MasterPo says: This blog is about topics and issues that are of importance to me. I am not one of the countless blogging lemmings that are tripping over each other scurrying down the hill and off the cliff of blogging oblivion trying to write the greatest blog on the latest topic de'jour. Your comments are welcome.

July 31, 2008

Global Warming (Part 1) – I'm a Gas(t)!

I know every blogger in the world is writing about global warming and oil and so on. I promised not to follow the crowd on topics. But I have to relate this to you. It comes from another site.

On another site there is an article that contains the following sentence:

"Considering that the measures recommended by the world's politicians to combat global warming will cost tens of trillions of dollars and involve very drastic changes to our way of life, it might be thought wise to check the reliability of the evidence on which they base their belief that our planet is actually getting hotter."

This is sooooo much at the crux of the argument!

I'm not going to get into the "is global warming real?" debate at this time. I'll leave that for the rest of my blogger lemming brethren. But I have to discuss one of the responses that was posted to this article.

Here is part of the response someone posted:

"If each home had to have at least 1 solar panel and a wind mill - most could be off the grid ... people would be working for years to come ............remember oil is finite and we'll need it for more important things down the line than gas for car or home ...... like the medical field.

So life won't be the same cushie as you like it to be..... grow up and be a man. open that damn wallet and quit being cheap. care for something other than yourself ."

This is soooooooo typical of the global warming crowd!!

There is a saying:

Young and conservative, no heart.
Old and liberal, no hope.

In fairness, I don't know the age of the person who posted this. My best guess is it's a young person. Young people are easily molded by rhetoric and idealism. They haven't lived long enough to see the realities of life. They haven't experienced life enough. And, more to the point of this, they haven't worked hard for years and developed the sense of accomplishment for their hard work and wanting – expecting – to reap the high rewards for hard work. (and if this person is older then they truly are hopeless!)

Here is my comment on these thoughts:

" If each home had to have at least 1 solar panel and a wind mill - most could be off the grid . "

1 single solar panel can power an entire home? Since when??

That is a bold face falsehood. If you read the FAQs about solar power for the home they all say you should aim for 60-70% generation. That leaves 30-40% to come from somewhere else (i.e. the electric company).

Then what about at night? How will a solar panel power my house at night? Or on an overcast day? This spring on Long Island (NY) we had periods with 70-90% cloud cover for 5 to 7 days straight! Just how much electricity would be generated then?

And never forget the costs. How just how do you propose all that is paid for? I've looked into solar panels for my home. Would cost $40,000-$45,000. Are you going to give me $40k?

Wind mills? Impossible. First, a wind mill tower would need to be at least 100 feet up. Most towns have building codes that prohibit non-commercial structures more than 30 or so feet. So you'd have to change the building codes in every town/village/city in the country! The Federal government does not have the authority under the U.S. Constitution to mandate building codes to the states and localities! Second, I live near an airport. Couldn't do it for obvious reasons. Third, even with these restrictions I've looked into wind for shits&giggles. It would cost $65,000-$75,000 plus yearly maintenance. You got a spare $65k or $75k laying around?

My wife and I used to vacation in the fall on Block Island (RI). That's something that would not be possible in a global warming focused world, but I digress… Many home owners tried to put up wind power because the local electricity – generated locally on the island and fuel brought over in trucks via ferry – was some of the highest cost in the nation! The town quickly passed zoning ordinances to block further wind mills from going up. They said it was spoiling the scenic natural beauty of the island and community and was hurting business (tourism). You can look up the news stories about if yourself. So what do you when the push for global warming fixes conflict with local opinion and government? Force people?!


" remember oil is finite and we'll need it for more important things down the line than gas for car or home ...... like the medical field."

Is this person trying to say that people who now work in the oil field could be moved over to the medical field? Yea, right. I'm sure a 50 year old refinery worker would be happy to spend the next 10 years in medical school! You'd go to a refinery work/turned doctor for your health care, right?

You can not take someone who has worked 15-20-25 years in some field or industry and say "For the greater good your job is being eliminated. Here's a new entry-level job in some other totally unrelated field."

We do not live in a planned society. This is not communist Russia for G-d's sake!!

The government does not tell people what fields of work they need to undertake!

A quick less in economics: There is very little growth and health to an economy that only provides the base/basic needs of daily life. A growing, healthy economy is based on people having excess pay beyond what is needed to keep alive day to day AND having places to spend it! I'll bet you drink Starbucks at least twice a week. Do you really need Starbucks coffee?? Is Starbucks coffee essential to human survival? (no jokes please). And it surely isn't cheap!! But you choose to pay for it. That's fine. That's FREEDOM - the ability to earn and keep what you earn, then buy what you want with it. Look at home many people - often kids who need started jobs - make their living from Starbucks. In your vision of this new world I very much doubt places like Starbucks will be allowed.

Continuing on….

" so life won't be the same cushie as you like it to be....."

Cushie???? This is the 21st century!!! We live in the finest nation on earth, in all of human history!!! Why in Heaven's name shouldn't we live a good life if you're worked hard for it?!?!?! Why the hell am I busting my ass 50-60 hours a week, dealing with work and shit just so I can live in a tiny government mandated pre-fab cell in some central controlled complex? George Orwell would love you.

By the way - who the hell are you to tell me what kind of life I should lead?!

