Saturday, March 28, 2020

7 Signs Your House Could Be Haunted

I recently came across an article sharing these signs that suggest your home may have visitors from beyond the grave. It first caught my attention because I have a friend who is involved in 'ghost hunter' activities.

1)  Mysterious sights and sounds
Clearly we have a fascination with haunted houses in this country as evidenced by the numerous cable television series exploring this topic. There are professional ghost hunters who believe most of the signs indicating a haunting aren't so scary. It's suggested that they are simply trying to send a message, that the entities aren't evil—only misunderstood. It's believed that a lot of the classic signs that people run into are mysterious noises that seem to come from places they can't locate, a lot of bumping and scratching on walls, seeing full-bodied apparitions, and things moving from place to place when no one has touched them. Of course, anyone who has seen a horror movie or a ghost show probably already knows this. What you might not know, however, is that what you call 'a haunting' may not be the real thing. There are 'experts' in the field who have been called to houses where the causes of these phenomena have actually been carbon monoxide poisoning which caused people to hallucinate. Mold, too, can cause the same reaction. For houses with legitimate ghosts, there are more telling signs that your house is haunted.

2)  Ectoplasm
Fact: Ectoplasm is a substance that still mystifies even the most seasoned paranormal experts. Historically, it has been reported to show up during seances through a spiritual medium. One paranormal investigator experienced the phenomenon in real haunted houses. The family living in the house reported that things moved on their own. While he was at the house he actually had a strange, viscous fluid show up and drip down my arm from out of nowhere. The family living there claimed that happened all the time. It was a very strange kind of off-white, almost like a raw egg kind of fluid. Ectoplasm is not often seen or experienced at your run-of-the-mill haunted house, but paranormal experts see it as a sign of certainty that there is a paranormal presence at work.

3)  Feeling watched
Though the sensation of being watched isn't a proven factor, people who live in genuine haunted houses do report it a lot. Many believe in a kind of sixth sense. Basically, you might be in a house with a really bad vibe—cold chills move throughout the room along with the feeling of being watched. Sometimes whispers, or being awoken in the middle of the night because of the feeling that somebody's standing there. Whether there is a normal explanation for this sensation or a paranormal one is hard to know for sure, but it's definitely a contributing factor for nearly any house that is afflicted by spirits.

4)  Inexplicable movement
Objects don't move on their own—unless you live in an old drafty house where strong winds make doors open and close. Otherwise, there has to be some kind of force applied to get it to move. That's why when you see things flying around your house without visible cause, you can be pretty sure that there is something—or someone—other than you in your house. Soaring objects are another staple of horror movies, but inexplicable movement can be even more sinister than that.

5)  Personality change
When we think about possession, our minds immediately go to demons…demons…demons. More often than not, demonic possession and even a demonic presence is not behind whatever it is you're experiencing. A 'normal' ghost can possess you too. The tip-off is if someone you know is acting extremely strange all of a sudden. If you start to notice someone has taken on a pretty distinct personality change, that can be a sign of possession.

6)  Previous homeowners
If you suspect you might have a haunted house on your hands, you should probably dig into the history of your property. If you're experiencing things you can't explain, doing research might help clear it up. Hopefully, once you know what happened or what you're dealing with, you can ease the haunting. However, some places can't be cleared of their histories.

7)  Physical and emotional disorientation
A haunting can have a terrible effect on your mood and even your physical condition. It can leave you feeling angry or weak.

The three types of hauntings
Many experts sort hauntings into three categories: intelligent, residual, and intentional. There's the classic haunting which is an intelligent haunting. The spirit seems to interact very intelligently with people. And then the other common one people run into a lot is a residual haunting. With that, it just kind of plays over and over and over. It doesn't ever really acknowledge that people live in the house. It just is. It just happens. Sometimes it's because a traumatizing event happened on a particular date. There's no intelligence there, so there's really nothing you can do about it. Lastly, an intentional haunting is actually more about living, breathing humans than ghosts. It really comes from people who have put so much energy and intention into the belief that their house or object is haunted that they've ended up actually manifesting a haunting. Think of kids who follow urban legends and routinely go visit the place of the supposed haunting. They feed the story so much that they actually open the place up to paranormal activity.

