Need To Know

“I want to know. I need to know!”

And I wanted to agree, but I couldn’t. Even though I understood. It’s just that I’ve heard so many paranormal investigators utter those exact same words in the exact same manner – like a recording; like clones. Of course, this raises the question – “Exactly what is it you want to know?” And here’s where scenarios individualize, because we all want to know about different things. About the transition to the other side, perhaps, or what awaits us when we arrive. Some of us want nothing less than verifiable proof that the afterlife exists. Still others want to know if God is real, and if they’re being honest – the devil.

There are all kinds of things paranormal folks want to know because there are all kinds of things everyone wants to know. It’s normal, and we are all different in our enunciation of that normality. We are curious beings to say the least, and If any one of us thought we could discover even an insignificantly tiny truth about the afterlife, we’d be all over it. Paranormal people are just a little more driven by the prospect; just a little more intense about it; a little more… Well, the word “obsessed” does come to mind, but that can be a valuable state given the proper perspective. Wanting to know about something is good, but taking that next step to find the answer is great.

Unfortunately, the actual quote has a second sentence – “I need to know!” That’s when I abandon ship, because I do not need to know. I need to know what day of the week it is, I suppose, and where I live; what year this is; who are my parents. I really need to know where a bathroom is sometimes, and birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays, but all of these could be forever removed from the realm of my cognitive thought and life would continue relatively unfazed. I guess I don’t really need to know them after all, and I don’t need to know one single thing about the paranormal. Wanting is not needing.

In fact, the more I investigate, the more I think that if we really did know something; if we actually had some answers, we’d probably be unable to understand them. We may not even be capable of spotting truth when we see it. For all we know, everything is already out in the open and right in front of us – just waiting for us to catch up. When that great day finally arrives; when we finally catch up, it wouldn’t surprise me if all we’re able to rouse is fear. We’re already excellent at that. Are we evolved enough to actually grapple with eternal truths?

I don’t think we are, and so, I don’t have a need to know anything. I’m perfectly content to accept my spot on the evolutionary ladder, and try to make sense of the world around me to the best of my severely limited and questionable ability. The paranormal is a large part of life for me, and I’ll make every effort to assimilate what I see, hear and feel into my flawed understanding. I’ll try to make whatever sense of things I can, and accept that it may be beyond me. I’ll espouse some simplistic theories; force strong opinions instead of facts I don’t have; that no one does. I’ll have much to say, no doubt, and every once in awhile I may inadvertently confuse someone into thinking I know what I’m talking about. Which I don’t, of course.

But don’t you think we put too much on our own shoulders sometimes? Seeking the answers to paranormal questions is a crusade, of sorts, and it’s not a race. We’ll probably spend our whole lives trying to discover one accurate thing about it, and more than likely we’ll fail. I suppose here is where I valiantly promise to keep trying anyway. I’ll mean it too, but It won’t consume my life. No obsession. I’ll take what I’m given and be grateful for sure, because I really “want to know.” I just don’t need to.
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Voices From Forever by Randall Keller http://goo.gl/ZBBmj Available on Amazon
There Is No Silence by Randall Keller http://goo.gl/U6KY7 Available on Amazon.

Primrose Lane

Lately, I haven’t been commenting in much detail about the paranormal – I’ve been avoiding specifics as much as possible. I received a few emails from a listener of The Voices Podcast who suggested that those of us who share our research with “the public” are committing a great disservice. He suggested I was leading my listeners (and readers) down Primrose Lane; taking advantage of their vulnerability and the very human need to believe in something beyond the physical life.

At first, I just knew he was wrong, but then I began to think about it; really think about it, and I found myself shying away from the subject more than usual. I certainly don’t want to misrepresent anything – purposefully or not; don’t want to lead anyone in any direction, much less the wrong one. I despise people who use the paranormal to deceive or dishonestly profit at the expense of others, and I want no part of it. Period! And of course, I recognize that there’s more of that going on in the field than should be acceptable, so I have always tried my absolute best to be honest. I feel I succeed at that, but unfortunately, maybe not well enough. Certainly my letter-writing friend doesn’t think so, as he suggested my predilection for EVP is a negative and potentially harmful influence on those who might take it seriously.

