So… Hush!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Naive?

I’ve done my share of paranormal investigating, but I consider myself a simple EVP guy. Arguably, Electronic Voice Phenomena represent the best paranormal evidence we have so far – certainly the most prolific, and I don’t know an investigator who hasn’t captured at least one. This means I’ve got some company – there are more than a few EVP guys out there, and a lot of them are really good.

If there is competition among us, I’m not aware of it. Of course there are always those on the fringe who spend more time criticizing than they do gathering evidence, but serious EVP researchers would rather learn from one another. It’s generally understood that there are pioneers in the field who will always be set apart and held in high esteem – Sarah Estep and Constantine Raudive just to name two. Latter day masters such as Mark and Debbie Constantino deserve special recognition as well. There are others, but to a man (or woman), they would find competition among us to be a distasteful waste of effort and resources.

Debbie Constantino and I once spent ten minutes discussing the possibility of alien communication through EVP. She wasn’t entirely certain whether some of her results were from across the veil or across the galaxy. A controversial concept to be sure, but we were colleagues (of sorts), so the sharing of ideas was beneficial and desired. It was fun too! Debbie is no longer with us, sadly, but I cherished the few moments we shared. She and Mark are EVP heroes of mine, and I was blessed to have met them, but even more significantly, they treated me as an equal. I wasn’t, but they were encouraging and accepting just the same.

This is how it oughta be, right? After all, aren’t we all brothers and sisters-in-arms, sharing the same impossible quest? I was taught from the beginning that the most important thing about any investigation was to take care of my teammates. That was the prime directive, and there were occasions I needed to absolutely know I wasn’t alone. Evidence was a team matter as well. There was no place for individual accomplishments; never time for posturing; no expert opinions or unarguable ideas – the team spoke with one voice. It didn’t matter who captured the best EVP, or whose photo was the more convincing – it was a group thing and we were each “all in.”

Some of what I do now is outside the structure of that comforting team environment, but I often seek the input, opinions, and advice of those I trust. They are my safety net, and without them I think most of the joy in what I do would be gone. I need their candor and generosity, and I need to access the wealth of their knowledge and understanding. From time to time, they require the same of me.

Everything I have ever done in this field was inspired by others in some way. Not to recognize the value of keeping many counsels would be arrogant and foolish, but for some, these are utopian ideas. Naive. Instead, they withhold their most dynamic investigation evidence for their own edification; never share ideas or new methodologies. Being part of a team isn’t enough, and all too often, their rising stature in the field and aspirations of fame are far more important. There’s no room in the field for this, nor is the field so shallow as to allow self-aggrandizing and narrow-minded people to prosper for very long.

I mentioned some pretty lofty names a few paragraphs ago – folks who are held in the highest regard when it comes to EVP. People who kept no secrets; who shared every detail of their life’s work with anyone who wanted to know. People who understood the greatest value of paranormal research could be found in the hopeful benefit to all of mankind. They were inspirational, and their work powerfully broadened our ideas about the human condition; work for which they deserve great recognition and respect. Instead of basking in the glory, they persevered and they made us all feel that we too could contribute. And then they actually showed us how. Naive? I don’t think so.

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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

Paranormal Blasphemy

A spirit is supposed to be a soul that has moved along – gone toward the light, just like in the movies. Of course, that’s an over-simplification, but it’s close enough for horseshoes. This means that a ghost has decided, or has been forced, to stick around; has not been enticed by that pesky light – possibly the result of some unfinished business, confusion, or fear. There are a bunch more reasons that traditionally account for the presence of a ghost (more expedient simplifications), but the bottom line is that nobody can prove what happens when we die.

That said, it seems logical to me that most of us will also enter the next stage of our own existence considerably full of unfinished business, incredibly confused, and absolutely fearful. Being a somewhat religious person, I expect God to have that all taken care of, frankly. I can’t think of a single reason why He would allow us to wander aimlessly, lost and bewildered, without some kind of contingency plan. I mean, how would we even have a clue what to do – this whole death thing isn’t our idea, and instructions don’t come in “the box.” Logically, there must be some kind of orientation program already in place, right? A room with tables and pamphlets; some kind of tour, perhaps; a nice dinner with a dais of distinguished speakers – something. You don’t just throw the baby into the lake and hope he learns to swim before it’s too late.

I guess it’s possible that some of us are just too heinous and contrary to follow directions, but I honestly expect the creator of everything to have a plan for that too – one look at the universe convinces me He’s not sloppy about His business. Saying “no way, Lord” might fly here on earth, but that’s a far cry from acceptable when the disposition of eternal souls is at stake. So, maybe it’s some kind of punishment for the really nasty ones – a taste of Hell, possibly – let’s call it pre-damnation. 

