Friday, October 31, 2008

Creepy Tales on the Tube...

Halloween has finally arrived, and with it an endless supply of haunted television programming.

Today, That's Life with Robin Swoboda took a look at northeast Ohio hauntings. I was fortunate enough to be contacted by the producer who wished to interview me on camera about a local haunt: "Hell Town", better known as the village of Boston in the Cuyahoga Valley. In two separate segments, I talked a little about the history of the area and its rumors and ghosts.

The program was filmed live at Squire's Castle. Tales of Gore Orphanage and the Melonheads were relayed by the denizen of the departed, Stephanie Lane of Dead Ohio, and the crypt kicker himself, Chuck Hawley of Creepy Cleveland, respectively. Also featured on the show were Robyn Morris, innkeeper of Goodwin House Bed & Breakfast in Burton, as well as people from Painesvile's Rider's Inn and Perkins Mansion in Akron among others.

To view clips of the show, visit Fox 8 Cleveland's 'That's Life' page. Video clips will be viewable for the next seven days.

Have a safe and fun Halloween, everyone!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

A Shy Ghost From the Old World...

I found this video on YouTube quite a while ago. Luckily, I was cleaning out my folder with bookmarks for this blog and stumbled across it again.

Filmed at an allegedly haunted house in the Romanian town of Bacau, this news footage shows what quite obviously appears to be a ghostly presence in the upper balcony. Is it genuine? I can't state that for certain. But it's intriguing nonetheless. And with my Bohemian roots, I couldn't resist. Even though Romanian is one of the Romance languages, I won't attempt to translate exactly.

I apologize in advance for the overused X Files theme music...

Supernatural Spotlight: Jeff Belanger

Back what seems like eons ago, I belonged to several paranormal message boards and kept up on them a quite regularly. One of my favorites that I followed very closely was Ghostvillage. While I haven't found time to be as active as I was, I still stop on every so often to see what's happening. The creator, Jeff Belanger, still operates the site but he has become a bit of a phenomenon himself.

From webmaster to prolific author, Belanger has churned out a series of books on both the paranormal and odd history. And it may not be surprising that his website was the catalyst. The Worlds Most Haunted Places: From The Secret Files Of launched his paranormal literary career, though he had been a writer long before it was published. He received his English degree from Hofstra University and was the editor of a Connecticut newspaper for a spell.

But like many of us, ghosts were a fascination of Jeff's from a young age. His first investigation was at the age of 10 during a sleepover at a haunted house. The lure of hauntings never went away and Belanger is now considered a leading expert in the field of the supernatural. Even so, he maintains a good sense of humor and level head, earning him many fans and lecture engagements. began in 1999 and has grown to an enormous size. Jeff has been featured on countess radio and television shows and mentioned in dozens of print media sources. Now, he is a full-time writer living in Massachusetts with many projects on his slate. There are plans for a paranormal thriller novel and even a children's book in the works. He is also the writer and researcher for the new series, Ghost Adventures, starring Zak Bagans.

His newest book, Who's Haunting the White House?: The President's Mansion and the Ghosts Who Live There, is currently available in bookstores everywhere. If you're looking for some spooky reading material, this is one author to check out!

Creepy Kids in the Hollow...

Most people in northeast Ohio have heard the incredible legends surrounding Gore Orphanage Road. Though the true stories have been twisted over the years, two tales have meshed into one. Though the rumors of Old Man Gore killing kids are unfounded and untrue ("Mr. Gore" didn't even exist), there are some spooky happenings at the old Swift Mansion ruins that I can personally testify to.

I have investigated the spot several times over the years. I have witnessed hand prints of children on parked cars and glowing green mists in the woods. The ghosts of children who died of disease here are real. And recently, FearNet took a trip down the old road to explore the hauntings. Several notable names were interviewed, including author Charles Cassady, tour operator Psychic Sonya, and my dear, sweet, hilarious lawyer pal and webmistress to Dead Ohio: Stephanie Lane.

