3/31/2014

Trying to Lose Weight








I've been dieting since January.  It has been an uphill battle for me.  Like in any battle, there are peaks and valleys.  I lost a pound and a half last Wednesday, only to discover I had gained that and another 1.5 pounds yesterday, for a grand total of almost three pounds.  It is disheartening to say the least.  I watch what I eat, I have stopped eating crap from fastfood restaurants, I have taken every kind of diet supplement that swears it will curb your appetite.  But, none of them really work.  I can almost guarantee you that.  Another thing that hurts me is not being able to get on my treadmill.  I am on an recumbent exercise bike now.  But, it's not the same.  I do need to lose weight.  I am just astonished I gained three pounds in less than four days.  It doesn't seem possible.  Yet, two different scales do not lie.  So, the fight continues.  It is rough not being able to eat what you want.  It really is.  But, I know I have to do something to lose weight.  I have to take stock of what I'm doing wrong.  I suspect eating those sub sandwiches is hurting me.  And I love them.  I truly love them.  I will cut back from two a week, to one a week now.  I will stay away from any kind of chips.  It's hell on earth to me.

My great fear is that I will become a diabetic if I don't lose weight.  That is a real, tangible fear I have.  Plus, I need to lose weight because it is something that haunts my entire family.  So many medical conditions occur due to being overweight.  To look at me, you would not think I am overweight.  All my weight seems to settle in my stomach.  That happens to most men.  I guess I will eat three salads a week as opposed to three now.  I have eaten so many salads until I am sick of them.  But, I realize I have little choice.  Anybody that has some good ideas on losing weight, don't be afraid to share them.  I am running out of ideas.


3/28/2014

Letters Home from the Greatest Generation - Part I

 

 

Uncle John and Alice

 

My Uncle John passed away at the ripe old age of 89 in a VA nursing home on January 10, 2011. He won the Silver Star for action at Omaha Beach in the Invasion of Normandy, D-Day on June 6, 1944. He always kept that medal locked away in a small safe at his home. Uncle John was never one to brag on himself. However, it was his last request that it be pinned on him upon his death. His wish was granted by his children.

In the months to come, I will publish excerpts from letters from my Uncle John that he wrote to his high school sweetheart, Alice. They had plans to get married on December 17, 1941. However, Japan changed all that on December 7, 1941. In the months to come, I will publish parts of his letters. The excerpt below is just one that he sent to his mother (my grandmother) when he was stationed in England. He was stationed in Boddington, England along with his division for about a year. You can see the fear in some of his letters. He left in his will that if it was ok with Alice's family, I could have these letters he sent Alice many years ago. Alice's family obliged this request upon my uncle's death. He knew how much I enjoy writing. I was told I could do with them as I wish. There are parts that I will omit out of respect for both Uncle John and Alice. I just feel it is the right thing to do. They are just too personal between two lovers in that era of Big Bands, Frank Sinatra, FDR, fear, hatred and death. It was an era when a madman decided he would try to extinguish anyone who was not pure Aryan. It was a generation of which they had no choice but to stop this madman. Losing was not an option. I feel that today is a good time to start these letters. I will probably conclude on Veterans Day of this year. I will not write each week. But, I will probably do about one a month (at least). There are 87 letters in all. Obviously, I can't write about all those letters. A few of the letters were to his mom, my grandmother on my father's side.

My Uncle John grew up on a farm outside a small town in the central part of Alabama. He basically joined the U.S. Army to get away from the family farm. He had no idea what lay in front of him as he joined the Army in September of 1940. War was the talk in the air at that time. But, Americans wanted no part of the latest "European War" as it was referred to prior to December 1941. Uncle John and Alice started "spending time together" during high school, at Sunday School and at the Saturday night dances held in this little Alabama town. Uncle John was something of an athlete as he played football, basketball and baseball for his high school. Alice was a cheerleader and participated in the chess club as well. I have no letters from her, unfortunately. All are from Uncle John. Alice was a blond, blue-eyed beauty back in the day. According to what I could gather from Uncle John's letters, she was quite shy and introverted. My uncle brought her out of that as best he could. But, she was always a bit shy according to my grandmother.