But what about all those poor souls who are reluctantly lingering behind, yet do not seem deserving of eternal suffering? Held back by their despicable tormentors and forced to endure never-ending misery, are they then simply to be abandoned? Does God forsake them, adding to the despair and injustice they endured in life? Are they just stuck in-between – right next to those who cursed them in life? I’m not buying it. Life’s tough enough in the big city, and I’m counting on there being some relief in the hereafter. That’s not too much to ask or expect. If some miscreant is going to violate me, murder me, chop me up into little pieces, and feed what’s left of me to sea lions, I gotta think there’s some peace a comin’ when it’s finally over.

Even if you don’t believe in God, you have to admit there’s enough consistency and balance in the universe to call into question this notion of misguided souls wandering around haphazardly with no aim or end in sight. It seems like a flaw of monumental proportions – a flaw unbefitting a spectacle as grand and as finely tuned as our cosmos. Where’s the order and symmetry we take for granted? Where’s the universal justice – so perfect and complete that it allows for every probability and each eventuality? Except for this one? Nah.

“But you’re a paranormal investigator! This is paranormal blasphemy, son.” Nonsense. Paranormal researchers know better than anyone that there aren’t yet any answers. Our souls could become cream cheese or sand mites – we don’t know. Sure, we hear and see unexplainable things and we have tons of theories, not to mention the plethora of stories and tall tales we’ve contributed to the culture. There’s still more than enough to keep us interested. But this spiritual mayhem is beneath even us, so good luck if you think either your deity or nature itself is unable to come up with anything better than this kind of clumsy chaos. The reality may be a very hard truth to grasp, but whatever it is, there’s probably beauty and dignity involved – not this random desolation we champion so easily. We probably need to rethink some of this.

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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

When it Happens…

So, seen any ghosts lately? Do apparitions seek you out like a Jehovah’s Witness on a road trip? Or are you honestly more like the rest of us, because the dead do not usually line up single file waiting to make an appearance. In fact, I don’t need a hand on which to count the number of verifiable full-bodied apparitions I’ve seen, because I’ve never seen one.

I can’t even guess how many bonafide paranormal investigations I’ve participated in – there have been more than enough opportunities, and fortunately, I’ve witnessed all kinds of crazy stuff. There have been a bunch of black shadows, and even a couple of free-floating, light emitting orbs. I don’t usually even believe in orbs, but there they were. I’ve seen rods, light anomalies, mists, and God knows what else, but never anything that even resembled a human form. Well, We recorded something on video once, but that’s just not the same as an honest to goodness face-to-face, right? It’s great evidence, but it really doesn’t count if you’re not in the same room sharing some eye contact.

Don’t get me wrong. I totally believe those of you who lay claim to such “full-bodied” encounters. If you’re one of those (and I will know if you’re lying), you have my undivided attention – you’ve witnessed the paranormal holy grail. And I recognize that these things happen often enough to warrant investigation, which is why I happily hook up so many cameras, meters, and other recording devices in people’s houses and businesses. Infrared, full-spectrum, thermal – I’ll look with my eyes closed if it will work. I’ll do hand stands if that’s what it takes. I’ll shiver alone in cold, total darkness and talk out loud like an idiot to who or whatever will listen. I’ll beg to be touched; I’ll ask the absolute dumbest questions; I’ll suggest they roll a ball, spin a pinwheel, or suck the energy out of every battery I have. Once, I even promised to do a tap dance routine if someone would appear before me. It’s probably best for all concerned that they didn’t.

I’ve done all of this and more, and yet, no other-worldly specter has ever assembled into human form before me. It’s a very rare event, you know. It’s so rare, that barely a hand-full of such encounters can actually be verified. When you consider the number of people who are out there looking, it’s pretty amazing we haven’t seen more of them. I mean, we can hear them fairly easily; record them in a variety of shapes and dispositions; interact with them in a dozen different ways, but to actually see a for real ghost is spectacularly and extraordinarily uncommon. It is therefore, highly unlikely.

Spirits just don’t parade through thin air. I’m sure they have other, more important stuff to do. What makes us think grandma is going to get all gussied up and make an appearance at the family Christmas party? Why should the burn victim appear at the site of the accident? Do we really think good King Whatshisname is still rumbling through the castle moaning over the loss of his beautiful wife Gwendolyn? Aren’t they reunited by now?

And yet… When it happens, there’s no mistaking it, is there? Because sometimes it does happen, and then everything changes. Suddenly, there’s a new outlook on life and death; questions are answered with heavy authority; doubts are erased, and common sense goes out the window. When it happens, there is nothing more important for awhile, and your priorities change a bit – maybe a lot. When it happens, your soul is touched, your psyche is forever altered, and you know without a doubt it was real – regardless of anything anyone else will say. You feel privy to a kind of eternal understanding that few humans ever experience. When it happens, it feels like divine information; like a peek through the most exclusive keyhole ever.

