How Would Your Favorite Superhero Vote?

Heard this blog entry quoted on Free Talk Live. Too Funny.

Election Day 2006 – Whose Side is Your Favorite Superhero on?

It’s times like these that make me wonder how superheroes would vote. Is Captain America a Republican or a Democrat? What about Batman? It’s tempting to attribute one’s own political beliefs to one’s childhood heroes, but that would be wrong. We’re in a No-Spin Zone here at Dave’s Long Box, so I have examined the evidence and decided on a political party affiliation for some of my favorite heroes without regard to my personal beliefs.

Hulk the Libertarian. “Hulk just want to be left alone!”
He’s not the only one that qualifies, though.

Battlestar Galactica: What Re-Visioning Really Means

I’ve been threatening to write this entry for quite a while now. I survived a section of my teenage years by clinging to the show, Battlestar Galactica. I virtually lived for the weekly distraction of…

NBC ClassicsBattlestar Galactica – Original Show Intro – Dec 11, 2014

“There are those who believe that life here began out there, far across the universe, with tribes of humans who may have been the forefathers of the Egyptians, or the Toltecs, or the Mayans. They may have been the architects of the great pyramids, or the lost civilizations of Lemuria or Atlantis. Some believe that there may yet be brothers of man who even now fight to survive somewhere beyond the heavens.”

Hearing the fanfare that begins after those words still gives me a chill, even after all these years. I can’t explain it. Something in the show struck a cord; and I watched, spellbound, every week, even though we only had a 12 inch black and white TV set. The knights didn’t wear shining armor, the barbarians did; but there were damsels in distress, and gentlemen who rode in (literally, a few times) to save the day. There were gunfights and space battles, nearly every week. I loved every minute of it.

The movie that was made and used as the pilot was one of the few films that I paid to see more than once. (Sweetwater, Texas at least had a theatre. I had to go to the next town to watch a film when I lived in Kansas) I had several T-shirts for the show. I watched Galactica 1980! My favorite scene in every A-Team episode is Dirk Benedict (Starbuck) recognizing the Cylon during the introduction, and I promptly left the room after that bit. I hated the A-Team (it was too juvenile. My little brother watched it) I just loved that bit, though.

I’m offering this up as proof that I am a true fan of the original show; and I feel the need to do this because I’m about to admit to something disturbing.

I love the new Battlestar Galactica. Yes, I know, it has nothing at all to do with the original show. Yes, I know, they’ve taken character names and situations and twisted them around in ways that the original authors would not have conceived of, perhaps even approved of. It’s dark and complex, and it’s content can be both disturbing and titillating at varying times in the same episode. You have to think about the show if you want it to make sense.

And, once again, I hang on every minute just to see what happens next.

So many of the concepts that were used in the original show were fumbled and poorly executed. Baltar was simply a card board cutout villain. There was no realistic attempt to explain why the the Cylons would ever place him (a human) in command of a Basestar. (Never mind that they killed him in the movie, only to resurrect him in the series) In the New BSG, Baltar is a brilliant, twisted, cynical, amoralist; someone that can be easily seen dancing his way in whatever direction that survival dictates. And, indeed, the price of his survival has nearly been the extermination of the remainder of the human race several times now.

All of the characters have flaws, and strengths. There are no knights, and very few gentlemen. Admiral Adama (played by the extremely talented Edward James Olmos) being one of the few. If there is a weakness in the show, it’s a lack of any truly great male leads other than Olmos. Apollo, while admirably independent of his father Adama, is too brittle to be truly likable. Colonel Tigh is a drunk. Lieutenant Agathon is, well… pussy whipped (how would you describe a man who whines incessently about not being with his girl? One who not only does everything that she asks, but adopts it as his personal cause? Like I said…) By a Cylon. It’s a little embarrassing. I get a kick out of watching Doc Cottle smoking his way through his scenes. It’s priceless. Of course, I remember him as Dutch from Soap, so there’s a level of unintended (?) humor there for me. There’s also Lt. Felix Gaeta who, while he’s still suffering from blindly following Baltar onto New Caprica, is definitely a gentleman in every sense of the word.

