Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Southern Journeying...

It has been a whirlwind week thus far. So much to say, so much to see. I will be waiting until I return this weekend to tell all the details, though. It might take me that long to organize my thoughts and collect together everything from my Dayton trip! Overall, it has been a wonderful experience. Good friends, interesting and wonderful people, unique sights. I'm already looking forward to this fall and enjoying a ghost tour when I return. While I haven't spent a great deal of time seeking out ghosts in the places I've been, one doesn't need to be surrounded by the dead to enjoy some things! sometimes, living can actually be more fun...

For those of you thrown off course by my last post, I do apologize somewhat. I've been meaning to post a French entry for a while, but recently had a little added incentive. I miss being more bilingual, and being reasonably close to french-speaking areas of Canada, it seemed fitting. I'm sure I shall do that again. Perhaps after an adventure further north...

In other news, my manuscript hates me. Formatting it isn't as simple as I would like and I seem to hit pitfalls every time I attempt it! The rainy, dreary weather doesn't exactly excite any enthusiasm, either. but at least I've given it a good try. One way or another, I'll solve that enigma known as Microsoft Word. Perhaps when I'm home again. Though some things might take precedence over it upon my immediate return. Life is getting quite interesting, and I know more than ever that where this year leads me is a mystery. So many possibilities and probabilities. We shall see, as I always say...

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Quand en France... Ou Québec...

(Mes excuses à l'avance pour cette écriture... je ne suis pas francophone complètement...)

Bien que je n'aime pas des climats plus froids, une certaine partie de moi a été toujours attirée à certaines régions du Canada. Le Québec se range haut sur ma liste, et donné mon arrangement doux de la langue française, je prévois de l'explorer pour moi un certain jour bientôt. Évidemment, je ne peux pas résister ajouter quelques endroits hantés à mon itinéraire. Mais y a-t-il des fantômes au Québec?

La réponse, après l'effort approfondi cherchant les spectres, est oui. Tandis que le nombre d'histoires de fantôme est petit, ils existent. Et les spiritueux de cette terre sont considérablement variés.

Dans Blanc, sur l'île Greenly, le conte d'un marin naufragé errant les rivages survit. Des soirées brumeuses, il erre la côte à la recherche de ses compagnons. Les touristes peuvent également visiter la Caverne de Rossignol (Rossignol's Cave) où les formes brumeuses et les voises désincarnés dérivent des anciennes mines d'amiante. Ou, peut-être, allez aux automnes de Montmorency (Montmorency Falls) et voyez "le dame dans le blanc" tombez dans les eaux ci-dessous. Habillé dans une robe de mariage, elle répète le plongeon mortel chaque dimanche matin.

Pour votre propre aventure paranormale, regardez Les Visites Fantômes de Québec (Ghost Tours of Quebec) et prévoyez un voyage pour chercher les fantômes du Canada du nord-est.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Venturing Forward into the Unknown...

Let's just say camping was interesting. Hot days, freezing cold nights, and a redneck dressed as bigfoot drinking with his buddies and wreaking havoc on what should have been a relaxing stay. I received my first sunburn of the season on both arms (which, fortunately, became a tan after two days of discomfort and pain) and experienced a first: getting my fingers slammed into a closing car door (no serious damage, but one finger still feels a little tender). Topped off by being away from running water, flushing toilets, and a shower for over three days, who could ask for anything more?

Life itself seems to be getting more interesting by the day. I thought I was finished with my manuscript, only to realize I need to edit some of the formatting before I'm asked to submit it. Since that's the one area where my Word skills are lacking, it should prove to be fun (all sarcasm intended). Then, top it off with an ever-interesting, forever optimistic relationship front, frustration is bound to become overwhelming.

To be honest, the waiting game grows tiresome, but I know this year will end on a good note one way or another. Good things (and people) are on the horizon. It's just a matter of getting there. I am both happy and impatient at the same time. but I don't want to jinx myself by spilling out details. It never fails to go awry if I so much as say what I believe will happen. I've learned the hard way. from now on, after I'm married (or something comparable), I'll spill.

My belated birthday surprise arrived in the mail today too, so that put a smile on my face. All the way from Australia. And it shows just how little it takes to make my happy. There was a time when I had photographs of all my friends, framed and poised around the room to regard with fond memories. Many of those photographs have disappeared over the years, tossed out by unpleasant roommates or lost in the shuffle of moves. but I'm working on getting that collection back together. Now, I need to work on gathering more frames to put them in. I'll find the space as soon as I get that much worked on.

I'm heading off to Dayton in another 30 hours or so, but I thought I should update this when I was thinking about it. Good times will be had, and perhaps when I return, I'll have something just as good waiting for me...

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Gone Camping... and Spooking...

Tomorrow morning, I'll be leaving the confines of my small town... to the confines of a small, long-vanished town in a valley: Beaver Creek State Park! Thankfully, the weather is supposed to be nice. Perfect for camping! There is a Scavenger Hunt set up for Saturday night, so anyone who is interested, feel free to stop by. I know full well that some of the prizes are quite nice. Here is the flyer, done beautifully by Jeri Holland:

(click to enlarge the image)

Another Year Closer to Death...

