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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

You Only Get One Chance to Make A First Impression: Mackay Mansion

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With easy access to online reviews, businesses and those who represent them, need to be diligent because a bad experience can do serious damage. The old rule that a person who has a negative experience will tell at least ten people has gone the way of the rotary phone. Social networking has increased the spread of 'word of mouth' exponentially!  With a single tweet, Facebook post, Tumblr, Yelp, Trip Advisor, Expedia, Urbanspoon or any of the other hundred apps and sites that allow reviews, a bad experience can reach thousands in seconds. Also, don't forget about bloggers! You never know when this fine creature is lurking at an establishment. Beware! They can be your best or worst friend depending...yep, on experience. 

Undoubtedly some bloggers live to rant, while others try their best to present an informed review. I'm guilty of both when the mood presents. However, I do try my best to stay objective and fairly optimist. BUT...yes, here comes the big old BUT...when an experience is just downright irritating, as a blogger, I must and I do mean MUST share the horror. If for no other reason than to prove that you never know who is in your presence or listening. 

This brings me to my recent visit to Virginia City, Nevada. As many of you may know, I travel the country and world researching, investigating, using improper grammar and touring various historical places with paranormal claims and locations with interesting myths and/or legends. When the opportunity arose, I gladly coupled my visit to the University of Nevada (homecoming game) with a tour of Virginia City. For those driving from Reno, I recommend ditching the GPS and taking 395 N. to Hwy 50 (towards Dayton). If you depend on the GPS you will end up on a very scary switchback mountain road that will make everyone in your vehicle car sick. Trust me, you don't want to make this mistake! 

Any great tourist knows you can't visit Virginia City without seeing The Old Washoe Club and Mackay Mansion. I did both, but will talk about the Washoe Club in a later post. Let me first start off by saying, the Mackay 
Mansion is in theory worth seeing. At the grand admission price of $5, it sounds like a steal. However, the guide leaves much to be desired. I had barely stepped through the door when I was assaulted by political opinions and bad Obama jokes. I'm not an Obama fan, but even I was offended! Besides, I wasn't there to debate and gripe about our government supported historical sites or politics.  

If you're eager to see the entire house, you'll have to wait.  First, you'll be ushered a few steps to the old vault. Sounds interesting, but be prepared to be stuck in here starring at a few photos, the toilet, and cleaning supplies while the guide tells long-winded stories that obviously interest him, but probably not many other people on the tour. Again, you'll be subjected to opinionated banter, a few racist comments about how the entire country of China visited a few weeks ago, and plenty of cutting sarcasm. 

Thankfully, when this claustrophobic entrapment is over you'll get to see the drawing room. A photo of Mrs. Mackay is on the mantle, but you won't hear much about her---she gets completely passed over.  Instead, it's all about Ellin Mackay and Irving Berlin. Admittedly, this is a love story worth learning more about, but the crack about the two unidentified upperclass white people being Obama's parents on the wall, was unnecessary. If I wanted to listen to a bad standup comedy, I'd stay at an off-strip casino in Reno. I certainly don't mind humor, and corny jokes are unfortunately always part of guided historical tours, but the dig was brow-raising. Still, I smirked it off and moved on. After all, no serious harm--just not my kind of humor, right?

The best part of the tour is when it becomes unguided. I'm not certain why, but at this point guests are left alone to wander upstairs and downstairs. Savor the freedom and take lots of photos, paying particular attention to the bedrooms. Despite the guides' claims that paranormal activity in the house is bullshit, we  captured a faint white mist in Mrs. Mackay's bedroom. Even Johnny Depp is convinced the Mackay Mansion is active! While filming Dead Man, Mr. Depp claims a little girl dressed in all-white paid him a visit. 

Perhaps, this is a good time to note if you are visiting the mansion because of ghostly curiosity or haunted myth and legends, DO NOT mention this to the guide. Do not ask paranormal, haunted or ghost-related questions. He has strong opinions about those who research, investigate or inquire about the dead. Even though not everyone who does this is in it for the money, the guide will boast that they all are - every damn last one of 'em!  Apparently, we are all just a bunch of nuts stuffing our pockets with greenbacks. Yep, we are making millions off the dead. What!? Of course, I quickly paused to check my bank app on my smartphone to see if millions had been transferred into my account, sadly no...still waiting. May I recommend sticking to topics related to mining and charitable causes (apparently, Mr. Mackay was a saint) to avoid a very uncomfortable situation. 