From Imgur h/t to IFC

There are most definitely no damsels in distress. Recasting Starbuck as a woman was perhaps a stroke of genius, even though most fans of the original show point to that as the greatest failing of the new show. Starbuck is still Dirk Benedict’s Starbuck, but this time played by a woman. A hard drinking, gambling, fighter jock with an attitude and ability. A strong female character in a lead position, on the front line of battle. Katee Sackhoff will never have the charm that Dirk Benedict could project, but then she doesn’t need it either. What she lacks in charm she makes up for by diving into trouble headfirst, only to come back out smelling like a rose.

Then there is the President (Beautifully played by Mary Mcdonnell) the Grande Dame of the fleet. She is the figurative mother of the remainder of the human race. Protective of the lives under her care, even to a fault. And Boomer/Athena/Sharon (Grace Park) The other male character from the original show recast as a female; and not just a female, but a female skinjob (a tribute to Philip K. Dick there. He refers to the replicants in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep as skinjobs. Something that was picked up in Bladerunner, the film based on the book) a Cylon agent that doesn’t know it’s a Cylon.

In fact, the show is replete with strong female characters, something that was sorely lacking until the very end of the Original BSG, with the introduction of the daughter of Admiral Cain.

Which brings me to another reason I’ve been obsessed with the show for three seasons; I never can tell which character or storyline from the original show that they are going to play (or prey) on next. The Battlestar Pegasus and Admiral Cain sail into the New BSG in much the same way they did in the original series. But from that point onward, the stories radically diverge.

In a story arc that has developed since the beginning of the series, Baltar gets the chance to earn the hatred that is simply his by default in the original series. And every week is a surprise, a twist on what we thought we knew about the world of BSG.

This week’s episode is a virtual case in point of all of the above. Torture. Genocide. Honor, truth and devotion to duty. Deception and betrayal. Very real questions that we should be seriously discussing in the here and now. Fully developed characters that make decisions based on the traits that we know they have. No holds barred, all the flaws exposed.

Just like life on the edge should be.

The New BSG is everything that the word re-visioning connotes. It is a reworking of familiar characters and stories in a way that you would never have seen them before. As such I have nothing but praise for the series; and I hope that my liking it doesn’t spell disaster for the show,
as it has for virtually every other show I’ve watched over the years.

I’ll just keep watching, wondering what’s next.


Editor’s note: October 5, 2015. The Wife posted this image to my Facebook wall a few weeks ago. Then in a moment of synchronicity I stumbled across this old entry on the subject of BSG on my blog.  An entry that I had completely forgotten I had written.

I started to append some closing statement about the series finale being disappointing and blah, blah, blah; when it suddenly occurred to me that I couldn’t even remember how the series ended. The last image I had of it in my head was the burned out cinder of Earth. So I went hunting around trying to find a copy of the series and finally resorted to having the disks shipped to me via Netflix.

What amazes me about memory is how things you think you remember really aren’t the way you remember them.  I noticed this first with many of the shows I watched as a child.  Watching them as an adult I was shocked at how different the experience was.

Case in point, rewatching classic BSG.  The religion angle that I thought was so novel about the revisioning was actually very heavily in the classic show, but it was pretty well muddled up with the contemporary christianity of the time.  The Classic episodes were better in some aspects than I remembered; and at the same time they were cringingly naive about so many subjects that the revisioned show just blows right through without a second thought.

Rewatching the last half of the final season of the new BSG, I realized that I had merged several episodes together in my head, and that the burned out Earth that I saw as the end of the show wasn’t even in the part of the season that I watched, although the characters refer to it repeatedly.

I was struck by how circular the final moments of the show try to be, actively pantomiming what the viewer subconsciously does while watching.

All in all, the time I spent rewatching the ending on disk was well spent and more enjoyable than watching it on live television while it was airing. This is because several of the episodes on disk are uncut versions with additional scenes (and I’m a secondary audio junkie, confirmed) I’m going to have to acquire a copy of both Classic BSG and the new version. I see a BSG marathon occurring at some point in the future. 

