Self-proclaimed grand poobah of leisure and author of humorous suspense novels The Sneaker Tree & White Picket Prisons, the humor essay book Fifty Shades of Phil and the long running blog The Phil Factor. thephilfactor.com
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Hi everyone or anyone! I’ve been having some trouble with my blog. I think it was offline for the last three weeks. If you can see this, please leave a comment or click like if you can.
Something weird has been going on. Fellow bloggers, do you look at your stats as much as I do? I like to see what people searched that brought them to my blogs, and where the searchers are from. Almost once a week over the past year I found that someone has been getting to my blog through libguides.np.edu . That wasn’t a search engine that I’m familiar with, so I went to the link.
libguides.np.edu is a library search engine for National Park College in Hot Springs, Arkansas. As far as I know, I don’t know anyone from Arkansas. Is it one of you fellow bloggers? Could it be that my books are in the library at National Park College? Could it possibly be one of the friendly librarians at National Park College?
Your Friendly Librarians
Kristen, Lynn, are you fans of The Phil Factor? Or could it be a student? I don’t think it’s a student. 18 year olds are bit out of my demographic. The mystery of the consistent views from this small college is driving me crazy. If you are the National Park College visitor, please say hello in the comments section below.
What I’m secretly hoping is that someone who works at National Park College in Hot Springs, Arkansas is a huge fan of #ThePhilFactor so much so that they invite me to be a speaker at graduation or for the ceremony welcoming incoming freshman. I would give a hell of an inspiring speech. Kristin & Lynn, do you think you could help me with that? I’m a published author. You could do worse. If not, could you at least get my books in your library?
Fellow bloggers, what are some of the oddest quirky things you’ve come across in your stats? Have a great Tuesday! ~Phil
Back in the day when I was cranking out five posts a week, one of them was Music Monday. I have eclectic tastes in music and modern alternative rock is one of my favorite genres. I figured the title of this song was perfect to fit in with my paranormal binge over the past month.
I first heard this Lizzy McAlpine song about a month ago and was immediately hooked. I’ve always enjoyed a song that tells a story full of quirky details. This song, All My Ghosts is almost perfect. I hope you enjoy it and it gets your toes tapping to start your Monday.
Have a great start to your week! ~Phil
After I spent an evening learning about what Monroe County Paranormal Investigations does, I was fortunate to be able to go on a ghost hunt with them two days later. To be clear, this wasn’t an investigation. Myself and several others bought tickets to join M.C.P.I for a mini-class on the tools they use and how they use them in a location with a haunted history. The location was the Union Tavern in Rochester, N.Y. The structure, pictured above, has quite a past. It’s first known history dates back to 1819.
The property was first owned by a renowned pirate. Later in the 1800’s it was rumored to be part of the Underground Railroad. During the 1930’s, when recreational alcohol was outlawed, it was a speakeasy (secret bar). Since then it has passed through several hands as a bar/restaurant. The one thing that has been consistent throughout it’s history is reports of paranormal activity. The Monroe County Paranormal Investigations had been here before for a requested investigation and found strong evidence of invisible entities in the restaurant, including several reports of a little boy who catches people that fall on the stairs.
After a brief introduction to their tools the investigators gave us some of their equipment and set us loose in the restaurant that was closed for this event. I didn’t take many pictures because it was quite dimly lit inside and I didn’t want to use my flash.
The pros had brought with them a digital voice recorder that they left running throughout, an EMF meter, an infrared camera, and some dowsing rods, and a thing that can make a laser grid on a wall so you can see if anything passes through it.
The first thing I was able to watch was Rob, the founder of MCPI, sit down at a table in an area of the restaurant where there had been previous reports of ghost sightings. He held out his EMF meter
He spoke aloud asking if anyone was there to come close to his meter. At first nothing, but a few minutes later his meter made a noise and the red bulbs lit up. Then he asked the entity to come closer and make the meter light up again. It did. He next used a name that the owners provided for the ghost that they see in this area of the bar. “If this is Leann, come close to my meter to light it up.” And it did. He asked Leann if she liked cooking and baking. The meter lit up again. Rob pushed out a chair and asked her to sit down. Keep in mind that he wasn’t holding the meter in his hand the whole time. He set the meter down on the table and it still seemed as if the ghost was responding to brief questions. After about five minutes of interaction Leann the ghost may have wandered off.
