First Survival Video – Bugging Out on a Budget

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Please welcome the first of (hopefully) many videos to come from Theorem Collider!  This time I showcase some important items to add to a BOB (Bug Out Bag), where to get them cheaply, and how to repurpose some simple items to meet survival needs.  This is just the beginning of what I hope to be a consistent offering of Theorem Collider, providing insight in how to take care of yourself and the ones you love when the (stuff) hits the fan.  I hope you enjoy!

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My Heart in Infinite Places: Another Dream Discussion

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Normally I would not be inclined to return to a previous topic so soon after initially sharing on it, but it happened again this morning, and I can’t keep it all in.  It is now the following night, and I have yet to emotionally detach myself from the dream world I inhabited at this day’s beginning.

What struck me most profoundly upon first waking this morning was the crushing impression that I was being pulled from another entirely real and legitimate existence, just as tangible and important as this one.  Imagine living your daily life as you do now, assuming and oblivious, only to one moment have your consciousness irresistibly displaced into a completely different and unconnected life.  Memories of your newly awakened mind coincide with that reality, and yet a cascade of glimmering recollections remain from the world you just left, the world you had thought was real.  Imagine the desperation, the helplessness, the mourning of leaving behind all you loved, while you envision that those you left are in turn wracked with confusion and guilt over your mysterious absence.  Almost worst of all, this is just another in a string of precious lives you’ve abandoned against your will, most likely to never resume again.

That is what I felt this morning, returning to this state of perception.  Are those I left behind waiting for me, wondering to where I departed?  Or am I perhaps still there somehow, still living on in a manner wholly disconnected and unaware?  I struggled between the crashing, coalescing realities dueling in my mind, pleading for a way to somehow inhabit both at once.  Squeezing my eyes shut in an effort to return to the waning vision, I eventually overcame the disorientation and found sleep once more.  Incredibly, I returned to that exact existence so recently departed.  Minimal time had passed there, wherein no one seemed to have noticed my absence.  As with many non-lucid dreams, I immediately resumed my blissful ignorance of the higher plane in which my body lay, fully settled into comfortable acceptance of my current reality.  However, after another considerable (perceived) length of time there and much endearing interaction with that world, I was once again plucked from my reverie and deposited back into my pillow-supported head.  As you may imagine, a wave of doubly overwhelming melancholy washed over me, and left me there to saturate in despair.

I wanted to be as descriptive as possible when relating this experience, because as melodramatic as it might seem now (even to me somewhat), at the time when this occurs it feels so impossible to describe or contain.  As I related in my previous post about dreams, the emotions connected to them are almost irrationally powerful, to the point of feeling remarkably crippling at times.  After my second passage from the dream world this morning, I was really struggling with what to do next.  I wanted to continue feeling that intensity, even if it was negative in some senses.  The thought came to my mind of what comedian Louis C. K. once said about our tendency to bury those acute emotions, distracting ourselves with technology or some other comfortable diversion.  It isn’t healthy to live like that; we need the catharsis of just letting it cascade out of us sometimes.  I worried about upsetting my wife, though, both with revealing my level of discomfort at the time and with relating my emotional attachment to these other realms.  There was an honest concern in my heart that it be known that my sorrow regarding leaving the dreams was in no way a reflection of any hidden dissatisfaction with the present reality.  She was wonderfully understanding and comforting, though, a blessing as always.

I reached for my headphones, as nothing helps to un-stopper the floodgates of emotion like the right song.  I knew exactly what I wanted to hear in that moment, a recently discovered, beautifully melancholy arrangement by the band Shiny Toy Guns, called Wait For Me.  Even the opening whispers of the song seemed to speak just to me in my present situation, burrowing into me as though they were the words of those I had left behind:

It’s like everything turns into a dream
A dream without an end
I can’t remember what happened
I just remember you
And how you made me laugh out loud
When you decided to go,
I wish I could have gone with you
I don’t like it here anymore
And I don’t like being alone
And when I cry,
Who’s going to make it okay?
When I fall, who’s going to carry me?