Shut up and Sing

I’m not a Country Music fan (My profile should show that pretty clearly) but I’m interested in the Dixie Chicks movie, Shut up and Sing all the same.

When the Dixie Chicks dared to criticise President Bush a few years back, I was actually more outraged at the response of their fans, and the media outlets that egged on the boycott, than I was at them.

With the mid-term elections now behind us, their opinions have been vindicated by a (slim) majority of the voting public. The war in Iraq is going badly, the economy is in a rut, and ‘W’ and his advisors are to blame for it.

Of course, those of us who understand economics realize that no one president and his policies are to blame for the state of the United States economy. In fact, while the Federal Reserve bears direct blame for most of the problem, it is the government-addicted average american, the person who just wants his benefits and a tax cut too, who enables the draining of the US economy. But it is pretty hard to point fingers in any other direction when it comes to the state of affairs in the Middle East. ‘W’ wanted his war in Iraq, he worked hard to get us involved in hostilities over there, and he is the Commander in Chief of the armed forces. There really isn’t any one else to blame for the situation.

To take a country singing group to task for saying what the rest of the country is now saying, that many people outside of country music were saying long before them, is offensive. It is an insult to the spirit of the Declaration of Independence, and the First Amendment to the Constitution. They spoke their minds and were figuratively dragged through the mud for it.

I’ll probably ante up to see the film, even if I don’t listen to their music. I’m just curious enough to see what they might have to say now.



Mea culpa review 2017. I have eaten a Big Bowl of Crow since publishing this and other thoughts on many subjects. I never did see the movie, largely because I don’t think it ever made it to the Austin market.

Another instance of me spouting off about subjects I only vaguely understood at the time. Probably the biggest reason I hesitate to continue the EPHN posts. I seem to know just enough to make myself dangerous on a whole host of subjects. Still, I have to follow where the logic takes me. I’ll get around to it eventually.

The Vote

Took the time to go out and vote today, just like I always do. I generally ignore the comments from some of my Anarcho-Capitalists friends, the types of comments that amount to “Voting is two wolves and a sheep deciding on what’s for dinner.” Not that I disagree with the sentiment concerning voting. It’s just that I’m a realist (unlike most of them) and I play the hand that has been dealt to me. Part of playing that hand is participation in the process. If you don’t participate, you really don’t have any room to bitch about the outcome.

Case in point, these Anarcho-Capitalists who don’t vote, who go to great pains to not vote, who spend a lot of energy convincing others of the futility of voting; these self same Anarcho-Capitalists will proceed to laugh at the sorry returns for Libertarian candidates (or mainstream candidates and issues that they might be in agreement with) and say, “see how pointless it all is”. It’s a self fulfilling prophecy.

I’m sorry, but that minuscule return is there to ridicule because people like me haul our sorry butts out on election day and cast ballots for the candidates and issues that conscience dictates we support. If we relied on your holier-than-thou selves, there wouldn’t be any candidates, or any numbers to ridicule, at all. The truism “All that is necessary for evil to succeed is that good men do nothing” can’t be shown any clearer.

Not that I want to force them to vote. I just wish they’d think before spouting off about how pointless it all is. It’s real easy to sit on your hands and moan about how helpless you are; it’s another thing to expend your best effort in defiance of the naysayers, committing yourself to an effort that you essentially know is hopeless, but you would kick yourself if you didn’t at least try.

My hat goes off to all the Libertarian Party (and other third party) candidates and their staff tonight, for putting themselves through hell, and then some, for nothing more than the simple need to see something better than “politics as usual” on the ballot. For supporting people that they believed in, no matter what the odds were.

And the odds were pretty insurmountable. I can say, in Texas, that we didn’t win any major victories, although it looks like we may have squeaked out the percentage needed to stay on the ballot for another 4 years. (Texas election Returns) That, in itself, is quite a victory. Getting back on the ballot is an expensive process that should be avoided if possible.

