to write about but for one reason or another, decided against. Keep in mind that I resisted the temptation and deserve points for doing so.

1. Why I believe a paranormal team without women is doomed and a stupid idea.
2. If one more medium tells me I am being followed by an Indian Guide, I’m gonna have them scalped. It’s always a Native American with a wolf and he’s very wise and… Sigh. Stop!
3. Is “the paranormal” just another religion?
4. TV ghost shows are not training manuals for good investigations.
5. Why I am convinced that Ouija boards (and similar practices) are dangerous – even if nothing happens.
6. Some Christians should stop abusing scripture as a means to their own selfish ends and refrain from calling themselves Christians altogether. Somewhere in their new name should be one of the following words: film-flam, malarky, hooey, bunkum, poppycock, drivel, or bull.
7. Science, religion, and paranormal research are just different points of view on the same subject. There should be more listening; less evangelizing.
8. Is there sex in the afterlife? Do spirits procreate?
9. What I really think of The Ghost Box and other advanced forms of TransCommunication.
10. Why we will never find the answers to any of our “paranormal” questions.

My list actually exceeds ten by quite a few. Maybe if you’re still reading after this, I’ll find the temerity to post about some of those, but these ten are off the table, thank God. I think the problem with blogs is that we assume other people care what we have to say, which is why I’ve tried so hard to police myself. So, I’m much obliged to those of you who have been so supportive these past two years. I hope you’ll keep coming around and that it’s not too punishing. You never know, I might just find the courage to tackle one of these taboo subjects someday – like those “new” Christians, or spirit propagation. Well, I’ll write something every 7 – 10 days regardless – I just hope it’s not boring or too typical. Thanks!
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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.

Holy Stone

So how much can actually be said about the paranormal that we don’t already know? Have there been any recent developments that have turned the field upside down? I could have missed it – there was that vacation in August; various other lost weekends and all that tv binge-watching. I think things have pretty much stayed the same though. If someone had suddenly discovered that spirits were made of peanut butter, I think that would have filtered down to me by now. Simply put, there’s nothing new.

Regardless, we still have to swallow countless paranormal blogs, podcasts, books, tv shows, radio shows… All of them about nothing new. There’s a bunch of this stuff, and I’m guilty on a number of fronts. Me, myself, and I are responsible for two books, 70 podcasts, and over 100 blog entries. And that’s not even all of it. Good grief! When am I gonna shut up? Reminds me of one day in middle school (back during the Dirt Wars) when my personal pontificating was met with an abrupt “no one cares what you think, Keller.” Well, my feelings were hurt, but I didn’t believe it then, and I still don’t. I expect to continue spouting off about all things paranormal until my head spins completely around, or my skin turns green and scaly. In fact, I plan on doing research when I reach the other side.

But I am only one small, insignificant sliver of the paranormal overload we’re exposed to every day. Imagine if you added together the output of only the people like me. That’s a whole lot of sharing, But even if we were exposed to all of it, we still wouldn’t find anything new. Oh, there’s tons of ideas, and fresh theories come and go with the ectoplasm, but nothing provable; nothing irrefutable and completely conclusive. You know, just because it’s new to us doesn’t mean the rest of the world hasn’t yawned about it for decades.

If there was some honestly unprecedented discovery; some new truth, it would have to be accompanied by scientific approval – white papers, test results, indisputable and highly documented evidence, not to mention testimonials from all across the scholarly landscape. There’d be newspaper headlines. The talking heads would make certain that everyone understood the real impact inflicted on all facets of life. Historians would be forced to rewrite the books. Organized religion would explode. The ramifications of paranormal verity would be staggering because our concept of who and what we are would change overnight. Culture shock? How about world-wide identity shock!

Just look at EVP for a second. We can’t even get a general scientific consensus that they exist. Of course you and I are convinced – it’s like breathing air to us. EVP are probably the most golden paranormal fact of life for us, but significant portions of the scientific community don’t even believe we are hearing words at all. If you ask me, EVP are as true as blue skies on a sunny day. Forget who is speaking, from where they speak, how they do it, or why – the fact that EVP exist; that we hear voices speaking, is chiseled in holy stone. But then, “no one cares what we think” do they? What do we actually know? What can we prove?

