2023: New year, New webpage
Welcome to my new personal webpage. I hope you enjoy the new, streamlined look. My nephew Matt once told me, “Your webpage is like a Volkswagen Bus. It is old, clunky, and temperamental, but it gets you where you want to go.” That was about five years ago. When covid restrictions eased, I went back out into the public eye, and realized my website had to change.
One of the things I noticed about people’s habits, post-covid is that they want out more. They want to get out seeing and doing things on a more spontaneous basis. For myself, 2022 brought a lot more opportunities to appear on video, as well as live appearances. This included monthly paranormal pub meetings, speaking at various cons, and airing of videos, which include me. I expect even more in 2023. My old website was not interactive and people could not sign up for automatic updates of changes in my schedule. That is why I am switching to this WordPress format.
In the coming weeks, I will post at (semi) regular intervals on this blog. I intend to publish a newsletter, podcasts, and short videos of my travels, available to everyone. Eventually, I will set up subscriber accounts, where for a modest fee people can read advance articles from my books, and watch/listen to behind the scenes media files.
This will be a gradual process. In the mean time, If you are interested in visiting my old page, I will keep it up for the rest of 2023.
I look forward to 2023,
Hard at work?
Day 2: touring London in style?
26 April 2023
The day I arrived in London, I was jet lagged, and a bit preoccupied. By the time I managed to check in at my Hotel, it was after 3 PM. I needed to stay awake until at least 8 PM. So after making my foray to the perfumerers, I returned to the Shepard’s Bush area and had dinner at a local pub. The real sight seeing began on Day 2.
If someone is in London for the first time, I recommend, do not try to see everything all at once. I tried my first few visits I went into sensory overload. Instead, be realistic when planning things out. London has over 100 museums to visit. For instance, do not try to see everything in the British Museum, or the City of London Museum in one day! You will rush and miss things. That is why I spend a few days in London before returning home, to visit places I missed on arriving.
The first museums I mentioned are the British Museum and London Museum. If you want to see antiquities from across the world, that is the British Museum. If you want to see world antiquities brought to England or created in England, go to the London Museum. The City of London is effectively its own self-governing municipality. Dating to 1066, it has its own police force and museum among other things. Like the British Museum, the City museum is free. And it is usually easier to get into the City museum.
Because the British Museum is so famous, people may have to stand in line for over an hour to get inside. One trick to getting in is to register online and pay for a special entry ticket. In that case, you enter the museum through a much shorter line than the general public. Sadly, this trip I did not go to either museum. The London Museum is moving to a new location and only an annex location was open. I looked at the lines for the British Museum and walked away.
I was traveling with someone who had never been to London before. We took the quick, one-day touristy option. We rode a double decker tourist bus! I do not know how many companies now operate these hop-on hop-off tours. Basically, there are double decker busses, with an open top level. They drive a regular circuit around the city, stopping by various attractions, such as Hyde Park, Trafalgar Square, St. Paul’s Cathedral, etc. You get out at any regular stop, look around, and get back on the next bus coming by. The bus drivers pass out audio ear buds, which the passengers plug in at their seats. The bus may have as many as a dozen different language to listen to, as the bus drives by attractions.
The tickets are usually good for 24 hours. In addition to the bus tour, some companies offer other options, such as a trip along the River Thames on a water taxi; a ghost walk; Jack the Ripper walk; ride the London Eye; or discounted entry into some major attractions. In this case, we took the water taxi, and Jack the Ripper walk, as well as the ride through the city. There are several different companies, among them are, Golden Bus Tours, London City Bus Tours, but we took the Big Bus London Tours. None of them are cheap, but if you are limited on time, they are convenient.
On the Big Bus
Marble Arch Near Buckingham Palace
Near Marble Arch is the site of the
Tyburn, or public gallows!
Why Stay in
25 April 2023
For people somewhat older than me, the most famous export from Shepherd’s Bush is the rock group, The Who. They are not there anymore. However, there are some interesting music venues there and other attractions. I like Shepherd’s Bush for its travel links and low costs. In coming from Heathrow Airport, I have to travel on the Picadilly Line. One of the first stops in London’s Zone 2 is Hammersmith. From the Hammersmith station, it is a walk across the street to the Hammersmith and City line tube station. From that station, 5 minutes later, the first stop is Goldhawk Road. I can walk down Goldhawk Road, or continue on the Hammersmith Tube Line, making connections with several other tube lines.
The entire neighborhood is what Americans would call a blue collar neighborhood. Prices are moderate and the place is busy. Goldhawk Road is lined with lots of houses converted into family run hotels and Air B&Bs. The neighborhood is ethnically diverse with lots of different cuisine-restaurants and shops. The Shepherd’s Bush Market has been there for decades. Many tourists stop there to have their American cell phones unlocked, and buy Simms chips compatible with the local cell service.
In the past, I have stayed in one of the many inexpensive converted houses. This time I stayed in the Hotel Dorsett Shepherd’s Bush. I have to say, when checking in, there were a few problems. But I stayed there again, at the end of my holiday and the staff went above and beyond making up for things! Another thing in Shepard’s Bush is the Westfield Mall. For people living in Vancouver, WA, the Westfield Mall there is nothing compared to the multi-story billion dollar facility in Shepherd’s Bush! It’s especially handy if you need to buy some pressies to take home at the last minute.
Speaking of which, I admit I am a snob for some things. I tend to forget to shave, but when I do, I like to use a nice smelling cologne afterward, to close up my pores. When I was younger, my favorite was Hai Karate. Yes, Hai Karate, which went out of style and the market in the 1970s or so. I have graduated to other scents. Two of which is available from Floris of London. Floris perfumerers has been operating since the 1700s, and counts people like the British Royal Family and James Bond as its clientele. Oh and me. My favorites are JF, and Santal. So once I checked in to my hotel, in order to stay awake and adjust to the time zone change, I took the tube system to Jermyn Street, and visited Floris and another shop, D. R. Harris and Co., for my annual supply of their cologne, Windsor.
The only problem I noticed this year is, the presence of a lot more American tourists than I remember from any of my last trips to England. It appears the secret is out!
PS: Hai Karate is back in the marketplace!!!
Shepherd’s Bush in the upper right of this tube map.
The many hotels and converted homes
Offering accommodation in Shepherd’s Bush
Shepherd’s Bush Market sells everything
from fish to fishnet stockings.
I admit my snobbery, at least in terms
of my choice of cologne
Stop Number 1
24 April 2023
These days, it’s possible to fly-internationally from the U.S. into many destinations in the UK, such as Edinburgh, Manchester, etc. However, I like to fly into London. Let’s face it, London is a city of museums and cultural sites. It is also a jumping off point for other destinations in southern England. Places like Stonehenge, Bath, Stratford, and so forth. Some people even book day trips from London to some of the cities I just mentioned.
I like to take overnight flights, which arrive in London in the morning. While it is usually cheaper to fly into Gatwick, the cost of the train from Gatwick into London usually eats up the savings from the cheaper flight. It also takes a lot longer to get into town. I generally stay 10 to 13 days. Losing three or four hours in travel bothers me, so I fly into Heathrow. In traveling from Heathrow to London, the trip is between 30 to 40 minutes depending on where I stay. Furthermore, I pay for the trip on my Oyster Card. This entitles me to travel along the entire tube (subway) route for the rest of the day.
When traveling in London, (above ground) you can hire taxis, ride the busses or walk between destinations. You can also travel on the London Tube, their subway system. You can use cash every day to buy tickets. However, that means standing in lines. The tube network is divided into zones. If you buy a ticket for Zone 1 and travel through any other zones, it gets a bit complicated upgrading your ticket. Years ago, they invented a smart card, which you can charge up with cash or credit card. You can use this to travel the tubes much easier than with paper tickets.
After clearing customs at Heathrow, it is a short walk to the tube/train into London. I always charge my card BEFORE leaving London on my previous trip. That way, I do not have to contend with people lining up to buy oyster cards at the Heathrow Station. Especially if they do not have English Pounds, or their credit card is declined. Which sometimes happens to me.
People in the U.S. can buy charged Oyster Cards online and have them mailed to them, before travel. The British Tourist Board provides that service, for a modest fee. To maximize my travel time and save money, I generally stay in the Shepherd’s Bush area.
A close up of the tube from Heathrow
There is a special oyster card as well as tourist
The Roman Wall is exposed around the
original site of Londinium
Good Friday at Trafalgar Square, a live reenactment
of the crucifixion of Christ
Yes, in the past, the Romans all spoke
with English accents
I AM ABOUT A MONTH LATE IN KEEPING UP!
And Now, My Paranormal Vacation
23 April 2023
I am sorry that I have not had any blog entries for the last (nearly) month. After my last blog entry in March, I was very busy. I had a bunch of loose ends to tie up, ghost business, history business, as well as vacation prep.
In early April, I boarded a plane for London, Heathrow Airport, for a working vacation in the greater Great Britain area. When I travel, I purposely do not mention it on my blog or other social media. I have some friends who did post trip photo online, and returned to find their houses burglarized. I do not want to share their fates. So, I will spend the next few days posting pictures and stories from my holiday!
I will share a brief bit of my itinerary though. I stayed in London for two nights, and 1 ½ days. Then I took a long train ride to Edinburgh, where I stayed for another two nights. There, I visited the underground parts of the city, and bought some excellent Scotch. Next, I took a shorter train ride to the town of Balloch, on the shores of Loch Lomond. I visited the haunted Inverarary Jail! Following that, I took an even shorter train ride to Glasgow, where I spent one night at the haunted Cathedral House Hotel. The next morning, I took a VERY long train ride back to London where I stayed three nights, before heading home. In that time, I visited some of Jack the Ripper’s old haunts and found them very changed. I also reconnected with some more friends, of Britain’s Ghost Club!
Normally I plan a trip with only two or three destinations, not five, as in this case. However, I had a very important reason; I needed to reconnect with several friends. It has been four years since my last European holiday, where I did not see many old friends. In the 1990s, I lived in England for nearly a year, while working on my Masters Degree. I made a lot of friends then. By 2023, it had been 15 years since I had seen some of them. I also have friends who I met while working on various paranormal projects. It was a decade since seeing some of them. In those years, everyone seems to have moved. This trip was designed to maximize my chances to see my old friends. Oh, and to visit some interesting haunted locations.
Miller’s Court, where Mary Kelly was murdered
Then and now!
Loch Lomond from Balloch, Scotland
The Cathedral House Hotel, Glasgow
The tunnels and buried
tenements below Edinburgh
Blog On hold
For A WHile
3 April 2023
Hello All, Sundry, and Readers,
I’m afraid I have to put the blog on hold for a while. Please look for entries very soon!
The Oregon ghost conference PART III
I am a Very bad man…
29 March 2023
This one will not need any explanation, if the link works and you watch the video. You have to have a Facebook account to watch this.
The Oregon ghost conference PART II
I am a bad man…
27 March 2023
No matter the circumstances, most people who are bad, do not want to admit it. And there is some justice to saying, ‘he’s not a bad man, he just acts bad.’ Like the cartoon Jessica Rabbit, when caught in lying, says in a sultry voice, “I’m not bad, I’m just drawn that way.”
I cannot do sultry, I’m sorry. And when I am bad, it is usually when I am carried away, thinking I have done something funny. Like the first night of the Oregon Ghost Conference.
My friend Beth and I were staying in the Coast River Inn by Oyo (whoever Oyo is), an intentionally quirky little motel a few blocks away from the Seaside Convention center. Our friend Genviev stayed in a different room. We ordered a kitchenette room, because I volunteered to cook. It may be more work, but at least I get to eat what I want, prepared the way I want it.
Friday night, we had a special gift for Genviev and her dog Wyatt. We ordered matching one piece pajamas for everyone as well! Everyone loved their new PJs, so we had a bit of a bounce on the beds before the evening ended and Genviev and Wyatt went back to their room.
