That twilight zone between being awake and being asleep.

There is a place I would love to be able to go to whenever I want, at a flick of a switch. It’s that zone where you’re not fully asleep but not entirely awake either.   Take a light switch and get it to that position where the light is neither off or on. Its kinda flickering and buzzing. Its the sweet spot.

I have heard many names for this particular state of consciousness they include “The Phase”, “Astral Projecting”, “Out of Body”, “Lucid Dreaming”, “Sleep Paralysis”.  I prefer to refer to it as The Phase as its an open ended word that could literally mean anything.  Which is very important because anything can happen in this state of consciousness.

Whilst in the phase, people have modelled various other states of consciousness known as Focus levels of consciousness which all gets very groovy indeed.   Things then get very spiritual and there is a belief that you’re consciousness is in other realms of existence such as what some may refer to as the afterlife.

Here is my understanding on how it works.  When you’re asleep, you’re unconscious and you lose awareness.  When you’re dreaming you’re not aware that you’re dreaming.   You wake up with either vivid memories of the dreams or no memories of any dreams at all.  The sweet spot, aka The Phase is where you’re still aware, and not only still aware, but you also still have a level of control of what is going on and what you are thinking. You’re awakened internal voice is still with you and whilst you’re experiencing a dream you still think to yourself “Actually this is a dream, I’m actually still at home in bed” When you wake up, your memories of the events are usually vivid but will fade like memories of dreams fade.  It is like the brain stores non-physical memories and physical memories in different boxes so you don’t go crazy.

I’ve had some pretty awesome experiences of being in the phase myself.  Some I would have referred to a full on Astral Projection, others where I have felt myself sit up and pull myself out of body, and have floated around the room.  Others where I have felt myself definitely in a Lucid dream where I can to an extent control what is going on but I am fully aware it is a dream.  I’ve also had some awesome cases of Sleep Paralysis, whilst scary for most, I find it amazing.  Which I will come to next, as it explains a lot:

Does our consciousness inhabit our brain? O r is consciousness a product of the brain?  It’s a question we don’t know the answer to.  I, and I’m sure billions of other people would like to think that our consciousness or soul or energy, whatever you want to call it, inhabits our brain or our physical body and can exist outside of it.   In which case I believe that our consciousness is not actually inside our bodies in a physical sense.  It is a non-physical entity that is occupying all levels of existence simultaneously.  However, it is currently focussed on your body.

How is it focussed on your body?  Well the body has a lot of strong physical senses overloading your consciousness to the point where you can’t sense anything else. All you can perceive is the physical senses.  It’s like being at a club and the music is so loud you cant hear anyone else speaking.  You cant hear that pin drop, so as far as you’re concerned no one dropped a pin, it didn’t happen, the pin doesn’t even exist.  There was no one even there to drop the pin!   When we sleep our body enters a state of sleep paralysis.  This stops us acting out or dreams physically. But it also quietens down the physical senses.  It doesn’t switch them off, because we wake up with a loud noise or if we’re shook etc.  But they’re turned down enough to allow the consciousness to perceive glimpses of other things. Of course its just fragments.  So now instead of the music being so loud you cant hear anything else, its still loud, but you can just make out bits and pieces of what other people are saying.

What is intriguing is that some people have trained themselves to be able to get themselves to the phase whilst still being aware. They have improved their dream recall and have learned to meditate so deeply they can really turn down those physical senses and really allow their consciousness to perceive the wider realities that we exist in.   These people are known as Astral Travellers or Shamans.  Some stories I have read are really remarkable. However unfortunately you have to take their words for it.  Some people can more naturally do it than others.

You can’t prove any of this.  Because people try to prove non physical experiences by turning them into physical experiences. It just not possible.  You can prove to anyone what you dreamt about last night, and its exactly the same in regards to any experiences you may have whilst being aware in a non-physical environment.  But people have said that they have spoken to dead relatives and have come to the conclusion that our physical bodies are just one part of our existence and we do continue on without them.  It was exactly this which got me interested in Astral Projection in the first place.  Can I prove to myself that my consciousness / soul / energy can exist away from my physical body?

Did I prove it?  Eeeeerm… nope!  As most of my non-physical experiences in which I have had awareness and clarity have lasted mearly seconds and they tend to come months apart. So maybe by the time I’ve died of old age, I’ll know for sure!

This is just a very rough introduction of understanding the concept of wider realities above the one we all know and love (the physical world).  It literally just scratches the surface.  The more you get into it, the crazier it goes and the more questions and what ifs start to appear.  You must try not to start building a belief system around it, that’s how religions start!

 

Are spirit boxes any good?