What to do if your house is haunted
Experts say that the best way to deal with a haunting is to make a firm statement. Talk to the presence in your home and let it know what your intentions are. Most people who discover that their house is haunted can live peacefully with whatever spirits are there. If it's something that really, genuinely bothers you, say something as simple as 'You need to leave.' Finally, if you try to use sage, just be cautious and use it the right way. It's so cleansing it almost creates a vacuum. It's like dusting your whole house then leaving your doors and windows open in a sandstorm.
 So next time you think something in your space is off, keep in mind these telltale signs that your house is haunted.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Words Of Wisdom From T-Shirts

For the most part, T-shirts seem to have a lot to say.  They tell us where their owner went on vacation, what school he or she attended, what kind of car they drive, where they work, what organizations they belong to, what causes they support, and a multitude of other miscellaneous information.  Some are serious and others are just fun.  I've collected several interesting T-shirt sayings, including some from just a few weeks ago, and I'd like to share them with you.

I thought I saw a spider, but it was just a piece of yarn. It's dead yarn now.

Etc.—End of Thinking Capacity

I thought growing old would take longer

My alone time is for everyone's safety

BOOKS—helping introverts avoid conversation since 1454

You matter.  Unless you multiply yourself by the speed of light…then you energy.

I'm not arguing, I'm explaining why I'm right.

In my defense, I was left unsupervised

Interested in time travel?  Meet me here last Thursday at 6pm

"To be, or not to be" William Shakespeare
"To be is to do" Jean-Paul Sartre
"To do is to be" Bertrand Russell
"Doo be doo be doo" Frank Sinatra

Hand over the chocolate and no one will get hurt.

At what age am I old enough to know better?

When spelling, it's the letter I before E except after C…weird?

Wine improves with age.  I improve with wine.

Everyone has to believe in something.  I believe I'll have another glass of wine.

I love to cook with wine.  Sometimes I even use it in the food.

If we knew what we were doing, it wouldn't be called research.

If I'm talking, you should be taking notes.

Why can't I be rich instead of good looking?

To err is human, to arrrrrgh is pirate.

Searching for the meaning of life, but will settle for my car keys.

I'm often confused with my evil twin.

Flying is the 2nd greatest thrill known to man.  Landing is the 1st.

I'd be a vegetarian if bacon grew on trees.

Disheveled…not just a look, it's a lifestyle.

I used to care, but I take a pill for that now.

I'm confused…wait, maybe I'm not.

Where's the switch that turns you off?

Inside every older person is a younger person wondering what the hell happened.

Don't worry about what people think.  They don't do it very often.

Everything I say can be fully substantiated by my own opinion.

Ending a sentence with a preposition?  That is something up with which I shall not put. (a saying made famous by Winston Churchill)

I'm always late.  My ancestors arrived on the Juneflower.

There.  Their.  They're not the same.

Nostalgia isn't what it used to be.

Old age comes at an inconvenient time.

Irony.  The opposite of wrinkly.

Raisin cookies that look like chocolate chip cookies are the main reason I have trust issues.

I'm not weird, I'm a limited edition.

I have CDO—it's like OCD but with the letters in alphabetical order, as they should be.

Sometimes I need to put on my crown just to remind people who they're dealing with.

The past, the present, and the future walk into a bar.  It was tense.

I talk to myself whenever I need expert advice.

And that's my list for now. Have any of you come across any fun or interesting T-shirt sayings you'd like to share?

Saturday, March 14, 2020


The oceans are vast and mysterious places. In some ways, we know more about outer space than we do the ocean depths.

