Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Workin' Nine to Five...

What a way to make a living...

So, training is a bit more intensive than I expected! I guess this means I won't be getting much blogging done this week. Hopefully I'll have enough time to squeeze out a post or two in the next couple of days. Between the technical difficulties and "speed learning" (cramming our brains full of more information than a normal human can process in a few hours), I don't have much time to think this week. All I can say is my cutoff time Friday is 5:00PM no matter what. There better not be homework that day (yes, they actually call it that).

There's a big difference between working to live and living to work. I prefer the former. Yesterday, I wasn't officially done with "work" until 10:30PM. After being sent all around the region all morning, it made for a long day. But on the bright side, I have a newfound appreciation for the term "going postal". Is it the intent of every federal job to drive you insane?

Friday, March 27, 2009

Grinding Out the Troublemakers...

Many places are rumored to have a ghost or two. But does such a statement warrant a lawsuit?

That's the question tossed around in court down in Miami County, Ohio these days. It revolves around the Staley Mill, built in 1818 by Elias Staley and his clan. The Troy grist mill was featured in the book Weird Ohio and has become an attraction for would-be ghost hunters and bored teenagers. One descendant, Melissa Duer, is determined to stop all this.

Duer filed a lawsuit against people responsible for both the book and a website, Forgotten Ohio. She told local reporters that both her and her husband have been physically threatened when telling people to leave. Melissa has hired off-duty law enforcement and a $35,000 watch dog. A judge ruled earlier this month that Weird Ohio did not paint the grist mill or the family in an unfavorable light. Trespassers were not the responsibility of the author, nor was any emotional distress" brought on by the work. A contributing author and the website owner, Andrew Henderson, may be held responsible for some of the expenses Duer is seeking due to the website.

So, writing down what other people have been saying for decades is, apparently, a very bad thing. It's not so easy to sue someone for saying a place is haunted verbally among friends (probably because it's not easy to track them down). Writing down a rumor that is merely a rumor isn't against the law, in my opinion. Stating it as emphatic fact, however, with intent to libel, is. Freedom of speech covers most literary work, with the added disclaimer almost every book has. So, why go after a storyteller and not the trespassers? Because it's easier to blame one than punish the many guilty parties.

As a writer and teller of paranormal stories, there is always inherent risk that someone will break the law to see a place for him or herself. All we can do is be responsible, let people know that they need to get permission to enter a property (which might be common sense, but isn't so common), and hope for the best.

In my opinion, Duer would be better off turning the mill into a ghost tour location and charging people for visiting it. Aside from suing people, what could be more American than earning a fast buck?

Thursday, March 26, 2009

I Haven't Got Time for the Pain...

Bah, scheduling conflicts. I hate them. Everything wants to happen at the same time! I go through periods where nothing is on my slate, then everything wants to happen on the same day! Life would be so much easier if things were spread out, but that's just not how real life works!

This coming week, I was supposed to have jury duty. Then, the Census bureau called to say training is the same week. Luckily, some people are more lax about rescheduling, so jury duty has been postponed for one week. Sorry, Perry Mason. Of course, that means my next three weeks are busy, busy, busy! Leave it to fate to make my birthday month the busiest one of the year.

I'm still fitting in a trip to Dayton afterward, and I have some small things to fit into the schedule here and there. But, sheesh... mass chaos! I shouldn't complain, though. I asked for it by wanting to be busier. I'll gladly be too busy than bored to tears. Let's just hope nothing else decides to pop up and add to the chaos. When it rains, it pours...

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Random Acts of Unkindness...

Tell the truth and shame the devil.

I find myself using that phrase quite a lot. While we desire to live by that phrase, we often live contrary to it. Truth can hurt and cause strain or argument. It can be a lot uglier than a lie. It's easier to say, but a tough pill to swallow.