Here’s my part of the story. The half dozen others who had joined myself and the MCPI had quickly grabbed the available EMF meters and infrared thermometers, leaving me with dowsing rods. Yes, dowsing rods like the kind used 200 years ago to find water. See the vertical hollow handles where it’s thicker? That’s where you hold them. You’re not actually touching the rods themselves. They are lightweight and very sensitive to movement. Someone whose hands shake nervously shouldn’t even bother trying to use these.
I didn’t mind getting “stuck” with these instead of an electronic meter. They just seemed more organic to me. After Rob’s conversation with Leann tailed off, I wandered away from the others down the bar. I held the dowsing rods and asked if anyone was there if they could push the rods together. At first it seemed like they moved, but I didn’t feel that I held my hands steady enough. So I planted my elbows on the bar to stabilize my arms. I waited until the dowsing rods were completely still for about ten seconds, and I said softly “If anyone is here can you push the rods together?” I felt cold goosebumps sweep across my body and suddenly the rods that were pointing straight out moved towards each other until they crossed. I was excited, but skeptically cautious. I wanted to see it again to be sure I was getting a response.
I planted my elbows solidly and waited until the rods were still. I again said “If you are still here, please push the rods together.” Again, after my question, the rods seemed to almost jump together. The difference this time was that two young guys that had showed up with all the latest ghost hunting tech were near where I was conducting my experiment. As the rods moved one of the guys with an EMF meter suddenly said, “I’m getting a good reading here!”
Later I moved upstairs and found a back room that no one seemed interested in. I thought, “If I was a ghost, I’d go in here to get away from all these people.” I steadied my hands and waited. Then I whispered again, asking for someone to cross the rods. They started to move tenuously. just a little. I again asked the entity to “push them harder, to make them cross.” After my second ask I felt the goosebumps sweep over me and the rods again seemed to move on their own. I heard noise just outside the doorway and it was a guy with a meter who excitedly said, “Hey, I just got a big reading.”
Keep in mind that we were probably walking around that bar for about 90 minutes and I only had two ten second interactions. Ghost hunting can be boring sometimes too. What’s my verdict? Did I really interact with a ghost? My answer is Probably. I’m telling you, when I got those responses, my hands were as still as a statue. The rods seemed to almost jump that first time. Plus the tech ghost hunters seemed to confirm what my goosebumps were telling me. I walked all over that place repeating that same routine, but all I got was those two brief instances. I’d like to thank the gang at MCPI for a great education and experience!
I hope you’ve enjoyed my ghost stories. What do you think? Do ghosts exist?Have a great Sunday! ~Phil
Who remembers what movie those ghosts are from? It’s one of my favorite paranormal movies. If you haven’t read Part 1 of my interview with the paranormal investigators from the Monroe County Paranormal Investigations, scroll back and read that too. These guys are interesting and funny.
Me: What was the funniest thing that ever happened during an investigation?
Rob: “The bed” is probably the funniest. So we’re investigating this house in the city. I am not a little person.
Brian: Neither am I.
Rob: Brian and I together; not little people. We’re investigating this home. We have two brand new investigators working together downstairs. We’re upstairs. I’m sitting on a bed, and I say, “Brian, come over here and look at this. You’ll see how the light is reflecting.” He sits on the bed and the bed collapses.
Brian: Not quietly! Baboom!
Rob: There’s a huge crash and between the two of us there’s 140 pounds of humanity. It lands on the floor. The two brand new investigators were downstairs and the homeowner says, “What was that?”
Brian: I was on the floor crying, laughing thinking “Oh my God. What are we gonna do?” One of the new investigators yells up the stairs “Are you ok?”
Rob: Do you know how hard it is to yell “We’re ok” while you’re laughing?
Later the whole team talked a lot about feeling evil in the air when they enter some haunted places. All four of them indicated that at one time or another they had felt something, an energy upon entering a structure or room that had made them emotionally upset or fearful.
Rob: It was an explosion of energy in that one location. It was such an emotional intense event that I didn’t sleep for a week. I slept maybe ten minutes at a stretch and every time I closed my eyes I would wake up and I would swear my hands were covered in blood and there were police cars in my driveway coming to get me. I texted Stacey and I said “I don’t know what any of this means, but there’s a rose colored heart, there’s an egg, somebody painted the word love, and there’s a motorcycle. I don’t know what any of that means.”
Stacey: So I was doing research on the case Rob is referring to. I wanted to know more and know where the person was buried. I went to the cemetery. The stone was rose colored, and there was her face.
Rob: It was an old picture and it had faded so it was just an oval egg. The guy behind her stone was a biker so he had put a Harley Davidson little thing on top of his gravestone.
Stacey: Then there was a little plaque that said “love” in white.
