Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Badd Apple Speaks

It has come to Badd Apple's attention that a SMALL group of people are setting themselves up as a paranormal watchdog group. They have a new website, where they have already "rated" several sites. Personally, I have a problem with one thing about this website. I'm not opposed to what they are doing, because anyone has the right to set up a website and to state their preferences and give opinions. I do it all the time! But, what I'm concerned about is that people will think, because of the name they have selected for themselves, that this group is a true watchdog group and it is not. The very nature of a watchdog group is that it is separate from the system that that it is watchdogging over. The definition of a watchdog from www.answers.com

A dog trained to guard people or property.
One who serves as a guardian or protector against waste, loss, or illegal practices.

The people behind this effort are members of forums, have owned forums and websites, so they know their way around the paranormal world of the Internet. This does give them some insight, but it also makes them insiders, not outsiders, and as such do not, in my mind, fit the term watchdog. Some may find me a bit picky and maybe even pig-headed on this topic, but I can be a bit of a stickler about names. I think words matter, even if I don't always get them right the first time!

Anybody can set up a website with any available name.
What's in a name? In this case, the wrong message.

By that, I mean their name seems to say something different from what they are, which is a way to rate websites, as well as other things (movies, books, etc.). I agree with them that the current method for rating websites really doesn't work. The current system consists of sites where owners and members vote for their own sites in a ridiculous daily duel of endurance. The numbers are meaningless. I don't know all the good forums and paranormal websites out there. I certainly don't know enough to rate them. I don't know that this group is more qualified to judge than you or I. What I do believe is that your or my opinion may be different from the ones offered at this or any other watchdog/rating site, so keep that in mind. Don't take any ratings or rankings too much to heart. The other problem I have with this group is that others may feel they need to curry favor with this group in order to get a good rating. I'm not saying this is their intent, but nobody wants their site to get bad publicity.

My advice? If you visit this paranormal watchdog site or any others that might crop up, bear in mind that these people are "insiders" and not true "watchdogs." The only way you can get a truly impartial rating is to visit the sites for yourself. Yeah, I know, that can be time consuming, so you'll be tempted to let them do the work for you. It's your choice. It's one way to go about it.

YOU are the only one who can judge a website or forum discussion site and judge whether it fits your interest or style. This group may provide some useful information, but in the end you're on your own to make the final and most important rating, yours. And that's a good thing, because you are smart, you are worthy, and doggonit, Badd Apple likes you.

Click on the title of this post to visit the watchdogs!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Balloon Matters

Here is a series of caps I took on Christmas Eve of 2006 at from the ghostcam at Ordsall Hall in Salford, England. The manager left some balloons and other objects out as trigger objects in an experiment. The idea behind a trigger object is to see if it moves. You can see other objects to the left, a teddy bear, which did not move, and a Christmas decoration which untied itself and fell from the balcony. Usually, there is no movement. On this occasion, a total of 3 different balloons not only moved around, but left the room altogether and ended up down the hall in the kitchen. Two of them have already made their exodus on the previous evening. Here is a series of movements that I captured and put into a movie. It was a nearly windless night. There were no people in the building over the holidays to open and close doors. This balloon, which originally began its journey up on the podium against the back wall, is one of the ones that the next day gradually moved to the center of the room and then out the door. Enjoy the show.

One Year Later:
Children, More Balloons, and a Ghostly Figure

Followup: In a similar experiment conducted over the Easter weekend 2008, the balloons again put on a show. In checking with the staff and visitors, I'm told it is drafty, so there are air currents that might account for the balloons moving. But, once again, two balloons left the room entirely and went down a hallway into the kitchen, where I am told such currents do not exist. So, still odd behavior.

Last but not least, here is a cap I took in December. This one sat on my desktop and then in a file for weeks before I looked at it again. I originally capped it because of the children playing with the balloons. I thought it was charming and that I would post it some time when I wanted to illustrate the fun that children have visiting the hall.

When I went looking for it again in January, I noticed something mysterious that I had not seen originally, and that is the white object up on the balcony in the upper left, which I had originally assumed was sunlight. But, when I went back and looked at the cap again, I saw that dusk had fallen, so what was that up on the balcony?

Because the manager of the hall was on vacation, it was another two weeks before she returned and stated:

a. it was not one of the employees

b. no furniture (such as a bench) had been placed on the balcony

c. no other objects were placed there by the employees.