Here is where I was a bad man. No, I did not break the bed by bouncing on it. We are all passed the age of 40, so none of us could bounce THAT high. When packing for the trip, I stopped at a store and bought a bunch of party favors. Including a rubber clown mask. At one point, when Genviev faced away from me, I put the mask on. It scared her a bit. Fortunately, she did not Kung Fu me. Once she realized she was not in another remake of the movie IT, Genviev laughed. She later posed for photos with the clown…
The next morning, when I took of my PJs to get ready for the conference, I laid them out on the bed and put the clown mask on top of them. I am afraid I scared housekeeping, a lot! I did not think we would have housekeeping the next day, since we were staying two nights. I guess this is a mark of their good service. Sometime later on Saturday, they came in and laid out fresh towels and some other items. But they did not remake the bed. I do not blame them. I did leave an apologetic note and fairly large room tip.
I’ll know it was accepted, if they let me stay overnight again.
I heard plaid was slimming
Wyatt jumped me there
What the Maid saw the next morning
Genviev was very forgiving of the clown
The Oregon ghost conference PART I
26 March 2023
When the Oregon Ghost Conference moved to Seaside, OR several years, we had an ominous beginning. Friday afternoon, of the first conference, it snowed in the passes. I was one of a handful of vendors who made it to Seaside on time. We all worried that presenters, attendees, and customers would not show up. Fortunately, on Saturday, the sun came out and we had a great influx of visitors. Ever since then, I have always paid attention to the weather.
For several years, I used to be one of the guides on the Seaside Ghost Walks, which took place in the late evenings. My tour route include walking several blocks along the beach promenade. I remember one evening, the temperature was in the upper 30s, and a 25 mph wind was blowing in from the ocean. My tour group did not complain when I altered the tour to take in other locations away from the beach.
Unfortunately, the night of Thursday the 23rd was cold, and it started snowing on the morning of the 24th. I loaded my car up quickly, and made a dash over the passes for Seaside. Fortunately, there was no snow or ice along the route I chose. Set up my booth and waited. And waited. From what I understand, even in the worst area, the snow and ice along the multiple routes to the Oregon Coast was not all that bad. However, after our multiple snow storms throughout March, many people decided, better safe than sorry, and stayed home. Can I blame them? No. However, it is a shame they missed some sunny weather in Seaside, and of course, all of us presenters, lecturers, and sales people.
If I judged the conference only in terms of financial gain, then it was a failure. I lost money on the event, when considering travel, room, and board. However, in terms of the event itself and renewing ties with the paranormal community, it was an unparalleled success!!!
My sale table
They will let anyone in the OGC
The Portland Ghostbusters were my
next door neighbors
I shared a vendor table with my friend
hypnotherapist Genviev St. Clair
NOT ENOUGH LIGHT FOR THE EQUINOX
BUT GREAT FOOD IN TOWN! PART II
24 March 2023
As it is, my friend Enola and I arrived in the Goldendale area on Sunday afternoon. I do not fancy getting up at 3 AM on the morning of the solstice, then driving about three hours in the dark and dusk to get to Stonehenge in the Gorge. We checked into our motel, and tried finding a place to eat.
Goldendale is one of these traditional towns, where most restaurants and other businesses are closed on Sunday evening. It was a toss up between McDonald’s, Papa John’s Pizza, and the Simcoe Café. Downtown Goldendale retains many of it’s early 20th century buildings, constructed after a series of fires. The earliest fire was predicted by Henry Timmerman. Actually it was more of a curse. He cursed Goldendale to burn within a year of his execution for murder. This fire would prove his innocence. And it did!
The Simcoe Café is located in a brick building on Goldendale’s Main Street. There is an old fashioned neon sign out front, needing a bit of paint and TLC. I found myself looking forward to dinner. I love dive bars and family owned restaurants and inns/motels. Sometimes it is an abysmal experience, but most of the time it’s quirky and memorable, and sometimes, fabulous.
My first impression of the Simcoe was, it’s a nice, comfortable combo dive bar, restaurant and pool hall. There were some big screen tvs on the brick walls, a couple of pool tables, booth/tables, and an old wooden bar. And there were a handful of locals taking it easy in their accustomed bar stools.
Enola and I sat down at one of the booths and waited (only) a few minutes for the bartender to come and help us. I knew I was going to be the typical tour-on, but I had to ask about drinks. I do not like bitter beer. A dry hardcider, or brown ale is more my style. They did not have either on tap or in bottle. Next I asked for a kolsch. At her blank stare, I said, “I guess a pilsner is out of the question then.”
I finally settle on a mild beer, in the bottle. Enola asked if they could do a margarita. The bartender said yes, and after a quick consult with her menu book, she produced one that Enola said was ‘great’! I was happy with that. We WERE NOT trying to be difficult! Neither of us eat out a lot, and we wanted something nice for a change.
Speaking of which, the Simcoe Burger was the best restaurant burger I have had in a Long, LONG TIME! (Aside from the Underburge at The Underbar.) It was all fresh, and so thick, I had trouble getting a complete bite of the entire burger. Enola had the French Dip, which she said was tender and moist, not dry and overcooked, like most French Dip sandwiches seem to be. The cook came out and asked us how it was. We thanked her and tipped accordingly. Then went back to our motel room and went to bed early.
Because of daylight savings time, the sunrise was not too early in the morning. However, we got up extra early to get there about 20 minutes before sunrise. Only to run afoul of the weather. It was overcast and chilly. The irony is, after we drove back to Goldendale, ate breakfast, and checked out, the sun came out.
This is older image of the sign
Which I lifted from their Facebook page
My Simcoe Burger looked like this, minus any cheese or avacado
Just before sunrise, which we could not see because of the cloud cover
NOT ENOUGH LIGHT FOR THE EQUINOX
BUT GREAT FOOD IN TOWN! PART I
23 March 2023
This post is a few days late, but I hope everyone forgives me, I have been very busy. The Vernal Equinox took place on the morning of Monday the 20th of March. I have been going to the Stonehenge War Memorial off and on for several years. The memorial is located near Goldendale, WA, not in England or Europe.
More properly, the memorial is only a few miles from Maryhill Museum. Industrialist Sam Hill built Maryhill as a mansion-home for himself and his family. The grand Italianate style with marble walls and ceilings did not go over well in the cold, windy climates of the Columbia River Gorge. It did not take long for the family to move elsewhere. Soon after, Sam Hill turned the building into a museum. During World War I, Hill visited England, and stopped by the original Stonehenge site.
The antiquarians he spoke with told him that the stone laying flat, inside the circle was used by the druids to perform human sacrifice. Hill, a Quaker, is supposed to have responded that it was shameful that young men were still being sacrificed on the altar of war. No part of America was isolated from the call for soldiers to fight in Europe. Several men from Klickitat County were drafted or volunteered to fight, and 14 of them died during the war.
Hill decided to create an exact (completed) replica of Stonehenge in Klickitat County to memorialize these dead soldiers, and others who died in the war. On July 14th, 1918, Hill and others laid the replica altar stone, under the direction of an astronomer. The rest of the stone circle and uprights were erected around the altar. It took nearly 11 years to complete the monument, using concrete instead of stones.
The monument is oriented about 3 degrees off the true midsummer sunrise, and is built at a different latitude than the original monument. Because of this, the sun really does not rise and set in the ‘exact’ same spots as they would at the real Stonehenge in England. But that does not stop the paganish folk from coming out. Usually in summer, for that solstice. I think coming out for the winter solstice is a bit too cold for wearing loose robes and sandals, no matter how fine a quality of wool you are wearing.
The Real Stonehenge in England
The Hele Stone, used
to pinpoint alignments
Yes, I have to stand and point, as if
if you would not know where I was.
Inside the replica Stonehenge
VANCOUVER, WASHINGTON TOUR GUIDE
22 March 2023
Most people think that Vancouver, Washington was founded by some jealous Americans who visited Vancouver BC, and decided to copy it for themselves. That is simply not true; my Vancouver is over 20 years older than Vancouver BC. The truth is that the Hudson’s Bay Company founded, or helped found Vancouver, WA when they built Fort Vancouver in the 1820s. When the U.S. Army established what we know as the Vancouver Barracks, the Hudson’s Bay Company moved to Canada and started a new Vancouver. And, my Vancouver is much smaller and I admit not such a popular tourist destination.
That is why I was happy when I received a copy of the new book, Explore Vancouver Washington, by Patty Grasher and Jonathan Kraft. Attracting out of town tourists, and encouraging local people to see the site of Vancouver USA is like changing the weather; everyone talks about it but nobody does anything about it. Well…not many people at least. There are some local organizations such as Visit Vancouver Washington, who definitely have a web present listing current events, tourism, etc. However, recently, no one has printed a tour guide someone can put in a backpack and walk around with. Until, Explore Vancouver Washington.
Grasher and Kraft’s book is a pocket guide to historic sites, modern art, parks, businesses, and generally things to do. It is somewhat reminiscent of the city directories published from the late 1800s through the 1970s. I was impressed that they included photographs and listings of the remaining buildings at the Vancouver Barracks! I would recommend anyone who likes books, and wants to have a guide for day visits, or week long visits to Vancouver USA buy a copy. Here is a link to a website where you can review and buy a copy for yourself!
THE COVINGTON HOUSE is OPEN
20 March 2023
Today I had two major commitments. One of them was to visit the [Richard] Covington House in Vancouver and the other was to travel to Goldendale for the Vernal Equinox. I visited the Covington House first, because it was closest.
Some people identify the hand-hewn log cabin the Richard Covington House, after the male builder and owner. However, I leave his name off, since Richard and his wife Ann (or Anna), working together made it a home and schoolhouse.
In the mid-1840s, Richard and Ann left England, at the request of some Hudson’s Bay Company executives, to open a school for the children of the upper class employees. The Covington’s were part of an intellectual movement begun earlier by people like Lord Byron, leaving so-called civilization, to seek peace and harmony closer to nature. Sadly, most of the intellectuals who left England for a simpler lifestyle were woefully unprepared and died sad deaths. Fortunately, the Covington’s were different.
They had ready jobs for one thing, and they were creative and friendly. The Covington’s built their log cabin over seven miles from the Hudson’s Bay Company post of Fort Vancouver, and had their students live with them. They also brought a violin/fiddle, and a piano; the first seen in the Pacific Northwest. The violin and piano still survive, at the Clark County Historical Museum.
Despite the distance from Fort Vancouver, HBC employees, and later, soldiers like Lieutenant Ulysses S. Grant visited them for parties, etc. When Grant became President after the Civil War, he appointed Richard Covington to the US Patent Office in Washington D.C. The Covington’s eventually settled in Hawaii, which was dominated by the UK at the time. They sold their land and cabin to others. Eventually the cabin was preserved and moved to a location on the outskirts of Vancouver itself.
It still exists and is managed by a ‘friends’ organization. They rent it out for events such as weddings, funerals, family reunions, etc. I had my wedding reception there, as well as the wake, following my father’s funeral.
The organization plan to have an open house there, one Sunday a month. Which is how I came to visit. I had a great time, listening to 19th Century folk music, talking with old friends and meeting new ones!
The Covington House in the 1920s
The Covington House in 2023
The Covington Piano, on display at the Clark County Historical Museum
WOODLAND’S GHOST BRIDGE!
18 March 2023
For people driving cars, the quickest way to get from Ridgefield to Woodland, Washington is by driving along Interstate 5. The quickest way for trains to cross this distance is by a railroad bridge, named Hoffman Bridge. I was told the other name of this bridge was the Ghost Bridge, in fear and awe of the number of people who had died by jumping off the bridge; either committing suicide; accidentally drowning; or were struck by trains.