And here you thought all lawyers were curmudgeons hellbent on making people miserable and lacking any sense of humor.

I could talk about the legends, but FearNet did a great job summarizing things and adding that creepy Oompa-Loompa vibe which we've a come to love this time of year. Watch the video here:

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A Bazaar That is Truly Bizarre...

All Hallows Eve is now within our sight. Only a few more days until the veil between the spirit realm and the word of the living is at its thinnest. Odd things are bound to happen. Odd people will rear their heads. Madness will reign and the mystical will become normal.

Perhaps I'm exaggerating a little, but you catch my drift.

Of all strange and wonderfully bizarre things I have uncovered in my searches across the internet, I recently discovered a store unlike anything I have every laid eyes upon in the past. Indeed, Carnivalia is like no other pagan or occult shop. There is a hint of whimsy, a dash of artistic flair, and more oddities than you could possibly comprehend.

From originally-designed Ouija boards to bottled ghosts (and they will happily take your unwanted haunted trinkets of you wish), anything and everything any pagan or mystic could possibly want can be found there. Creepy clocks. Disturbing dolls. Potions, books, and clothing. It's a wild funhouse ride through the insane mind of a pagan sideshow act.

Best of all, they have many items of a queer nature. And I don't mean "odd". The owner and his partner, Storm Faerywolf, do remember their family.

When you check out the website, be sure to keep an open mind and beware of tongue-in-cheek humor. At times, it's difficult to discern what is intended to be serious and what is comedy. Judging by the copious text portions and strangely hilarous images, I lean more toward the latter on all accounts. Nevertheless, it's worth a browse at the very least. Or if you happen to be in the San Francisco area, be sure to swing by North Broadway in Walnut Creek and visit their storefront. If the website is any indication of what awaits, you might not leave for hours.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Bizarre News Recaps...

While recovering from a cold the past few days, I didn't have a chance to write long posts about some odd and interesting news from the last week. Here's a bit of what you missed while I was busy hording Kleenex.

Pinned for Office...

President Nicolas Sarkozy of France is up in cross stitched arms and spitting nails (or needles) over the tactics of a publishing company. They are selling voodoo dolls of his likeness accompanied by slogans reportedly spoken by Sarkozy (including such thoughtful words as "get lost, you pathetic arsehole"). They aren't just targeting the incumbent; his rival, Segolene Royal, has a similar doll marketed by the same company during last year's election. Both men are considering legal action. Some politicians are just a bit high strung.

Branded a Driving Witch...

Get ready, Salem. Drivers in the city may soon have the option of purchasing specialty license plates bearing a witch. Destination Salem is asking the Registry of Motor Vehicles to add the new plate to its options. Unfortunately, similar plates will not be issued for broomsticks.

A Feline Vortex...

Wooaston in Stourbridge, UK, has earned the nickname "The Purr-muda Triangle" this month, as nearly 50 cats have gone missing without a trace in the past five years. Several collars have been located around Meriden Avenue, where the mystery is centered, but not a single hair or body has surfaced. Are aliens in need of a litte furry companionship or has Cruella deVille turned her sights toward other animals?

Virtual Jail Time...

Two Dutch teenagers have been convicted of theft in Leewarden District Court. The object in question is a magic amulet and mask. Not a real amulet, mind you: it exists only in the virtual reality game RuneScape. The culprits, aged 15 a 14, convinced a 13-year-od boy to snag the items and place them into their online accounts. For their acts, the two youths were sentenced to 200 and 160 hours of community service, respectably. And no amount of cyber gold coins can get them out of this mess.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Closing in on Queer Phantoms...

We're in the final stretch now. Only four more days until Halloween (or Samhain, if you prefer). It's a week of ghosts and goblins for many of us. Of course, spooky things are a year-round focus. But this is the time when the average person pays closer attention. And that includes the media.