Someone noted, during the last election, that the Libertarian candidates in most races had vote totals larger than the number of votes separating the winner and the looser of that race; the observation still seems to be true. More than that can be said, though. The Republicans lost the house and Senate because they betrayed the small government conservatives who make up a good portion of the libertarians out there. And many of the small gov’t social liberals consciously shifted their votes to Democrat (there was a lot of talk about this on CATO unbound and CATO podcast recently, as well as on Daily Kos) as the founding of Democratic Freedom Caucus (the Democrat version of the Republican Liberty Caucus) should have signaled to anyone who was paying attention.

[For more on this, check out the Op. Ed. Examining the Libertarian Vote in Depth by David Boaz and David Kirby]

So there were a few beacons of hope out there, if you were looking.

However, property owners in Austin (the sheep in the scenario above) once again were shafted on all 7 propositions put before voters this year; all of which passed, and all of which will raise property taxes.

Those of us who were cheering for a return to divided gov’t have reason to celebrate. The two parties will at least have to pretend to hate each others ideas for the next two years. It should slow down the juggernaut that the federal deficit has become. I doubt that anything is going to save the economy, though. And if the economy goes South, there’s only one possible outcome…

Hillary in 2008. Now that’s a nightmare.

But, that nightmare is two years away. Now is the time to get back to building the Libertarian party, fixing the defaced platform, and the hundred other thankless tasks that need to be done behind the scenes; just so that our erstwhile brothers in the libertarian movement can cast aspersions on our (in their very vocal opinion) hopeless efforts.

Here’s to making them eat their words next time around.


Editor’s note, 2017. I have eaten a Big Bowl of Crow since publishing this and other thoughts on many subjects. The wife of the blowjob president was the nominee for the Democratic party and I voted for her. Donald Trump holds the office of president. I refer to him as His Electoral Highness, The Orange Hate-Monkey. It is a weird world we live in. I still have libertarian delusions but I have medications that keep those in check.

I have become a supporter of mandatory voting and mandatory service.  I blame the people who delude themselves into thinking they are sovereign and don’t need other people to survive. Sociopathy appears to be running rampant on the internet. 

Quiz Across Texas

So I finished hanging the last of 900 of the little beauties at left today, in a 4 hour marathon walk that might have been a marathon in length. Frankly I lost track of how far I walked. I found myself wondering several times “just how many of these things do I have left?”

In the end I ran out of door hangers before I ran out of doors to hang them on.

The important part of the Quiz across Texas (a statewide effort to distribute 250,000 door hangers and other campaign materials) the part that makes it worth my time to participate, is the quiz itself.

Changing politics as usual in the United States means redefining what politics means; and that starts with education. The left-right line that has traditionally been used to illustrate political thought is completely inadequate for the task. The Nolan Chart, and the World’s Smallest Political Quiz that has evolved from it, is one of the best ways to illustrate the real range of political opinion that can be found in society.

Getting the quiz into the hands of people who have never seen it before, is a good place to start the education process. I’m proud to have been a part of this.


For those people (and I know you are out there) who wonder about the origins of the Nolan Chart and the World’s Smallest Political Quiz, Check out the Wiki entry on the subject.

And for those other people (I’ve run across a few of you, too) who think that the WSPQ is too simplistic, check out this enhanced version of the quiz (with go fast stripes even) authored by an LP activist in North Carolina.

The Enhanced-Precision Political Quiz

Funny, I’m a Libertarian on that quiz, too.


Mea culpa review 2017. I have eaten a Big Bowl of Crow since publishing this and other thoughts on many subjects. As this is a Nolan chart entry I will take a bit of time to explain the problems that arise with the second metric for measuring political orientation in the chart as it was conceived.

The problem is quite easy to expose. The first metric is social freedom. A solid majority of people agree with most of the questions involving social freedom. Nearly everyone who claims conservatism publicly is someone who is careful to say they are socially liberal and fiscally conservative. This is where the problem lies. The second metric is economic freedom. What, exactly, is economic freedom and how is it achieved? Every question on the World’s Smallest Political Quiz comes at this question as if money was archetypal, foundational, a recognizable concrete that we can all agree on.