Will Al Gore give up his "cuhsie" mansion, private jets and limos? Any bets?

And finally…

" grow up and be a man. open that damn wallet and quit being cheap. care for something other than yourself . your going to have to anyway if you thought Iraq was worth it ( the ones who agree with it should have to solely pay for it )."

(I'm not going to touch the Iraq thing now but funny how it always comes back to that?)

As it is now between my Federal, State, FICA and Medicare tax I loose 35% of my pay before I even see it! In the last 15 years I've always had to write an extra check come April 15th too!

Then there is property tax (I pay $13,000/yr - is that enough for you?), sales tax, excise tax, use tax, energy tax, port tax, import tax, departure tax, disposal tax, water tax, sewer tax, "sin" tax (like on liquors), toll tax, registration tax, personal property tax, imputed value tax, license/permits tax, and in many case "processing fees" up the waaa-zoo to the same government I have to submit these taxes too!

Just let me know when I've paid enough.

(here's the link to the article and comments I'm referring to:

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July 30, 2008

Paranormal Association – Why Such an Urge to Merge??

"No man is an island." - John Donne (1572-1631)

People like being in groups. Humans are a social creature. And it is true that many (if not most) endeavors in human existence are better done as part of a group or team than solo. Work can be distributed evenly, different people bring different knowledge and backgrounds to the group, different people see things differently and thus may bring up a point not otherwise thought of on your own.

But why the rush?

Recently in my area there have been some people claiming to try to form more a formal association of paranormal groups. These people claim to already have many local groups as members in this association, though I am not aware of more than 1 or 2 locals as members (I don't count the group the founders of this association belong to as members). And now they claim to be branching out national and world wide. An easy enough claim to make. Afterall, all they need to is 2 or 3 local groups and 1 or 2 from the mid-West or West coast they can say they are a national association.

Good for them! - If any of this is so.

I have my doubts as to the true size of this paranormal association, not to mention the basis of the association in the first place (e.g. reason for being, principles of the group, membership requirements, membership benefits, etc.). But I will try to keep an open mind for now. I am not singling out this specific paranormal association for criticism (yet). It's local so I have some more knowledge of it but other paranormal associations have been sprouting up around the country lately according to what I have read on some paranormal message forums.

But why?

Why the sudden need for this or other new associations?

Humans organizing by common interest and goals is not new or a bad thing (usually, though in the case of war it could be said to be a bad thing). But I do think the motivations behind some new paranormal associations need to be questioned.

The founders of some of these associations have very questionable backgrounds in the paranormal field. Very limited time and experience in the field, very few investigations logged and made public, very weak evidence collected, and so on.

So why now do they want to form a paranormal association?To put it another way, what qualifies them to be charter founders or even members of such an organization? Why should I as a paranormal investigator want to associate with them and others in this association?

And that latter point is the crux of the issue: Be careful with your associations!

People will judge you by the company you keep.

I am not attempting to tell anyone not to join a group or association. But, especially other paranormal groups, need to be extra careful when joining a paranormal association. You and your group will be painted with the same broad brush as everyone else in the association – for the good AND the bad. You might not have done anything but if the association is tainted you and your group will be too.

Look long and hard at joining an association. If you're doing well on your own, why join? Maintain communication with the association and members perhaps. But it is OK not to officially join. And if the association and/or it's members won't deal with you because you haven't officially joined, that's your answer right there (snobbery).

I would also not put it past some people to want to form associations in order to ride the coat-tails of better groups and thereby elevate themselves into a higher perceived status through association rather than working hard. The company they keep may look better on them than their company on you!

To paraphrase from John F. Kennedy: Ask not what you can do for the association, but what can the association do for you?

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July 27, 2008

In the Beginning Was the Plan...

It is often been said that wars are won or lost not on the battle field but in the planning room. The same is just as true for a paranormal investigation. The success and effectiveness of the investigators and investigation can be made or broken by the planning, or lack thereof.

When investigating famous/infamous locations that are open to paranormal investigators (such as old prisons and hospitals) it is crucial to gather as much information about the layout as you can. Most locations have websites with photographs and diagrams. More information about famous locations can be found on other web sites too.

If practical, try to visit the site during the day time. If there is a daytime tour or visit possible take it even if there is an additional cost. When our group performed out first investigation of Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia we went on the day tour. This gave us a good understanding of the building layouts (as well as an historical background) so when we returned that night we knew better where to setup equipment.

During the investigation take photos of the facility for a record of the layout to help with planning future investigations. Make written notes too. Don't rely on memory. Use your photos and notes to carefully plan your future investigations at the same location.

Recently our group performed our second investigation of the Rolling Hills Asylum in upstate New York. Based on our knowledge and experiences learned from our first investigation the lead investigators were able to create very detailed plans, assigning exactly what equipment is to be placed where in the building. The result was a full setup of 7 cameras, 3 thermometers, a motion sensor, a laser, and several digital records all installed and ready in only 50 minutes!

Private home/business investigations have different challenges. Although similar, detailed photos and layouts are rarely available. That is why a pre-investigation interview on site with a walk through is important. This for both an understanding of the home/business layout as well as to note any safety issues. Most homes are not as big as more public locations so full equipment use is often limited. It also presents better to the client that you are going in with a plan and not discussing details of the setup on the spot.