Sailors have been spinning tales of amazing and terrifying sea monsters since ancient times. As outlandish as these stories are, the idea behind them, the events that spawned them, were likely inspired by real creatures.
In December, 2016, scientists discovered the strangest creature washed ashore on Mexico's Laguna Ojo de Liebre that they had ever seen. The creature was approximately seven feet long, dark gray in color, had fins on each side, and had two tails. It also appeared to have four eyes. Definitely a sea monster of some type? In reality, it turned out to be a pair of extremely rare newborn conjoined gray whale twins. Since newborn gray whales are about twelve feet long, scientists speculated that the pair was likely the result of a miscarriage.
In the summer of 2008, an unidentified dead animal washed up on the shore at Montauk, New York. Although several people reported seeing it and photographs surfaced, the carcass disappeared before police were able to recover the remains. Newspapers ran the story along with a grotesque image. Locals speculated that it could be a mutant resulting from experiments at nearby Plum Island Animal Disease Center. Others suggested that it was nothing more than a hoax. Many scientists who studied the photographs think it was a known species heavily damaged and decomposed as a result of time spent in the water. Several people claimed it was some type of sea turtle without its shell. The raccoon claim seems to be the closest, but the Montauk Monster's legs are longer than a normal raccoon leaving us without a definitive conclusion.
Oarfish are large, greatly elongated fish that are found in all temperate to tropical oceans yet rarely seen. The giant oarfish is the longest bony fish alive (not longest fish, cartilage fish such as the whale shark are longer), growing up to 36 ft. in length.

The common name oarfish is thought to be in reference either to their highly compressed and elongated bodies or to the now discredited belief that the fish row themselves through the water with their pelvic fins. The occasional beachings of oarfish after storms and their habit of lingering at the surface when sick or dying make oarfish a probable source of many sea serpent tales.
The giant squid remains largely a mystery to scientists despite being the biggest invertebrate on Earth. The largest of these elusive creatures ever found measured 59 feet in length and weighed nearly a ton. Giant squid, along with their cousin, the colossal squid, have the largest eyes in the animal kingdom, measuring some 10 inches in diameter. These massive eyes allow them to see objects in the lightless depths where most other animals would see nothing.

Due to the inhospitable deep-sea habitat where they live, it has been a difficult task to study them. Almost everything scientists know about them is from carcasses that have washed up on beaches or been hauled in by fishermen. However, of late the opportunities for scientists studying these elusive creatures has started to turn. In 2004, researchers in Japan took the first images ever of a live giant squid. And in late 2006, scientists with Japan's National Science Museum caught and brought to the surface a live 24-foot female giant squid.

Saturday, March 7, 2020


I think everyone has some superstition that they relate to, even if it's nothing more than saying "knock on wood" or making it a point to not walk under a ladder just in case. And then there's that moment's pause when they realize it's Friday the 13th.

The office of President of the United States does not make the occupant immune to adhering to the call of a superstition. I recently came across a list of some of the U.S. Presidents and their superstitious beliefs.

George Washington
On his deathbed in 1799, George Washington expressed his fear of being buried alive. He insisted his body be untouched for two days after his death. Common during the 18th century, this fear came due to the dead being buried very quickly as bodies weren't embalmed.

William Henry Harrison
The Curse of Tippecanoe, also known as the 20-year curse, is attributed to Harrison—elected in 1840 and died in 1841 after serving only 31 days as president. A dispute between President Harrison and Tecumseh, a Shawnee Indian leader, is said to be the reason presidents who were elected or re-elected in years ending in zero died in office—Lincoln, Garfield, McKinley, Harding, Franklin Roosevelt, and Kennedy. Reagan, elected in 1980, survived an assassination attempt which seems to have ended the curse.

Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln claimed to have visions of the future and accurately predicted his own death. He dreamed he saw his dead body and a soldier told him he had been assassinated. He also saw two versions of himself in a mirror which he interpreted to mean he would be elected to a second term but would not survive it.

Ulysses S. Grant
President Grant had an unusual superstition that probably served him well as president. Grant is quoted as saying, "Everyone has his superstitions. One of mine has always been when I started to go anywhere, or to do anything, never to turn back or to stop until the thing intended was accomplished."

William McKinley
President McKinley always wore a red carnation on his lapel. He gave away his lucky carnation if he thought someone needed luck and would replace it with a new carnation. He gave away his good luck charm at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York. During the event, Leon Czolgosz shot McKinley who died on September 14, 1901.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt
President Franklin Roosevelt feared the number 13—an affliction called triskaidekaphobia—and avoided traveling on Fridays and the 13th day of each month. President Herbert Hoover also had the same affliction.

Harry S. Truman
Upon becoming president, Harry Truman put a horseshoe over the door to his office in the White House. He also installed a horseshoe pit on the White House lawn. Horseshoes are a symbol of good luck and typically hung over the entrance to a home.

