Monday, 28 December 2009

Shadow People: The Final Word

As I'm sure you know, Dear Constant Reader, I have an obsession with Shadow People. I thought it was time to merge my experiences with the best information available and close the door on this chapter of the blog so we can move forward on to new subjects for the future.

When I was a child I saw these things, these Shadow People, and those memories have stayed with me as I've grown, and they still help keep my sceptical mind open. The main experience sticks particularly out in my mind as, thanks to my beloved Auntie Melly, some confirmation that part of the events really did happen.

I was only 4 or 5 years old, living in my Nan's house in Snodland with her, my Mum, Auntie Melly and my Uncle Graham. On the night I want to talk about everyone had gone out, except for Melly who was babysitting me with her boyfriend, Mick. Now the house, number 9 Sharnall Lane, sat opposite a graveyard, and on 2 sides of it was a spooky (for my over imaginative imagination anyway!) disused road leading to a large house that had been abandoned... it was partially obscured by trees and my young mind always pictured it as some old colonial style house with a porch etc (in Snodland? Yeah... right). And to knock it off the rumour among the children of the street was that it was built over an old plague pit. So I'll admit... I was always in the state of mind to expect the unexpected.

That night she put me to bed, leaving the door open on to the hallway. The stairs ran at right angles to the hallway down the side of my room. It wasn't more than five minutes later, as I stared lazily out the door into a hallway lit only with the light from downstairs, that it strode into view as if it'd walked down the hall from my Nan's room, not up the stairs. It nearly filled the doorway. It was pitch black, man shaped shadow, and beyond its outline and its rather large size (I'd guess 6'8" and built big, so pretty much like me now!) there was nothing discernible... no facial features or clothes... except that is for his bright red eyes. Now like any young child seeing that I SCREAMED!!!! Melly came crashing up the stairs and the Shadow strode of out of view down the hall. I told her what I'd seen and she seemed worried. She rushed out and called for Mick and together they checked the other rooms. She came back and calmed me down as best she could and they both wandered downstairs relieved. It was just a child's nightmare...

And as they got comfy on the sofa again, he strode back into the doorway just as before and now this time I know I was awake and he stared at me. The level of malevolence in that stare is not really describable, as if he was a shadow superman firing beams of pure hate out of his eyes. I know this sounds silly but this time I was too scared to scream. It was the barks of my Nan's toy poodle Lucy that scared him away this time. She came charging up the stairs and down the hallway after him. I called for Melly and she came and I told her what happened. Lucy was now sitting in the hallway growling (this wasn't unusual... she was a mean tempered little creature who would growl all day long just for fun). Melly told me not to be silly, it had been Mick all along, trying to scare me.

I was so relieved, not quite believing her but wanting to believe her, and I fell asleep quickly after that. The door was closed this time.

He never came back any other night, but it was a long, long time before I started sleeping with the door even slightly ajar. It wasn't unusual for me to close every door in the house if I was ever left alone in it until well into my early twenties.

A year or so before Melly died I was talking with her about something and the subject of that night came up. I laughingly joked to her about how silly it had been for me to think Mick was a demon! She then said something that made me feel rather ill

"Jay" (for that is how I was known back in the day!) "it wasn't Mick, I just wanted you to go to sleep so said it was. You and Lucy really freaked me and him out!!!"

But at during this same period I also encountered, very often, another form of Shadow Person. Often I would see two small figures wearing hooded cloaks. They were always outside and whenever I saw them they would run away at impossibly fast speeds. Sometimes I'd just spot the tops of their hoods out the window as if they were sneaking past the house. Other times I'd catch a glimpse of them running down the footpath opposite. At the time, as a child, I thought they were witches and as I grew older and moved away I put them down to my childish imagination. In fact I almost completely forgot about them until I began researching Shadow People online. I came across a fundie site about Shadow People and almost fainted when I saw this page. My imaginary witches were not just things I'd been dreaming up alone. Worse came when I found this video which features a brief clip of one of the Hooded Shadows.

This is where I face my conundrum. On the one side I am a sceptical atheist who scorns the weirdo beliefs of woomeisters worldwide. On the other hand I have this set of experiences in one house as a child which are almost certainly not figments of my imagination (although that does not suggest they are absolutely "paranormal") . It's something I find hard to fit into my nice neat little world view and something I struggle with every day. But it's time to stop. The Shadow People are no longer part of my life and I shall put them to one side for now, a mere blip in my worldview and not something to worry about. Time for me to start leaving my bedroom door open again...

This blogger works for nothing but the joy of writing but always appreciates things bought from his wishlist

Monday, 9 November 2009

The End Of History

Today marks 20 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall. It happened so suddenly that Helmut Kohl, the German Chancellor, was out of the country and even George Bush Snr. admits that nobody in the west had even an inkling of what was coming despite the refugee crisis that proceeded it's collapse. Whilst the fall of the wall does not mark "The End Of History" as proclaimed by Francis Fukuyama, it does, for me, mark the end of a period of history. And I'm not talking about just the Cold War. It serves as a bookend to a era started by another singularly unexpected event... the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand back in 1914. The outbreak of the First World War was the opening salvo in a European civil war which brought misery to our continent until finally the Berlin Wall fell and brought about the beginning of the end of a dark era in our history.

And just as few people know much about European history in the years leading up to the First World War (the early years of the 20th Century are fascinating mainly for bearing very little resemblance to the world that was to follow... the First World War changed everything), the history of the Cold War ends (for many) at the point of the wall falling. Few remember the bloody events in Romania in December 1989 and fewer still know the story of the final collapse of the Soviet Union two years later. The fall of the Berlin Wall may have been just one event among many but it served as a mental shorthand for everything that followed (and a little of what proceeded it).