This first excerpt is the first letter Uncle John sent to his mother from Boddington, England. He had just arrived two days prior to writing this letter. The commanding officer ordered everyone to write one letter home to let their family know they were doing ok. All letters had to pass through a censor. My grandmother stated that sometimes she would get a letter that had been blacked out in certain passages of the letter. Sometimes, they just had xxx As I said, this first letter is from Uncle John to his mother, my grandmother. He finished this letter and wrote another to Alice. This is a short excerpt from that first letter. My uncle was a prodigious letter writer. Some of the letters were as much as eight pages long. Some were less than half a page as you will see after he landed in France in 1944. Anything from Uncle John will be in italics. I might give brief explanations in the middle of the letter. That will be in bold type. Most, not all, spelling errors will be noted by me. I want this as realistic as possible. This is the only letter I will publish from Uncle John when he was stationed in England undergoing preparations for D-Day. He wrote many letters while there for a year. The letters he wrote after the Invasion of Normandy are the ones that I personally find fascinating and, at the same time, disturbing. Some letters are quite graphic in nature with what my uncle saw. So, reader be warned in the weeks ahead. Uncle John's spelling and grammar aren't the best. But, you will understand what he is trying to convey. Here now, is that very first letter to my grandmother from Uncle John:

Cpl John S. Wxxxx
IV Division, Third Infantry, U.S. Army
Boddington, England
May 14, 1943
Dear Mama
How are you doing mama? I am doing just fine. We made it in just two days ago. I plannned (sp) on writing as soon as I got here. But, we have been really busy getting our equipment set up for training exercises. Sgt Caffey said we might as well get use to doing all this because we will do it all the time from now on. It is cold and dreery (sp) looking around here. I always wanted to travel around the world. But, I never expected to do it this way. I have not seen many of the English people around this base. It is all English military people. I can't get use to be calling a chap by these English guys. I am not sure what that is suppose to mean to me. I hope it means they like me. I am a long way from home mama. It seems a long way from Fort Benning to. I can't tell you what I have seen here. But, everything you have read in the newspaper and heard on the radio is true. That is all I will say. These English people are not going to give up. None of us can give up. please do not worrie (sp) about me. I know you will. But, I will be ok. Remember my promise before I left. I am coming back. I never will brake (sp) a promise to my mama. 

Do you think daddy is still mad? I hope not. I just was not the type for the farm mama. I hope you all understand why I had to get away. This war is something that I have to do to defend my country. I am no better than the other guys around here. xxxxxxxxxxxxx But, I am not sure if we will are are (sp) not. Tell daddy hello for me. I love him no matter how mad he may be with me. I just have to do this, mama. We can't live under the boothill (sp) of Hitler. We have to win this fight. Being here in England and training is part of winning this war. Have you seen Alice lately mama? I think about her all the time. I think about you to mama. I am going to write Alice a letter after I write you one. I worrie (sp) alot. I worrie about some of the guys here. I am not worrie about myself. I know I will be ok. I love you mama. I love you more than I realized ever before now. I thank you for all the things you taught me as a boy.I hope I don't disappoint you and daddy in the battles to come. I want to make you proud of me. We face an evil that scares me sometimes, mama. I have nightmares about it. We have to win this war. We just have to. I need to write Alice now while I have some time.
I love you, mama.
Johnny

3/24/2014

Fear of Getting Lost







There are a whole list of the different kind of phobias people have.  I have a number of them.  I was looking at this list of the different kinds of phobias.  I see that I have quite a few.  One I have had since childhood is a fear of heights, called Acrophobia.  I had that fear since I almost fell out of a tree as an 8 year old boy. I never climbed another tree after that.  I guess I could fill this entire blog with the number of fears I have.  I have seen my top fear of them all...the fear of being lost, called Mazeophobia.  But, most articles I have read says this is not the true medical term.  Some say the fear of being lost has no clinical diagnosis.  Being lost absolutely makes me lose control of any clear thinking I should have in that kind of situation.  I have even panicked and had to pull over, while driving, if I got lost. If I can't get my bearings of direction, I am totally wasted at that point.  It is an age-old problem for me.  I try to calm myself.  But, it is almost impossible to do.  I take great care in planning before I go to a place with which I am unfamiliar.  But, yes, even in this age of online maps and highly accurate GPS devices, I still am fearful of getting lost.  This brings me to my point of this entire post.

This past Saturday (03/22/2014),  I finally made the trip to Birmingham, AL to visit my niece and her family in her new home.  She lives in a twisted maze of a neighborhood that requires you to know all the twists and turns to get to your home.  It is a huge neighborhood.  There are approximately 12 different turns to get to her house in this neighborhood.  If you go there without at least a map, I don't see how you could ever get out.  But, if you miss one street by using that map, I don't see how you could ever get yourself corrected.  GPS devices are a lifesaver, at least, to me.  But, even with that GPS app on my smart phone, I am still very nervous.  The problem with getting to her house is that when you make one turn, you are almost immediately told to make another turn because of the short distance between turns.  So, you really have to pay attention to what is going on with your GPS voice guided instructions.  Now, I got my niece's home with no problems.  I was still sweating bullets just as I knew I would.  But, when I left her house, I somehow missed a turn.  I was led right into a cul-de-sac.  So, I started to panic.  I was thinking of calling her to help me out or even call 911 for help.  I was lost...for about 30 seconds.  But, the GPS immediately corrected itself and intricately led me out of that maze of a neighborhood.  I was never so glad to be out of a place than I was then, I think.