I don’t think I have it left in me to describe the effectiveness of this exercise in embracing the flood.  Over the remainder of the day, I’ve been able to recover fairly well, inevitably distracted by other commitments and opportunities.  In the bits of downtime that I’ve had, though, I’ve played this song again and again, as it has helped keep many of the memories fresh and unfading.  Music is incredibly powerful in so many ways, even enough to keep me tethered to alternate realities.  I can only hope that over the course of this life’s duration, I’ll be able to revisit them all.

One final note on music, as I would be very interested to hear other stories relating to the following: the experience of which I just wrote is at least the second time I can recall having woken up with an entirely new and unfamiliar song playing in my head.  Notes, lyrics, everything put together, yet I can say with utmost certainty I have never heard them before in this world.  I’m familiar with stories of famous musicians receiving inspiration for some of their greatest songs from their dreams; perhaps they found a way to share a piece of those faraway worlds with the rest of us.

What is Right Anymore?

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I don’t even know where to begin tonight, as so much of this is ready to just burst out of me like a Ridley Scott alien.  This year has been a significant turning point in my life, as it has been the first time I decided to become emotionally and intellectually invested in an election process, at least beyond what appears to be the investment that an average American has made in the past (this includes me).  This statement is not meant to disparage the average American voter, as most of us only have so much time and patience to commit to the turmoil of the election process, where it sincerely feels like our voice is never heard anyway.  To be honest, I was previously of the mentality that has most likely plagued a great deal of the millennial generation: that our opinion and our vote doesn’t matter, since the country is run by the privileged elite anyway.  I am a bit ashamed of my apathy regarding my responsibility, and I now hold to the fact that regardless of how biting and vindictive the current political climate may be, at least it seems like people of all ages are making the sincere effort to be active and informed.

Getting back to my underlying point, though; regardless of which candidate you are supporting, the most frustrating point of this season, and of living in a culture of free speech in general, is the incessant need to be RIGHT, which inevitably comes at the expense of others being WRONG.  Of course free speech is a human right and should not be restrained or subdued by any outside force; but what about restraining it within ourselves?  Not because of any outward oppression or judgment, but because maybe, just maybe, we don’t always need to be right.

I will use myself as an example, as I try my best to be a representative of this ideal.  As I’ve related before and is apparent in my About page, I am a 30 year old Christian white male, the supposed epitome of privilege and source of oppression to so many.  I cannot help but sadly shake my head at this notion, not because I dismiss any concerns, but simply because you do not know me, just as much as I do not know you.  You don’t know that I’ve endured traumatic hardship, that I’ve been abused and tormented by an unfaithful, drug-addicted spouse, or lived in filth due to lack of any other option.  You don’t know that I’ve been through bankruptcy due to overwhelming medical bills that I could not pay, or endured multiple surgeries due to chronic medical issues that brought on those bills in the first place.  You don’t know that I am still buried in student loan debt, from just trying to make make something better of my life.  Unless you knew me personally, how could you know any of that until just now?  And yet some would say that I am an oppressor?   The only thing that I have oppressed, or rather suppressed, is crippling depression when enduring these realities, just enough to keep pushing forward and, with hard work and the Lord’s help, dig myself out of them.  This type of argument is faulty due to the simple fact that it fails to account for any individual.  No one race or gender or political persuasion is a representative of all its constituents.  So many people struggle so fiercely to be recognized for their uniqueness, and yet utterly fail to do so in return to their audience.

I need to stay on topic here, because I really am striving to refrain from singling out any particular group or ideal in this discussion.  This is because THERE IS NO ONE PERPETRATOR.  I only want to get across the point that you aren’t always going to be right.  Your beloved politician may fail you, your enamored movement may falter in representing you, even your religion may not always have the perfect fit you so desire.  IT. IS. INEVITABLE.  We live in an imperfect world filled with incredibly imperfect people, and you are one of them.  You are a single life in the midst of billions currently, trillions past, and untold numbers yet to come.  While I applaud your desire to make a difference, please remember that you are not omnipotent or infallible.  If you believe in God, then there is only one omnipotent and infallible Being.  If you don’t, there there are literally none.  Regardless, you are not among that severe minority.

