Shadow People

4:12 PM Posted by Heidi

By popular demand, I bring you my first blog on the Paranormal and Unexplained.

par⋅a⋅nor⋅mal  /ˌpærəˈnɔrməl/  [par-uh-nawr-muhl]

–adjective of or pertaining to the claimed occurrence of an event or perception without scientific explanation, as psychokinesis, extrasensory perception, or other purportedly supernatural phenomena.

To kick off the series my first subject will be on Shadow People. There seems to be growing interest in these entities among the public lately, and though they scare me to bits, I'll turn my eye to the subject and see what I can find.

So just what the heck are Shadow People? From various sources on the web listed at the end of this blog, I've compiled a brief introduction to the phenomena.

Shadow people (also known as shadow men or shadow beings) are a supernatural phenomenon reported by some individuals. Most accounts of shadow people describe them as black humanoid silhouettes, lacking mouths or eyes, although they are sometimes reported to have red or yellow eyes. They are generally described as lacking mass, although their specific nature varies from two-dimensional (like a shadow) to vaporous or distorted. Their movement is often reported as being very quick and disjointed, or "jiggly", in the sense that they first may move slowly like a fluid (similar to jello rather than water), then rapidly "hop" to another part of a witness' surroundings. Some witnesses describe this movement as though the shadow entities they have seen "danced" from one wall to the next.

Several explanations have been proposed for the appearance of shadow people.

Paranormal explanations

Some explanations for shadow people come from the fields of parapsychology, metaphysics, crypto zoology, and demonology, and are considered by many to be pseudoscience. Other explanations make no scientific pretense whatever, and lie more within the realm of religion and the occult.

One of the more creative theories is that shadow beings are manifest thought forms (known in occult circles as egregores or tulpas), meaning that they are either collections of negative psychic energy from areas where traumatic events have taken place and evil people frequent, or have been intentionally created for some nefarious purpose. The negative psychic energy begins to manifest and takes on form and motive, thriving on fear and negative emotions for sustenance (astral vampires).

Shadow beings have also been described as forms of ghosts, demons, inter-dimensional beings, and extraterrestrial lifes. One of the more popular explanations seems to be that they are some sort of other-dimensional beings whose dimension of origin occasionally overlaps with ours, which is said to explain their ethereal appearance and fleeting nature.

Many who attach religious significance to the phenomena apply more credit to the demonic explanation. This is due to the phenomena usually being witnessed in places said to have a stigma of great negative energy. Such places include "haunted locations" or places where extreme emotional or physical abuse has transpired and feelings of fear, dread, and hatred somehow linger in the atmosphere beyond the temporal passing of sad events. Some however have made a connection between the black smoke appearance of this phenomena and the Jinn of Islamic belief. The Jinn are described as normally being invisible to humans and when seen having the appearance of Black smoke, making them very similar in appearance to the phenomena of shadow people.

In Native American Cherokee mythology there is an evil witch known as the Raven Mocker that takes the form of a spectral bird and shifts into a humanoid, shadow-like phantom. These beings are said to steal the souls of the ill or dying. Such creatures are alleged to fear the shaman or medicine man and so do not enter a home where one resides. A medicine man was sought to watch over the infirm and also to watch over the bodies of the recently deceased, as according to myth once the body was buried the Raven Mocker could not steal the soul.

A much less held view is that shadow people play a guardian angel role, protecting the individual from, or more accurately warning them of, impending danger; similar to the moth man.

Some witnesses reported that they have seen hooded figures much like shadow people, blinking barely. This could explain some shadow people accounts of people seeing standing or hovering shapes.

Non-paranormal explanations

Eyewitness accounts of shadow people are neither hoaxes nor actual paranormal experiences, but rather hallucinations or delusions.

Hypnogogia (waking sleep) is an accepted state of semi consciousness in which a person can be thinking clearly and yet perceiving images that are being dreamed. This state is often used to explain apparently paranormal experiences.