And after the investigation write a post-mortem review of the investigation from the point of view of equipment use and setup. Note any problems/issues involved with setup (such as a lack of working outlets in a section of the location) or equipment issues (such as lots of unshielded electric wires that cause erroneous false high EMF readings).

Considering the cost and limited time at a location to investigate being on site without a plan is wasteful. While you do have to be flexible with what the specific circumstances are when you arrive at a location (even if you've been there before), a well thought out plan can maximize the time and effectiveness of your investigation team. It is an exercise well worth performing for each and every paranormal investigation.

July 24, 2008

Y2K was NOT Bullshit!

I'm really sick and tired of people say Y2K was all hype. Even 8 years after the turn of the century that legend is still alive on many conspiracy websites.

Y2K was real!

Software that had been written 20, 30 even 40 years earlier was still being used (by many major companies too) at the turn of the century. It was priority #1 for companies to fix the date problem. Not just for the corporate image issue but the liability. Lawyers were lining up in droves and salivating over the class action suits they can bring when a date glitch cost someone a penny's loss. And the government passed new laws and rules holding financial corporate offices personally liable for any of their customer's losses. How's that for incentive!

The reason nothing major (and mostly nothing minor) happened at the end of 1999 was all the work we programmers put in checking, fixing, and retesting the programs. It was not an easy task.

But I will tell you some of the real bull that was going around about Y2K.

Every magazine and newspaper with an employment and/or technology section was quoting HR VP's and corporate CIO's saying how they were hiring sooooooo many consultants to work on the Y2K bug. They spoke of paying enormous rates and bonuses to these people because of a shortage of good people to work on this problem. Some articles I read even spoke of paying huge sign-on bonuses to lure retirees back to work on this project.


Yes, a lot of consultants were hired for the projects but the pay was nominal. And no bonuses. I know because I have many friends who are consultants.

As far as a clamor to hire people, for the 2 years prior to the turn of the century I tried very very hard to get a Y2K job or consulting gig. Nada. Zippo. No interest. I was willing to work like a dog long hours (for the great pay I as reading about), even relocate if needed. I figured I worked hard for a couple of years, live Spartanly and sock away the big bucks. Then get a more normal IT position.
I even had Y2K experience. The company I was at had just finished a major Y2K overhaul so I know what to do. Real hands-on experience.


I did get offers but none for Y2K work. No one I knew had gotten anything either. The gravy train didn't stop in my neck of the woods.

I suspect the reason for all the hype about companies going on a Y2K hiring binge and Y2K work for all at super high prices was more PR related than reality. When the CIO of a major company is quoted in a magazine that's a much his/her opinion as it is self promotion for the company (and him/herself). People read those quotes and get the warm & fuzzies about how great the company is that they are working soooooo hard to fix the problem. After all, imagine what would happen to the business if the CIO said "Y2K? I plan to be as far away from the office as I can that week!"

So if anything was bull it was the promise of the high paying Y2K jobs, not the problem of Y2K itself.

July 22, 2008

Baby Sea Turtles

When sea turtles hatch, for the first 24-48 hours of their lives they are little energy dynamos. They race to the water's edge and swim, swim, swim! They don't eat, they don't sleep, just keep swimming and swimming and swimming. After about 24-48 hours they slow down and settle into the more normal daily life of a sea turtle. They start looking for food, shelter, etc.

Biologists believe it's a genetic survival instinct. The fast and furious swimming gives the young turtles the best chance to get away from the breaks and shore line, out past the reefs and into the open ocean where there are fewer dangers like predators and pounding surf and propel themselves into a successful life.

This is very analogous to work. Specifically the start of a person's career.

When you're young, fresh out of school you are filled with high energy and desires. Your head is full of hopes, dreams, possibilities, and more than just a few ivory tower ideals from your teachers and various school councilors and advisors. Eventually, for most people, after several years that high endless energy level begins to wax as reality sets in and other things start to take your attention. You want to travel, take vacations, meet people, date, mate and so on.

But, unlike the turtles that have the whole ocean to explore, a person can't spend their early years bouncing monthly from employer to employer looking for the best environment. Yes you probably could but then you get the label of a job-hopper. And in that situation I would agree.

The key important factor here is to work in the right environment where all your hard efforts and high energies will be recognized and rewarded. A far more difficult task than it sounds!

Besides over coming the usually entry level work-like-a-dog-for-nearly-nothing and the "I've been here 28 years and let me tell you young man…" mentality, the simple fact is it's hard to know for sure what company is right to choose. And that's presuming you have several offers to pick from, a real luxury these days with the current job market.

At best when you interview you spend 20-30 minutes with a manager. If they are a real asshole you will know immediately. That kind of person is obvious. But many others are more subtle. Very hard to tell in only a few minutes.

It's a hard but important choice to make. Choose a bad manager or company and you waste the most powerful and productive years of your career. Pick correctly and you're well on your way to the corner office. But in the end, it's a blind choice that will only prove out in time.

Sometimes I think the turtles have it easier.

July 19, 2008

The Pitfalls of Immortality (Who wants to live forever?)

Immortality has long been the dream of humanity. But living forever may not be as wonderful a thing as dreamed of. The impact on society – civilization itself! – could be far reaching and more devastating than the thrill of the discovery.