At this point, I'm still nodding hoping I can discreetly take my blood-boiling body out the back door to the garden. Fresh air will clear my head. Oh no, he followed us!  Fine, I innocently asked if he ever had a paranormal experience at the mansion. It was a reasonable question given the hype surrounding the property. A simple, polite yes or no would have sufficed. Incredibly, I was subjected to a barrage of ill-will towards Amy Allan from the Dead Files and the owners of the Washoe Club. The guide was upset that the show (The Dead Files) didn't pay the Mackay Mansion owner more money. Did I hear that right?  Was this guy for real?  Didn't he just say he hated people who made money off the dead and then turns around and complains that the show didn't pay enough? Oh, it gets better...he then goes on to say that he's had several paranormal experiences (not at the mansion) that would make those so-called-investigators and experts cry. Astounded, I wonder what his qualifications are? He offers up being a poet-laureate with ties to Mark Twain as credentials. Confused? Yeah, me too!  Somehow his dislike for Amy Allan, Ghost Adventures, and the owner of the Washoe Club is directly tied to political corruption, greed and his desire to bring back prohibition (since that worked so well the first time). Where did that come from, you ask? Well, this guy will tell you on the tour he hates two types of people: those who make money off the dead and those who poison people. Okay, I'm not pro-poisoning, but I needed clarification on what type of poison we are talking about--- turns out it's alcohol. That's right, the worst of the worst -- bartenders, bars and anyone who serves the sinful, deadly spirits (non-paranormal kind). He did note that smoking a bowl was okay because it helped cancer patients. At this point, I'm wondering what exactly is in the water at this place!  Am I still on a historical tour?

I'm not easily offended, but I must say I lost my cool after enduring political slams, racist implications and unsupported slander about people and other local businesses, not to mention the absurd poison tangent. I said a few choice words before abruptly walking away from the tour. For me, it was concluded with no tip, thank you very much! 

I salvaged the experience by focusing on having the opportunity to visit the actual home. I'd sincerely advise the owner of the Mackay Mansion to reconsider the tour guide. If your goal is to keep people away and discourage historical haunted history and insult guests, you've hired the right man for the job!  I tour places for a living and this was the worst guided tour experience I've ever had!  I really hate to discourage anyone from seeing the mansion, but I just can't recommend it. Save your $5 bucks and go have a drink with the crew at The Old Washoe Club. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

A Look At the Hours

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Why do we read horoscopes? Mostly, to understand our self and others. But, why do we need star charts to do this? Wouldn't simple self-examination and observation work? Logically, yes, but sometimes we can't always 'see' what we need to in order to understand, or take the best path. Ultimately, we all strive to understand, to solve that puzzle that is what makes humans, well...human. 

Astrology is used as a divine method to extract meaning regarding an event at a precise point in time. Why does it matter? Probably, because as humans we are constantly asking, 'Why am I here? What is my purpose?' We can't help but wonder about the bigger meaning of life, whether it's our life or life in general. What makes you, youIs it DNA, fate, environment, culture, latitude and longitude or the cosmos? 

I don't tend to read my daily horoscope predictions because (here's the Charlie confession) I'm afraid.  'Afraid of what?' you ask.  Not of what I can't change, but more of it influencing my day. But, isn't that what it's supposed to do? Yes, I imagine so. However, I don't like second guessing.  I might avoid a change or risk based on some words I interpreted -- and those could have been interpreted right or wrong based on my current mood. Most horoscopes are optimistic in tone, but that doesn't mean I'll take it that way. What if I miss out on something simply because my moody behavior added sarcasm to the printed word?  I'm sure my reasoning has something to do with my sign lol.  I might have fallen into a black hole of over-thinking????

Despite my fear of reading daily 'advice' or 'predictions' ironically, I do read everything else associated with astrological signs: compatibility, personality traits, business and general silliness. I find these aspects to be amusing and sometimes, useful. And, if I'm being honest, I find it fun to see if I can guess a person's sign. I must say, many are pretty spot on.  

Even though I'm a Taurus, I've noticed not every characteristic of this sign truly fits me. I figured most descriptions are generalities based on a broader point in time. Horoscopes are unable to be specific because other elements of astrology, such as ascendants and rising signs, are needed for more detail. A full horoscope reading requires a person's exact date, time, and location of birth. 

Well if this is the case, I HAD to gather the required info. and get on with it! I came across this little blog that talked about rising and moons signs.  I thought, "Hey, maybe I need to take this a step further to get a better reading of me."  Okay, yeah, I know 'me,' but I wanted to see if the stars did. Curiosity got me wondering just how accurate I could get by narrowing down the precise time and location of my entry into this world.  Would I even understand it?

Up for a challenge, I dug out my birth information and began constructing my astrological chart. Below is my summarized personal experience/chart. I found by going a bit deeper into the understanding of astrology, I did get a specific and unique depiction. By discovering my rising and moon sign, I was provided with a more complete portrait of who I am. Sure, I already knew all this stuff - but confirmation is always comforting. Besides, reflection is never a bad thing - I find it rather grounding.  

Cosmos of Charlie -5:47 pm A Precise Moment in Time

Rising Sign is in 01 Degrees Scorpio
You tend to be quiet, reserved, secretive and, at times, quite difficult to understand. Others notice your deep emotions and feelings and wonder how to draw you out. Stubborn and tough, you fight for any position you believe in. You are very resourceful and formidable when you become angered or upset about something. You enjoy living life at the cutting edge -- for you life must be experienced intensely and totally. Quite courageous, you are willing to take calculated risks. Easily hurt by others, you often strike back with bitter sarcasm. Sensitive and curious, you are concerned with the deeper mysteries of human psychology. Once you have become interested in any subject, you pursue it with total fanaticism.