It has finally happened. Today is my 30th birthday!

Thanks to some wise planning, I'm taking it easy today. Though I do have a few things to accomplish, like moving furniture (long story) and packing for the camping trip coming up later this week. Otherwise, I'm relaxing. I'll be catching up on Sunday when I return from the haunted Beaver Creek State Park.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

First in Flight... and Parapsychology?

Another good book has crossed my path and I've spent the past few days reading it. Written by National Public Radio contributor Stacy Horn, Unbelievable: Investigations into Ghosts, Poltergeists, Telepathy, and Other Unseen Phenomena, from the Duke Parapsychology Laboratory traces psi and paranormal research over the past century. Many people may not know much about North Carolina's Duke University and its history of parapsychology, yet one name might ring a bell: J. B. Rhine.

Rhine and the famous Rhine Reseach Center (as it is now referred to as... they even have a blog) forged a path for paranormal phenomena, butting heads with psychology and other sciences since the 1930s. If you're a paranormal investigator and you haven't heard his name before, you certainly should review his work. Skeptics often argue that there is no evidence of paranormal phenomena, yet data collected by Rhine and his colleagues proves otherwise.

I did learn an interesting piece of information from the book. I purchased a deck of ESP cards (a.k.a. Zener cards) on Ebay several years ago for a few dollars, dated 1937. This was, in fact, the very year these cards began released to the public as radio programs hosted telepathy experiments to the public. In effect, I own a piece of parapsychological history. They're a little worse for ware, but after seventy years I would expect that.

The book is filled with interesting bits of history: Alfred Hitchcock's failed attempt to find a haunted house in New York City to host a party, Jackie Gleason's desire to start a paranormal television program, early EVP experiments, Ouija board origins, and so much more. Horn even mentions oen of my favorite paranormal personalities, Loyd Auerbach, on a few pages. For a good overall review of Rhine, his efforts, conflicting opinions, and the historic struggle for acceptance of parapsychology, I highly recommend this good read. Who knows; you just might learn something...

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Taking It to the Bank...

The fight has ended for Florida's Seven Sisters Inn. This past week, the two historic Ocala Victorian houses became the property of the bank for $100,000 at a foreclosure auction. Bonnie Morehardt and Ken Oden bode a tearful farewell to their business, though they still own the small cottage behind the properties.

First Coast Community Bank expressed regret at having such a fate meet a property on the National Register of Historic Places. They still are hoping to find new owners to continue the business and purchase the place. But for now, the seven other staff members are left hopeful to return to work.

On the day before the auction, a book flew from a shelf inside the bed & breakfast. Ghostly happenings have been on the increase since the tense times facing the inn. Even the spirits are upset by the recent turn of events, but hopefully after the bank has had the opportunity to make sure the historic inn is in top shape, a new owner will move in... one able to appease the disquieted spooks.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Don't Drink and Divine...

Last night was a nice break for me; a nice dinner out at a fitting restaurant and a quick swing by a haunted spot. I've had a lot on my mind lately, and too much to do at the same time. Even for a few hours, it was good to get away from deadlines and the daily grind. I decided to go ahead and have a Foster's (the eco-friendly beer) with dinner which gave me a little happy glow.

Back home, I decided to do another mini Tarot experiment. The result, however, wasn't too positive. I flipped through a few 1937 Zener cards afterward and did horribly (odds lower than chance), so I figured I'd give it another shot in the morning after the beer was out of my system. Even though I wasn't anywhere near drunk, alcohol does effect the mind.

For the past month, I've been thinking a lot about something I want to plan out for 10 months in the future. Right now, it's just a goal, but after glancing at prices last night, it's entirely doable. So, I felt compelled to give my trusty Rider-Waite deck a spin, and see if it had anything interesting to say. The three cards were quite intriguing and I'm highlighting what I think it important out of all the possible interpretations of each:

1. Taste, inclination, attachment, seduction, deception, artifice.
2. Stability, power, protection; a great person; aid, reason, conviction.
3. Expedition, dispatch, achievement, end.

Not having mentioned what it is exactly that I was focusing on, it might not make any sense to the casual observer. But knowing the one thing I was questioning, it makes perfect sense. Of course, we shall wait and see how true it all is. By summer, I'll discuss it more in-depth. No putting the cart before the horse this time!

Otherwise, my busy month is pushing forward. The next two weeks will pass at breakneck pace with a constant stream of work, travel, etc. meanwhile, I have an interesting new book to read when time permits and projects to tackle. Somewhere in the whole mess, I need to find time for a ghost hunt with a few long-absent friends who are back here to stay. But for now, work beckons, as does that cheesecake to bake for an Easter family gathering...

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Absent and Exhausted...

Another quiet week for Spooked! Sorry for the lack of posts. between jury duty, other projects, and sleep deprivation, I haven't had the energy. I'm getting behind on a lot of things and dealing with a lot of life insanity, so it's just one of those months. Hopefully, this weekend or early this next week, I'll get back to writing more on here!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Flair Apparent...