I do not have an exact count, but at least six people have died or were injured on/along the bridge in the last 20 years. My friend Melissa took me the Woodland side recently. I did not even get to the bridge when I was in danger. There is a kind of access road for the railroad crews maintaining the bridge. Many civilian drivers cut through this to shorten their drive in the Woodland area. I was taking a picture of the bridge, when Melissa called a warning to me, “Car Coming!”
I got out of the dirt road, onto the dirt shoulder and waved at the driver as he passed. I was greeted with profanity and screams. Yep, people doing the wrong thing are not afraid to abuse the average passerby. We walked around the bridge for a few minutes and talked about the Bridge’s history. She later sent me links to news articles.
In May 2004, a group of picnickers tried crossing the bridge over Memorial Day weekend. They were midway across when they saw and heard a train coming. A father and one of his children were struck and killed when they stood on the edge of the bridge, hoping they were far enough away from the train.
In June 2012, a man and woman were walking across the bridge when they saw a train. The man jumped off the bridge into the water and survived. The woman tried outrunning the train across the bridge. The train, traveling over 70 miles per hour beat her to the end of the bridge. It struck her, and killed her before she would jump off.
Since then, I don’t know how many people have died trying to cross the bridge. According to the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad, 16 – 17 trespassers die on railroad tracks and bridges each year. Some sensitive people believe that spirits have left an imprint on the bridge and the river below.
The bridge abutments are marked NO TRESPASSING. Even though I have written about this Ghost Bridge as a curiosity, I strongly ask everyone to NOT TRY TO WALK ACROSS!!! If you need to travel between Woodland and Ridgefield, just spend an extra 45 minutes like everyone else driving a car!
15 March 2023
One commonly accepted statistic is that 22 veterans commit suicide every day. This morning I was awakened by a phone call from a friend, whose son is in the army. He is in crisis, she is afraid that he is going to commit suicide. She asked me for help. What would you do? What would/should anyone do?
I started by trying to calm her down. She needed a lifeline, and was over a thousand miles away. I recommended she call the veteran crisis line. The website instructions are pretty simple: Dial 988 on your phone, then press 1. If you are text only, Text 838255. The message and crisis center is working 24 hours a day. For non-veterans, dial 988, and wait for a connection. A non-veteran crisis counselor will pick up.
If you know someone who you suspect is going to commit suicide; has already attempted to commit suicide; or has committed suicide, CALL THEM YOURSELF! If you are that close to someone in crisis, you need to talk to a counselor yourself! They can usually give you insight on how to help your friend or loved ones. Do not go it alone. While you have good intentions, you may make it worse. Of course, it is up to the person who is depressed, whether they will accept help.
If your loved one has committed suicide, a counselor can help you as well! Of the 22 veterans who commit suicide each day, most are over the age of 40, and have been out of the service for some time. I know this well, when we leave the service, veterans have to make our way in a world where the rules we used to live by do not apply. It’s strange. As we get older, memories crop up, and there is no resolution. Added to that, comes despair, as the end of life seems to approach. Many aged and elderly non-veterans face similar situations. However, as veterans, we are accustomed to violence, and how to apply it.
When most people try to commit suicide, they do not succeed the first time. That experience scares the will to die out of many people. As veterans, when we try to commit suicide, we generally succeed the first time. There is no period to reflect and change our minds, and get help.
In the case of my friend, her son is younger. He is on his first enlistment. And she has traveled, to be close to his side. I hope he is resilient, and with her support and others, will get through whatever crisis led him to the dark place where he exists!
VANCOUVER PARANORMAL PUB
ON SUNDAY THE 12TH
13 March 2023
This month was my first time hosting the Vancouver Informal Paranormal Pub in three months. My friend Rocky Smith hosted the pub from December through February. We agreed to split the year, trading off every three months. The timing is just right. Rocky is the Head Honcho for the Oregon Ghost Conference. He and his volunteers are busy right now, probably stuffing gift bags for VIP ticket holders. The Conference will take place 24 – 26 March. I hope everyone can come.
For the pub this month, I talked about revising the Haunted Tour Guide. I put together a presentation about the tour guide, and my progress. I have finished verifying a list of properties from the old tour guide. Now I am adding new places.
We had over 20 people present. While this may not sound like much, the Underbar is not that big a place, so it was nicely crowded. There were perhaps 10 or more new pub members as well. Now that spring is sort-of here, I think people are anxious to get out and perhaps find new places to visit. Everyone was polite and attentive. I ran long in my presentation, and all but two people stayed while I finished my presentation.
I am not posting the entire presentation here, but I am attaching a pdf of the list of ‘dropped’ places in the space to the right of this text. Please remember, most of the places in this document have opted out of the new tour guide. I am sure they will welcome everyone as guests and patrons, but they would prefer you to leave your ghost hunting gear behind.
DIPPING BACK INTO VANCOUVER BARRACKS’
GHOSTLY AND OTHER HISTORY Part I1
10 March 2023
After a short while reminiscing, my student and her Teacher’s Aid arrived. My student historian was named Emma. She asked some very good questions about theories behind the existence of ghosts, and how I try to meld history, folklore and stories.
Emma is a junior high school student, but I would have guessed her as being a high school student. Her questions were well thought out, and followed a logical progression, to explain my views on paranormal investigations, writing, etc.
Our interview lasted about an hour, which was longer than she originally planned. This interview will be part of a digital series, collected and curated between various schools and the Clark County Historical Museum. I spoke with the Teacher’s Aid afterward. I offered to give a ghost/history walk to some of the students, later in the year. For several years, I have given walks for ‘school for success’ program students at Battleground HS. I am also scheduled to do a walk for the Washington State School for the Blind.
I know some people think it is questionable to talk to impressionable young people about ghosts and such. However, I do the walks in daylight hours, and I do not share some of the more lurid history of the Barracks. Which is what I really share, I give historic walks of the Vancouver Barracks, against the backdrop of true ghost stories.
They will notify me when the interview is posted online. I will posted a link here on the site.
DIPPING BACK INTO VANCOUVER BARRACKS’
GHOSTLY AND OTHER HISTORY Part 1
9 March 2023
Fortunately, the snow stopped in the middle of the 8th. Sometime during the night the temperature rose and it started raining. By mid-morning, I checked the road, and found it clear. I went to downtown Vancouver to do some coordination with the Clark County Historical Museum, and managed to make it to my military history interview.
In this case, the interview was first, and I was the interviewee, not the interviewer. Wires got crossed a little bit, and the school administrators were not expecting me. So, I sat in the office a while and had the nostalgic experience of watching a junior high school office in action. I remember my parts of my junior high school experience very well. And yes, I spent a bit of time at the office, waiting to be called into the Vice Principal’s office. Yes, at times I was a nonconformist. I don’t think I ever initiated conflict. However, I did not take bullying very well either.
I remember one time, I received the call to come into the school office. The sectary did not even ask why I was there. She just gestured to the VP’s office and said, “sit there and wait for him!”
I did as ordered, but was antsy. I had no idea why I was there. I did not recall any arguments, fights, or rudeness on campus for over a week. So I sat. And I sat. About 20 minute later, the Vice Principal came in, and sat in his chair. He looked at me, rather, he frowned at me, and said, “what’s this I hear about you breaking into Tom Jone’s locker?”
It was a pleasant moment I still cherish when I said, “Mr. MXXX, I have no idea what you’re talking about.” He looked at me steadily for a minute or so, then got up, and walked into the main office.
He came back in about five minutes and said simply, “Get out, and don’t get into trouble in the future!”
Apparently one of the other two Jeff Davis’s at school had gotten into trouble instead of me. I would have appreciated an apology. After all, adults can apologize to anyone when they are dead wrong, can’t they? Oh well, I’m sure he was secretly sorry…
Visit to Old town Pizza Part 1I
8 March 2023
I woke up in the morning, full of energy, ready to get the morning business done, then head to downtown Portland. I was also supposed to give a talk on haunted Portland and Gresham to a Rotary group. My energy lasted about 30 seconds after I walked into the living room. I looked out the window and saw about a half inch of snow. I walked outside briefly, looked at the thermostat; it ready 32 degrees. I looked up in the sky and saw greyness. I started my morning chores, dressed, etc. Then it started snowing.
After being trapped in the house for a week, I was ready to be cautious. I would rather be trapped at my house, than be trapped on the road leading to my house. I had planned on taking the ghost tour, which would have had me arriving home around 7 PM. I decided not to chance it. So I cancelled my breakfast appearance as well as my Old Town Pizza Experience.
I did venture out for about an hour in the late morning, to pick up some staples. Then I headed home and made some thick potatoe soup, and am waiting for the snow to stop.
The view from my front porch.
Ping wanted out too!!!
Visit to Old town Pizza
7 March 2023
Tomorrow I will be headed downtown, to Old Town Pizza, (Now Old Town Pizza and Brewing Co.) in Portland, OR. I first wrote about this pizzeria almost 20 years ago. I put it in my Haunted Tour Guide about ten years ago. I am glad to see that the management team is still in place, and invited me to see what they are up to, these days. Below is my Tour Guide write up:
Old Town Pizza takes up what was the lobby of the Merchant Hotel. The hotel, dating to the late 1800s was part of Portland’s Business District. It was a medium priced hotel, built between the northern railroad depot, and more expensive hotels south. According to legend, although the hotel tried to put on a good face, as time passed, the clientele deteriorated, and for a time, prostitutes walked its hallways. Part of the intricate network of Shanghai tunnels run under Old Town Pizza. In the 1990s, I helped design a ghost walk of downtown Portland, which started here. During covid, the original tour operator, Portland Walking Tours discontinued their walk. However, the Old Town Pizza Brewing Co. operate their own haunted tour in the basement.
I visited the pizza parlor with a psychic friend in the 1990s. Standing on the second floor loft, she detected a spirit in the upper spaces. She believed that the ghost was a woman, who had been a prostitute or madam. She intently watched everyone and everything in the building. According to an handout in the pizzeria, this ghost was a woman named Nina. Forced into prostitution, Nina turned police informant. Her employers found out and killed her. In the 1930s, the hotel was part of a thriving Asian neighborhood. A girl living in one of the apartments had an encounter with a woman who met Nina’s description.
Military History Interviews
5 March 2023
Here’s my response to their request. These students are probably 13 or 14 years old. As such, I was not expecting a sophisticated idea of what a hero is exactly. I wanted them to reevaluate their idea of what is heroic. Yes, being fierce in battle and defeating your enemy is the goal. However, in what I still call the Global War on Terror, people like truck drivers were more likely to be attacked than tankers. There is also a pyramid of people who are not direct combat troops. They are the supply clerks, cooks, mechanics, etc. who put the combat soldier on the battlefield. I have seen one estimate that it takes 20 support soldiers to put a modern infantry soldier on the front line. I wanted to make the students aware of the greater risk of becoming a hero. However, I tried not to be to forbidding or to try to step on the feelings of the requestors.
I remember when I was about 14 years old, asking my Aunt Mickie, who was born in Nagasaki, what it was like seeing the atomic bomb go off. My father pulled me aside later saying, “You can’t ask her questions like that!”
I am glad I did. I remember being respectful when I asked my question. She answered me quietly, and we talked for a few more minutes. It turns out that no one had ever asked her, not even her children, later in life. I am glad I did, because I shared this with one of my cousins, last year. Everyone deserves a chance to share or unburden themselves, every now and t hen.
Here’s my response:
I would love to help. I can talk about the Vancouver Barracks history, haunted and not. Regarding finding a ‘hero’. That is a loaded word. Most of the people I think of as heroic and respect as such, would not style themselves as heroes. I know two Vietnam veterans who survived horrific combat situations physically intact. Both went on to become successful businessmen.
I have another friend who was in Iraq, and was severely wounded while guarding an Iraqi police station. He took a long road to recovery from his injuries and is now a successful fishing outfitter.”