Despite this, it really was a momentous event in it's own right... brought about by a bureaucratic slip up at a press conference and seen through peacefully thanks to the determination of the East Berlin populace and the good sense of the East German guards who finally stood aside. If even one of them had decided to make a stand, however unlikely that might seem, we might look upon this date as something quite different.

20 years ago, our continent finally set about healing long held wounds and began the process of moving forward again into a new era... that is why we should be proud of the achievements of the people of Berlin that day. And very grateful too.

This blogger works for nothing but the joy of writing but always appreciates things bought from his wishlist

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

The Miracle Of The Sun

92 years ago today 100,000 people in Portugal appear to have gone momentarily insane. The less sceptical call this incident the Miracle Of The Sun. I call it baloney.

This blogger works for nothing but the joy of writing but always appreciates things bought from his wishlist

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

East Germany: 60 Years On

There are many countries over the years which have come and gone. You need only check out, the sadly now defunct, website "Footnotes To History" to see just how many countries have existed relatively recently that you probably know nothing about.

But 60 years ago today one country was founded which would have an influence well beyond anything most other former countries could dream of. The German Democratic Republic (Deutsche Demokratische Republik or DDR) was formed from the Soviet Occupation Zone in post war Germany and came in to being in direct response to the creation of the Federal Republic of Germany in the western Occupation Zones of the USA, UK and France.

It was to last just 40 years before the end of the Soviet Union and the fall of Communism in Europe brought about the long awaited reunification of the two Germanies. Here's a few pictures to remember the era.

Soviet tanks put down the 1953 East German uprising in East Berlin

A Trabant P50 - The most recognisable product from the DDR (check out a tribute here)

A Luftstreitkräfte der NVA Mig 23- Thanks to it's front line status the DDR often got the top Soviet tech well before other Warsaw Pact nations.

Before 1961 Berlin residents could travel between the four different sectors with, relative, ease. Afterwards the citizens of the Soviet Zone were faced with a wall and the chance of death if they thought of trying to cross the boundary.

The Palast der Republik in Berlin was the home of the DDR's parliament, the Volkskammer, despite East Berlin being legally the responsibility and territory of the Soviet Union.

By 1990 the winds of change had well and truly blown and in the dying days of the DDR the people took their revenge by storming the offices of the hated Stasi. Read more about the crimes of the Stasi here.

There's plenty of information out there about the fascinating, if sometimes disturbing, history of East Germany. Give it a read! 

Further Reading 

The People's State: East German Society from Hitler to Honecker by M Fulbrook (UK Amazon, US Amazon)

Stasiland: Stories from Behind the Berlin Wall - Anna Funder (UK Amazon, US Amazon)

This blogger works for nothing but the joy of writing but always appreciates things bought from his wishlist

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Romney Marsh Myths and Legends

The Romney Marsh Times has a piece on the myths and legends of Romney Marsh, a place close to my home town (which is very much in my thoughts at the moment as I make plans to return to live there). Check it out!

This blogger works for nothing but the joy of writing but always appreciates things bought from his wishlist

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Chernobyl: 20 Years Later

I'm sure you all know what happen at Chernobyl on the 26th April 1986. And I'm many of you have kept abreast of the ongoing reports from within the sealed off area, of conflicting reports nature dying/thriving and of the people who still live there.

Well... here are some outstanding pictures from around Chernobyl taken 20 years on. They are absolutely fascinating. Moments in time seemingly captured (if slightly rusted) for decades. And in others the decay speaks for itself. Check them out.

This blogger works for nothing but the joy of writing but always appreciates things bought from his wishlist

Sunday, 20 September 2009

9/11 "Truth"

Conspiracy theories are, in my opinion, reliant upon one's level of belief in the quality of the average human mind. If, like me, you believe all humans have a very limited mental capacity and are pretty unreliable then conspiracy theories often strike you as a bit bizarre and unbelievable.

Nothing stinks more of this than the conspiracies that swirl around the events of the 11th of September 2001.

I find that Truthers lack the ability to imagine. They are unable to imagine the destruction a jet liner can render. They are unable to imagine the fact skyscrapers aren't outside the laws of physics are just as destructible as any other human creation. They are unable to imagine the damage FALLING skyscrapers can have on the buildings around them. They are unable to imagine that 19 men armed with only small knives were able to bring about such murderous destruction. They are unable to imagine the hurt and pain their made up stories and their ignorance must cause to victims and families alike.

Let me make things clear. I HATE George W. Bush. I would be the first person to call for his arrest if there was any evidence of his, or any Government body, complicity in the 9/11 attacks. But even if he was aware something was up in the world of risks to American security that autumn, that isn't really enough to convict the man for "complicity" that's just your run of the mill, head in the sand politician for you.

Read those conspiracy theories on Wikipedia and then try taking them seriously. They make less sense than what we all saw happen before our eyes that day. They have been so roundly and thoroughly debunked it actually blows my mind to see people still proposing them. In my mind the people suggesting a Titanic/Olympic switch theory are more sane than the Truthers.

Why am I going on about this? Because the Truthers represent to me everything that makes researching the anomalous near impossible. People are dumb. We are all total idiots. We see things that aren't there. We see things that are there and then think they are something else. The Truthers are one of the reasons I regard EVERY claim with scepticism. Keep your mind open to other possibilities but steer well clear of the clinically stupid.

