Comfortable Paradigm

Sometimes I misread things. I’ve heard more EVP than most, but I still manage to draw the wrong conclusions way too frequently for comfort. Occasionally, the most outstanding learning opportunity is staring right at me, but I just don’t see it. That’s how it is with my recordings around small children. I have been so busy trying to figure the identity of the EVP voice, or trying to discover great significance with every comment, that I totally missed a fascinating trend.
 
Since I’ve finally wised-up, it looms rather monumental to me, and even though I’m a little ashamed to admit my dereliction of duty, I have to share with you. When I have recorded around children, while spending most of my time observing, there are a lot of EVP recorded. They are engaged with the child, speak to him directly, or discuss his activities. They even seem to be looking out for his welfare – a comforting thought, actually. 
 
However, when I spend time playing or interacting with the child instead of merely watching, there are noticeably less EVP. Additionally, the nature of the voices change from protective, playful, and intensely interested to uninvolved and typical. To put it another way, the voices seem to reflect a guardian attitude when I am not devoting my complete attention to the child. As I become more actively involved, the spirit comments have reverted to familiar and more ordinary response patterns. It’s almost as if they no longer feel responsible within the situation; they don’t feel obligated to pick up my slack.
 
Of course, as of now, this is conjecture on my part, but it has been consistent over a substantial number of sessions, so I realize specific tests now need to be done. I also understand that this conclusion is based on some pretty flimsy circumstances, and there’s not nearly enough data to support it, but it kinda makes sense – it fits with what we know about human nature. Still, it seems surprising to me, and at the same time, I wonder why it took so long to notice the trend. 
 
There are two lessons for me to learn here, the first of which is obvious, but the second stands as a bonus. Simply put, I need to focus a little more on the bigger picture. We spend so much time proceeding with our preconceived notions and comfortable paradigms that we sometimes miss large chunks of the puzzle. It’s amazing what we can learn from children.
 
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Also visit The Voices Blog at http://thevoicesblog.wordpress.com

 

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Colossal Dork

Last entry I discussed the values of employing a naming convention for EVP clips, and here I am, back again, to add to the confusion. What a colossal dork, right? Not only do I think your EVP clips should be organized, instantly recognizable, and consistently named, I think this nerdfest needs to prevail over the entire disorganized mess you’re loosely referring to as your “evidence.”

From my limited observation, paranormal investigators love to brag about how neat and orderly their stuff is. Hmmm. If that’s accurate, why is it frequently so difficult to find anything? I’m not talking about the equipment cases – those are almost always staunch representatives of a well-oiled machine ready to pounce at a moment’s notice. I’m talking about your results. Can you find investigator Joe’s personal video masters for around 2:15 am from three years ago? You know, where you claim to have captured that free floating mist on the stairs. So, find the original and let’s make absolutely certain we’re seeing it right. Three years later? Of course. Can you put your hands on it – like now?

That never happens, right? Not three years later. Well, it will. How quickly and easily can you find the footage? And while we’re at it, hopefully no one will question that super cool EVP; hopefully you won’t have to compare Bonnie’s audio with Bill and Ted’s. Hopefully, your excellent adventure in search of the authentication won’t cost you half a day digging through 12 years of poorly labeled DVDs. Fingers crossed…

This isn’t like back issues of Superman Comics – it’s proof of the afterlife – the hereafter. Eternity! Have some respect! And every last piece of evidence contributes to the universal collective understanding. Dude, it’s not just Jason and Tango who get to prove that eternity exits. Plus, your EVP are frequently better than their’s – you just have to be able to prove it. There are thousands of us on the case, you know – not just Zak and the boys. And in my book, our evidence is more valuable because we help people directly and don’t have to answer to ratings.

So shape up. Get organized. Show some pride in yourself and your very valuable work. We are the keepers of an awesome thing – paranormal validation. Being organized isn’t so tough – you can figure out how to do it, and then you too can be a colossal dork. It’s easy, and I guarantee you’ll feel better for it.