In the paranormal communities there is quite a lot of debate surrounding the use of a spirit box to communicate with spiritual entities.  However having seen some episodes of Ghost Adventures and other online sources, there appeared to have been some fantastic results from them, so we decided to give one a go.

What is a Spirit Box I hear you ask? Well its not a magical device that breaks barriers and communicates with the other side.  It is simply an FM/AM radio which sits and sweeps through the radio bands at a fast speed.  Most spirit boxes are simply modified hand held radios designed not to lock onto a signal and just keep scanning. This gives you white noise and tiny snippets of sounds from broadcasting stations. The idea is, is that spirits are able to manipulate these sounds in order to send messages which can be heard in realtime.

So we gave it a go, and you can decide yourself from the below audio what you think.

[soundcloud]https://soundcloud.com/andrew-fitzgerald-12/devon-spirit-box[/soundcloud]

For newcomers and those unaccustomed to hearing a spirit box in action, you’ll probably be thinking a great big WTF? here!  That is not surprising.  This is not the best example of a spirit box working. But there appeared to be certain intelligent communication going on here, and it takes piecing a whole story together to get the idea.

The recording was taken on the side of Line Wall Road in Gibraltar one evening.  Gibraltar was a big site of World War 2 being the entrance to the Mediterranean sea.  The wife, who claims to be spiritually sensitive dreamt of a location in Gibraltar that she had no previous recollection of.   She dreamt of a Soldier being there.  We were driving down the road and suddenly the audio volume on the car stereo started slowly turning itself up. This has only ever happened once before, many months ago, coming in to La Linea on the A-383 driving past an area where a reef and flowers had been laid. I can only suspect someone had died on that road in that spot.   We parked the car up and walked back to the location the radio did its anomaly.  Just off the road is a wall overlooking Queensway, and to the wifes surprise she recognised this location from her dream.

So we fired up the EVP and the Spirit box.  The conversation goes like:

“Whats your name?”   “Devon”

“Say it again?…… Say your name for me…. Was it Devon or Derek?”  …”Devon”

“Are you a soldier?”    .. “(Possible Yes)”

“And how did you die?”    “Bombs”

“From the sea?…. Bombs from the sea?….  Devon?”    – No response.

“Devon talk to me!”   “(Possible I’m Trying)”

“I saw you in my dreams didn’t i?”    “Allegedly”

 

These were all pretty good intelligent responses.  Was the mrs actually talking to an entity that we were drawn to via a dream and some strange car radio anomaly as we passed?  Or are we simply connecting a random string of dots to get to what we want to get to? Which of course is proof of the paranormal.

The problem with the spirit box is that what you hear is open to interpretation.  We are expecting to hear a voice, a word, and as such our brains can assemble the sounds to something we can understand.  The words are being produced in our brains.  Watch any EVP recording with subtitles and suddenly the voice is clear because we are expecting to hear it.  Now listen to the audio recording again above with the transcript here and you’ll suddenly hear the “ghost” speaking back to us.

The other problem with the Spirit Box of course is that the sound that you are hearing isn’t coming from the other side. It’s coming from a radio tower that is broadcasting. There is nothing paranormal about it.  The radio sweeping between the stations is simply making oo eee aahh ssshhh uuuu noises pretty quickly taking just snipped of speech, so its entirely possible to build a semi-legible word from it.

So I’m really not fully convinced.  It would have to be a remarkable spirit box session to draw my attention to it.  The one we did the other night isn’t remarkable enough for me, despite potential intelligent responses.

Assuming the authenticity  of Ghost Adventures, check out this:

[niceyoutubelite id=”Z5VoPvDd8cY”]

Personally though, I prefer a good old fashioned EVP. Record the silence, play it back.  That way the voices you are hearing may not have been broadcast from a radio tower.

The important thing with any paranormal investigation is to spend more time debunking it, as proving it.

 

Moving to Spain in 2007

So for those that know me, you’ll know I live in Spain and work over the border in Gibraltar.

I took the decision to move out here back in 2007 when a relationship I was in took a bit of a nose dive. Although attempts were made to salvage the relationship, it just wasn’t going to work out.  I decided to do something crazy and just jump on a plane and move out to Spain, by myself, without knowing anyone here and without even knowing the area.  I had been here just twice before for short holidays.

People think I’m crazy and/or brave for having made such a bold move. It was just more exciting than anything else at the time.  “You moved out here by yourself!?”  Yeah.. and?  Well if anyone knows me, once I get a project on the go, I go and do it and I don’t care what it takes.  Whether that be moving out to Spain or cycling all the way home again. I don’t rely on anyone for anything and quite happy to undertake these mammoth challenges by myself.  – In fact I feel more confident without relying on other people. Because, well, other people can really let you down!