Gerald Ford
President Ford believed the election would be won by whichever candidate's wife won the Family Circle baking contest. His wife, Betty Ford, won the contest with her double chocolate chip cookie recipe. Although her husband eventually became president, it wasn't until after Richard Nixon resigned. Rosalyn Carter, Nancy Reagan, Barbara Bush, Hillary Clinton, and Laura Bush all won the contest and their husbands were elected president.

Ronald Reagan
Nancy Reagan hired astrologer Joan Quigley to plan her husband's schedule following an assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan. Quigley guided the agenda concerning the president's cancer surgery as well as diplomacy issues and Cold War meetings. When the press revealed Nancy's involvement in astrology, she quickly downplayed it.

James Earl Carter
In 1969, Jimmy Carter saw a red and green orb. He was convinced he saw a UFO and filed a report with the International UFO Bureau in Oklahoma. A decade later, while serving as president, he claimed to see a vicious rabbit on a solo fishing trip but his staff brushed it off.

George W. Bush
As a young boy, George W. Bush supposedly saw ghosts coming out of the walls near the Lincoln Bedroom at the White House. He described the White House as "creepy." During his presidency, the White House's website detailed the historic White House ghosts.

Barack Obama
In 2008 Obama said, "We realized that we had played basketball before Iowa and before South Carolina. We didn't play basketball before New Hampshire and Nevada. And so now, we've made a clear rule that on Election Day I have to play basketball."

Donald J. Trump
Donald Trump has been known to throw salt over his left shoulder after a meal and has described himself as a "very superstitious person." The superstition itself originated from the belief that the devil lurked behind you. The salt supposedly distracted the devil from causing harm.

Saturday, February 29, 2020

Daylight Saving Time and the Vernal Equinox

Every March we have two annual observations that are not holidays—one is man made and the other is science/nature. The first is the start of daylight saving time and the other is the beginning of Spring.

In the U.S., at 2am on the second Sunday in March we set our clocks forward one hour for the start of daylight saving time—or to put it another way, we lose one hour of sleep. This year, the second Sunday falls on March 8, 2020. And on the first Sunday in November at 2am we reverse that process by setting our clocks back one hour—we get an additional hour of sleep to make up for that hour we lost in March. In 2020, that first Sunday is November 1st.

Standard time—the creation of time zones—was instituted in the U.S. and Canada by the railroads in 1883. Due to the vast width of the two countries stretching thousands of miles from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean, it was necessary to establish some method of standardizing train schedules. However, it was not established in U.S. law until the Act of March 19, 1918. The Act also established daylight saving time which was repealed in 1919 while standard time in time zones remained the law. Daylight saving time was re-established in World War II. The Uniform Time Act of 1966 brought standardization of start and stop dates but allowed for local exemptions from its observance. Since then, the official beginning and ending dates have changed several times, the most recent being in 2007. There are many wondering why we continue to bother with daylight saving vs. standard time as that annual change seems to have no purpose in today's society. Several states are currently considering doing away with it.

Those states that have previously opted for the exemption from daylight saving time are Arizona (except for the Navajo, who do observe daylight saving time on tribal lands), Hawaii, and the overseas territories of American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the United States Virgin Islands.

There are several states that are split between two time zones. Oregon and Idaho are split between the Mountain and Pacific time zones. Florida, Michigan, Indiana (I think I read somewhere that one of Indiana's time zones observes daylight saving time and the other time zone does not), Kentucky, and Tennessee are split between Eastern and Central time zones. Nebraska, Kansas, Texas, North and South Dakota are divided between Central and Mountain time zones.

At one time, Alaska covered four time zones. That has been changed and Alaska is now in two time zones. More than 98 percent of the state's population are in one of these zones, now called Yukon time, which is one hour earlier than Pacific standard time and four hours earlier than Eastern standard time.
And then there is the other annual observance, the one dictated by science/nature—the vernal equinox.

Equinox translates literally to "equal night."

This year, on Thursday, March 19, 2020, at precisely 11:50pm eastern daylight time, the sun crosses directly over the Earth's equator. The fact that it's night time in the U.S. and Canada does not change anything. That moment is known as the vernal equinox in the Northern Hemisphere announcing the arrival of spring and the autumnal equinox in the Southern Hemisphere announcing the arrival of fall. A second equinox will occur in September. According to the Farmer's Almanac, this is the earliest first day of spring in the last 124 years.