Well, that woke me up. Take it seriously? Shucks, I’m one of those – I take it seriously. I was duly insulted and under normal circumstances I’d stridently mount a rousing defense, but his comments deserve consideration, and have therefore lingered with me since. The question arises as to whether anything suspected of paranormal origin should ever be investigated by anyone outside of a purely scientific or clinical background. After all, plumbers don’t diagnose an illness – we rely on medical science for that, where trained individuals make decisions based on facts and proven realities. We don’t allow the kid who delivers the pizza to set policy about our nuclear stockpile, or to negotiate treaties based on his “sense of things.”

There’s no Ph.D. in paranormal science; no established practicum for spirit communication. In fact, all we’ve got are a lot of folks like you and me, and I don’t know about you, but I’m just not sure of the final impact of my work. Am I a purveyor of false hope? Is every EVP I capture just one more exercise in sophistry? Is mankind better off knowing nothing until something can be proven? Since so much of what we do is based on an individual’s understanding of unsubstantiated theory, isn’t it possible we might offer no more than regurgitated folklore and potentially errant interpretations of ambiguous evidence?

I can deal with being wrong, because in the paranormal, most of us are, most of the time. But how does that help our clients? They assume we know what we’re doing; that we can identify their problem, and affect solutions. Can we? Or are we metaphorically firing in the dark in the hopes of hitting something – anything? And what is the collateral damage of our actions? I’ve seen the look in some client’s eyes – a kind of desperate hope that finally someone can help them, but is that what we’re doing?

I know that most of our hearts are in the right place; that the basis for our efforts come from a strong need to understand that which is unexplainable. But what if all the theories, ideas, and analytics are wrong? What if, out of thousands of possible answers, only those we’ve overlooked are accurate? Perhaps we’re unable to comprehend the truth, or too primitive to recognize it all around us. Good intentions or not, perhaps even our best efforts are doomed to become lies.

Personally, I think our need to believe in something beyond the physical life is at the core here, and if EVP give us the hope that existence can be everlasting, I don’t see a problem. If you object to that kind of hope; if you don’t want people to believe in an afterlife; if you think others should be quiet so that your point of view will prevail, then maybe you’re the problem – not me. But you almost had me 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.

Demons

You know, sometimes this paranormal world I’ve attached myself to really gets me frazzled. It’s difficult to put my finger on, but I’m frequently tempted to simply disappear from “the scene” – never to be heard from again. I don’t know where it comes from, or even why – I just know that it comes on me when I least expect it.

Everybody sees demons – maybe that’s where this originates. It’s an obvious exaggeration, but if everyone I’ve met who claimed to be besieged by demons actually was, I’d be hiding beneath the alter in a monastery. There’s a demon epidemic! And silly me, I have yet to meet one after all this time and all these investigations. I’m sans diablo, and frankly, I’m not sure how I feel about that. I hate being left out of things.

Or maybe it’s other investigators. Specifically, the photos of super cool paranormal groups threaten my lucidity. You know, the ones with creatures on their matching shirts and that “I’m a rock star look.” Rock stars in search of demons, no doubt. (See, they’re everywhere.) “Fred, remember that time you wrestled with Satan?” Now don’t smile. Click. I think I may have developed an inexplicable intolerance of useless posturing. It’s just that I keep wondering if these folks are good for the field, or whether they’re what’s wrong with it.

What a crappy attitude I have, right? But it might not be my fault entirely. Maybe the paranormal tv shows are a contributing factor. The Celebrity Ghostly Fear Encounters kind of show. You know, where everyday people are dragged into the Old Mill by the local Bad Boys from the previous paragraph? Or Famous Dave recalls his summers in the Adirondacks with a family of… demons? I especially love the one where the local soccer mom photographs an indistinguishable blob and proudly announces that she alone has “the proof that ghosts are real.” God bless her. Where’s a demon when you really need one?

I swear. If I hear the word “debunk” one more time this week… In fact, there are lots of words that really need to take a short sabbatical from my life. Too much orbs, footsteps, ghost boxes, poltergeists, evil entities, and feelings. If you’re inclined to suggest out loud, in my presence, that a spirit should “make himself known” to you, you may want to duck. You won’t have to debunk the origin of that flying Mel-meter. And I say it time and time again – stop yelling, the spirits can hear you!

So, okay – we’ve established that it’s my attitude at fault here. And I’m sorry! I’m probably just going through something. But I’m not gonna quit “the biz” and take up needlepoint or southwestern cooking. I guess I just need a break from the nonsense – including the demons. I know things will still be the same when my brain gets back – the Rock Stars will still be wrestling with Satan, Demonic Infestation Syndrome will still be running rampant, TV shows that used to serve as resources will remain stupid, and paranormal buzz words will rattle through my head like some possessed game of pong, but what the heck!

