Set me a seal upon your heart,
As a ring upon your arm;
For love is as strong as death...
Its flashes are flashes of fire,
A flame of the Eternal.

Song of Songs viii 6-7

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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

What is this upcoming book about?

Death Is Not "The End": One Agnostic's Journey on the Bumpy Road to Belief is a chronicle of paranormal, and supernatural events. Three hours before the Christmas Eve of Two Thousand Three, the soul of Max Blau departed from a hospice in Tempe, Arizona. Yet, in Oxford, England, Christmas Eve had already arrived. There, in Max’s former home, sat his grief-stricken sisters and guardians who had received word that he died on their most beloved holiday. Yet, just hours after Max’s “purported” departure, strange things began to happen – in Oxford and in Arizona as well.

Despite the terrible sadness caused by the untimely death of Max, my husband and dearest friend in all the world, I soon realized that things were not as they seemed. During Christmas week alone, I began receiving telephone calls from loved ones and friends dear to us. Oddly, some of the callers sounded happy, if not downright joyful soon after Max had left us! In fact, his sisters and even a few of his close friends phoned to tell me their uncanny stories. From the outset, these incredible tales had a strange effect on me. You see, I was an agnostic then. I had no beliefs one way or the other. Nevertheless, after hearing these eerie tales, I decided to do what I did best – sit at my coffee table and take notes.

After obtaining an advanced degree and working as a consulting statistician in education, psychology, health care and government for approximately twenty-five years, I remained, as ever, a curious person. So, when these events began to take place, I knew I had to write down the details if I wanted to investigate further. Later, for validation purposes, I sent written “reports” to those who had kindly taken the time to tell me their stories. If there were any truth to these rare claims, my notes would have to be corroborated and the required corrections made.

Then, amazingly on New Year’s Day, two days after Max’s burial, I began to have experiences of my own. In fact, I was soon to become a party to some outlandish and baffling happenings – in places like my home, restaurants, cafés, gardens, and even during my first trip to England! As these paranormal and supernatural incidents began to “hit home”, I sat down at my computer to flesh out the details – those of our loved ones – and now mine. Before long and without much effort, I had made a document for each “event” which had been logged on paper initially and saved in a calendar. Despite the strange goings-on, I was glad I’d kept track of the dates and even the times of day. My background in psychology and years of logging research study observations had come in handy, to say the least. Nevertheless, as you will see, my journal is written not in clinical form, but in story form. I have also added post scripts to a number of the journal entries. These will be described below.

In Death Is Not "The End", rare and unusual episodes – encounters with the explained and unexplained alike – are called "events". The story begins with the amazing events of December 23, 2003. It ends with the eye-opening display and revelation I experienced on December 23, 2004 – on the anniversary of Max’s ostensible departure.

Through research conducted following the fifty-odd incidents and encounters (and odd they were), the phenomena were later classified into some rather rare and interesting categories:

the shifting and displacement of physical objects in and around rooms; apparitions and other spirit encounters; synchronicities and extreme coincidences; automatic writing; numinous dreams, the movement of undated coins; intelligent haunts; residual haunts; uncanny telephone activities; electrical demonstrations, malfunctions and breakdowns; object alteration; “third eye” phenomena; spirit communications received through clairvoyance, clairaudience and clairsentience; soul travel; spirit guide communications; validation of “rare” events based on the frequency of repetition of the events; validation of rare events based on statistical hypothesis testing; and the discovery of a corroborating written record found after the occurrence of a supernatural event.

In the Post Script sections following key phenomenological activities, I discuss and sometimes attempt to examine an event further or to review subject matter associated with the event. Therefore, post scripts (as detailed below) are reserved primarily for post-event commentary and research. Although many of the events in the book are left unexplained, potential explanations are offered wherever "doable", with respect to key paranormal events. Interpretations are made wherever possible.

The timeframe of Death Is Not "The End" is December 23, 2003 through December 23, 2004. Nevertheless, supernatural and synchronistic happenings have gone far beyond the boundaries of one journal year, changing my life forever. Because of the rare and challenging life changes I experienced over a subsequent six-year period, I decided it would be a good idea to continue journaling. After all, the paranormal events didn’t stop simply because one journal year had ended. No, not in any sense of the word! Consequently, I have continued to keep a log from 2005 onward. On the other hand, my focus shifted somewhat because of a tremendous increase in synchronistic events, intuitive perceptions, signs, wonders, and even a few predictions which were later born out.