Today, Edge New York is running an article. Yours truly had the pleasure of being interviewed about Queer Paranormal and discussing a bit about the concept of it and my current focus. Reporter and comedian Scott Stiffler also chatted with a few haunted places to get their own take on the queer side of the supernatural. Perhaps a few more New Yorkers might stop by Urge Lounge this holiday season... for spirits of a different variety.

The article, 'Are There Gay Ghosts?', is available online now and will be available on all of Edge's partner sites across the country.

And remember... if you go out to party this week at any bars or clubs, or even celebrate All Hallows Eve at the home of friends or family, keep an eye out for anything unusual. Not all the spirits around you may be costumed guests or bottled vapors. You might be in a haunted building without realizing it...

How Much Is That Specter in the Window...

This weekend, a long-time friend of mine contacted me with an interesting tale. A friend of hers has looking into buying a home in northeastern Ohio. She paid a visit to a nice old century home in a small town and snapped a few photographs of the outside. She decided against going inside, because there was a foreboding sense to the house. Her four-year-old son told her he didn't want to go inside because of "the monster" in it. He described a ghoulish-looking figure in the window. Later, on reviewing the photos, a face exactly as he had described turned up in one of the windows.

Here's a cropped close-up of the window:

Apparently, the Realtor admitted that the house was, in fact, haunted. The current owners were selling it at a loss because they didn't want to live with whatever paranormal activity was occurring. Interestingly enough, I did a little digging (figuratively-speaking) and found a very rough date of construction (within 10 years; the real estate estimate was off by two decades) and a very old cemetery bordering the back yard.

Honestly, the house is gorgeous and has many original features that would make it a wonderful investment for any homeowner. But then, there's the spook issue. Is it genuinely haunted? I can't say for sure. Is the photo genuinely paranormal? Windows are always a tricky and touchy subject, but it doesn't appear to be a reflection from the apple tree.

It is quite coincidental to be looking at homes this time of year and happen upon a haunted house. It's also not very common for a real estate agent to openly admit the supernatural qualities without any reservation. If it were me, I would take the house. But then again, I wouldn't mind a little paranormal roommate. I'm sure there's an interesting story in here somewhere, but we shall see if it reveals itself...

Sunday, October 26, 2008

A Case of Hearse Harassment...

Making a living out of death is never a simple existence. It may lead to unusual quirks or humor or, in the case of one undertaker in Sydney, Australia, to criminal behavior.

Adam Lee of the cheerfully named Caring Funerals has faced a rough year. In September, he was found guilty of fraud over the mix-up of two corpses. Two bodies, one to see a traditional burial and the other cremation, were erroneously swapped several years prior and bereaved families were compensated for his misdeeds.

But now, it seems Adam found himself in Sydney court again this past week. The 37-year-old unlucky mortician was charged with stalking.

It appears that in December of 2004, Adam drove his hearse in an intoxicated state. He followed Maureen Wyer through the city streets, blowing his horn and unleashing a verbal torrent of obscenities. The incident had been random, since Lee had never previously met Wyer. In court on Tuesday, his lawyer acknowledged Lee's habit of binge drinking on weekends and "deteriorating... mental state". Earlier this year, Adam was found guilty of driving under suspension, "driving in a menacing manner", and operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol.

He was found guilty Thursday of four offenses. Although he has been placed on an 18-month bond for good behavior, his license has been suspended for two years and he was fined an additional $400. A doctor's report submitted to the court showed a history of depression and abuse of alcohol, so he was further ordered to undergo psychological treatment.

So remember: if you've been drinking, it might not be wise to get behind the wheel of a vehicle. But more importantly, embalming while intoxicated could catch you in just as much legal trouble.

Friday, October 24, 2008

You Can't Keep a Good Gnome Down...

Some of you may remember the "creepy gnome" of Argentina sighted earlier this year and the infamous video circulating the web. It was later determined to be a hoax, though the teen responsible for that footage, Jose Alvarez, still claims it was real.