So many times in our lives, we have the opportunity to open our mouths and let something spill forth. It often does. We later worry that those words will travel through the cosmos, or even casual banter, to the very ears they weren't meant to reach. But it does happen occasionally. Why? Because people like to talk. People don't act as we think they will all the time. Sometimes, words become weapons. Not always a dagger thrust into someone's chest, but a grenade tossed idly by the roadside. Still, it can find its target.

Always be careful what you say. Words haunt us worse than ghosts in the host haunted house known to humankind. While ghosts fade, words ring in the ears for all of time. Sometimes, karma is listening. Sometimes those spoken about. A person need not respond to digest the vocabulary. But they often don't forget. It can happen in a random moment on a random day years after the fact. Words do not have an expiration date.

We all have the ability to be wicked or evil in deeds and spoken sounds. Most of us suppress it. But we all slip. And when that minor loose tongue wags and its voice finds the appropriate ear, unrelated things make sense, sometimes. Puzzling equations become rudimentary; simple arithmetic makes a blunder. A new reality is formed... and it's up to the possessor to decide what, if anything, to do with it.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Peeking Through the Lens...

Those of you who know me well know that I love photography. I may not do it as often as I'd like, but I enjoy being behind a camera. I did fight the digital revolution (and still prefer 35mm), but digital is easier when you're dealing with the internet. Scanning regular images, as well as all the expense involved, makes it something I save for what I deem most important. Some sightseeing and paranormal adventures require tangible photos worthy of frames. The rest, well, I'll settle for a digital.

I've been a member of Flickr for a few years now, I think. It was only recently that I actually bothered uploading any photos onto the site. It's easy and a good way to get some exposure for any images you've captured... and, for some, a way of sharing other people's photographic work. For me, it's a way of sharing some of the things I've photographed (and bothered saving the images for) with new people, friends, and anyone else. I'm very picky about what I place on it.

But today, I finally uploaded some new images from this past weekend. I had the great pleasure of going to a small family gathering (not my family) in Valley View at one of the "haunted" places in the Cuyahoga Valley: Edmund Gleeson House. I was invited by a Gleeson family descendant who still lives nearby, and took the chance to get a sneak peek inside the rehabilitated home. I met the owner, listened sheepishly as the Gleeson descendant went on and on about my book to everyone (she even gave they mayor of Valley View a copy... I shook his hand), and poked around the old farmhouse. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I went for it.

Everyone was pleasant. A few of the teenagers in the room immediately wanted to know more about the "ghost". The other Gleeson house down the road (occupied by the descendant) is also haunted, apparently. I maintained my usual speculative distance from any firm answers about the hauntings. I've never experienced anything nor have I investigated anything, therefore it could just be legend. We had an interesting discussion of local legends, like "Hell Town", as well.

I didn't overstay my welcome and had plans, so the visit was brief. But I did get to snap a few photos inside before leaving. I gave the owner a copy of the book as well, for curiosity's sake. The National Park Service did an incredible job on the home. I would have taken more photos, but the place was packed with guests and family and I didn't want to intrude too much.

To see these and some of the other photos from the Cuyahoga Valley (as well as other random images from the past few years), just go to my Flickr photostream.

A House of Cards...

Today is just... odd. Yesterday's plans dissipated. And I'm feeling a bit strange about everything. I haven't heard from my friend in over 36 hours.

I canceled on Monday night with a bad stomach ache and some slight uneasiness. Perhaps I nodded off for a while, but I swear I heard the muffled sound of someone calling my name three or four times around midnight, but I could chalk that one up to arguing downstairs neighbors. Last night, I decided, for old time's sake, to drag out the old tarot deck. I pulled three cards at random.

Of the 78 cards in a deck, odds are slim that the first card pulled out would be one specific one. I felt a prolonged and uneasy "oookay" escape my lips. Half of me says, "It's just a tarot deck," while the other half thinks back to the several times they've been dead-on. The point of me bringing it up in the first place isn't some "believe... believe in the tarot..." rant or anything like it. I just would rather mention it ahead of time, just in case. If I said anything after the fact, it could lose its charm. Not that such a word is a good choice.

