Passion Fruit Marinated NC Amberjack Tacos w/Red Cabbage, Cilantro, Smoked Jalapeno, Ranch Dressing
I was at the Penny, on my own, just me and my trusty notebook. I love my Field Brand notebooks; I always have one in my back pocket to write down the stray thoughts that float into my head when I’m working on a project. For the last few days I’ve been researching ghosts and the paranormal on the Internet and keeping notes.
I was drinking a Knob Creek bourbon. My choice on the list came not because of any taste considerations, but because I wanted something that was easily reachable behind the bar. There seems to have been some sort of a firing blood-bath at the Penny, and my usual server, Josh, is out and they’ve hired two newbies. Janet is my waitress, and she doesn’t know the drill when it comes to the 69 drinks, so I’ve been schooling her. It seems a little unfair to send her up on the rickety plastic crate to reach the more exotic liquor choices that are high up on the back wall. I could see the Knob Creek was in easy reach on the back bar, so that’s what I’m drinking. It’s pretty smooth, even at 100 proof, one of Jim Beam’s excellent small batch whiskies. When I look Knob Creek up on the Internet I find that it is very popular with the hip hop community. I have no idea why.
The hot burn of quality bourbon settles into the background of the usual Penny uproar as I go through my notes.
I expected the Internet to be awash in crazy blogs written by people who firmly believed in ghosts, or at least believed in the ghosts they have personally experienced. Blogs penned by paranoid paranormal conspiracy theorists. It turns out that while those types are certainly in evidence, most of the sites up at the top of my searches are about why certain people “see” ghosts; the “scientific” reasons: rational, informative but unexciting articles. I thought the number one reason people saw ghosts would be insanity, as discussed in my last entry, but that hardly made the various lists. I’ll give you the most widely accepted explanations, in no particular order.
Carbon monoxide poisoning was sited in a number of examples. One extended family that lived in a large old house reported feeling weak, being held down in bed, hearing strange voices in the night, among other strange phenomena. After calling in experts they found that the furnace in their haunted home was pumping out carbon monoxide. After it was fixed, they were fine. This sounded reasonable to me, so I logged off the computer and went to Home Depot and bought a few carbon monoxide detectors. After a couple of days, they found no evidence that we have a problem.
Mold. A few experts report finding toxic molds in some reportedly haunted houses, molds that produce symptoms such as irrational fear and dementia, but there was no universal conclusion. My crawlspace is dry and I have never seen evidence of mold in our house, so I’m crossing this one off the list.
Infrasound — sounds just below the typical human hearing threshold of 20 hertz. A number of citations for infrasound circulate in ghostbusting circles. “Other environmental explanations for ghostly phenomenon include low-frequency sound waves (infrasound), said to cause feelings of nervousness and discomfort and vibrations in the eye which can produce illusions.” I walked around the house trying to find something that might operate in the ultrasound range. Other than the furnace or the air conditioner, which were not running when I experienced my visions, were the only possibilities. Take it off the list.
Fluctuations in the electronic field. “Persinger and his colleagues reported on the strange case of a teenage girl who said she’d been impregnated by the Holy Spirit and felt the invisible presence of a baby on her left shoulder. The girl had experienced a brain injury earlier in her life, the researchers wrote, but the trauma wasn’t the sole reason for the religious visitation: Next to the girl’s bed was an electric clock that generated magnetic pulses similar to those used to trigger seizures in epileptic rats. Once the clock was removed, the feelings of a presence vanished.” I unplugged my bedside alarm clock for several nights. I noticed no difference in anything other than I had no idea what time it was when I got up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom.
Those were the most oft-cited possibilities, aside from this catch-all line: “They are also associated with mental conditions that affect the brain, including epilepsy, stroke, migraine and cancer.” Well, I guess I could be afflicted with any of these possibilities, but rather than check into the Mayo Clinic for an evaluation, I’m going to take these physical conditions off the list as well.
I’m crazy. That seems to be the most reasonable possibility (other than drunkenness) but until someone tells me I need to wash my hair (see last entry, number 11, for an explanation) I’m going to reject that one as well.
I finished up my drink, put away my notebook and walked home. So much for finding any answers on the Internet. Next step: leave the house and do some primary research. I have always been aware of the limitations of secondary research, reading what other people have to say about something rather than asking the questions myself. So, it’s time to talk to some people who might have some answers. Living people, not ghosts. But wouldn’t that be interesting? Finding a ghost or two to interview.
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