I’m afraid the paranormal is one gigantic unsolvable quandary – a kind of esoteric singularity of sorts, so I guess we’ve got our work cut out for us. No sense in giving up now. No need to throw our arms up in frustration, or storm out in anger. We just have to get busier; insist on being more conscientious; apply even more creativity. Of course it won’t be easy, and we’ll probably die trying with no more to show for our effort and dedication than tired feet and a box of worthless gizmos in the basement. But what the heck! What you gonna do with all that free time anyway, right? There may not be anything new in the paranormal today, but there’s always tomorrow.
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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.

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.

Night Vision Green & Infrared Splendor

Sometimes, I take great pleasure criticizing the paranormal television shows. I like to question techniques, poke fun at personalities, and laugh at the wardrobe choices – the list is long. I enjoy ranting and raving about that which runs contrary to my own practices and experience, but admittedly, I still watch as many of these programs as I can. Gathering more grist for the criticism mill? More easy targets for yet another unkind remark? No, I just like watching them.

I know that much of what we see is staged – or worse, and when things do appear to be credible, I am aware that they probably are not. I’ve been on more than enough real investigations to know what’s up, and I’ve poured over enough evidence to have confidence in what I finally present, so most of what I see on these shows is old hat to me now. It’s certainly true that at this point, I’ve probably surpassed the threshold of what I can learn from them. So again, why watch? Again, because I like them.

Let’s be honest. Almost every one of us currently doing anything within the paranormal field owes a debt of gratitude to these ghost hunters. Jason and Grant threw open the doors, while Zak and the boys dragged us in. Our fascinations may have been lying dormant in the heap of millennial culture, but these early shows taught us that it was okay to act on them. For all of us who wondered if there really were people who studied the paranormal; who secretly wanted to join that team, paranormal tv showed us that it was not only possible, but doable.

Their contribution to popular culture is unquestionable, but the legacy they’ve left us, their professional progeny, is priceless. They’re the reason we do the things we do, and hopefully we’ve taken their techniques and innovations and improved on them. Hopefully we value the culture of their work highly enough to expand upon it; take it seriously enough to understand that our own contributions can only build upon theirs. Maybe that’s why I feel such a strong sense of betrayal whenever I find fault, or have a laugh at their expense. Because I owe them.

I remember watching a 2004 episode of Ghost Hunters (my first) that included a chair moving on its own in an attic. That episode has since been questioned for its authenticity, but at the time, I literally leaped to my feet to get closer to the screen. I had just started my EVP research and was feeling kinda dumb about the whole thing. I questioned everything about it – including my own sanity, but that singular moment gave me hope. It instantly expanded my paranormal horizons and showed me that there might just be as much to it all as I thought. In a way, that one episode gave me the strength to continue, and as with all truly cathartic moments in life, changed me forever.

But it wasn’t real, you might say – possibly disingenuous. It doesn’t matter, because it moved me. It propelled me head first into a field of study that has taught me more about myself; about life in general, than I ever could have hoped for, and like some modern parable, it was inspirational. I remember standing there, watching that small clip of video, and knowing that not only could I continue, but that there was value in doing so.

So, gratitude is definitely called for, I think. Respect, appreciation, and admiration as well – for all the obvious reasons, but also for opening my eyes and ears; for awakening a side of my spiritual self that was truly going to waste; for challenging the fear within and transforming it into knowledge. And to all those trailblazers – especially those guys on tv decked out in night vision green and infrared splendor, much love. I don’t know where I’d be without you, but I’m glad I’m not there.
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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/
______________________________________________________________________
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.

One Year Old Today!

Today The Voices Blog is one year old! Hats and horns are appropriate and all well-wishing is accepted. I sincerely hope everyone will be able to participate in the day’s festivities, beginning with a quick brunch on the third floor of Trans-Allegheny. There is free time until dinner, which will be highlighted by what I expect to be a rousing speech from President Theodore Roosevelt. Make certain you have your recorders ready.

Of course, the reality is that this will be a quiet celebration. I plan to get my hair trimmed, do some late morning EVP, have a Steak-Ums lunch, and begin work on the layout for a book Nick Missos and I plan to release soon. Sound like a fun day? And to think some of you actually have jobs. By the way, the book features original poetry with photos taken “undercover” at what shall remain an unnamed abandoned mental institution. Shameless plug, but I’m excited about it!

