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.

January 28, 2009

So you want to be in a Paranormal Group?!

Most people who want to join a paranormal group don't fully know what they are asking for!

With the exponential growing in popularity of the paranormal and paranormal investigation, more and more people are seeking to join a paranormal investigation group. Some want to learn more about the paranormal. Some believe they have talents and skills that would well fit a group. Others want the thrill of investigating the paranormal. Whatever a person's motivations there is likely a group out there that will take them on.

Each paranormal investigation group operates (at least somewhat) differently from each other. What your time and desires are need to match up with the goals of the group you seek to join.
Some groups are more "ghost seekers". These groups tend to be larger large (10-15+), meet a couple of times a month, individual members own their own equipment, and tend to focus on going to local cemeteries or famous locations that offer public paranormal hunts. After the trip they meet to discuss what experiences they had, show any photos or play any audio they gathered, etc. A "weekend warrior" type of group. They do not train their members and each member is left to determine whether or not there was in fact paranormal activity detected.

Other groups are much more formalized. They are more true "paranormal investigators", people who investigating things that are beyond the norm of everyday life and seem to defy common explanation. They meet regularly, sometimes weekly. The group members help support the purchase of advanced equipment by the group (some members may also own their own equipment). The group has a structure of lead investigations, intermediate level investigators, and new/in-training investigators. These groups actively seek to help people by investigating in their homes and business, as well as perhaps utilizing local legendary locations and perhaps travel to more distant famous locations periodically. They have a formal methodology which includes a training program and analysis standards.

The former described group is good for people with a casual, passing interest in the paranormal. These groups are less formal and tend to come and go with the growth and waxing of interest by the members of the group. Time commitment isn't much. Basically, they are attend-at-will groups for people who see paranormal investigation as their latest hobby.

The latter type of groups, however, do require much more participation of their members. Group members are expected to spend significant hours each week working on projects. These activities may include researching new locations to visit, researching new equipment ideas and/or paranormal theories, case management, authoring articles for website or publication, and probably most significantly review of collected evidence.

The last point deserves further expansion.

If there is one activity that is most central to the core functioning of a professional paranormal group it is the review and evaluation of evidence collected during an investigation. The evidence collected from an investigation – audio, video, photographic – all has to be reviewed in a timely manner. This is particularly important for a private case where a person or family may be hanging on what paranormal activity (or none) the group has documented. Even a small investigation still yield large volumes of evidence to be reviewed. For example, if a group uses 6 audio recorders during a 5 hour investigation that's 30 hours of audio to be listened to and analyzed! If the group is operating 6 video cameras over the course of the same investigation that's an additional 30 hours of video to be reviewed. More time is then taken when in fact a possible piece of evidence is found. Time to review it, to analyze it, perhaps to enhance and edit it.

This is the part I believe most people's resolve in the paranormal falters and their resolve to join a paranormal investigation group withers. Evidence review is not sexy. There is nothing exciting about listing to static or staring at the same screen for hour after hour. The excitement does come when (if) something does appear in the evidence. But that is far from a guarantee. There can and most likely will be periods of weeks and months of going on investigations that generate hundreds of hours of evidence to review which contain nothing.

There is also one other point to remember. Whether you join a "ghost seeker" group or a "paranormal investigators" group there is the very real chance (but not a guarantee – the paranormal is never guaranteed) that you may encounter something you are not prepared for. Regardless of what you think you would do if/when you see a ghost it is not until it actually happens that your real reaction will be known. There is always the possibility you will encounter something that can shake to the core your beliefs in reality, the physical world, and/or your faith or spiritual beliefs.

This is the reality of being part of a formal, professional paranormal investigation group. It is not for everyone.

It's not a job or a hobby – it's a life style!

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January 24, 2009

The Best Class To Take In School

The best course to take in school is….

If you are in college now,
If you are going to start college,
If you are going back to school,
If you are looking to take some extra post-graduate or professional courses,

Then the best #1 course to take is (BRRRRRRRRRR (<- drum roll) )


Take Cost Accounting, Financial Accounting, Auditing, Tax Accounting, and perhaps Managerial Accounting (in that order). Use them as your elective credits. Even better, get a minor in it.

The subject is probably as dry and boring as you'll ever have in school No one will be impressed that you're taking it.And it definitely will not make you Mister or Miss Popular at parties.

But a solid understanding of accounting is essential to your career and life!

Accounting is universal to all fields, all industries, all sorts of businesses and ventures. Being just that much more familiar with accounting practices and the tools of accounting can make or break your success in an instant.

For everything and anything you do in life accounting will come into play. Whether you are an employee or own your own business a solid base understanding of accounting is essential. In your own life you need to understand cash flows, checks/balances, income and expense etc. If you ever hope to do any investing (and you definitely should but more on that in a future post) a solid understanding of account is a must both for your own benefit and to be able to analyze investments.