This blogger works for nothing but the joy of writing but always appreciates things bought from his wishlist

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

The Paracast

By now, Dear Constant Reader, I'm sure you realise I tend to lean strongly towards scepticism. That doesn't mean I'm closed minded, nor do I pretend to have the answers. But I also don't really have any "beliefs". I like facts, which are hard to come by anywhere, let alone in the sphere of the anomalous. Another thing about me, which you may not know, is that I am a keen listener of podcasts. They help pass the time on my daily commute across London and back again. I listen to a lot of sceptical podcasts (Like The Skeptics Guide To The Universe and Skepticality, which I highly recommend for being entertaining and informative. And for kicking the butts of the antivax crowd and the like) and I listen to quite a few paranormal podcasts (which I won't link to as most I've found are self-indulgent pieces of promotion for the friends of the podcasters). But a few months ago I came across The Paracast.

The Paracast is a podcast with an interest in the anomalous (especially UFO reports). Hosted by Gene Steinberg and David Biedny, this podcast is not full of "true believers". These two guys truly seem interested in finding out the truth and are refreshingly open minded about what might cause sightings and encounters. And when I say open minded I don't mean the usual paranormal open mindedness that leads to weird beliefs in all sorts of bizarre and ridiculous things. I mean they truly seek to try to understand what is behind the phenomena be it Fortean or be it something more mundane.

They seem to have a reputation of being a bit harsh on their interviewees. Having listened to a lot of their shows, I have to say it's not deserved. What they do is talk to their guests like they are adults and have a conversation with them. Sadly, in this time of bad journalism and sycophantic interviews, this is interpreted by some as rudeness or abrasiveness. Personally I think it's great to hear them asking some pointed questions of crazy fundamentalists (who believe UFOs are piloted by demons) and, in their most recent show, trying to get a straight answer from the lamest sceptic I've ever heard. Honestly his answers were totally off the mark and made me ashamed to consider myself a sceptic. Get Dr. Steven Novella on, and then we might get a real debate going!

I cannot recommend this podcast enough, it's great entertainment and if they continue with the way they are going they might finally "separate signal from noise" and come up with some answers.

This blogger works for nothing but the joy of writing but always appreciates things bought from his wishlist

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Mega London Sharks?

For months now, one of the main sources for traffic to this site has been people searching for "Mega London Sharks". I've scratched my head and wondered; what exactly are they looking for? I thought maybe it was a sports team, or a show of some sort.

Now, looking back on it, I was a tad silly not to see what it was they were looking for. It's just I'd never said the words out loud. Finally I had a search to my site for "Is the Mega London Shark still alive?"

Mega London???? Megalodon. Problem solved. So for all those searching for Mega London Sharks, look no further... it's megalodon.

You can check out my post on those magnificent prehistoric creatures, and their possible survival, here. Or check out Wikipedia's entry

Further Reading

Sure it's fictional, but it's also highly entertaining. Plus it is likely to soon be a movie, so if you buy it now you'll have the kudos of being able to laugh at your ill informed friends when going to see the movie and can then complain post-movie about how the film "wasn't as good as the book".

This blogger works for nothing but the joy of writing but always appreciates things bought from his wishlist

Saturday, 15 August 2009

One (Or Lots) Of My Cockroaches Are Missing!

Ever heard the one about the case of the disappearing cockroaches in the ex-USSR states? I saw this story and thought of you.

Reports are coming in from around the former USSR stating that the cockroach population is decreasing at a worrying rate. The story seems part urban legend/part scientific curiosity. You might think people would rejoice at the lack of cockroach activity, but of course there always comes the rough with the smooth:

Some see it as a sign of further ozone damage... and the end of the human race

Could it be mobile phones??? Why is everything always blamed on mobile phones?

Forum posts believe it to be a sign of the apocalypse.

One particularly far out theory suggests it might be the result of cockroach wars. Hmm...

Any truth to the rumours? Possibly, but maybe not. There are lots of references on this Wiki page to Russian articles regarding the scientific basis. I suspect it's the USSR just wasn't that good at manufacturing cockroach poison. They were too busy beating America into space and digging really amazing submarine bases.

This blogger works for nothing but the joy of writing but always appreciates things bought from his wishlist

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Giant Spiders

Bill Gibbons, he of Mokele Mbmeme fame, has also recorded stories of another cryptid in the jungles of Africa (in this case the Democratic Republic of Congo): a giant spider.

"I first became aware of a giant ground-dwelling spider through Miss Margaret Lloyd, formerly of Rhodesia and now living in England. Her parents, Reginald and Margurite Lloyd were exploring the interior of the old Belgian Congo in 1938 when they spotted something crossing the jungle track ahead of them. At first they took the object to be a large jungle cat or a monkey on all fours. When they stopped their vehicle (an old Ford truck) to allow the animal to pass, they were thunderstruck to see that it was a very large brown spider, similar in its appearance to a tarantula, with a leg span of at least four or five feet. Mr. Lloyd trembled so much with excitement that he was unable to retrieve his camera in time to take a snap, and Mrs. Lloyd was so distraught that she wanted to return home (Rhodesia) immediately. This creature is known as the J’ba Fofi; J’ba meaning “great” or “giant” Fofi meaning “spider” (spiders of all kinds are called Fofi)."

Certainly doesn't make me want to take a trip through the Congo without a very large gun!

I will admit to having a soft spot for movies like Eight Legged Freaks

So is there any more evidence for this massive creature? Not really... the "facts" as far as they can be ascertained, thanks to Karl Shuker's Extraordinary Animals Revisited, are that the spider is claimed by members of the Bake pygmy tribe of the area to be yellow with a purple abdomen when a spiderling, growing to up to 3 feet in length and brown in colour as an adult. Its eggs are supposed to be the size of peanuts. It builds hides that resemble the huts of the local tribes, and is supposed to be able to build webs that are capable of capturing birds and small forest antelopes. It has been said to eat humans if given the chance.