Sun is in 27 Degrees Taurus 
You are known for being patient, slow moving and careful -- you love to prolong and savor enjoyable times. You appreciate and need comfort, ease and warm surroundings. Be careful of a tendency to become placid and self-satisfied and to overeat (especially sweets). You require strenuous situations in order to grow and mature properly, even though you try to avoid them. Affectionate, even-tempered and slow to anger -- when you do become emotionally upset, you are also slow to forgive and time must pass before your calm returns. You demand real results from any situation -- abstractions are very difficult for you to comprehend. Very artistic, your hands love to mold and shape things. You portray an earthy, physical sexiness that others find quite seductive.

Moon is in 01 Degrees Leo
You always want to be proud of yourself and will never do anything that will make yourself look bad. You need the respect and admiration of others and enjoy attracting attention to yourself. Everything you do tends to be self-emphasized and self-exaggerated. Very stubborn, willful and independent yourself, be sure to allow others who are close to you the similar right to "be themselves." Your need for love, affection and reassurance, and your tendency toward vanity, allow you to have your head easily turned by flattery. The more insecure you are, the more you tend to be a showoff. You love games and sports as a matter of fact, you would usually rather play than work. Be careful of a tendency to be snobbish and uppity -- it does not become you. 

When I pull it all together, it does provide insight into my tendencies and characteristics.  Of course, it's not 100%, but I was a little amazed at how my chart turned out.  I wasn't shocked by the Scorpio rising, but having my moon in Leo was surprising. That certainly explains the variation I show from certain typical Taurus traits. 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

What the Brady Bunch Taught Me About Hawaii

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Having an opportunity to visit 'exotic' island paradises was not a conceivable possibility for a young midwestern kid during the 70's. Well, not for this kid.  Everything I learned about other cultures came from the three fuzzy channels on our TV. Oh, you laugh, but sadly Fantasy Island and Scooby Doo were big influences in my early multi-cultural learning. Shameful...I know, which brings me back to "The Brady Bunch." For those who don't know, this was a popular show in ancient TV times.
In a particularly educational episode, the Bradys go on vacation to Hawaii. Silly Bobby Brady accidentally removes an ancient tiki from an unknown burial ground. Tsk...tsk...Bobby.  Immediately, a string of accidents plagues the Brady family during their vacay. After listening to a wise islander (basically, a tour guide), the Bradys conclude Bobby's naive actions unleashed a curse. The only truly sensible thing to do was to return the tiki. Poof! Accidents stopped occurring. The Brady clan learned a valuable lesson about Hawaiian superstition and so did the wide-eyed, prime-time viewers.

Even though this was just a television show, the episode writers had some understanding of Hawaiian myths, superstitions and legends. Residents strongly respect nature and believe in not disturbing spirits, which are felt all over the islands. Unmarked graves are everywhere and it's not unusual for human remains or bones to be unearthed during construction.  If this happens, by law the project must stop. There are a group of archaeologists and a Burial Council that are called to deal with any remains.

Too bad for the Bradys that they didn't have Internet back in the day, but the travel brochure should have included the #1 thing not to do when visiting the Hawaiian islands. Unless you want to suffer a curse from Pele, the goddess of wind, lightning, fire or volcanic inferno, DO NOT take a rock, sand, pebble, shell, or tree branch out of Hawaii. AND, really seriously do not even think about snagging a lava rock as a souvenir. Mailing these items back to the island may not necessarily lift the curse.  Many visitors have tried this tactic, but once you piss off a goddess, I'm thinking you're going to be in trouble for a long time.  My advice: Whether you're a skeptic or believer, just don't do it - respect the island and the beliefs of the people who reside there. 

Many of the islands superstitions are influenced by three distinct cultures: Chinese, Japanese and Filipino. While touring, if you pay attention you will see signs of it just about everywhere you look. Many structures, gardens, and furniture are arranged in ways that promote positive and beneficial energy to the surrounding environment.Feng Shui or Fung Shui, is not simply a trendy ideal, but rather has existed as a way of life for generations. If you visit a local residence, check out the bedroom. Okay, so that's a little forward, but sneak a peak if you get the chance. A true local is likely to arrange their bed so that their feet will NOT point in the direction of the door. It's believed a spirit can literally grab you and pull you by the ankles out the door. Also, never sit with your back facing a door. Everyone knows that's the easiest way for negative forces to penetrate a person. 

Moving on to the Japanese... they gifted the belief in what is referred to as the "choking ghost," a spirit that sits on your chest and chokes you while you are sleeping. Not pleasant and is probably the mostly reported paranormal experience shared and reported to police.  Also, the belief in "Bachi" (bad karma) is prevalent. While dining out, make certain you do NOT let your chopsticks stand in a full bowl of rice.t would be considered unlucky if you let your chopsticks stand in a full rice bowl unless you enjoy misery.  Also, and this is really important, do NOT cut your nails at night. Whew! I'm glad I learned this before I made the critical mistake. Cutting nails is now a day-time activity.