Pretty heady stuff, eh? But if you don’t feel any part of the above, then I should probably ask you again – seen any ghosts lately? Don’t worry, you’ll know.

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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

Enough Already!

I recently read an article about EVP on a website called Academia. I won’t mention any of the pertinent details because I can not justify providing even a smidgen of free publicity. Suffice it to say, while steeply couched in faux scientific reasoning, the theme of the article was to deny the existence of true EVP as paranormal artifacts. All the usual reasons were presented – rogue transmissions, misinterpreted sounds; even audio matrixing. And certainly, these are the usual suspects when researchers try to uncover the truth about a questionable EVP, but the article went two steps beyond the normal skeptic’s approach.

First, it “proved” that some investigators were hearing their own voices, and being so hellbent to hear from the dead, were unable to discern the truth of who was speaking. And second, the author used a very small sampling of paranormal teams in an anecdotal way to advance a poorly devised experiment upon which he would base all of his conclusions. He claimed to have reached out to each of the country’s almost 2,000 paranormal teams. Really? He found a national registry online (as if), and even though I have never heard of such a list, he stated that less than fifty teams professed interest in participating in his experiment. Regrettably, only four of them actually showed up for the festivities. However, in his mind, they were among the cream of the crop – highly respected and greatly proficient, so he was able to proceed. Of course, they were not the cream of any crop.

His experiment focused on mistakes and evidentiary disagreements between the four teams, and then pointed out how silly and hyper-suggestive they were when it came to analysis. He seemed to take great satisfaction from this and gloated quite a bit between the lines until, of course, he felt completely justified to declare the study of EVP as a waste of foolish time. Sources were listed, bibliographics noted – his “white paper” on the irrationality of people like me was all tied up with a confident bow.

Surprise surprise, he was writing on behalf of a national magazine for skeptics, although the article’s appearance on a site named Academia through me for a bit of a loop, but I guess his point of view was to be expected. I was still greatly disturbed by it. I was deeply bothered reading his unfair comments about my brothers and sisters in the field. No one knows any better than I about how abysmal a bad paranormal team can truly be – I have taken my fair share of potshots at them from my own bully pulpit, and probably will again. But I’ve always considered paranormal investigators the same as plumbers or doctors or whatever – some are great, most are okay, and some are God awful. Paranormal teams run the same gamut.

But it seemed personal with this writer, even though his vitriol was hidden between the scientific buzzwords and an air of superior mental acuity. At first, you weren’t sure where he would fall on the subject, but then… Slowly, and with the steady hand of a surgeon, he began to cut as deep as he could, resulting in the successful removal of EVP as a topic even worthy of discussion. In his mind, he had delivered the death blow – his logic unchallengeable, his clever manipulation of the subject quite superb, and his laser-like dissection of the field flawless and clean.

Now, if you’re still reading, you may know that I can be very hard on skeptics for their larceny of science and their fascistic attitudes toward the paranormal. But I don’t actually object to hearing skeptical opinions when good, solid scientific method rules the day. What I fail to understand is this “by any means necessary” approach applied to the task of discrediting any and all things paranormal.

Is it really necessary to resort to the extremes of lying and name calling? Must they question the sanity and intelligence of those who would disagree with them? And why publish a bogus paper in a site named Academia? Such a lofty name – I wonder what sort of credentials accompany such a high and mighty moniker.

I don’t really know where to go from here. Maybe I’m hurt – no one likes to feel that others see them as delusional – or worse. Maybe I’m outright insulted because the intensity of the hypocrisy was based on lies in order to accuse us of fakery and malpractice. Maybe I’m sad because it weakens my desire to share results and findings. Pearls before swine, ya know?. But I think I’m just tired of it. Enough already! They don’t appreciate our work. They attempt to despoil our credibility incessantly and refuse to view our evidence objectively. I’m tired of it! Not angry tired – I’m just over it. No more for me. You can color me gone from these kinds of people, and that’s a shame. We could have learned from one another – I always thought we would; that’s how it was explained to me in the beginning. We were all wrong though, weren’t we? That’s our biggest failure; our most significant mistake of all – thinking we all just wanted the truth.

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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.

Fist Bump

Whenever I watch Ghost Hunters, which hasn’t been for awhile now, I typically cringe when they do the fist bump at the end. For some stupid reason it just annoys me. I don’t remember when my fist bump hostility began, but one evening I found myself in the middle of a tirade. My wife, who would rather not watch the show at all, remarked that if I hated it that much, I should stop watching. “It’s just the fist bump!” I said, completely flabbergasted. “That’s all!” Geeez! I mean, it’s such a small thing, right? I keep all of that to myself now, of course, but I confess, for some reason it’s like fingernails on a chalk board to me. Indeed, when Grant left the show, I was sure the ritual would go with him. It didn’t.

