Tuesday, November 28, 2006

my Weird! turkey day

For Thanksgiving, Ell and I planned on going to her Grandparents house. They were having dinner at 1:00 pm, but we decided to avoid the crazy hustle and go around 2:00. Her g-ma always keeps the food out all day and everyone stays for supper too, so we wouldn't miss anything. We got to the house around 2:20 and went in. Her grandparents house was dark. The food was still warm on the counters, but no one was there. We found a note that the family had left for a while and would be back. So we each made a plate of food and had dinner alone. We waited for them for a while, but when they didn't show up, we left. We did come back a couple hours later to see everyone, but our dinner was all alone in a house that wasn't our own. Weird!

Another cool thing that happened was that Ell's brother and wife had their first baby on Thanksgiving. It was a 9 pound baby girl! Talk about a butterball!!! We went up to see her Friday night and she's adorable. Newborn babies are usually so red and gross looking, but she was actually pretty cute! So our best friends had their baby on New Years Day, and now we have a new niece that was born on Thanksgiving. Weird!

One last thing that was pretty odd.......and I didn't realize it happened until yesterday........I didn't have any turkey or pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving. None. And I still haven't. Ever since I did the vegetarian thing this summer I haven't craved meat very much. And as for pumpkin pie, the bakery that Ell manages made and sold 2200 pies for Thanksgiving, so I don't think she cared to see another pie and sure as heck didn't want to make or eat one. So I didn't have the two staples of the Thanksgiving meal. And you know what? I don't feel I missed anything! Weird!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Surprise...Part 6...The Good Stuff

Around midnight we entered into the solitary confinement section. It was in the left diagonal at the back of the prison. If my nose hadn't been running so bad from it being so cold, I am assured it would have smelled like death. The solitary had no windows. The cells were tiny rooms with nothing in them except a weird sink/toilet combo thing and a huge wall heater that we were told was to keep the entire area at 95 degrees to keep the prisoners lethargic. The doors were solid steel with solid concrete walls and ceiling. Solitary occupied three floors but it wasn't open like the cell wings were. We walked through all three floors and snapped some pictures. We were pretty cold so we left there and went into the heated office where we started the night and got some coffee. A lady came in who had a really nice digital camera. She said she had taken a creepy picture earlier in the night in the solitary. Since it was so fresh in my mind I was pretty interested to see what she had. She handed us the camera and on it was a picture of the exact floor of solitary we had just left 2 minutes before. The picture was of a curved hallway at the end of the second floor. Her flash had lit up the room like it was day, but right in the center of the picture was a black spot about 2 feet in diameter. It was black as black can be and you could see nothing behind it. I had literally just been there and I knew there was nothing in that spot that could have caused that to happen. So we had finally seen something pretty weird. But it would not compare at all to our own first-hand experience later that night.

Around 4am we entered into the warden's quarters and into his office. The room was about 12 feet by 12 feet with three bay windows on the opposite wall from the door we entered in. Except for a chair in the corner the room was empty. As we walked in, a single ball of light was floating in the center of the room. For those of you that don't know me you need to know that I definitely believe in ghosts. But as I encountered that orb, or whatever you want to call it, I immediately tried to reason it away. I thought for sure it had to be the reflection of our flashlights in the windows. That was until Ell started swinging her flashlight around and the orb didn't move. I had one more test to ensure my eyes weren't tricking me...I turned off my flashlight. The orb remained floating in the center of the room. So much for my reasoning! I snapped some pictures and Ell videotaped it. We weren't scared at all the entire time. We stayed in the room for about 5 minutes and then moved on. We came back into the room about 10 minutes later and the orb was still there but now there were two. We watched them for about a minute but then we heard some people coming and the lights disappeared. We still had our flashlights on when they disappeared which just further trashed my reflection theory.