When I was 18, I kinda really messed things up. I got tangled up in a few things and never went to University.  It’s not so much the qualifications I miss, it was the social side I miss.  So I guess this move out was a way to make up for that. Oh boy I did. I met some great friends and went wild for the first year or two.  In a new area you can forget who you are for a while and be whoever you want. No one knows any history of you, and what you are or aren’t capable of, so you can stick on a mask and be whatever you want. Which is awesome for a while!

Moving out here was the best thing I ever did, and although I sometimes get strong desires to go home, even if I did return to the UK. I will still put this project down as a huge success.  7 years I’m still here and I am way better for it.

Before I left I got a new camera and made some horrendously cringe worthy videos of the very early days.  They’re on youtube anyway so might as well link them here:

Goodbyes from everyone:

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Just Landed (first couple of days)

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Where I settled in Estepona (before moving further down the coast to a shit hole called La Linea.)

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And finally, talking about me going wild on the first couple of years. Here’s a video from 2008 of me managing to down an entire pint of lager in one go.  Criiinge and I’ve got sensible now in my old age. Some really fun times with some great friends. It’s just a shame none of these guys are around any more.

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How to prep a memory card on WinUAE to use on a real Amiga

A little while ago as a request for someone, I made a tutorial video on how to prep a memory card on WinUAE to use on a real Amiga.

The video has me waffling on and looking like an utter goon. But it might prove useful for someone who wants to set themselves up a cracking Amiga desktop or download a tonne of games onto a flash card and then install the card in a real Amiga 1200 – because emulation sucks.

[niceyoutubelite id =”LsF73ItgS2Y”]

 

Longest bike ride I have ever done!

In 2010 I decided to cycle from where I live now (Gibraltar) back to where I used to live (Yorkshire, UK).  Some 1600 miles across Spain and France that took 3 weeks.  Done completely solo.  It was all done in aid of Gibraltar Cancer Relief and the Jane Tomlinson Appeal.

Why did I do it?  Well I was bored of staring at computers all day in the office, had been tremendously inspired by Mark Beaumont in his cycling documentaries and had just taken up the sport. So thought why not!  Why the cancer charities? Well my mum got given a full bill of health that very year after suffering cancer herself and coming through it completely in tact. So its thanks to the tireless efforts of these groups that she is still around and was there to see me cross the finish line. So I’m eternally greatful.

The Gibraltar to Yorkshire story as told by the media is here:

 

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The full website with the day to day blog, more pictures etc is at http://www.gibraltartoyorkshire.co.uk

 

Review of the DivIDE Interface for the ZX Spectrum

A little while ago, I made a review video for the DivIDE Interface for the ZX Spectrum.

This gadget is awesome. It allows you to play games from flash memory card and load them straight into your spectrum without messing about with cassette tapes. They load instantly too, so no more 10 minute wait time!

 

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A ZX Spectrum + 2 playing video files.

So a ZX Spectrum is a 30 year old computer. To gauge how much memory this thing has in today’s world is quite remarkable.  Basically less than 1 second of an MP3 would it into its teeny memory banks. Many would say this is completely useless. What could you do with that?   Its processor speed is also a miniscule fraction of what computers are doing today.  A single chip churning away at 3.5mhz looks like an ant in today’s 3000mhz multicore systems.  As for graphics? Don’t get me started there,  A 15 colour 256×192 screen isn’t going to get you very far is it?

But, despite its age, and its severe limitations this baby can play video!   Here is mine playing a very recent episode of South Park!

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Ok so you may have noticed a few things..  It looks a bit naff, it sounds a bit naff and what is that circuit board hanging out of the back of it? The Spectrum can only play video as long as you have an expansion? Right.. OK.. so the Spectrum can’t play video then because you have to add something to it!

The expansion in question is the very excellent DivIDE.  It is an IDE interface that allows attaching large storage. Because yeah, you’re going to load a video file off a cassette tape!  The DivIDE is streaming the video file into the spectrum which is playing it with its own hardware! So its just a storage medium, the spectrum is doing all the muscle really not that!

The software in question is DivIDEo  which you can get here: http://divideo.zxdemo.org/

And here is another video the spectrum has done. (Sorry for the song – but whizzy on for the simpsons intro)

[niceyoutubelite id=”bVO5NUy7uZE”]

 

Why oh why would we want to do this? Why would someone today spend time making this?  Well you either get it, or you don’t. If you’re asking the question and feeling puzzled by all this. You don’t get it.