In some ways, "it's all a bunch of hocus pocus". Anyone who has ever read tarot can tell you that it's wide-open to interpretation. No card says any one exact thing. They give a variety of choices. You arrive at your own opinions from them, and see what happens. Deep down, I have two scenarios for the disappearance of my friend which won't go away. But I'll wait until something definite is said before I assume anything.

Sometimes, not knowing is a bad thing. But knowing can be worse. Ignorance is bliss, while those who are aware of everything tend to be more miserable from having such opened eyes. For now, I don't know anything about the past two days. And until I do, I'll try my best to be blissfully ignorant.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Saturday Night's Alright...

Saturday evening was a reunion in so many ways. And old friend, Steve, and his new boyfriend came in town, so we had an opportunity to catch up on the past several years. I haven't seen him since... oh it must be over six years. Needless to say, there was a lot of catching up to do.

Overall, it was a fun night of revisiting the past and old haunts. Along our sojourn through Akron, I saw many old faces and caught up with several people. Some haven't changed, others have gone through serious overhauls. For old time sake, we stopped at a nite club for a short time. As we were getting ready to leave, Steve stopped to chat with the owner. Perfect timing; I ran into another friend from the more recent past (Dan) and had a chance to catch up briefly, yell at him for reading emails but never replying, and exchange a few hugs.

I am a bit of a nightowl, but nothing really prepared me for being out that late. It was after 4:00 AM when I made it home and crawled into bed. I was supposed to go out last night late and meet up with a few other ghosts of my past, but my stomach just wasn't in the mood. I was a walking billboard for Pepto Bismol. I still feel quazi-sick, but I'm not going to let that cancel any plans for a second day in a row. As long as my nose stops running and my stomach isn't tied in knots, I should fair well.

Tonight's jaunt will be to Cleveland. I'm assuming dinner, drinks, and a show, but I'll find out for sure what's happening a little later this afternoon. Meanwhile, I have a bit of catching up to do with a few odds and ends. And then I could use a little down time before getting wrapped up in a few other things later in the week. March has been flying by... some of it, I'll be gllad to be done with while the other, more enjoyable things will be over before I know it.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Just Passing Through...

No time for a post today, though I have several things to write about. I'll have some news stories to discuss and adventures to mention tomorrow if I have the time. It'll be a busy few days for me. But in a good way. Luckily, in spite of some 'blah' moments in the past week or so, things are going good right now. And it's always better to be too busy living than writing...

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Ghost Property Going Bust?

Foreclosures still plague the United States as our economy maintains its frightening slump. Everyone is susceptible. In Florida, one allegedly-haunted bed & breakfast is the newest victim. But if a group of ghost hunters has their way, the house won't face any wrecking ball.

The Seven Sisters Inn on Ocala's Fort King Street was built in 1888 and remains one of the few magnificent Victorians still standing in the area. The owners, Bonnie and Ken, ran the guest house for 20 years before facing a financial crisis. A failed sale led to the banks demand for total payment, which could not be met. in October 2008, foreclosure proceedings began.

But they're not going down without a fight. Southeastern Paranormal Investigations (SEPI) has helped create a website, Save the Seven Sisters Inn, where visitors can sign a petition and make donations to help the cause. The National Register of Historic Places lists both houses for their historical value. Charity events are being planned in hopes of doing anything possible to avoid disaster. A buyer is desperately wanted by the owners for the two-house B&B, which is priced at $1.3 million.

An episode of Ghost Hunters was recently filmed at the structure and hopes are high for it attracting paranormal investigators in an effort to save the building. Events are still happening at the inn, including the Seven Sisters Haunt in April, so it's not dead just yet. Allegedly, the haunted activity is tied to the land, not necessarily the houses. In the 18th century, a hospital was built on the grounds and treated many injured soldiers who apparently refused to leave.

For an overview, here is part of the Ghost Hunters episode, aired this past fall:

Click here for Part Two of "Ghosts of the Sunshine State".