No I know some, or most, of you don't believe in ghosts. [Many denounce ghost talk as demonic which I don't wanna get into now. If you do, pull up a chair around a bonfire or on my porch and we'll talk.] Some people argue that anyone who claims to see ghosts are looking for attention and are lying. And still others say that all paranormal activity can be explained away. I can tell you right now that what happened to us that night may have a perfectly good explanation, but my own limited trials I did in that tiny room only proved to me that what I was seeing was real. And it was so AWESOME!!! I will never forget those orbs as long as I live. If you ever have the chance to run into me I'll show you the video. And one last time, I thank my wonderful wife for an amazing night I will never forget! She really stepped out of her comfort zone to do this surprise for me. She really is amazing, that wife of mine!

Friday, November 24, 2006

Surprise...Part 5

After our tour guide left us and we put all our extra stuff back in the car, we headed back into the prison on our own. We headed up to the guest quarters and visited every room there. Other than getting some pictures of the crazy walls and ceilings and some of the built in cabinetry, it was a fairly boring section. We then headed over to the chapel which was one of the supposed hot zones for paranormal activity. I guess everyone must have had the same idea b/c there was like, fifty people in there. I wanted to go somewhere a little more quiet, and I had heard our guide talking about a TV ward that she said was hard to get to. We went to where the stairs were to get to this place, and it was really creepy. A single set of super steep stairs in a corridor that was no more than 2 feet wide was all we found. We headed up only to find another set of stairs the same width and steepness. When we climbed those, and yes climb is a better word that walk, we came into a hall. On the right hand side of the hall were six "cells" or rooms with multiple hospital beds in each. Each door had a huge iron lock hole on it. Since this was so hard to get to, we were the only people in this huge hall with the scary cells on the side. It was at this point that Ell looked at the map and told me it wasn't the "TV" room, it was the "TB" Ward. That's right, the Tuberculosis Ward. The reason it was so hard to get to was that they didn't want anyone to be there. And at that point, my lovely wife didn't want to be there either. And I, wanted to be there really bad. So with much coaxing, I got her to sit down with me against one of those huge columns in the hall side. With a little more coaxing, I got her to turn off her flashlight and we sat in the darkness for about 15 minutes. The feeling in that great hall was so eerie. I fully expected to see some ghostly figures walk out of those rooms on our right. We had our voice recorder on hoping to catch some EVP's which you only hear when you listen to the recording later. I have to say my heart was racing the entire time I was in that room. Other people eventually found the stairway and the room, so we left.

I'm not too sure of the order of the places we visited except for the last place, so I'll tell you about them in no particular order. [I may leave the two scariest things we saw until I write tomorrow since this is getting long.] We went to both of the "diagonals" and visited each of the rooms there. One of them is called the Jesus room b/c it has an 8 foot tall movie prop painting of Jesus on one wall and it's supposed to be one of the hottest ghost activity rooms. We sat there for 15 minutes but some stupid girls were in there making a bunch of noise so we left. We went to both of the cell blocks and wandered around. The cells are so small that every one we went to was creepier feeling than the last. We sat on one of the bunks for a while doing some video and voice recording but we didn't see or hear any ghosts. We walked through the shower room. It was weird to be in there, but there wasn't anyplace to sit down so we didn't stay. We climbed a creepy spiral staircase and ended up on a narrow walkway that led to one of the old guard towers that overlooked the courtyard. That was a pretty sweet place to be so Ell got a picture of me in the doorway to the stairs. We went up into a newer remodeled area that had the phones you see on TV where the inmates can talk to visitors. That whole area felt wrong to be in. There wasn't anything creepy or odd about the rooms, but it just felt like we didn't belong there. I am pretty open to the idea of ghosts and spirits, and I know that if you ever encounter one they usually won't hurt you. But this place had such a bad feeling about it that I knew if we didn't leave we weren't going to be safe. I think if I hadn't been so cold (the entire inside of the prison is 20 degrees colder than the outside air, and it was really cold last weekend) I would have liked to stay in there for a long time. And I'm sure something would have happened if we'd stayed.