Sometimes I make stupid Top Ten lists when I’m annoyed or angry, and when it wears off, I throw the list away. I found one the other day that didn’t make it to the circular file, so it naturally qualifies as the perfect piece of mental self-gratification to share with the entire world. Here it is (unedited) – “Things That Should Be True About TV Paranormal Shows.”

– 1. Female ghosts should never wear white. Just sayin…
– 2. Every time an investigator says “we’re not here to harm you,” something should knock him down.
– 3. There should be no fist bumping at the end of Ghost Hunters episodes.
– 4. Paranormal teams should not pose for group photos that make them look like a stupid death metal band.
– 5. There should be an Ovulus equipped with the entire dictionary – 26 words is not enough.
– 6. It should only be a misdemeanor to investigate Eastern State or The Stanley on TV.
– 7. Bobo from Finding Bigfoot should have to put money in the jar every time he says “squatchy.”
– 8. Haunted Collector clients should embrace the haunting and refuse to fork over the priceless family heirlooms.
– 9. TV investigators should stop yelling at ghosts as though they were hard of hearing.
– 10. Why are paranormal shows considered reality television? Just askin…

When I started The Voices Blog, I didn’t think I could find enough interesting things to say, and actually I still don’t, but it’s been an enjoyable year just the same. Even added a “sister” blog – Voices Unplugged, so It must be true that time flies when you’re having fun. I know – bit of a cliche there. I’d like to use less of those, get more comments, improve my grammar, and find the perfect length per post. Well, there’s time to grow, I suppose.

I’ll just say “thank you” for your support. And for your interest. I love the fact that someone reads this stuff. Peace!

Bring Some

I was sitting awake by the hard blue light of my iPad, trying to figure how best to allocate my time. More and more these days, things grab at it, and I’m left with doing my own thing hurriedly. This week, there was only one day to spend on a very long list of necessary evils, most of which did not get done. So when I turned off the light, and said “goodnight” to the understanding woman beside me, I thought maybe it would be peaceful enough to concentrate and find a solution.

I decided to tap on WavePad, and record while I sat – just because. It’s what I do. No questions to ask; no comments or requests – just the dark, cold air and my thoughts. The recent months have been a time of doubt for me, and occasionally I’ve felt as though my contribution to the paranormal field has been maximized – there’s nothing more I can contribute. But that’s tough to decide – it’s difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff.

You know, EVP are a passion for me. I still have my priorities in line, but I feel close to these voices – they’ve found an indelible place on the list. I listen carefully, and my anticipation is not in hearing them so much as in understanding what is behind their words. We have become such strange friends, because we’ve formed a perfectly reciprocating relationship. Nothing unworthy in that. Isn’t that enough to continue what I arrogantly call “my work”? I can make changes, certainly. Less social networking, perhaps. Less worry about book sales. I can cut back on the number of podcasts too. There are lots of ways to solve my time issues.

I stopped the recording, anticipating nothing, but instinctively, reached for my headphones and began to listen. Some kind of whispering was there – nothing anyone could ever understand; whispers that most researchers would label as ambient sounds. I know the room well, and I know what they are, but they’re not voices until there are words. But then… there were words. “Sad,” she said – clear as a bell, and equally as expressive.

I thought she was talking about me. I thought she had gauged my mood; that possibly all the whispering had been centered around my self-absorbed need for over-analysis. Perhaps she was even carefully chosen to express a group sentiment – “sad.” Well, I was a little sad. How intuitive of her; how correctly she had assessed my demeanor. But before I could rest too comfortably in that interpretation, she spoke again. “Bring some,” she said.

Bring some? Really? Doncha just love it? How do you not fall head over heels for these voices? Not only was she not interested in my somber reflection, she didn’t make a lick of sense. I can’t walk away from this; can’t concern myself so stridently with the relevancy of “my work” or whether I’m maximized, marginalized or whatever-ized. There’s a spirit out there doing her best to entertain the bejesus out of me, and maybe someday, along the way, I’ll make some sense out of it. But until then? No need to be “sad,” I’ll just “bring some.”