Military History Interviews
4 March 2023
In addition to the paranormal, I do research, writing, and publishing about military history. I spent 32 years in the U.S. Army and Army Reserves, in between work as an archaeologist and paranormal researcher. My last Army assignment was as a military historian, with several deployments and missions. Sometimes people contact me, looking for information, or other veteran related contacts. Over the last few weeks, I have been working with a local area junior high school, where students want to talk to veterans about their experiences.
It was gratifying to receive a request like this. Although the US pulled combat troops out of Vietnam in March 1973 (50 years ago), there is still a lot of distrust of the military. Many civilians who only know what they read in the paper, or the Internet, do not have more than a surface inkling of what it was like. I received a veteran request from the school staff. Here it is:
a blast from the past
The Moody Blues
3 March 2023
I was born in the early 1960s, so I missed being a teenager in the hard rock era. At my age, free love meant having my cat nuzzle me. In the late 1970s, I became familiar with the musical group, The Moody Blues. I think their second album, The Days of Future Passed. is one of the greatest rock albums ever produced. And by the accounts I read, it was a demo album for a new sound system.
Because the band members were my parents age, by the 2000’s they were getting on in years. The surviving band members went on a final album tour in 2017. The years from 2014 – 2021 (long time) were a low point in my life. I wanted to see the show when they came to the McMenamins Edgefield. I did not have the money. However, a friend had tickets in row 4, seats 3 and 4. She bought them for her father, but he could make it, due to health issues. She gave me the tickets, in return I tried describing the experience, to pass on to her father.
This morning, I put my phone on random audio play when I woke up, and guess what came on? Which reminded me of the June 2017 tour. Here is my email to my friend.
A NEW/OLD PORTLAND GHOST WALK
2 March 2023
I continue slogging away at the Haunted Tour Guide update. I am nearly done re-verifying data on the existing haunts and interesting locales. I am working on Portland, and came to the Tour Guide entry on Old Town Pizza. This place has a lot of positive associations for me. Several years ago, David S. approached me and hired me to help him create a ghost walk of downtown Portland. David is one of those quietly-smarter-than-you guys who get things done. He and I worked on a possible route for the tour. He had already done some leg work and identified some haunted places along the route. He then told me he, was not going to tell me any detailed information, until I walked the route with my clairvoyant friend Karan.
Karan did amazingly well, tying in different places with the haunting information reported by the employees. David was a skeptic, and professed to not-believe in ghosts. Even so, at the end of his first meeting with Karan, they hugged goodbye and she ‘scanned him.’ She gave him a reading on his energy and other ghostly tidbits. Even though he was still skeptical, David warned his tour guides, ‘don’t let her hug you!’
This tour was the original, Beyond Bizarre Tour of downtown Portland. It began at old Town Pizza on 2nd and Davis. The tour included a trip across the Willamette River to the White Eagle Saloon, and back. Unfortunately, covid put a period on most of the activities of David’s tour company, and he dropped the tour. Based on the current demographic trends in downtown Portland, I did not have much hope that anyone was doing a nightly ghost walk in Portland. I was pleasantly surprised to see that Old Town Pizza is still in business, under the same management. And they have their own haunted Shanghai Tunnel experience! I am going to brave the forces of darkness and visit Old Town Pizza soon to see what has happened. I will let you know!
HOUSE CATS, DECEPTIVELY DANGEROUS?
28 February 2023
I did not write a blog yesterday, because life got in the way of my plans. I got up early to check on driving conditions. I have been snowed in since last Wednesday. I am running low on supplies, etc. According to the weather people, the roads in the lowlands were clear. One of my neighbors, Andy went shopping, and messaged me saying, the roads were clear, once he got to the end of our private road.
So, I hopped in the shower, shaved, etc. I warmed up the car and brushed the slushy snow away from all the windows. I drove out of my driveway and up the private road toward the paved road. Which I did not make. It is only 500 feet from my driveway to the main road. It was the longest, slipperiest 500 feet I did not travel. My little car simply did not have the traction to make it up the very slight rise in the road. I slid to a stop, then had to back about 400 feet to my driveway.
Along the way, I went off the road into the modest ditch thrice, which meant walking back to my house for a shovel and digging myself out. Three times. Two hours later, I made it to my driveway, where I left my car. Hopefully I will make it out today. So, where does my cat Ping come into this? All day yesterday, she lay on the couch napping and preening herself. She did not help when I finally came in. In fact, she was the anti-helpful pet.
The night before last, Ping was sleeping on the bed, next to my head. That is not unusual. However, that night around 3 a.m. she started coughing, and finally expelled a hairball about five inches from my face. She then walked to the foot of the bed and went back to sleep. No wonder she felt like eating a huge breakfast and napping all day yesterday. I give her that. However, when I finally came in from digging out my car, I sat on the couch to take off my boots. She decided it was time to lay on my lap.
While Ping sits on my lap for a grooming (twice a day), she is not a normal lap cat. When the grooming stops, she jumps off my lap. It seems to me that the only time she wants to sit on my lap is when I have to use the bathroom. She must smell the urgency coming out of my pores. As soon as I got my boots off, there she was, jumping on my lap. I did not pet her or get the grooming brush, but there she sat… napping in my lap. It was about 15 minutes before I got up the gumption to move, dislodge her, and then run into the bathroom.
So why did I wait so long? Why did I change the bedsheets, and carefully wash the mattress pad clean? Because, honestly I am afraid of Ping, and all cats. Y’see, house cats, while smaller than the Great Cats like lions and tigers have the very same proportions. And I dare say, they have the same instincts. The Great Cats are the apex predators on three continents. If their ‘domestic’ cousins, such as Ping were just as large, I think my days would be numbered if I displeased her. That whole sleepy, purring persona is all and act, AND I KNOW IT! So it’s canned cat food as well as dry; grooming twice a day; and clean bedsheets to sleep on. Or else my days are numbered.
And let’s face it, when they are curled up in a ball, then raise their heads and meow at us, cats are too darn cute to disobey.
So deceptively cute?
What is her real agenda?
Is this the face of She Who Must Be Obeyed?
TOUR GUIDE REVISION – Not So POSITIVE LISTING FEEDBACK
26 February 2023
As a follow on to yesterday’s blog listing for the Captain Whidbey Inn, I want to write about establishments that do not want to be listed in the updated Tour Guide.
I understand that some establishments have come under new ownership or management, which does not believe in ghosts. So much so, that they can become angry at the merest mention of the paranormal. I understand honest skepticism, but am puzzled by the outright hostility of some people. I also understand that some management teams do not care about ghosts, one way or another. They care about their business and bottom line. Some places, such as a children’s petting zoo or daycare might be hesitant to be associated with a violent death and haunting. I am sure there are more businesses I have not mentioned who share that concern.
And most of all, some places are concerned about patrons who visit, as part of a paranormal investigation. I wrote this guide in the hopes that people would use it to plan vacations with the intent to visit haunted locations, in the hopes of having something shivery happen. I did not write it for people who are so intent on ghost hunting that they make nuisances of themselves; going into off-limits areas such as storage rooms or basements; damaging or vandalizing walls, floors, or even grave sites in their quest for answers. Sadly enough, that happens. Which is why I cut down the number of cemeteries listed in this book.
Having said all that, I sent a query to one long-standing paranormal tourist destination. They opted out of the update. In accordance with their wishes, I am hiding the name and identifying information. However, their wording is somewhat confusing to me. I hope it makes more sense to you readers.
MY ORIGINAL EMAIL
My name is Jeff Davis. I visited xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx some years ago and wrote about it for my book, Weird Washington. I also listed xxxxxxxxxxxxx in my book, Haunted Tour Guide to the Pacific Northwest. I am updating the tour guide now and wanted to include xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx in the update. Please let me know if that is alright with you.
I’m sorry, I do not feel secure sharing the response with you. Here is the footer of their email, confidential is confidential, even at haunted locales:
Notice–This e-mail message is for the sole use of the named addressee, who is the intended recipient, and may contain confidential and privileged information. Any unauthorized review, use, disclosure or distribution is prohibited by the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, 18 U.S.C. Secs. 2510 2521. If you are not the intended recipient, please contact the sender by reply e-mail or call the sender at xxxxxxxxxxxx, and please destroy all copies of the original message.
Let’s not get litigious – The Frighteners
TOUR GUIDE REVISION – POSITIVE LISTING FEEDBACK
25 February 2023
I continue checking over old listings in the Haunted Tour Guide, as I gather information on new listings. When I check out old listings, I sometimes email the management. This depends on whether the ownership or management has changed, or if I find information suggesting the activity has ceased. Sometimes I get positive feedback, other times I get a less than enthusiastic response. Here is the listing for the Captain Whidbey Inn, and their response to my query.
Name: Captain Whidbey Inn
Address: 2072 West Captain Whidbey Inn Road
Coupeville, WA 98239
Phone Number: (360) 678-4097
Rooms: 25 rooms, seven cabins and cottages
Prices: $$$ Full breakfast is included
Theme: Rustic Log Cabin
Cuisine: Seasonal dishes, country inn cooking
Special Facilities: Gift Shop with Espresso Bar. Some rooms have shared “European” style baths and showers. Conference facility, wedding facilities, and private boat dock.
In 1906, Lester Still’s builders used timbers from a large stand of madrona trees growing nearby to build his Inn. Madrona does not grow straight, so they built the inn walls in sections and then pieced them together. Originally called the Whid-Isle Inn, it was renamed the “Captain Whidbey” in the 1960s.
The Colby family have owned and run the Inn since the 1960s. They added separate cabins or cottages. Inn rooms have shared baths, and two suites are available. Lagoon rooms have private baths. Cabins have bedroom, sitting room, private bath and fireplace. The Cottages have fireplaces or wood stoves and kitchens. The present owner is John Colby Stone. In the years he has been at the Captain Whidbey, he has not seen a ghost and remains skeptical about it. Sort of…
Over twenty years ago, a man was the only guest at the Inn. One night he left his room to use the bathroom down the hall. He was washing his hands, when he felt a presence behind him. Outside the bathroom, he saw a woman walk into Room 8. The next morning, he asked the staff about the woman. They told him that the place was empty, no one was in Room 8.
One of the housekeeping staff walked down a pathway to clean one of the cabins. She saw a woman ahead of her enter a cabin that needed cleaning. When the housekeeper walked in, it was empty. Since then, a woman dressed in white has passed many guests in the hallways of the Captain Whidbey. After walking by guests, the woman simply disappears.
The haunting continues to the present day. According to the staff at the Captain Whidbey, “Most recently, we have had reports of hearing whistling when no one is around or feeling a tap on your shoulder. Glasses also have a habit of falling off the bar when no one is there.”
HERE IS THEIR RESPONSE TO MY REQUEST FOR NEW HAUNT INFORMATION, AND TO CONTINUE THE LISTING:
Yes, please keep us listed in the book! We are very proud of our ghostly heritage. Most recently, we have had reports of hearing whistling when no one is around or feeling a tap on your shoulder. Glasses also have a habit of falling off the bar when no one is there.
Thank you for contacting us! Looking forward to seeing the new guide.
The Captain Whidbey Inn.
SNOW DAYS MAKE FOR SLOW DAYS
24 February 2023
Yesterday I woke up to find that the light snowfall of the 22nd had gotten deeper, and the wind blew the loose flakes into drifts around the house and driveway. I was scheduled to give a military history talk on the evening of the 23rd, at the Vancouver Barracks. At 7:30 a.m. I had a note from the building coordinator, asking me to call off the talk. I was happy to oblige.
When I was younger, the army drilled it into us, you better be dead before you miss a morning formation. Over the years, I and other service members risked injury, and sometimes died making it to our assigned meeting place, only to have our heads counted, then told to go home because the post was closed. Sigh. I’m older and smarter (lazier) now.