As my intuitive side became evident, I sought to understand and develop this gift under the guidance of Sunny Dawn Johnston, psychic medium of Sunlight Alliance. In 2006 while watching a news program on television, I learned of Sunny’s incredible work in Arizona, with Hay House of California, and around the country. I contacted Sunny immediately and began taking her intuitive classes, such as Angel classes, Law of Attraction classes, and a number of her Mediumship classes. Sunny, who is my mentor, conducts personal conferences in her office and by telephone.

Unfortunately, in 2007 I suffered an illness affecting my physical vision, i.e., amazingly my intuitive vision remained unaffected. However, to my chagrin, I was unable to continue with the mathematical work I performed as a consulting statistician, i.e., work with spreadsheets, long columns of numbers, and so forth. Now I am happy and thankful to report that I found a doctor who has been treating the illness successfully for a year. Due to this wonderful and most welcome development and the paranormal happenings I’ve experienced since 2004, I am gaining in energy and perseverance every day. Since I have kept all my phenomenological notes on file, these are tomes yet be formalized beyond this book! I look forward to the prospects with delight and appreciation for these renewed capabilities.

Since my dear Max went to the light, our poignant, bizarre and sometimes even comical communications have been rare. Nevertheless, he still visits the earthly plane of existence from time to time, most notably on special occasions. You see, Max loves parties and get-togethers. What a communicator he was and always will be! After the transition (death) the individual personality remains the same. I have found this to be true over and over again. You see, in the past seven years other spirit beings have visited me as well: my dearly deceased father, his parents, my step-father who recently passed at the age of ninety-five, angels as I prayed in church, spirit guides, and loved ones of classmates and friends. Most of these wonderful encounters have occurred subsequent to the writing of this journal and will be revealed in an upcoming book. Nevertheless, a few of these exchanges did take place in 2004 when I was first “introduced” to my spirit guide. I am pleased to present these stories in Death Is Not “The End”.

Journal Entries. This volume contains seventy-one journal entries, beginning with the events of December 23, 2003 and ending with the unparalleled event that happened on December 23, 2004. Consequently, my journal contains data and information concerning over fifty paranormal experiences, spanning a year and one day. The last day is simply too mind-boggling and personally meaningful to exclude from my chronicle of events. Indeed, it is the sine qua non of the book! Yet, many more than fifty paranormal events occurred in 2004. The “over fifty” refers to recurring events because I did not document or even count a particular event more than once in the book. The most repetitive paranormal events were “The Hair Dryer Affair”, Max “curling up” on the couch, “The Toaster Trick” and Max’s appearance in the gardens at church. Although I recorded and presented the account of the toaster trick just once, this incident happened approximately two to three times a week for many weeks in 2004, and on into 2005. I am sure that I witnessed the unbelievable “toaster trick” at least twenty times. This is a very conservative estimate. It may have happened fifty or more times, I just don’t know.

My journal entries are based on the occurrences of uncanny, sometimes mind-blowing, and often extraordinarily meaningful events, such as communications with Max, “coincidental” electrical events, and the unfortunate deaths that occurred in proximity to Max’s passing. In this sense, the journal is episodic in nature – unlike a diary or a journal of daily activities, thoughts, and concerns. The narrative was written in the past tense. However, the paranormal sequences were written in the present tense to “glue” the reader to the scene while revealing the observer’s thoughts and feelings about the phenomenon.

Event Recording. Due to a meticulous bent brought on by working with numbers, I have included a date and often a time at the top of each journal entry. In this way, associations and interpretations can be drawn for a better understanding of the paranormal incidents in question. Because I am aware that the moon has an effect on nature, I have also included phases of the moon. At the start, I hadn’t yet made the decision to chronicle every observation or to keep track of dates. Then later, as I began to include dates and times in the narratives, I expressed my apologies for being unable to recall a few of the dates and some of the times of day. To that end, I supplied estimated dates (such as 1/xx/04) and times of day like Sunday Morning or Wednesday Afternoon, at least whenever possible.