Brian: The only kind of advice that I’ll typically give to people, if you have activity in your home is this. Imagine, if you’re dead and don’t know, if somebody comes into their home, you’re going to be like “Hey! Hello? What are you doing here?” And they’re not hearing or responding to you, you’re going to make noise, Smack, bang bang bang, right?
What if instead, when you get home you said, “Hey, thanks for watching the house for us today”? You just acknowledge them. It is amazing how many times that when we tell people to do that, everything quiets down.”
Me: I agree with that last piece of advice. It’s what I did in my house. There’s so much more they said that I could go on a few more pages. I sincerely want to thank everyone at M.C.P.I. for enduring my questions and allowing me to accompany them on a ghost hunt two days later. If you want to hear how that went, come back Saturday morning!
Have a great Thursday! ~Phil
If you’re in the States, Happy Paranormal Day! If you’re elsewhere, just enjoy your regular day and read my interview with some real ghost hunters. To be fair, I’ll say that they are not ghostbusters or ghost hunters. They are Paranormal Investigators, and I was fortunate to spend some time with them.
The gentlemen in question are not all gentlemen. There are some ladies that like to get spooky too. About a week and a half ago I went to a presentation by the members of the Monroe County Paranormal Investigations. The MCPI is a not-for-profit organization. When a home or business owner calls them to request an investigation they will not be charged a penny. To me, that gives this organization credibility. They do what they do for the mystery and science of it. As an organization, they have done investigations in over one thousand homes and businesses. Below are my questions and their answers edited for length.
Me: Do you ever disagree about what you’ve seen, heard, or experienced?
Rob: “Every. Single. Investigation.”
Brian: Yep. The one with the football thing; we almost had a knock-down, drag-out over that. I’m just like Nope. Nope.”
Rob: “He was convinced that because it was only moving, the little lights on the wall were only moving that much, that it wasn’t movement. But that much is movement! If it moves that much it’s moving!”
Brian: But I was arguing that the thing is this big and it’s only moving such a…”
Rob: Movement is movement! It moved Jerry! (Seinfeld reference. If you get it, you win 50 Phil Factor dollars to spend in the gift shop on the way out)
Me: Has there ever been a time when you were emotionally moved by an encounter?
Rob: Brian and I were called to a case. Healthy 27 year old people die. It sucks. We went out, we sat down for over three hours. We investigated for maybe 20 minutes. For the other two hours and forty minutes we listened to this woman’s story. Her 27 y.o. daughter went to a doctors appointment on Thursday, was given a clean bill of health. She was dead on Saturday. The only thing that happened was on Friday, her husband, who was in the military had come home. They knew that the husband was both verbally and physically abusive. So they attributed that to what happened.
Brian: The girls mother was insistent, obsessed.
Rob: Because of this, she had lost her job, alienated her husband, and basically made her other younger daughter feel like she was completely invisible because she became obsessed. There was an autopsy done. Natural causes. There was nothing founded. There was a second autopsy, same result. The state reviewed the autopsy and found nothing different. She got so obsessed that she was collecting cans and bottles to come up with $5000 for a renowned expert to do another autopsy. We got so emotionally involved in that case that Brian has actually been to the cemetery with flowers for the young ladies grave.
Brian: The mother, I think we’re kind of painting her in a negative light. She was a sweetheart. Her grief had driven her to do all this stuff. As paranormal investigators, there’s a lot of grief that we deal with. A lot of times what we do ends up being counseling. Sometimes there may not be anything going on in their home. They just want there to be.
Rob: Do you think people want to be haunted? Of course. You had an argument with someone and they pass away and you didn’t get a chance to resolve the argument.
Phil speaking to my readers: There is plenty more to the interview. Part 2 will post on Thursday. I found that last story about the grieving woman surprising and fascinating. You never see that side of paranormal investigations on the ghost hunting TV shows. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this in the comments. On Saturday I’ll post my experience going on a ghost hunt with them. Have a great Tuesday!
May 3rd is National Paranormal Day! Yup, that’s a real thing and the perfect excuse to talk to you about ghosts. The question is, do ghosts exist? Several surveys asked this question and found that anywhere from 40-57% of people do believe in ghosts. Are you one of them?
There are also many scientists that don’t believe that ghosts exist. and here are some of their theories:
1. The Power of Suggestion: If someone tells you a place you are visiting is haunted, you’re more likely to report having seen a ghost than people who were told that the same location was being renovated. If you look at something ambiguous and want to see a ghost, you’re more likely to see what you want.