"Hello. I'd Like to Have an Argument."

It's been another one of those crazy weeks. People disappearing, people popping up out of nowhere, health problems with people around me, and the usual insanity I call my life. And then, I made the mistake last weekend of answering a question on an online forum: do you believe in ghosts? I said more than just 'yes'.

In hindsight, it was a bad idea. Many people respond in grunts, syllables, or not at all to statements that they know will lead to arguments or complaints. One-word responses leave little to fight over. But some people just like arguing.

What followed was a prolonged attack since, apparently, stating that I'm a "paranormal investigator" automatically means I speak on behalf of every parapsychologist, researcher, professor, scientist, writer, ghost hunter, and anyone else (alive or dead) in any way connected to the field. The same old arguments rehashed a billion times flung at me, demanding ultimate "proof". But, of course, it wasn't in a polite discourse; it's the typical heckling of someone who, no matter what is presented to them, remains convinced that you're an idiot.

I see we haven't changed much since the Puritans. Witch hunts are still happening. Different is bad. In only a few sentences stating my opinions, I instantly turned into Frankenstein's monster. What do you do? If you walk away, you're supposedly admitting "that they are right", but if you stand and defend yourself, you're "absurd". It's a lose-lose situation. But it comes from speaking your mind and being a part of this field. Opening your mouth makes you a target of torch-bearing townsfolk rallying to "burn the witch".

I hate arguing. Especially when it's pointless or when someone belittles your words because "they know everything". Real stupidity comes from believing that you're omniscient and omnipotent. Only wise people know that they don't know everything. but I let it go on for a while before stopping and thinking, "what the hell am I doing?" Discussing something with someone who can't see beyond their own window to the world is the most wasteful thing anyone can do.

I like letting people make their own informed opinions, as everyone should. Don't just spit out what someone else told you; review everything and form your own opinion. And if it's different from someone else's, big friggin' deal! Guess what? Everyone has an opinion, a belief, a perspective. Being loud doesn't mean you know more than someone else; it just means your mouth opens wider.

Humankind has the capacity to become rabid dogs. People like to gang up with viciousness to feel inflated about their own superiority. But, when the attack is on them, everything is very different. That's just mean! Well, that's just human nature. Evil doesn't come from supernatural demons, it comes from the depths of humankind. Humanity has a tendency to be inhumane. And it circles itself; call it karma if you wish, but the stream of putrid words we sometimes spill out come back at us in a different form. And when they do, we have no right to complain. We did it once ourselves.

Agreeing to disagree or seeing another viewpoint is a challenge for many people. But we all see the world differently. Every man or woman is the product of his or her collective beliefs, experience, and thoughts. More time is wasted on pointless back-and-forth banter than actual reasoning. In a way, it's comical. If people could see the humor in it, of course.

I guess what bothers me most is, being an open-minded person, I expect to be treated as I treat others. I could be cruel and nasty many times, but I choose to let most things slide. I try to make people think and reason, prepare for what is coming, yet it is labeled "non-conformity". So what? I'm not a conformist. I'm an individual. If I'm the only one not running with the herd, it makes me an independent thinker not an anarchist. Different is good; different brings about revolutionary thought and ideas. If it weren't for outcasts, nothing would ever change. Ideas are what separate us from our inner animal. If being a non-ape makes me a bad person to somepeople, I'll settle for that.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Butterflies are Free to Fly...

Spring is a time of growth and rebirth. That is often true of people too.

Rebecca Muller, the clairvoyant and researcher I've had the pleasure of communicating with throughout last year, has done a little spring cleaning in her life. A new home... and new career path. The paranormal aspect of her life has been frozen, "for now". What does the future hold? That remains a mystery, as it does for most of us. But for the time being, there are other things of higher importance.

Her absence will be missed. She's an all-around good soul and Columbus will be a bit emptier without her and her husband. But I wish them all the success and happiness in the world. And who knows; the future isn't written in stone. Perhaps a few more spooks will pique her interest further down the road...