Accounting is a knowledge you never know when or where you will need to have. When I was in college I fought hard not to have to take it. As an undergraduate I majored in Computer Science. So after all, what did a wanna-be programmer need with debits and credits, ledgers and journals? Oh boy was I wrong! Almost from day-1 after leaving school did I fall back on my accounting knowledge from class time and time again right through today.

You don't have to become a CPA. I wouldn't want to be (no insult intended to the CPA readers of my blog). But no matter what work you do in life and where you go no employer or business partner will ever give you a hard time about having a solid accounting background.

Trust MasterPo on this one.

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January 20, 2009

All Wrapped Up In The 1st Amendment

Some people love to wrap themselves in the 1st amendment "free speech" clause as if it was their own personal soap box. When disagreed with these people just love to beat their critics over the head with the "I have the right to say what I want" line.

Oh phuleeze!

You may have the right to say what you want but what about me? Don't I also have that same right? You said something I disagree with. Do I only have the right to free speech if it is in agreement with your free speech? I don't think so. Funny how some people don't see it that way.

And more importantly, while you may have the right to free speech you most certainly do not have the requirement to be heard! Yes, I said it (my free speech at work).

Your free speech does not obligate me to listen to you. Say all you want and I can just ignore you. Nothing in the 1st amendment requires me to listen (or read) what you say.

And further, nothing in the 1st amendment that requires me to remain silent if I disagree with you. Nor does the 1st amendment protect your feelings from getting hurt. You're an adult – act like one! (something far fewer people are doing these days anyway.)

I shouldn't be too upset I suppose. Teaching the U.S. Constitution isn't a high priority in schools these days. Nevertheless, those in glass bubbles should toss stones without knowing what they are talking about.

Ps- If you chose not to read this post I'm not offended and won't threaten to sue you.

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January 16, 2009

Oblivious (part 2)

I was in a parking lot recently.

I was in my large, black SUV on a bright sunny day.

I was backing my car out of a parking spot into the narrow roadway between rows.

The back end of my car was about 2-3 feet from the back of the car in the row behind me.

At that moment, out of nowhere, a man, woman and their two small children decided to walk right behind my car! Right between me and the car behind me. I was still moving in reverse.

I had to slam on the brakes to keep from hitting them.

They just walked right behind my car, didn’t even look at me or try to hurry along.

This is far too commonly occurring these days.

Don’t worry. Someone else will watch out for you and yours.

And if they don’t you can sue them!


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January 11, 2009

The Setup (Part 2) – The Story of Michael

Some people have made the act of brown nosing and tooting their own horn into a true art. This is the true story of one of these people I had the misfortune to encounter in the work place.

A few years ago I was working at a small software company in mid-Manhattan. There was this guy working there named Michael C. He was a career whiner from what I could tell. He got what and where he wanted by whining until they just gave in. Some people are like that. How they avoid getting reamed for being such whiners and not acting more professional is still a mystery to me. I must have missed that memo. So his behavior shouldn't have come as much of a surprise. And it was very successful.

Here is Michael's strategy:

All morning – every morning – when you first met him for the day and typically said something like "How's it going?" or "How are you doing today?" he would reply:

"Oh! I am so tired. I was here until 6pm/6:30/7pm/7:30(take your pick) last night working on the something-or-other project!"

The written word does not properly show the total drama and emotion Michael would put into his reply! Oscar level acting!

Truly, from the time he came in until 12noon every single person he met was told this! It grew very old very fast, at least to me. But apparently it did impress the higher ups.

Now I'm all for tooting your own horn. Sometimes if you don’t know one else will. But come on! This was pathetic! Even childish!

In all fairness I don't doubt that he actually was in the office as late as he claimed.


There were several key facts that were conveniently overlooked such as:

1) He didn't come in to work until 9:30am, 10am, 10:30am or sometimes later! So when he did stay to 6 o'clock or longer he was still just putting in the same 8-9 or so hours as everyone else.

2) He lived in Manhattan only 20 minutes away on foot. So he had no train or bus to catch, no long commute.

3) He would frequently go out for the evening directly from work. So it made no sense for him to go home. He might as well stay in the office and head straight out from there.

4) While he may have actually stayed as late as he claimed, after 6pm the office mostly emptied out. So there are a few people to confirm he really was here (and working! Not just bullshitting on the phone or surfing the web).

But, alas, all this analysis is really for naught. In the end Michael succeeded in his goals. He very quickly moved up in the company, even to the extent of other people being demoted or fired to give him their positions! No, I am absolutely sure he wasn't related to the owners.

I can't prove it but I strongly believe his success was a combination of constant whining and management afraid of him filing a suit if he didn't get what he wanted.