Yesterday morning, my original intent was to polish up the power point I began for the talk. The talk was on the Cold War years at the Vancouver Barracks. My father served at the Barracks beginning in the late 1950s. I enlisted at the Barracks in 1979. I served there, off and on until the post closed in 2011. My coolest talk-elements were 8mm home movies my father took in the early to mid-1960s. On the 21st, I went through them, digitally cutting down about 2 hours of video footage into four 2-minute movies. I should have inserted those movies into the powerpoint, to finish things up.
Somehow that never happened. All the snow contributed to a sense of malaise I could not escape. I should have resumed work on revising my haunted tour guide. Eventually I did, but that was late in the day. I daydreamed the morning away, thinking about a dinner of homemade clam chowder in a sourdough bread-bowl. Or was it bean with bacon soup with lots of crackers? I’m afraid that’s how I spent most of my day. And I think today will be the same. At least I got my blog written today.
Oh, tonight is supposed to get very cold, so remember to leave your faucets dripping overnight!
My front porch view this morning.
Ping’s view this morning
OF VITAMINS AND REMOTE CONTROLS
22 February 2023
Like many people, I have been ordering things on Amazon and Ebay for several years. Generally the sales system has been good, and a surprising percentage of my orders arrived by commercial carrier, intact. The USPS is a bit less reliable, but that is an issue between my rural delivery person and my mailbox. This month however, it is the sellers that are letting me down.
In late January and early February I ordered two different bottles of dietary supplements. I am running out of one bottle, here at home. I checked my sales profile, and found that the system said both bottles were mailed, and go figure, never delivered. I sent emails to both vendors asking them to check the status of my order. One vendor responded by ‘bot’ with a generic pleading letter assuring me they loved me and would move heaven and earth to find out what happened to my order. Two days later I got another ‘bot’ letter assuring me that my order had arrived in my mailbox, and they hoped I enjoyed it.
As I stated earlier, according to the sales site, the products are still out there somewhere. I sent a screenshot of the order-status and emailed it back to the bot. Then I filled out the demand form, for a return of my money. The second company was more consistent. They have never responded to my query. So I am demanding a return of funds from them as well.
A few weeks ago, I ordered a used remote control for my stereo system. It is an older system, about 30 years or so. However, it works very well. My ex-wife took the remote when we got divorced, because it worked with other stereo components. After a decade or so, I have become tired of walking half the length of the house to turn the stereo on and off. The on/off button is also sticking. So I ordered a used remote.
The seller’s description implied the remote worked. For instance, he sold it as USED, which means it is old but it works. Not USED/BROKEN. He also stated that it was missing the piece of plastic that protected the IR control light, but that would not affect it working. Because I am mentioning all that here, you can guess, the remote did not work. I contacted him and asked for a refund, and whether he wanted the unit back. He got abusive, berating me for expecting a 30 year old remote to work; that he was only selling it as a collectable, not a working item. So, I went back to the selling website and petition for a refund. They immediately issued me a return postage e-voucher and refunded my money. Now he is out all the money, and on the hook for the return postage. But that’s not all.
I still needed a remote. I ordered another used one. It does not work either. However, in advance, I made the seller promise (in writing) to refund my money if it did not work. It arrived yesterday, and it does not work. I just emailed him. I hope he keeps his promise. These days, I do not relish having to write scathing reviews. Especially not four in one day.
In the meantime, I guess I will have to count the energy I expend going to and from my stereo system as part of my daily exercise routine.
Save me from Internet Sales Sites!
TAKING PRESIDENTS DAY OFF OR IS IT PRESIDENT’S DAY?
21 February 2023
Like many Americans, I did not do very much work on the 21st of February. Even though I am not employed by any business or government. When I started working on this blog entry yesterday, I did so because I wanted to educate myself on the history of how this holiday came to be. I wanted to write an in-depth article for everyone to read. I will blame the desire to relax and recover during the holiday, not laziness for providing such a short blog. The history of President’s Day, or Presidents Day is more complex than most people think.
If you are curious about my meaning, I encourage you all to look at several articles online or in a very good encyclopedia. Some things to take away, state holidays are not federal holidays. Not all states celebrate the same people on the same day. Depending on whether someone is talking about the federal holiday President’s Day, or the state holiday of Presidents Day, the actual dates vary.
George Washington’s birthday was 22 February 1732. The federal government celebrated the day from 1879 until 1970. Then because of the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, the ‘official’ birthday became the third Monday in February. Lincoln’s birthday, which was 12 February 1809 is commonly mentioned or celebrated at the same time. However, many states celebrate particular presidents at the same time, or on other days. Which leads to the use of apostrophe or non-apostrophe use.
Black History Month, celebrated over all the month of February, began as a weekly commemoration, celebrating Frederick Douglass’ and Lincoln’s Birthday. It grew over time to encompass the entire month.
I encourage everyone to read up on the holiday. Depending on your home state, you might be surprised!
fanExpo Portland Day II1:
19 February 2023
I am posting this blog entry, as well as the blog for the 20th a few days late. Sorry, but although I mentally composed them, I did not write them down. The entire Expo experience was quite tiring. Everyone who appears at these events has to be ‘up’ and attentive while at their booths. When a fan comes by, [I believe] we have an obligation to chat with them and find out what we do, that the fans like. Or do not like. Fortunately, I have not had too many anti-fans show up at my tables, over the years.
I also had help at my table, in the form of my friend Becci, and niece, Tara-Ann. Both of them were troopers, willing to sit the table while I was away at panels. However, I tried my best to get them to go out and look around and talk to everyone. Becci seemed to like Biff, from Back to the Future… ‘His hair is so attractive.” [You will have to find current pictures of Biff for yourselves.]
In addition to the sales/display booths, we frequently have panels or podcasts to do. That means interactions with other authors or experts in our specific areas of expertise. That can sometimes lead to friction; many authors love sharing things. Sometimes they forget that there are other people on the panels. That means the moderator has to make sure everyone gets time to share views. I moderated four panels and did not have ANY problems. Everyone was gracious and generous, sharing time and opinions. It turns out that most of my co-panelists were located next to my booth, or across the aisle.
I had several great discussions with Adam Ross, who is working on a series of books The Explorer’s Guides to Luna Nueva, books for Early Readers, from First Fantasy Books. These books are starter-children’s books geared specifically for English as a second language. A nifty things about these books is his characters will grow older in later books, along [hopefully] with the readers. He is truly a NICE GUY. That is something we do not have too many of these days.
I had some long discussions with S. A. Bradley. He is the host of Hellbent For Horror, a popular 4-time Rondo Award-nominated podcast exploring all things horror across books, film, comics, and music. Bradley has also published books and articles on the subject of horror entertainment. I wish I could say he and I had some deep and thoughtful discussions on the subject, but then I would be lying. Instead we talked about the U.S. military. He spent several years in the U.S. Air Force as a firefighter. A lot of that time was on various airfields, not in the on-base housing areas. I guarantee you he has seen a lot of mayhem, which probably accounts for his sense of humor. I spent 32 years mixed active and reserve experience in the U.S. Army, which accounts for my sense of humor as well.
One of the great pleasures I had was to share a panel discussion with Clyde Lewis of Ground Zero Radio. Clyde’s radio and podcast broadcasts pretty much rival the long established Coast to Coast AM network. The panel title was Sasquatch: A Cuddly Ewok on Steroids, or Something Much More Dangerous? I proposed this title to the FanExpo Portland organizers because of recent experiences I had surrounding my appearances on Alaskan Killer Bigfoot. I have seen divisions among cryptozoologists who study Sasquatch. Some do indeed believe that the creature we call Sasquatch or Bigfoot is a pastoral, gentle giant of the forest. Some of their modern expeditions seem to support this. However, the ethnographic record, and historic accounts reported by Native peoples and early pioneers suggest a hostile, sometimes violent forest dweller.
Clyde’s literature and media research is quite thorough. He and I talked about the differing views. Even though I spent several years working as an archaeologist in the Pacific Northwest, I have never seen a Bigfoot. Clyde believes he has and he shared that experience with our audience. The subject was popular; even though we talked on Sunday afternoon, we had over 20 people attend.
All in all, it was a good experience. And tiring! I admit, I was so tired, on Saturday I forgot I was scheduled to be in a panel and I completely forgot. I hope FanExpo Portland has openings for myself and the other paranormal experts, next year.
Tara-Ann and her posse!
Becci was lots of fun, but I am afraid it got a bit boring for her.
S. A. Bradley, fellow veteran
Clyde and Crew! Lots of scandalous fun!
There was no room left on Serenity, but Kayle was nice to ask if I wanted aboard.
fanExpo Portland Day 1:
17 February 2023
Today is Day 1 of FanExpo Portland 2023. I’m writing this hurridly, since I have to set up today. In addition to set up, I have an event tonight. At 7PM, I am moderating a panel entitled, To Be, or Not 2B: the slings and Arrows of self-publishing versus working for a publishing house.
I suggested the subject and title, and the organizers selected my co-panelists. They are Aaron Reynolds, Danger Slater and Matt Dinniman. I look forward to learning how they are making their way in the publishing world. Y’see, when authors get together, they usually don’t talk about plot lines. Nor do they trot out their most recent bit of prose. They talk about publishing deals, appearances, and does the Green Room have lots of fatty foods, or vegan-crockpot-surprise.
I’ll have more tonight or tomorrow morning.
THE DAY I MET CASsANDRA PETERSON AKA
ELVIRA, MISTRESS OF THE DARK
16 February 2023
Tomorrow is Day 1 of FanExpo Portland 2023. That is quite a mouthful of a name change, from Portland Wizard Con. However, I am looking forward to going. While I have attended and sold books at professional writer’s conferences, Bigfoot and Ghost related events, it has been several years since I attended an entertainment/fiction based event. The last being Crypticon 2015, in Seattle. While there, I had the wonderful experience of meeting Cassandra Peterson and her alter ego, Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. I am not so sure it was as wonderful for her.
I arrived at the event center prior to opening, to set up my display table. I took the elevator from the ground floor level to the event space on the second floor. Several people got in the elevator before me. The doors were closing, when someone held the doors to let in a man pushing a large cart loaded with display items. He maneuvered the cart in, taking the middle of the elevator. This pushed me forward, until I was standing about three inches from the elevator doors.
This was a bit too claustrophobic for me, so I turned around, facing the inside and back of the elevator. I found myself looking at a beautiful woman with dark red hair. She looked familiar, and after a fraction of a second I recognized her as Cassandra Peterson, aka Elvira. My eyes widened. She glanced at me and saw my reaction. I saw her eyes widen as well, and she glanced from side to side, perhaps instinctively looking for a way out, if I became too fannish.
Fortunately, I regained my self control. I suppressed my urge to shout, “My father wants you to have his love child!!!” Which was true, my father was a huge fan of Elvira. He gave me a dvd copy of The Elvira Movie for her to autograph. Instead of shouting, I smiled and nodded, and got off the elevator when it stopped. And no, I did not harangue her as she walked away.
A few hours later, I stood in line to get her autograph on the dvd. She was very gracious, taking the time to chat a few minutes with everyone who paid (I think) $40 each to get her autograph. Because the line moved so slowly, I had several minutes to chat with her ‘personal assistant’. In this case, it was her cousin. Apparently that spring and summer, they were traveling the highways and byways of the United States, doing touristy things between conference events.
Finally, it came my turn to talk to the Mistress of the Dark. I apologized for alarming her a bit in the elevator. I also told her about my father, as I handed her the DVD to sign. I added, “my father had one of those cardboard cutouts of you in his bedroom. The ones made when you were advertising for beer. It was there for years, until he replaced it with Xena cutout.”
She said, “That’s nice.”… “Why did her replace it the Xena cutout?”
“Because the Xena cutout had a motion sensor, and when he walked by, it would say something. He thought that was sexy.”
“Oh,” she said. She shrugged her shoulders, smiled, and handed me back the DVD. I think every fan wants to say something to their star, which will be remembered. However, I do not think that this was the kind of exchange that would do myself or my father great credit.
Crypticon 2015 was my year to flub up in front of other notables, such as Richard Kiel and C. Thomas Howell. But more of those later….