St. Patrick's Spooky Emerald Isle...

Today, we celebrate St. Patrick's Day in much of the world. Some rivers flow green like the lager at festive pubs. Covers and leprechauns reign supreme in the streets. We try our best at speaking Gaelic only to butcher the words with alcohol-tainted breath. And for a brief while, many people consider themselves unofficial "citizens" of Ireland (or √Čire, if you want to be precise).

Legends loon large in Ireland. Many of us know about tales of the mischievous, not-so-friendly leprechaun and the bean sidhe ("banshee") wailing as a harbinger of death. Iconic images of nature spirits and ghosts permeate our recollections of Irish culture. The soft, warm, sweet scent of burning peat on a cold day drifts our thoughts to haunting legends, forgotten Druid culture, and empty castles.

Ghost stories are abundant in Irish mythology and folktales. Entire websites are devoted to the paranormal lore. On Irelandseye.com, you can find an abundance of information on the country as well as its spooky places. The site offers a webcam for the Leprechaun Watch where you can try your luck at capturing a glimpse of nature spirits; for those solely interested in departed souls, the GhostWatch section tells the tragic haunting of Helena Bunden at a linen mill, complete with sightings of her ghosts and a few incredibly EVPs.

Visitors to Ireland can enjoy many tours and haunted places. One story—the execution and subsequent haunting of Bishop John Atherton—I have included in my upcoming book. But there are too many others out there, waiting to be read about and experienced. Dublin is one such extremely haunted city. And from Dublin, there's the interesting story of a haunted site: the former location of a theater.

Fishamble Street Theatre, near the remnants of Proudfoote's Castle, opened back in 1741. It is still remembered today as the site of the premiere preformance of Handel's Messiah. Many great performers graced its walls and left their impressions on the building. The haunted history of the playhouse began in the early 1800s when strange knockings were frequently heard, centered around the Green Room. Every night at 10:00 precisely, the sounds would be heard emanating from the wall for fifteen minutes. The story survived through oral tradition from a worker in the mid-19th century and was later written about in John Dunne's A Ghost Watcher's Guide to Ireland. Most of Fishamble Street has been leveled, yet the story survives. A wide range of other Dublin haunts, including Fishamble, can be found on the Paranormal Database.

So don't let the Guinness cloud your mind too much on this holiday. There are spirits out there, looming among the gravestones and ruins between the Atlantic Ocean and the Irish Sea. If you can't be there, just snuggle up in bed tonight with a good book of Irish ghost stories.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Someone Else Said It Best...

Most modern thoughts are not entirely unique. We borrow from our contemporaries and, occasionally, think up ideas which have already been hatched. Yet some words are timeless. Long after the speaker or writer is dead, we remember them.

As a slight departure from my usual ramblings, here are just a few of my many favorite quotes spoken by great minds. No truer words were ever spoken.

"Logic, n. The art of thinking and reasoning in strict accordance with the limitations and incapacities of the human understanding." Ambrose Bierce

"If you don't know where you are going, any road will get you there."
— Lewis Carroll

"It's the friends you can call up at 4 a.m. that matter."
— Marlene Dietrich

"I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work."
— Thomas A. Edison

"Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds."
Albert Einstein

"The difference between genius and stupidity is; genius has its limits."
— Albert Einstein

"We are all born ignorant, but one must work hard to remain stupid."
— Benjamin Franklin

"I have found little that is 'good' about human beings on the whole. In my experience most of them are trash, no matter whether they publicly subscribe to this or that ethical doctrine or none at all. That is something that you cannot say aloud, or perhaps even think."
Sigmund Freud

"An intelligent man is sometimes forced to be drunk to spend time with his fools."
Ernest Hemingway

"As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being."
Carl Gustav Jung

"The most terrifying thing is to accept oneself completely."
Carl Gustav Jung

"Loneliness does not come from having no people about one, but from being unable to communicate the things that seem important to oneself, or from holding certain views which others find inadmissible."
Carl Gustav Jung