Influenced by the Filipino culture is the belief that everything comes in 3's. Just to be safe, avoid all things of three. This is actually harder to do than one would think. For instance, when taking a photo with 3 people, it's believed that the unlucky middle person will die first. I know there are going to be many Instagram users who just freaked out. I confess, I did know about this particular superstition prior to taking this photo of me with my children (see below).  I figured we couldn't avoid the three factor, so if it true, I'm planning on going first anyways.

Some other things to look out for are black moths and wailing dogs, neither of which bring about anything good. Both signal more death is coming. Also, if you clip your nails (night or day) you MUST properly discard them or an evil spirit will take them and curse you. Yep, again with the nail clipping.

To mainlanders, these superstitions might sound bizarre, but nearly all natives will tell you they've experienced some kind of phenomena. It's not uncommon for a Kahuna or church leader to bless an event, construction or home to prevent bad luck. Whether you believe or not, I advise being informed so you don't insult anyone, especially, Pele. She is not a goddess to be messed with! If you must have a shell or rock, buy it at a stand and it wouldn't hurt to ask if it has been blessed. Otherwise, stick with bringing home a t-shirt or sarong.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Lightning Strikes Multiple Generations

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Is there an organic explanation to why we attract what we fear most? This is a question the Olsen family has been asking for years. The old saying goes that lightning never strikes the same place twice, but this provides little comfort to the members of a family that appears to attract strikes by lightning spanning four known generations. Unfortunately for them, it has been proven that lightning can indeed strike the same place twice. Lightning has absolutely no memory and has as much chance of striking any place despite its previous actions. But, what is the likelihood of it hitting moving members of a familiar line multiple times? According to National Geographic, "The odds of becoming a lightning victim in the U.S. in any one year is 1 in 700,000. The odds of being struck in your lifetime is 1 in 3,000." 

Apparently, if you're an Olsen, your odds seem to be much greater! After examining and mapping the family tree, something mysterious was revealed. Since 1899, ten members of the Olsen family from Illinois have been struck or nearly struck (within feet) by lightning. 

In May of 1899, at the age of 23, Christ Olsen was killed during a visit to his fiance's home. Oddly, years later in 1921, Ollie, Christ's brother was struck and killed at the barn door while checking on animals during a storm. Understandably, their sister Christine lived the rest of her life in fear. In 1941, Christine's worst nightmare came true. While caring for her grandson, Bill, Christine's living room was struck by lightning. Thereafter, she'd race to the car hoping the four rubber tires would insulate her from another strike during a storm.

However, that's not the end of the stormy strangeness. Two decades later, in 1961, Bill the now grown grandson and his daughter were barely missed by a ball of lightning that struck his kitchen. Five years after that incident, in 1966, Bill's cousin Connie was walking to her sister's car after leaving work when she was zapped by lightning. Despite the hit, Connie survived. Four generations later lightning is still attracted to the Olsen family. When Bradley Hampbel visited his grandmother, he was nearly struck by lightning that hit a nearby barn door. A black chard mark reminds him just how close he came. 

Is there something organically inherited, passed down the genetic line of Olsen's that makes them more likely to attract lightning? Is it a curse, something supernatural or mere coincidence? Who knows, but the events do seem extraordinary.

Friday, June 21, 2013

The Ghost Club

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It all started in a little place called Cambridge in 1855 when a group of gentlemen from  Trinity College began discussing ghosts and psychic phenomena. The official coming out, or formal announcement of The Ghost Club appeared in The Times (London),1862. As far as we know, The Ghost Club is considered to be the first organization of its kind to include respected academic figures. Not only did they openly share and exchange ideas on psychical abilities, but members also participated in paranormal investigations. 

Spiritualism came into vogue during the Victorian era in response or rather rebellion to Puritan ways. Many Victorians were inclined to abandon conventional religious teachings for a more enlightened way of thinking. It's thought that the writings of Charles Darwin, Emmanuel Swedenborg, Elizabeth Barrett Browning and the reputable physicist, Sir William Crookes played a role in influencing the turn in thought. 

One of The Ghost Club's earliest members was Charles Dickens. I can only speculate that discussions from these gatherings had some creative influence on his story-writing, including the classic tale, The Christmas Carole
The founding members actively investigated places considered haunted and people claiming to have psychic ability.  One of the group's earliest investigations turned out to be the debunking of the Davenport Brother's spirit cabinet. Even though they proved it was a hoax, it was never officially published in The Times.

After Dicken's death, The Ghost Club dissolved until it was revived on All Saints Day in 1882 by Alfred Alaric Watts and Reverend Stainton Moses. At the same time, another group formed, The Society for Psychical Research (SPR). Some people in the community, including Reverend Stainton Moses were members of both organizations. The fundamental difference being that The Ghost Club remained a secretive and selective group of true believers in the paranormal, whereas, SPR was made up of individuals dedicated solely to the scientific study of psychical phenomena.  

Charles Dickens
Charles Dickens
Although The Ghost Club did not allow women, it did attract some of the most original and creative male minds including Sir William Crooks, Sir Oliver Lodge, Dr. Nandor Fodor, Sigmund Freud, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Harry Price, Bligh Bond, Yeats and inspired author Arthur Grey's fictional short story, "The Everlasting Club," which was published in 1919.