The fact that the Earth has distinctive seasons is due to the 23.4 degree tilt of the Earth's axis. The Earth receives more sunlight (longer daylight hours) in the summer and less sunlight (fewer daylight hours) in the winter.  The tilt of the axis makes the seasons opposite in the Northern and Southern Hemisphere. At the north pole summer gives six months of daylight while at the same time the south pole is experiencing six months of darkness. The closer you are to the equator, the number of hours of daylight and darkness become more equal.
The fall and spring equinoxes are the only two times during the year when the sun rises due east and sets due west. Modern astronomy aside, people have recognized the astronomical connection to the season changes for thousands of years. The ancients of various civilizations all over the world built structures that illustrate this—temples dedicated to their various gods that modern man recognizes as observatories. Not only the spring and fall equinox days, but also the summer and winter solstice days (most and least daily hours of sunlight).

I think it's also interesting to note a connection between the spring equinox and Groundhog Day (another holiday derived from the practices and celebrations of the ancients). If the groundhog sees his shadow on February 2, we have six more weeks of winter. And by "coincidence" that six weeks takes us to the spring equinox.
A little bit of equinox trivia: According to folklore, you can stand a raw egg on its end on the equinox. One spring, a few minutes before the vernal equinox, twenty-four almanac editors tested the theory. For a full work day, seventeen out of twenty-four eggs stood up on the large end. Then three days following the equinox, they tried the same test again. And guess what? The results were similar.  Perhaps the second test was still too close to the equinox?  :)

And there you have it—your science lesson for the day.

Saturday, February 22, 2020


It's not unusual to see all sorts of things washed up on beaches around the world. There are the natural things such as seaweed/kelp and sea shells, including all things native to the oceans such as dead sea animals of various sorts ranging from small creatures to the occasional large whale.

But things washed up on the beaches also includes strange and surprising items that are not normally associated with beaches or even the ocean. Most of this marine debris is trash such as plastic bags, bottles, and cans from land-based sources. Some of it, however, is due to weather events like hurricanes and tsunamis. While other sources include vessels in storm-tossed seas. We have seen several very large and strange things washed up on the shores of western U.S. and Canada that arrived from Japan courtesy of the 2011 tsunami.

Here is a list I came across of unusual beach findings that didn't belong there.

In January 2012, huge shipping containers from a distressed cargo vessel washed up on one of New Zealand's most popular beaches. Up to 300 containers were reportedly tossed overboard when 6 meter (approximately 19.5 feet) waves struck the ship. People were warned against looting, but both locals and tourists flocked to the beaches to take photos of the giant containers.
A recurring washed-up-on-the-beach sensation appeared at Zandvoort in the Netherlands in 2007, at Brighton Beach in England in 2008, and at Siesta Key Beach in Florida in 2011. And what was this surprise visitor to these shores? It was a giant (8 feet tall) Lego man that weighed about 100 pounds and featured a bright green torso showing the message "No Real Than You Are." The number 8 appeared on its back along with the words "Ego Leonard." The mystery was finally resolved when it was revealed that "Ego Leonard" was the alter ego of a Dutch artist. The Sarasota County Sheriff's Office in Florida joined in the fun and issued a press release saying it had taken the giant Lego man "into protective custody." In response, numerous "Free Lego Man" Facebook pages and campaigns popped up on the Internet.

In September 2005, hundreds of giant squid washed up in Newport Beach. California. The creatures, believed to be Humboldt squid, normally reside in deep water. It was rare for locals to encounter them on land or sea. Authorities said the squid might have been pursuing bait fish and gotten too close to shore. Other factors, such as warm ocean temperatures or record rainfall, were also suspected.
In May 2012, dozens of fly swatters emblazoned with logos of collegiate and professional sports teams washed up on the beaches of Kodiak, Alaska. The fly swatters were originally believed to be debris from the 2011 Japanese tsunami, but were eventually proven to have come from a shipping container that got loose from a ship carrying products from China. The container went overboard in dangerous weather in the Gulf of Alaska. Other sports-related items, such as Nerf balls and water bottles, were also found on Kodiak's beaches.

