Friday, September 18, 2009

GHST102 - Paranormal Investigator I

When I first signed up for the TMCC's Nevada Ghost and Paranormal Series, I really didn't know what to expect. I've been on ghost tours before, usually around Halloween, when most people's curiosity in the paranormal is peaked. I've been to a few lectures and I've visited a few places online, read a book or two and explored a few local spots. I don't consider myself outlandish or weird, and if asked, I would say I am a skeptical believer in the existence of hauntings. I believe most claims can be debunked, however, my own personal experiences have led me to believe that there are some things that just cannot be explained away. Most people, upon hearing that I seek out places that might be haunted, give me a look of disbelief, followed by, "REALLY?", a nervous pause, then a change in subject. Ghost hunting has become my guilty pleasure, not discussed with most co-workers and friends. So, when I showed up for the first lecture, I was pleasantly surprised to see the class was full of like-minded individuals.

Janice Oberding, a historian, author and paranormal investigator, was the featured lecturer. She opened the class with the question: "Are there any skeptics here?" No one raised their hand. Then she asked if anyone belonged to paranormal investigation teams. Quite a few hands were raised (What?! I thought this was supposed to be a beginners class!) There were a number of very knowledgeable investigators in the class. In fact, there were only a couple of people that had not gone out on investigations. This set the tone for the rest of the afternoon's lecture, as Janice was able to discuss equipment without having to give too much explanation, and everyone there spoke "ghosthunter". Janice is really an engaging speaker and full of lots of information and lots of opinions. I liked that; she's sassy.

A few things I came away with after attending her lecture:
No one will probably ever prove, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that ghosts exist. I believe that. The most staunch nonbelievers will never accept any evidence, no matter how good it is. So why do we investigate? To satisfy our own curiosity.
The best ghost hunting tools are our five senses(or six, depending on who you talk to). Some investigators are absolute tech whores. I am not one of them. I own a digital camera with nightshot, a digital voice recorder and a small flashlight. Sometimes I feel those three items are too much (Hey! I only have two hands!) Most times, I even forget to bring my equipment. But really, what would a good ghost hunt be without "stuff"? I leave that to my W.I.G.S. partner, Paula. She's a tech whore. Digital cameras, IR lights, ambient thermometers, voice recorders, camcorders, K2 meters, EMF detectors, you name it, she's got it, or she wants it. Investigating with her is like a visit to Toyland; and it's time to play!
Every member of a team has a part to play. Mine is research. I love ghost stories, and I love history. Digging into the historical records of a person, place or thing makes it all come alive for me. Exploring a ghost town where people once lived, worked, loved, made babies, laughed with friends, and died fills me with a sense of wonderment of the sacredness and strength of the human condition. But that's me, others would be bored to tears perusing the internet, library and state archives for hours on end.

The lecture ended with a lot of open discussion and networking between individuals. The next class in the series will be in two parts: a daytime investigation up at Virgina City on September 19th, and a follow up class on September 26 to discuss our findings. I am looking forward to it.

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