So, instead of beating our heads against the wall, or as in many cases, trying to beat someone else’s head against the wall, maybe if we just shut our mouths and open up our eyes, ears, and hearts, we could learn how to truly coexist more peacefully.  SO MUCH pain has been caused by the straightforward fact that some individual or group believed they must enforce their beliefs or ideologies on others.  Put whatever label on it that you want: Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Athiest, Feminist, Democrat, Republican, Liberal, Conservative, Gay, Straight, I could be here all night citing labels… they are all guilty in some way of trying to enforce their standards on everyone else.  Maybe if we all took the time to understand and embrace the true beauty of freedom, we would realize that the core tenet of that liberty is letting others have the same, and living by a standard we can all abide by: treat others as you would have them treat you.

Bible Study, Round 2

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Ding ding!

Yesterday was Bible study, and as I shared last week the topics of my dad’s teachings have been pretty interesting, with this week being no exception.  Just for future reference, our church does a cozy little cafe-type thing before the lesson, with a different homemade entree for sale each week at $3 per person; a pretty awesome deal for the amount and quality of the food, and since I don’t have to cook that night.  I referenced this so that the next sentence would make sense.

As we sat and enjoyed our chicken pot pie with biscuits, my dad busied himself in writing out all of the lesson’s key points on a large whiteboard, as he does every week.  He’s definitely one of those teachers who likes to write things out on the board as he goes, but he is also one whose handwriting will inevitably drift on a downward slope across the board if he’s rushing too much, so prepping ahead of time has worked best.  Here were this week’s talking points, all neat and tidy:

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So what is a familiar spirit?  Is it something you summon in Skyrim when your conjuration skill is high enough?

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While I do jest, this is actually a relatively appropriate example, as some belief systems see communicating with or conjuring familiar spirits to be something of benefit, a source of protection or guidance.  According to scripture, however, familiar spirits are nothing to be trifled with, and are actually heavily condemned.  That is because a familiar spirit is in truth a demonic spirit that has accompanied a single person for a large portion or even all of their life.  This does not necessarily mean that the person was possessed, but rather they could have suffered from some sort of bondage that allowed the spirit to cling to them; think addiction, perversion, etc.  In the event of this person’s death, the spirit is then given opportunity to masquerade as the person to those who would seek communion with the departed, whispering intimate knowledge and even mimicking a ghostly presence of the person.  This is, in fact, the Christian explanation for phenomena such as hauntings, spirit mediums, ouija boards, and the like.  You aren’t truly seeing or interacting with the trapped soul of a person with unfinished business, but rather a phantom thespian perpetuating a ruse meant to undermine the rules of life and death as defined by the Bible.  Jesus spoke of the placement of a “great chasm” between the realms of the living and dead, which none would be permitted to cross.  In other words, once you die, you proceed to your appointed destination, and there you stay, permanently divided from the world of the living.  No WiFi or cell phones to communicate, not even dial-up access.  You can read more about it here and review the scripture references if you like.

Now I’m definitely not one to ascribe a demonic aspect to all paranormal phenomena or misunderstood occurrences, but I will say I see the merit of the belief.  As a Christian, the idea of a soul remaining here after death is entirely contradictory to the fundamentals of God’s established methods.  In addition, I am much more comfortable believing that a haunting or eerie presence is in fact a demonic spirit, considering the alternative is that a person’s soul is perhaps trapped in perpetual unrest, even doomed to repeat the travesties of history that we so often see associated with haunting activity.  Even Art Bell, the talk radio legend himself, when presenting evidence of anomalous activity such as EVPs, often referenced the disturbing nature of the idea that your family member, or close friend, or even a little child could be captive in such a state.  I gladly subscribe to the option where oddly enough, demons are the less unsettling proposal of the two.

Moving on now, though…

The items listed on the right side of the board were meant to be generally broad overview of some topics, activities, etc. that could lead to the affliction of familiar spirits.  Many are ones you would expect to see in this context, and were covered with little additional discussion.  One of these, however, seemed to strike a chord with many in attendance, and actually kept us at the meeting for nearly an hour longer than originally scheduled due to the heated debate that ensued.  Can you guess which one?