I'll leave our two "ghost encounters" until tomorrow, so check back then for the climax of this awesome night.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Surprise...Part 4

In the prison there were many huge halls and open areas. These places were the central gathering points for the inmates. Places like the cafeteria, the chapel, the infirmary, etc. Every one of these had ceilings in excess of 15 to 20 feet. The open-floor square footage of even the smallest one was at least 20,000 square feet. Every one had huge steel support columns with ornate bases and caps. Highly detailed chandeliers hung from the ceilings in unison numbers and opposite the beams. Imagine the fanciest hall or museum you've ever been in and these rooms would easily compare to that grandeur.

Within the walls of the prison, only the cell blocks and the solitary cells had bars of any kind. And except for the obvious presence of the inmates and the guards, I doubt you would have known you were in a prison other than in those two areas. Like I said the other day, there were guest quarters nicer than any hotel I've ever been in. At the front of the building, there was an entire mini-house area where the warden and his family lived. It had bedrooms, a kitchen, a living area, bathrooms, everything you'd find in any house. There was a section in one of the places they called the "Diagonals" that housed a working library and social center. I guess what I'm trying to show is this place was and is an amazing piece of architecture. From the huge stone walls and turrets on the outside, to the world class woodworking throughout the living quarters, to the museum-inspired great halls, to the massive steel structures that housed the cell blocks, this building is one of the man-made wonders of the world. I have done some traveling in my life and I've seen some pretty awesome things, but this building and its interior tops most everywhere I've ever been. I know most of friends don't share my "ghost" enthusiasm, but I would encourage anyone to take one of the guided tours they do on Sundays. They are during the daylight so they are family friendly.

Tomorrow I'll get to the good stuff and tell you about our actual ghost hunt. I'll tell you what we did, where we went, and what we say. It's pretty exciting; you don't want to miss it!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Surprise...Part 3

So we enter into the west cell block and walk down two flights of stairs. When we come out at the bottom, we all look up and we are standing beside a five-story tall wall of steel. The cell blocks at the prison are one solid steel structure. The west wing has five stories and the east wing has six stories. The east wing is actually in the Guinness Book of World Records as being the tallest single continuous steel cell block in the world. There is a 10-12 foot space between the outer wall of the prison and where the cells start. A walkway where the prisoners entered into their cells is all you can see from the ground. It is absolutely one of the most amazing things I have ever seen. Click HERE and then find the photo gallery to see a little of what we were seeing.

The cells themselves are tiny. There is only enough room to walk past the bunk beds and then the back of the cell has a toilet and a sink. The west wing had bigger rooms than the east, and the inmates called it the Hilton wing. But the cells were still tiny. The prison closed in November of 1990, and they have done nothing to it in that time. So in many of the cells there are still blankets and pillows and mattresses. There were even a few items of clothes like shoes and pants. It was so eerie. There was one section of cells where they taped the Shawshank movie that had been cleaned up. There was also 4 cells that were used in a Godsmack video that were cleaned up too. But other than that, the same pealing paint and flaky plaster that we found in the guest quarters was everywhere here too. If you touched the walls you could make stuff fall off, but none of it was falling on its own. Like I said yesterday, it was as if the place had been frozen in time.

No one was ever put to death in this prison, but hundreds of people were murdered or committed suicide while there. The majority of those deaths happened in the cellblocks, so Ell and I made a note to return there later that night on our own. We knew the energy in that place was sure to produce something. If not ghosts at least the need to change our undie's. Tomorrow I'll tell you about the huge halls and rooms and then Friday I'll write about our actual ghost-hunting experience. Make sure you come back!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Surprise.....Part 2

We pulled into the Ohio State Reformatory entrance around 7:15pm Saturday night. The place is huge!!! If you've never seen Shawshank Redemption which was filmed there, click HERE to take a look at the place. It looks like an old medieval castle, turrets and all. We went into the building that sits in front of the actual prison and got registered. Around 8:00 they took us outside and went through a safety session on what and what not to do. Then they broke us into groups of about twenty and led us into the prison.