Sir Isaac Newton's first law of motion states that for every action there is an [equal] opposite reaction. This can similarly be applied to people and societies in the form of the unofficial "Law of Unintended Consequences" (the often stated "No good deed goes unpunished" philosophy).
For decades fiction and science fiction writers have fantasized about humans becoming immortal and all the wonderful things that (they hoped) would come from it:

Brilliant scientists could work for centuries on ideas and inventions.Doctors could longer research cures and treatments.People could stay in school longer and grow their minds.The workforce would be more productive as the rush to establish a career then settle down to have a family wouldn't seem so narrow a window.

These are wonderful futuristic ideas that draw on the milk of human kindness and thirst for good that is (hoped to be) in all people's souls.

But then other points of view, darker and more subdued, began to creep into the dream of immortality. In their writing and prose they envisioned several possible scenarios of dire consequences coming from immortality. These I think are worth exploring in discussion.

As one generation withers and leaves the world, a new generation comes to age. They bring new ideas, new concepts, new ways of thinking. Advancement in the sciences and technology comes from new minds with fresh ideas. Minds that challenge old concepts and assumptions. But if the old guard never moves on, these old ideas and concepts may never change. The establishment has a vested interest in keeping things the way they are (they won't rock their own boat so to speak). Technology and the sciences may not actually advance as much as it is thought if the same people work on the same problems for centuries or longer.

There may not even be enough scientists to follow suit either. If one lives for every the concept of a 4-year degree becomes pointless. Even investing the time for a 10 year Doctorate (the amount of time most PhD and other doctoral degrees take to earn, including dissertation) becomes irrelevant when you live for ever. So why bother going to advanced school right out of High School anyway? You can always go to college 100 years from now too.

That's also presuming there will be children to grow up and attend school. It is a touchy subject with some people but the reality is often women have children when they do for fear of waiting too long and not being able to conceive or carry a child. Age of the mother does play a big part in the decision to have children. Even men will choose to settle down and have a family while they are physically (and mentally) capable of the effort needed to make and raise children. But if people become immortal then (presumably at least) the window of child bearing years also extends with the immortal life. So the urgency to stop and make offspring just isn't there anymore. When a woman remains say 29 or 30 for centuries why be in a rush?

The dynamic of the family and relationship will change and maybe not for the better. One of the reasons people remain close and in contact with each other is because of the finality of time we have to spend others. But if you're immortal then leaving your home, family or community for 2 or 3 hundred years is meaningless. It's possible a person could leave their home for centuries at a time, get so involved in another part of the world and/or culture they even forget where they came from and how to return! Even upon returning, not having been with formerly familiar people the specific relationships between people in a family may be lost. It's possible they may forget who is their parents, their brother or sister, aunts, uncles, wife, husband, even their own children! After all, when you're immortal there's always time to spend with your family later – except later always remains later and may never become now.

The purpose of this isn't to discourage the dreams of immortality. As a philosophic goal it is worth always pursuing. Who knows, the search may lead to other answers, maybe even a cure for the common cold.

But, as the philosophers say, the road to Hell is paved with good intentions.

Buyer beware.

July 15, 2008

Greatness in the Paranormal

This is a re-post of an artcile I published on another site. But not everyone who reads this blog will visit that site and this article got so much praise I felt it deserves reposting here. Besides, I like it.

I also fixed some of the formatting that didn't come through as I intended on the other site. I think it further enhances the meaning of the article.

(And no, this picture does not imply anything paranormal about George Washington other than to say he is an example of a great man.)


Greatness shines through unto itself. It does not need light to shine upon it.

With the explosive growth of the paranormal field over the recent years it was inevitable for the age-old argument of who is better at the paranormal to raise its head. It is by no means easy to measure the value of a given investigator or group to the field.

Indeed, all paranormal investigators and groups have something to contribute to the field (though not always in a positive way). Ranking one over another is usually far more subjective than objective (though applying a set of standards can definitely help quantify the distinction, but that's a subject for another time).

And then there are the motivations. Some in the field are here to do true research into the paranormal. Some see it as a mere thrill and joy ride treating it with all the care of going to a Six Flags park. Some want so urgently to prove it exists, some to debunk (or discredit) it at all costs, and some don't care either way as long as they can help bring comfort to people who don't understand what is happening in their lives. Then there are some parties that want to make a name for themselves and achieve an immediate level of greatness. It is to this latter collection that this article addresses.

Greatness is self evident. Greatness speaks for itself.

"Great" is a conclusion other people reach regarding the persons in question. History determines the level of a person's greatness (or not). People and organizations that are deemed to be "great" are elevated for such consideration because of the work they do and the achievements and contributions they have made.

Persons who are considered "great" stand for something. It is clear and unambiguous what their philosophy is, their methodologies are, what their supporting sources are, and where they stand on related topics. Great people are unwavering in their stand, particularly for truth and openness. Great people make a decision and stand by it, not simply saying what is most expedient for the current audience then change to a different stance for the next audience set or when popular opinion shifts. This is not to say great people are closed minded. Not at all. But when they have come to a conclusion they need more than just another point of view to change their mind.

It follows that great people can give you a clear, well thought out, well articulated and documented (with verifiable references) argument as to why they have their point of view. Great people will accept another point of view, so long as it is also clear, well thought out, well articulated and documented too.