2. Magnetic fields and “infrasounds”: Science shows that applying various electromagnetic fields to someone’s brain could cause perception of haunting or a presence. Several studies have linked infrasound, which is audio frequencies that are below the level the human ear perceives sounds, to induce bizarre sensations.
3. Toxic hallucinations: Another explanation offered is the brains reaction to poisons such as carbon monoxide, pesticides, and mold.
4. Hypnagogic and hypnopompic hallucinations: These I am personally familiar with, and you might be too. Hypnagogic hallucinations occur when you are falling asleep but not in REM, or dreaming sleep yet, and hypnopompic hallucinations occur when you are waking up but not all the way out of REM sleep. Another feature of these hallucinations is sleep paralysis. This is when you perceive yourself to be awake, but really aren’t, and you are unable to move your body. Often during this state you may also see things that aren’t really there. I know this is a legit thing, so if someone tells me they saw a ghost when they were lying in bed, I’m skeptical.
5. Those orbs on ghost hunting TV shows… It’s been proven by the Paranormal Photography Investigations Center (R.I.T. Professor Andrew Davidhazy) that those are not ghosts but are just airborne dust close to the lens and caught in the light of the camera.
My thought: In the right circumstances these explanations may be a legitimate reason that some people believe they’ve seen ghosts. But what about the other times when the conditions listed above are not present?
We just reviewed the science against ghosts being real. Guess what? There are also some scientists that argue in favor of ghosts existing.
In an article published in Explore: The Journal of Science and Healing, Dr. Gary Schwartz of the University of Arizona concluded that it was possible to measure the presence of spirit by an increase in photons in an otherwise black box when a spirit appeared inside the box. Dr. Schwartz has written several books on his experiments on multiple paranormal subjects. You can find his book here on Amazon. Dr. Schwartz isn’t the only one doing photons and laser grids to prove the existence of ghosts. If you click this link you can find hundreds of other similar articles.
Two days ago I went to a presentation by some local paranormal experts and tonight I’m going on a ghost hunt with them. If I come back alive tonight, I’ll give you my perspective in a couple posts near and on National Paranormal Day!
Have a great weekend! ~Phil
In 2022 it has been disconcerting to see so many people, possibly more famous and probably wealthier than me, pass away and I’m realizing it’s possible I may not be able to avoid death. Don’t get me wrong, I still have no plans to die, but as I get older I like to hedge my bets a little. Hell, if Steve Jobs FitBit didn’t help him avoid death, what chance do I have? That’s right all you FitBit nuts, the Grim Reaper is coming for you no matter how many steps you take today.
That’s my favorite Grim Reaper. He’s from a cartoon my kids watched. I thought he was particularly funny because he had a Jamaican accent. That’s the first item on my After-Life To Do List: If I’m going to allow myself to be escorted to the other realm it’s got to be him, that Jamaican Grim Reaper. It’s impossible to stay mad at anyone with a Jamaican accent. C’mon man. It will be alright. Let me show you around. Being dead ain’t no big ting… If it’s not him, I’m not going.
Prior to my death, and possibly as soon as this week, I’m going to choose my house to haunt. Who says that you have to haunt your own house? What’s to stop me from haunting the Big Brother house? There’s always people home, so I’d never be bored. I could participate by doing ghosty kind of stuff. How great would Big Brother be if the ten dolts were locked up in a haunted house for three months? And how about if the ghost gets to choose who leaves the house each week by making some mysterious sign, like a mark on a chalkboard or something? I’m totally going to pitch this idea to the producers. I’m putting it in my will just in case I don’t get the contract signed before I pass.
List of people to haunt: I’m making this list and including in my will that invites be sent out to my funeral. Only the date of the funeral will have to be filled in. I’m pre-signing the invites now with the phrase “See YOU soon!” How creepy would it be to get one of those? Also, at my funeral I want every one there to stand up and read their favorite Phil Factor aloud.
Choose My After-Life Occupation: If I have eternity ahead of me, I don’t want to retire yet. Sitting around playing checkers with the old guys at McDonald’s in the afterlife sounds boring. In the after-life I’m going to be a real estate agent helping the recently deceased find the home of their dreams to haunt.
Me: This lovely colonial on a cul-de-sac has five of the living, four bedrooms and two and a half baths..
Recently Deceased: What about pets? I hate pets. Dogs always barking at me. Cats getting spooked when I’m trying to stand quietly in the corner watching TV. They can see us you know.
Me: So are pets a deal breaker for you?
Recently deceased: What about Jennifer Lopez? I’d love to haunt Jennifer Lopez.
