Monday, July 18, 2016

Monday Meme: Pokemon Go Vs. Ghost Hunting



Unless you've been living under a rock, I'm sure you've heard all about Pokemon Go!, the new app that allows you to relive your childhood fantasies of becoming a Pokemon Master. The app takes users all over in search of PokeStops, gyms, and rare Pokemon. And, I gotta say....I love it!

Not everyone does, however. There have already been plenty of news stories about people getting hurt and breaking numerous laws in quest of the ultimate Pokemon capture. And then, there's the memes like this one above. Actually, this is a rather nice meme in comparison to some of the REALLY condescending memes made and shared by people who not only avoid the game, but feel superior to anyone who does play.

I think this particular image is rather interesting though...because I do both. And, as I found out this weekend, you can do both ALMOST at the same time and at the same place!

On Friday evening, HPIR attended the premier of the new Ghost Busters movie at Marquee Cinemas in Pullman Plaza. We were part of a promotional meet and greet for the film's opening, and had a wonderful time meeting other groups and talking to the public. Marquee Cinemas is also a PokeStop, so every five minutes or so, those with the app could reap the benefit of collecting some additional balls and items. We even caught a few Pokemon!



After the premier a few of us weren't quite ready to go home yet...so we did some impromptu ghost exploration at a popular cemetery in the area rumored to be haunted. We stayed at the cemetery less than 2 hours and encountered multiple cars and hoards of roaming walkers, all in search of Pokemon. And, for good reason. This cemetery had 20+ PokeStops within its boundaries. Seriously, I had never seen so many people in one cemetery at the same time, not even for a burial.

It was a fun experience, but it wasn't a very scientific one in terms of being able to accurately document potential paranormal activity. I like to think of the whole thing as a social experiment, though...and as hands-on learning experience. If you also enjoy Pokemon Go AND ghost hunting, here are a few things to take into consideration:

*It's loud. I did a quick EVP session at one of the legendary tombstones in the cemetery. Not only is the audio tainted with my own, 'I caught another Eevee!' commentary, but I also picked up the voices of OTHER Pokemon players who were flocking to the area because of a lure that was set off. Oh, and the traffic...picked up traffic noises, too, lol. Photographic data was tainted as well. In a few of my pictures, you could clearly see the glow of a stranger's cell phone, which could easily be mistaken for something anomalous.

*When a Pokemon shows up, its enough to set off sensitive equipment, such as a K-II. In fact, most smart phone notifications and updates will sett off equipment, which is why during a formal paranormal investigation, we would never actually have our phones out and turned on.

*And speaking of having phones out and turned on, it is rather difficult to observe and concentrate on potential paranormal stuff when you're more excited about the CP of the 50th Weedle you've seen that night. It's also hard to observe and concentrate when there are so many other people around you.

*Not everyone is on-board with the idea of hunting Pokemon in cemeteries and similar places. Some believe it is very disrespectful, and a few places, Arlington National Cemetery in particular, have put a stop to such activities. If you are in a cemetery for ANY REASON, especially ghost hunting or playing Pokemon, please remember to be respectful. If requested to leave, do so quietly, and be aware of any local laws or ordinances that may affect what you're doing.

*Speaking of laws and ordinances, most WV cemeteries, whether posted or not, close at dusk. The cemetery we visited is a county owned location that is popular among walkers and joggers at all hours, so I think they are a little more lax when it comes to enforcing that particular piece of WV code. However, please keep in mind that local law enforcement might not be as forgiving in smaller or more rural cemeteries. Again, if you are asked to leave, do so IMMEDIATELY without fuss, and if there are NO TRESPASSING signs or if the entrances are gated, do not attempt to enter the area.

*Keep safety in mind. You should never ghost hunt alone and you should never Pokemon Go alone, either. Be aware of your surroundings and the other people who might be around. There are already reports of being getting hurt and/or being mugged/attacked while out playing. Let someone know where you're going and when you'll be back, and always bring a friend along. It's more fun that way!

*In summation, I don't necessarily recommend playing Pokemon Go AND ghost hunting at the same time...and I sure don't recommend playing the game during any formal investigation. There are lots of great Pokemon Stops at or near places with a haunted reputation, but its probably best to keep the two interests separate from each other. It's also in your best interest to remember a few key points: use common sense, be respectful at all times, and be aware of your surroundings. I like to hunt ghosts, but I'm not ready to become one yet, and I'm certainly not ready to investigate any Pokemon Go related deaths!  Be careful out there and have fun!