Greatness also comes with a healthy dose of humility. While there is nothing wrong in taking a moment to be proud of one's achievements and successes, the truly great people in history frequently shunned accolades seeing it as a distraction from their work.

Greatness is not self declared. Greatness does not seek out recognition.

A person or organization is not "great" because they say they are. Persons and organizations can't anoint themselves as "great". Only others can do this. The more a person or organization touts their own greatness the less true greatness they have and the more scrutiny they acquire. People and organizations that rely on repeatedly stating (claiming) all the years of (claimed) experience they have under their belts, all the things they have done, all the people they know, all the ideas they put forth, etc. as justification for supporting their greatness are grasping at straws hoping to be lifted into the light by an unseen hand. Greatness is not a line item on your resume.

Greatness can not come from simply tossing out ideas like seeds on the wind, hoping one or two will find a fertile patch in someone's mind and take root. It would be nice work if you could get it. But few people get recognition solely for an idea without anything of substance behind it. Great ideas do not exist at face value only. Like a seed to be planted, a great idea needs to be carefully selected from lesser ideas (not all ideas are created equal), guided by logical flow, feed the right mix of fact and hypothesis to warrant its existence, and supported by truth until it stands on its own (or fails as often happens as well).

People who are great rarely seek out the spotlight of center stage (i.e. television, radio, print media). Their contribution to the media is usually behind the scenes as a reference or consultation source rather than the special guest feature of the presentation.

As the paranormal field continues to expand and more people enter the field recognition and award will follow those who have demonstrated true commitment to the field and achievement there in. The glory hounds will at best get frustrated that no one is taking them for the greatness they feel they immediately deserve and will probably leave the field or shrink to anonymity. Or, at worst, will attract a small cadre of like-minded followers that will spend their days patting each other on the back in their own mutual admiration society and then too fade away into anonymity. Either way the question will be answered once and for all.

To expand on an old saying "Do what you love and greatness will follow."

July 12, 2008

Home Sweet Home! (For a Paranormal Investigator)

Every investigator has their favorite spots to investigate. For me and my group it's the Rolling Hills Asylum in Bethany, NY.

Last night (literally!) was our second investigation at this location and we love it! Just driving down the road to the building felt like we were coming (paranormally) home. Over 9.5 hours straight on site!


This is truly an awesome place. The size (65,000 square feet including both wings) and all the history (5,000 known dead and buried on the mere 12 acres site!) make this one of the great paranormal wonder sites in New York state.

We used a number of new ideas on this investigation we had been discussing all year since our first investigation here last year. And of course tons of evidence to go over (I have over 12 hours of audio to do at least!).

The website will be updated soon with the details of our investigation. But just being there is an awesome and awe inspiring experience.

Paranormal: Claire? Are you there Claire?

“Claire? Are you there?”
“Please show yourself to us again Claire!”

This is the story of Claire, the ghost that wasn’t but made for a good show to the uninitiated.

I don’t have a problem with a good ghost story. Even weaving unrelated factoids together to try to give an aire of credibility to a story that’s for entertainment purposes only. But common sense (which is not so common these days in the first place) goes out the window with many novice ghost hunters who so want to believe anything and everything.

In the late winter of 2007 I went with my paranormal group to a Darkness Radio/TAPS event at the famous Stanley Hotel in Colorado. It was an awesome trip! The speakers, the events, just the scenery alone was worth the trip.

One of the notable areas in the hotel is room 217 in the main building. That’s the room Stephen King stayed in many years ago. His stay at the Stanley is said to have inspired him to write “The Shining” and “Pet Cemetery”.

During our stay it was said the room was haunted by a ghost named Claire, although in our research we can find on such mention of someone named Claire associated with that room or any event that might lead to a haunting of that room (other than King himself staying there – I’ve met him and he’s a great writer but a freaky looking guy!). But these kinds of events are somewhat a “paranormal amusement park” so if the claim of Claire in room 217 helps add an atmosphere to the event, especially for the groupies and TV show fans, I won’t burst anyone’s bubble.

The first night was sort of an open investigation night. Attendees were all over the place looking for ghosts. Not exactly the most optimal conditions for a true paranormal investigation but it was fun to mingle and speak with others from around the country.

Our group was walking back to our rooms which were in the opposite end of the hallway from room 217. As we passed 217, I saw there was a woman (around mid 20’s) sitting on the floor facing the 217 doorway and holding a video camera. As we walked by I heard her say “You won’t believe the activity here!”. Naturally, my investigator’s curiosity perked up so I had to check it out.

She said she’s been getting activity there consistently for nearly an hour. So I stood next to where she was sitting and watched the doorway while she continued to video.

I didn’t see anything.
I took dozens of digital photos – nothing.
I scanned the area with my IR thermometer – no cold or hot spots.
I watched my EMF meter – steady low reading.
I even took out my IR night vision viewer (the hallway was darkened for the event) – Saw nothing.

Meanwhile, the woman kept saying “Come on Claire, please show yourself to me again.” And words to that affect. Then, every minute or so she would say “Oh thank you Claire. Can you show yourself again?”. This went on for better than 10 minutes. I saw nothing.

Finally I asked her if I could sit next to her and watch her video camera’s screen with her, as she was apparently seeing things on her camera that I was unable to detect. She said “Sure!” and I sat down next to her.