All of the supernatural data and information were first logged and then described in detail in the book. However, about ten percent of the information was subsequently removed from the book. For example, if I witnessed an event that I was later unable to recall in detail, the event was then excluded. This happened a few times. I have likewise excluded two separate paranormal accounts which I received early in 2004 from two of Max’s dear friends, a man and a woman. They are friends of mine as well. Since that time, I have been unable to reach either of the two to obtain detailed corroboration of their stories. So I decided it would be best to remove their narratives from the body of my book. However, I am able to state with confidence that the first event happened to the man while he was taking a walk in the woods about a week after Max died. The second event concerned a phenomenon that the woman said she witnessed in my home while I was vacationing in Sedona. She had been “pet-sitting” and watching my home. The nature of the details surrounding each of these events is still somewhat unclear so I must unfortunately exclude their accounts. However, I do know this: both the man and the woman told me their stories with great enthusiasm. They both appeared to have been stunned, to say the least, by what they had seen and heard. The dear man has since moved away and his phone has been disconnected. And despite my phone messages and invitations, my friend and confidante, the woman has not entered my home since the time she witnessed the paranormal phenomenon. Indeed, I have been unable to reach her for a long time. Though my friends tells me not to wait, I miss her and have hopes that she will return to say hello someday, perhaps when I least expect it.

Despite all that has happened (or not), I carry a big pad of sticky notes and a pen and take them with me wherever I go. While writing the first draft of The Hope, I never thought, as a few friends suggested, that “the recording of all that data” would be too tedious a task to stick with for long. Quite the reverse. I felt comfortable with the idea because the phenomena were often so awesome or wacky that I felt compelled to get my observations down on paper. Keeping track this way, I would then be able to tell my mother and friends the story. Nevertheless, I soon found myself “fleshing out” these accounts on my laptop – before work, after work, on the Wednesdays of my four-day work week, and on weekends as well. In that sense, I was confident I wouldn’t be relying on old memory. Before long, a book was born. Lives were forever changed!

Song Lyrics. (Please note: the song lyrics are primarily reserved for the book, i.e., most of the songs are not contained in this Blog). The supernatural events sometimes arrived with a song – on the radio, while drinking coffee in a café, through musak, or while working in my office. Quite a few of the songs, coupled with the associated paranormal phenomena, had a synchronistic quality and became a fundamental part of the experience. Even today, as I recall seeing Max’s spirit on January 3rd 2004, I can still hear “Unchained Melody”. This beautiful song was an integral part of my paranormal experience because the song and the movie, “Ghost” were on television. That is, approximately five minutes after Max appeared on the arm of my sofa, I changed the television channel and I heard the song, “Unchained Melody”. There before me was the movie, “Ghost” as Max’s spirit hovered just above the arm of my sofa. I was stunned!

People are incredulous when they hear this story, thinking it could not possibly have happened. It sounds surreal, they say – too perfect to be true. Objectively, I agree with them, to be sure. But I am here to tell you, to my absolute bafflement, it happened. And in all humility, it happened to me. Why would any person set herself up for potential derision by writing such a far-fetched story unless it were true? I certainly would not. My “Ghost” story happened as I described it. I cannot and will not delete this account from my journal simply because it is too fantastic for people to believe. That, in point of fact, would be a form of deception. I am only here to tell you to the best of my ability about the phenomena I experienced.

Because of activities that are “linked” like these, the inclusion of one or two lines of lyrics tends to give people a better picture of the experience. The reader can then visualize and perhaps even “feel” the event from the perspective of the one who witnessed it – thinking and “hearing” the song as the observer heard it while the event was happening. Using the required standards for abridgement, these songs are an integral part of my journal because they add the element of sound (i.e., the recollection of the melodies) to the equation – bringing another dimension to the reading of the book. Music lovers might even enjoy listening to the tunes online as they read particular passages.

Post Scripts. The post script sections of this book fill an important need. Post scripts allow me to separate the paranormal events from comments and research concerning the events. In this way, no paranormal story is ever changed or manipulated beyond revisions for clarity, grammar, punctuation, style and the like.