I have to pack for the conference!
fright life, not fright night paranormal
13 February 2023
Yesterday I attended the Vancouver Informal Paranormal Pub, held at The Underbar; Vancouver’s only sparkly, rainbow, Speakeasy, underground pub. I started the Informal Pub in Vancouver several years ago, because I wanted a place in Vancouver, not Portland where I could hang out and talk paranormal issues with people.
Since then things have morphed a bit. We now try to have some kind of presentation or guest speakers. I also share time with my friend Rocky Smith, Head Honcho of the Oregon Ghost Conference. Rocky set up yesterday’s pub and invited Josh and Monique Rose, founders of the organization and podcast, Fright Life Paranormal. I was impressed with their professionalism on several levels. Particularly the belief that the show must go on.
Yesterday was Superbowl Sunday. I do not follow any basketball teams, so I do not pay attention to sporting contests. However, other people do. Consequently, we had a very light crowd, minus a handful of people who signed up to attend, but were lured away by nachos in front of their televisions. Despite the light crowd, Josh and Monique gave their presentation with as much energy as if there were 100 people in the audience.
They discussed the origins of their search into various aspects of the paranormal, not just ghosts, but UFOs, conspiracy theories, and incidents of High Strangeness. They also talked about their podcasts and how they divided up responsibilities to produce a high quality podcast every 14 to 30 days. In the discussion, they mentioned one set of paranormal incidents that touched upon my life, if only fleetingly.
The subject of the Fright Life podcast for 12 February 2023 was the crash of Eastern Airlines Flight 401, in 1972, and later rumors of ghosts. A few years after the crash in Florida, I worked doing yard work for a family living in Vancouver, WA. The father was a retired Air Force veteran, who worked for an airline at the Portland Airport. One day I arrived at the house, ready to cut some plants or dig some holes, but he was not at home. I waited some time, and he eventually arrived, shaking his head.
He told his wife and myself that he stayed late at work to fix a broken elevator on an L-1011 aircraft. The airline had grounded the airplane until it was fixed, which is why he stayed late. He leaned in toward me and added more details. The flight crew were scared. Apparently the elevator broke down on the flight into Portland. Despite this, one of the flight attendants said she heard it began working on its own. When she investigated, she saw the elevator going up and down, with a man wearing an Eastern Airlines’ uniform controlling the movement.
There were a few problems. The airplane did not belong to Eastern Airlines, and the man was not a member of their crew. When she confronted him, the man disappeared. A short investigation found that the elevator or parts of it were salvaged from Eastern Airlines Flight 401. The attendant believed that the man she saw riding in the elevator was the ghost of flight engineer Don Repo. My employer never mentioned it again. At the time, Eastern Airlines denied any plane parts were salvaged and sold; claimed the haunting stories were false, and threatened lawsuits over the same.
Maybe I should listen to Josh and Monique to find out what they learned? All in all, they presented themselves in a very professional and interesting manner. I am looking forward to listening to all their 40+ podcasts.
have I met you before?
12 February 2023
Well, if finally happened. Or rather, for the first time in years, it happened. Yesterday, I met a man in the normal course of the day and he said, “You look familiar have I seen you before?”
After asking that question, he started naming off places he frequented, such as a particular restaurant, other stores, etc. I said “No,” to each place. Finally he said, “Maybe I saw you on television?”
I replied, “Yes, I did some tv shows having to do with ghosts.”
He stopped and looked me up and down and said, “Yes! That’s right, I saw you on television and at the Vancouver Barracks!” He was pleased to finally realize where recognized me, like scratching a hard to reach itch. He bubbled over for several minutes.
“I used to work at the Vancouver Barracks in their maintenance department. I worked out of the Post Hospital Building! Man, that place is creepy at night!” We chatted for several more minutes about various haunted, not haunted, and beautiful places in the old military reservation. The Post Hospital building was used as a hospital from 1904 to about 1940. Talking about medical technology of the time can be more frightening than the many ghosts that probably haunt the old building. I would guess that at least once a month, the City of Vancouver gets a phone call or email from a paranormal TV show, asking to film there.
It turns out that the man who met me yesterday was working at the Barracks when I was doing a daytime ghost walk. One of my stops is along the old parade ground. One of the ghosts there is that of a sentry, who challenges tourists straying onto the grass late at night. He was heard me give the traditional challenge, “Halt! Who goes there?” While we spoke yesterday, the man who recognized me, repeated that phrase several times in a deep, booming voice!
This is the first time in several years that an off-the-street person has recognized me. It is different than having a friend who already knows me, see me on a TV show, and contact me afterward. Is this a case of shades of things to come? Or just a case of fate teasing me? It can go a bit wrong, fame. One of my friends had his own regional paranormal talk show. He told me that when he was out and about, at least once a week, someone recognized him and asked for an autograph.
That sounded nice to me. He replied that it was. However, some people can become too extreme. There was a period when several different women started sexting him and sending him naughty pictures. He did not like it, and neither did his wife.
Maybe I’ll write about the one memorable and unexpected time someone recognized me from television?
the fad-dom of medicine?
11 February 2023
I have suffered with acid reflux for some time. In my case, it only happens when I am laying down in bed, on my side. I generally start off sleeping on my back, my head and shoulders raised up on pillows. After an hour or so sleeping that way, my body generally shifts, so I am laying on my side. I come fully awake when I belch slightly, which brings up stomach gas, stomach acid, and little bits of food.
It takes me quite a while to clear my esophagus and stop coughing. Then I go through about an hour with a burning sensation, before I can get back to sleep. In the past, this was so bad, I developed perpetual heartburn and was diagnosed with ‘Esophageal Acid-Reflux Disease’. My doctor warned me that this was not just an inconvenience, but if I did not find some treatment or cure, it could lead to esophageal cancer. He recommended I take Omeprazole ever day – possibly for the rest of my life.
I went to my go-to website for medical information. Yes, I actually trust one site, which I hope never degrades its accuracy; the Mayo Clinic, Online. According to them, there are 20+ possible side effects, and about a dozen overdose symptoms. So what can I do, besides treat the symptoms of my acid reflux, with drugs?
Maybe I can treat the cause of my acid reflux? Then I won’t have to worry about my symptoms? I read more online and came across a website specializing in home treatments. And low and behold, one ‘cure’ does not involve any drugs. Remember I said, I start off sleeping on my back in an elevated position, and I have acid reflux when laying flat, on my side. What if I raise the head of the bed itself by about three inches, so my upper body is always elevated? That is the recommended cure. I am going to try it, starting tonight. As soon as I figure out how to stabilize my bed on some kind of lifts.
Which leads me to consider natural patterns of human behavior. How many people believe that modern medicine can cure most illnesses with drugs? All you have to do is wait long enough, and they will come up with something. Or, you take the drug that cures the symptom, only to need another drug to cure the side effects of the first drug. And how many people will just suffer along, because it takes too much energy to try anything beyond taking drugs?
I should have the upper half of my bed propped up tonight. I’ll let you know how difficult it is to sleep that way, and whether it works in a few days.
tour guide revision, leaving out guided tours
8 February 2023
Sorry I missed a few days of blogging. Life often gets in the way of doing the things we love. In this case, my work on revising my Haunted Tour Guide.
I want to include as many new places and activities as possible. For me, one of the activities I want to promote is Ghost Walks! Yes, I have my own ghost walk business in Vancouver, WA, but that is the result of my enthusiasm for history, not my quest for money. To me, good ghost walks are history walks, with true ghost stories. I have designed ghost walks in Tacoma, Seattle, Portland, and Vancouver. That may be why I have such a hard time deciding which ghost walks to add to the new tour guide. This mostly centers on whether the walk is any good, and will it be there the year after I publish this tour guide.
Most ghost walk companies do not have a store front. Most ghost walks consist of one or two people who have a cell phone and a website. Some ghost walk companies do not even have a website. I remember going to London’s Whitechapel District some years ago. When I left the tube station, I was confronted by a handful of people carrying cardboard signs reading, “Jack the Ripper Walk”. There was no guarantee whether these people knew anything about London’s history or that of Jack the Ripper.
I have attended ghost walks in many different locations and can attest to the drawbacks of hiring people; literally off-the-street; giving them a script; then expecting them to educate and entertain the general public. I know of at least one ghost walk company located outside of the Pacific Northwest who hired guides for a local ghost walk. In one case, they did not pay their guides at the end of the tour season. Rogue ghost walk companies and entrepreneurs with cardboard signs do not last long with either professional competition or a downturn in tourist traffic.
There is not upside to covid with all of its turmoil and loss. However, covid did put a lot of the fly-by- night ghost walk ventures out of business. It also put some professional ghost walk companies out of business. In particular the Downtown Tacoma ghost walk, and the Beyond Bizarre tour I helped design, in Old town, Portland. I owe it to the people who buy the revised tour guide to provide information that will be valid over time. The question is, how to do that?
As the economy tries to recover, people are demanding for walking tours of various kinds. Entrepreneurs are starting up new ghost walks, to fill the void left behind by older, failed tours. My dilemma is, which tours do I include in the tour guide? Leaving out the issue of professionalism of the tour guides, I worry about longevity and availability. Because of that, I am going to focus on tours that have been around for at least two year, and have some kind of web presence that includes working contact links, tour schedules and rates, etc. Then I will look at the actual tour content. If I leave any tour out in the revised tour guide, it is not because I hate the tour operator, or they are not professional. It may be that I could not find and contact them!
If anyone can recommend a ghost walk tour to me, please email me through the Contact Us link on this site.
This picture is not from a ghost walk, and is also something of a rarity. My mouth is closed. In most pictures, I have my mouth open, pontificating.
Existing Within a Catspaw
5 February 2023
I separated from my ex-wife Janine in 2014. Since then, I have lived alone, except for my cats. In the ten or so years since the divorce, Nosey, Goldie, Lucifer the First, and Lucifer the Second have crossed the rainbow bridge from various causes. Currently I live with Ping, who I adopted when my father could no longer care for her. I have come to think that I would be better off with two or more cats to divide my attention, because I am becoming more bizarre than usual.
One of the stereotypical signs that someone is becoming the crazy-cat-person is that they start talking to their pets. I have done that for years. Until recently, I never thought the cats ever answered me back. Another sign is when the person starts talking to themselves. I thought I was safe there as well. Until recently. My friend Beth came down for a visit of several days, leading me to think, I may be crossing into the crazy-cat or simply-crazy zone. I learned that I talk to myself.
Many books and movies portray people as talking to themselves. I think most audiences believe this is a literary device to give insight as to character motivation and action. That no one really talks to themselves unless they are crazy. After all, we all have an inner monologue, right? Or do we? The most comical example of this was in Austin Power’s The Spy Who Shagged Me. When revived from cryogenic suspension he quickly embarrassed himself by thinking out loud. “How do I tell them I have no inner monologue?” He finally shouted.
Back to my epiphany. After a few days or suspecting I was speaking inner thoughts out loud, I tentatively asked Beth if she noticed. She rocked back a bit in her seat, then laughed. “Of course,” she said. “But I can always tell when you are talking to me and not yourself. Because when you talk to yourself, you are usually whispering!”
Oh, somehow that did not reassure me. She did say that she never heard the whisper voice answer back, so maybe I’m not all that crazy?
I have been thinking that I need more company at the house. That could mean getting another cat. However, Ping told me she would not tolerate an interloper. So I’ll just have to make do and stop talking to myself.
Lucifer the First. No, I am not a devil worshiper !
Lucifer the Second, the
smartest cat ever!
Goldie, for obvious reasons
Nosey, who was a kind-of mean alpha male
Ping, the current mistress of all she surveys
finding a bigfoot… panel
3 February 2023
My next event is coming up in about two weeks. From 17-19 February, the FanExpo Portland will come to Portland. In the past, I did not attend too many scifi, fantasy, cosplay conventions. Mostly because the table fees were too high and the number of panels I could do were small. However, last December I saw the notice for this convention and decided to apply for a panel and place in Author’s Alley. I did not have much hope, since I applied two days after the official closing date for panel submissions.