I don't plan on going back anytime soon.  Even with a GPS, I am still fearful of being lost.  What would happen if the GPS just stopped working?  I don't know what I would do.  I might pass out.  I thought I was going to pass out when I made that wrong turn last Saturday.  But, my fear of being lost is something I have never seen much discussion about.  It may be because it is so rare or maybe because I'm alone in this fear.  That's another phobia I probably have as well!




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3/21/2014

Man in the Closet - Part I








As I stated several months ago, in my post entitled "Grim Reaper Encounters - Part I," I have had a number of what I call supernatural encounters in my life.  I said I would talk about my time as a precocious 4-5 year old about the "Man in the Closet" that, to this day, has me deathly afraid of closets.  Whenever I go to a closet, I turn on the lights in the room and bring a flashlight....just in case.  It is that frightening to me.  Yes, even at my advanced age of 62 years old, I fear closets and probably always will.  I was closer to 5 years old than 4 when I first saw the man in the closet.  I was totally aware of my surroundings and, to hear my mother talk, I was smarter than your average kid at that age.  Now, I have to tell you my memories are somewhat sketchy.  So, a lot of what I say here is going by memories many, many years ago.  Some parts will not be complete because of the time interval. Be that as it may, my memories will be enough to give you some idea of my experiences.

The first time I had any inkling of the "Man in the Closet" was about June of 1956.  I was only 3 months away from celebrating my 5th birthday.  Mother had made me take a bath and was helping me into my pajamas in my bedroom. The closet was at the foot of my bed, some 6 feet or so away.  We heard something move in the closet.  Both me and my mother turned to see what it was.  "You hang up your raincoat in that closet, David?"  I assured my mother I had not hung up my raincoat in the closet.  She went to the closet and saw nothing out of the ordinary.  Mother closed the door and told me to get in the bed.  "Listen out for your little brother and come wake me if he starts coughing again", my mother told me.  My brother, Ben, was suffering from the first cold of his young life.  She turned out the light.  I was not really sleepy.  "Pop".....another noise from the closet.  It was just loud enough to hear.  "Pop."  Again, the noise from the closet.  I decided to investigate.  Opened the door, looked around and saw nothing.  But, I got this weird feeling something was in there.  No way I could turn on the light.  That would wake up Ben.  I pushed open the curtain to allow moonlight into the room.  I opened that closet door as wide as I could.  But, I could see nothing, nothing at all.  I closed the door and went back to bed.

I quickly dozed off, as I remember.  But, I would not sleep long. "BAM!"  I probably levitated into the air about 5 feet.  I first looked over to Ben.  He was still soundly sleeping.  Whatever it was, it sounded like something had slammed against the door inside the closet.  I was scared now.  I didn't want to get up.  But, a part of me just pushed me to get up.  As I got up to go to closet, the closet door unlatched itself.  I stood frozen with fear.  Remember, I was not quite 5 years old as yet.  I should have yelled for my mother.  But, again, there was Ben sleeping in the room.  I heard some scratching on inside the door of the closet.  I didn't know what to do.  I just continued to stand there for I don't remember how long.  Suddenly, very slowly, a withered, scraggly hand made its way from the closet toward the outside door knob!  I stood in absolute horror of what I was seeing!  I opened my mouth to scream.  But, nothing would come out of me!  My voice had left me with fear quickly overtaking me.  I looked to Ben, knowing I had to protect him at all cost.  I started to move toward my little 2 year old brother when I heard a voice...."hee hee heeeeee....where you going, boy?"   I turned to the closet to get the first look at the man in the closet.  It was a solid outline, the head was one that reminded me of a Jack O'Lantern at Halloween.  The body outline was very slim, too slim in fact.  Then I did something I didn't realize I had in me; I suddenly ran toward the door screaming and slammed it shut with such force, it not only woke up Ben, but my mother as well!

Ben was screaming at the top of his lungs and in came my mother. "David!  What on earth is the matter with you?" my mother asked frantically.  "There is a man in the closet mother!  I saw it!  I saw it!" I exclaimed to her. She quickly opened the closet, pulled out almost everything there onto the floor.  "There's nothing here but shirts, footballs, pants and blankets, David.  You should be ashamed of scaring your little brother like this! she said.  Ben was now sitting up in his bed, quietly sobbing.  My mother said she wanted no more of this nonsense tonight, as I recall.  If there was anymore nonsense, she would be coming in with the belt.  I was willing to risk being eaten alive by the man in the closet than get a whipping at 1AM.  Mother took Ben into her bed and kept my door open with the hall light on.  She told me to get to sleep and this time, she meant it.  I got back in my bed, shivering with fear.  I was in a tough situation.  I knew what I had just seen.  Somehow, someway, a man was in our closet.  A monster?  It could have been Bigfoot himself and I wouldn't be anymore scared than I was at that time.  I waited, waited and waited for the man in the closet to say or do something.  After about five minutes or so, I heard that little laugh again "hee hee hee hee" coming from the closet.  But, there was nothing more that night. I know there was nothing more because I remember I didn't sleep a wink for the rest of the night.  It was the longest night of my young life.