*Do you have a Pokemon Go story that relates to the paranormal? Have an encounter with a ghost, a cryptid, or an alien craft while out trying to 'catch 'em all?' I want to hear from you! Join me over on Facebook to tell your story!*

Friday, July 8, 2016

Animal Facts--Paranormal Edition

Did you know that the Southern Crested Screamer screams because it sees ghosts?  Me either...but thanks to comedian, Obvious Plant (otherwise known as Jeff Wysaski ), visitors to the Los Angeles Zoo were recently enlightened of that fact. They also learned about a cheating flamingo, meerkats with the ability to telepathically control electronics, and the TRUE identity of our nation's first president.

The signs, posted throughout the zoo as a joke, quickly went viral...with a little help of Jeff, himself. That's a good thing, though. Now we can ALL get a lil' more educated on why owls love the theme from Friends, what would happen if you give 76 ducklings trombones, and other important pieces of data! For a collection of these important images, check out the Facebook page linked above, or go to THIS ARTICLE.


Thursday, July 7, 2016

Spooky YouTube Subscriptions, Volume 1

Hey, everyone! It's a yucky rainy day here in my part of West Virginia...a day perfect for sitting around the house watching spooky videos.  So, today I thought I would discuss where I find a lot of the spooky paranormal lectures, documentaries, podcasts, and other short videos that I love to watch and share with you all.

If you're familiar with my blog and/or my Facebook page, you know I often stress two things: 1. Education in the paranormal field; and 2. FREE or cheap resources. That makes YouTube a perfect site for paranormal investigators and enthusiasts. There are so many awesome videos out there for us. You can find documentaries and television shows on just about any paranormal topic you can think of. You can see how other teams engage in the investigation process. You can analyze potential evidence. And, my favorite part....you have access to lectures and conferences that time, cost, or distance might keep you from physically attending.

It would be impossible to cover all the great YouTube channels that provide this information, free of cost to anyone with internet access, but here's a few channels that I love and subscribe to. As usual, check me out over on Facebook to let me know what channels YOU would recommend to those in the paranormal community!

1. Appalachian UFO Research Society--A look at UFO footage and case summaries from the Appalachian region.

2. ASSAP Conference Films--Conference footage from various events hosted by the Association for the Scientific Study of Anomalous Phenomenon.

3. Captain Disillusion--Funny and educational, Captain Disillusion debunks viral videos, many deemed paranormal, that are just too good to be true.

4. ghosting12--This is the channel for a paranormal investigation team based in Ohio. Lots of history of the places they investigate, plus footage from investigations.

5. Haunted Road Media--Anything and everything paranormal, including new, original content posted every Tuesday.

6. Kenneth Biddle--Kenneth Biddle, of I Am Kenny Biddle fame, critically examines and offers a healthy dose of logic and common sense towards some of the paranormal community's more incredulous claims.

Like I said, it would be impossible to share EVERY awesome channel here with you, but here are six great channels to get you started. Again, hop on over to my Facebook page to let me know which channel you enjoy the most, and share some recommendations of your own! They just might show up in Spooky YouTube Subscriptions, Volume 2...

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Monday Night Debate: Clients Present During an Investigation

Yesterday, I posted a Monday Night Debate Question on my Theresa's Haunted History Facebook page

"When investigating a location, especially a private residence, do you feel that it is more beneficial or more harmful to have the clients be on-site during the investigation? Do you ever let the clients participate in the investigation process? How do you handle it?"


Please note that these are just my own thoughts, and don't necessarily reflect the views of all members of HPIR or other paranormal investigators and/or teams. Also keep in mind that each and every investigation is different. Each one has a different set of variables, a different set of challenges, and a different client with different needs. Each investigation needs to be custom-tailored to produce the best outcome possible for all involved.  With that...here's how I'd answer my OWN question!

So, as stated above, no two investigations are ever the same. What might work well in one case, might not work in another. But, it is my personal opinion that while doing a residential or business location, its always a good idea to have at least one client present during the investigation for liability reasons. Having someone on site helps guard against potential claims of theft and/or vandalism. Plus, most people just aren't comfortable with letting a group of strangers into their property un-chaperoned for any length of time. 