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Yep, music.  Particularly rock music, although rap was referenced some as well.  Let me preface any of the following occurrences by stating that a large portion of our congregation is, let’s just say significantly more advanced in years than I, so I wasn’t terribly surprised by some of the push-back.  To condense a great deal of debate into digestible nugget, I will just say that there were a handful of attendees who were not hesitant in vocalizing their belief that there is “no such thing as Christian rock music”, and basically all forms of rock music are a tool of the devil.   Sigh…

At this point, I will just say that I am glad the Lord has helped develop within me the ability for self-restraint, as there is little more infuriating that a broad-sweeping statement of utter condemnation.  I completely understand that I am two generations removed from these folks and they grew up with entirely different experiences and convictions, but I guess you could say I’m intolerant of intolerance. 🙂 After taking a moment to collect my thoughts and listen to the responses of others, I presented a simple counter-argument, basically consisting of “so who decides which genres make the Godliness cut?”  There can be Christian country and Christian alternative and heck, even Christian jazz, but not rock (or rap)?  Once again, I was proud of my dad, and of several other members in attendance, for siding with reason and agreeing that any form of music can be used for God if it carries the correct message and its aim is to minister to the spirit.  Denouncing an entire genre and its associated culture is the perfect way to lose the opportunity to reach those who might identify with it.  In I Corinthians 9:22, Paul said “I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.”  I think the message is pretty clear that we aren’t supposed to sit in our little bubbles, condemning the outside world for not conforming to our expectations.  We are supposed to be seekers and doers, and even more importantly to treat others as we would have them treat us.  If you are going to mope around and stew in bitter judgement, don’t expect anything different in return.

I wish I could stay to write more, in hopes that I could possibly encompass the unexpected intensity of that night, but the hour grows late, and my mind muddled.  Thanks for letting me share these experiences with you, though.  I will do my absolute best to continue posting regular content, and I hope you will return for it when I do!  God bless. 🙂

Thoughts on Dreams

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There is something incredibly intriguing, and yet equally as troubling, about the fleeting wisps of hard-remembered events that occur in our minds during the sleep state.  Why is it that I can wake to the crushing denial of leaving behind what feels like an entirely different life, only to have my mind purposefully and methodically squeegee the memories of it away at a moment’s notice if I’m not careful?  It is an honest admission to say that the emotions I’ve felt in dreams have been more visceral and pervasive than almost any I’ve felt in “real life”, and yet our minds are conditioned to just ignore and forget them, if they even store any transient image of them to begin with.  The fact that I can recall infinite pieces of dreams over my entire life, but not reconstruct the entirety of a single one, just seems so unfair.  The dreams of just last night have spurred me to record my thoughts on this matter, since as with many, I awoke with such distress at my departure that my entire day has been effected by it.

What are some truly strange or unique things that you have discovered in your dreams?  In what way to they stand apart from simple phantasms of your imagination, fueled by daytime stresses and poor evening food choices?  An example from mine would be that I can map out an entire system of roads in my dreams that are consistent across a myriad of nighttime adventures.  If in my waking state I trace one of the dream roads in my mind’s eye, I can watch as snippets of dozens of different dreams flood my mind.  Take a right at this intersection, a new series a dreams appears.  Take a left, an entirely different cascade of memories begins.  Does this happen simply because as a child I was always very aware of roads and directions and how everything connected in my waking life as well, or is there actually a road map for many of my dreams?  Granted I quite often have dreams completely removed from the expectations of standard reality, where roads wouldn’t do much good at all, but those that somewhat mimic the waking life do all seem to follow this trend.

This observation is a prelude to one of my favorite theories, and one that is most definitely not mine alone.  Another observer such as myself remarks on the consistent state of these realities (such as a traceable road map), even so much as retaining the changes we ourselves make there.  Time travel is another layer to this already perplexing onion; are we permitted some excursions to points already printed on our timeline?  One article I found relates a story quite similar to one of my own, where I traveled back in time to meet my mother when she was pregnant with me and see my older brother as a toddler.  She smiled and wept to know that I was a healthy and purposeful man, but refused any conversation beyond that for fear of possible consequences.  What purpose could by brain have possibly had in concocting something like this randomly?  Another form of time travel dreams (of sorts) are those of marked, almost debilitating time dilation, with many of the accompanying psychological effects endured upon waking.  One such dream I experienced seemed to last that entirety of 60+ years, which found me to be a very old man who had lost so much, only to awaken to a passage of less than 8 hours.  I actually cried that morning, so shaken by the experience and unsure how to process returning to this state of existence.  One of my favorite manga artists, Itou Junji, depicts the experience with such accuracy in Long Dream, which I highly recommend reading.  It can be a little unnerving, as many of Junji’s works are, but it is also profound and insightful.014