As I rewrote my journal, I expanded on the post scripts. There was a need for more definitions, commentary, and further research on paranormal phenomena to shed light on the most baffling events and perhaps the least understood activities. Post scripts are primarily reserved for:

• My comments and inquiries concerning an event

• Paranormal and supernatural definitions and descriptions

• Key information from theories of consciousness

• Key information from quantum theory -string theory, parallel universes, etc.

• Post scripts providing new material, such as “Law of Attraction” concepts

• Logical analysis of an event

• Statistical analysis of an event, where possible

• Interpretation of key events

In addition to the post scripts, Journal Entry 34 contains quite a bit of information on quantum physics and “The Theory of Everything” as related to rare and unusual phenomena. Journal Entry 59 strictly concerns “third eye” phenomena.

I certainly do not pretend to have all the answers. In that sense, I do not attempt to analyze and interpret every event documented in The Hope. Some incidents are brief and self-explanatory, in terms of the typical conjectures set forth to make sense of the phenomena. Although I have attempted to depict every event logged in detail, some events simply defy description and explanation. I have provided post scripts after particular journal entries, as needed, along with comments, questions, research, analysis, and where feasible, interpretation of the event. I encourage readers to take a stab at it. Get together with your friends and mull over mysterious events. Try to analyze and interpret these phenomena to your satisfaction. This is half the fun and joy of the book. The other half is the incredible stories, all true!

Please note: Due to the highly sensitive nature of the subject matter and as a protective measure, names have been changed in the narrative sections of the book. Nevertheless, the true names of a number of people have been kept in the narratives, as requested. I have retained my pen name and that of my deceased spouse, Max Blau, for this book. I assure you that no person, place, nor story is fictitious. Every happening hereby recorded is true to the best of my ability to capture the quintessence of a paranormal event. I freely admit that some events have left me baffled. Yet, isn’t that what makes life fascinating?

I continue to keep records of rare and unusual events even into the year Two Thousand Eleven. However, there is more than enough to tell – based solely on what happened the year after my beloved Max died. I humbly present my story to you, my readers, in Death Is Not "The End".

~ Your Author, Mandy Berlin

Monday, May 14, 2012

Max's Churning Computer

Journal Entry 27
Sunday 05/02/2004
Waxing gibbous moon
Around 11:00 a.m.

            Today I glanced through the files Max kept on disc.  I knew that hundreds of his files were contained in several directories.  So, having set aside a block of time, I decided to review them all, then delete those of little value and retain those that seemed to be important.  I’ll just copy the “good” ones to CD. 

            Then I can dispose of his computer, I thought.

            One time not long after he died, I logged on to his machine to search for some documents.  The computer ran well that day – no problems whatsoever.  Luckily, I found the needed files in no time at all. 
ᴥ ᴥ ᴥ

            So with every confidence, I sit down at Max’s computer and boot up.  But about three seconds into the logon, I hear a nefarious noise, a thud followed by an ear-splitting bellow.Whoa!”  I jump up from my seat and back away.  You see, the computer’s “bawling” like a car that won’t start in the dead of winter.  Stunned, I move about halfway down the hall.  Wouldn’t want to get any closer to the thing.  I mean, what if it explodes?  Now that may sound silly, but believe me, I am not willing nor even able to get any closer to the roaring roadster – or in Max’s case, the “Croakin’ Toadster”.  (Catch The Toad, his nickname in an earlier post.) 

            Suddenly, as if the computer is changing it’s tune, it starts to make a chugging sound.  “Oh God, it’s dying!”  I want to turn it off, but I can’t.  That might screw up the hard drive.  I can’t lose any of these files until they’re backed up. 

            “Stop, stop!”  I scream like a fool.

            Then, as if on cue, the chugging actually stops!

            “WHAT the HECK?”  I shriek, as if a few fricatives might placate the pounding in my chest.

           Nevertheless, on hearing the happy hum of the CPU, I begin to pull myself together.. somewhat… and plop down on the chair.  Still I’m not getting anywhere, staring at the clock like this. 

            “Okay, after that bizarre scene, coffee’s not desired.  It’s required.  Lunchtime…. Besides, I must give the old guy a break.”    

            “Oh, sorry dude, you’re not that old.”  You see, we must try to appease the Toadster.

