Posts Tagged with "sociology"

Ghost in the Machine

August 27th, 2008 at 12:36 pm by Mark
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     For whatever reason, the house I’m in now has some pretty bad wiring.  It’s a relatively new house — built in the 70’s, perhaps early 80’s — and shouldn’t have the problems it does. 
     Unfortunately, that’s one of the things you’ll always get into when you own a home.  There are quirky things about most every house.  In this one, the fuse box may even be a bit overloaded…

     Last Friday night, I had an overwhelming sense of dread.  I felt like someone close to me was in trouble, and there was nothing I could do.  I was distraught, and I couldn’t shake that feeling.  My car had messed up the night before, and just everything seemed to be going the wrong way.  And what should happen but every time I came into the room and sat down on the bed, the ceiling fan would begin this eerie whining, and shake violently back and forth.
     But it only happened when I came back into the room and sat down on the bed…

     I tested that theory seven or eight times, and finally decided to pull out the voice recorder and leave it running in the otherwise silent room for a few minutes… I mean, a little EVP never hurt anyone, right?

     And so, two things became obvious:

  1. Those weren’t ghosts.  They were telephone signals.  There’s obviously a massive amount of Extremely Low Frequency radiation pointed at this upstairs room from “somewhere,” and somehow, it’s bleeding through.  Perhaps it’s the fault of bad grounding in this house’s wiring, or perhaps having a telecommunications transmitter inadvertently pointed directly at this room is the whole problem with the wiring.
  2. The ceiling fan was never mounted straight, and it was extremely loose.  I opened and closed the door each time I moved from the bed, walking into the hallway, and just that amount of air pressure was enough to make the ceiling fan go crazy.  A few twists of the screwdriver fixed the problem, however, it’s still off balance… just not so much that the door makes it appear to be a murder weapon from the afterlife.

     This really made me give a lot more thought to the whole EVP phenomenon.

     Sure, you can make recordings in silence, and end up with all sorts of noises.  Ambient and background noises, wind and air pressure changes and other miscellaneous sounds that you wouldn’t normally notice become amplified.  Since the dynamic range of most microphones is significantly wider than that of the human ear, and the fact that the final recording becomes compressed to fit into an audible bandwidth — not to mention the problems of noise from the internal mechanism on tape recorders and sounds created by digital processing on voice recorders — you end up hearing all sorts of noises that can sound rather ghastly.  It’s the perfect illustration of the old saying, “ghost in the machine.”

     You simply have to take a scientific approach to this sort of thing, otherwise, you’ll end up convincing yourself of all sorts of crazy stuff.  As another old saying goes, “Enough research will tend to support your theory.”

     Inspired by movies like Stir of Echoes, Sixth Sense and White Noise, and entertainment television shows like Ghost Hunters, I know too many people who run around recording EVP.  Most of them are convinced that Ghost Hunters is real, as they’re unable to distinguish the difference between science, pseudoscience and entertainment. 
     These types also totally buy into most of the crazy conspiracy theories going around.

     But, like they’d assuredly tell me … I’m just too cynical… *rolls eyes*

     As for that “feeling of dread” I had Friday night (and through the weekend), I was more than right — in fact, I was dead on, right down to times.  As cynical as I might be, there’s still the fact that I perceive things that I shouldn’t be able to.
     You either get used to that or you don’t.

Inappropriate Laughter

April 2nd, 2008 at 9:46 am by Mark
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     Everyone knows everything everyone else does small towns, although they live quite a distance apart.  One day, in my best redneck accent (I do voices quite well, and though it’s dead-on, you’ll rarely meet anyone who sounds as inbred as I do when I do it), I quipped, “By God, you could fart at one end o’ th’ county and by the time ya git to th’ other end, ever’body knows what it smelt like!”
     They died laughing, although they didn’t like that I said “fart.”

     Good thing they don’t hear some of the other words I say on a regular basis…

     One of the things I’ve always known is that there are many factions in small towns.  There are people who it’s okay to talk to, and there are people who it’s not.  That’s kind can get tricky, because quite honestly, I talk to everybody and don’t care about that kind of stuff.  Generally, people don’t bother to get upset with me about it, because I’m a “nice guy.”
     One of the unique things, tho, is the constant use of the archaic word “queer” to describe these people you’re not supposed to talk to or “watch out” for. Although, it has nothing to do with someone’s sexual preference, and is pronounced quite differently…  
     One day, I asked, “Quare?  How ya spell ‘at?  Like ‘square’ without the ‘s’?”
     This resulted in the age-old, universal, one-fingered gesture in my general direction.
     To which I replied, “Well, ain’t that mighty Christian of ya?!”

     Also good for a laugh.

     A couple of weeks ago, after hearing about how everyone in town was “queer,” someone asked me, “So, Mark, how ya like it here?”
     I said, “I dunno.  They’s too many quares.”
     “What?” they asked, shocked.
     “Yeah, by God, ever’body I talk to, they tell me, he’s quare, she’s quare, and by God, they even told me you was, too!”
     The blank look was priceless.

     Give it a minute, give it a minute… Yep, they died laughing.  😉

     Another incident happened when an elderly gentleman came up and said, “Oh, man, it’s a beautiful day!  I’m gonna home and work in my garden!  Do you have a garden, Mark?”
     “No, sir,” I replied.  Keeping a straight face, I added, “My girl won’t let me play with hoes.”
     One person who overheard the conversation cupped her hand over her mouth to keep from laughing.  It took him a minute to catch on.

     Now every time I see him, he laughs, and tells me, “Stay away from them hoes!”

     Another day, I was answering questions about some software when I leaned forward and hit my funny bone on the edge of the desk.  My uncontrollable reaction was to blurt out, “Motherf…” at which point, I caught myself and stopped the profanity midstream.
     She ignored it, and continued her explanation of the software issue without skipping a beat.
     I gave her the answer and showed her an alternative method to do what she was asking.
     She responded to the answer, and added, “And, by the way, I know that must have hurt.  But next time, just go ahead and finish the word because we all knew what you were thinking, anyway.”

     Laughter is always good medicine.

     And being just slightly off-color does tend to relax even the most uptight people.

     Older people, especially, seem to enjoy it even more…