2013 By The Dozen

I suppose it is appropriate to assess things at year’s end. All the cable channels do it; the radio stations… blogs. I wish I could offer up the wisdom I’ve gained over the past year, but I don’t have any. I don’t think I’m one bit brighter than I was, and when it comes to insight, I may have even regressed a bit. I suppose I could tell you my New Year’s resolutions – that often doubles for wisdom and insight, but alas, I’ve none of those either. I should be resolving to quit smoking, or vowing never to raise my voice at anyone ever again – stuff like that. I’d like to do both of those, but unfortunately, I won’t.

It’s been a tough year! Last January 1st I was in bed with the flu, and that’s exactly where I am now – in bed with the flu. Different flu, but it seems to be trending. Of course, I lost my younger sister this year, and that really sucked. And it also sucks watching the toll that’s taken on my mother as she faces the loss of her child, but life is not all sack cloth and ashes, dammit – this was a good year too. Mostly for small reasons. You know, little things that often go completely unnoticed can mount up and deliver quite a positive punch. All those miscellaneous hugs from grandchildren, for instance, or telling everyone you love them before bed; hearing “I love you” back. Insignificant stuff can just accumulate you right into happiness sometimes, and before you know it, you’re smiling for no reason.

I think this has been a pretty normal year, actually. Life comes packaged with death and sorrow, but it also presents a great deal of the wonderful and the fabulous. I tend not to fixate too long on either side of the spectrum; I try to move on quickly. I like to look for new stuff to think about, and fresh ideas to ponder. I like meeting inventive people with brains and people who understand the deeper realities of life. I especially like spiritual ones, and those who think about things they can’t understand. Weird, I know, but I find folks like that to be more interesting and more life-affirming. I’m sure that’s just me.

So, I expect 2013 to be pretty typical as well – that’ll be okay with me. I don’t require a never-ending flood of spectacular – just some occasional peace and quiet, maybe Duncan Donuts now and then, good pizza, and the continuation of those hugs and kisses from grandchildren. Gotta have those, you know? Maybe a little common decency in Washington would be nice, lower prices on bacon, a Ravens Super Bowl, and I’d really enjoy losing some weight. (Maybe I need to forget the donuts.) But normal or not, I’m glad 2012 is gone – it is definitely time to move on to something new. 2013 seems poised to deliver. For my paranormal friends specifically, I hope everything in your life will be A-class and clear as a bell, and I wish good fortune, peace, and joy for everyone.

Of course, I do have a tiny piece of advice – something from the Beatles, no less. “The love you take is equal to the love you make.” Make some love this year! Any way you want to interpret that is fine with me – it all works, but by all means, do it. Thats all I got. Bury some hatchets, forgive some transgressions, do some good deeds, lift some spirits – you know the kind of things I’m talking about. I know it sounds like some sort of hippie manifesto, or a radical religious creed, but it’s what we do best. We ought to be able to do a lot of “love making.”

Anyway, that’s my advice – take it for what it’s worth; apply that grain of salt. You’ll find me at the donut store, embracing 2013 by the dozen – there’s plenty of time to count calories next year. I say let the goodness begin! Again.

“Other World” Peace

I’m a fairly even-tempered guy. I don’t yell very often or use intimidation to get my way during evidence review. I’m calm during investigations – not excitable, and able to handle fearful moments with reserve and calm. I assume that spirits can hear a normal tone of voice quite easily, and I go out of my way to be respectful and polite. I’m chill and easy to work with (maybe), don’t name call or point fingers in blame – don’t try to evade my responsibilities. Hell, I’m wonderful!

But sometimes I really want to do all those unpleasant things and worse when forced to deal with a puerile investigator. Fortunately, I haven’t had to deal with too many of those over the years. In fact, absolutely no one has aroused these abhorrent feelings within me for a couple of years now.

I think the last time someone ticked me off so much that I wanted to hurt them, was about two years ago. A lady investigator who insisted on changing her point of view with every question during EVP sessions, last did the deed. She didn’t seem to have any idea at all about what to say, so she just blurted out nonsense. I guess it made sense to her, but would you follow up “did you used to live here?” with “were you a good dancer?” I’m not sure why she went there, but it was like that all night, and by the time I was through with her, I was ready to… I didn’t.