However, money is nothing of the sort and the origin of money is not what most people think it is. Value is not found in commodities because they exist; rather value is subjectively assigned to commodities based on the desire of the individual and so varies based on subjective factors such as hunger, rest, thirst, security, etc. If you are dying of thirst everything you have is what that drink of water is worth. That is hardly the basis for measuring economic freedom.

More to come when I get around to writing the EPHN dealing with money and economics.

Libertarian and Liberty Minded Talk

I’ve been listening to Free Talk Live of late (you might have noticed I’ve blogged on the subject a few times) But I’ve also stumbled across a few other sources that bear mentioning.

CATO’s daily podcast has been quite informative, as is FMNN eradio.

I heard about Dan Carlin on Free Talk Live. I’ve enjoyed his rants on occasion; his tendency to deliver his points with emphasis, in a fashion reminiscent of Captain Kirk, can be distracting (or amusing) at times. I recommend his programs anyway. They do get the grey matter flowing.

As far as regular radio format, Jeff Ward in the afternoons on KLBJ-AM is probably the best three hours of local talk to be had on a daily basis. It’s too bad the morning show is so lackluster.

Most people will direct you to iTunes if you are looking for audio content to transfer to a handheld device for playback. I have no use for iTunes, I don’t have an iPod (it’s those pesky DRM issues that go along with iTunes purchases) although the iPod craze is to be thanked for providing a new market for the talk format. However, you don’t need iTunes (or an iPod) to download and listen to Podcasts. If you’re just looking for some new content to listen to, check out Podcast Alley. Get an RSS aggregator for your browser (I use Firefox and Sage myself) and start searching. I was able to find and download podcasts for Penn Jillette and the Mises Institute (recommended by a fellow FTL listener) within minutes using these tools. Loaded up and ready to go on the old Treo 650.

Keeping a constant stream of information going is critical for a news-talk junkie like myself.

Goodbye to the BBS forum on KLBJ

Just went by the KLBJ website and discovered that they have removed the forums from their website. It would be sad, except that the moderators killed the forum ages ago.

I was one of the last of the “Old timers” there. My profile said I had 795 posts (although you could only find about 10 of them towards the end) and that I had been a member since 1997. I joined and dropped out because of overactive moderators, and then revisited the site a few years later because a friend of mine was getting active on the boards there. He, and most of the active members of the time, were eventually banned from the site by the same moderators…

[It’s kind of ironic that one of the other oldtimers, an anonymous user with the name TTLMS was one of the few people left the last time I checked the memberlists; and I would have had him banned, if not brought up on civil charges, for some of his activity on the boards there. But they banned the other users for being too vocal. Go figure]

…who then went on to reformat the forums, deleting 7 out of 10 forums completely.

For the last year or so the place has been a virtual ghost town, with me being one of the few posters (other than the spammers) that even visited the place anymore. It’s not surprising that they finally completely closed it down. Another gravestone (albeit a virtual one) that can be attributed to the control freaks of the world.

It’s probably a disturbing sign of the times ahead, although I’d rather chalk it up to coincidence. So long Freedom of speech. We hardly knew you.



It’s worth noting that a business, a radio station for example, cannot censor. Only governments can do that. It is a misconception to accuse a radio station of curtailing free speech when what it really wants is for internet trolls to go to another website and clog their bandwidth with irrelevant arguments that prove no real points.  Not that I feel like defending the local AM station that still carries Rush Limbaugh. Feel free to take random potshots at them whenever and wherever the opportunity presents itself.

I appear to have run afoul of a bot or something with this post. I have reverted it to draft, kept it offline for a month and then re-posted it, and it still gets hit again and again and again. 9 hits today after a month offline,  6574 hits over the course of years (today is 2/18/2015, and I don’t even listen to this station anymore. Even Jeff Ward alienated me finally) the highest number of hits for any post I’ve ever written.  Weird what comes up when you start checking stats.