There are also other stories. Monster Quest recently did a show on giant spiders in the Amazon said to be big enough to attack even humans but mainly "livestock" (for which read chickens). This is pretty similar to reports, now quite likely substantiated, of a Chicken Eating Spider which appears to exhibit the strange, for a spider, behaviour of communal living and hunting!

The problem with spiders getting to any size much bigger than a dinner plate is the level of oxygen in the atmosphere. This causes problems with the growth of land invertebrates (as per this article) which is why in the past we had giant dragonflies and arachnids but not anymore. However evolution is a tricky process and will often throw up some new way of overcoming such problems.

More Arachnid Stories:

Still On The Track: Attack of the Camel Spider

Still On The Track: The Fearsome Frog-Eating Spider of Epping Forest

Cryptomundo: Flashback: Camel Spiders and Other Giant Spiders. Check out the giant spider in Louisiana!

Further Reading

Invertebrata Enigmatica: Giant Spiders, Dangerous Insects, and Other Strange Invertebrates in Classic Science Fiction and Fantasy - Chad Arment (Editor) (US Amazon, UK Amazon)

Extraordinary Animals Revisited - Karl P. Shuker (UK Amazon, US Amazon)

This blogger works for nothing but the joy of writing but always appreciates things bought from his wishlist

Sunday, 2 August 2009

The 2009 Kentish UFO Flap

As some readers may know, I hail from Kent and grew up in the south east of the county in Folkestone. You may also realise I like Fortean things! So I thought, let's find something interesting and Fortean from Kent to write about today. I was thinking maybe some historical event, when my research found me looking at literally dozens of reports of orange lights over Kent, specifically in the last few months. There are quite few a comments regarding them on this BBC report about similar sightings in 2008. Now I don't mean to say these sightings are limited to Kent, but I'm limiting my focus there. The MoD, however, does suggest something strange is going on over Kent.

Below are a "few" more sightings, with links to the original witness report and more detail.

8th April 2009 - Sighting of three lights flying in a triangular formation over Kingsnorth, Ashford, Kent in a south westerly direction.

24th April 2009 - Kent, UK

4th May 2009 - 9 orange lights moving in formation of 3 rows of 3 spotted moving in south easterly direction. Reported from Benfleet, Essex and Brands Hatch, Kent

16th May 2009 - 3 orange lights in a row followed by a fourth over Margate, Kent heading east out over the sea. Described as looking a little like jellyfish.

30th May 2009 - A real clutch of sightings here: one fast moving orange object observed over various parts of south eastern UK, especially northern Kent. Other objects seen by some witnesses. One witness describes as being a little like a jellyfish.

30th May 2009 - Another report of two fast moving fireballs in Herne Bay, Kent

30th May 2009 - Two more orange balls in the sky, seen from Dover, Kent

9th - 12th June 2009 - Blinking orange lights seen rising over Romney Marsh three nights in a row.

13th June 2009 - Two bright orange objects seen rising into air near Maidstone, Kent. Looked like a jellyfish without the tendrils.

13th June 2009 - Two orange lights seen heading in south westerly direction over Maidstone, Kent

14th June 2009 - Three oranges light seen following each other over Paddock Wood, Kent

19th June 2009 - Yellow lights in the sky over Tonbridge, Kent

20th June 2009 - Three lights, at least one orange, reported rising into clouds over Ripple, Kent

21th June 2009 - Three bright orange lights seen rising into clouds over Welling, Kent

22nd June 2009 - Two orange lights seen in Snodland, Kent (famous for being the town of my birth, of course!) rising eventually extinguishing but visible dark object still seen.

26th June 2009 - Birchington, Kent

27th June 2009 - Rising orange light in Beckenham, Kent

30th June 2009 - More flashing orange lights over Romney Marsh, Kent

4th July 2009 - 7 bright orange lights seen over Stanford North, Kent

4th July 2008 - 3 orange lights seen over Tunbridge Wells, Kent. Described as very fast.

etc. etc. The two sites linked to multiple times during these sightings will provide many more similar things.

So what could they be?

Meteors: given the distances some were seen over within one hour (such as the 30th May sightings in northern Kent, down through to Dover) it is unlikely these can be explained by anything other than a meteor(s). Not only can meteors look like stable fireballs, some can also "flash" on and off.

Chinese Lanterns and "hoax" fire lit bags: I think the below video from Southampton shows the stunning effect that Chinese lanterns can have. The effect is amazingly similar to the reports described above. Also many descriptions indicate it looked like the top half of a jellyfish, which is again consistent with some sort of illuminated "bag". Do people really let off that many Chinese lanterns around the south east?? Erm... yes they do. This news story from Thanet last month indicates that not only are the emergency services being called about them more often "especially this summer" but also has comments from people stating they themselves have used them a number of times so far this year... just in Thanet! Also see this news story regarding video below.

Here's more videos from Kent this year which I think are very similar, if at a great a distance and filmed very badly, to the video above. The concept of them "rising" and also the Snodland report stating an object could still be seen rising even after the light extinguished again back up this theory.

Hot air balloons: You may think me mad, but Kent is well known for having hot air balloons up in the sky. Leeds Castle, near the centre of the county, has regular air balloon flights which travel for miles in all directions. As a kid in Snodland, we'd take great delight when we'd see one of these in trouble over the town as we knew they'd land over in the rec which meant we'd get to have a good look! At night it is difficult to see the outline of the balloons but easy to spot the flashing light caused by the fire inside the basket. I have, more than once, had to take a second look at the night sky before realising that "UFO" was in fact a hot air balloon.