Her video camera was an older style unit. It didn’t have IR night vision. Rather, just a large white light source in the front for darkness illumination.

So I sat next to her watching the side pop-out screen while she continued to talk to Claire.

“Claire, please show yourself to us again.”
“Come on Claire, you can do it.”
“Just a come past the camera again Claire.”

Sure enough, in a minute or so she said “Thank you again Claire. Walk by one more time.”

I saw nothing on the screen. What in Heaven’s name was this woman seeing that I wasn’t?? My eye’s may not be what they were 20 years ago but I still don’t need glass (or maybe I do?).

This went on for another 10 minutes. Then I saw what she was reacting to –

Every so often a flake of dust would whisk past the camera lens, close enough for the light to illuminate but not so big you would notice with the naked eye. That was what she was interpreting as “Claire”!

After several “appearances” by Claire, I gently said to her “That’s dust. It’s not paranormal”.

You’ll need to just take my word for it that I was as pleasant and non-confrontational as I could be.

But she wasn’t buying it. These were ghosts! Yea, like a ghost is going to spend 20+ minutes just prancing around in front of your camera at your call.

I tried to calmly point out this is an old and dusty hotel (no insult to how well it’s maintained, but it is old and dusty), and the draft in the hallway stirs the dust.

She then replies “Well look at all what I got in the room!” and she rewound the tape to when she was investigating (and I use that term very loosely). As I watched I saw clouds of dust particles pass by. Some darted by quickly. Some swirled. Some calmly drifted by. And one that made a curious but non-paranormal cork screw approach to the camera then move off.

Now the woman looks at me and says “You can’t tell me that’s all dust!” to which I said “Have a good weekend”, got up and walked away.

July 9, 2008

Turn the Other Cheek? Not So Fast.

Forgiveness has often been stated to be the hardest thing for a person to learn. While I do believe in forgiveness it should not be granted so quickly. Some will say that’s just holding a grudge. Let bygones be bygones. Water under the bridge. All that crap.

To an extent I agree. Everyone has done something in their life they aren’t proud of. Everyone has wronged at least one person and regrets it (even if just a little).

But I just don’t give out forgiveness like handing out paper towels at a rib eating contest. You turned over a new leaf? Good for you – now show me! Prove to me that you are a new person and not just saying or acting the way you think I will accept.

A person’s history can’t just be tossed aside. What happened yesterday does make a big difference today. Otherwise, why bother having a system of rules, standards, even laws and law enforcement? After all, so what was done yesterday? Today is a new day.

No. Forgiveness has to be earned back. Fortunately enough people today still agree with me.

The whole is equal to the sum of its parts.

To error is to be human; To forgive is to be Devine. Guess I’m a bit short on the latter.

July 8, 2008

Paying? Oh, how so last century!

Why bother paying your obligations?

Bankruptcy is at an all-time high in this country.
The average American it is said carries $5,000+ in credit card debt.

People bought houses they knew they couldn’t afford but diluted themselves into thinking their $9/hr job at Wal-Mart was able to make the payments!

And why not? Where is the personal harm in it? None.

Sure you may loose your house but I guarantee you go to apply for another mortgage and someone will give you one! You may be in collection on your credit card but I guarantee you’ll get another card application in the mail soon enough. And they can not hold your bad credit or non-payment against you for future housing, current or future job, going to school, healthcare etc etc etc.

So why bother doing the right thing and worrying about paying your bills on time?

I’m in this mood today because the rent is due today and I haven’t as yet received it.
Not my rent. My tenant’s rent.

My house has a legal apartment. We’ve had 5 tenants in it so far. We don’t run it as a business. It helps pay the mortgage and the soaring property taxes. That’s all.

The first tenant was a young woman in her mid-20’s with a daughters about 4 years old. She came with the house when we bought it. She was divorced and her hubby paid the rent each month. No problems there. Eventually she and her new boyfriend decided to get a place of their own and left. I wish them well (she had a bit of a mean streak and he was a easy going guy – I hope the sex is worth it!).

The next tenants was a real prick! A guy and his “wife” who we later found wasn’t really married but that didn’t stop them from having 2 kids together. The first month’s rent was paid on time and in full. But was down hill from there. Each month payment got later and later and in dribs and drabs. After a year he just stopped paying and we had to evict him. Not a pleasant (or cheap!) process. He’ll be the subject of another blog story at a future time.

The next tenant was great. A middle-aged divorce mother with an 8 year old son. A professional, hard worker, on the road a lot. She paid in full immediately every month. No complaints. But alas, she bought her own house and moved. It was a good move for her (though the timing in the housing market was off) but still can’t fault her for it.

The next tenants was almost like déjà vue all over again. A couple claiming to be married but turning out not to be. And the woman had a 7 year old boy too (by someone else). Rent paid but often several days late. Both had a real attitude problem. Looking back on it all I think they were on drugs. That would account for the emotional and attitudinal swings (some other people who came to the house while they were there also thought drugs were involved). That association climax when the cops were called to my house by the woman because her “husband” hit the kid. How he failed to get arrested I’ll never know! (but if I spanked my kid in a supermarket for throwing a tantrum I’ll be in jail!!!). Soon after that they told us they were moving (we were going to ask them to leave anyway) and said “Since we’re moving at the end of this month there’s no need to pay any more rent”!! What bullshit!!! So they stuck it to me. I could have sued I suppose but I just wanted them gone.