All historical documentation of The Ghost Club's existence barely escaped being destroyed.  During an 18 month wrap of the club's meetings, and due to the  confidential nature, members suggested that any trace be erased. However, the British Museum agreed to keep the clubs material secret until 1962. 
Despite deaths, internal disruption and changing of club presidents, The Ghost Club still remains. The club continues to meet monthly at the Victory Services Club in London and yearly investigations are scheduled.

Judging by the number of television reality shows and movies in the current market, you'd think interest in all things paranormal was a fairly new trend. However, this is not the case.  With increased circulation into the mainstream, a lot of misinformation and exploitation regarding paranormal phenomena continues. I truly hope the good will outweigh the bad. Perhaps, it will generate continued scientific research, influence creative thought and heighten the general acceptance of things that we can't readily explain.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

It's All Relative: Understanding Psychic Energy

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Intuitives, Sensitives and Psychics: What's the Difference?

Throughout my travels, research and everyday conversations, I've
experienced a variety of reactions from people when paranormal terms sneak into the discussion. Either the people I'm speaking with will show polite interest and curiosity, or I get the rigid scorn of skepticism and crossing of the arms. Most are cautious and are trying to determine if I'm a total nutter, a crazy woman, or perhaps, credible on some level. Previously, I was reluctant to discuss anything paranormal with people outside of my immediate, trusted circle. Let's face it, no one wants to be thought of as a weirdo or mentally unstable. Even those who are more open to the possibilities still have preconceived notions or images about the paranormal. This is understandable since by definition it is outside the norm. I admit, I still lean towards the side of cautious skepticism and don't believe everything I personally hear, see or even feel. I choose to study, interpret and analyze certain information to determine (not always successfully) from, where and why it's being relayed. 

I realize that if I trip while walking, it's probably because I wasn't paying attention to where I was going, or if I taste something bitter, it's because a random spice got mixed into my food. However, there are times when the five senses can't provide the immediate answer, and this is when I pause and take a moment. This is where my passion for awareness, further study and answers thrives.

More times than not, the term psychic conjures images of 1-900 infomercials, neon signs in shady neighborhoods, wrinkled grandmas with crystal balls, voodoo ceremonies, circus acts and the local nutter who dances around in a field wearing bright colors and loving trees. What!?  I only do that on the solstice. LOL. We can thank the creative cons who have successfully exploited sciences inability to definitively prove the existence of other sensory abilities for such universally shared imagery. 

My attempt in discussing this is to hopefully break down the basics defining intuitives, sensitives and psychics by putting them in the simplest of terms to show the science and fluidity behind the extra-sensory abilities of people.  In reality, these levels of a 'sixth sense' are not abnormal.  At the lowest level we all possess intuition, which guides survival of our species.  

Without getting too metaphysical, philosophical or scientific, I'll begin by stating
we (humans) are inherently designed to sense and react to all forms of life and the physical world. It's been proven that we live in a world of streaming, "Energy  that cannot be created or destroyed, it can only be changed from one form to another."  In fact, Albert Einstein is the most famous mental intuitive in history. He understood this concept better than anyone. What we have labelled as psychic phenomena is merely energy that carries or holds vibration, intelligence and emotion. Energy is flowing, connecting and withdrawing all around us. Just because you can't see it, doesn't mean it is not there. It is the unseen nature of what is. This 'stuff' has already been or is on its way to being physical. 

We've been biologically equipped with functions to aid us in our environment. Think about smell, sight, hearing etc. We hardly give much thought about these physical senses, so why do we second guess the possibility of other inherent tools? Doesn't it make sense that by design we'd be outfitted with more? Think about these other (sixth or seventh) senses relating to wisdom and strength, we just access them differently than we do physical senses such as taste or smell. 

To better understand the different psychic types, I've broken down three: Intuitives, Sensitives and Psychics.  By doing so, it might appear that lines are drawn between categories, but this is only for explanation purposes.  As people accept and develop abilities they may evolve from one to another, or they may not. It is a fluid process and sadly, not much is understood about why it occurs.  Many theories and solid bases are being established, but nothing absolutely conclusive has yet to be proven (as far as skeptics are concerned). If you are a person who possesses abilities you already have your proof. You know what is absolute, but it is difficult to transfer this knowledge to the current scientific community. 

Intuitives have the ability to understand or know something immediately and without conscious reasoning. They possess a knowing, or receive intense impressions through feeling or emotions.  Meaning what they are experiencing is more than just an instinct, but rather an overwhelming wave that is impossible to ignore.  Also, some intuitives experience physical body aches, pain or nausea. Most impressions come though as thoughts, conceptions or ideas. Being intuitive may be frustrating because it's difficult to explain to others how you know what you know, without having previous knowledge. 

Sensitivesor sometimes referred to as highly-sensitive people (HSP) are more receptive to electricity, electrical fields or waves, sounds, smells, moods, emotions and extra-sensory conditions and presences. They may not be able to explain, understand or communicate what they are sensing, but they know it is happening. It seems there is a biological difference in sensitives that allows their nervous system to process sensory data much more deeply and thoroughly than the average person.  It is also thought to be hereditary. Manchester Paranormal Investigation (MPI) states, "It is estimated that approximately 15-20% of humans have nervous systems that can be described as highly-sensitive. Sensitives are spiritually, mentally, or emotionally attuned to things outside of the ‘normal realm of consciousness’." 