Aliens/interdimensional beings/otherwise fortean explanation. This becomes difficult here... Of almost all the reports of the lights I can see no reason to believe they are intelligently controlled. Few make any abrupt turns, few seem to move at inexplicably fast speeds (check out the video above again, those lights are moving plenty fast and it doesn't seem that windy of a day!). Others say the lights "move at different speeds". Well yes aerodynamics and different wind speeds in different layers of air can explain that.

I think what we have here are many reports of Chinese lanterns, a few meteors, a couple of hot air balloons and a few sightings that remain "unexplained" but probably not "Fortean". If you really don't believe people can't tell the difference between Chinese Lanterns and "a craft" just check out this report from my hometown of Folkestone, Kent to see how easy a misidentification can be.

This blogger works for nothing but the joy of writing but always appreciates things bought from his wishlist

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

What The Shadow Man Means For My World View

See, I'm going to say something I haven't said since the day I gave up the last bit of my previous pagan faith and became a good little sceptic; I'm a believer.

I believe in the Shadow People. I believe I've seen them. And I believe they are not a projection of my mind or a figment of my imagination. I believe they are some sort of independent entity or object.

Now that is troublesome, because I have no idea what a Shadow Person is, or whether one has any sort of agenda. And that means I have absolutely no idea about how they fit into my world view. Maybe they are some sort of weird lifeform native to Earth, or interdimensional travelers or extraterrestrials. If that was the case my world view isn't at risk. Those things can fit in quite nicely.

But what if they are Cormons, or Tricksters, or ghosts, or demons? Well that sort of messes me up doesn't it? I suppose I must give up my ardent atheism and move into "agnosticism". I hold up my hands and say "I don't know!". Scepticism is a useful tool but can no longer be a way of life. But don't expect me to suddenly become a UFO believer. That, I'm afraid, will take a lot more!!

This blogger works for nothing but the joy of writing but always appreciates things bought from his wishlist

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Big Cat In Helensburgh, Argyll? Me Thinks Not.

As you should know, Dear Constant Reader, I am convinced by the evidence available (i.e. the big cats that have actually been caught/killed!!) that there are exotic big cats roaming our countryside. If you don't believe that, I honestly don't know what to say. We've caught them. We've killed them. They are there. They might not be breeding in great numbers, and may not establish a permanent population. But they are there.

Even so, having watched this latest video which purports to be an exotic big cat in Helensburgh, Argyll, I have to say I'm very unconvinced.

Look at the way it walks! Look at the way it's legs and tail look fluffy. The most convincing moment is as the cat walks from the bushes to the train tracks where it would appear to have a very "panther" like body. But the picture seems very distorted and I'm not actually sure that affect is not partly caused by the angle the cat is in relation to the camera and the poor camera quality.

No, I'm sorry, but I feel it's nothing more than a well fed and oversized domestic cat. And if you don't think cats get that big, then really you're missing out as my favourite breed is the awesomely gigantic Maine Coon (I want SEVERAL ;) )

This blogger works for nothing but the joy of writing but always appreciates things bought from his wishlist

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Shadow People Again

The Shadow Man is the only Fortean thing I've ever had any personal experience of. So it's hardly surprising it's a subject that I will return to, time and again. I'm nearly a total sceptic, I know it's weird that I thus write a blog about the unexplained but I'm a sympathetic sceptic. And the reason for that is simply part of me will never accept that the Shadow Man was a figment of my imagination or a construct of my unconscious mind. How would the dog know he was there? Why did I see him then and not have similar experiences later on? And how come I've [Jae Note - Following link to my personal journal has shirtless man on it. Forewarned is forearmed!) seen other shadow phenomenon in that same property but never anywhere else? These are real questions, and I need answers. I might never get them, but I need them!

So... firstly listened to Beyond the Edge Radio today and they had Jason Offutt on discussing Shadow People. His blog, From The Shadows, has been in my blogroll since I started this blog and it's well worth a read. Obviously, once I heard that, I gave up on the house work and headed straight to my computer to look for Shadow People videos. I know, it always upsets me greatly but I'm like a dog with a bone once I'm on to something...

And I found this video which has some interesting pictures and footage. Most interesting was the last video, showing what I believe is the top of a cape of a shadow person. Why do I believe this? Because (as I've said in my NSFW link above) I used to see two of these doing the same thing at the living room window quite often. Always on the move. When I saw that video, it completely blew my mind. Imagine seeing something that makes you feel full of warm nostalgia and fearful terror all at once. That's how it was for me.

Then there are personal testimonies here and here. Both of these stories are interesting, but also bring home to me the differences in different sightings. The shadow man, and the hooded shadows, I saw as a child were not "shadows" as we know them. Them were 3D beings, composed of some black material. A lot of shadow people sightings have them as 2D shadows often on walls. I'm not saying that those people are lying just stressing there are major differences in sighting report.

Another difference is a lot of people (including my old work colleague who reported her second encounter of a shadow involved it moving extremely fast) report the shadows moving with uncommon speed. In my case, and this is possibly the aspect that scares me most, the shadow man moved with a terrifying lack of speed and moved from the hall to my doorway at a leisurely pace. Although I admit the hooded shadows I saw at others times always moved with the sort of speed reserved for the Flash.