Only one factor of dreaming that I have not yet discussed dissuades me, if only slightly, from the idea of dreams being alternate realities.  Have you ever experienced the magic of “waking up” within your own dream?  Of not only becoming aware that you are indeed dreaming, but going as far as being able to enforce your will on the world around you?  I would recommend investigating sources like Lucidity.comWorld of Lucid Dreaming, or the Lucid Dreaming community on Reddit for more information on this subject for the uninitiated.  My question then becomes, if I can bend and shape the world around me with only my thoughts, is it really anything that exists beyond the bounds of my own psyche?  The likely answer seems to be no, but that is just my mentality operating under the assumption that all other realities must follow the same rules and quirks to which this one adheres.  Many times I have found myself lucid but completely powerless to alter the world around me, save for normal interactions as one would expect in the conscious state.  I am at a loss for a definitive answer in this respect, but part of me loves that about this whole topic, that it is something we as humans still haven’t come to fully grasp.

With my 30th birthday only a week away, I find myself ever more anxious for a technology to arise that allows us to record and review our dreams as the actually appear (say what you will about Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, but that sequence always stuck with me).  Apparently some rudimentary version of the tech is already in the works, but is limited to only matching your possible dream vision with existing topics and images, and with meager accuracy at best.  If the Lord decides to come back first, I’m all for it, but otherwise I sincerely hope I’m around long enough to see this become a reality.

My Father, the Minister

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So I’ll just put this out there from the very start: my father is a pastor of a church, the church where I have chosen to pledge my membership, as I believe in its purpose and I love my dad and wish to support him.  I even sing on the church worship team (yeah I’m also a singer).  We are very close and have had a great relationship for most of my adult life, but we definitely don’t agree on everything.

He knows enough about the things I’ve experienced based on what I’ve been willing to tell him, but I’ve always known to not reveal the full extent of things, as I honestly just don’t feel that he would be fully accepting.  I love him because he’s always been at least willing to listen, though.

This past week we had a pretty unique opportunity for friendly discussion and debate in one of the most tenuous open forums I’ve faced, a church Bible study meeting.  He has been studying to teach on a variety of topics that piqued my interest, and God bless him, he even welcomed me to offer counterpoints to what he presented in this latest meeting and those to come over the next few weeks.  This first week he was teaching about Wicca and Witchcraft, a sensitive topic for any churchgoer, and one about which there is often a great deal of misinformation.  I’ve done a great deal of studying on many different beliefs and religions, but I brushed up on the subject to make sure I was prepared.  I’m not what you would consider a defender of Wiccan beliefs or practices, but I do find myself  committed to ensuring that everyone is given a fair observance, even by those of faith who might normally be quick to condemn.  As he presented his teachings, I presented some counterpoints where I felt them to be important, but overall I was very impressed and pleased by the tone of the message.  Yes, there were those in attendance who appeared to retain their judgments regardless of what facts were shared, but I was still very proud of many of my fellow church-goers in their willingness to keep an open mind.  It is important to remind ourselves from time to time, as those of faith, that the message of faith is not one of hate.  We are charged to love as Jesus loved, regardless of sin, of which we all have partaken and fallen short of His glory.  This is why I want to openly discuss everything here; I might have some beliefs and/or reservations that I express that you don’t agree with, and I want to hear your side so I can understand as much as possible.

In the coming weeks, my dad will be teaching on issues of the paranormal, including hauntings, mediums, etc., and I am very much looking forward to the discussions we might have.  I want to make sure no one forgets that any significantly advanced technology might appear to the layperson as magic, and there is just so much left that we don’t understand.