Psychics have the ability to access at will extra-sensory information and knowledge. It is simply a more refined and developed form of intuition and sensitivity. 

Sources MPI and Discover your Psychic Type by Sherrie Dillard

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Blue Skies and Iron Bars: Paranormal Penitentiary

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Normally, I would post photos and experiences much quicker after visiting a place, but I've delayed this particular post because it contains a more person reveal of what I feel, see and do. I completely understand skepticism. Heck, I'm pretty darn skeptical about many areas and people investigating the paranormal. I think we all have to maintain a grounded approach, while still remaining open to the not so easily explained. I give much thought to power of suggestion, placebo effect, psychosomatic reaction, expectations, physiology, and natural or man-made contamination. Science and faith can collaborate if we allow it to. I can't always explain why or how these things happen - or why some individuals can sense and others can't -- I simply know...well, me

sensing certain things is no more strange than being able to smell, taste or hear. It feels natural and I sometimes forget (until I'm reminded or made fun of) that not everyone picks up on the same things that I do. For me, it seems like a basic instinct, but I'm often reminded that it is supposedly 'paranormal' to do and feel what I sometimes can. Since childhood, I've been called: weird, unusual, eccentric, imaginative, nutter, creepy, freak, psycho and crazy by kids and yes, adults. Yeah, I've heard it all and for a long time I've kept my mouth shut, isolating myself from most things (which doesn't really work too well), and not speaking about it except to a very close and trusted inner circle of friends. I was actually letting others lack of perception rule my daily life.

Even though my suppression may have eased an individual's discomfort with the subject matter, it caused a toxic level of anxiety, nightmares, phobias, frustration and unhappiness that built over the years within myself. Finally I reached the critical point where I had to say, "Tell Hell with the Haters!"  Now, I can laugh at being 'stranage' or 'crazy' because I'm secure enough with whom I am to know that I'm not. I'm actually lucky and gifted and God bless me, different! I have much to offer and enjoy exploring the world again (with all its extras). There is a science, exploration, richness, balance and understanding that comes with listening to all the senses. There is good and bad, harmony and disturbing chaos. I've decided to share this part of my life with others and hope it facilitates discussions, questions, generates answers, validations and shares experiences that lead to understanding or more theories.  In addition, I want to be a confident source and example to my children.  Strength wins over cowardliness and light over dark.

Old Idaho Penitentiary
Whenever I travel, whether it's for work, vacation or family, I try to make the most of my time in every place. You never know when you might get back and I can't stand missing out on an opportunity. Recently, I've been traveling with my daughter to various college campuses. After narrowing down her choices, we decided the final decision had to be based on our personal experience and tours. Our last college to visit was Boise State located in Idaho. We literally had 24 hours (the turn and burn travel method) in the city. 

Unfortunately, by the time we landed, the Old Penitentiary was closing. Hey, I'm flexible...I can re-work the schedule in a heartbeat! Time is a wasting, so we had to switch gears. Instead, we toured the immediate area around the campus, stores, historical areas, capitol building, parks etc. We located everything a college kid would need or want -- as well as, conducting my very scientific 'is this a relatively safe place for my daughter at night' assessment. Then it was dinner, shower, and bed because we had an early morning.  

At 8:45 am we were up (not completely awake), but functioning the best I can at this hour. We skipped breakfast, because who the hell can eat at this ungodly hour, and went straight to the parking garage. We embarked on the student guided campus tour, learning all we needed to know about prancing ponies and bright orange skinny jeans at Boise St. Promptly, following the campus tour, we hit the Student Union for some authentic college cuisine. Afterward, I swiftly spotted a Starbucks located in the library (bonus) before hoofing it to the Honors College to meet with an advisor. After a Q&A and quick tour, we were off across campus to the science building to grill the Biology department representative.  

Now, the clock hands are pointing at 2:30 pm. Determined to make it to the penitentiary before our plane departs, we hustled to the parking garage. Oh, wait...we hustled to the wrong parking garage, oops! Yep, after a slight panic attack that our rental car got towed and wasting valuable time, we were soon back on track, found our car and sped across town to the penitentiary for a quick history and spook session. 

May I begin by saying that for those who know me or have read previous posts, know that I travel and tour many places that have paranormal claims. I've grown up with the paranormal and I'm not readily frightened or anxious around such things. I must say, either I was having an 'off' day, or Idaho Pen let me have it because even in the daylight, with clear beautiful blue skies and birdies cooing, this place left me a bit more than unsettled. I had a hard time entering almost every building and remaining. A few places I even refused to go through or into. I rarely do that!  I can honestly say, I don't know if I'd go back at night to this particular location. Perhaps, I wouldn't sense as much or have such a strong reaction, but it definitely made a lasting impression. My advice, investigators beware and don't fool around. This is a place for the seasoned and serious paranormal researcher or intuitive. Enter with respect (as you should all places) and protection. You've been warned.