ᴥ ᴥ ᴥ

            After a welcome lunch, I’m armed to the teeth with a humungous slice of peach pie and my trusty mug.  And on the way back to the office, I holler at the ceiling, “Hey, Max!” just in case he’s around.  “Honey, I won’t delete anything from your hard drive except garbage.  I promise.”

            “Darlin’ come on listen to me, I won’t do you no harm…” I’m singing that John Lennon tune [1], boogying with pie and coffee in hand... behaving myself... unlike some “croaksters” we know.  So I set my reinforcements on his desk and sit down with purpose, something like the operator of a guided missile system.  I clear my throat. 

            “Okay, alright, here goes….” 

            “DEFCON Three…”


            “DEFCON Two...”

            My hand reaches out to the computer.

            “DEFCON One!” 

            And I push the button. 

            Lifetimes in that one moment.

            Eventually some beeps and clicks.  What, no racket?  

            I exhale and check the hard drive.  Nothing weird at all.  So I take another breath, and wait, and wait…

            Click… click… click….

            “Right,” I say, and the machine boots up.

            “Yes!”  I cry, arms to the sky.

            Breathing freely now, I tell my ineffable one, “Guy, the computer’s finally ‘behaving’ itself.”  (As if he doesn’t know.)

            Soon I’m reviewing the files without further incident, working long into the night. 

Post Script

            Since that strange Sunday, I have logged on to Max’s machine several more times.  And I am relieved to report that nothing creepy has happened since that day.  Just the same, I’ve decided not to dispose of Max’s computer – no, not for a long, long time!

            1.  Lennon, John. "Whatever Gets You Thru the Night." Walls and Bridges. Capitol, 1974. LP. 

Friday, May 4, 2012

An Apology

Sorry about the way story 1 is formatted (not).  The new Google editor is "acting up." 

For example, when you press enter for a new line, sometimes it doesn't go there or it leaves two or three line spaces instead.  Tried to change it numerous times.  Also the font style keeps changing within the body of text, though I have only used one font for the entire story.

In addition, what you see in the Editor is not what you get when you view the Blog :(....

My apologies!

Oh well, I do hope you enjoy my story to follow!!  It's the first one of the book... about all the unbelievable things that happened only hours after my husband, Max, left our world. 

Or did he?

The Author


Journal Entry 1
Tuesday 12/23/2003

Tempe, Arizona


            Max left our world just two nights before Christmas at nine o’clock sharp.  In life my Max had never been late for any important occasion, and so in death.  Some say, at fifty years of age, he died too young.  Others say he lived a full life.  But as I see it, young or old, Max left our world too soon.
            Yet, this story is not so much about my grief as it is about my husband, Max, and my joy.  Perhaps you might be thinking, she lost her spouse.  How can she be talking about her “joy” if she cared about this guy at all?  Well, I must say that along with the shock and sadness that came with the loss of my beloved husband and friend, something extraordinary arrived at my door – something I certainly never expected and will never forget.  No, not in a lifetime!  For when these incredible things began to happen, I was an agnostic.  For over thirty years, I had no beliefs.
            Decades earlier, I did have some beliefs:  the beliefs of my parents.  I had attended Catholic school in Ohio, wore my beanie and school uniform every day, and went to church faithfully as commanded by the nuns.  In fact, I’d become quite good at parroting prayers and verses from my missalette.
            My grandmother thought I was a saint.
            Well, what did she know?
            Maybe I was sedate in high school.  Certainly too shy to talk to boys.  They must have thought I was rather bookish.  But no more than a week after starting school at Kent State University, my life began to change.  You see, when I dropped off my books and took off my glasses, attractive young men began showing up at my door – a singular experience for any young woman, (especially me)!
            Soon I found myself steeped in studies and loving every minute of it.  What a kick to imitate my science professor!  You see, Dr. Culver was a passionate man:  “You must have evidence – hard data – for every statement you make, for every hypothesis you develop.  Data and information – the keys to our three dimensional world!”  (Did I believe him?  Of course I did, and still do.)  But soon I started to question everything in existence, including my mother’s ideas about a distant place called heaven.  I certainly had no hard data for that.  So my childhood fantasies of a divine maker, and everything that came along this inscrutable concept, evaporated before you could say Christmas Break.
            Then after leaving Ohio for sunnier parts unknown, I finally received my four-year degree from Arizona State University and returned for six more years of graduate study.  I became a research scientist, a statistician by trade.  What better way to develop hypotheses and process all that hard data Dr. Culver was always talking about.  I loved it!  And in the process of all that, I met and married my sweetheart, Max.  We had a wonderful life together for sixteen years.  We worked hard and had so many wonderful times traveling around the western region of our great country.  In the mornings we drank our coffee from tin cups by clear running streams.  At night we camped out under the stars.  Such happy times we had… and yet, I see now that the best thing we had was love.
            Then, my Max died of cancer and things began to happen that did not fit into the world of my adulthood – my agnostic world.  But I knew that if I ever hoped to make any sense out of the mind-boggling incidents that our friends, loved ones and even I had begun to experience, I would have to stick with the scientific method – observe and record “the data” – the bizarre, beautiful and mind-boggling events I have set down in writing, here in my journal.
            On the very night Max departed, two of his sisters began to have strange experiences.  Though I was feeling so heartbroken to have lost my husband and dearest friend of all, his sisters telephone calls caught my attention.  You see, the “tales” they were telling me sounded, what?  Just plain weird.  So I gathered up all the strength I could muster and began to take notes.  If nothing else, I thought perhaps this would take my mind off the daunting lack of Max.
            Well, I must at least try, I sighed and told myself, though I certainly didn’t comprehend one wit of what was happening back then.  Now I see.  My notes would become the start of a detailed log of paranormal and supernatural events.
            So, one night during Christmas Week, not long after Max had left us, Paulette called me from her home in Sonoita, Arizona.  She said that Max had appeared to her in a dream around eleven o’clock, about two hours after he had died.  Yet, despite Paulette’s sadness on hearing the terrible news of her brother’s death, she sounded almost comfortable with the whole idea.  Strange, I thought.  But I didn’t want to jump to conclusions, so I just kept quiet and listened.