The Struggle of the First Post

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I’ve been wanting to start this blog for a while, but I’ve been wrestling with what the heck I would write about in the first entry.  Primarily I wanted to start this whole thing because I need a place to pour out all my thoughts.  My wife will listen to me for a little while, but after a while she either loses interest or gets stressed out, because my level of passion for these topics is not necessarily matched by hers.  That’s okay, though; we’re alike in some ways and different in others, and that’s the way it should be.  She hasn’t had the same experiences that I have, and in some ways that’s a very good thing.  From a pretty early age I was awakened to the shadowy layer of reality that most people don’t tend to acknowledge, and while I don’t believe I ever faced any real danger from it, it has definitely shaped my perspective on things and given me a hunger to explore.  Being raised in a strong Christian household I definitely had a foundation in the spiritual from a very young age, but it didn’t take long before I started questioning what else was out there that I wasn’t being told.  I don’t even think it was being purposefully hidden from me, I really do think that there is often a culture of ignorance associated with religion.  I really don’t mean “ignorance” in the most negative of connotations; it has numerous levels, many of which are really without particular blame.  I mean, some people just aren’t prepared to explore the depths of reality beyond what they’ve been shown so far.  There is most definitely the possibility of discomfort and confusion associated with such a journey, and it’s not one you take unless it is your choice to do so.  There might be hints of the deeper truths here or there, but they can be fairly easily ignored if so desired.  I never wanted to ignore them, though; they were far to interesting to pass up.  I’ll give you a brief history of some of my experiences with the unusual so we have a general baseline to work from.

In my early teens years I started to experience a variety of strange occurrences.  I somehow knew to delay a car trip for just a few minutes, only to encounter a significant accident that had happened just shortly ahead of us (which I do attribute to the Lord’s protection).  My dreams increased in vividness and frequency, and often either came true or gave insights into facts that would soon be revealed as accurate.  My friends’ house, the site of some minor paranormal occurrences before, would come alive when I visited.  We would conduct “ghost hunts” each time I slept over, spending hours in the basement with the lights off and cameras clicking, inviting the present spirits to interact with objects that were presented.  I wasn’t fully aware of the danger of that at the time, but there was always something scratching at my spirit, provoking caution when others would seek to push the agenda.  Minor interactions were experienced; a stationary and undisturbed smoke ring appearing in the presence of no smokers, a guitar left unattended in the middle of the room playing notes in the dark.  It wasn’t until one of my last nights there that I experienced my first real fear of something unseen.

For those who don’t know, it is believed in the Christian faith that the casting out of spirits should not be performed by the inexperienced, lest a doorway be left open for the presence to return sevenfold.  In my naivety, I had eventually asked the occupying spirit, who until that point had been pretty benign and non-confrontational, to move on, only for it to bid farewell in a rather innocuous way, and then to be confronted by a much more malevolent and physically interactive spirit that attacked one of my friends.  After much prayer and pleading, the attack finally stopped, only to be proceeded by the faint sound of a woman’s voice repeating “don’t try to stop him” and the vision of a figure surrounded by faint green glow in the dark corner of the basement seen by all those present.  I didn’t return to that house for several years, and I worry about what might have happened because of that night.

In my late teens my life was uprooted as I move several states away from the place I had spent my entire life until that point.  I’m going to leave things from this point on to write another time, as I fear it might just seem like too much right now, and I’m not emotionally ready to commit it all to words.  The move had its toll, though, and the Lord saw me through some of the most difficult years of my life.  I look back on them now and see His hand, knowing that my journey would most likely have been cut short along the way if not for His plan.  Through all of it, though, my curiosity grew, and I’ve spent ever increasing amounts of time and energy investigating the oddities that have shown themselves in my life in one way or another.

Now I’m almost 30, and I’ve learned a great deal.  I’m definitely not done learning, but many things have become more clear to me over the years.  And I think I’ve reached a point of critical mass, so to say, where I need to share and hopefully interact with those of you out there who might understand.

This blog isn’t going to be entirely paranormal.  As outlined in the About Me section, I have a variety of passions, and I hope to share about them all here.  I plan to do some video collaborations with a friend of mine on how to make some unique outdoor survival gear.  I also have a great deal I would like to discuss about the current political climate.  In general I’m probably just going to bleed out here whatever is in me that needs desperately to come out, and we’ll see where that takes us.  I hope you will come along for the ride.