Scientists have theorized that under the right conditions erratic electromagnetic field behavior can interfere with the electrical impulses or firing synapses of the human mind, thus influencing people subjected to such environments over time to believe that they are hearing or seeing ghosts, aliens, or perhaps shadow people. Such environments include old buildings with substandard wiring, power plants, and areas with naturally occurring strong magnetic fields.

Drug induced hallucinations, such as those experienced by habitual heroin users, are known to reflect experiences similar to this phenomena. However, many witnesses do not use narcotics so the majority of accounts cannot be linked to this explanation. Individuals who recreationally use or overdose on diphenhydramine products such as Benadryl, or plants such as Datura, often report seeing shadow creatures and people, but more commonly, the amoeba-like entities that usually prelude the appearance of shadow people . These cellular entities are said to be often incredibly detailed beings (complete with vacuoles, plasmodium, and mitochondria, etc.)

The brain is also wired to perceive faces and other human characteristics in random patterns, called Pareidolia.

The similarity between eyewitness accounts of shadow people remains difficult to explain scientifically. In particular the tall gingerbread-like man with a hat that is reported as often by 4-year-old children as with adults. The similarities may, however, simply reflect common archetypes.

Many people who have experienced nightmares, especially during childhood have seen an entity that fits this description. In many cases, this being is of indisputable power during the dream sequence, and frequently chases the one experiencing the nightmare relentlessly. Whether or not a shadow being is playing games with them in their dreams or merely their own imagination running wild is impossible to assess. Frequently this dream is not a single occurrence, and is sometimes every single night, which can lead to sleep deprivation, somniphobia (clinical fear of sleep), and nyctophobia (fear of night time or darkness, with which both sleep and the shadow being would be associated).

People who are relaxed, weakened, or otherwise vulnerable seem to be the most at risk of seeing one of these things. I say risk because though there are few if any accounts of physical contact with Shadows, there is inevitably a psychological event that occurs, from simple fear to terror. "Direct visual contact is rarely reported by most eye witnesses of shadow people; they are said to usually disappear before they can be seen clearly, and are seen "in the corner of one's eye. These beings are said to often appear in mirrors." (EFF THAT)

I think these things fall in neither the paranormal or the non-paranormal catergory. I think they fall into the "Yet Unexplained" category, which to me lends itself to further study investigation.

My personal theory is that these shadows are cast by beings that exist in dimensions of our own universe, perhaps even our own dimension that we can't fully experience with our limited senses. It is already well known and accepted that the human eye can only perceive a tiny sliver of the light bouncing around in the universe, and further that the very matter that our eyes are made of is only a small part of all matter that exists in the universe. With new discoveries such as dark matter and anti matter for example, perhaps these shadows are strictly that- shadows cast by beings that we can't perceive or even interact with in our limited scopes of being. I don't mean to try to debunk or discredit any other theories or that they could very well be something much more mystical, but to me the idea of inter-dimensional shadows is just as supernatural, and far less freaky to comprehend.

If you have a personal experience with Shadow People or know of someone else's, please share it in a response to this entry! If you'd like to read more personal accounts, follow one of the links below and look for the personal stories sections.

Thanks for listening to my brain, and I'll see you back here tomorrow where I begin to delve into the realm of Sleep and phenomena associated with it.

Ode to the Gobstopper

3:41 PM Posted by Heidi

Sweet misery.

You. The cause of so much pain and so much ecstasy. Your every color a joy to my senses, bringing with each one a different yet equally succulent taste as I rend and tear at you with my teeth, trying to devour you yet savor you in equal measure.

Your tantalizing layers conceal an effervescent center that simply melts between your teeth, trickling down your throat, delivering its sugary dose into your blood in bite size morsels. I know you only seek to destroy me, but still I pursue you. The very essence of your being wreaks havoc on the very tools which I use to make you a part of me.