Some of you may be aware of recent news pertaining to a scientific contest of sorts, seeing what people think of submitted "ghost photographs". The study, led by psychologist Dr. Richard Wiseman, allowed viewers to vote on which "supernatural" images were most convincing that ghosts exist. The winner was a ghostly image in a window of Tantallon Castle in Scotland. Another 30-year-old photo was later submitted showing a figure in approximately the same window by a different tourist. Both images appear to be unaltered.

But that's not why I mention all this. It's what a 'reporter' said about the whole thing that really made it interesting...

Leave it to ChristWire to bend reality askew and leave you thinking, "oh, no, she didn't..." An article posted on the site made a few absurd remarks that seemed all too appropriate for this blog:
"Of all pictures submitted, the one that troubled viewers the most was that of a gay spirit that was seen spooking about Tantallon Castle in Scotland. The specter’s sexual preference is obvious as it is wearing very flamboyant clothing, much like you would see a man in San Francisco. The photograph is said to be taken by a gentleman named Christopher Aitchison...

This photograph is scientifically verified as authentic and proves once again that gay spirits roam the Earth, and can lure people to the sinful traps of homosexuality."
Obviously, someone understands NOTHING about formal attire pre-1960. Haven't most people bothered to look at a painting of Shakespeare or glanced at a few woodcuts while being taught about medieval times? And then, there's the assumption that it's male and not female. But honestly, do those few hundred years before the earth and humanity were magically molded into shape by god almighty really matter?? It's as absurd as dinosaurs. Right? I mean, come on. Scientists really need to stop planting these frauds to put down Creationism...

As if we didn't have enough hassle from the Moral Minority when we're alive. Now, when we're dead, we're still trying to earn our toasters?? Oh yeah. That's right. We're supposedly possessed by demons anyway. I'm just glad the pope doesn't dress flamboyantly...

Oops. Nevermind. The ghost of Liberace called. He wants his wardrobe back.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Where Reality and Cinema Diverge...

Last weekend, I went with some friends to see A Haunting in Connecticut, as part of an outing with Western Reserve Paranormal. Honestly, even after recovering from the shock of the $9.00 ticket, my hopes weren't too high that the film would be stupendous. From my experience, movies "based on real events" often end up being more fiction than non-fiction.

I can't go on endlessly about what a fantastic film it was. In my opinion (and I'm by no means some professional critic, nor anywhere near as bitter as most of those people), it was decent. By that, I mean I didn't walk away overly disappointed. It was better than the trainwreck I expected. It's not worthy of an Oscar, but it wasn't a waste of celluloid. Sure, it was very predictable and contrived in parts. Truth was stretched to incredible bounds to tell an enthusiastic, entertaining story. But that's Hollywood.

I have a difficult time dissing directors, filmmakers, and screenwriters simply because I understand the level of work going into a project. So, I have nothing negative to say about the overall product. They did a fair job on turning a true story into something screen-worthy. It won't be making my Top Ten Film list, but it's not lining my trash bin, either. I'd consider buying the DVD, which says enough that I thought it was crafted well. And I'm a sucker for Special Features that dig into the behind-the-scenes work and true story behind the film. If it has those things, I'll be in line for a copy for sure.

Before you criticize the film's expectable scares and altered reality, realize that to tell a story, even true events must be twisted to follow a plot line. Most movies follow a formula not because writers lack creativity, but because we expect films to be done in a certain manner. Anything else is avant garde. To propel a storyline, characters have to be created, changed, and fiddled with. A beginning and end must be formed, with the climactic scene being the pivot point. It's part of the storytelling process that has existed in human consciousness for thousands of years.

For anyone interested in creepy movies, I say it's worth at least a rental. But if you're a history lover like I am, set aside reality for a few hours and just enjoy the ride.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Light at the End of the Week's Tunnel...

Training Day 3: Now that most of the information thrown at us has been digested, things are getting easier. I actually left in good spirits today without that dread of going back. Sure, there isn't any health care or special favors coming out of it, but it's employment. Flexible schedule too. Since everything is going smoothly, I'll be starting my assignments on Friday.

I was worried how Friday was going to work out. I have plans in the evening, so there's a lot to try to accomplish in one day. And being the late bloomer I am, a few birthday presents are scheduled to arrive that day. At least now I know I'll have time to wrap them! I always worry about getting something someone already has, but I hope that my unique eye avoids any duplicates. If not, well... I gave it my best.

Because of Friday's schedule, I'm thinking I won't quite reach 40 hours for the week. But I'll try to get as close as possible. This month is a bit of a nightmare with schedule overlaps, but I'll be getting full paychecks probably next month, if all goes well. Then, they're talking about assignments during the summer and into the fall. It might not be regular work each week, but it'll be a heck of a lot better than being an unemployable non-ape.

For now, I'll just be happy for what I can get. After all, it means that come autumn, that vacation I've been talking about taking should be a sure thing. After so many years without a break from Ohio, I sure could use the travel time.