But now, the creepy gnome tale has resurfaced. Footage was recorded in early October of a "midget monster" near a water fountain in Clodomira, filmed by Juan Carlos Roldan and friends on a mobile phone.

“We were messing about - singing and dancing - when we heard a loud rustling noise from behind us. This tiny thing started running down Avenue San Martin at us. It had a pointy head and dark clothes," said one of the teenage witnesses.

“This little thing was barking like a dog, but running sideways on two legs. It headed off towards the football stadium.”

A photographic expert from Universidad Nacional de Santiago del Estero has reviewed the footage and believes it could be authentic. Aldegonda Alvarz hasn't found any obvious trickery.

Should Argentina be renamed "Munchkin Land" or is it in fact an animal or little person playing a prank, as skeptics allege? Watch the footage and judge for yourself:

Five Questions for Blog Readers...

Perhaps I'm not the trendiest person who ever walked the earth. But occasionally, I'll play tag with other bloggers in cyberspace and post little things. Recently, Life of Justin posed some questions for his readers (discovered thanks to Travel Girl). I thought I may as well transfer them to here to share with the rest of you who may or may not know me.

1. What Is Your Name and Age? My name is Ken and I'm an alcoholic.... no, wait. That was just begging to be said. Really, I'm not. REALLY! I'm 29 years old.

2. Where Do You Live? I live in the armpit of America, better known as northeast Ohio, just south of Cleveland.

3. What Is Your Blog About? My blog is an eclectic mix of humorous paranormal news stories, ghostly tales, personal reflections on life and people, and whatever else suits my fancy. I try to keep it upbeat and humorous even when it can be a real struggle.

4. Why Did You Start Blogging? It started back in college as a personal release of tension. I love to write and it has helped tremendously with keeping my skills sharpened (though that's debatable according to some) and maintaining mental stability ("let it out and let it go"). It was my one way to vent without getting flack.

5. What’s Your Goal In Life? My main drive is to live comfortably doing the one thing I enjoy" writing. I don't expect to become the next Stephen King, but just keeping he electric from being turned off would be a start! Aside from that, I want to travel widely (and live in either Australia or England), visit new places and peoples, help preserve historic homes, inspire and effect people, and promote world peace. No wait. Scratch that last one. It only applies to Miss America contestants.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

A Spook-Filled British Invasion...

While browsing various videos online for paranormal-related content, I made quite an interesting discovery. The UK's own Chris Halton with Haunted Earth recently traveled across the pond to my own neck of the woods to film some haunted places.

Two videos, concerning the Canal Visitor Center and Tinkers Creek Cemetery, were added to YouTube this month. There were a few errors I am aware of from my research on the locations, though it was still interesting to watch. The EVPs are difficult to discern, but I'll leave that up to all of you to decide.

So, take a little journey to hauntings down the street (literally) from my home!

Canal Visitors Center:

Tinkers Creek Cemetery:

Beyond the Tumbleweeds...

Rather than write a long post today about a haunting or paranormal tale, I thought I would indulge your eyes and ears in a more visual method. Thanks to the creative people behind Paranormal TV, I bring you a fascinating video about spirits of Arizona's southwestern desert canyons.

From Navajo legend to ghostly occurrence, I present to you the story of the Shinday in "Red Feather and the Spirits of the Dead":

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Twist My Arm...

Of all ironies, no one said two words about my website, Haunted Cuyahoga, until after I removed it from cyberspace. Emails and casual questions popped up in the following weeks, even a few people voicing disappointment in its disappearance. I hadn't bothered updating it in months and with the new shift in focus with my efforts, I had decided that operating two separate websites was too time consuming and tedious. I laid to rest that decade of my life.