Why. Why do you exist, sweet misery? What deranged mind is responsible for creating you? Who would put on this earth such a vile poison whose only purpose is to appeal to those that would be stricken by its ways? How could this Wonka be left free to roam in good conscience, with such a wretched delight unleashed upon the world? But when I dream of a lifetime empty of the destruction you have caused, sweet Gobstopper, I also mourn the languid moments my tongue spent caressing your uneven rock hard curves, my teeth doing their best not to interfere but being so beside themselves with envy that they inevitably mash you to bits and you are once again, a part of me.

So, Wonka, I come before you, prostrate, humbled by your great and powerful mind, and beg you... please never rid the world of your wonders. Your creations are great and wicked and we, being but your sheep, will surely fall by the way in the absence of their promise of another.

Damn you, Gobstoppers. Damn you and may you rot in Hell for your sins against my teeth for all of eternity in a fiery pit of boiling tar.. but would that I should join you, for surely my sins are of equal measure, when I too arrive.

Until we meet again.

My first Haiku

6:42 PM Posted by Heidi

a heaping mound
of dookie

It's a lot effin' harder than I thought. Turns out a true Haiku has nothing to do with syllables the way you think. Give it a shot if you want!

Wikipedia on Mora

Wiki on Vowel Length

Another Mora Page

Bite size, high fructose corn syrupy, trans fatty, flashy, cheap, accessible pleasure.

8:23 PM Posted by Heidi

Now, let me start with a disclaimer. What I'm about to talk about is a heated issue on both sides of the coin and I want it to be known right now that I have seen and been on both sides and so my words are coming not from an objective standpoint, but an experienced one. I'm not a scientist, a sociologist or a psychologist; I'm just an average person who has been deeply affected by the subject.

In the world of today and I'd even say tomorrow and maybe next week, people are being flooded with wave after wave of bite size, high fructose corn syrupy, trans fatty, flashy, cheap, accessible pleasure. It's being researched and developed by scientists who know more than you or I do about what makes us happiest fastest, and how to concentrate and control the release and duration of the pleasure released by their products. Through trial and error they've deduced that instant gratification, as opposed to say, prolonged boredom, is what gets a consumer to keep coming back. Unless you're an accountant in which case you hate fun, but this is why they have Sudoku.

Now. How to deliver fun? How to get people to continue to purchase what you know they want continuously over the course of months, even years? Even further, to actively pursue other means of your brand of pleasure, thereby making you billions of dollars a second? Well let's look at the basic needs of a person. According to humanist psychologist Abraham Maslow, a person's basic needs can be arranged in a hierarchy. Only once the previous ones have been satisfied, will a person begin to seek out the next. Let's examine these to find an audience for our fun, and then we can begin to concoct a fun that shoots straight to the core of the widest possible audience.

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs
1: Physiological Needs. These include air, water, food, and to not be freezing or burning to death.
2: Safety Needs. Having shelter and not having attempts made on your life very often.
3: Needs of Love, Affection and Belongingness. Belongingness? Don't look at me, I didn't make it up.
4: Needs for Esteem. "Humans have a need for a stable, firmly based, high level of self-respect, and respect from others." Being totally pwn in the fase of ppl who roxors.
5: Needs for Self-Actualization. Being, as the Army so cleverly snatched up as the most effective marketing slogan ever to exist, All You Can Be.

Hrm. Let's say our audience is about... between the level of 2 and 3, because we want to get people's money, not help them survive. So our pot of gold is alive, eats, breathes, drinks liquid, and lives in a residential domicile. People living places these days generally have computers, and most people with a computer have internets, and with the internet comes spending money online, and everyone who has spent money online has done so because they're too busy, lazy, or inconvenienced to go out and buy whatever it was outside of their comfy chair.

Eureka. Let's make a virtual reality for people who are busy, lazy, or loners and thereby spend a lot of time on the computer, and who are so under stimulated in life that to them a game world could feel like a brighter, flashier, more vibrant promise filled alternative to physical living, where they can be all they can be and much more. Wow, you know, I know a ton of people that fit that description, even in my own sphere of evil scientists. I'd say most of them could afford the cost of three twelve packs a month to escape their drab realities where they don't have to worry. Not that we care, but what can possibly be the harm in letting people feel empowered and totally pwn and rich and famous and vibrant and sexy, all for a low monthly fee of $14.95?