If you are a person reading this, why?  Here is the main page link. Here is the link to my page on Emergent Principles of Human Nature.  Here is a link to my page on Me, Architecture and Meniere’s. No really, go read something else, please.

I’m thinking of appending random links just to throw off the bots.  I’ll have to think of some really malware infested porn sites to send them to.

2017. Here are the stats today;

Going to try a different tack, duplication of the post in a new post with no hits. Same everything. See if it attracts traffic again. It says 7012 hits as I press the delete button. 44 more hits on the reposted one, trying altering the default link with a name change.

Limbaugh Lies: Hoof in Mouth

So, on top of kicking a cripple, attacking Michael J. Fox over his bipartisan support for stem cell research, Limbaugh can add admitting personal stupidity to his list of fumbles for the week.

In his morning soundbite today, he is once again kicking John Kerry for “calling the troops stupid”, as if he and the president didn’t beat that dead horse enough a few days ago.

However, if you didn’t rely on the president’s spin on what was said (and why not? He’s always been truthful when dealing with Kerry in the past, right?) and in fact listened to the entire speech leading up to the statement in question, it becomes quite obvious that Kerry is calling Bush stupid, not the troops. Keith Olbermann has been making great hay with these facts, every day that the White House has chosen to bring this subject up, including asking very pointed questions concerning when Bush was going to apologize to the troops.

It’s been amazing watching how many people want to pile into that camp, and all admit that they are just as stupid as Bush. Average citizens, concerned parents of Iraq veterans, Tony Snow (he used to sub for Limbaugh on occasion. He was an idiot then too) and the rest of the White House staff. Most of the media just parroted the White House insistence that the troops were being insulted, adding their names to the list of “also stupid”.

Limbaugh, as the premiere conservative media propagandist, has also added his name to the list, and now underscored it by continuing to bring it up, days after the story had any legs. I found Kerry’s admission to be quite straightforward. If Limbaugh has a problem with it, it’s because he’s still calling the president (and those who side with him) stupid.

I’m no fan of Kerry’s, and his creating this tempest in a teapot with his botched joke has me wondering if he’s still playing at being Bush’s fall guy. Still, stupid is as stupid does, and the stupid conservatives have completely botched the last 6 years that they’ve held power, and Limbaugh has been their cheerleader throughout. He probably shouldn’t have abused OxyCodone. It seems to have affected his brain as well as his hearing.

Time for the next group of stupid people to enter Washington. They’ll most likely be Democrats (I predicted it several months ago) no matter what desperate measures Limbaugh and the rest of the conservative propagandists will go to.

Try not to soil the furniture, we (your bosses, the taxpayers) have to pay for all that.

Ghosts, is it?

Listening to the Halloween edition of Free Talk Live today, while the host trots out some accounts of Ghost Hunters and their exploits in New York and New Jersey to laugh at.

I’d like to say up front that I am not a believer; but having had experiences with what most people refer to as spirits, experiences that I cannot explain, I can’t dismiss the possibility of the paranormal. (More on that in a bit)

Ghost Hunters is a weekly show on the SciFi channel, they are in their third season. The episode with the theater and an orb of light that was discussed and laughed about on air was one where (contrary to the jokes) they debunked any claims to paranormal activity. If I remember correctly, the owners were actually relieved that there wasn’t evidence of anything occurring. It wasn’t something they were comfortable with.

It became painfully clear early in the radio show that the subject of the paranormal did not fall on sympathetic ears, as anyone who called with experiences that they tried to explain, or factual data (in the form of EVP’s) that didn’t make normal sense were immediately attacked with questions like “why aren’t there any real scientists working on it” calling into question anything not done by licensed professionals (a very un-libertarian stance for a libertarian talkshow) as if gov’t approved professionals were the be all and end all on any subject. The scientific method can be followed by anyone, whether they are a scientist or not.