In situations such as this, we usually provide a 'safe zone' for the client---a place where they can wait in privacy and comfort and where we won't be actively investigating. Another great place for this person is at our base of operations. During an investigation, we always have at least one person at base, monitoring the cameras, keeping time, and generally managing the investigation operations. The client can sit with our investigator, watch what is going on without getting in the way, and ask plenty of questions about the investigation process.  Sometimes, we have a more curious client who wishes to actively investigate along with us. Generally, this is not a problem, and often, can be a really good thing.

For starters, I think it really empowers a person to be able to actively take part in the investigation process and attempted communication. We can tell them about what we do and what conclusions WE have, but if they are involved in the process hands-on, they're much more likely to have a deeper understanding of what's going on. It also makes a much greater impact for the client to address their concerns personally to the suspected entity, and tell them personally that certain behaviors need to stop. It is THEIR property; they need to take charge. As an added bonus, I think we as investigators can sometimes get better results when the client is involved---if there is an intelligent haunt at play, they are more likely to interact with a person they feel comfortable with than with a bunch of strangers barging in. 

Again, in most cases, having the client and a few extra people is usually no big deal. However, there are times when the client tends to treat the investigation less as a scientific quest for answers and more like a party. We've had several investigations where the client has literally invited dozens of friends, family, neighbors, etc. to observe (or participate in) the investigation. This is NOT an ideal situation in any case. A large number of people will cause audio and video contamination and simply be in the way. We have since made it standard practice to let the clients know that only essential persons should be present during the investigation.

Now, there are circumstances where it might be practical or even ideal for the client to NOT be on site during the investigation. In these cases, it is important that the client be met with at the site before the investigation. All necessary paperwork needs to be signed, and a walk-through conducted with the client. If the client then chooses to leave the property for the duration of the investigation, the investigators need to double-check that they have a reliable phone number where the client can be reached if an issue arises. Upon returning, another walk-through needs to be completed with the client to ensure that everything is in place and secure.

This set-up happens a lot at locations that are more openly accessible to the public, where security isn't necessarily as big an issue. However, there are times when it may be necessary for a client to leave the premises during a residential or small-business investigation. We've had a few cases where pre-investigation interviews seem to suggest that one person in particular is the focal point, or even catalyst, for the alleged paranormal activity. If that situation arises, it is ideal to observe the location while that person is on-site, and then compare results when that person leaves the property. 

One last consideration---I personally recommend that very young children be removed from the investigation site if feasible. If they are witness to the paranormal activity, its fine to interview them (in the presence of and with permission from a guardian) beforehand, but if they are too young, they might not really understand the investigation process and become frightened by it. But, that's up to the personal discretion of the investigation team and the client. Again, I cannot stress enough that no two investigations are the same and the ideal situation will vary greatly from case to case. Just remember to stay flexible, think on your feet, and employ a little common sense---those things will help you make each investigation, no matter what challenges arise, a valuable learning experience. 


Monday, July 4, 2016

Project Ozma

Project Ozma. If that sounds like something out of this world...its because it IS! And it has its roots right here in West Virginia.



Project Ozma was the very first attempt ever at using radio telescopes to search for signs of extraterrestrial life, and was the brainchild of Frank Drake, a radio astronomer.  Using an 85 foot radio telescope, located at West Virginia's own National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Green Bank, the project lasted from April 8, 1960 to July of 1960. For six hours a day, resulting in over 200 hours of data, the telescope was aimed at  two stars: Tau Ceti and Epsilon Eridani.

The hope was that these stars, similar in size, age and temperature to our own sun, would be most likely to have inhabitable planets in their orbits. Unfortunately, no alien radio signals were ever picked up. There was a brief false positive resulting from a confidential military operation, but no actual proof that anyone out there (at least from Tau Ceti and Epsilon Eridani) were sending out any signals. Still the project wasn't a total failure. It was an important milestone in the creation of SETI---the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence. Today, that work is still being carried out at the observatory in Green Bank, WV, and it is accepted that we here in the Mountain State would be the first recipients of any extraterrestrial messages that may come in in the future. Keep your eyes on the skies, and here in West Virginia, the scientists at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory will keep their ears open!

Oh, and the name for Project Ozma? The inspiration for that was from the Wizard of Oz books by L. Frank Baum. Ozma is the Princess of Oz, "a land far away, peopled by strange and exotic beings." In later books in the series, she was able to keep in touch with the 'real' world with a special phone. Sounds like a perfect name for such a project, to me!