I’ll still have my EVP, right? I think they make more sense anyway, and they never even mention demons. What happened to good ole investigations? You know what I mean? Am I getting old?
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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.

It’s a Calling

We all have things that keep us busy. Sometimes I cringe when the phone rings or groan when my message alert goes off. “I have too much to do for this nonsense!” But I absolutely adore “the call” for an upcoming investigation. I don’t know why exactly, because paranormal investigations are a lot of work. For me, that usually means an excess of 6 hours of video to watch, 3 hours of audio, assorted digital photos, Spirit Box recordings, and time lapse images. Reviewing all of these is definitely a task, and it eats away at my time-starved days, not to mention the incredible boredom built into the process.

So, then why do I love it? It’s not because my life is empty; I don’t need friends – I have children. I don’t lack intellectual stimulation, or crave new ways to occupy all the spare time I don’t have. There is precious little enjoyment watching hour after hour of static video, so the anticipation of seeing a ghost must keep me going, right? Nah. Been there, done that. So why do I drop everything and run off into the dark with a handful of equally insane people, lugging suitcases and camera bags, bottles of warm water, and enough cigarettes to kill me on the spot? Is boring the new fun?

This is a calling – that’s why. Just one of those things in life that I feel destined to do. Rain, shine, or ten feet of snow – I’ll be there if it’s at all humanly possible, and I won’t regret a single minute. It’s a calling. And not everyone who has tried paranormal investigation has been called. So, in case you were wondering whether you’re made of the right stuff, here are ten questions to ask yourself.

1. Are you concerned about missing the newest episode of Degrassi (or any TV show)?
2. Do you buy AAA batteries at the Dollar Store?
3. Do you see demons around every corner? (If so, go to church, and never come near a paranormal team.)
4. Can you differentiate between being “touched” and walking into a spider web?
5. You do realize spirits are the only ones allowed to whisper, right?
6. Do you still think EVP stands for electric voice people?
7. Did it take you six months to figure out that the ghost in your kitchen is the ice-maker?
8. Do you understand that the black shadow who follows you everywhere and who mimics your every move is actually you? (Hint: Don’t stand in front of light sources.)
9. Do you know what the words “personal hygiene” mean?
10. Are you one of those who thinks investigations require more of a party atmosphere – whenever possible?

Some of you may have additional questions, but these work for me. However, for those of us who feel this endeavor is actually a calling, there’s one permanent, universal necessity – behave like you’ve got some sense. That’s a little vague, I suppose, but if you think you’re prepared to handle paranormal investigation, common sense is the first prerequisite. I’ve met very few investigators I didn’t like, but I’ve met some who shouldn’t be there. Either way, if you’re called, you already know, regardless of where you buy those batteries.
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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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Also visit Voices Unplugged at http://voicesblogunplugged.wordpress.com

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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Also visit Voices Unplugged at http://voicesblogunplugged.wordpress.com/

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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Respect for the Medium

I’m just a weekend away from my reading with a medium. I’ve been looking forward to this for quite a while, and if you are a listener of The Voices Podcast, then this is not news. Regardless of how excited I am about it, there is still a great learning experience to be had, even though I hold a life-long mistrust of mediums that has only recently softened. 
 
Lately, I’ve had some positive first-hand experiences, so now seems like the perfect time for both the reading itself and for whatever leap of faith I’ll have to take. I attended one of these things with my daughter some time ago, and I was remarkably impressed by the medium’s accuracy, even though she didn’t hit every nail on the head. Nobody’s perfect, but none of the usual stereotypes proved true either, so I decided that day that I wanted to record a personal reading for the podcast. This has been in the works for many moons.
 
I’ve been extended a number of free mini-sessions over the past few years – impromptu, short ventures of five minutes or less – probably offered because of what I do with EVP. But these have always seemed somewhat preposterous – full of Native American spirit guides, wolves that travel by my side, and old crone-like women protecting me. I don’t know what to make of this stuff, but an full-length reading should be more conclusive. The medium I have chosen is someone I know, but she is clueless about my personal history or that of my family, so if the other side chooses to communicate, almost anything they say will be unknown to her ahead of time – I’ve told her nothing. We haven’t discussed my goals or intentions, my attitude, or what I would like to hear. This is going to be a pretty cold reading, and a fair test of her gift – she’ll be completely on her own. Whatever happens, will happen – accurate or not.
 