Boise Blue Sky and Bars (the iron kind)
Inside the main yard
At the Old Idaho Penitentiary, we were greeted by a volunteer and given a map. This site provides the unique opportunity for visitors to explore (self-guide) the buildings. Most historical sites and museums are rather restricted, crammed with tourists or monitored, that can alter or hinder the experience, both normal and paranormal. This place was amazing because we pretty much had the entire area to ourselves, and most of it was open and left in its natural state.  

Compared to other prison tours, you're not going to get fancy headphones and talking information boards, or a gift shop at the end of a guided tour at this Old Idaho Pen. It's authentic, raw and worth the stop.  If you happen to have questions or just feel chatty, the gentleman at the front office is extremely informative, approachable and friendly. He was happy to answer inquiries, without being intrusive.    

Cell House 2  Was built in 1899 and is also referred to as the "North Wing." This building houses two-man cells with no indoor plumbing.  During the years of operation, a "honey bucket" was placed in the corner of each cell and served as a toilet. During the riot in 1973, parts of this building burned in a fire set by inmates. You can observe charred areas on the underside of the overhangs.  

The doorways are very narrow and the partial ceiling, including the height of cells, is rather low. My daughter stands at a whopping 5'2" and she didn't have a lot of clearance. We both wondered how normal size or large men functioned and moved within these spaces. It must have been extremely uncomfortable and claustrophobic.
The left photo shows the spacious two-man bunk.  In the right photo is the ventilation hole where each honey bucket toilet (similar to a chamber pot) would sit. Remember, this building was used until 1973.  Gross!

Okay, that is the brief documented tourist history, but what did I experience?  

From the onset, I had difficultly putting one foot in front of the other at this place. Even though I really wanted to see everything, it was actually hard to force myself to enter any of the buildings. Both my daughter and I couldn't bring ourselves to walk through the connecting hallways. It literally felt as if there was a barrier or energy field that kept us out. We'd approach, turn, look at each other and ask if the other 'felt' that. Oh, I know I could have pressed on, but something didn't want us back there, so we respected the warning. 

As soon as I crossed the threshold of Cell House 2, I paused to focus on my breathing. There is anxiety from being nervous, then there is anxiety from energy. I was dealing with processing the energy of the place. In this particular space, I never felt like I could fully catch my breath.  

In the entry I was immediately met by something that keep touching my hair and left side. This ghost stuck close to me the entire time I toured the prison and wouldn't stop messing with my hair, sending tingling sensations (the creepy kind) down my neck and arms.  It felt like someone lightly touching you while at the same time walking through cobwebs.  

Even though my daughter has grown up around me, I still tend to contain or control my reaction to things because I don't want to startle or frighten her. So in this case, I let her go ahead and observed her (and the space around her) and hung back. Yep, while she wasn't looking I was swatting at invisible cobwebs and mumbling to the ghost man to stop touching me. Of course, he didn't listen, so I had to exert my will a bit louder. Now, I'm shuddering and wiping at invisible stuff, while squirming around. Yeah, I imagine I looked liked a schizophrenic off her meds, but hell, no one was in the building (thank God!) so public embarrassment wasn't an issue this time. However, my daughter started laughing (instead of being scared), she asked me what was going on? I told her that this guy was giving me the willies and messing with me. She confidently walked by and said, "Guess he likes you -- better you than me," and marched toward the next building. Geez, thanks partner!

Admittedly, the only history I know about the Idaho Penitentiary is what was given to me by the volunteer. I know even less about the inmates and guards who resided or worked there. For this reason, I'm including a description/impressions of the man who tagged along with me. If any other, readers, PN researchers or historians have info. or know who this might be, I'd love to hear from you.

How my new admirer appeared to me:  He didn't give me a name. He wasn't interested in revealing that information to me. He wasn't much taller than me, guessing around 5'8-5'9. He was younger, I'd say in his 20's with a fit build, but thin.  His hair was in a buzz cut and was a dark blondish tone. He had blueish gray eyes and a country boy smile. However, he was mischievous and despite his flirty demeanor, I felt he had a darker side. He enjoyed being annoying, liked watching for a reaction, was curious but also quick-tempered if offended. I'm sure he could convince a lot of people of his innocence, but my impression is he was the type of good-looking boy that could turn mean, fast. He had no problem invading personal space and enjoyed staying uncomfortably close - either to intimidate or creep. Throughout the tour I referred to him as my temporary hitchhiker, because he went everywhere I did. He didn't just follow, he was so close, that he continual touched my left side the entire time. With one exception: He did not enter Cell House 3. Instead he lingered in the yard with his hands in his pockets as if he was watching (stand-offish) the other inmates and activities going on.