In all these cases nothing happened to the non-payers. Sure the left and had to find a new home. But so what. Did they loose their jobs? Did they loose their cars? Did they really loose anything? Nope! I and my wife lost money and time from work having to deal with this Barbara Streisand (BS) but they walked away scott-free! Probably laughing too. I wouldn’t blame them for it.

(If any renter reading this wonders why their landlord is such a hard ass it is stuff like this that turns good people into them!)

So now I sit here on the first of the month and rent is due but have no check in hand. The day isn’t over yet. If it were I being the renter I would have left the rent check before going to work in the morning. Guess I’m just too responsible that way. It’s possible the check could be there when I get home or given to me this evening.

Or not at all.

After all, why bother?

(PS- They did pay the rent finally. I sooooo hope this isn't a new habit!)

July 7, 2008

Burning Bridges

In grade school my report card included an line and grade for “Plays well with others”. Looking back now I see that was the introduction to the concept of ‘Group Dynamics’. How we get along with others – especially our co-workers, colleagues and peers – is of the utmost importance to our success and the success of the groups we belong to. Efforts these days are just too big for one person or group to confront by themselves. At least not successfully.

This paradigm is clearly exemplified in the paranormal investigation field.

Divide and Conquer

Establishing healthy working relationships with in a group should go with out saying. After all, why did you join a paranormal group if you don’t get along with the people in it? If you joined for name recognition or for the thrill of the paranormal, I’m surprised you made it through the group’s screening process. Most groups shy away from thrill seekers and personal notoriety hounds. A group has to be able to work together, come together, and be united for the benefit of their clients and the field.

No Man is an Island

While I believe whole heartedly in rugged individualism, that won’t get you very far in the paranormal field if you are truly in it for the work. There are just too many things to learn, to many thing to [try to] understand, to many places to be at one time. Then there’s the equipment. You can’t go into the field as a one-man-band loaded down with all kinds of meters, recorders and cameras. And certainly not to be overlooked is the safety issue. You should never go investigating alone or on a home/business investigation by yourself. Besides possible liability issues, if something happens to you – even if just a ‘normal’ accident – you’re that much more in a jam being by yourself.

Two Heads Are Better Than One

The fact is also that one person or one group simply can’t think of everything. Different minds, different ideas. Sometimes the path of investigation brings different people down the same path to the same conclusion. This is very good as it shows independent thinkers came to the same conclusion so the path of thought must have at least some validity. Like wise if the result is a false or otherwise bad result that’s something too. Even a bad idea is still a contribution because (hopefully) someone else will take note of it and won’t try the same thing themselves.

Conflict is Good

I don’t know who or where the idea started but it’s a dumb one – that conflict, particularly in research, is bad and to be avoided. Conflict is the driving force of research. One person’s idea verses someone else’s, or verses the established norm. Science and research is not about consensus building. Great discoveries and conclusions do not come about because a group of researches meet and take a unanimous vote on the subject. If you have ever seen or attended a scientific conference where papers are presented you would know the kind of scrutiny and criticisms the presenters have to endure. Some dissent is normal and healthy. How that dissent is expressed is the issue.

Don’t Burn Your Bridges!

Inspite of the near exponential growth with in the last couple of years the paranormal community is a small one. The core of truly dedicated paranormal investigators, researchers and groups performing good work and helping people is not as big as one might think. Word gets around fast. People you never met may sing your praises. Likewise, if your reputation is tarnished that too will come around quickly. It is imperative for a successful paranormal investigator or paranormal group to maintain strong, professional and cordial associations with other individuals a groups. For all the reasons I cite above as well as many others no one who’s intention is to be in this field for the long haul can afford to burn a bridge with any other group. It’s just too small for that.

Being defensive for any comments, making false accusations, constantly threatening legal action – these are not ways to win friends and influence people. There is so much unknown in the paranormal field and such a high requirement for good evidence if you can’t take the comments then either a) don’t put questionable or “ify” items into the public domain, or b) perhaps you should look at another field. The paranormal field is not the arena a person can just muscle their way into. You can’t take the approach of saying “I’m here so recognize me and my greatness!”. Doesn’t work like that in the paranormal field (or most other fields for that matter!).

Charity Begins at Home

If a person or group can’t get along with the other paranormal groups in their own locality that says a lot about them, their approach, their way of thinking. Work on mending fences in your own backyard before you attempt to go national or international. If your local peers take issue with you chances are very good the same will happen when your broaden your scope.

Closing Thought

Be kind to the people you meet on the way up, you'll meet them (and need them) again on the way back down.

July 5, 2008

The rouse of references (or, how stupid is this?!)

References. Can't live with them, can't function without them.

At times it seems the world is all about who knows you, who will say something nice about you.

Job interviewers just looooove references. You pretty much can't get a professional job today without at least 3 professional references. Even for renting an apartment, getting a business loan, even some kinds of licenses and certifications all require a reference.

But think about how utterly stupid and useless references are.

The person asking you - a stranger - for the name of another stranger who will confirm you're all right and not an axe murderer or wack job. How insane is that?!