Believe it or not, I have an odd history of skepticism, and nothing has tested it more than mediumship, but that’s primarily because you so rarely are able to prove the findings as right or wrong. Either way, my intentions are not to judge her accuracy. Her contribution to the paranormal is an important and significant aspect of the field, insofar as mediums speak to the heart and soul of the deceased. EVP seem primitive and incomplete when compared to her work, and yet they receive more universal credibility. That seems unfair to me since the medium is the ultimate conduit in spirit communication. If Dad can’t speak the language, he’ll need an interpreter; if Aunt Sue is lost, she’ll need more than my audio recorder or IR cameras. 
 
So, it seems that mediums operate completely in the realm of unbelievability. It is difficult enough for me to deal with a mouthy skeptic – I can image the flack a medium has to dodge. Therefore, my hopes are for a good reading, and even though I can promise you everything will be taken with a grain of salt, I intend to view the situation as an experience well worth both the money and the effort – no matter what. Voices Podcast listeners will get to go along for the ride, so I recommend the rest of you tag along just this once – maybe we’ll all learn something, and generate a new and much deserved respect for the medium.
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Beside Us

The lady misplaced her jacket, and they spent a portion of three months searching for it. She remembers hanging it on a hook in the hall closet, so they were certain it was not lost, but after a while, they forgot about it, and no longer cared. It would show up eventually, no doubt.

Lately, they’ve been experiencing loud, unexplainable banging sounds, and their three year old frequently complains about a strange man in his room. So, yesterday, when the jacket was found hanging on the railing, in plain sight, they were understandably disturbed. The long forgotten jacket appeared on the end piece of the railing at the bottom of the most noticeable place in the living room. Something paranormal was possibly afoot.

But here’s the interesting part, because a story about a missing jacket doesn’t typically qualify as a legitimate “paranormal” event – she found her car keys in the jacket pocket. Car keys that she has used every day while the jacket was on sabbatical. The Mister said she turned a whiter shade of pale and muttered something about seeing the “ghost hunter” down the street. That would be me, and just so we understand each other, I absolutely believe their story.

Now, I’m not saying I think their house is haunted, but I know these people, and inventing this tale would not be their kind of thing. I like to think I have a pretty good BS detector, and everything about them screams “the truth.” Regardless, I volunteered to look into it, if they wanted – they did not. I offered to provide some equipment they could use on their own, if they felt it might help – they thanked me and said no. All I had left to offer were words of comfort, but it seems they really just wanted to talk about it; they’d be fine.

Well, I was glad I could help in some way. More often than not, it’s enough to just lend an understanding ear. People often feel better by getting it off their chest, and the simple act of saying everything out loud becomes a cleansing measure. Besides, I think there are too many people conducting investigations at the drop of a hat these days – investigations that may not be warranted or result in positive experiences for the so-called victims.

Not every odd occurrence should become part of the paranormal laboratory, you know – sometimes acceptance is the better path. On rare occasions, we miraculously realize that learning to deal with life as it is presented is the true test of who we are, and that sometimes, spirit life is permanently and intricately intertwined with our own. Sometimes, we come to the understanding that sharing our existence with what we cannot comprehend is only normal, and that truly, if we want to be left alone, we must find the will to reciprocate. Not all ghosts need to go away; some spirits belong beside us.

It’s difficult to think of such things this way, because we seem geared against coexistence, and our fear is so easily justified by peers and society. Fortunately, every now and then, one of us (perhaps even a small family) rises above the dread and apprehension in order to willingly share life’s tranquility. Peace is always more easily found when all involved are allowed to partake.
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A Little Paradise

I have had enough! I need a vacation. Respite. An intermission from life; adult recess. A reprieve, man! Now, if only all I have to do is wait until August! Well, I like the summer – 100 degree days and all, but I love the ocean. That includes the bathing suit sand, the nagging seagulls and the incessant jelly fish. Bring ’em on – they can even sting me, as long as I’m nowhere near here when they do.

I want to enjoy peaceful, lazy palms on white sands. I want to live a Corona commercial. I want my most complex decision to be whether to shoot at 1/1000 of a second or go for low depth-of-field. I want to play dominoes often enough to actually win once – maybe twice. I want to watch “The Wild Bunch” on my iPad in a beach chair under an umbrella, and not have to explain why I like it. I want the sound of crashing waves to lull me to sleep late at night and wake me very early every morning. I want to pick up stupid seashells and convince myself how totally enthralling I find them. I want to tell myself that one day I’ll move there permanently, play guitar outside without an audience, and stare aimlessly at a very blue horizon.