There are many other Michaels out there. Try to steer clear of them.

Keep your head low and watch your six.

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January 8, 2009

Expectation: The Paranormal Investigation Killer!

It’s normal to be excited about going on a potentially good (read as active) paranormal investigation. All the reports of activity – shadows, objects moving, being touched, EVPs – can get even the most seasoned investigator’s blood pumping!

But expectation has to be tempered with reality.

The fact is that even the most reportedly active locations don’t promise activity on any given day (or night). It’s very possible not to get a single piece of evidence or observe a single event during any given investigation.

The paranormal doesn’t happen by performance command. Indeed, usually the more you expect of a location the more disappointed you are when the investigation finally happens. Likewise, the paranormal seems to happen most when you least expect it!

In August 2007 my group conducted our first investigation at the Rolling Hills Asylum in Bethany, NY. It was a “We’re Alone!” investigation meaning it the whole building was ours. Just our group locked in the (literally!) all night. During the equipment setup one of our investigators/tech specialists was mounting a DVR camera to the hand rail in a hallway that reportedly is very active with shadows. The lights were on fully as we had not officially started the investigation. But no one told the ghosts that! I was standing on the walk ramp about 10 feet from him when suddenly he started yelling hand jumping and almost literally bouncing off the walls! After several minutes of jumping around yelling “Oh shit! Oh shit! Oh my G-d! Oh My G-d” he finally calmed down enough to tell us: A shadow had passed right next to him between the him and the wall (a scant 3 feet or so). It wasn’t that he was scared, just incredibly surprised. This was just a precursor to an incredible night of investigation.

By the time this article is published we will have completed our second “We’re Alone!” investigation of Rolling Hills and hopefully have even more to report! (footnote: we did the investigation, and, inspite of a couple of interesting personal experiences we got nothing! No audio or video and only1 'ify' picture of a possible shadow. Oh well.)

Other investigators around the country have noted that somehow the paranormal seems to “know” your state of mind. When you have high expectations nothing happens. When you have low expectations or are distracted that’s when the paranormal seems to most often occur. Some believe the paranormal can sense your state of thought and stay away from those who want to see them. Others believe the normal guards and filters on our minds that don’t let us perceive the paranormal are lowest when we have little expectation or are pre-occupied so therefore the paranormal comes through more often. And there is some hypothesis that our own perceptions can effect the level of paranormal activity. This is tied (loosely) into certain concepts that come from the science of Quantum Physics.

Either way, like most of the paranormal, more time and research is needed. But it is pretty clear that the more one expects the less one gets. Good things can’t be rushed.

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January 6, 2009

The Right of The People To Defense (Part 1)

Israel has taken a lot of heat from the international community for defending herself from the constant rocket attacks launched by Hamas into Israeli civilian neighborhoods. No surprise there. The "international community" seems quite blind to whatever arab terrorists do but quickly condemns Israel when lifting a finger in defense or response.

Thankfully Israel, unlike the U.S., doesn't care much about international views while its civilians are being murdered in there homes.

In this country President Bush took heat for many years for his policies and approaches to the war on terror. Even now out of office he is vilified in effigy in articles and books about his approach. Nevertheless, the reality is that in 7 years after the attacks of 9/11/01 there has not been another successful terrorist attack on American soil says a lot about the validity of his policies (unless you believe the terrorists are just good hearted people who decided to give us a break for all those years, and if you do I have a bridge to sell real cheap!)

It is the job, nay the obligation, of a government to defend it's citizenry from attack at all times!

When a government refuses to take any and all necessary steps humanly possible to protect it's citizens from attack that government is behaving unethically and immorally at the very least – possibly even illegally.

The individual citizen can do nothing to protect him/herself and their family from attacks launch outside the boarders of their country (or for that matter plots hatched with in the boarders of the country too). You and I have no hope of defending ourselves short of just leaving. That is why to a great extent people come together to form 'government's: For pooling resources to affect the common defense of all citizens under that government.

After the attacks have stopped and the attacking party (or parties) have been rendered incapable of restarting attacks then you can talk about agreements and negotiations. But to talk about that while attacks are underway and do nothing in response is malpractice if such term can be applied to government (and I think it should be for a wide range of topics, but I digress…).

History has proven that real, lasting peace is only ever achieved when one side's war making machinery is totally destroyed and they have nothing left to fight with. That is cold reality. To expect an attacker fully armed, ready and willing to fight to the last to simply stop the attacks over some piece of paper is to want to make something that has never been achieved in thousands of years of human history!

While I agree humanity needs to advance beyond knee-jerk violence, my life and that of my family isn't part of your social intellectual experiment!

Turn the other cheek – after your opponents hands have been cuffed.

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January 3, 2009

The Story of Patrick, the Most Misunderstood Boy

The story is true.
The boy is real.
The situation was sad but all too common.