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Also visit The Voices Blog at http://thevoicesblog.wordpress.com

It’s All in the Name

In the overly-organized place that is my world, everything has a place and everything is properly labeled. That includes EVP. There have been occasions where I’ve been equally mystified and horrified by the way others store and label their EVP. I swear, if I were king of the world, my first royal action would be to insist that a proper EVP naming convention be immediately installed. So, you’re in luck – I’m not king of the world, but I am going to tell you how my EVP are tagged.

Primarily, I like to look at the file name and be able to instantly know everything about the clip without having to guess or listen. With a single glance at the name, I am immediately aware of the following things: EVP classification, date of capture, what recording device was used, investigation location, name of original file, where the clip can be found on the original file, what time the EVP occurred (optional), and what the EVP is alleged to be saying. Sound like a lot? It is, but with the help of abbreviations, it’s definitely doable. Here’s a sample name:

Including time: A-031713L-03SFH1134-0314am-get out.wav
Or without including time: A-031713L-03SFH1134-get out.wav

Okay, I know it’s long, but all that valuable information is right in the name. You may choose not to save the actual time, but everything else is pretty standard. Lets break it down using the first name above. The letter “A” tells me that this is an A-class voice – it could also be a B, C, or D. The numbers that follow the first dash are the date. In this example, the date is March 17, 2013. The “L” that follows is the letter code I selected to represent my Olympus LS7 recorder. After the second dash, the “03” indicates the clip came from the third master file recorded on the investigation. The “SFH” is a three-letter location description. In this case, it stands for the Smith Family Home, and the following numbers “1134” tell me that the clip was taken 11 minutes and 34 seconds into the original file. Next comes the actual time of day – that’s pretty obvious, as is what follows – the alleged words spoken by the voice on the clip.

After a while, it becomes second nature, and you’ll be able to find everything there is to know about an EVP clip just by reading its name. Of course, you may not like the way I do it – that’s okay, create your own system; something that makes sense to you. But keep in mind that the whole point is to be able to visually spot any audio file without having to hear it. I like being able to store all this info right in the name – saves me paperwork and time, and it allows me to sort and filter them as well. Most of all, my confusion is minimized and I am confident that all is organized and right with the world. Best of all, it works.

Bad Boys

A recent discussion on the Voices group on Facebook centered around “provoking.” It was short and sweet, but the subject has come up several times before, and seems to frequently surface in most paranormal circles. Without question, the vast majority of folks find unnecessary provocation to be rude and undesirable. In fact, I am hard pressed to think of people I know who are in favor of it (except as a last resort in very specific situations).

I’ve seen aggressive behavior exhibited on investigations before, and I’ve never liked it. In fact, I hate taking a turn “inside” a location after one of these mule heads has fouled the air before me. However, again, the majority of investigators I’ve witnessed have been polite, respectful, and totally appropriate. So, all is well with the world, eh?

I wonder. If very few publicly appreciate the practice; if investigators rarely do it; if paranormal pundits preach against it, then why do we see so much of it on television? There’s frequently some guy in a bitchin’ ghosty-shirt recounting how “something demonic” attacked him after he taunted the poor creature. Obviously, I am aware that most tv investigators do not provoke, but certainly a significant percentage of them do, and for some reason, they revel in the negative attention that results. “This is what it’s all about!” Really? No it’s not.

Just bad boy syndrome? Tough guys? Egomaniacs? Jerks? What’s the persona they’re going for when so many people in-the-know disdain the practice? It all just seems kinda lame, and it’s a shame, because I think most of us believe they’d get more and better results with a simple attitude check. Well, personally, it makes me tired, and I’m pretty sure the time has come for these fellas to lower their dose of testosterone and grow up. Bad boys indeed. More like bad investigators.

Heaven

Very recently my doorbell has been ringing without benefit of someone human to press the button. This used to happen several times a day, and after quite a bit of investigation, I decided it might be initiated by spirits as a means to announce their presence.

Over the months, the button itself has become unusable – it cannot be depressed, so there is no physical way to make the bell ring, but after several months of dormancy, it has been active again. And I have been running to get my recorder. There have been very few EVP resulting from these impromptu sessions, but what has been lacking in numbers has been chock full of substance. In each of the last three sessions, a weak female (or child) voice has said the word “heaven.”