Sources and Further Reading
SETI Institute: Project Ozma
Mitton, Jacqueline. Informania: Aliens, published by Candlewick Press
Green Bank Observatory: Tours open to the public


Sunday, July 3, 2016

This July on Facebook!

Hello, my spooky friends! Can you believe its already July 3rd? Where has June gone? Summer is passing us by pretty quickly, but things are still heating up on my Facebook page. Did you know that you can follow Theresa's Haunted History of the Tri-State on Facebook?

Not only will you receive updates when new blogs are posted, but you'll also find daily discussion question, news articles, local events, book reviews, photographs, fun facts, and much more! Throughout July and August, I'll also be bringing back a few regular features:

1. Sunday Night Trivia: Each Sunday night at 9 p.m. EST, test your knowledge about people and places in the paranormal world. Questions won't be too hard, but hopefully, they'll make ya think a little! Follow-up information will be posted where applicable.

2. Monday Night Debate: The paranormal world is full of controversial subjects. I'll be posting a somewhat controversial topic each Monday evening. There are no right or wrong answers; let your opinion be known, share information, and help educate others. As an added bonus, this round of Monday Night Debate questions will be followed the next day with a blog outlining MY thoughts on that particular subject.

3. Throwback Thursday: I've scoured photo archives to find some really neat historical images of favorite haunted locations. Let me know which ones are your favorites!

4. Friday Night Funnies: We all need a little humor in our lives! Each Friday I'll be posting a cute lil' joke or cartoon relating to ghosts or other paranormal topics. Feel free to share and brighten up someone else's evening as well!

Also be on the lookout for more theme days! A couple of days during the month, I'll dedicate a whole day of posting to a particular topic. Please let me know if there are any topics in particular you'd like to me cover---I'm open to just about anything.

So there ya have it. Please have a safe and happy Independence Day weekend, and I look forward to seeing you over on Theresa's Haunted History of the Facebook! Happy haunting!

Friday, July 1, 2016

The Ghosts of Yunker Farm


Schools around the country may be out for summer vacation, but that doesn't mean the learning has to take a break! Both educational AND fun, children's museums offer a great opportunity for a quick family outing...and bonus points for the grown ups when those same museums are said to be haunted!

That's the case with North Dakota's Yunker Farm Children's Museum. The museum itself is located in an old farmhouse, built in 1876 by Newton Whitman. Whitman and his wife raised eight children and even built a schoolhouse on the property before selling to John and Elizabeth Yunker in 1905.

The Yunkers were also very...fruitful. They raised ten children on the property, which stayed in the Yunker family until 1968. After the property was donated to the Fargo Park District, the old farmhouse eventually would become a children's museum. After four years of renovations, the Yunker Farm Children's Museum officially opened in November of 1989.

A couple of different ghosts are said to wander the Yunker Farm property. The head ghost seems to be a woman, more often felt than seen. According to Rich Newman in the book, The Ghost Hunter's Field Guide, the staff have named this ghost, 'Vanessa,' but others feel that she is actually Mrs. Elizabeth Yunker. It is believed that Mrs. Yunker's love for children draws her to the second story exhibits, which are designed for the younger visitors. Staff members have reported sensing a friendly female presence in this area after closing. They believe that Mrs. Yunker is happy to see her former home being used as a nurturing place for children.

Whomever the resident ghost may be, he/she/it is blamed for lights flickering on and off, an elevator that moves from floor to floor with no human hands working the buttons, and windows being found opened or closed with no one around to have touched them.

There are also tales of another entity at the home, a much sadder tale than Mrs. Yunker coming back to monitor the activities in her old home. It is believed that a well on the property was the sight of a drowning death of a young girl. Unauthorized ghost hunters on the property have claimed to see the young girl, wearing all white, standing beside the well. It is reported that visitors to the well area may also experience feelings of shortness of breath or chest pains, which are believed to be the little girl's spirit showing them how she died. 

If you're in the area and you have young kids, definitely go check out this location and see if you can feel the friendly spirit of Mrs. Yunker. Stand by the well and imagine what some believe happened to a young girl in that very spot. But...you might want to refrain from asking about investigating the property. Apparently, staff prefer the ghost stories to be kept to minimum as to prevent children from becoming frightened of the museum. 

Sources:
Newman, Rich. The Ghost Hunter's Field Guide (2011)