Ghost Camp!

06.22.2010 · Posted in Ghosts

ghost camp Teens interested in the paranormal now have new options for parental-approved summer activity. Mom doesn’t like you skulking around a graveyard with your friends? How about if she pays for an instructor to take you?

This year, Mount Wachusett Community College is including Paranormal Investigations Camp for teens as part of its summer program for youths. The course will cover the different types of paranormal activity, how to investigate (and sometimes debunk) paranormal activity, and how to handle the aftermath of the investigation. Teens in the course will get to participate in an actual investigation and will receive a video of the findings.

For anyone looking for something different to do this summer, there is a camp offered by PsyKids in North Carolina. The Enchanted Forest Intuitive Arts Camp is for all ages and lasts for one week. It includes classes on nature elementals, energy healing, dowsing, color, orbs, and more. The more intense camp is advertised as being for the “multisensorily gifted and talented” of all ages. Activities include an Enchanted Faerie Walkabout, a trip regarding tree spirits and ghosts, orb photography, meditation on world peace and social justice, swimming, and beach volleyball.

In October, you can attend a three-day, two-night “camp in Brandywine Valley, in Chester County, Pennsylvania. The camp includes walking ghost tours of West Chester, Phoenixville, and a colonial plantation. The camp promises you will “make memories that will haunt you forever.”

These camps sound a little more interesting than your standard hey-it’s-raining-time-for-macaroni-art camps. I’ll bet the quality of ghost stories told at bedtime is way better than the old man-with-the-hook-arm-and-the-teens-in-the-parked-car tale (though that did make for a fun episode of “Supernatural”). Know of any other ghost-related camps? Please leave a comment and let us know!

– Julie


Mark Of The Beast At It Again

06.21.2010 · Posted in Legally Weird

Over 1,000 families in the heavily Christian state of Mizoram in India are refusing to take part in the government’s census-taking activities. Their refusal to participate in the National Population Register (NPR) is based on the passage in the Book of Revelations in the Bible about the mark of the Beast.

How is a census connected to the mark of the Beast? Well, in India, the NPR involves a Unique Identification Card, without which people are not permitted to buy or sell property. The passage in the Bible says “no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.” Some of the Mizoram Christians did the math and decided having the card meant being a follower of the Beast. For the same reasons, many of those same families refuse to send their children to school or obtain ration cards to allow them to purchase discounted rice.

Church officials in the area encouraged their followers to participate in the NPR and stressed the importance of the survey. Those who refuse to cooperate face fines of up to Rs 1,000 and up to three years in prison, in addition to being left without the right to vote or access to many government benefits.

This doesn’t seem quite as nutty as the case involving the school security officer in New York, but it still seems pretty silly, especially since the leaders of the churches these families belong to are telling them it’s ok to participate in the NPR. Do these people also not have passports or drivers licenses or anything else like that? Maybe not.

Does using my credit cards to buy things, or even my debit card, or a check, maybe even printed money, count as having the mark of the Beast? Should I only be using raw metals or bartering for goods? Does my ISP address count? My official street address? What about my birth certificate with the official seal on it? Have I been doomed from birth? Seriously, people need to get a grip on the whole MOTB thing. I’m pretty sure that if someone’s going to be condemned for eternity, it won’t be for participating in a census or using an ID card. If I’m wrong, then most of us are in for a heap of trouble.



Miracle In Argentina?

06.20.2010 · Posted in Miracles/Hoaxes

bleedingjesus A substance that looks like fresh blood has appeared on the forehead and face of a carving of Christ in a depiction of the Last Supper in the Oratory of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Yerba Buena, Argentina. The “blood” looks like it originated on the front left side of the head, where it would have been pierced by a crown of thorns, then tricked down the face.

A local priest, Father Jorge Gandur, collected some of the substance and sent it to be tested to see what it is.

Thousands of pilgrims have already come to the see the potential miracle, despite words of caution from the of the Archdiocese  of Tucuman, which has asked people not to jump to the conclusion that this is a holy supernatural event.

Reports of bleeding religious iconography have been discounted due to analysis of the blood, which sometimes turned out to be paint or colored water. None have been recognized by the Catholic Church as authentic or sufficiently unexplainable.