In August 2010, hundreds of tea packets washed ashore in Rajbandar in the Raigad district, Maharashtra, India. Nine containers from the cargo ship MSC Chitra spilled into the sea after the cargo ship suffered a collision with another ship.

In 2007, residents of the Dutch North Sea island of Terschelling, 70 miles north of Amsterdam, discovered thousands of bananas washed ashore after at least six containers of the fruit fell off a cargo ship in a storm and at least one of the containers broke open. Bunches of the still green bananas from Cuba also washed up on neighboring Amerland Island. It's not known exactly what happened to the beached bananas, but at the time residents suggested sending most of the fruit to local zoos.
In February 2006, also on the Netherlands' Terschelling Island, thousand of sneakers washed up on the beach when containers from the P&O Nedlloyd ship Mondriaan fell overboard in a storm. Residents of the island rushed to get the sneakers, searching for shoes in their size. Other items that washed up on the beach from those containers included children's toys and briefcases.
Perhaps one of the most famous container spills in history occurred in January 1992 when 28,000 rubber duck toys fell into the sea.  The incident inspired a book titled Moby-Duck: The True Story of 28,800 Bath Toys Lost at Sea and of the Beachcombers, Oceanographers, Environmentalists and Fools, Including the Author, Who Went in Search of Them by Donovan Hohn. The great rubber ducky spill occurred when a shipping crate on a cargo ship headed to the U.S. from China fell overboard onto the Pacific Ocean during a stormy night. Some of the rubber ducks (nicknamed Friendly Floatees) have since washed up on the shores of Alaska, Hawaii, South America, Australia and the Pacific Northwest. Some have traveled 17,000 miles, floating over the site where the Titanic sank or spending years frozen in an Arctic ice pack. Some 2,000 of the rubber ducks are still circulating in the ocean and helping researchers chart ocean currents.
On January 26, 2011, a grand piano was found on a sandbar in Miami's Biscayne Bay (pictured above), mysteriously charred from being burned. Speculation about its origins included the idea that it was part of a music video production. It was later discovered that the piano was a junk art installation, the brainchild of a 16-year-old hoping to use the piece for a college application.

Saturday, February 15, 2020

History of President's Day Holiday

Presidents’ Day is an American holiday originally established in 1885 in recognition of President George Washington and is currently celebrated on the third Monday in February, in 2020 that's February 17th. The federal government still officially calls it “Washington’s Birthday.” When first established, it was celebrated on February 22—Washington’s actual date of birth.

The story of Presidents’ Day begins in 1800. Following President George Washington’s death in 1799, his February 22 birthday became a perennial day of remembrance. At the time, Washington was venerated as the most important figure in American history, and events like the 1832 centennial of his birth and the start of construction of the Washington Monument in 1848 were cause for national celebration.

While Washington’s Birthday was an unofficial observance for most of the 1800s, it was not until late 1879 that it became a federal holiday when President Rutherford B. Hayes signed it into law. The holiday initially only applied to the District of Columbia, but in 1885 it was expanded to the whole country.
The shift from Washington’s Birthday to Presidents’ Day began in the late 1960s when Congress proposed a measure known as the Uniform Monday Holiday Act. This law shifted the celebration of several federal holidays from specific dates to a series of predetermined Mondays creating three-day holiday weekends. While some argued that shifting holidays from their original dates would cheapen their meaning, the bill had widespread support. The Uniform Monday Holiday Act also included a provision to combine the celebration of Washington’s Birthday with Abraham Lincoln’s, which fell on the proximate date of February 12 thus giving equal recognition to two of America’s most famous presidents.

The main piece of the Uniform Monday Holiday Act passed in 1968 and officially took effect in 1971 following an executive order from President Richard Nixon. Washington’s Birthday was then shifted from the fixed date of February 22 to the third Monday of February.

Washington and Lincoln still remain the two most recognized leaders, but Presidents’ Day is now popularly seen as a day to recognize the lives and achievements of all of America’s chief executives. For its part, the federal government has held fast to the original incarnation of the holiday as a celebration of the country’s first president. The third Monday in February is still listed on official calendars as Washington’s Birthday. [I just took a look at my office calendar and it shows February 17, 2020, the third Monday in February, as President's Day rather than Washington's birthday.]