But this morning I accidentally discovered a video lampooning the series, and I’m ashamed to admit I watched just to see if the fist bump would make an appearance there as well. Fittingly, at the end, it did. Now I have to say that watching Ghost Hunters wander through the dark to a soundtrack of fart noises wasn’t particularly amusing to me, and that was the only punchline in this parody. Maybe it’s my age, but when I hear the sound of passed gas, it conjures unpleasant memories, so I rarely find it humorous. Plus, Jason and the team represent something to me that has nothing to do with flatulence, so it just didn’t strike me funny. 

There must not be any respect left in the world, because surely they deserve better than that. Until it comes to that damned fist bump. I am frankly embarrassed at how easily that part entertained me. Not enough to replay it more than three times, but if one stupid laugh is what the satirists we’re going for, they eventually got mine, I’m sorry to say. 

Unfortunately, Ghost Hunters has always been susceptible to this kind of thing. For some reason, people like to analyze every second of every show – searching for fakery and staging, mostly, but also as fodder for the kind of sub-standard satire I witnessed today. And it’s a shame, because the program has had a tremendous impact on a lot of people. I won’t go on and on about it, but it’s almost impossible to successfully disregard the contribution of the show, whether as a catalyst for increased paranormal awareness, or as a primer for the millions of us who wanted to follow in their footsteps. Ghost Hunters is seminal, and represents the first sincere attempt to share anything seriously paranormal with the masses. 

In the beginning, the show was earth shattering, beloved, and highly valued but I guess it’s all come down to this sort of windy twaddle now, so I feel kinda guilty about the whole fist bump thing. After all, what would I have preferred in its place – a full embrace; a chug of Hennessy in the front seat of the van; congratulations over a giant, dovetailed doobie? 

Well, I understand the value in being free to make fun of our own culture, and I appreciate the talent it takes to do so successfully. Satire is not an easy form of humor to deliver, and someone is always going to be insulted, but fart noises? Really? I think I heard Louis C.K. once say that all fart jokes are funny. Maybe they are, but I wasn’t laughing this time. I just felt a little sad. Until it came to the fist bump, of course. I think that makes me some kind of a hypocrite, doesn’t it?
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Voices From Forever by Randall Keller http://goo.gl/ZBBmj Available on Amazon

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

Soul to Soul

“That team is better because they have more equipment.” Not! Still, imagine for a second that quality paranormal research and investigation actually does hinge on possessing an abundance of gear. More is better. Bigger is better! Where have I heard that kind of thinking before? How discouraging…

Well, I guess a large library with a gazillion books is better than a small one. Assuming they’re quality books, of course – not just limited to bad romance novels and every Atlas known to mankind. It’s also probably true that a large urban medical group with dozens of specialists is more effective than old Doc Brown (third barn on the left), unless all those specialists are graduates of the Mozambique Academy of Archery and Medicine. That changes the perspective a bit. And certainly all those painters of motel wall art can’t be bad, right?

I still cry hogwash. More equipment does not mean a paranormal team is better. How many laser grids does one need? “Anyone want a FLIR? I’ve got two!” The first paranormal team I was associated with was anything but overly equipped and we managed to capture more evidence than any team I’d heard of, so you’ll never convince me that results have anything to do with how much really cool stuff you’ve got. But there are reasons our team’s investigations were fruitful, and it’s the same for every working paranormal team that succeeds. 

At the top of the list is using your resources wisely. Keep your equipment in working order, know when and how to use it, and understand that these wondrous devices are tools – it’s you who is doing the investigating. Pay attention to your surroundings and above all else, react to what you see and hear. Learn how to follow your core instincts, and don’t be afraid to go in the wrong direction. Be respectful and understanding of those whose environment you may be invading. And certainly not last or least, be as thorough as you can.

Investigating is actually a very dynamic situation – it becomes an entity of its own, and investigators feel their way through like the notes of a song in search of the melody. We become part of the darkness; a breeze in the wind, if you will. We are the peaceful representatives of the living world in a place where life may just be relative. We are ambassadors. “Yeah yeah, wax poetic, old man. A breeze in the wind indeed!” Well, overly hyperbolic or not, none of any of that requires even one piece of equipment. Investigation starts with the humanity of the individual, I think, and success doesn’t hinge on the lux of one’s IR bullet camera.

The team that spends its time bragging about their equipment, probably has their priorities out of line – a fairly understandable statement to make, I think. But what does that say about those of us who assume it makes them better? Not very much, I’m afraid. One doesn’t hire a surgeon for the number of scalpels he owns. His knowledge, creativity, and skill are better reasons. Why should it be any different with paranormal teams? Then again, I’d love to walk through a location armed to the teeth with every possible scientific apparatus available, but then how much time would I spend investigating? Equipment has its place – no doubt, and if used properly, can provide the evidence we all so covet, but I’ve always believed spirit communication is best achieved soul to soul. Equipment isn’t part of that equation.