Me: Oh, I’m sorry. Her house just went off the market last month. How about Justin Bieber?
Recently Deceased: Ugh. No thanks.
After-Life Hobbies: I never want to be all work and no play, so I’m going to be an amateur stand-up comedian in my spare time. Spare time? I’m dead. All my time is spare! See? I’m writing jokes for the after-life already. Man, I am gonna brighten that place up.
Blogging: Yup, I’m going to continue. I’ve been doing this blog for 17 years. Why should I let death stop me? I’ve pre-written an extra post a week for the last ten years and scheduled them to be released on a regular schedule after my transition to the after-life, Heck, I could be dead already and you wouldn’t know! Why else would I be writing about death?
So, as you can see, there’s lots to do in the after-life, and I don’t want to show up unprepared. What do you want to do after you die? Speaking of ghosts, tonight I’ll be interviewing some local ghostbusters. What do you think I should ask them?
Have a great Thursday! ~Phil
In keeping with my paranormal theme this month, I thought it would be interesting to hear from a soothsayer. The popularity of tarot cards and tarot reading seems to have exploded over the last decade. More people are doing it and more are looking for skilled tarot readers to answer their questions and give them a glance into their future. Not understanding how a deck of cards with spooky pictures could give us information about our lives, I found an expert on Instagram who was willing to volunteer her wisdom and experience.
Hi Andrea, and thank you for visiting The Phil Factor. How did you first become attracted to reading tarot and oracle cards? Curiosity mostly. Since childhood, I have been interested in esoteric or metaphysical subjects. I was particularly interested in Witches since I have an ancestor who was burned in the Salem Trials.
Does a person have to be psychic to read cards? Anyone who wants to learn the basic meanings of the cards can do simple readings. However, I believe it is very beneficial if you are a very empathetic person and understand human emotions/relationships. That way you aren’t just reading the definition of each card to the querent (client.) There can be a lot of nuances in the cards. Like symbols and how each card interacts, not only with the other cards, but also with what the querent may have asked originally.
Should someone be worried if the Death card comes up in a reading?Death is like a transformation in your life or emotions. Example meanings for the Death card could be: a birth, a divorce, a new job, the beginning or ending of relationships. Or even a catalyst in thinking. It’s about change and a possible transition or regeneration.
Does it really mean someone is going to die? I’ve flipped the Death card over many times and that has never been the outcome.
Are predictions in a card reading absolutely going to come true? I don’t typically do ‘predictive’ or ‘yes/no’ readings. Everyone has free will and can change the course of their day by one simple alteration. Maybe they typically go to Starbuck’s on the corner, but that day, they decide to turn left instead of right and end up at Tim Horton’s. In my opinion, absolute predictions need to be taken as fluid thoughts. You continually have the ability to change how your life is directed. ((free will)) And you can’t assume your will can change someone else’s.
What advice do you have for someone going to their first reading? Be open and willing to hear what is being said without too many preconceived ideas or desires. Take a pen/notepad and jot down your own thoughts on the cards. Write down anything your reader says that captures your attention. What may not make sense now, may come back to you later. Or you may notice similar messages being repeated to you in different manners, by different people or situations.
As a final thought: I absolutely love reading tarot and oracle cards. I do it almost daily. It’s so interesting to see what thoughts the cards have on the questions that are asked and how pertinent they are to the person. Reading tarot makes me realize how connected everything and everyone is to each other. Everyone lives an interdependent life, but we all affect each other, just like the ripple a stone makes in a pond.
Andrea, thank you for visiting The Phil Factor. Hopefully the cards will tell us that this interview will get lots of views in the future! If you’re interested in learning more about the tarot readings from Andrea you can follow her on Instagram as TarotWytch.
I hope it’s in the cards for you to have a great day! ~Phil
That’s right. I didn’t see a ghost but apparently a ghost saw me. He probably went back to his ghost blog and told all his friends.
The picture above was taken of me five years ago as I was putting a pergola together. See that cloud to the left of me? The photographer didn’t see that when she took the picture. The picture was a “Live” picture on an iPhone7 that has about 3 seconds of movement. In the live version that cloud moved from one side of the picture to the other. If you look very closely at the top of the cloud you can see what, to me, looks like a face. Where I was is only about 15 yards from where the ashes of the former owner of the house is buried.
In addition to this we often had nights where would wake up to find that the television or gas fire place turned on in the middle of the night.
So what do you think? Was a ghost keeping an eye on me?
Happy Saturday! ~ Phil