"It is hard enough to remember my opinions, without also remembering my reasons for them!"
— Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

"I became insane, with long intervals of horrible sanity."
— Edgar Allan Poe

"The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing."
— Socrates

"Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it's time to pause and reflect." Mark Twain

"Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great."
Mark Twain

"Censorship is telling a man he can't have a steak just because a baby can't chew it."
— Mark Twain

"It takes your enemy and your friend, working together, to hurt you to the heart: the one to slander you and the other to get the news to you."
— Mark Twain

"It is better to deserve honors and not have them than to have them and not deserve them."
— Mark Twain

"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime."
— Mark Twain

"There are three types of lies -- lies, damn lies, and statistics." — Mark Twain

"It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt."
— Mark Twain

"...gratitude is a debt which usually goes on accumulating like blackmail; the more you pay, the more is exacted. In time, you are made to realize that the kindness done you is become a curse and you wish it had not happened."
Mark Twain

"Sanity and happiness are an impossible combination."
Mark Twain

"The pure and simple truth is rarely pure and never simple."
Oscar Wilde

"There is only one thing in life worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about."
Oscar Wilde

"A true friend stabs you in the front."
Oscar Wilde

"Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else's opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation."
Oscar Wilde

Sunday, March 15, 2009

A Different Kind of Interview...

It's always interesting meeting new people. And this year, I've been doing quite a lot of that! Among the wide range of characters I've chatted with is "Doctor Paranormal" John Crocitto (not to be confused with "Professor Paranormal", Loyd Auerbach), a host of the internet radio show/podcast Beyond Ghosts! This Tuesday, I'll be on the air at 7:00 PM discussing ghosts and my upcoming book.

It was pre-recorded, so I can tell you that it was a fun show fraught with technical difficulties at the most inopportune times. (And just a minor clarification: I don't hunt gay ghosts exclusively; that would be too difficult!) But that's technology for you. They're not your typical "serious" people, so it was all in good fun. John and the gang (Jena and Ryan) call their approach "Guerilla Radio" and you never quite know what to expect. Hopefully, next time I'll have all the bugs in the system worked out and things will go off without a hitch!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Walking England's Most Haunted City...

While I normally hate congested urban places, some part of me loves London. The ultimate irony is looking back over my journal writing in 1998-99 during my trip to the city, you might not think it:

January 6, 1990 - Day 12
"Well, this magical mystery tour is almost over. Two more days. I'm glad they're in London or I'd have to kill someone. [The teacher/tour guide] Fred's been quite bitchy lately. Glad he's gone to Africa. Depending on energy, I might go out or just call Simon [my friend from Soho]..."
I didn't get to see any haunted places. I was trapped with a bunch of fellow students who acted more like stereotypical, obnoxious American tourists than even I could have expected. I only spent time with my friend Simon once during the entire trip. I was utterly broke by the final days. I ordered prawns at a pub near the hotel and refused to eat them because they were "staring at me". And the leader of the group turned out to be a stingy 'dirty old man' we all grew to hate. But the city itself, with all its flaws, was a breath of fresh air. It just felt like home. And all these years later, that female voice from the Tube still echoes inside my head: "Next stop, Marylebone... Marylebone..."

I highly recommend a visit there to anyone in the United States, or any other country for that matter. It's a whole different world. And there are more ghostly legends than you could imagine. But don't make my mistake: spend some time looking for spooks. Dozens of books about London's ghosts, from the Underground to pubs, are everywhere. London embraces its haunted heritage, and no one should miss out on that creepy aspect.

If you do find yourself in London, I recommend a ghost tour or two. While taxi drivers and business owners have plenty to say, it's good to have a broad range of tales encompassed in the span of a few hours. And one group, London Paranormal, offers a wide range of walking tours and paranormal events throughout the year. Its founder is a name you might recognize from one season of Most Haunted: Ian Shillito. Or perhaps you've read on here about The Scary Marys and remember him from it. And if you happen to be in the city during the month of October, there's always the organization's London Ghost Festival.