I’m not saying less is best, or that a highly equipped team is automatically lacking – certainly, we need “things” to do our job, but most of today’s paranormal devices can’t prove a thing; won’t provide a shred of actual evidence. What we really need are well-trained, highly motivated investigators in whose hands to place all that equipment, and even then there are no guarantees.

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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.

“I’m Here”

Sometimes I wonder why EVP comments are usually so lacking in substance. What happened to all those revealing descriptions of the afterlife I’ve been asking for? The voices never even hint at what it’s like to be a spirit. I’d like to know how it was to meet Jesus. Surely a word or two about that could settle a few discussions here in the physical world. Is there a Heaven? Hell? Maybe there’s somewhere in between! How about just a little explanation guys? Nothing too detailed; it’s not like I want to know all the best secrets – maybe just a few…

Problem is, after a decade of research, and several thousand bonafide EVP later, I’ve decided this is a distinctly closed-mouthed bunch – they’re not gonna lay it all out on a silver platter for the likes of me. Oh sure, once in a blue moon someone over there slips up – no one’s perfect, after all. Occasionally, they’ll say something really spiritually titillating and I’ll get all worked up and think I’m actually on to something, but they seldom verify; rarely repeat; never elaborate. It seems almost as though certain subjects are automatically off the table, so I guess I’ll just have to grin and bear it; keep trying.

You know, I’ve posed a great many significant questions to spirits over the years, so they’ve had a lot of splendid opportunities to spill the beans. Still, I think I’ve been able to learn a few things by piecing together hundreds of similar comments from who I think are different spirits – kind of like Family Feud. “We asked 100 ghosts what it’s like over there, and the number one answer is…” But whenever I get too deep, there’s usually complete silence, and it seems a bit rude.

I don’t want to take it personally – I assume no one else is being given the real skinny about the real deal, but it’s hard not to occasionally feel rejected after all this time. I thought they liked me, but then how does one know? Maybe it’s all so amazing that I couldn’t handle the truth or even begin to comprehend it. They could be doing me a favor. Or perhaps there just aren’t adequate words to even offer explanations. It’s difficult enough to describe a butterfly, so astral travel must be a bitch to get a handle on. Or, maybe they just don’t know anything. Like us, they’re just where they are and the mysteries keep confounding, and the number of puzzle pieces keep growing.

I mean, we’re about as sophisticated as any generation on earth has ever been and we still aren’t completely positive we’re even actually here. We’ve been struggling with the concept of existence since the very beginning, so it’s quite possible they suffer a similar fate of cluelessness. Also, we tend to think spirits are tuned-in to the true wonders of pretty much everything, but maybe not. Some of us even assume we go straight to heaven and everlasting communion with God, but for all we know, there’s yet another entire lifetime of some sort to endure. Maybe several – each markedly different than our current state, but still nowhere near the realm of understanding. It just might be that a spirit’s answer to all our substantive questions would be as vague and inadequate as our own.

I once asked a spirit where he was. I expected him to say he was in Heaven, or the fourth astral plane, in the attic, or something dynamic, bazaar, and spectacular. But his answer was more revealing, I think, and infinitely more fascinating. “I’m here,” is all he said. Of course I don’t know where “here” is, and there are a bunch of ways one could interpret the comment, but maybe none of it matters anyway. “I’m here” kinda speaks volumes if you really take the time to think about it. And well… I’m here too, friend, and I don’t know how else to put it either. I wonder if anyone ever will.

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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.

Mackenzie is Sensitive

People are way too sensitive these days. I’m not talking about emotional reactions – I’m talking about the increased sensitivity to all things paranormal. I’m pretty sure there is now a sensitive on every corner. There are a couple in my neighborhood, in fact. “Oh! You’re a ghost hunter? You should talk to my Mackenzie – she’s a medium.” Really? The woman I hear screeching her kid’s name every evening at dinner time is a medium? The one in the too tight Ravens sweat pants; drives a Fiesta; the den mother of Troop 732? That Mackenzie? “Yeah! She communicates with her dead relatives all the time.”

Sure, but don’t we all? I talk to mine religiously – in the shower, washing socks, cutting the lawn… And sometimes, I swear, I think they answer, but I’m just not a sensitive. These neo-mystics are like 7/Elevens. They’re everywhere. The world is lousy with people who either commiserate with the deceased, get temporarily possessed, see phantoms in the corner, or burn sage literally everywhere. A chill in the air means a spirit has passed through them; a blowing curtain means grandma is visiting; misplaced keys are the handiwork of a playful poltergeist, and djinn are stealing the petty cash. Shadows in the hall have nothing to do with the dog and a night light – Mackenzie knows better. Mackenzie is sensitive.