Cell House 3 Was originally condemned for habitation in 1921 and was converted into a shoe factory. Then in 1928, was remodeled for inmate occupancy and became the first house with indoor plumbing. Bonus!  
Both my daughter and I experienced the same sensations while in this building. First, we felt like we were on a boat. You get this sort of rocking, unstable feeling even when standing still. Although, this is an old building, it is solid. I can't say the flooring is completely even, but usually in spaces with varying flooring, you get what I call a 'fun house effect,' this was more like a continually rocking back and forth sensation. If I didn't know better, I would have thought we had entered the haul of a vessel. Secondly, and this happened when we were climbing the stairs, we both got a strange poking/stabbing feeling in our stomach area. We agreed it felt like when a person pokes to tickle you, but it actually hurts instead.  That is the best way we could describe it. It was uncomfortable and felt like someone was sticking a finger in my left side and wiggling it around.

second floor  
On the second floor (see pic. right) is a row of cells and the railing to the right. Today, there is fencing that runs from floor to ceiling to prevent anyone from tumbling over, but back in the day, it was open until a few inmates took a dive with the help of a hostile peer or guard. As you can see, it is very narrow. People would have to walk single file. Again, the place and how it is designed already gives a 'clastraphobic' feeling, which does heighten anxiety. It truly wasn't that high up, but it felt like you could fall at any moment, and the swaying sensation didn't help. Lauren was more daring than I was and ventured nearly to the end, but was spooked by something in a cell further down. Like I said above, I'm typically not spooked, but I had a very difficult time navigating this location.  

Cell House 5 - Maximum Security Built in 1954, this building housed the most violent offenders. It also included a gallows and 'Death Row.'
Above is a photo taken in the observation room of the gallows execution area. The metal trap door on the floor in where the prisoner would stand, the metal level on the right was for the executioner. This was on the upper floor, directly next to the Death Row hall and cells. In the reflection (behind my daughter) is a wood bench. This is what visitors of the execution would sit on to witness a prisoner's death. 
In the exterior hall I found a foot print stain on the concrete. It looked as if it had been burned or charred in the cement. I don't know if this occurred during the fire/riot or who it might have belonged too. I have a rather large foot (for a female) wearing a size 9, so you can estimate the size of the boot that made this print.
As I approached Death Row I was hit by a horrible and excruciating stabbing pain in my heart. I gasped and froze. My daughter obviously heard me and turned around. I happened to snap a picture (mostly because I was squeezing the crap out of my phone) due to the pain I suddenly felt. I caught my daughter's reaction to my reaction. She's wondering if I'm okay. She later confessed that she was worried that I was looking at something standing behind her. I didn't mean to freak her out, but this time, I couldn't stop my immediate reaction. My eyes were wide and I immediately had tears welling up. I backed up and let her know I didn't think I'd be able to go in the Death Row hallway. I honestly was trying not to cry because it hurt. I was thinking, "I might be having a real heart attack!" We did immediately leave the area and after a few minutes outside, I was cleared of any strange feelings. 

Later, the volunteer told us a few Death Row inmates had commented suicide, one man hung himself. However, many inmates were stabbed in this facility and several items were confiscated from cells and the prison yard.  

Siberia and The Cooler

I think a quote from my daughter pretty much sums up our impressions: "This place is Hell on Earth." Naturally, the state of the cells, size, conditions and confinement are all designed for discomfort. It's not such a big stretch to find these places dismal, depressing, repressive and creepy. Putting that all aside, we found it very difficult to enter the "Cooler," which was built in the early 1920's. Was it a trick of the eye, perception of light or construction that made us hesitate? The interior is so dark, that even with the door open, you can't see what is inside. It is simply, pitch black. Blacker than black (those who have experienced this, know what I mean). However, once you take the blind plunge across the threshold, you'll be able to see perfectly.  
That's the entire width of the cell. There is a round 'skylight' in the ceiling - but that is it. No cot or toilet. You can easily put out your arms and touch both walls at the same time. Amazingly, each cell contained between 4- 6 men.  Yep, you heard me correctly! This place makes Death Row look like a four star hotel!

Siberia (Solitary Confinement)
Damp, cold and completely maddening. I can't imagine that anyone who went in with their mental capacities intact, came out with them.  
Each door (with slot) is a separate cell. There is only one entrance and one hall. This the entire interior.
That's it. The building housed twelve 3x8 cells! A single inmate per cell lived in here sometimes up to 6-12 months!  It's an abomination, but might still be better than the cooler. Either place is just horrifying. I can't imagine the psychological fall out from places like these. Would it work to deter behavior? Interestingly, some of the rule breaking or actions that could land you in here were ones that a person might be forced to do to protect themselves. Suffer injury, assault, abuse, death or Siberia? What would you do?

I often find it difficult to put into words what I feel or see. For me, In my mind's eye, many imagines can pop up.  I'm slowly learning what they mean to me, but they might not make sense to others. While in these two places (Siberia and The Cooler), besides the obvious horrid rush of emotions: anger, sadness, depression, exhaustion, hopelessness and yes, crazy - I didn't see or necessarily feel any new ghosts. Instead what I saw was black scribbles everywhere I looked. It's as if someone is drawing all over the place, scribbling in a madness with a black sharpie.  
The energy is just a dark incoherent mess of chaos.  It's busy, frantic and all over the place.  It reminds me of a big energy tantrum. Definitely, not something I like to see or feel.  Sometimes it remains in this state, but other times it can actually gather and form into a inky dark blob or form.  What I experienced during my time in Siberia and the Cooler was what I refer to as black scribbles or static (like snow on a TV).  


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