Well, seeing as this is the perfect time for the dead to come back to life, I've given in to public pressure. The old website is back, though not at a different address. I have split down the middle and now, visitors who arrive at the main page have a choice: Haunted Cuyahoga or Queer Paranormal?

So, the references of hauntings in the valley are still available online, but at their original address. It shouldn't take long for it to begin appearing in search engines again so I won't turn my back on the local tales. I wouldn't count on any major updates to either site though, since I'm busily working on several other things. Even though Queer Paranormal is nowhere near completed, it will take some time before I finish all the pages and images to go along with it.

Consider it my little Halloween present to Ohio.

Happy now?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Queer Paranormal Road Trip: WhiteGate Inn & Cottage

With the crisp chill to the Midwest air, thoughts not only drift to ghostly happenings but to warmer climates. The allure of a southern escape is quite tempting and there are many destinations to choose from. North Carolina is often neglected, yet there is a gay-owned bed & breakfast in the city of Asheville worth a glance. And you might find yourself face to face with a specter from the past.

Built in 1889, the WhiteGate Inn and Cottage offers luxurious bed-and-breakfast accommodations in the heart of historic Asheville. Aside from the cozy rooms, there are superb gardens tended by one of the innkeepers. The most impressive room, the Walt Whitman Garden Spa Suite, features French doors which open out into the lush flowered greenery. But if you decide to book a room at the inn, you just might find a few spirits lingering within the walls.

Hauntings at the WhiteGate stem from the days of the tuberculosis epidemic. Two sisters purchased the house in 1928 and converted it into one of the many tubercuosis boarding houses throughout Asheville. One of these women, referred to as "Mrs. B", still makes her presence known to guests and staff members. Opened drawers mysteriousy close on their own accord, lights turn on and off, and doors left open are often found closed. It appears that she remains as a housekeeping presence; much of the activity is centered around the Robert Frost Room where she passed away in 1973. She has also been spotted sitting in the garden, admiring the beautiful view.

Two male spirits also reside in the house and have been seen and felt in various places throughout the building. One may be attached to the basement area and has frightened people by making sounds in the darkness. This presence may be that of a former patient, rumored to have killled himself. The other more friendly phantom could be Charles, the son of Mrs. B who lived here for several years in the mid 20th century.

WhiteGate Inn is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is lovingly cared for by Ralph Coffey and Frank Salvo. Whether you seek a peaceful retreat of a little spooky fun, this bed & breakfast has a little something for everyone. And if this house doesn't offer enough ghosty happenings, be sure to check out the Asheville Ghost Tour and hear the stories of the many other haunts around the town.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Lost on the Wild, Wild Sea...

In the month of July in 1909, a mystery began which has never been solved to this day. A ship, the SS Waratah, vanished on a voyage from Australia to England. Was the vessel cursed or were supernatural elements at work? We may never know.

Waratah is a word used by the Eora Aboriginal people from what is now New South Wales. It translates to "beautiful" and a native flowering shrub bares the same name. The bright crimson flower is the emblem flower for New South Wales. According to legend, the first waratah shrub sprouted from the place where a young woman died of grief over the death of her warrior lover. While the tale itself is tragic, the fate of those vessels taking on its name seemed to follow the same course.

In 1848, a ship named Waratah sank off the coast of France. Two subsequent Waratah's were lost at sea near Sydney in 1887. Another went down in the Antartic Ocean in 1894. Still, the Blue Anchor Line built the SS Waratah in Glasgow in 1908 without thought to these other lost vessels. This mistake would prove to be their own demise.

The Waratah departed from London on April 27, 1909, on what would be her second uneventful voyage to the land down under. She left Melbourne on July 1 bound for South Africa on the return voyage. Upon reaching Durban, an engineer named Claude Sawyer left the ship and sent his wife a telegram:


He couldn't tell his wife his true reasoning. On board the ship, he had experienced a premonition.