There was a tour leader for each group. The building was completely dark but everyone had a flashlight so we could at least see not to fall on our faces. For the next hour or so, we were led on a guided tour of some of the key places in the building.

The first place we went to was the guest quarters which were not prison like at all. Turns out they used this part of the place as a kind of fancy hotel in the early part of the century. Dignitaries, politicians, family of the wardens and guards, and many others would come to see the prison. And since it was one of the nicest buildings in this part of the country, they would just stay there instead of going to a hotel. There were about ten or twelve of these rooms. Every one had super ornate wordwork and cabinetry. There were common bathrooms, but they were separated for men and women. A couple of the rooms even had their own kitchens. The weirdest thing I noticed about this section (and it would carry on throughout the entire place) was the walls and ceilings. The paint and plaster was peeling and coming down all over the place. The ceilings had stalactites of paint that seemed to be hanging by mere threads. The walls had gaping holes that just seemed to be disinegrating. It sounds dirty, but it really wasn't. It was like everything was just frozen in time.

Next we were taken to the areas where they filmed the non-prison scenes from Shawshank. They showed us where they filmed the library, the warden's office, Brook's apartment when he got out of jail, the room where they did the parole hearings, and finally where they filmed the cafeteria scenes. Something worth mentioning about this last room... The first thing you notice about this hall-like room, is that it's really clean and it's heated. It was originally the central guard room, but after they fixed it up for Shawshank they decided to keep using it. So now they use this as a hall that you can rent out for weddings and parties and banquets. It's like a little modern oasis in an otherwise huge old dirty castle. From this room they led us into the West Cell block, called the West Wing. This was such an amazing place I'll have to leave the details for tomorrow. Check back then!

Monday, November 20, 2006


Ell sent me an email in February and said she had a surprise for me. The only thing she would tell me was what we would be doing would fulfill one of my life dreams. Due to the place being booked solid, I had to wait until this past weekend for my surprise. Oh my goodness was it worth it!!!!

I had no idea what Ell had planned. I bugged her and pleaded with her and even tried to bribe her, but she kept the secret sealed. No information at all. I thought I got a clue when she invited three of our young friends to go along but found out you had to be over 21. So now I thought maybe it had to do with drinking. I started thinking wine tasting or maybe a tour of the Great Lakes brewery, but Ell said I was way off. Since I needed to know what kind of clothes to wear, Ell did tell me a couple little things to pack that in no way gave away the surprise. She told me we might be outside so I needed to dress warm. She said I might get a little dirty, so I didn't need to dress up. She said she would take care of everything else.

This week Ell told me what we were doing was going to be at night, so I should try to get some extra sleep. I thought it was a clue but all it did was make me more confused. The only "dream of a lifetime" that I could think would happen at night was to go ghost hunting. But if any of you know Ell, you know that her fear of the dark and of things that 'go bump in the night' would keep her from participating in such activities. So I was stumped. We headed out Saturday afternoon and I was still clueless. Imagine my shock when we pulled into the
Ohio State Reformatory Prison for a ghost hunt. I have so much to say about the experience, but I think I'll post a couple times instead of a real long one. I have to give some pretty big thanks to Ell for pulling off an awesome surprise and for being such a good sport about being in the dark all night. It was an amazing night, so check back tomorrow and I'll tell you more.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Friday Funny

Next week is Thanksgiving so I thought I'd share some appropriate jokes that you can use at the big feast next week with your family. Be warned, some of these are kinda corny!

Why did the Pilgrim's pants keep falling down?
Because they wore their belt buckles on their hats.

If April showers bring may flowers, what do may flowers bring?

Why did the police arrest the turkey?
They suspected it of foul play.

What kind of music did the Pilgrims like?
Plymouth Rock.

What do you get when you cross a turkey with an octopus?
Enough drumsticks for Thanksgiving.

Why can't you take a turkey to church?
Because they use foul language.

Why did Johnny get such low grades after Thanksgiving?
Because everything is marked down after the holiday.

What's the key to a great Thanksgiving?
A turKey.