Is it gay-friendly? You better believe it. Ian's a fellow "out" investigator, so there's no need to worry about being yourself. And London has a few gay ghosts to boot, along with other places throughout the UK, some of which I've chronicled in the upcoming book Queer Paranormal. You can bet that my next trip across the pond will include several stops in England. Ghosts and legalized gay marriage: who could ask for more?

Friday, March 13, 2009

Detector School Dropouts...

You're at a haunted location. You want to check to see if there might be a ghost around. So, what do you do? You whip out your trusty EMF meter. Why? Um... well... because everyone else does. As the old argument goes, "and if everyone jumped off a cliff, would you?"

EMF (a.k.a electromagnetic frequency, electromagnetic fluctuation) has become the must-have gadget for any "serious" investigator of paranormal phenomena. Most ghost hunters will tell you that these devices react to ghosts and spirits, which "give off higher readings" of electrical and magnetic energies. It's failproof and reliable. Right? Well, not really. But before you prepare the fire to burn me at the stake for "heretical nonsensical talk", take a moment to listen.

Our world is a noisy cacophony of electricity, magnetism, and waves (radiation, radio, round, microwaves, etc.), most of which we cannot see, hear, or sense. Some is man-made, some natural. If we could hear all the energy constantly around us, it might sound like rush hour traffic in New York City. And this is the world in which we try to fiddle with a Gauss meter (or EMF meter). Many people using these devices don't know what they're detecting. Cheap models cannot filter out natural energy from interference caused by our own technology. But to ask most investigators, they "work".

In reality, they don't. I'm sorry, but they don't. I don't even own one because I've experimented with them and found them about as useful in the pursuit of ghosts as a rubber ducky. Yes, they do indeed note fluctuations in energy on occasion, but in the chaos invisible to our senses, what's really happening? It is that power line or cell phone? Am I sitting on a meteorite? Or did the CIA just fly a covert plane overhead giving off powerful radio signals telling me to invest in the Bank of America? I just don't know.

The sad fact is there is no definitive correlation found between unexplained phenomena and EMF readings. Some say ghosts cause spikes. Others say powerful bursts of energy make us hallucinate. But each is just a guess. A thought. I've witnessed unexplainable sights, sounds, and smells while Gauss meters remained silent and inactive. I've seen them go wild while nothing out of the ordinary occurs. And you're trying to tell me that EMF and paranormal phenomena are connected? No, thank you; I'm not interested in that prime Florida swampland.

If I'm trying to pick up a toothpick, a magnet won't work no matter how hard I try. It doesn't mean the toothpick isn't there; it just means that the magnet isn't a valid method of detecting it. And that's largely how I view Gauss meters in the field. You'll pick up on something alright, but not a ghost. So, you say, what does work, you mean, cranky, pessimist? Well, I don't exactly know. That requires more experimentation. But we need to look beyond one possibility to make any headway. What about a Geiger counter, or a photometer?

And yes, there's a reason I suggest these gadgets. Research in telepathy, which might be related to "psychic experiences" and hauntings, has found that whatever mechanism is being used to convey information is not governed by electromagnetic principles. Psychometry works in shielded environs and Faraday cages. Whatever we're looking for lies outside the known particles, waves, etc. Perhaps it's like a photon, allowing it to be visible yet behave like a wave. Whatever the answer, it exists outside the box.

For an interesting piece of reading material, I suggest Steve Mizrach's The Superspectrum Hypothesis.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Queer Paranormal Road Trip: Christopher's by the Bay

Some of you might remember Christopher's by the Bay from an earlier pre-Christmas post mentioning a conversation I had with the innkeeper. I thought I may as well elaborate on the place, since summer will be here before you know. Time for vacations and travel. And if you find yourself in Provincetown, MA, Christopher's is a wonderful choice for lodging...

...and perhaps a ghost or two.