Once, an investigator whispered eerily next to a stationary video camera. Instant A-class EVP! Except, this juvenile wasn’t smart enough to remember that the camera part was working as well. He later asked if I’d gotten any EVP on my video camera that night. “Yes,” I said. “And video too.” I won’t work with him again. Every piece of evidence from that camera had to be rejected, but I wanted to inflict pain on the fool.

I’ve not personally had the pleasure, but I’ve seen video of investigators who broke things on site, rooted through dresser drawers, and refreshed themselves via the family refrigerator. I’ve seen them acting like fifth graders on someone’s bed too – complete with obscene gestures. I’ve heard tell of people making out in every dark corner, drinking the client’s whiskey, tracking mud all over the living room carpet, and the creme de la creme – self-gratification in the master bathroom. On camera, no less!

I dunno what species raised these people, but thank God I wasn’t personally privy to any of this behavior. I might already be doing time in The Big House, were that the case. The team I work with is professional – especially when it comes to behavior. Our founder wouldn’t have thought twice about booting someone for this kind of disrespect – right then and there, on the spot. And I’d have been right there with him.

I haven’t seen much of this lately, but I know it still goes on. And it’s troubling! Hopefully, we’ll be able to resist giving in to anger when dealing with these mooncalves and degenerates; hopefully they will consistently be drummed out of the field. I hate to be such a stick in the mud, but by getting rid of this dead weight, we will be doing our part toward achieving “other world” peace. A worthy cause.

Wallflowers

I’m sitting alone in a house that is a provably “active” location. Just thinking. Of course, to alleviate the trepidation of others who “know the place,” there’s no reason to be afraid – I’ve truly never felt a moment’s discomfort. Well, that fear cage in the basement doesn’t count – you can’t expect 148 Gauss to have no effect whatsoever, right? Believe me, “the house is clean” but I recommend visitors stay upstairs and let someone else go down there for cans of soup and paper towels.

I’m the only one who ever saw an apparition here, and both of those were extremely quick and easily explainable as a trick of the mind. That is, in fact, how I do explain them, and I’m the paranormal investigator here, so lighten up! I guess it must be the idea that I’ve recorded over a thousand EVP in the house. Well, I suppose I see your point, but look on the bright side – no one has ever heard an actual disembodied voice here. If I had never mentioned those silly ole EVP, would you still be looking around every corner? Would you still be telling your friends that Granny’s house is haunted? Would there still be a need to travel the halls in packs of two or more?

No one has ever experienced a single out-of-the-ordinary thing here. My EVP represent the entirety of it, and even those would have remained hidden if I had just kept my mouth shut. It’s an open floor plan with tons of windows, and there’s a light switch at every corner. Not a single stick of creepy furniture or pre-World War I photos; no strange artifacts from dead people no one ever met… Like I’ve always said, “it’s the least haunted place I know.” Get a grip for God’s sake!

It just goes to show that spiritual activity doesn’t have to come in a stereotypical box – those prejudices originate with us. The large number of spirit voices at this location don’t reflect pain, suffering, malice or even mild discontent – they just sound like extra people. Slight participants. Wallflowers. An active location can often be the most difficult to recognize simply because the ethereal residents prefer it that way, but I would take it a step further. Spiritual activity is normal. It’s as much a fact of life as any other thing is, so get used to it. We accept religion, intuition, feelings, and even ESP, so why is simple spiritual presence such a problem? Grow up, I say, because it’s as natural as anything else in life. It’s a requirement, and it’s everywhere.

Sometimes I imagine those spirits all just sitting there – bored to the gills, looking at one another, waiting patiently for visitors they can ogle. I wonder if they’ve figured out why everyone acts so strange around the place? Even I keep wondering why you peek into rooms before you open the door. You must amuse them so, but at the rate they talk on my recorder, I must be the real attraction. I must remind them of the young man who once asked them to dance; who made that long walk to the other side of the ballroom where the wallflowers sit; who reached out a hand and requested they trip the light fantastic once again.

Well, why not? I’m game. I never was much of a dancer, but I guess if you’re a wallflower, it’s not about who brought you as much as who bothers to actually make that long walk and extend that hand. Party on, old friends! Let the kiddies miss all the fun. Now, “tell me something about yourself.”