The only thing short of the pervious paragraph being the fucking Matrix is that it's full of Cyphers; all aware of reality, and not only choose, but pay to take the blue pill and stay immersed.

Slowly but surely the pot of gold begins to compare his or her other activities with the new reality and realize nothing can deliver that shot of happiness straight to the brain anywhere near as effortlessly, and begin to let everything else fade away until they are consumed. Interesting. The Consumer being consumed. The friends that they get to play with them become estranged on their own personal quests for glory, and their other friends go on with life without them. Their spouses; the entity that used to be their heart's reason for beating, has lost the exclusive rights to the club and must now compete for affection with virtual people.

It may even become more literal as they meet a charming adventurer of the opposite sex in the game who really "gets" them; who is just as flashy and shiny and sexy as they are now, who they would give all their epix and gold. Whom without the awkwardness of physical attraction, they come to feel deeply connected to on the inside, "where it counts". They fall in love with xDreamLover69x and get a divorce from their spouse, planning to move to Botswannawan to have the adventure of a lifetime together forever.

It's really not that uncommon. Such is the future of romance and dating.

So, evil scientist, let me tell you what the fucking problem is. No one knows how to retain their humanity when they have been immersed in a world of black and white with no right and wrong, where the goal is to get the shiniest things. This is all new turf in the realm of human entertainment. In essence you're taking ordinary people living in the ordinary world, and handing them the chance to be spoiled rotten, without rules, government, law, religion, or any other moral standards. You're creating another society, run by people who are uneducated on how to do it ethically.

Imagine everyone in the world being boundlessly rich and famous and sexy and immortal and exciting and the only thing to distinguish you from the 8000 other people that look exactly like you is how well you can kill something that is alive. No longer is a person compelled to be nice to anyone else, help anyone else, or even behave toward others as if they were their equal. Instead you get a world of assholes that would push you in the lava if you were closer to the epix than they were.

So someone find a scientist who will go and have an epic science battle with the evil scientists pushing their scientifically enhanced happiness, pull the plug on the big evil machines serving up the games, and free the masses from their doom! (By the way, I like to imagine the evil scientist as being just like a lab coat wearing Waluigi, of Super Mario fame. Waluigi number onnnnnneeee!)

Or, someone find a humanist psychologist or someone else with an education from books, to write a manual about how to live a healthy life for people who are content and have accepted being a participant in this new phenomenon of virtual living.

I'm not going to sit and balance everything I ranted on by representing the bright side of MMOs, because right now people don't need more reason to play. Also because my brain is numb from writing for hours and I just don't care anymore.

Thanks for reading!

P.S There is a very real change happening in not only the American society, but the global one. China has already federally regulated the use of MMOs, but I don't see that doing as much good as it is a disservice to those people. In the words of the philosopher that I just made up, you can either hit a child that does something that's bad for them, or you can tell them why it's bad for them in the first place and let them choose to be healthy.

Maybe what we need is a good spanking.

Ways not to punch the person pulling your tooth in the face.

6:26 PM Posted by Heidi

Getting a tooth pulled is a traumatic and painful ordeal. Having someone leaning over you with metal implements that look like they're straight from the middle ages, while telling you you'll feel a small pinch and some pressure, is enough to send anyone into survival mode. Once the bones start cracking, the demon tries to soothe you into submission with calming words such as, 'you're doing great' and 'you'll hear some funny sounds now' and 'it's either this or I devour your soul'. The urge to physically defend yourself by assaulting the person in the face may seem overwhelming, but is rarely the best decision that can be made at the moment.

Here are five ways to avoid a physical altercation with your dentist before, during or after your procedure.

1- Imagination. You are Sam Beckett from Quantum Leap, and if you don't go through with the procedure you will create a ripple effect in the time space continuum and somehow cause the obliteration of your own grandmother and never be born at all. While never being born may sound like a better alternative at the time, Sam won't get a chance to jump home and that's just mean.