While arranging for another vessel, Sawyer reluctantly told the booking clerk of the strange visitor in his cabin. He described it as the corpse-like figure of death in strange clothing resembing a matador (perhaps a pirate ghost?), clutching a long sword. "He was holding the sword in his right hand and it was covered in blood." Three separate times, the apparition entered his cabin. On each occasion, the specter made but one command: "Leave her!" The visions so terrified Sawyer and though he had sailed many times and was not prone to superstitions, he obeyed and stayed in Durban.

He would live be the sole survivor of the 212 passengers and crew schedued to embark on the final leg of this voyage.

On July 26, one day after leaving South Africa, the ship exchanged cordial greetings with the Clan Macintyre, also bound for London. Weather deteriorated soon afterward and the Waratah may have been spotted twice that evening, though the heavy seas made identification difficult. The Harlow saw what may have been the Waratah following behind her in the crashing waves, billowing with smoke. Two bright flashes came from the direction of the ship and it vanished.

The July 29 arrival date came and went. Authorities assumed engine trouble and waited longer without questioning the delay. In September, the Blue Anchor Line finally chartered a ship to search for the vessel. Though it covered over 14,000 nautical miles, the Waratah was nowhere to be found. An official enquiry was held in London in December. Among the many giving testimony as to the possible fate of the ship was Claude Sawyer. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle even held a seance in hope of determining the fate of the steam ship. Word of the disaster spread around the world. The Blue Anchor line never recovered from the tragedy and was forced to sell off their fleet to the Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Company (or "P&O Line") in 1910.

Over the many years since the disappearance, many people have sought the wreckage of the SS Waratah. A few wrecks were discovered but were later identified as vessels which sank in the world wars. Emlyn Brown of NUMA and Clive Cussler, author of the book Raise the Titanic, were the last to search for the ship. Brown gave up his 22-year search in 2004, declaring "I've exhausted all the options. I now have no idea where to look."

Not one piece of wreckage or cargo was ever found from the Waratah. Its disappearance remains one of the great maritime mysteries. Yet perhaps, like the Flying Dutchman of legend, the spirits of the doomed ship still travel the southern Atlantic on the misty decks of the ethereal Waratah, waiting for their final chance to return to London.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

"Believe Only Half of What You See..."

"... and none of what you hear."

This proverb holds true in most facets of life. Even in the paranormal realm.

I am occasionally perplexed by the steady influx of opinions purported to be my own. Things like "well, you believe that ____", "you don't like ____", and "you think ____ isn't real" pop up occasionally in my life from friends, family, and even colleagues. Some is true. Some is exaggerated. And some I have no idea where it came from.

I think it's as good a time as any for me to lay my views of some paranormal topics out on the table for all to see. Hopefully, it will clear the air and give me a chance to state my case for having the opinions which I hold on to for the moment.

Orbs: Simply put, orbs have become what I term "the new plague" of the paranormal realm. Thousands of people have ghost pictures to share of fuzzy blobs on digital images. The vast majority are very easy to explain away as dust, pollen, insects, moisture, etc. I blame it on the digital age we live in. Digital cameras have a nasty habit of accentuating tiny particles in front of the flash and lens, giving them a pronounced presence. Older photographic techniques, including 35mm film and Polaroid images, do not show there particles as readily, so the orb phenomenon is quite new. With so many natural possibilities, dubbing any digital picture of a round foggy circle as paranormal is almost impossible to do with any sound evidence to back it up. Does this mean I don't believe in orbs existing? Not at all. I have captured unusual round anomalies on 35mm which could be questionable and have even witnessed balls of glowing light with my own eyes. I believe in the possibility that orbs in some from can exist, but I don't trust a digital camera to show conclusive proof of one.

UFOs: With the billions of stars and planets, the odds are good that life exists elsewhere. But does it visit us? Well, it's theoretically possible in some remote plausibilities, but the likelihood of aliens stopping by for a cup of tea is shady at best. Some have theorized that they would send machines instead which could survive prolonged space travel, so perhaps that theory carries slight weight. I do believe that anything is possible, so I don't want to discount it entirely. I would probably need to witness something unquestionable before I gave it more serious thought.