Sometimes a paranormal researcher magically develops sensitivity. Where once was a good investigator is now an emotional volcano who already knows where all the spirits are hiding as she (he) offers her body so they can talk directly through her. I just wanna be there when one of them actually takes her up on it. Oh to be a fly on the wall of the afterlife for that! Talk about something being worth the price of admission!

When you think about it though, it’s pretty cool having a genuine sensitive at your beck and call. I should go to more neighborhood functions and make the rounds. Get as much advice as I can; improve my portfolio; rid my house of evil spirits. I don’t know, there must be something. Unfortunately, my initial reaction is to avoid these folks, and I’m very good at disappearing quickly. I don’t really want my future revealed over barbecue. I don’t understand why I need to “hang in there.” It’s good to know things will get better soon, but I thought everything was fine!

It’s a shame really. I’ve worked with real mediums before, you know. I can’t say they’re always spot on, but they have legitimate track records, and offer insight that coincides with evidence. They’re not a dime a dozen. It’s sad that their hard work and valuable contributions get so watered down by the likes of screechy Mackenzie and the metaphysical mavens of Essex Avenue.

Oh I know… I’m just no fun at all, but I truly don’t mean to be such a wet blanket. I just can’t help it, and I’d bet the entire farm I’m not the only one who feels this way. We’ve all had our run-ins with the occasional psychic correctness – I’ve predicted what will happen now and again; had a fleeting “feeling” that turned out to be right. I’ve definitely seen and heard things no one else did. It’s inevitable, really, but that no more makes me a sensitive than catching a foul ball makes me an athlete. It is also not a brief glimpse at my clairvoyant potential – no matter how hard I worked to develop it. I respect those who have the gift – I prefer my sensitives to be authentic, and I’m pleased as punch not to be one of them. I’ve got my own talents and skills; my own calling. That should be enough, don’t you think?
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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.

What We See

Over the years, I’ve learned that my eyes are not completely trustworthy. As a paranormal investigator, I’ve also learned to adjust them. When I witness something “ghostly,” or highly out of the ordinary, and before I assume that “paranormal” explanation, I look for clarification above my own nose. It turns out, there are a number of fascinating visual conditions which will cause us to see things that may not be there, and I seem to be susceptible to a few.

The first time I noticed a kind of misty, ectoplasmic looking entity floating around the room, it turned out to be the result of Blue Field Disorder. BFD is the ability to see the blood vessels in your eyes as imprints on the normal field of view. All it takes is the slight presence of blue light in a dark room, and depending on your sensitivity, this effect can continue for minutes after the blue light has been extinguished. It turns out I’m very sensitive to this, and for me, BFD is often triggered by no more than the pilot light of an electronic device. You can imagine the awesome creatures I’ve seen – lively and purposeful; each one appearing to interact with the environment, and very interested in being seen. But alas – Blue Field Disorder, and no more real than green cheese on the moon.

Another problem I have is the result of Fuchs Syndrome. It’s Fuchs (a pitting of the cornea) that required I receive a cornea transplant in the right eye. I still need to replace my left cornea, and until I do, I will see the most amazing juxtaposition of shapes and shadows when my eyes are deprived of light for awhile. Combine this with a compression of depth due to a previously detached retina, and I have been known to see full-bodied apparitions that turned out to be nothing more than a lamp and figurine on a shelf.

Now of course, I know how to recognize these issues the minute they occur, and have successfully developed methods to make them go away quickly. Still, even though I have never confused these problems with paranormal events, it does call into question the reliability of any investigator’s visual, anecdotal observations. What we think we are witnessing may, in fact, be nothing at all.

I realize this kind of talk sounds damning coming from an actual investigator, so I should apologize right now to all those paranormal folks whose observations and reports are unaffected by such lugubrious aberrations. Everyone’s vision is not the same, and that’s only one of the many reasons we use cameras. Cameras don’t get BFD. Precision lenses don’t develop Fuchs Syndrome, or become lugubrious. “But I know what I saw!” Of course you do, but if it’s not on tape, it’s not evidence, and therefore becomes just an interesting story you should expect almost no one to believe.

I’ve been doing this for awhile, and I do know the difference between an actual unexplainable phenomenon and a “blue field Fuchs spatial differential whatever anomaly,” but so what? And who cares if I can make it go away? Our eyes are still not completely reliable and are possibly responsible for creating more fantastic sightings than any of us would like to admit. At the end of the day, it’s only the evidence that matters and quite frankly, anything our senses reveal must be backed up with hard data. One cannot declare a haunting based on what is potentially the natural, convoluted misinterpretation of things by the observer’s own body.