Everytime I look I find something more that confirms my beliefs that what I saw was not a figment of my imagination, but something else (whatever that may be!). The first time I looked I found the Shadow People were a fairly common phenomenon which shook me up. The second time I looked I discovered the two entities I'd always thought of as strange witch like creatures who were often seen outside my old house were actually ALSO common entities linked to the shadow people. And now I've seen a video of one of those two entities and can confirm I have seen that thing myself. That scares me. It scares me because:

1) anything that makes the Shadow Man out to be anything other than a figment of my imagination means I might one day encounter him again and that is not something I wish to consider. I simply don't know what I'd do if he walked back into my life.
2) it would totally threaten my lovely, safe world view. My world is a world free of religion, spirits and filled with science and flesh and blood beings (even if some of them might not be recognised by science just yet!). If the Shadow Man were to be "real" then I'd be wrong somewhere along the line. And I don't like that one bit. But at least I'm willing (unlike scary fundamentalists) to accept that possibility!!

Oh well... until more evidence appears I'm going to just keep my doors closed and hope to a God who I hope doesn't exist that I never have to see those bloody red eyes again.

Further Reading

Darkness Walks: The Shadow People Among Us - Jason Offutt (UK Amazon, US Amazon)

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Monday, 20 July 2009

The Flatwoods Monster

Flatwoods, Braxton County in West Virginia, is a small village which advertises itself as "The Home Of The Green Monster". Who was the Green Monster?

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September 12th 1952, 7:15pm. Three boys Edward (13) and Fred May (12), and their friend Tommy Hyer (10) were playing football on a school playground when they spotted something in the sky.

It was a bright object streaking through the sky until it appeared to land/crash on a hilltop of the nearby Bailey Fisher farm. The boys ran back to Edward and Fred's house and related the story to their mother Kathleen May. She agreed to accompany them to the hill with torchlights and brought with her Neil Nunley (14) Ronnie Shaver (10), and 17 year old West Virginia National Guardsman Eugene Lemon. Lemon also brought his dog.

As the 8 of them drew close to the site of the crash, Lemon's dog ran ahead. Just out of sight they heard it barking at something unknown before it came running back with it's tail between it's legs.

As the first two boys, including Neil Nunley, crested the hill the object seemed to crash into, they saw a pulsating red light some way in the distance. Before they could react to that (and before they could wonder what that pungent smelling mist that was burning their eyes was), Lemon spotted two shining eyes under an oak tree and turned the flashlight towards them.

There standing before them was a 10 foot tall creature, with a round red face with a "Ace of Spades" shaped frill around it. The body seemed dark, although it later was described as "green" hence the town's name for the beast. When the creature began to "glide" towards them, Lemon dropped the flashlight and the group fled.

The authorities were called. First the police. Then the local newspaper. I'm pleased to see Mrs May had her priorities straight. If I'd just seen a 10 foot monster my first few phone calls would not have included the local rag, but probably the fire brigade, the Army, perhaps even the RNLI. But really, the local rag??

Strangely on separate checks that evening the Sheriff and his deputy found nothing unusual whilst Mr. A. Lee Stewert, co-owner of the Braxton Democrat, found "a sickening, burnt, metallic odor still prevailing". Funny that.

Further reports came in:

At 6:30 the next morning, the director of the Board of Education saw a flying saucer take off, not far from his house, and immediately reported it to the Sutton newspaper. Only then was he informed of the happening of the night before. Mr. Stewart, the owner of the paper, immediately went to the hill and could still smell the odor on the ground. He discovered two tracks where the reported object had landed. No wagon had been in this part for many years and the weeds were several feet high. The grass was freshly depressed, and closer search disclosed a piece of black plastic material which did not burn when tested by Stewart. The piece has been analyzed and we hope to get a report soon through Mr. Smith. Samples of ground and vegetation were also collected by airforce [sic] officers.

Further inquiries at the Lemon house revealed that Mrs. Lemon and a friend were having coffee at the time of the landing, and their house shook so violently that coffee spilled over the table and they thought the house had fallen off its foundation. The radio went off for 45 minutes and came back on by itself.

In his systematic questioning of everyone in the valley, Smith found that a girl, 21, of Weston, 11 miles from the Lemon farm, was confined in the Clarksburg Hospital for three weeks, after having seen a figure of the same description, and emitting the same odor reported by witnesses of the Sutton occurrence. Her mother confirmed the girl's story that they had seen the monster when they were on their way to church more than a week before Mrs. May's experience. Source: CSI Bulletin #2

What I find so fascinating about all this is that an entire mythology has grown up on this monster based on a fleeting glance of it, and that these folks were willing to go on record claiming it to be a monster based on nothing more that a few moments of contact.

Honestly, one adult amid a group of excitable young boys and an exuberant pet dog does not a convincing witness make and I quite honestly believe that this particular monster can be explained away by a meteor, some flashing aerial lights and an owl as suggested here. What depresses me most is that people seem desperate to explain these sorts of things away by the weird rather than erring on the side of caution. Bless 'em.

Further Reading

The Braxton County Monster: The Cover-Up of the Flatwoods Monster Revealed - Frank C. Feschino (UK Amazon, US Amazon)

This blogger works for nothing but the joy of writing but always appreciates things bought from his wishlist

Monday, 13 July 2009

Red Eyed Beasts

I'll never forget my encounter with the Shadow Man. I will admit that I can now, rarely, sleep with the door open which is a vast improvement on the past and owes much to the gentle coxing of my ever patient other half, but most nights I just stare into the darkness around my closed bedroom door and wonder what might be behind it. My major issue has always been those red eyes. And I'm disturbed by how often these red eyed monsters appear in the world of the paranormal.

Bigfoot for instance. Here are just a few reports:

Red Eyes At The Window

8 Foot Tall And More Red Eyes

More Red Eyes At The Window (I have a phobia of exposed windows at night as well as open doors and yes... that is a proper phobia not a "oh that slightly worries me" sort of fear so maybe I should stop right now...)