As I said, that was my first time to actually see the "Man in the Closet."  It would be far from the last.  There are several more episodes to this story before it finally (and frightfully, hilariously) came to a close.  This was only Chapter I, folks.  Stay turned for more in this series of "Man in the Closet."

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3/17/2014

Near Death Experiences





Near Death Experiences (NDE) is often referred to as personal experiences associated with impending death, encompassing multiple possible sensations including detachment from the body, feelings of levitation, total serenity, security, warmth, the experience of absolute dissolution, and the presence of a light.  This is the normal and standard NDE.  But, as you will see in two stories below, this is not always the case.  Most stories of people, experiencing a NDE, speak of entering a tunnel, going to a warm, soft light.  Invariably, they see either relatives who have passed on or see God in some form. All this takes place when a person has been declared clinically dead or has become very close to death.  I've been curious about NDE for quite some time.  As you grow older (as I am now), you start thinking about your own mortality.  At age 62, if I live as long as my grandfathers, I have approximately 15-20 years of life left in me.  That's provided, of course, if I don't get some sort of dreadful disease that will bring my life to a close.   Let's take a look at just a few NDE stories.

The story of Howard Storm.  Howard Storm was an avowed atheist. In fact, Mr. Storm characterized himself as a "double atheist and know it all professor." One day, while in Europe on an art tour with students, Mr. Storm doubled over in pain in his hotel room.  At the hospital, he and his wife were told he had a perforated stomach that required surgery, and if he didn’t get it soon, he would die. While waiting for a doctor to arrive, his condition deteriorated to the point he found himself standing beside his own hospital bed, looking at himself.  Soon, he heard voices telling him they had been waiting for him and to follow them down a dark corridor.  Howard called for his wife.  But, got no response.  He started following the voices.  Finally, he decided he had gone far enough and was going to turn back.  The voices then mercilessly attacked him.  They were biting him, tearing his flesh, and just were trying to destroy him.  Howard collapsed on the ground, recited the Lord's Prayer and asked God for help.  He was saved by Jesus and sent back to earth.  Howard Storm wrote a book on his experience called "My Descent Into Death."

The Martha Babcock story.  Martha Babcock was sitting at home one morning reading the newspaper.  She suddenly felt a sharp pain in her chest as if she were having a heart attack.  Martha tried reaching for the phone on the coffee table.  But, she was unable to do so.  She soon lapsed into unconsciousness.   She awoke with the distinct smell of lilies, her favorite flower.  Martha looked around to see she was in a tunnel.  Martha was not afraid.  There was a bright, shining light at the end of the tunnel.  She got up and began to walk toward the light. Before she could get to the light, she found herself in a valley, filled with lilies everywhere.  The smell was overwhelming.  Martha stated she felt completely at home for the first time in her 53 years of life.  She saw people coming into focus around her.  Martha saw her mother who came to her and hugged her.  "It's not your time, child.  You must go back to Bob (Martha's husband).  He needs you. We'll be waiting here for you when it's time," her mother said. Martha said she then found herself in an ambulance with the siren blaring.  Her husband told her she dialed 911.  But, Martha has no memory of ever doing that.  After undergoing open heart surgery and six months of recovery, she now speaks at seminars on Near Death Experiences around the USA.

Dr. Mary Neal story.  On a kayaking trip in 1999, Dr. Neal was pinned, under water, when her kayak capsized, making it impossible for her to breathe for anywhere between 15 and 25 minutes.  During this time, Dr. Neal says she was brought before the presence of Jesus and angels.  During this time, Jesus told her that her family would experience a tragedy that would require her to help the family through the death of a loved one.  She was told her, then, nine-year old son was going to die.  But, she was not told when, where or how.  About ten years later, her son was killed in a car accident in Maine.  Mary is convinced Jesus helped her under the water, making it possible for rescue workers to revive her following the kayaking accident. When she awoke, she found she had two broken legs, lung complications, and spent a month in the hospital, followed by six weeks in a wheelchair.  Dr. Neal authored a book entitled, To Heaven And Back."

