Help is Here!

I’m starting to meet people who know what they are talking about. Carlos Alvarado, Ph.D has been helping me, pointing me to books and journal articles. He told me about J. B. Rhine publishing a skeptical article about the medium Mina Crandon, better known as Margery. Rhine was the head of the Duke Parapsychology Laboratory, although not at the time. When the article was published he was studying philosophy at Harvard (or had just finished). Then Dr. Alvarado sent me this amazing picture of Margery.

UPDATE: More (and better) pictures of ectoplasm on my other website here, here and here.


Oh yeah. This is going to be an interesting book to write. The best part though, is what followed the publication of Rhine’s doubting piece. That is really what my book is about. As I found when writing about the police, their investigations are fascinating, it’s true, but so are the politics and the passions behind the scenes. Joseph Rhine had a complicated personality, but he was the right man for the job. And so was his less visible right hand man, Gaither Pratt.

One of Us is Working Today


And one of us is waiting to hear how they did in the contest!

I’m a little freaked about all the work I have in front of me. It’s all interesting work, I’ve got to go through a pile of new information on the 1945 missing persons case in West Virginia (five children either died or went missing on Christmas). I’ve REALLY got to dig in with the Duke Parapsychology Lab book.

But what did I do yesterday when I had an entire day free to get to work? Got caught up on TV. CSI, by the way, was great. As was Without a Trace.

Getting Ready to Start the New Book


I’ve put away the books about murder. Now my shelves are filling up with books about ghosts. The Rhine Research Center has offered their support, so I can come out and say that I’m writing about the former Duke Parapsychology Laboratory. Scientists have always disdained parapsychology, but there was a brief window, from the 30’s to the 60’s, when the scientific community thought, well, okay, ectoplasm, seances and table rappings aside, maybe something is going on. Duke opened a lab to study the various phenomena, and for a few decades, a group of serious scientists and graduate students tried to find if there was anything there. I’m writing a book about what they did and did not find.

It was an amazing time. (I think I will put this in my formal bio. I like this description.)

Holiday Cleaning

Why does it feel so good to clean my apartment within an inch of its life twice a year (spring cleaning and holiday cleaning)? This weekend is holiday cleaning weekend and I’m filled with that life-is-good feeling.

Somehow I’ve grown up to be ambivalent about the holidays, but there are certain things I still love about Christmas:

– holiday cleaning.
– the music, especially singing in the holiday concert at Grace Church.
– Christmas decorations, except this year I don’t think I’ll decorate. I might just admire everyone else’s.
– cold weather. If you had told me as a kid that I would grow up to love cold weather, (and become ambivalent about Christmas) I would have done more research into the exact location of Neverland.
– holiday movies.
– advent calendars.
– the smell of the Home Sweet Home candle made by Yankee.
– the Yule log. Excpet now I forget — is that on WPIX or WOR?
– pumpkin pie is everywhere and easy to find.
– I remember that stuffing exists.
– singing at the Neander family house.
– that Truman Capote Christmas story.

Ha. I guess there’s a lot I still like. What don’t I like? Much as I love to give and get presents, it’s just too much pressure. I would enjoy it a lot more if we all just got each other a token gift, like a brownie or a flower, or nothing at all.

Also, since I no longer believe in God, a lot of the magic is, of course, gone. When I was a kid, listening to Amahl and the Night Visitors, the whole idea of the star, the shephards, the three wise man, and the birth of this miraculous child, I remember being genuinely filled with awe. How could you not, if you really believed all this was true, and didn’t think about the ugly side of it, which you didn’t tend to do as child around Christmas.

Which reminds me, my next book is about the former Duke Parapsychology Lab and I was talking to a scientist who worked there in the 50’s I believe it was. I enjoyed our conversation (I’m so happy to be writing this book) and when I asked him if he believed in life after death, his answer was yes, and he was so calm and assured, and absolutely convinced and matter of fact. It was comforting.