The British Man Monkey is even more consistently described with red eyes.

Our old friends, the Ghostly Black Dogs, are regularly described as having red eyes. And our new friends the Alien Big Cats... RED EYES

More information and analysis can be found here with mentions of other cryptids with red eyes and some rather wonderful theories to explain this phenomenon (including science... ooo...)

So there we have a theme. A rather worrying and concerning theme, especially for someone like me who deeply dislikes 1) glowing red eyes and 2) silly non-scientific theories to explain things. I can reason away bigfoot sightings as being of an unknown great ape, I can explain Alien Big Cats as an introduced species. But how can we explain away all these red eyes? I still think Three Men Seeking Monsters by Nick Redfern puts forward the most interesting theory. Could it be all these creatures are one and the same entity? Or at least entities. The Cormons, a group of monsters from another dimension who feed off our emotional reaction to them and take many forms to encourage different emotions... angels, fairies, monsters, aliens, UFOs. Could all our favourite fortean creatures simply be disguises for emotional vampires, and are we, by way of simply talking about them, perpetuating a never ending feeding cycle?? Makes my head hurt, especially at this time of night.

Rabbits: Not As Cute As You Thought!

But I thought I'd just point out... red eyes are everywhere. And they might be watching you!! Night night, sleep well ;)

This blogger works for nothing but the joy of writing but always appreciates things bought from his wishlist

Sunday, 12 July 2009

New Cetaceans On Tetrapod Zoology

After my post the other day about new animals from the ocean, the ever awesome, and vastly superior, blog Tetrapod Zoology has a recent post on some of the most recently discovered cetaceans

Very exciting stuff.

This blogger works for nothing but the joy of writing but always appreciates things bought from his wishlist

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Michael Jackson's Ghost Not Actually A Ghost

That fleeting glimpse of a shadow at Neverland? Guess what... it was a shadow!!

This blogger works for nothing but the joy of writing but always appreciates things bought from his wishlist

News That Interests Me

Aquatic deer provide links to whale evolution. I love evolutionary biology.

Wild peacocks... in Sheerness?? Yes, Kent's very own Isle of Sheppey has wild peacocks and a colony of scorpions (possibly one of the only such colonies in the British Isles). Maybe the rest of Kent (including me) should stop making fun of the Isle of Sheppey. Nah....

It turns out stripeless tigers are not just biologically interesting but darn cute too.

And finally... Christians can't help but get involved in Fortean things in amusing ways.

This blogger works for nothing but the joy of writing but always appreciates things bought from his wishlist

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Under The Sea

Moonlight Investigation does have somewhat of a fascination with aquatic fortean happenings, but that is not without reason. The sea is, for humans, one of the most inhospitable environments in the world. The ocean depths are even more inhospitable. Man has permanent outposts in space, on Antarctica and has long learnt to thrive in desert conditions. But we have yet to do anything more than observe the ocean depths from a moving vehicle, which can spend only a limited time below the surface. Our long term submarine capabilities are awesome but the military subs hardly offer a good viewing platform!

So it should be no surprise that not only do we find a lot more "unexplained" things in our oceans, but that the possibility of them being something unknown rather than misidentified is far greater. And that surely includes taking into account the fact that it's much more difficult to identify something that's submerged in water.

The Pacific Sleeper Shark

We've looked at "unnaturally" large sharks before but having read up on the subject some more, it's hardly an exhausted topic!

Just when you thought it was safe to go into the water...

The Pacific sleeper is a rarely seen shark species first identified in 1944. They are generally found to be somewhere between 3 and 4 metres long (9 to 12 feet).Given that the sharks have been found to feed on giant and Colossal squid it's hardly surprising that some have reported Pacific sleeper sharks of quite a size more!!

The French submersible "Nautile" was exploring the waters off of Japan in 1989 when they encountered a Pacific Sleeper who they said slid past them revealing it's full 23 feet length (that's about 7 metres to you and me!). That would place it at a size larger than any officially verified non filter feeding shark known to be alive today.

The Reefquest centre mentions this sighting but also another sighting:

Another large individual — estimated to be between 16 to 26 feet (5 to 8 metres) in length — was photographed by a robot camera at a depth of 6,300 feet (1,920 metres) off Oahu, Hawaii.

If it were 8 metres long that would be truly astounding!!

The Giant Octopus

Before we mention the tales of giant octopi, I just wanted to share this video of a blanket octopus. To my great shame I had never heard of this species before, but my isn't it beautiful? I suggest you read up on it as it is as fascinating as it is gorgeous.

Hypno-Octopus strikes again!

Anyway, we all know of the Kraken right? The gigantic monster octopus of legend who pulled ships deep under the water, and brought death to many a sailor? Well... it's not that unbelievable! Larger than expected octopi have been found, like this one from New Zealand.

But a truly gigantic octopus would need truly gigantic food. Over to the story that I first read when I was little and has had me wondering ever since (taken from here but seems almost exactly the same as I remember it).

summer of 1984. One fisherman from Bermuda islands, John P. Ingham, came up with an idea which would be very profitable for him. Giant octopus was way out of his mind when he constructed a trap for large crabs and other sea organisms which he would use at a depth of about 1800 meters (5900 ft). His plan worked and soon he started catching crabs 60 cm wide.
Then he built really heavy traps and armored them with 5 cm thick metal rings. They were 1.8 to 2.4 meters large and 1.2 meters deep. Ingham was dropping them into the ocean from his 15-meter fishing boat Trilogy.
By the end of August, Ingham already noticed few very unusual things. First he lost one of his traps after something suddenly pulled the cable. There was no obvious explanation. Then, on 3rd of September, few days after the first event, the crew was pulling out one trap, but when the trap was 600 meters (2000 ft)
below the surface something stopped its ascent, pulled the cable in the opposite direction and violently shaked the cable. The trap was lost.