James Randi and his million dollar challenge came up several times. The Amazing Randi isn’t offering a million dollars just for proof of the supernatural, he’s offering a million dollars for reproducible proof. Since the phenomena in question cannot be reproduced at will, there is no way to make a claim for the million. Randi is a debunker, and he’s particularly vicious when he’s debunking. I wouldn’t volunteer to be subject to the type of ridicule that would follow such a claim, not for several million.

[the Wife’s father could witch water wells. All the farmers in the area swore by him. When his partner wanted a well dug, he refused to rely on that ‘water witch’ rubbish and hired an engineer to drill his well. Several thousand dollars and several hundred feet later, they hit some rather poor and slow running water that the engineers said was the best they could do. After a few months, he gave up and asked Dad to try a hand at finding better water, which he did. About 15 feet away and 30 feet down. Better water than Dad had on his property. I never saw this occur myself, and Dad has been gone several years now. I would have advised him not to try for the million.]

The problem with the supernatural or paranormal is that it doesn’t reproduce itself on demand so that peers can verify the existence of this or that phenomenon. Time and again as I watch Ghost Hunters or some other show dealing with these types of stories, I think to myself “well, that could have been faked” or “this is how that chair could have moved”.

It’s all too easy to be debunked, unless it happens to you.


In my years of service in the architectural field, I have spent innumerable nights in the office, working until late in the morning hours, most times all by myself. While I was generally downtown in some not-so-nice areas late at night, I was never really afraid. I’m not a large man, but I can run fast, and I do know some basic defense tactics.

When I took a job for a firm whose office was in one of the older buildings downtown, I never really thought much about the history of the place, or the particulars of it’s location, or what an impact that might have on my ability to work the late hours that are generally required of architects, but it had an impact none the less.

I was struck, at first, by how quaint the structure was. Nestled against the side of an old quarry, it was backed by an old carriage house that had been renovated into offices as well. After a few weeks of work I settled into my usual routine of staying late and cranking out the work after everyone else left. Gradually I noticed that everyone else tended to leave earlier than usual in the evening; earlier than usual for an architectural office.

After a week or so, I noticed that the place started to feel less quaint, and more threatening, especially at night. I kept hearing people walking, when I knew I was alone in the building. It really started to get weird though, after I traded places with another architect. She wanted to move to the tiny little cramped cubicle that I was in, and was willing to give up a double sized cube space in order to do it. I thought it strange that she would want the cramped space I was in, but jumped at the chance to spread out a bit in a larger space.

Slowly, over the course of the next 12 months, a spiralling series of experiences convinced me that I was either loosing my mind, or that there was something wrong with my environment, something I could not explain.

I began to feel like someone was watching me. It wasn’t all the time, that I could have explained. Weirdly enough it was right about 7:30 pm, pretty much every night. I dismissed it at first as having my back to the floor entrance (a dog-leg stair from the upper floor) but I could not figure out why it didn’t bother me until evening time.

There were windows all around, but it didn’t feel like there was anybody outside. No matter how many times I looked, I never did catch anyone peeping through the windows. Peeping would have been hard anyway. Technically we were on the second floor above the quarry floor, but the front entrance was on the floor above and opened onto the original street that bordered the quarry. The window in my cube tended not to reflect any light off of it, almost like it opened onto nothing (the opposing building wall that was no more than 10 feet away always seemed invisible at night) which was a bit disturbing on its own.

I can’t tell you the number of times I heard footsteps on the upper floor, or walking down the stairs, only to investigate and find no one there. Once, with another architect present, we listened as footsteps appeared to walk the length of the upper floor and go right through a wall on their way out to the street.

Then there was the crowding and the touching. I kept feeling someone leaning over the back of my chair, pushing me into the desk. I kept having to consciously push myself away from the keyboard so that my arms would quit cramping. Something kept touching me on the neck, like fingers brushing across my skin.

It got to the point that I would leave as soon as the eyes started watching at 7:30. If I didn’t leave then, and stayed until the presence was in the cube with me, then when I attempted to leave I would feel as if I was being pursued. All the lights on in a clearly vacant room, and I’m terrified that there is someone who intends me harm, right behind me. Try as I might, I could not shake the feeling.