Matthew Wilkins story. Matthew Wilkins was only 12 years old, in 1982, when he accompanied his dad on a drive to Helena, MT. to get some materials to repair fencing on their property.  Suddenly, a rear tire blew out, which caused Matthew's dad to lose control of the pickup truck.  The truck rolled over several times down a deep gulley.  Neither were wearing seat belts. The father was ejected from the truck.  The truck rolled over Matthew's dad, killing him instantly.  Matthew, somehow, was thrown through the windshield and escaped having the truck roll over him.  Matthew said he woke up in a tunnel with his, now, deceased dad standing over him.  Matthew said his father told him that he will have to care for his mother and grandma now.  He will have to be the man of the house.  Matthew told his father he wanted to go with him.  Suddenly, as he said this, they were both brought before long deceased relatives, only two of whom he recognized; his grandfather and a great-uncle who had died several years prior.  His dad and grandfather picked him up and told him to go back to the tunnel,  back to the living because his time was not up.  Matthew tried to hold on to his father, desperately grasping his arms.  Matthew said he then woke up to find himself in a recovery room, post-op.  Matthew had a fractured skull, severe lacerations along his face, neck and arms that required several surgeries.  He was in the hospital for 6 weeks.  Over the next two years he had six more surgeries.  Matthew Wilkins wrote a book on his experience entitled "The Tunnel to Everlasting Life."

The Frank Nichols story.   In 1967, Frank Nichols belonged to an outlaw motorcycle gang called "The Skull Stompers."  It was a gang dealing drugs, worked as hitmen and union enforcers, and had drug/sex parties that lasted for days.  On a warm July night, Frank was riding his Harley down U.S. 90 in Del Rio, TX. He states he had no idea how fast he was going, but he just knew he was blaring down the highway high as a kite.  Frank hit something in the road that caused him to swerve off onto the side of the road.  Next thing he knows, he is airborne.  Frank Nichols came down with a heavy thud.  He then opened his eyes and saw he was in a very dark room.  Frank said he could not move at all.  He did not know how long he was in this room.  But, a hole opened up in a wall and in came an angel.  Frank said the angel pointed toward him and said, "You have a choice to make.  Do you wish to return to the living and atone for your life?  Or do you wish to spend eternity in a lake of fire?  Neither choice will be one you want for reasons of your own doing."  Suddenly, the angel spread his arms wide and Frank saw a lake of fire with millions and millions of people screaming for mercy.  Frank said he could actually feel the heat and it was horrific.  This lasted for several minutes.  The angel than said, "Which choice do you make?  If you choose life, it will be a life unlike any you have ever imagined."  Frank told the angel he wanted to live, to make up for his wayward lifestyle.  With that, the angel said, "As it will be."  Frank then instantly woke up on the side of a road to hear a man ask "Are you ok, Mister?"  Frank was taken to a hospital by ambulance.  He had shattered vertebrate in his spine, paralyzing him from the waist down.  Frank also had a shattered left arm, of which, he only has 30% use now. He went through several excruciating surgeries.  But, Frank said he felt blessed he was given a choice and a chance at life.  He now gives speeches at church youth rallies, warning them of the perils of drugs and a sinful life.

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3/14/2014

Unusual Coincidences







I'm sure most, if not all, remember the old Ripley's Believe or Not! series both in book and TV. It was some very unusual coincidences to say the least. I have linked their site above.  One of the strangest bits of information there is the notoriously famous Spaghetti Trees of Switzerland.  People sent all kinds of inquiries about this Spaghetti Tree in Switzerland.  The only problem, however, is that it was all an incredible prank on, of all days, April 1, April Fool's Day.  People fell for it hook, line and sinker.  Let's take a look at some incredible (allegedly) true stories.  As far as I know, the following are not pranks, but factual in content.

Napoleon Bonaparte and Adolf Hitler were born 129 years apart.  They also came into power 129 years apart.  Finally, they declared war on Russia, yep, you guessed it, 129 years apart.

In 1660, a ship sunk in the Dover Straits.  The only survivor was Hugh Williams. In 1767, another ship sank in the Dover Straits.  That ship also had just one survivor named Hugh Williams.  In 1820, a ship capsized on the Thames River.  It had one survivor.  His name?  Hugh Williams, of course!

Catherine Eddowes was arrested on September 29, 1888 for being drunk and disorderly.  By 1AM, the next morning, she was sober enough to leave.  When she left, she gave police a false name, Mary Kelly.  That same early morning of September 30, 1888, Cathrine Eddowes was murdered by none other than Jack the Ripper.  Unfortunately, Catherine Eddowes was not the last woman to be butchered by this demon.  Another woman was also murdered among the five known to have been killed by The Ripper.  Her name?  Mary Kelly.

"The War to End All Wars" or more commonly referred to as World War I, was started by the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand.  But, few know or even care what his license plate was on the car he was killed.  The license plate read, "A111118."  Not much out of the ordinary, right?  Consider this then, the war that resulted from this assassination, ended with an Armistice signed on November, 11, 1918.  Or, if you wish, 11-11-18.

In 1895, cars were just getting started in the United States.  In fact, there are probably more cars in your neighborhood than there were in the entire country at that time.  In Ohio, there were only two cars in the entire state.  Unfortunately, that didn't stop both cars from CRASHING into each other. 

In 1974, a moped driver in Bermuda was killed when a taxi ran into him.  That is a tragedy to be sure.  But, consider this, one year later that man's brother was killed on the same street driving the same moped.  He was hit by the same taxi carrying the same passenger!