I was gratified when the organizer contacted me the same day and thanked me for applying. At that point, they were having trouble filling the open slots. I supplied him with the names of several authors and ghost-horror people I know. Between my submissions, and other late applicants, they have filled Author’s Alley, as well as the room set aside for presentations and panels.
I consider myself lucky that I get to host a few panels, including one on wait for it Bigfoot. The working title is: Bigfoot, a Cute Cuddly Ewok on Steroids, or Something Much More Sinister? This has to do with the majority perception that Bigfoot is the idealized gentle giant of the woods, and would never hurt anyone, unless provoked. Unfortunately, in checking the archives of Native American traditions, that is not quite true, or so I believe.
I want to have a panel discussion to look at this very issue. What is the evidence? Modern searchers have their own accounts. Let’s look at old and new. Unfortunately, this is such a rare topic, I cannot find anyone locally who would sit the panel with me. I am going to the Internet to look for someone in my wider circle of friends. We’ll see what we can do.
Wish me luck!
a good ghost hunter read
2 February 2023
Around the age of 14, I began reading various books and journals describing the paranormal. In the last 40+ years, the terms acronyms describing paranormal have changed, even if the concept itself has not.
Take for instance the case of a haunting, where witnesses describe seeing historic battle, such as Gettysburg reenacted time and again. In the 1960s, authors might have used the term, snapshot-in-time to describe the phenomena. Or, they would have used the analogy of a record player, where the needle is stuck in a groove in the record, playing the same piece of music over and over again.
These days, where younger people do not use analog film-type cameras or record players, the name for the same phenomena has changed. Now, people might use the term, remnant. What about the term, demon? When I hear someone using this term, I think of an angel, fallen from heaven, and all that other Biblical Stuff. To others, a demon is any entity that has evil intent and actions.
These are examples of one fundamental problem with paranormal research, there is no universally accepted dictionary of terms and descriptions of paranormal. No one has drawn up a list and sent it out to other paranormalists for comment, revision, and acceptance. That it is something I will continue to talk about, but not do myself. However, I am reading one book that I think might work as a standardized dictionary. At least in part.
I am reading “Parapsychology, A Beginner’s Guide” by Dr. Caroline Watt. Dr. Watt holds the chair of the Koestler Parapsychology Unit, at the University of Edinburgh. Caroline Watt has been studying and writing about the paranormal since the 1980s. Her book is easy to understand, and is clearly and concisely written. She explains the origins of parapsychology; out of body experiences; ghosts and hauntings; psychic experiences; and clairvoyance. When describing these phenomena, she explains the evolution of how scientists have tried to test and quantify the paranormal. She is very clear on this, because that is part of what she does for a living.
The Koestler Parapsychology Unit is dedicated to testing claims of the paranormal in scientific and psychological terms. The Koestler Unit falls under the University’s psychology department, so their tests also involve explaining the undercurrent of why some people believe, or don’t believe, in psychological terms. For me, living in a time when feelings equate to physical facts, this is a breath of fresh air. Even though I found some of my own beliefs and experiences listed as slightly unscientific! Let’s face it, some of my beliefs are tremendously unscientific.
If you want to learn about the history of parapsychology and how and why the scientific community investigates it. If you want a list of terms and very good definitions. This book might be for you.
Oh, you might not like the way they describe an apparition as a form of hallucination, until you read the complete definition.
On eyes and thrive
1 February 2023
Today I had an early morning doctor appointment. I have had some trouble with my eyes over the past year. According to the doctor, everything is fine. However, I have been worried; as would most people. Consider all the ways to be maimed in the military. Over the years, I have been hurt, as have many friends. What would be worse, losing an arm, or losing an eye. I think most people would prefer keeping their sight.
I remember one interview I did in Afghanistan with a soldier who had lost a hand to an IED. Part of his self-healing involved talking about it. He also had a kind of nervous habit of twisting his replacement hand in circles, which made a kind of clicking noise. Another friend lost an eye, and many teeth to a mortar. After numerous reconstructive surgeries, support from his family, and lots of guts, he runs a growing fishing/outfitting business.
My sore eyes forced me to stop working so hard on my writing projects. What would I do if I lost an eye? What would other people do? When do we need help?
Back to 2022 and 2023. After appearing in Alaskan Killer Bigfoot and The Dead Files in 2021 and 2022, I started looking for year round events like conferences and expos. I met a larger part of the so-called paranormal community, the cryptozoologists. This in turn led me to take a more active part in looking for venues in 2023.
I also evaluated how much work I could take on. I am just one person, not an entire organization. I know several people who make many personal appearances, as well as recording weekly or bi-weekly podcasts, and publish.
Question: How do they do it?
Answer: They have a posse of friends and helpers. The pattern I have seen is that the friends-network usually supports the plan of the top person. They do so, because they love sharing the experience. And if the group becomes successful, they get to share in some of the monetary gain. However, where does sharing and teamwork end, and exploitation begin?
When I first started my website and making public appearances, I had a young friend, John G. He knew web design, and was interested in the paranormal. I did not realize it as the time, but I burned him out, asking for help, all the time. And it ended our friendship. I do not want to repeat that experience, so I tend to avoid too much help from friends and well-wishers. That is probably going to have to change. If I want to expand my presence by producing podcasts, I am going to need some help. However, I have to make sure whoever I work with feels valued, and has some kind of reciprocity. I will have to think about that one. Maybe I am not ready to expand too far.
We’ll have to see.
Arrrr Me Hearties!
coming up for air
31 January 2023
I am sorry I didn’t have any entries for Sunday or Monday. Sunday I was taking a break, and Monday… I was taking a break. Saturday was a tiring day. I had to get up, load more ‘stuff’ in my car, and drive the hour+ from Vancouver to Kelso, arriving around 9:00AM. The event did not open until 10 AM but I like to be there to see that things are set up right.
When I left Friday, I took only my business paperwork, computer and cash box. I left behind the books. If anyone is that desperate for a book, that they steal one, well, OK. Everything was as I left it. It was a good thing I arrived early. Before the event began, several vendors came and bought books, before the doors opened.
My friend Rocky Smith sat the table with me part of Friday night and all of Saturday. Rocky is the Head Honcho of the Oregon Ghost Conference. He also has his own ghost walk business in Oregon City. He’s a High School teacher, and many other things. I think it was good for him to sit behind a sales table. Usually he is the event organizer. I think this was good for him to see how traffic ebbs and flows during these conference-type events.
We started out VERY busy, with a steady stream of the fans and the curious from 10 AM until about 4 PM. As usual, there were fans who had purchased one book in the past, and wanted more. There were others, new customers and people who just wanted to chat and share. One of my books is a military history biography of Fred Calhoun, who was a brother-in-law to George Armstrong Custer.
Many Native Americans attend these conferences. One man, a member of the Cheyenne tribe stopped and shared a small part of what he knew about Custer’s Last Stand, based on Native American accounts. It was fascinating. Some of it I had heard second or third person, some was completely new to me. That is why, in addition to books sales, I love coming to these events.
Rocky too got a bit of this phenomena, of strangers who are really not strangers, coming up to talk. Just before closing on Saturday, a woman walked by. She stopped near my table sand said, “That’s interesting. I’m psychic, and I could tell you some stories about my work with the FBI and various police organizations.” We made encouraging noises, she approached and started talking about, of all people, serial killer Ward Weaver III.
Weaver was convicted of several attempted rapes, rapes, and murdering two girls in Oregon City in 2002. Many of Rocky’s extended family are involved in law enforcement, particularly in Oregon City. He seemed fascinated by the psychic’s account of how she determined Weaver was the murderer. He cross checked her on some of her narrative, particularly when she talked about locations within Oregon City.
I wonder if this will put Rocky off of writing his own books, and selling them at various venues in the Pacific Northwest?
The Custer related book in
squatchfest 2023 day 1
28 January 2023
I’m up a bit early today to head out for day two of sQuatchfest 2023! Yesterday the event opened at 4 PM. As a vendor, I was there early to set up. I did not have much to set up, so I was done much earlier than most of the vendors, which turned out to be a good thing. I had a chance to go around and visit with some of the other vendors and presenters. I was lucky enough to have my booth next to Scot Violete, of Blue Mountain Bigfoot Research.
Scot is an anthropologist/archaeologist with over 20 years’ experience in the Pacific Northwest. His focus has been Native American oral traditions, with an emphasis on beings such as Sasquatch. In addition, we talked quite a bit about archaeology, both regional and worldwide. I have not had a chance to go see deep into weeds talking archaeology trivia in years!
Scot and his wife currently travel the highways and byways of the United States, towing their research/living trailer. It sports a wide array of research devices including 360 degree day-night cameras, with audio pick up. Suitable for camping and passively waiting for Bigfoot, or sleeping securely while parked downtown in any major US city.
I am looking forward to today as well. I was gratified and impressed by how friendly everyone has been. I have been attending conventions and bazaars for years. When setting up, everyone is all-business. Most remain so during the event day. There is not a lot of socializing or conversation. Yesterday, everyone was friendly and courteous, sharing stories, viewpoints, etc. Another nice thing has been respect. Most Bigfoot researchers hold a variety of theories and viewpoints, which contract those of others. So far, while people have differing opinions, everyone has agreed to politely disagree. I cannot wait for the doors open up at 10AM!
My niece Tara-Ann was with
me Friday evening
Scot Violette of Squatch America.
Everyone around there seemed to wear flannel
shirts and baseball caps. I am slightly out of
uniform here, but at least I had my baseball cap!
The first conference of the year!
26 January 2023
Tomorrow is the opening of the sQuatch Fest 2023, in Kelso, WA. The festival has been going on for quite some time, but I was either out of town, or didn’t feel qualified to apply to be a guest speaker. I applied for this year, but was too late to be included. They choose from their own list of people, and have an invitation only policy. While I’m sad about that, they were gracious enough to let me have an information/vendor table.
I will be there for the Friday – Saturday event. I look forward to hearing the experts, including Jeff Meldrum, Shane Corson, and Craig Yahne (a local expert) talk. I will not be advertising or putting out too much info on Alaskan Killer Bigfoot at this time. But I will have books and would love to chat with any passersby. I will be on several panels next month though. The year 2023 has begun with a lot of activity for me, which is a began in 2022.
Just like the rest of the world, 2022 was a year where I had to find myself and my way in the world. It was also the year when I had the great opportunity to appear in the TV show, Alaskan Killer Bigfoot. Technically, I filmed my part of the show in 2021, but the show aired primarily in 2022.
My friend producer/director Brian Kniffel, aka Mr. DeMille, asked me to be on the show. Brian told me some of the premise of Alaskan Killer Bigfoot (AKB for short). He said members of a Native American tribe in Alaska had lived in a place called Portlock. In the mid-20th century, they were chased out of their homes by some kind of violent being. They were interested in resettling Portlock and he and a film crew were going with them to document their activities. And perhaps record some paranormal events.
I asked, “That’s interesting Brian, what do you want me to do?”
“Jeff,” he said, “you know the basics of history, you do your homework, and you are easy to work with. I think you will do great adding to the history, in this show!” He said some other things that were very complimentary, and I agreed to start background research to prepare to talk to the principals.
I met Brian while filming episodes of The Dead Files, where he was also a producer/director. After several decades in the military, I am somewhat jaded about praise. In the Army, when someone praises your intelligence, skill, and ability, they do so just before dumping some kind of unpleasant or dangerous tasks in your lap. Please believe me when I say that working with Brian has always been a pleasure and no one from The Dead Files has ever deceived me. I just suffer from paranoia brought on by past experience.