There is something about religious status that might be bleeding that completely freaks me out. Way more than if vampires, werewolves, zombies, etc. were real, even though that would probably be a lot more dangerous. Really, I should probably be more afraid of the people that appear every now and then to tinker with or do some half-assed cleanup on the semi-abandoned house next door to mine. I mean, what exactly is going on in there? Why did they bring a U-Haul over yesterday to just take what looked like a child’s car seat away? Why does the backyard look like it could be part of Tennessee’s Body Farm experiments?

Back to the complete creepiness of the bleeding statues. Why would that happen? If something great were about to happen, why would a sign include blood? If it’s a miracle, then whatever or whoever causing it could surely create something a little more uplifting, like making the statues talk instead and tell us. No, it seems more likely that if a bleeding Jesus or Mary were really to happen, it would only be because either something really awful had happened and we were being informed that we were making God cry, basically, and were likely to get the crap smitten out of us if we didn’t watch it, or that something really awful was about to happen and that we should pretty much hang it up and start praying. Either way, not good. This is why I get nervous when I see reports like this and do a little internal happy dance of relief when they are shown to be hoaxes. Hoaxes might disappoint some people, but at least they aren’t signs of impending apocalypse.

I anxiously await confirmation of well-intentioned but ill-guided hoaxery in this case. Until then I’ll get back to worrying about why there is suddenly a lot of freshly cut firewood stacked at the creepy house.

– Julie

P.S. Did you know there is a drink called the “Bleeding Jesus”? That’s just gross.


Room With A Boo

06.19.2010 · Posted in Ghosts, Hauntings

Rowlandson_Covent_Garden_Night_Mare hotel room ghosts

He ought to at least get a complimentary breakfast for that

It used to be that having what seemed to be a ghost in one’s hotel room was grounds for calling the front desk and demanding a room change. Now it’s a reason to seek out particular hotels to book an exciting vacation.

Several hotels, likely in dire need of income from summer guests after the past few years of people indulging in “staycations” to save money, are cashing in on the recent surge in interest in the paranormal to entice tourists to book stays.

In Eureka Springs, Arkansas, two hotels are running a special deal for tourists interested in being haunted. Here’s what the “Paranormal Pair Package” entails: a room for one night at the Crescent Hotel, rumored to be haunted, of course; a room for one night at the Basin Park Hotel, also haunted, two ghost tour tickets for each hotel (yes, the hotels are even *charging extra* for possible encounters with spirits); and my favorite part, two “collectible ghost squeezees.”

I had no idea what a squeezee is. The Google failed to enlighten me, but the site informed me that it is a “a foam hand-held stress reliever in the shape of a ghost.” Well, that sounds like a fabulous and durable souvenir. Maybe a glow-in-the-dark ghost keychain or cup would be better. If you book the “Spirit of The Crescent Package,” you get a video and a t-shirt. The “Most Fun” package a t the Basin Park Hotel comes with all kinds of ghost tour and underground tour tickets and a disposable camera (great for taking blurry pictures – proof of ghosts, you know – and pictures of orbs – not dust! No! Ghosts!).

The Inn at Duck Creeke in Wellfleet is also claiming to be home to some spirits who bring a little extra to the guests’ stays. A recent article in the local paper highlighted tales of ghostly activity at the hotel. The owners claim they don’t tell the guests about the ghosts but will chat about them if the guests bring it up. (1) Right. They don’t like to talk about it, hence the newspaper article in which they go on at length about it. (2) Nice. That’s as bad as not telling the guests that the hot water tends to be absent, then saying “oh, yes. That happens from time to time. Ha ha. Sorry about that. Hope that hasn’t affected your stay.”

Naturally, the Stanley Hotel (the setting for Stephen King’s book, “The Shining”) is attempting to draw in tourists with some good paranormal pr work. The hotel offers historic ghost tours, a special Halloween weekend including “The Shining Ball” (the flyer shows an eerie image of a man with an axe, with REDRUM scrawled in red below him), and a gift shop that sells all kinds of goodies commemorating the famous novel. When I visited there years ago, I bought a postcard in the gift shop, and it was just a regular picture of the hotel, with no hint of any kitschy ghosty murdery stuff on it. The woman working in the shop said “Just the card?” to me in as icy and snobby a tone as she could muster, as if I were being the biggest cheapskate ever (hey, I was, I was in grad school amassing colossal student loan debt). I thought, hey, lady, YOU’RE the one working in a shop surrounded by “redrum” sweatshirts, so perhaps you ought to take the condescension down a notch, hmm? I’m sure they probably sold squeezees, too.