Ouija: Parlor game or gateway to hell? Well, in my opinion it's a bit of both and neither at the same time. In basic principle, a Ouija board is a game using subconscious thoughts to manifest results by people unaware of the movements. Is it ghosts? It certainly could be. Yet you wouldn't really know what spirit was moving the planchette. To say that George Washington would make a trip to your living room to entertain slumber party guests is a bit unfathomable and absurd. I usually liken it to randomly dialing a phone number and asking questions to the person on the other end. As far as it having evil possibilities, I don't quite believe that for certain. Of the millions of boards floating around in households around the globe, the number of horror stories is miniscule.

Magick: I'll address both spell magic and voodoo. Often, we see some positive results of some magic and spells, but that doesn't automatically mean it works in the manner we expect. I liken some of it to the placebo effect. If someone knows you've cast a spell against them, sometimes they wil behave as though the spell worked and bring about the outcome simply because they believe in it. Sometimes, the simple idea that some individual has hexed you can give the wanted result without even having done anything magickal. Still, sometimes magick is performed and gives the requested result. Is it coincidence or proof positive? Honestly, I don't know. I like to think that there is some merit to some forms of magick simply because it makes life more interesting. But as for giving it my full confidence and relying on it as a definitive power, I can't quite swallow that pill. I've seen agreeable results and I've seen spells do absolutely nothing. It's still a toss-up to me.

Cleansings: By cleansings, I mean either a) getting rid of a spirit; or b) ridding a place of negative energies. As for the latter, I don't think it hurts. I've been known to burn white sage here and there many times over the last decade or more of my life. I give Native Americans a bit of credit at knowing something right by practicing this for thousands of years. I think it's something anyone can do and even if it doesn't work in the eyes of scientific peoples, a little incense is at least good aromatherapy. As for ridding a place of a ghost, that's a bit of a confluct in my morals. I just don't do it. I don't bellieve I have the right to go into anyone's house and tell whatever ghost resides there that they should leave. It's not my place (literally). In 19 out of 20 cases of hauntings, people are simpy afraid for no valid reason. Laying down a few ground rules and agreeing to stay out of each other's way generally does the trick. As for eviction, I'm not here to play landlord.

EVPs: I really do enjoy trying to capture voices on audio tape. And I do believe they are possible. Of course, there are cases of mistaken identity. Sometimes we forget who spoke or small sounds made against a recorder can be amplified by contact with the device. There has also been evidence over the years that radio waves can create sound on tapes in certain conditions. Others have recenty started using radio stations to attempt to capture EVP with the use of a "ghost box", or device that scans stations in an effort to find ghostly sounds. Odds are some sound clips will start forming words at random intervals so that alone makes the device extremelt questionable to me. And with EVPs themselves, there are some that people claim say certain words and phrases which are not that obvious. I think that people try to find fitting words too many times. There's never anything wrong with saying, "I don't know what it says."

Exorcism: Getting rid of demonic entities is a view on which I often clash with people. Firstly, I don't believe in demons. Or the devil. I believe in a simple good and bad. And ghosts can fall into either category. In the case of possession (and people often forget just how rare of an occurrence this really is), some people try to force the spirit out of a person. Some will even exorcise a residence to rid it of an entity. As for people being exorcised, I can see why in some extreme circumstances that might be viewed as a necessity, but I don't touch that. I have definite beliefs that religion and paranormal events do not need to be mixed. Would a Catholic rite of exorcism work on a Buddhist? I'm not sure, yet it might be strange for the person going through it and cause them much internal conflict. As for exorcising a house, that falls under eviction and is not my territory. I agree that something causing serious problems or endangering individuals is not something to keep around, but imposing one religious view above all others should be the judgement of the victim. Many beliefs have methods of ridding evil spirits, so keeping an open mind is best. Too much emphasis is placed on Christian methodology and considering that some of us live in a land of "separation between church and state", the same rue should apply to other facets. You woudn't read a passage from the Bible at a Wiccan funeral, so why forget this ;ogic with spirits of the dead?