Where did the first corn come from?
The stalk brought it.

What happened when the turkey got into a fight?
He got the stuffing knocked out of him.

Which side of the turkey has the most feathers on it?
The outside.

How do you make a turkey float?
Two scoops of ice cream, some root beer, and a turkey.

Why was the turkey the drummer in the band?
He was the only one with drumsticks.

How did the Mayflower show it loved America?
It hugged the shore.

Have a great Thanksgiving everyone!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

I have a talent that scares my wife

Every evening when I see Ell I tell her a number that she is usually impressed with, but at the same time scares her. The number that I tell her is how many deer I saw on the drive home. Yesterday was an exceptionally good day......I saw 17! The reason it scares Ell is that every one of those deer is a potential deer that could run in front of my car and get hit. I tell her it's alright b/c I have my hunting knife with me so I could gut it and bring it home. She says I'm missing the point. I look confused. It's a recurring conversation.

Ever since I was a little boy I was so impressed with my Grandpa when he would spot deer in a field or at the edge of the woods. I would strain to see out his truck window [no I wasn't in a car seat, horror of horrors] and look in the direction he was pointing; and there the deer would be. It was awesome! I aspired to be that good when I grew up. Now that I'm an adult and a hunter I realize that this talent is actually something all good hunters can acquire. They know where to look for deer by knowing where they eat, where they drink, where they sleep, and how they move from place to place to do those things. They also know the color patterns of the deer in each respective season, what the flick of an ear looks like from afar, and the proper way to walk in relation to the wind to stay unnoticed. Its a skill that takes some time to learn but is very useful. Like I said, only good hunters have this talent. And not to brag, but I am better at it than most of the people I know. I have never stepped foot into the woods and not seen a deer. Even if the people I'm with see nothing. My Grandpa would be proud.

There are many ways to get home from where I work, but I drive the one that offers me the most opportunities to see deer. Even though I see at least one or two deer every day, there are a few times that are very memorable. Like the time I saw the largest buck I have ever seen in person. The mass of its rack was as thick as a baseball bat. Then there was the time that I came up on an accident where someone had swerved to miss a deer and another car had rear-ended them. Normally this wouldn't be funny except that the deer the first car had tried to avoid was still standing off the side of the road just staring at all the commotion. I had to wonder if the deer was laughing. Another funny time was when I looked down into a valley where I had seen deer before, and I saw a hunter walking along a brush line towards where he would be hunting. On the other side of the brush line no more than 10 feet from the hunter, was a buck watching him walk by. The hunter was oblivious to the deer's presence. All I could do was chuckle.

A final warning to all you non-hunters who wouldn't know this, gun season will start sometime in the next couple weeks for almost all states on the Eastern side of the Mississippi. The deer will be running scared and that includes across roads. So be careful as you drive.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Friday Funny

Since I'm a banker I thought I'd share some bank humor this week...........

David Letterman's Top Ten signs you're doing business at the wrong bank.

10. When you make a deposit, tellers high five each other.

9. After you get your free toaster, bank president shows up at your house begging for toast.

8. Your monthly statements are handwritten, in crayon.

7. When you try to make a withdrawal, clerks suddenly don't speak English.

6. You notice Kato Kaelin is sleeping in the vault.

5. Your safety deposit box is a Dunkin' Donuts carton wrapped in tin foil.

4. All cash deposits go directly into teller's pocket.

3. Lobby is waist-deep in Mexican pesos.

2. Toll-free customer service number is: 1-800-GET-HOSED

1. When you go in to ask for your balance, the teller reaches across the counter and pushes you.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, November 09, 2006


What would make an honest police officer keep three kilos of cocaine to sell on his own?
What would make a long-time banker steal thousands of dollars?
What would make a respected pastor who preached the evils of sexual immorality enter into a homosexual relationship?
What would make a Mob-boss who was already doing major illegal activities decide to scam the IRS on his taxes?
What is it that makes us take that one extra step into the unthinkable?
What pull does Satan have on all of us to make us go above and beyond simple sins and do the most evil thing we can imagine?
And why do we feel that we have to sin at all?
Is our life so boring, so mundane, that we think we need just a little more to keep us fulfilled?
Is a good clean life not enough?
Why are we such weak individuals that we all have our own "secret" sins?
Was the torture and death that Jesus went through just for us not enough to make us feel worthy and special and complete?
Why do we all hide our shame and not deal with it?
Are pornography or money or hate or whatever we struggle with so powerful we can't break free?