It was my jaded military reflexes that made me check out the history of Portlock, Alaska. Yes, I started by checking on Wikipedia, but quickly moved to other resources, such as downloading a copy of Nathaniel Portlock’s original published logs. It is an amazing story!
It was so amazing, I wondered why Brian did not have a larger name in the paranormal community tapped as historic researcher. Still suffering from a natural bit of humble incredulity, I contacted my friend Joshua, who has largely retired from producing and directing, but has a long pedigree of work on television and film.
He confirmed Brian’s statement and gave me more insight. “Yes Jeff, you are easy to work with; you know what you want to say in front of the camera; and you are not shy. Believe it or not, that’s gold to a producer or director, especially when they are setting up a new show. If I have someone dependable, I don’t worry about them at all. That frees me up to concentrate on other production issues.”
With that insight, I started work, preparing for Alaskan Killer Bigfoot. For any reader who wants to be a part of any of these shows, please remember my experience. If someone asks you to be on a TV show, you are a guest, act accordingly. Please be prepared. Please treat EVERYONE with respect! For a brief time, you are part of a well-practiced team, do not waste their time and money. Do your job and get out of their way, making room for the next person. If you remember those things, you stand a good chance of being asked back.
I hope to see some of you at the conference.
Here’s a poster for the event
Click on the link below to download a copy of the conference layout. My booth is Norseman Ventures.
I’m glad I was not there at the beginning of filming!
Keith, Ash, and Myself taking time off between filming.
Back to Work – Haunted Tour Guide
25 January 2023
When I was at the Flavel House Museum, I stopped to speak with the staff member who helps manage their gift shop. The shop carries some of my books. Or used to. In 2022, I sold out of two of my book titles, Ghost, Critters, & Sacred Places of WA and OR II, and A Haunted Tour Guide to the Pacific Northwest. For 2023, I am revising and republishing both books. This time, they are coming out as E-Books! When I told the manager my plan, she was disappointed. The tour guide sold well in their shop.
I explained, I can only afford to publish a paper book once a year, or every other year. I am also working on Vancouver USA Ghosts Vol. II. I want to put that one out on paper. In the case of the tour guide, I think an E-book is the better choice. When I am traveling and using a tablet or smart phone, it is easier to switch back and forth from E-book links to GPS. Another drawback of a printed-paper tour guide is that they become outdated in a few years. If I had a print run of 10,000 books that do not sell quickly, the book might become obsolete before it sells out. With an E-book I can update every year or two, without losing money on unsold stock.
I am in the midst of going through the 200 places listed in the old tour guide. I expected most of them would be closed due to covid. I am not finished, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that (so far) only about 20% of the locations are closed. A few others have changed ownership, or business models. I have to verify the new owners want to remain listed. Perhaps the most important things is to remove some older listings, and include more new places. I want to add some variety for people who have the old guide.
When the weather gets better, there will be a few road trips in store! For the curious, here is a link to the description of my old tour guide. And if anyone has a place they think should be included in the update, please contact me via the “Contact US” link at the top of this page.
Sailing Down the Road to Astoria
24 January 2023
I’m on my way to Astoria for a bit of a business meeting. I am updating my book, A Haunted Tour Guide to the Pacific Northwest. Astoria and the other towns near the mouth of the Columbia River are a big part of any tourist destination list. I have to see if some of the places listed in the old guide want to remain, and do others want to be listed in the new one?
Which brings me to the drive, which is not too long, but long enough for me to sit back and think about live, the past and future. I dreamed of my father last night and he and his ending are much on my mind this morning.
Before covid, I lost about three years of my life, taking care of my father who was dying of cardiovascular disease, and dementia. When he died in 2020, I was less concerned with covid than many people. Not that I believed or disbelieved the experts on any side. Instead, I was busy taking care of my father’s estate, including his tattered house. It took me until early 2022 before I finished the major work.
Which is where I do have advice for everyone regardless of their ages. Even if you do not think you have anything anyone would want, please write a will. Have it notarized, and leave it where someone can find it!
And speaking of the future, I want to post this entry before I head out. Maybe tomorrow I will post some pictures of Astoria? I also want to stop at the Bow Picker restaurant. It’s not really a restaurant, since they won’t let you eat on the deck of the boat.
Spending the Day watching Shen Yun
23 January 2023
My friend Enola and I spent most of the day in downtown Portland watching the Shen Yun Dance Troupe at the Keller Auditorium.
According to the narrator/hosts of the Shen Yun performance, Shen Yun, means “the beauty of divine beings dancing.” It can also be translated as “the rhythm of a divine spirit.” The Shen Yun put on its first touring show in 2007 and by 2023, had several dance companies sent out across the United States. They change programs every year.
Tickets were not cheap, but my friend Enola really wanted to go, so we bit the proverbial bullet and committed to the show. It was also nice to have a reason to dress up. Covid really changed dress standards in the US. I lost count of how many people I see wearing pajamas in public; it’s not just at Walmart anymore.
This year’s performance took about three hours and showcased 20 different dance, song, and musical vignettes. I found it interesting and thought provoking. Like many things artistic, the performance cannot always be separated from modern politics and social commentary. Having said that, I prefer to dwell on the things I enjoyed.
I won’t pretend to be an expert on what is traditional and what is modern Chinese dance, or what is a fusion of Western and Asian dance technique. Trying to define the ‘what is’ I found interesting. As show in the TV ads, there was a lot of gymnastic jumping and leaping, as well as rhythmic movements of the two dozen or so performers. The dancer costumes were in muted colors, with lots of trailing fabric to highlight their movements. In particular, I enjoyed the Mongolian chopstick dance. And it was something of a modern tie in to watch the dance of the Drunken Monk. Though the monk-dancer did not look like Jackie Chan. Perhaps the most striking element were the dances where they curtains went on a stage covered with smoke/fog, which concealed the dancers until they began their performance.
For once I was glad I was not in the front row of the audience. Because the fog had to go somewhere, as in down the stage, toward audience seating. However, most of the fog did not reach the audience. Being heavier than normal air, gravity pulled it down into the orchestra pit instead. I did not hearing any coughing or break in the music, so they must have been used to it.
I visited the Captain Flavel House and Museum. According to some, the family are still there.
The Bow Picker Fish & Chip Shop is located on a ‘drydocked’ location. And today, they were…
What to do afterward? Eat Jordanian Food
At the Petra House Restaurant.
taking time OFF AND LOOKING FOR CONTEXT
21 January 2023
I am looking forward to downtown Portland tomorrow. For Vancouverites, that must sound shocking for a few reasons. One is the traditional rivalry between the cities, separated by the Columbia and Willamette Rivers. Another is simply the wariness most people have of going to downtown Portland with all its complications. However, for me the reward with really be at the end of the journey. I am going to see the Shen Yun, Chinese performers.
I am taking my friend Enola. She told me that seeing them has been one of her life’s dreams. So we have pooled our resources, pulled out dress clothes, and will be part of the spectacle. This will not be my first time seeing this kind of performance. About six years ago, I attended another Asian acrobatic/dance troupe performance in Portland.
That time, I was on a date with an Asian-American woman with ethnic Chinese roots. She wanted to share her heritage with me, so throughout the performance, she whispered commentary about cultural context. Sometimes it was about the traditional meaning of colors, to symbolism of clothing, or mask design, etc. Every gesture and action had cultural meaning she told me. While I appreciated the insight, I came wonder who much of this context she knew for sure, and how much she was making up.
One portion of the performance portrayed a young warrior prince meeting a beautiful princess (don’t stop me if this sounds familiar). They walked around a garden of delights together, until an army of demons arrived on ropes. After a short struggle they beat the prince, and stole the princess. (I told you, don’t stop me if this sounds familiar.) A handful of the demons surrounded the prince, who lay beaten on the ground.
“You can tell those are demons,” my date told me in a stage whisper. “You can tell because they are wearing masks, each of which portrays a famous mythological demon.” The demons began circling the prince, yelling taunts at him.
“OK,” I whispered back. “I get you can tell those performers are demons, because of the masks. But…”
“But what,” she sounded a bit impatient.
“Why are they riding unicycles? What’s the cultural significance of demons riding unicycles?”
There was a long silence from her. Finally she said, “That’s probably something the dance choreographer put in to make it more exciting.”
“Oh,” I said. We finished watching the performance with a bit less commentary.
Planning for 2023 Events
20 January 2023
This week has been very busy. I have been trying to set up my schedule of events for 2023, and a bit beyond. This year, I am actively looking for events related to ghosts, cryptozoology, and entertainment having to do with ghosts and cryptozoology. I am lucky I live in the Pacific Northwest, where there is strong interest in all three. I remember when I was growing up, I had a reputation for being slightly creepy for my interest in the paranormal. I recently went to my high school reunion, the first time in over a decade. I found that society has caught up with me in being weird and slightly creepy!
I will be at Squatchfest 2023, in Kelso, WA, the weekend of 27 and 28 January. Unfortunately, I will not be on any panels, but I will attend one or two, if I can find someone to help out at my sales booth. One of the main speakers is Jeff Meldrum, who has been researching and writing on Bigfoot for decades.
In February, I will be at Fan Expo Portland from 17-19 February. In prior years, this was known as Wizard World Portland. I will be set up in the Author’s Alley most of the event. However, I expect to be on a few author panels as well. If someone wants to learn about self-publishing, or researching the paranormal, stop on by. My friends Rock Smith and Aaron Collins may be by as well.
In late March, the Oregon Ghost Conference takes place in Seaside, Oregon. I applied late for a vendor/display table. Let’s see if I can get one. If not, I will probably be walking around, or attending various talks and training sessions.
In addition to the paranormal, I still research and write on military history. If you are interested in this, I host military history talks about the Vancouver Barracks, WA. Check out the Vancouver Barracks Military Association website for our schedule: http://www.vbma.us/projectsTalks.html
I will post more about events from April through Halloween as we get closer to those dates.
Why Change Websites Now?
19 January 2023
This is my first spontaneous blog entry in new website. My introductory statement (above) was a bit less spontaneous. So where do I start? Which is more of a rhetorical question. Let me start with some reasons why I am changing over from an information based webpage to this personal webpage style.
Probably the biggest reason is to stay relevant. I have maintained a web presence for over 20 years now. When the general public started using the Internet, it was to cache and share information. At that time, I fit right in; I was an archaeologist and researcher, switching to paranormal researcher. In the years since, the Internet is still a place to store and share information, but is much more.
Now the Internet is a place where many people live a majority of their lives. That is not always a bad thing. You can get local and international news on the Internet. You can get sports and financial information on the Internet. You can talk to friends who live half the world away, on the Internet. You can meet that special someone and even get married on the Internet.
One of my younger friends, who is something of a social influencer and promoter told me, “Jeff, today, many people want to share the life-experience of people who do get out, go to interesting places, and do fun things. You should try it.”
“By that,” I asked, “Do you mean I should start following someone interesting on the Internet?”
“No,” he replied, “You’re interesting and you do fun and interesting things. You should post more of that on the Internet.”
Maybe it is modesty. Maybe it is a lack of self-insight, but I never considered myself that interesting, much less fun. Some people who know me think that I am boring. An opinion I share some of the time. Though I admit, I do some interesting things. So here I am, ready to share what I think are fun and interesting things that I do. I will do my best not to delve into politics or social commentary. That is the last refuge of people who do not have something interesting and fun to say. And there are some personal things I do not care to share; I hope you allow me some privacy.
I am not sure this mask is strictly portrayed in Chinese mythology alone, or all of Asia
It’s a shame they changed the name from Wizardworld, but I think it will be fun. I met one of the celebs years ago. We’ll see if she remembers me.
We’ll see whether or not there is space for me at the Oregon Ghost Conference.
I served over 30 years in the military. Many years at the Vancouver Barracks.
I will maintain this website for 2023 at least. Please visit for an archive look at past ghost stories and my travels.
Coming Soon! History of the World Part 2!