Psychic Impressions: This is a big grey area for me. I have conflicting views on psychics. Some are decent and at the very least are trying to honestly help people while others perpetrate fraud to earn money. but do I believe in psychic ability? Well, the scientific part of me knows that even the best psychics have an accuracy record of between 10 to 20 percent. Yet I have heard things from psychics I have worked with that ended up being true, in locations they couldn't have known anything about prior to their visit. I do believe in the possibility (since I never rule anything out absolutely), but I'm all for verification. Psychic evidence can be a good way to piece things together, but it only gains validity with fact-checking. Still, I do believe we all possess some psychic ability. We have our own intuitions. We should heed and acknowledge psychic impressions and gut feelings but never treat them as the ultimate source of knowledge.

Bigfoot: With the latest bigfoot news story ending in a hoax, many people have decided to dismiss all bigfoot tales as fiction. I don't know if it exists, but I do know that there are probably species we are still unaware of living in the world. We discover new animals, insects, and plants every day. Why couldn't Bigfoot be one of them? Just because we can look at maps on Google and see the globe doesn't mean we see everything at every second. There is much unexplored and uninhabited land around the globe. While I may not have a definitive answer, I can't rule out the possibility.

Most of these beliefs and views are formed from my own personal experiences. They change with a certain ebb and flow, evolving over time at a constant pace and are sometimes subject to alteration. I don't profess that my view is the "be all and end all" and I believe every human being has the right to his or her own beliefs and the freedom to interpret what they wish in the manner which best suits them. Definitive statements in such a hazy field are often subjective.

Yet this is who I am. This is part of who I have become and the thoughts which float about in my head.

In this world, there is a staggering number of humans. Each has his or her own set of thoughts, opinions, and beliefs. Diversity is human existence. Yet diversity is under a constant stream of attack. Conformity is the strong undercurrent running beneath our individuality, threatening at every waking moment to sweep our feet out from beneath us and drag us out to sea. Being an individual is the single hardest struggle. We fight to "blend in", be it with coworkers, family, or friends. And we often have to sacrifice who we are in order to feel a part of some subset.

If you believe something different than I do, so be it. I am not a preacher nor a dictator.

I'd rather be hated or loathed for one of my personal beliefs than loved for pretending to purport what others want me to think. Love me or hate me, I am myself. And that's one thing I will never lose.

The View From Down Under...

With my great love affair with Australia, I had to share an interesting and thought-provoking article on Joe Bageant's blog. It was a letter submitted by an Aussie retiree with quite strong views following the Washington bailout and the effects of US debt on the rest of the world. Here's an excerpt:

"...finally the USA has run out friends.... ...the USA has betrayed not only itself but also those who believed in it. The USA crapped all over us after we trusted it.... ...your nation is now reviled as it never has been before. You were our saviours in two world wars. We, the rest of the world, worshipped the ground on which you, America, walked. We now wish that America wasn't around anymore. We'll be glad when you've stopped embarrassing yourself and us and have left the room.

America is the old guy at the street party... who's become incontinent, talks rubbish about past glory days and bores the crap out of us with monotonous tales of how good he used to be... ...the USA was the best... ...but now, just go home, old friend. Just go home and die. This is sad, very sad. So, Joe, say "goodbye" to an old mate. I loved him dearly when he was a young man. It's a great pity that he passed away the way he did. He deserved a far better send-off.

...I really believe that the USA will become a very dangerous place to live within the next few years. Meanwhile, we here Australia will be learning Chinese as a second language.

I'll admit I had a good chuckle over this. I might have laughed more if I didn't think he had a good point...