Monday, October 24, 2011

Halloween Fun

Bookmark and Share
Beautful stone work at the cemetery. Photo by C. Arick
We have a cemetery near our house that is a beautiful and historic. My family happens to really love the paranormal, which means we really love Halloween. My husband and I also dabble in paranormal investigations in our free time. As part of a homeschool lesson for our son, I decided last Friday that it was the perfect time take a Halloween themed field trip. Paranormal investigations require interesting tools- tools that are great for teaching science, on top of the interesting history lessons you learn researching your investigation area. 

About 5 pm, after my son did some research on out town's history, we gathered our ghost hunting gear, installed fresh batteries, gave each piece a test run to ensure it was working and headed to the little cemetery. We employed a digital voice recorder, a digital camera, a ghost box, and EMF detector. We snapped some photos and started our EVP session. We enjoyed reading the old headstones and imagining the people's stories. My son kept a keen lookout for our town's more famous residents, like Capt. William Russell.

I took out our ghost box and turned it on. There was only one problem: no sound! It was strange because I had just replaced the batteries and tested 15 minutes ago (we live about a minute by car from the cemetery). I fiddled with it, a little peeved because its not cheap, but no matter what I did I could not get sound from it. We've had the ghost box for a couple of years and used it many times never encountering such a malfunction. I ended up putting it away to fix when we got home, bummed that it might be dead.

A few minutes later, my son called to me. He found a headstone that intrigued him. It was small and marked differently than the others. It simply said 'INFANT 1896-1896'. I headed over to him with digital recorder in hand. When I got near to the headstone, I hit record on the recorder. I remarked that I couldn't imagine what it was like to lose a child (though I could, I said this for my son's benefit) adding that the loss was so sad. I wondered who the child belonged to, but before I could really study the surrounding graves to match baby with mother, my son was off somewhere else. 

A little while later, as the sun started to set, we concluded our investigation. Other than the ghost box malfunction, there was nothing out of the ordinary at the cemetery. We got into the car and I decided to check the ghost box to see if it was working yet. Yep, it worked, much to my relief. My son asked to see it, so I handed to him. He rolled down his window and stuck the box out of the car at which point the sound from the box immediately ceased. I had no explanation for it.

We went home and immediately started reviewing our digital voice recordings. We had about 10 minute long bursts of recordings. My son got bored after the third recording, so I let him go do his own thing while I put on my headphones and kept reviewing. I came to the recording of the infant gravestone. Much to my surprise, a voice stuck out like a sore thumb not only to my ears, but in the visual frequency graph, too. The following links are snippets of those recordings, raw and amplified:

Old headstone Rendering by C. Arick

I know it says download, but if you click the link, you can listen to the recordings directly at the site! 

I won't tell you what I hear, but will say that I thought it was a relevant comment to the subject matter at the time. It was also the only thing we recorded for which I did not have an explanation. We look forward to going back to see if we can repeat the results from our little field trip soon.

Happy Halloween!! 

Do you believe in ghosts? Have any ghost stories you want to tell? 

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Skateboarding: Who Knew?

Bookmark and Share
Never in my life did I pet my clumsy (like his mom), vision impaired child (worse than his mom... they don't make a prescription strong enough for his eyes... a disease is suspected, but we won't know until he's a little older) as an athlete. Yet, he's turning out to be just that. The sport? Skateboarding.

My son has been practicing religiously since April. He's moving his body, making friends and learning very important life lessons. He's overcoming his lack of vision and developing coordination. He's getting a huge sense of accomplishment as he hones his skills. We watch professional skateboarders on television.

I never realized skateboarding was an actual sport, but I'm learning its value. Living near the beach, we have no shortage of kids who enjoy skating and surfing. I've never seen so many kids skateboarding in my life until I moved here. I never minded the skating activity in our old neighborhood or around our one shopping center because you know exactly what those kids are doing: skating. They are focused. They are staying out of trouble. They are being kids, not little gangsters or hoodlums. Now my child, who is at that age where he is more independent and doesn't always have his parents around to guide him to the good, healthy choice is benefiting from that focus.

Skating has become an obsession for my boy, which is okay by me. It's socially appropriate. He has skater friends. He made a new friend because of his interest in skating. A new friend. That's huge! The older skateboarding kids (some of them in their twenties) take a big brother approach with the younger ones. He learning how to interact in a variety of new and challenging social situations. He's figuring out how to literally and figuratively think on his feet. I'm not sure that would be possible in any other traditional sport where you are coached and guided by adults. This is a free-range sport that's self, peer and community guided. I can't think of another way where he could get this sorta education.

The local skate stores know who my son is and love talking to him about skating. Our favorite store, Liquid, gave my kid (or rather his grandparents) a great deal on new parts for his skateboard and some stickers to cover up their corporate competitors stickers on the bottom of his deck (which I've learned is the proper name for the wood part of a skateboard). My kid completes all the interaction himself with the clerks and shopkeepers. To hear them talk is like listening to another language, but it's nice to hear that your kid knows his stuff.

Our area lacks an actual designated skate park, so in the next town over a church has donated part of its parking lot for a mini-skate park. Kids and their parents, shop owners and enthusiasts have donated and built ramps and other neat skate equipment for the area. I never knew skaters would have such a sense of community, but I'm glad they are influencing my son.

I don't know if this is just another aspie phase, but until he's done with it we will encourage him. We will help him foster self-confidence through the sport of skateboarding. We'll support the skater community and local businesses that support him. And we'll guide him through the social lessons so that he can continue to grow and thrive. Skaters don't care if you have autism as long as you skate.

I'm going to take the time to give accolades to the church where the skate park is located: This particular church is extremely active in the county, helping families and the community like nothing I've ever seen before. The funny part is this church's congreation is made up largely of the gay, lesbian, transexual and transgender residents of our county. I often think to myself that all churches should be like this church. My husband had an office there and we have friends that attend that church. If I were to go to church, it would have to be this one. Acceptance is an amazing thing and it is a rock in our community.