I suppose if you gave the name of someone well known like a politician, author, actor, etc. that might be better. But that also assumes (and you know what happens when you assume) the name of the reference is a positive on you. If someone I was interviewing for a job gave Bill Clinton as a reference, that's not a plus to them in my opinion.

I think much of it is based on the very false belief that all managers and people in superior positions in life are created equal. That a manager at company A is the same as a manager at company B, which of course is far from true. Reminds me of a story I once heard about Japanese POW's in WW2. Some American officers ordered their enlisted to give salutes to the Japanese POW officers on the belief that an officer was an officer regardless of who's side he was on. As you can imagine, this didn't sit will with American GI's.

Besides, how is the person taking the reference really to know who they are speaking to? Over my career I've had friends and family give professional references for me instead of co-workers. My brother-in-law is an M.D. Looks great to have a professional reference from a doctor! Even amoung co-workers , at one company I shared an office with someone else. I gave him as a reference. The interviewer called him for a reference on me while I was there. I was standing over his shoulder passing him notes what to say!

You know the old saying "Don't believe anything you see"? Well, on those infomercials many of the testimonial people are in fact relatives of the product/service producer. Some big names in the no-money-down real estate gimmic have been caught doing that. While not exactly illegal, it's certainly unethical to have your uncle or sister give a reference as though they were satisfied customers.

I could go on but you should get the message by now.

There's nothing we can do about it unfortunately. If you want the job (need the job) you have to play that gave. But if you're ever on the other side of the table getting a reference on someone keep all this in mind. You just don't know who is really on the other end of the phone.

Oh Jeeeeze! - Not again!!

I am so mad today!

Early this AM I got up and went to fish a lake out East I had been to last week and done very well. This like as small but legal access. Everrything I have read in the pamphlets and on the website for the New York State DEC says it's public access.

I was on the lake fishing (and doing well I might add) when I hear a loud yelling voice say "Bring it in now!" I looked around and I saw two men in what appeared to be uniforms standing at the launch site giving me the come-here motion.

I figured it was the NYS game wardens checking for fishing licenses. No problem. I had mine.

So I paddled over and as I got closer I notice they weren't game wardens but town police. OK. Thought a bit odd local cops would be checking fishing licenses but no biggy.

When I got to shore one of the cops asked if I had my fishing license and to see it. So I handed it over. Very standard stuff. I had nothing to hide.

He commented that I had come a long way to fish this lake (it's about 35 miles East of home for me). I responded that the fishing here is good and "You gotta go where the fish are!" with a smile.

He replied "Well, you won't be able to fish here much longer."

I was perplexed. Did he mean weeds or algea would soon chock the lake? Did he mean thunderstorms were on the way?

So I asked "What do you mean?"

He said "In a few weeks we're putting up signs 'No Parking Without Town Permit'.

I was stunned!
He went on, "...We've had a problem with a lot of out-of-towners fishing this lake" (meaning people like me!). The he smiles, hands me back my fishing license and says "Enjoy the rest of the day."


If you felt a suddent *THUD* around 10:30 this morning that was the sound of my heart hitting the ground.

My morning was completely shot. I just lost all motivation in fishing. So I packed it in and came home.

What the fuck?!

I pay nearly $13,000 a year in property taxes (yes, you read that correctly) to Suffolk County and I can't fish this little lake because I just don't happen to live in this one-stop-light town?!?!

The only possible salvation for me is I already buy the Town of Southold non-resident parking permit (at a cost of $150!) so I think (hope!) that permit will cover this location. I'll call the Town Clerk on Monday to see if anyone knows (but even that doesn't mean the cop on patrol will know!).

Then again, why should I care? By this time next year gas will be over $7/gallon. I'll have to junk my SUV (who's going to buy a 9 y/o SUV when gas is $7/gal?) and get a Smartcar. Can't fit much fishing tackle in those.

I'm sooooo pissed off now!!

Little by little (sometimes not so little too!) public access is being removed. Meanwhile taxes and fees go up!

And they wonder why people aren't coming to their hole-in-the-wall towns and spending money there. Why the hell should I?

Gotta love Long Island: Send your money but you stay home.

No wonder young people are leaving Long Island (and NYC). I'm going to encourage my kids to get the hell out as soon as possible.

July 4, 2008

The land of the Freedom

A happy and safe July 4th to all my readers and friends.

Take a moment today to remember this:

The land of the free because of the brave.

(If you are reading this after gorging on hot dogs and beer - thank a soldier!)

July 3, 2008

Non-conforming with society (so she says!)

I’m a rebel. I’m a non-conformist.

No, not like the Goth kids on South Park. But in my own way I’m fighting the system and making a personal statement. I dance to my own drummer.

At least that’s what my wife says.

You see, I wear my socks inside-out. Always have as long as I can remember. Tube socks, work socks, formal wear socks – all worn inside-out. It’s my statement to defy the establishment. I dare anyone to show me the law that it breaks.

I like my socks inside-out.
The outside is to me softer than the inside.
That seam across the toes rubs my tender tootsies and makes them sore.
They fit more snug in the shoe and I hate loose fitting shoes.

My wife says it’s yet another example of how I refuse to conform to the norms of society.

Good! Maybe society has something it can learn from me? For a price of course – I’m not a non-profit entity despite what Uncle Sam tries to make me into.

So go ahead. Laugh if you want. I’m keeping my socks inside out.

Power to the people!