In short, she could not say what it was, only what it was not.The object has clearly defined edges that would not be present if this were light shining in from a window, so, I submit this here may be one of the ghosts of Ordsall, perhaps the same one who played with the balloons a year before looking longingly at the balloon being bounced aloft in a game by the children down below. We've all played that game. I've never been able to resist the game of keeping the balloon in the air and not letting it hit the ground, have you? Why not a ghost?

To watch the Ordsall Hall ghostcam, click on the title of this post.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Patiently Watching Ghostcams

First, a little information for anyone not familiar ghostcams. A ghostcam is a webcam (short for website camera) which broadcasts from a location that is purportedly haunted. Hence people watch them primarily in an effort to spot ghostly activity.

Historical sites have discovered that one way to increase interest in their properties is to take a cam, which may have originally been put up for security purposes, which is hooked into a computer which is hooked into the Internet, and have it broadcast images at regular intervals at a website where people may come watch it around the clock. Additionally, some private individuals set up these webcams in their own homes. The historical sites need  people to visit their properties and donate money for upkeep and renovation. These buildings are expensive to maintain. Private individuals may do it hoping that allowing strangers to view the activity in their home may help them uncover proof of paranormal activity. What other reasons there may be, I leave up to your imagination.

There are more ghostcams posted on the net every year. Some are at public sites where anyone may view them. Others belong to forums where you must register to be able to view their cams. Many people sit in front of their computer screens and look at ghostcams every day . . . and every night. How many people? No one knows. There is no way to keep track of their activity, but they look and they observe and sometimes they see things that shouldn't be there.

How long can you expect to watch a ghostcam before spotting any activity? Well, that depends on what kind of person you are and brings me to the following observation: People in the digital age of instant everything are IMPATIENT! They want what they want and they want it now. They want results, and they want them yesterday. Hence, some people quickly start to see ghosts everywhere they look, on the floor, on the walls, in the folds of curtains, in the waves of people's hair. Anywhere there are shadows cast, they see faces. There's a name for this phenomenon: pareidolia , but I like to call it apparitionus impacientum. They want to see, therefore they see. You can be like them or you can accept that the process might take a little longer since real ghosts don't appear on demand or onto fit anyone's schedule.

I confess that I succumed to apparitionus impacientum myself. I wanted to get in on the fun that everyone else seemed to be happening! After watching the Ordsall Hall cams for a few months, I started to see lines and shapes and spots that resembled a variety of characters. The first one I "saw" looked like a court jester. My favorite was an old king with a long beard, but I woke up from my delusion and admitted to myself, that as fun as the game of looking for people in the pixels had been, they were not real. They usually appeared in the stairway with the dirty stucco wall, and they never walked on out into the room. When I decided to turn on the logic circuit in my brain, I reasoned, ghosts can move. Ergo, if it doesn't move, it isn't a ghost.

Which brings us to an anomaly spotted recently on one of the Ordsall Hall ghostcams. A sharp-eyed watcher noticed that what appeared to be a candlestick on a sideboard along the back wall of the Star Chamber was in a different position when the cam refreshed, which for that cam, happens every 15 seconds. The viewer saved the images and posted them to the forum for viewing, and voilá, a comparison of positions shows that not only did the object move several inches to the right, but a cap from 6 minutes later showed it back in its original spot. This happened at a time late at night when no staff were present.  If you would like to see the original caps and read the forum discussion, click on the title of this post.

*UPDATE* The object may be a cross or crucifix and not a candlestick as first thought. One of the members of the Ordsall forum stated that on one of the many investigations held at the site, a medium reported that there was a ghost of a monk that was associated with a cross who was upset when it was moved during renovations. Is this the same cross? Which makes us wonder who moved it? Did one of the other ghosts move it, so that the Monkish monk would move it back? Was this a spirited prank, one ghost to another? 

I have seen some examples of paranormal activity caught on ghostcams, but only a few. Besides the candlesticks, there were the balloons that did a merry dance around the room,  a ball of glowing light, a dark wispy shape, the face of a young girl among an adult crowd. If I were to do a percentage, it would be a tiny portion of those caps posted by viewers, but those few are thrilling. For those who are truly interested in looking for evidence of ghosts, check out some links and if you find one you like, you have something to do on those days or evenings when you have a little time on your hands. Conclusion? Yes, you may actually be able to spot paranormal activity on a ghost cam, assuming there are ghosts present (i.e. the place truly is haunted), but this is an endeavor for people who are both persistent and patient, because it takes both to catch a ghost!