A 14th century descendant of Genghis Khan, Tamerlane, was doing his thing in Asia, pillaging and raping his way to the top of notorious conquerors.  When Soviet archeologists opened his tomb, they found an inscription.  The inscription read, "Whoever opens this tomb shall unleash an invader more worse than I."  The date was June 20, 1941.  On June 22, 1941, Hitler unleashed Operation Barbarossa.  The German invasion of the Soviet Union had begun! 

Chew on these little coincidences (or not) this weekend!

3/10/2014

The Anonymity Problem






A recent Pew Research study found that at least 25% of people admit to posting anonymous comments online.  A professor at the University of Houston found, from private research, anonymity contributes to less civil discourse.  This same professor found that while observing newspapers for about a year and a half that 53 percent of comments were uncivil in papers that allowed anonymity.  That percentage dropped to 29 percent when newspapers required names or links to Facebook accounts.  This further strengthens a study in 2013 that found writing and reading online rants was unhealthy and the people that do it are generally angrier.  Anonymity makes it easier for some people to post things they normally might not.  The reason given is that most people, hiding behind the shroud of anonymity, think this gives them unlimited rights to abuse others with no penalty for doing so.  Most abusive posters think there is no legal recourse against them since they hide behind the computer screen with no way to find them (which is far from the truth).  

I have to say the anonymity problem, on forums, blogs, newspapers, websites and other media outlets, has been going on for as long as there have been interaction  between people on the internet.  My experience on the internet began in 1990.  I barely knew how to turn on a computer back then.  But, after participating on some sports forums on the online service Prodigy, I was shocked at the manner in which people treated each other.  I have had people threaten to beat the hell out of me, call me names I wouldn't repeat here and tell me I had to be the dumbest SOB on the planet.  I'm sure there are others who have experienced the same thing.  I have always referred to those people as "Internet Cowboys."  They are rough, tough and ready to rumble....behind the computer screen.  I have told these people countless times they would never repeat these things to my face or anyone else because face to face is totally different.  Face to face you are held accountable for your actions.  Invaribly the reply is always they would most certainly say those things to my face.  I somehow doubt that.  I say it not because I'm so rough and tough myself.  I say it because most people lose touch with reality  behind the cloak of anonymity and the safe confines at home with their computer.  It changes the most mild mannered individual into a fire-breathing dragon.  I've seen it too many times.  So, I have to say the Pew Research and the research by the professor at the University of Houston are a little late to the party.  This has been going on for decades and will continue for decades more.

I used to have problems with a lawyer on this blog (back when people actually used to comment).  I made the mistake of making an assumption about a legal matter.  He displayed why so many people distrust and hate lawyers.  This lawyer tried to be condescending and was quite rude.  I also lost my temper and blasted him.  I hated myself afterward for stooping to his level.  It's easy to do, losing your temper on the internet.  This is an area that needs further study.  Why do people get so angry on internet message boards?  It's a worthwhile area of research.  Anonymity has a lot to do with it.  But, that doesn't answer the anger issue.  It seems Internet Cowboys will continue to roam the plains of the internet indefinitely.  Giddy-up!


3/07/2014

Something in the Attic













Today, we have Michelle Diamond guest blogging on the paranormal/supernatural topic.  Michelle is a state employee in New Mexico.  She is married, has three wonderful kids and getting ready to celebrate the big 4-0 in May of this year.  Her hobbies include exploring for Native American artifacts, archeology, the paranormal and jogging.  She also enjoys singing in the church choir.

If you have a story to share relating to the paranormal/supernatural, click HERE for details.  Also, to answer many questions, there is no charge for guest posting on the topic of the paranormal/supernatural.

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Growing up in Oklahoma, I had lots of interests in my early years.  I have always loved to explore the great outdoors, the many wonders of nature.  I was unusual in that I was more interested in rocks and artifacts than boys (that changed quite suddenly when I turned 13) I had a very happy childhood growing up in the "Sooner State." If you loved horses, rodeos, cattle and ranches, Oklahoma was the state for you.  Of course, it helped if you had great parents.  I loved both my parents, especially my dad.  My father was a former Catholic priest.  No, he never harmed a child at any time.  He left the Catholic Church because he felt they were more interested in ministering to the church hierarchy than to their flock.  My dad had a special place in his heart for the poor,  the destitute.  It was this passion he had for the poor which led him to start a "Mission of Hope" which was non-denominational.  My dad "sold" second-hand clothing, appliances, furniture, and other items that are needed on a daily living basis.  But, many times dad just wound up giving stuff away to those who could not afford to pay.  His only price to those unable to pay was that they had to listen to him preach the Word of God for 30 minutes.  Even then, he didn't push that "price" on them.  If you came to the service, he praised you.  Even if you didn't come, my dad still praised you.  I loved my dad. 