Our senses play a major role in leading us through a location; in executing our pursuit; in refining our methods of recording what might be true. Our senses are of great value, but they can also be our most dynamic detriment because we are conditioned to believe what we see and hear above all things. By refusing to recognize this as a limitation, we lessen our effectiveness and diminish our chances for credibility. What we see is not always what we get, but sometimes, it’s not even what we see.

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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.

Trained

Somebody once told me I was a good investigator. I wasn’t sure what his criteria were, but a compliment is a compliment, and I get so few these days that I figured a “thank you” was probably in order. What I said instead was, “I had a lot of help.” Truer words were never spoken – I was trained, preached at, dragged kicking and screaming, and beaten within an inch of my life. Well, maybe it wasn’t quite that dramatic, but I was most definitely trained. I was molded in the image of my mentor, BJ Moylan, and I can honestly say that almost everything I know about paranormal investigation is the result of working alongside him.

Needless to say, field research is also a unique learning experience, and your teammates are your lab partners in a very intense endeavor. You learn and grow from each individual you work with, and the prime directive is to always maintain one another’s health and safety. Teammates come first. It’s therefore certainly necessary to work well with others but trust in the team is of major import. So is knowing your stuff, and being able to cover every base in any situation. We read articles and books, watched documentaries and interviews. We studied everything from angelology to the behavior of djinn in the hopes of being ready for the impossible; wanting to know rather than guess.

Not everyone was interested in committing the time; usually they weren’t convinced it mattered enough to warrant such “overkill,” so they didn’t last long. My training included long and intense discussions, attention to nuance, a dedication to detail, and tons of what-if scenarios, but everything I ever did needed to start with education and a thorough understanding of what was true and what was in need of proving. None of us had all the answers, and we were trained to look for solutions in ways that exceeded the current normality. We were taught to look beyond the obvious and that every success was just a logical stepping stone to the next level. We needed to seek that next level.

We were organized and never began an investigation without a plan. Individual ideas were encouraged, but since our best strategies often needed to change in mid-course, we were trained to maintain focus. We were expected to be respectful and diligent in maintaining decorum and attitude, whether toward the living or the dead, but we were taught to always remain in charge no matter what. We had worked hard to become good investigators, and we never let go of the need to continue in our growth.

Fear was never an option, so there was no giving in to it. There’s never a reason to be afraid anyway, but in those rare moments of human frailty, we knew to bury our fear with strength and good decisions. When we entered a location, we were confident – we had been trained well, and were prepared, so while fear can come upon you without warning, we knew how to anchor ourselves in reality – to finish our jobs and deal with misgivings later.

I think I am a good investigator – I agree, but I’d be lost without the gentle guidance of others. Without their help and strong presence, I’d have never succeeded; would never have lasted. Sometimes even the smallest event looms very large when you’re in the field, and I still find myself gratefully remembering those moments all these years later. There’s no substitute for strong leadership or a willingness to learn, and I can still hear BJ’s calm advice during certain situations; still remember what I gained from all that training. 

Paranormal investigation may not be rocket science or advanced medicine, but it’s a worthy subject that deserves the best effort we have to give. I’m just glad someone was there to push me in the right direction; someone who instilled a culture of competence and common sense. I’m grateful for his spirit of generosity. I’m grateful to have learned from the best.

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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.

Watching

I watched him wither – from a strong, well-considered, vibrant man to a fragile, mentally tortured soul. I watched as dementia quietly slithered inside – molesting his dignity and suffocating his self-respect. And I watched him become simple-minded and confused; cornered and afraid. I watched my father’s mind drift slowly away, as if to sea – a spec on the horizon, and then nothing. I watched his body follow suit; watched him wilt and decay; saw the life struggle to leave him, and then I watched him die.

When disease overwhelmed my sister, its devastation was sudden and careless – seized her essence as though it meant nothing at all; clueless as to the profane loss her absence would create. I could not watch as she quietly surrendered. I couldn’t witness the destruction of someone so dear, and I thought it should have been me. I was older; less significant. I would hardly be missed. But life is imperfect, so she moved along without me.

It is happening again. My mother’s frailty is slowly giving in; her will to live firmly renouncing its hold on life. She flirts with death each day and somehow manages to stay free of its insatiable appetite, but that won’t last long. We know there are no winners in this game – we’ve discussed it. Everyone loses sooner or later, and for her, it has long been later. I confess, there have been times when death seemed the better, more logical servant.

None of this is rare. Everyone has endured the loss of loved ones, and we each clutch a perspective worth adding to the narrative. Every unique point of view is as poignant as it is destructive, but then why should it be otherwise? Death, after all, is no accident. It is an appointment with eternity that escapes no one, offering the promise of everything, and guaranteeing nothing. We all have watched it happen. I know there are many others who have suffered so much more than I; their anguish almost inconsolable; their loss as close to complete as humans can endure. Death has visited me kindly, by comparison, and offered sweet resolution to destinies of pain, trepidation, and torment. 