I don’t want to watch children, make meals, Swiffer the floors, or solve problems. I don’t want to offer words of wisdom or comfort to people who think I’m stupid, read 300 emails a day, or “go off” about how idiotic my daughter’s softball coach is. I am through with ignorant drivers, crazy religious freaks, political pundits, lazy store clerks, and all but the most basic decision-making. I don’t even want to finish this sentence – that’s how “over” things I am right now. And I deserve a vacation! Not because I work so hard, or because my boss is a fool (I’m retired), or even because my life is oppressive. It’s just time! Ya know? It is finally time to pack as much stuff as we can, get on an airplane, and breathe in a little paradise.

Below is a photo of where we are going. I understand the tv reception is pretty awful, and the Internet is hit and miss. How glorious! It’s an eight hour flight too, but I can’t wait – it’s only four months away. Four months? Good grief, that’s 1/3 of the year – over 120 days! But I can make it, and I know it’ll be worth the wait. If your vacation is going to be better than our’s, don’t tell me. I don’t need to know. It’s not about that anyway, but I know me, and if I start thinking about your lobster omelets, cracked crab for lunch, and daily full body massages, it will just fester.

I’m kidding, of course – sorta… But I do hope all of us have the chance to wind down, recharge, and basically just relax. Vacations are very important to our well-being – mental and physical, so I wish everyone as many days of sheer heavenly bliss as you can afford. So, St. Croix, here we come. Thirty feet from the Caribbean, and many hundreds of miles from home. Just look at the picture! Well, I know it’s not exactly the Taj Mahal, but it sure won’t suck.

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The Sixth Sense

The sixth sense exists. It’s real, there is proof, and I’ve seen it in action. It’s not as strong as our other senses, of course, which is why most of us are not aware of it, but it’s there – absolute, undeniable, and statistically provable.

The experiment goes something like this… Put two curtains in front of a person and let them know that behind one is a photo of something. It could be anything – a rabbit, a family of four, ball bearings; doesn’t matter. Behind the other curtain, there is nothing. Now choose which curtain hides the photo. Sounds like a 50/50 proposition, doesn’t it? It is. On average, people get it right half the time. We’re obviously guessing, and the laws of probability rule the day.

Now replace the random photo with a picture of something erotic, and repeat the experiment. Miraculously, the erotic photo is discovered 53 percent of the time – consistently. Is that because we’re a sex obsessed species? Well, yes, as a matter of fact. Over the millennia, we’ve had to survive varying degrees of a harsh environment, and the key to our survival has been the ability to successfully reproduce sufficiently enough to continue as a viable species. When faced with the promise of something so vital to our subconscious need to exist, our sixth sense is awakened, and we’re no longer merely guessing.

I would imagine that some of us fall below this 53 percent – like me, for example, but that means there’s someone else whose sixth sense is incredibly stronger than the average. I find that encouraging. I love the idea that there are people with a highly developed sixth sense, even if I’m not entirely certain what that means or how it can be reliably put to use. Evidently, this truly is a gift – like throwing a baseball faster, or playing a violin better. Certain people among us just seem to know things the rest of us don’t, and we should revere and celebrate their abilities as much as those of any athlete or musician.

Personally, I’m satisfied that the sixth sense is more than the stuff of coincidence or fiction. Scientists at Harvard and Cornell are convinced as well, and while it’s a tremendous leap to suggest any paranormal implications, that too may be possible. It certainly gives me pause to wonder, and I’m not alone. Studies are being done on willing test subjects with the hope of discovering those individuals whose sixth sense is the most highly developed, and whether this could include the ability to deal with “other” things unseen.

If this sixth sense had a hand in allowing mankind to make wise decisions and recognize better survival choices millennia ago, why couldn’t we use it once again – now, when we seem so hellbent on annihilating ourselves in such a variety of ways. I think we’re missing the boat here! Not that we should become a planet of seers and fortune tellers, but maybe we could finally learn to embrace life without so much misappropriated effort, unfounded prejudice, and lousy decision making.

Personally, I’m all for it. The sixth sense is real – just as real as the moon, the stars, and Hershey’s chocolate. There’s no denying the data. Why deny ourselves the benefit?