2- Karma. Your dentist hates it as much if not more than you do. In fact, he or she is 6.64% more likely than any other profession to kill themselves, so unless you are also a dentist, realize those odds balance out in your favor in the long run.

3- Sick Day. Let's face it. You can get a day off out of this. Let the monster do what he or she may and then go home and eat ice cream all day. Spitting blood and having a swollen face for a week is a small price to pay for a clean conscience about missing work. You can even enhance the swelling with some makeup to make it look all bruised so as to illicit pity from your coworkers the next day. We all deserve a little pampering now and then.

4- Cryogenics. Just freeze yourself until they develop laser tooth removal. It's probably not that far off. Realize, most of the people who will die while you're under are irritating anyway. Just make sure you get someone to water your plants until you wake up.

5- Souvenir. After it's all over make sure you ask to have the ejected bone. When they look at you funny say it's against your religion not to bury any part of yourself that has been removed, even your hair, and you'd thank them not to interfere. When you get home, build a gravestone and coffin for your tooth out of whatever you have lying around, making sure you document the process with pictures. You don't have to really bury it, but make sure you make it look believable, with a mound of dirt and the gravestone sticking in the ground. Send these pictures to your dentist in a thank you card, and rest easy knowing that for those 10 minutes of torture you endured, you have given them a lifetime of nightmares.

As you can see, by following any of these helpful strategies while faced with a terrifying ordeal of any kind, you will come out of top in the end.

Thank you for reading, and you're welcome, dentists.

Five out of Five Hundred

6:42 PM Posted by Heidi

I read somewhere that a writer looking to break in to the Blogging business should practice writing 500 words daily, especially if said person is out of practice with their craft. Well, I have 461 to go.

This reminds me of Freewrite in Larry's English class. It was the mid-90s, and I was a teenage recovering addict in a school for kids like me. I suppose being surrounded exclusively by kids going through the same process made it easier to stay sober, never having experienced otherwise, I'll never know if that's really the case, but that was the idea, and it worked for me. So, hooray.

As it were, the teachers at my high school wouldn't last a day (and some didn't) unless they had a thick skin and could remember what it was like to be our age, while also somehow managing to gain our respect enough to hold our attention and, heaven forbid, teach us things. Larry was the best of the best. What set him apart was his ability to teach us what we wanted to be taught. I got lucky and graduated just before the No Child Left Behind act was put through and Larry had to start teaching from a national syllabus that completely destroyed the unique flavor and joy of his class.

Seem like I'm rambling? It's called Freewrite, and it's what we did for the first 10 minutes of every class. It was back when we used crazy things called notebooks and pens to write with in school. At the end of the year Larry gave us our file full of the year's Freewrites and essays and papers that we'd written in his class. You could tell a lot about how you were feeling any given day by the doodles on your work. Ahh doodles. Do people even know what doodling is anymore? I mean, you can't doodle on a computer while your brain wanders. I could start making ASCII pictures, but that's more effort than it's worth and I doubt it'd look good anyway.

Freewrite. The best tool for opening your writing brain, chilling kids the hell out after between-class break, and getting a peak into the minds and hearts of your class. On Wednesdays Larry would pass out a printed sheet with his favorite Freewrites that the class had done that week and we'd sit around a table (there was only 10 students per class) and take turns reading eachother's writings while eating Larry's famous homemade oatmeal raisin cookies. I always had such anticipation waiting to see how my poem or story would be recieved by my peers. I think it's not too cocky of me to say they usually liked them well enough. Freewrite Wednesdays, my favorite day of the week.

What am I at now? 471 words? Good Lord I thought there was more.

Larry made me want to move to San Francisco and become a Beat Poet, even though the Beat Poet movement had been over for 30 years or so. He made me want to read horridly boring books like A Tale of Two Cities, though I never did, but I wanted to because I loved English that much. So, here's to you Larry and Freewrite, where ever you may be.

557 words and one Freewrite down!