It was all I could do to make myself walk calmly up the stairs and let myself out. There was frequently an inexplicable cold spot at the top of the stairs, where the warmest air in the building should have been. As soon as I had exited the building, the feeling went away. I’m standing on a dark street, next to a vacant lot that is several feet deep in overgrowth; a place where the homeless were known to congregate, and I feel safer there than in the building.

I began to feel like there were two buildings in the same place at night. One was finished in the clear varnished oak and carpet that I was familiar with; the other was painted dark, cut into small rooms with old fashioned panel doors. Dingy little apartments. I can’t explain why I began to see this juxtaposition in space, I can only say that I did.

Once, when I heard a loud thump on the floor behind me, I spun around to find, just for a second, someone or something standing behind me. There and then gone again. I caught the same figure out of the corner of my eye a few more times after that. Ragged coat. Hat pulled low. Dirty worn out boots. Watching a door in the dark hallway. Waiting for someone. Waiting for someone with violence in his heart.

I wish I could write a fitting climax to the story, but I can’t. I was let go from the firm not too long after that time, and I haven’t had any urge to go back.

I would say that this was “the god’s honest truth”, but I don’t believe in god. It is the truth, exactly as I remember it. I didn’t believe in ghosts. I don’t know what I believe now, but I know that I can’t explain what happened in that building in the evenings. I just know that I wouldn’t stay late at work in that place again, not even if you paid me.


Mea culpa review, 2017.

I rewrote a part of this in a 2014 piece titled Paranormal? Ghosts? I realize going back through these posts that I never updated this one with a Big Bowl of Crow reference or even append my current thoughts on the subject of the paranormal,

As an example, the Wife’s father could witch water wells. All the farmers in the area aside from his farming partner swore by him. Now, this man was no ignorant Oklahoma farmer. He was a college educated man who served his country in the secret service during WWII. He worked as an extension agent later in life, teaching other farmers in the area how to make their farms produce.  He just also happened to be a water witch. When his farming partner wanted a well dug he refused to rely on that water witch‘ rubbish and hired an engineer to drill his well. Several thousand dollars and several hundred feet later, they hit some rather poor and slow running water that the engineers said was the best they could do. After a few months, the man gave up and asked my father in law to try a hand at finding better water, which he did. About 15 feet away and 30 feet down. Better water than could be found on my father-in-law’s own property. I never saw this occur myself, and Dad has been gone several years now, so I have no way of testing the veracity of his claims, and I remain unconvinced that the ideomotor effect is a sufficient explanation for experiences like his.

Most ghost experiences are actually quite normal.  There are documented physical properties of sleeping that lend themselves to the idea of abduction (Sleep Paralysis for one) or can lead you to believe that you see people who aren’t there just as you begin to fall asleep, or immediately upon waking (I have a recurring nightmare lately where I see light patterns that remind me of Threshold. I have no idea why.  They persist into wakefulness, and have to be actively brushed away in order for me to quit seeing them) I’ve had both experiences several times, myself. Once you understand what causes them, they become far less frightening.

The problem with the supernatural or paranormal is that it doesn’t reproduce itself on demand so that your peers can verify the existence of this or that phenomenon. Time and again as I watch some show dealing with these types of stories, I think to myself “well, that could have been faked” or “this is how that chair could have moved”. It’s all too easy to be debunked, unless it happens to you; and once it happens, you cannot simply dismiss the very real emotions that the experience generates.  You want the phenomena to be true, as in accepted by your peers as true. Unfortunately no one can understand what it is you experienced, no matter how much they may want to. Experiences like the one I’m about to relate aren’t easy to quantify, to set down in words with meanings others can understand in the way we mean. For myself, I’m left grasping at straws for explanations of things I only imperfectly remember even the next day. 

Most of my desire to see something proved on the paranormal front has evaporated with time.  The most likely explanation is that perceptions in these areas are simply flawed, and we tend to believe what our senses tell us even when they are wrong. The problem remains distinguishing between the flaws and the real. Not nearly as easy as debunkers think it is.