At first, this was merely an interesting response – especially considering that out of thousands of EVP, I have only recorded the word “heaven” twice. Now, after three occurrences in a row, I am wondering what’s up. It could be a coincidence, I suppose – the laws of probability might allow for three. It could possibly be something else I am mishearing, but it’s not contamination. It is always the same voice, saying the same whispery word, at different times and on different days.

I obviously don’t have a real answer, but I think it would be a fairly safe bet that someone is telling me she made it – to heaven, I mean. Perhaps she wants me to know it’s really there; or she needs to make certain I realize that all is well and she’s in a much better place. I’m dying to attach a name to these “heaven”ly comments, of course, but I have been able to resist so far. However, I’ve already started asking questions about the meaning behind these responses. I promise to let you know the second there is confirmation of any kind. Might be valuable information.

Home Run or Strike Out?

There are a few pitfalls that come along with writing books and blogging about a specific subject (such as EVP). Two in particular come to mind rather frequently. First, people assume I think I know everything about EVP. I don’t, and I know I don’t. Second, that every time out, I hit a home run. You know, if I’m arrogant enough to write about it, I ought to be successful at it no matter what, right?

Well, it would be easy to blame my unproductive sessions on environment, equipment failure, or other people. The best excuse of all would be to blame the spirits! I mean, it sounds lame, but there’s really no way to argue the point. Of course, the truth is, I don’t hit a home run every time, and almost always it’s my own fault when I don’t. Stupid questions, poor planning, bad attitude – you name it. If a mistake can be made, I’ve made it and more than once. I’d like to think I learn from my mistakes and continue to grow as an investigator and researcher. I’d like to think that one day I’ll reach a point where bad performance stops and every outing will be a thing of beauty. Unfortunately, I don’t see it happening. But that’s a good thing.

I constantly need to regroup; to redefine what it is I’m trying to accomplish, and figure the best way to get it done. I’ve learned as much from mistakes as I have from anything or anyone else, and I don’t intend to forget those lessons, because in the long run, it doesn’t matter how many home runs I hit. What matters are the strike outs; the missed opportunities, mishandled circumstances, and misread situations. What matters more than anything is understanding what I should have done differently, and adjusting.

I consider myself good at what I do, but that’s only because I recognize how completely ineffectual I can be. What makes me better after each error, is being honest enough with myself to accept that I must adapt and change. I don’t mind being wrong – it happens to all of us, and frequently leads to inspiration. It’s mediocrity I fear, and the excuses that always come with it.

Control the Vibe

Do you enter an investigation and immediately take over or control the vibe? If you’re one of those people who metaphorically bursts through the saloon doors and screams “Howdy, Mother F-ers,” then you probably won’t attract a lot of available spirit voices. Those you do get might be thrilled to react predictably negative to all that bravado. You could record the occasional “jackass,” but they also just might laugh behind your back and say nothing.

If you should happen to meet a guy known as the Baltimore Strangler, how quickly should you mention the moniker? Certainly not in the first 5 minutes – he has a name, and spirits are not single issue creatures. Of course he killed fourteen ladies in their sleep. Yes, he used an ax and the sheriff had to blow a hole in his gut, but in spite of these facts, he was also a person. Hard to believe, but he had other, more understandable interests, and if you wanna hear from the guy, you should probably drop the bad ass attitude and ask him how his day was. There’s plenty of time to get into his murderous depravity.

I’m over-simplifying things, but it’s still a good point. Just because the spirit you would like to talk to might have hung herself from the ceiling rafters doesn’t mean your first question ought to be “why did you hang yourself from the rafters?” It might serve you better to ask her if this was her home, or if she minds you coming to visit, or if she is responsible for the smell of perfume in the air. Let her know you’re happy to provide a forum; that she can say anything she wishes and it will be respected. There’s no upside in judging her – even if she feels she has something to be judged for. No one appointed you to adjudicate the dead.

Sometimes, showing a little of our own vulnerability can go a very long way toward believably claiming that we’re not there to judge them. Talk to them – we have to quickly show a genuine interest, so don’t be superficial. They’re not spiritual outcasts – ya gotta make some effort. Find a way to relate and show some empathy; try to put yourself in their shoes for a change. Before we take charge of the vibe in the room, remember we really have no idea who we’re talking to anyway. Behave!