This part of humanity scares me.
It scares me that I'm not happy with a happy life.
It scares me that my mind keeps telling me I need a little more.
It scares me that my family and friends need just a little more too.
I still hold to my belief that selfishness is the root of all sin and wrongdoing.
If we could only break free of that selfish-driven mindset the world would be a changed place.
But that's impossible in a fallen world.

So where is our hope?
Where is our future?
And don't just tell me it's in Jesus.
I've only met Jesus in my heart and in my soul.
There are too many that haven't done that.
Those are the ones that need the answer.
Even in Jesus' time, He wasn't enough for those he came in contact with.
They needed healed or they needed proof.
How much more do people need in a time where we don't have Jesus in the flesh?
So I ask again, where is our hope; where is our future?

Monday, November 06, 2006

An Honorable Salute to You Evan

My friend Evan is shipping out today with the United States Navy to serve in Bahrain until December 2007. He will be a member of the Military Police while in the country. Bahrain is a relatively safe country, but it's in the heart of the Middle East, so being safe in that environment is kind of tongue-in-cheek. I respect him very much for doing something so noble as serving in the military in the times we live in now. So many people want to bash our leaders and spout off what they think will solve the world's problems. And all too often that is at the expense of our armed forces. I commend Evan for standing up for his country and for it's people in the face of such adversity. He's a great friend and I will miss him. Join me in saluting his bravery and honor!

Friday, November 03, 2006

Friday Funny

My friend Guy is on vacation, and he has some guest writers on his blog. In his absence, they took the opportunity to poke a little fun at his expense. This joke is one of those pokes. All guys who have been married for a while can relate to this. Thanks to VW BUG for posting it. [Sweet name huh?!?!]

A telemarketer calls and gets Guy on the phone.

The telemarketer pitches his product, but Guy refuses the sales pitch, saying his wife won't let him buy it.

The salesman asks, "Who wears the pants in your family?"

Guy pauses, and says proudly, "My wife says I do!"

Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Not a good day

Yesterday was a miserable day. It was the closest I've been in a long time to shouting every swear word I know all at once in one incoherent sentence. For those of you that know me, you know that's a big deal.

I came into work yesterday morning knowing it was going to be busy. The 1st and 3rd of every month are always busy days in the bank. The blue-hairs that read this rag know why. For those of us who'll never see them, it's when the Social Security checks come in the mail. Besides waiting on every person who stepped foot in my office, I also had to finish two big reports, figure out the third quarter payroll taxes for Lifeline, close and record two small business loans I've been working on for a month, and return my October numbers so my tellers could get paid their incentive.

I'm a big boy, so I thought I could handle it. That was until I tried to send an email to an underwriter and found out that my entire Outlook email address book was empty. 300 names, gone! After talking to our support center I was told some security parameters in a recent network download had deleted them all. They told me it had also happened to about 100 other employees. The kicker was there was no way to recover them. I had to re-enter every email address I'd ever used. Seems easy enough, no wait, the backup Contact Manager with all that information was fried too. That's right, I had nothing. NOTHING!!! Whatever I happened to keep up in the old memory banks was all I had to fall back on. And guess what? That ain't a lot!

So I spent yesterday, in between all that stuff I had to do, trying to write down everything I could remember. I came up with about 30 names yesterday and another 20 today. So basically I have access to about 17% of all the email addresses I had ever used. I've always said that this technology was going to bite us hard someday. Guess that so-called technology heard me and got pissed off enough it decided to teach me a lesson. I learned, all right? Now give me back all my information!