Then, on September 19, Ingham set the trap at a depth of 850 meters (2700 ft). This time, they couldn't pull the trap out even with full engine power. Trilogy was equipped with a sophisticated sonar instrument called chromascope, and Ingham used it when the ship passed directly above the trap. He set the chromascope to
so-called split bottom mode. On the bottom of the ocean he could clearly see a pyramid-shaped silhouette 15 meters (50 ft) high. Something wrapped around their trap. Ingham and his crew decided they won't do anything violent. They'll sit and wait with cable engine ready.

After about 20 minutes, Ingham got a feeling that the ship was moving - like something was pulling it. He went to his cabin again to check navigation instruments. They confirmed his feeling. The ship was moving towards south at a constant speed of about one knot. When they passed about 500 meters, the thing that was pulling the rope, whatever it was, suddenly changed direction and headed for the shore. A bit later it suddenly turned again. Now Ingham was convinced that some kind of deep sea creature grabbed the trap
and pulled the trap along as it moved. Ingham touched the cable near surface of water. He says that he felt regular vibrations that traveled along the cable, like something walked on the ocean bottom, and vibrations were transferred along the cable. The impacts (vibrations) were always the same intensity and repeated themselves every few seconds. The 15-meter high silhouette, ship's movement, vibrations, traps he lost earlier - Ingham was convinced that he became the prey of a giant sea creature. Suddenly creature released the cable, so the crew easily pulled the trap out. Ingham looked at the chromascope - the silhouette was gone. The trap was all deformed and mostly damaged on the upper side. All of this clearly points to the Giant Bermudan Octopus. A creature which can keep the trap on the ocean bottom, resisting to the ship's engine power, the ocean depth on which event took place, location near Bermuda islands - octopus.

This is all rather concerning considering reports from the nearby Caribbean of "luscas". Supposedly these are sea monsters who are usually described as giant octopi. They live in the "blue holes" (underwater caves up to 200m deep) which would be indicative of octopi. Divers have reported seeing extremely large crustaceans in these blue holes which would also be indicative of a food source. On this page we have a story of a local describing luscas of only being dangerous if a boat is in water shallow enough for one tentacle to reach the sea floor and another to reach the boat. This is exactly the problem scientists have with kraken reports... a kraken could not be dangerous unless one tentacle could be supporting it on the sea floor. If that is a real conversation, that would be extremely compelling testimony suggesting a scientifically plausible large octopus posing a danger to the people of the Bahamas.

Unusual Dolphins

Your thinking: "Dolphins?? Surely these are one of the most studied and most understood marine life on Earth? There can't be anything unusual about dolphins!!". Well if that really was what you were thinking, you are wrong!

It's not Fraser's Dolphin, it's mine!

Take Fraser's dolphin (a recognised and fairly widespread species!!). The first known discovery linked to it was a skull found in Borneo in 1895. It went unstudied until Francis Fraser, in 1956, identified it as a new species. It was only in 1971 that a full body was found, after which sightings were first reported and then became more and more frequent. It's currently estimated there are over 100,000 Fraser's dolphins in pods numbering in the hundreds and the thousands. They grow to nearly 3 metres long. Why didn't we see them sooner?! Because they are a deep ocean species and no one probably ever bothered giving them a second look as they are a billion times more difficult to study than the more famous coastal dolphins. So it's quite likely that other species of dolphin are going about their business in the oceans without us even being aware of their existence. Perhaps one of these is the Rhinoceros Dolphin.

Online "artists impressions" show this dolphin to have a large "central" dorsal fin with a smaller one behind. But according to the books I've checked and he description of French naturalists Jean Quoy and Joseph Gaimard suggest the extra dorsal fin was actually smaller and towards the front which I think makes more sense vis-a-vis the name as well. (Sidenote: some "freak" common dolphins have been observed with a secondary dorsal fin towards their rear as per those pictures so I think the "artists" might just be getting very confused between the two different cryptid puzzles).

Quoy and Gaimard were off New South Wales in 1819 when they made their sighting of a pod of such dolphins which they described it's other features thus:

"The volume of the animal was about double that of the ordinary porpoise, and the the top of its body, as far as the dorsal fin, was spotted black and white."

They named it Delphinus rhinoceros. Other reports from the Atlantic and Mediterranean have also been made of this dolphin.

Another cryptid dolphin is a bit less far out to sea, but in no less a difficult place to study; it's the "Amazon Nessie". Writer Jeremy Wade photographed and described a dolphin he has spotted more than once in the Amazon river. Variously described as the "Ridge-backed Dolphin" and the "Sawtooth Dolphin" it is said to have low ridges on it's back instead of a dorsal fin. Whilst this might seem strange the Amazon River Dolphin does have a very short dorsal fin so it's not entirely unbelievable to imagine a close relative having evolved a ridge back approach. A very small photo can be found at the bottom right of this page and a description of Jeremy Wade's return to find it again can be found here. As I'm wasn't there, and the picture is very small, it would be rude of me to totally dismiss this but doesn't that picture look more crocodilian than mammalian?

The reports of unusual animals from the ocean are pretty much unlimited so expect to here more...

Further Reading

Rumours of Existence - Matthew A. Bille (UK Amazon, US Amazon) - Invaluable information of some of the more believable stories of unusual animals

This blogger works for nothing but the joy of writing but always appreciates things bought from his wishlist