– Julie


School Being Built On A Graveyard

06.18.2010 · Posted in Ghosts, Hauntings, Legally Weird

Ghost school built on graveyardKids are often afraid to go to school. Between bullies, tests, phys ed, pop quizzes, and paddling, it’s not hard to see why. Children in Memon Mohalla in Pakistan can now add fear of ghosts to that list.

Some planning gone seriously wrong resulted in construction of a primary school in a graveyard. How did someone not discover this problem before the bulldozers moved in? Residents managed to halt construction temporarily while they sued to have the school built elsewhere.

Officials apparently decided it would be easier to clear land in the cemetery than to evict people illegally occupying government land that would be sufficient for school space.

This wouldn’t be a first. Schools elsewhere have been built on graveyards, like a school in Toledo, Italy, and a school in New Westminster, British Columbia, Canada, among others. In Illinois, there are reports of multiple schools built over graveyards, and many of those schools are said to be haunted.

Well, I suppose despite the creepiness of having children occupy buildings construction over burial sites, there could be some benefits. Maybe really clever and not easily scared kids can figure out a way to get any ghosts present to help them get the answers to tests or hack into the computer system to change their grades. Productions of “Hamlet” could have real ghosts drafted into service. Pranksters could pull all kinds of stunts and blame them on the ghosts. Do you suppose they’ll have the school nurses trained on minor exorcisms?

– Julie


Is Demonic Possession A Pre-Existing Condition?

06.17.2010 · Posted in Demons, Exorcism, Legally Weird

Exorcism not covered by insuranceAs if battling demonic possession and going through an exorcism weren’t troublesome enough, try adding a lawsuit against an insurance company to the whole mess. I think I’d rather deal with the demonic possession.

The Cincinnati Insurance Company has denied a claim by City Church for All Nations / Cherry Hill Church Ministries and several associated people because it says its liability policy won’t cover injuries sustained during an exorcism of a boy with autism.

A volunteer worker at the church, Edward Uyesugi, told another parishioner he could cure her son’s autism by casting demons out of the boy’s body. What happened next sounds like Uyesugi offered to put the boy in a cast rather than cast something out of him. Uyesugi pounded on the boy’s chest, put his hand down the boy’s throat to pull out a demon (causing the child to vomit blood), and hit the boy in the face. Uyesugi was convicted of felony battery and criminal confinement over the incident. The church and the boy’s family sought to have the insurance company pay for any damages they might be awarded against Uyesugi.

Interestingly, the company says the policy doesn’t cover the injuries not because it doesn’t cover damage from exorcisms, but because Uyesugi was not acting as a representative of or within the scope of his volunteer employment by the church during the exorcism.

The policy does exclude injury “due to the rendering or failure to render any professional services,” so one can infer that the policy won’t cover injuries sustained during an exorcism or injuries caused by refusal to perform one.

So, if you want to be involved in an exorcism, you should probably assume that you are doing so at your own risk, both physically and financially. I guess that’s why the people on the paranormal TV shows stick to some pretty gentle exorcism rituals like smudging or calmly and sternly reading prayers or telling spirits or demons to leave. No beatings, no waterboarding, no restraints. It’s not that they’re afraid of the spirits, it’s that they’re afraid of litigation.

– Julie


University Of Florida Students No Longer Protected From Zombies

06.16.2010 · Posted in Zombies

zombiestudents School officials at the University of Florida seem to like a good joke, but not enough to keep it around. Not even just in case. In case of what? Zombies. Let’s hope they don’t regret that decision. Seriously. Because that would mean zombies attacked, and that wouldn’t be good at all now would it?

The University had put links to its emergency response plans online, including a link to plans for handling a zombie apocalypse. The report included a recommendation to form a specialized zombie response team within the University Police Department. Whether due to budget concerns or lack of concern about the undead rising and attacking students, the University has declined to form such a team.

The plan itself can be seen at and is pretty thorough. It includes an explanation of why zombies should be referred to as “life impaired” rather than “undead.” The Infected Co-Worker Dispatch Form is fantastic.