I remember looking up at my dad at night as we stood outside looking at God's creation. His head seemed to reach into the sky, near the stars.  I think of that even now when I walk outside at night.  Dad seemed impossibly huge to me. One thing I will never forget is what my dad said to me one cool night in September, as we watched the stars twinkle, he said "Never forget I love you, Dimples (my nickname).  I will always be there for you in some way."  Dad knew his time was short.  I only had him as my dad for 10 1/2 years. But, he is as alive today, for me, as he was back then.  My father passed away just three months later in 1984. He was my hero, even in his death bed he was heroic as the ravages of cancer melted him away from the 220lbs, 6'4 frame he had to less than 130lbs at his death.  He left me with something that would have great meaning to me.  He left me a silver necklace with a baby angel with wings.  He made it clear to my mother he wanted me to have that. I wore it even in the shower.  Unfortunately, as kids are prone to doing, I lost that angel necklace somehow while helping my mother and others run the Mission of Hope store.  I was devastated.  I checked every place I could imagine.  I checked under furniture, clothing, boxes and virtually everything in the store. We moved things around in the hope we could locate my beloved baby angel necklace.  I checked the big storeroom in back. It was all to no avail.  There was one place I did not need to check.  The upstairs attic was one place my parents strictly forbid their only child to go by herself.  I never went up there without my dad by my side.  It was....strange.  It was just something about the attic that didn't seem right.  I could sense my dad felt it too.  But, he never said a word about his discomfort to me. I did ask dad why I could not go up there by myself (not that I ever wanted to).  "It's a steep winding stairway, Dimples.  It has just that one dim bulb at the top.  I am afraid you might fall down.," he said.  It was more to it than just that.  But, I didn't push him on it.

My mother was very distraught by my dad's death.  But, she knew she had to go on for my sake and to continue the work my dad had started.  It wasn't easy.  There were times when we barely had enough to eat, just the two of us.  But, my mother persevered in the hope there would be better days.  Problems continued to pop up after my father's death.  If it wasn't one thing wrong at the store, then it was another. It was something new every day. The worst problem was the odor coming from the staircase leading up to the attic.  It smelled like an open sewer. It seemed to get worse after my father's death for reasons I could not understand at the time.  My mother had two wannabe plumbers check the plumbing.  But, they couldn't find the reason why the smell was continuing.  Finally, the smell started making its way into the store.  Mother had to get a real plumber to check it out.  He too could find no leaks or open pipes that could be causing the odor.  Mom put out many spices and scented candles to mask the odor.  It did help alleviate the problem in the store.  But, the odor continued.  What I couldn't understand is why no one bothered to go up to the attic.  The odor was stronger up there.  Nobody wanted to check there, except me, of course.  I asked my mother if I could go check it for myself.  She made it clear, in no uncertain terms, I was NOT to ever go up there.  That just made me more determined to go up there anyway.  We were having too many volunteers quit working for us due to the odor.  Something had to be done.  At age 11, going on 21, I took it upon myself to find out why it smelled so bad in the attic.

It was on an early Saturday morning as I recall.  Mother and I always got to the store early, about 6:30AM to get the old manual cash registers ready for the day.  We only worked from 8AM to 12PM on Saturdays.  But, it was our most busy day of the week.  People started lining up about 7:30AM to make their way into the Mission of Hope.  Many had nothing to eat or nowhere to live.  We did all we could for them.  But, on this one Saturday morning, my mother wasn't feeling good.  She opened up and told me she was going back home.  She had been throwing up all morning.  The store had to open.  So, one of the many volunteers would be manager for the day.  I waited for that volunteer (Mrs Wainwright) to show up for work since mother wasn't going to be able to work.  As mother drove off, in the still darkness of the morning, I heard a noise from upstairs.  I had always heard these noises before in the attic.  But, my parents always excused them as just an old building settling.  I could tell my father did not believe that, not for one minute.  There was something I wasn't being told.   VOOM....this time it was loud!  I was about to do something I promised my father I would never do; go up those steep stairs leading to the attic.  I had to find out about that noise and, most of all, the unholy smell emanating from that area.  I put my right foot on the first step and looked up.  I took a big gulp and slowly headed upward toward the attic door.  With each step, the smell seemingly got worse.  It smelled just like when my grandpa would do his morning constitutional in the bathroom.  It took hours for that smell to clear out.  This smell was very similar.  The steps were creaking louder with each step I took. I started gagging midway up the stairs when I noticed the attic door had inexplicably opened.  I stopped and took a deep breath (as horrible as it was).  That door was always closed. 