Death brought peace to my loved ones, and for that I am grateful. But here I sit, once again watching, as my mother’s life slowly sneaks away, and the powers that be are forced to accept their inadequate defense against such a foe. I watch her spirit abandon countenance and leave only the frightening panic of facing a life she is no longer certain was of value. I watch as she questions her beliefs, doubts her resolve, and seeks a way to somehow regain her dignity and some meager assurance that there will be reconciliation and relief. I watch as fear slowly gives way to acceptance, while only sleep offers refuge from the horror of knowing your time is now measured in days. Hours.

We all go through it. We are all forced to see. Maybe so we will learn how to recognize our own short comings; possibly to prepare us for our own trip toward the end. Maybe we watch so that others can reveal the roadmap; a more prudent path to follow, perhaps. Maybe we watch because we are curious, or because it reassures us that nothing lasts longer than it should. Maybe we watch for no other reason than to accumulate last looks – some attempt to remember the animated soul before its evicted. More than likely, we watch because, at some point, that’s all we can do. It is life’s only inevitability. 

It doesn’t matter how difficult this journey becomes, or how easily we traverse each bump along the way. It always hurts, and sometimes in ways we never really understand. We watch death perform its perverse duty because we have to, and I suspect it watches us as well. Looking away is never an option.

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

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

A Work in Progress

I’m a nice person. I swear! For the most part. I mean, I’ve never gotten an award or testimonial for being nice; no keys to the city, but still… I recognize that there’s room to grow and I believe in trying to improve myself. So, I’ve managed to replace my natural acerbic attitude with politeness and pleasantries. That’s a great start, right? So trust me – I’m a nice person even if I am a work in progress.

But lately… It’s been difficult to maintain. Too many RNs, PAs, MDs, ADMs, Ph.Ds – the alphabet soup alone is taxing my patience, but again, I’m trying. Lately, very trying. I’ve snapped at more people in the last two months than in the previous ten years, and I can’t say the end results have been fabulous, even if it has allowed me to feel better. I need to stop doing that. I need to regroup and recenter my chi (or whatever), and go back to full-time amiability.

“Okay dude, go for it, but why do I care and what does it have to do with the paranormal?” Well, I’m thinking that my EVP sessions may have suffered. I think spirits prefer talking to friendly, affable folks, but I’ve been too matter of fact and all business of late. That’s not good, and certainly not my usual demeanor. Typically, I try to be friendly; make an effort to show an interest in the spirit; try to build a rapport and be compatible. And I’m convinced that tact works well. It seems that I get better responses by asking them how they are than I do with “Is anyone here?”

I used to assume the attitude of knowing they were there, while going to great lengths to show them how important their opinions and feelings really were to me? That was always a winner in the past. “Have you been to see your wife lately? She’s so sweet, and man did she love you.” That sort of thing. None of this ” knock three times to let me know you’re there” kind of crap. I used to go out of my way to build up a camaraderie; I found things in common to talk about. You can’t ask a spirit to chat you up when all you’ve got to say is “why are you here?”

So I definitely need to get back to basics, or rather, my version of the basics (Talking to Spirits 101, by Your’s Truly). But if the living are going to continue to drive me batty, that will probably take more time. Truth is, sometimes I prefer talking to spirits. I often feel a kinship with them; an affinity that I sense might possibly go both ways. Sure they’re a little cryptic; hard to hear on occasion, and they don’t always have the best vocabulary, but spirits don’t break promises, answer with predilection, cut me off on the freeway, or drop my mail in a puddle. Spirits are good people! That’s been my experience, and we’ve always gotten along famously.

Oh, who am I kidding? If I can’t be bothered to actually talk to them and not at them, this relationship will dry up, and I’ll be just another EVP specialist without any EVP. I won’t be alone, of course, because there are a lot of those out there, but no one really wants to join that fraternity. There are already too many of us running around in the dark without a clue – there’s a definite glut of bollixed researchers clogging up the lines of communication and spoiling it for everyone else. I don’t wanna be one of them. It just might be a good idea for all of us to take some stock in our methods and try to improve our paranormal work ethic.

Starting today, I’m regressing – back to the days when I didn’t know what to say so I just had a conversation. Gone are the usual, canned questions and rote paranormal kitsch. I’m removing all those tired, worn out usual approaches from my investigation lexicon, and replacing them with sincere inquiries and honest interest. I’m going back to being a nice guy again – the kind of guy who is less of an investigator and more of a genuinely curious new acquaintance. I’ll still be a work in progress, but at least I’ll be someone worth talking to.
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Voices From Forever by Randall Keller http://goo.gl/ZBBmj Available on Amazon
There Is No Silence by Randall Keller http://goo.gl/U6KY7 Available on Amazon.