            She said that in her lifelike dream, Max had been joking around with her.  “Hey, I feel fantastic, Paulette,” he hooted, “more alive now than ever!”  They’d been “tipping a few” and watching the late shows together.  Well, along with my surprise, imagine how I might have felt.  If Paulette’s dream contains any ounce of reality, I thought, am I so happy to hear that Max, in all his aliveness, is having such a grand time without me?
            I shook my head.  Oh, it’s just a dream.  Still, I continued to jot things down on paper.
           Now, after all the extraordinary events I have witnessed since Christmas Week of ‘03, I look back in joy and wonder over Paulette’s numinous dream.  For when she finished telling me her story, she cried out, “Mandy, my dream seemed so real!  Imagine my state of confusion and disappointment when I woke up to find Max gone!  How is that possible?”  For Paulette, this was an encounter of some sort, resulting in a sense of disorientation and disillusionment once she finally grasped that Max had left our world... if, indeed, he did go, for Paulette’s dream was just the beginning.
            Days later, Max’s middle sister telephoned me from Oxford, England.  Soon Char proceeded to tell me about an extraordinary march, of sorts, that she had witnessed in her home.  She’d been sitting in the bathroom when, out of nowhere, footprints began “stomping” their way into her bathroom rug.  The tracks were not of her own making “…because, Mandy,” she said, “they appeared to me, one by one, as they were being made!” as if an unseen crusader were trampling on her rug.  Char was appalled, yet amazed, watching in disbelief as the mind-boggling footprints materialized right in front of her.
           Not long after Char’s encounter with the uncanny, the family called to express their regrets.  They said her beloved brother had passed at nine p.m. Mountain Time in the hospice in Tempe, Arizona.  Char then realized something unbelievable:  accounting for the time differential between England and Arizona, Max had departed – in real time – not long before the mysterious footprints “appeared” on her bathroom rug.  This bizarre phenomenon had taken place on the morning of December Twenty-Fourth.  It was Christmas Eve in Oxford, England.

           I can just hear Max now.  “Hey guys, Happy Holidays!” he seemed to say.  You just call out my name and you know wherever I am, I’ll come running to see you again….[1]
           We played that song for him all night, the night he died.

[1]  King, Carole.  "You've Got a Friend."  Tapestry. A&M, 1971. LP.