Now, I was thinking better of the idea of going into the attic.  I could almost hear my knees trembling.  Moving up very slowly, I could see that door was about halfway open.  I hesitated.  What was I doing?  Did I really want to go into that dark attic with only the dim light from the bulb at the door?  I entered through the attic door.  The odor was overwhelming.  It was also very strange.  You ever walk into a room where people are talking and they suddenly stop talking when you enter?  I had that same crazy feeling as I looked around the very smelly, very scary attic.  There were all kinds of different merchandise here that dad and my mother had not bothered to check out.  All kinds of overcoats, raincoats, shoes of every description.  As I slowly got my bearings about me, I heard what was definitely a whisper.  "Quid hic agis?"  I wasn't sure what was said. But, I knew it was Latin from lessons from my father.  I was so terrified, I am not ashamed to tell you, I wet myself.  I went to the door....and, yes, the door closed shut.  Twisting the knob to open had no effect whatsoever.  I was screaming for someone to help me, to please open the door.  I suddenly stopped....as I felt the putrid breath of something not human breathing very close to me.  I was so scared, I was afraid to even cry.  I was absolutely paralyzed with fear.  I wanted to face whatever it was at my neck.  But, there was just no movement in my body, despite trying to turn around.  "Te deseram, neque derelinquam!!!"

I screamed bloody murder!!!  I didn't know what that meant (at the time).  But, I was certain it wasn't good.  I was close to fainting when I felt the scaly, wet fingers of something along my neck.  Then....things happened in the blink of an eye.  I heard a deep gut wrenching howl of something being hurt behind me.  There were flashes of light behind me as if some titanic struggle was taking place!  It was as if a dozen men were in a barroom brawl and no quarter was being asked or given.  I heard lamps falling behind me, boxes being turned over, boards popping and what sounded like ripping noises going on!  I wasn't about to turn around.  It seemed to last an hour.  But, in reality, it was probably 30 seconds or less.  Just as suddenly as the fight of the ages began, it also ended just as quickly.  The terrible screaming, snarling and absolute violence had ended.  But, I was still too shaken, too fearful and just too scared like I have never been before and never will be again. In the sudden silence of the attic, I heard something hit the floor that sounded like a bell.  There was no other noise in the darkened attic.  I slowly, so very slowly turned around.  I saw nothing.  None of the boxes had been overturned, none of the clothing that had been hung up or anything else was out of place.  I heard a "click."  The door had opened by itself, just as it had closed by itself.  Gathering what strength I had left, I started toward the door when I stepped on something.  Tears instantly welled up in my eyes as I reached down to pick up the silver necklace with a baby angel.  I didn't question how it got there.  I knew who had dropped it there to let me know that he was a  man of his word.  I turned around and looked all over the room.  The terrible odor was gone now, I noticed, as I looked around the room.  The tears kept flowing as I looked at the baby angel necklace in my left hand.  "Thanks daddy.  I'm sorry I didn't listen.  I love you, dad," I said as tears streamed down my face. I walked out the door and closed it behind me.  The odor was gone all over the stairway and the entire building.  

The crowd outside was waiting to come in and Mrs. Wainwright was busy helping people.  She saw me and said, "Goodness Michelle!  Where have you been?  We need you here on the floor...child did you wet yourself?"  I told her I had.  But, I left out the reason why I had wet myself.  I was like in a daze for the rest of the day.  All I could really do was walk around with that baby angel necklace in my left hand.  I eventually went home at noon to check on my mother.  I didn't mention to my mother what had happened that day.

In 2005,  my mother lay dying (also from cancer) in a hospice facility in Oklahoma.  She was in and out of consciousness.  She had times when she was lucid.  But, most of the time, she was not aware of her surroundings.  I wasn't sure if she was totally lucid when I repeated the story you just read.  She alternately would smile and frown.  Mother did not open her eyes while I told this story.  When I finished, I waited for a response.  She appeared to have slipped out of consciousness once again.  As I started to get up to leave, my mother turned to me.  "I knew all about it, Michelle.  He told me," my mother softly whispered to me.  I cried as I held my mother's hand with my right hand and rubbed the baby angel necklace, around my neck, with my left hand.  I'll never know if my mother knew what I was talking about or if my dad really told her what had happened in her dreams or whatever.  But, I know my dad lived up to his word to always be there for me in some way.  And, that's how my story will end.

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3/03/2014

Puppy Day - 3 March 2014

Got those Monday morning blues?  Aaah yes, I remember them well.  Now, that I am retired, Monday is just another day of the week for me.  In fact, every day is Saturday to me.  But, for those of you still in the workforce (and I imagine that is most who visit here), do you think four pics of cute puppies could put a smile on your face today?  Imagine a cuddly little puppy looking up at you with those innoncent little eyes for a few moments.  That should get those Monday blahs out of the way, don't you think?  So, let's give it a try, shall we?  Take a look at these four little tykes and see if you don't feel better!  I know they have already made me feel better.  As always, click on the pic to expand.

You talking to me?
Color of fur doesn't matter!
What is that thing?
Hiya Doing?

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