The person who included the zombie preparedness plans was not reprimanded because the University apparently appreciated the attempt to add some levity to an otherwise somber subject. I guess one thing a university can still afford these days is a sense of humor. Or maybe it’s just concerned that it could be really hard to distinguish a life-impaired zombie from a student stumbling home after the bars close. You know, until it’s too late and they’ve tried to eat someone’s brains, because that might be about the only way to tell.

It seems our government might be taking this a little more seriously: Guantanamo_guards_prepare_for_zombie_attacks

– Julie


WWJD? Probably Not Play In Traffic While Naked

06.15.2010 · Posted in Weird Criminals

JesusTraffic A naked man stood by I-95 in Darien, Connecticut and yelled that he was Jesus. The self-proclaimed savior fled in a car when police arrived, but they managed to apprehend him. Naturally, drivers found this somewhat distracting, and a five-vehicle accident ensued.

Fortunately, no one was killed. The driver of a semi-trailer had his head, legs, and arms pinned in his truck, and it took a long time to extract him. An officer on the scene said, “He couldn’t have done much worse but somehow he managed to stay in the void and stay alive.” Maybe this Jesus saved, too.

It is unknown in the naked man has been charged with any offense, and his name has not been released. Maybe it really is Jesus, just not THAT Jesus.

Do you suppose anyone involved in the crash yelled “Jesus!” just before impact?

– Julie


Imp-possible To Depict

06.14.2010 · Posted in Demons, Ghosts

impphoto Citizens of Nueva Palmira, Uruguay, are abuzz about the appearance of a strange imp-like creature on a power line last week. People called the police to report seeing a flying creature standing on and hovering above a high voltage power line by the port for several hours.

Witnesses said the creature changed colors and was shaped like a doll. It seemed to become annoyed and would move away or wave and shake its head when they shined their flashlights on it. Of course, no one was able to take a good picture of the thing.

Really? It was there for HOURS and no one could get a decent picture of it? Sure, I can see where phone cameras might not have been that great. I can take a picture of my brother dressed in a suit and tie with mine and it will look like I might have finally gotten photographic evidence of bigfoot, and my concert photos look like an alien invasion is upon us, but come on, people. No one had time to run home and get a real camera or go into a convenience store and buy a disposable Kodak?

Oh wait, I get it, the very fact that people tried to get photos on their phones and couldn’t get any good ones must be proof that it’s such a mysterious and otherworldly creature that it can’t be caught on our primitive imagining equipment.

How about at least producing a sketch based on witness descriptions, then?  A crude crayon depiction on a cocktail napkin perhaps? Nope. We don’t even get to see the “bad” phone photos. Maybe the reporter left out the part where the “imp” threw wads of cash down to the witnesses to bribe them into not producing any depictions of it. Or maybe it threatened to come back and eat their children. Whatever. Serious points off for lack of visual aids, folks.

– Julie


Twitter Study Proves Nothing. Surprise!

06.13.2010 · Posted in Mental Powers Wiseman, a professor of psychology from the University of Hertfordshire, conducted a “scientific experiment” via Twitter to determine the existence of psychic powers. I’m sorry, but Twitter and scientific studies don’t quite seem to go together. Novelty studies, sure, but nothing involving real scientific method. I mean, please, this is a site where people broadcast things like “Bbq err wha ahaha” (really) as if that makes any sense or anyone cares.

So this “study” involved the professor traveling to an undisclosed location and asking people to tweet where they thought he was. How many of them said “team Edward!” in response rather than giving a location has not been disclosed. Then Wiseman put up four pictures of locations, said he was at one of them, and invited people to tweet their thoughts about which one of the four was correct. “mmm….donuts…” was apparently not the kind of response Wiseman was looking for.

Based on the responses of over 7,000 people, probably including several spambots, Wiseman concluded that their overall poor guesses indicate that psychic powers might not exist. That’s quite a conclusion to leap to based on the responses of people who enjoy playing games on Twitter. Also, just because most people don’t possess a certain skill or ability doesn’t mean some people don’t. Using Wiseman’s logic, NBA-level basketball skills probably don’t exist, either, or the ability to perform successful neurosurgery.

Experiments like this, and the others on Wiseman’s blog, are fun, and there’s nothing wrong with them. The danger is in people taking the results of these unscientific though interesting experiments as proof of anything. Especially the Twitter tests. Dear God, please don’t let that get out of hand. I don’t want policy decisions based on what FoxyBootteelicious123 or ILoveCheezWhiz45 think.

– Julie