Once upon a time about 8 or 9 years ago there was a young man named Patrick (I never knew his last name) who made a big splash on the various North East local fishing forums scene (no pun intended) for over 3 years. . Patrick was a boy of 16 who lived in or near Fairfield, Connecticut. He attended Fairfield High School at the time, a “college equivalent” high school in his opinion.

Patrick’s fishing forums career started with a bang when he suggested then strongly supported the idea of using 1/0 hooks for fishing live eels (for those not in the know, you’d use at a minimum a 5/0 or 6/0 hook). This earned him a stern scolding from the very people we wanted to associated with and earn their praise. That started his reputation fast.

After that incident one might think he learned a lesson. Of course not.

In the months and years that followed some of his other more notable fishing ideas, suggestions and comments included:

- Kayaking the Race (a body of water East of Orient Pt, NY that is treacherous for boats, deadly for a kayak!).
- Spear fishing for tuna in the Cape Cod Canal.
- Putting rubber cement on the soles of your boots for traction on rocks instead of using Korkers (metal spiked sandals).
- Giving advise on how to outfit an offshore fishing boat based ona handheld GPS demonstration by his high school farm technology teacher.
- Advising on saltwater fly tackle when he had never done saltwater fly fishing, just a little freshwater for sunfish (“How different can it be?” is a direct quote).
- Advising on 4x4 beach buggy driving methods when he didn’t even have a drivers license himself much less a beach buggy.

Along the way young Patrick anointed himself a “master” of just about everything:

- He was a master boat building for making his own kayak that no one ever saw.
- He was a master at repairing marine engines because he once changed the plugs on his uncle’s outboard.
- He was a master fishing rod builder because he claimed to have made his own surf casting rod, which also was never seen by anyone.
- He was a master fly tier in the same ranks as people like Bob Popovics and Lefty Kreh even though he never actual went saltwater fly fishing.
- He was a master bluewater angler even though the farthest he had ever been was a couple of miles out in Long Island Sound.

Personally, while all very entertaining, I didn’t really care much except for the comments that might get someone hurt if followed (like the rubber cement instead of Korkers). For while Patrick knew little of what he wrote about, he did say with a lot of conviction and that might lead some people to have believed he actually knew what he was talking about!

Yup. At the tender age of 16-17-18 Mr. Patrick had done it all from the garden spot and fishing Mecca of the world in Fairfield, CT.

As with any self appointed expert who constantly tooted his own horn, the true authorities in the field called Patrick out on his claims. Patrick withered badly. He rarely posted any pictures of himself, his tackle, his ideas, or his catches on the message boards. Very few people ever actually met him, leading some to believe (probably still to this day) he was a prank someone was playing on the local fishing community. There was a fishing trip organized for a place near Fairfield that Patrick did attend (which wa difficult given he didn’t have a drivers license and car). I was unable to attend unfortunately due to prior commitments. I heard Patrick performance was far from masterful.

In the end he resorted to the last refuge of getting attention – go on the offensive.

He posted many very harsh and critical things about local fishing tackle manufacturers and products. He profaned at anyone who disagreed with him. He made threats of physical violence. He called out many people to meet him and say things to his face they were posting.

This earned him an avalanche of Cease And Desist letters from company lawyers, notices of pending libel and slander suites (at the tender age of 17 he was quite well versed in the laws of libel and slander while most boys his age are better acquainted with cars and girls). There were people who were actively looking for Patrick in the area he lived and not to shake his hand! He did in fact complain that some people had left vulgar graffiti directly mentioning him by name on some park benches in the areas he said he fishes! This was not a good situation for him.

He was banned from nearly every message board on the East coast. Eventually the moderators would give him a second chance along with a warning. Patrick would promise to be good, but then a few weeks later he’d he back at it and get banned again. A cycle was formed.

Finally, perhaps as a last desperate attempt to be seen as a man and not a 17-18 year old boy, young Patrick started to comment on business, politics, family and life in general. As before he always took the side that inflamed others. He disparaged his country, railed against going to college as being useless, how greedy the business world was and he had no chance to make it (a very sad point of view for a young man not even 20 yet), etc etc.

Eventually he just faded off into the sunset and to my knowledge hasn’t been heard from in years. But his legend lives on.

This shouldn’t be taken as light (at least not much). It was really a very sad story. Patrick so desperately wanted to be accepted into the ranks of the hard core surf fisherman. He so much wanted to be the buddy of the 24/7 surf rats, men with twice as much years of fishing experience as he had years of life.

All he did was end up alienating the very people he so desperately wanted the recognition and approval of. Had come into the field more open about his lack of experience and eagerness to learn I’m certain he would have gotten some great advise. Maybe even been taken under the wing of local expert.

I think this is a life story that can apply to many people in many situations.

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