Dave and Jim have operated the guest house on Johnson Street for the past couple years. It is located in a century house, constructed in the 1840s as a home for shipwright Stephen Mott. For the past 40 years, guests have stayed at the residence through its many incarnations: Swanberry Inn, Carpe Diem, and (finally) Christopher's. A variety of rooms are available for overnight guests on each of the three floors; each is named for a famed painter. But anyone planning to visit the inn might want to keep an eye out for a ghost or two.

The main presence within the home has been dubbed 'Elizabeth' after a local psychic picked up on the name while passing the property. The owner's dog occasionally growls at 'nothing' in the dining room and there is a sense of people coming and going at what once was the rear entrance (now leading to the innkeeper's quarters). A few guests have experienced bizarre-but-not-frightening occurrences in a few rooms, including the sensation of being watched and encyclopedia's removing themselves from the bookcases. Whoever 'Elizabeth' is, she is not unfriendly, though, to the living, her unexpected manifestations can catch people off guard. Even through the eyes of skeptics, there have been moments that leave you wondering if ghosts really do exist...

Provincetown has been an escape for artists and celebrities for decades, and the region is ripe with history. Its high GLBT population makes it a favorite vacation spot for 'friends of Dorothy' with as much sun and entertainment as any man or woman could want. And if staying in a haunted bed & breakfast isn't enough to satisfy your craving for the dead, haunted places can be found throughout the city. You can explore the sites for yourself or tag along with Provincetown Ghost Tours and get a taste of Cape Cod's undead nightlife.

Monday, March 9, 2009

And I'm Spent...

I'm done. Finally! Yes, completely this time. Bibliography and all. The manuscript for my book is finished. It's been a harrowing and nerve-wracking day, but I managed as best I could. Almost 45,000 words and a dozen reorganizations later, I can finally rest easier. The hard part is over; now, it's just worrying about it actually getting into print!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

A Popularity Contest...

It never ceases to amaze me the Google searches people type in that lead them to Spooked! I review them every so often when curiosity piques. Some are just absurd. Others are about people and places I've mentioned. Yet two specific search terms bring people here most often: Corpsewood and Chip Coffey.

Why? Well, let's review them.

Corpsewood Manor (yes, that was its real name) is a rural Georgia ruin: the site of a grizzly murder in the 1980s. Because of this, it is allegedly haunted by victims Charles Scudder and Joseph Odom, as well as one of their beloved pets. Some say it was a hate crime, instigated by narrow-minded people not so kind toward a gay couple (or jilted by unaccepted advances). Other evidence insists it was a robbery gone awry. I've researched the haunting and it's included in my upcoming book, Queer Paranormal. The isolated place has become an enigma and a favorite place to investigate for many people. Though I haven't yet had the pleasure (or terror, depending on whom you ask) of visiting it, a few friends have. It's legendary. It's dangerous. And it seems that everyone wants to know more about it.

Chip Coffey is a psychic, best known for his regular appearances on Paranormal State and Psychic Kids. Loved by some, hated by others, he is often a topic of rumors, speculation, and gossip (after all, people love to gossip). I do tend to mention him a lot on here. Why? Because I like him on a human level. We think alike in many ways and share many viewpoints. He, too, is a survivor. And he's realistic in his approach to both the paranormal and life. His ability to tell it like it is can be too much for some people to swallow; his fame makes him a prime target for anyone who thinks psychics are a joke. But the more visible anyone is, the more rotten fruit is thrown at them. I've refrained from commenting on here about any of his psychic ability, but that's simply because I don't know. I've never had a reading from him so I can't judge accuracy. And that's true with many psychics I know.

Like FOX News, I try to be "fair and (mentally un-) balanced". I point out both sides of most situations and beliefs, yet I find humor wherever possible. And controversial topics are unavoidable. But I mention the things, people, and places that intrigue, amuse, and enlighten me. Sometimes, these topics jive with what others find interesting, as is proved by Google. Other times, I'm way off base. But that's part of the chaos that is Spooked! And I wouldn't have it any other way.