The Paranormal

Ghosts and the paranormal have been a subject of fascination for centuries. Many people have reported experiencing encounters with ghosts and other supernatural phenomena, but the scientific community has largely remained skeptical about the existence of such things. Despite this skepticism, there are some scientists and researchers who are exploring the science behind ghosts and the paranormal.

To begin with, it is important to understand what we mean by “ghosts” and the “paranormal.” Ghosts are generally thought of as the disembodied spirits of the dead that are able to interact with the living. The paranormal refers to phenomena that are outside of what is considered to be normal or explainable by current scientific understanding.

One area of research into the paranormal involves the study of ghost sightings and hauntings. Researchers in this field have documented thousands of cases of people reporting seeing ghosts or experiencing other paranormal phenomena. These experiences range from sensing a presence in a room to seeing full-bodied apparitions. Some researchers have attempted to explain these experiences as the result of psychological factors such as suggestibility or hallucination. Others suggest that they could be caused by electromagnetic fields, infrasound, or other environmental factors.

Another area of research into the paranormal is the study of psychic abilities. Some people claim to have extrasensory perception (ESP) or the ability to communicate with the dead. While there is little scientific evidence to support these claims, some researchers have attempted to study them. One study, for example, looked at the abilities of self-proclaimed psychics to accurately predict the outcome of a coin toss. The results were no better than chance, suggesting that these individuals do not have any special abilities beyond what would be expected by random chance.

In recent years, there has been increasing interest in the study of near-death experiences (NDEs) and out-of-body experiences (OBEs). These are experiences that some people report having when they are on the brink of death or have had a traumatic experience. NDEs are often described as feeling like an out-of-body experience, where the individual feels as though they are floating above their body and can see what is happening around them. Some people report encountering deceased loved ones or a bright light during these experiences. While some researchers have attempted to explain these experiences as the result of physiological processes in the brain, others believe that they could be evidence of an afterlife.

One theory that has been put forward to explain ghost sightings and hauntings is the “stone tape theory.” This theory suggests that certain materials can absorb and store energy from past events, such as emotional energy from traumatic experiences. This energy can then be released under certain conditions, causing people to experience ghostly apparitions or other paranormal phenomena. While there is little scientific evidence to support this theory, it remains a popular explanation for ghost sightings.

Another theory that has been put forward to explain paranormal phenomena is the idea of parallel universes or alternate dimensions. This theory suggests that there could be other realities that exist alongside our own, and that some paranormal phenomena could be the result of interactions between these realities. While this theory is still largely speculative, some physicists have suggested that it could be possible based on our current understanding of the laws of physics.

Despite the lack of concrete scientific evidence to support the existence of ghosts and the paranormal, many people continue to believe in these phenomena. The reasons for this belief are varied and complex, and may be influenced by cultural, religious, or personal factors. Some people may simply find the idea of ghosts and the paranormal to be intriguing or entertaining, while others may have had personal experiences that they cannot explain through traditional scientific means.

In conclusion, the science behind ghosts and the paranormal remains largely unexplained. While there have been attempts to study these phenomena, there is still little scientific evidence to support their existence. However, the continued interest in these continue to push people into finding answers for themselves.

My Domestic Abuse Story

It has been almost 4 years since I was told by my doctor that I was a victim of Domestic Abuse, but I hate the term ‘victim’. It gets used too much these days for the smallest of things and just loses its meaning.

I suffered domestic abuse most of my marriage until around 9 years ago, and it was only when I met a new doctor to increase my dosage of anti-depressants, when she asked about my past. I explained my past and she was shocked.

When it was explained to me, I did what many people say – “I thought Domestic Violence is only for women?”. It is not, but sadly the vast majority of support exclusive to women. With my permission, she passed my details on to a project that was being run by Women’s Aid, a domestic abuse organisation for women. They had a small project for men, and luckily there was a group that I could join.

This was in the early days of Covid-19, and the fortnightly meetings were held over Microsoft Teams.

I have always found it difficult to discuss my feelings, as part of some CBT (Cerebral Behaviour Therapy) counselling, I described part of myself being behind a brick wall infinitely wide and infinitely tall, and could not get past that, so that ended. However, with this group, the councillor explained foremost the stigma men have with domestic abuse – the embarrassment and shame of being in that position at the hands of their partner. It takes a lot for a male to explain and admit that they are suffering, when they believe the expectation is just to “be a man”. Words are far easier than actions.

There are so many events I look back to in my history and wonder why I didn’t do anything at the time, but this is one of the main factors of domestic abuse – always being made to feel that you’re useless, that you’re a terrible father, how every little thing is a burden, and to an extent, at the time, I just believed that I deserved it, and that I should be lucky I am still in the family. For starters, over the time I was married, I have been stabbed, bitten, threatened with adultery, hit with cookware (once a cast iron skillet into my shoulder), punched in the head whist driving, and on one occasion was pinned on the floor, with my then-wife attempting to insert a pencil into my eye. Besides using every ounce of my strength against her, the two things I remember seeing was the absolute animalistic look in her eyes, and the colour of the pencil. It was yellow and black striped, and freshly sharpened.

Others on the course experienced abuse to varying degrees – from gaslighting to assault, and as we all shared our experiences, we all understood that we have all gone through similar pasts, but the fact we were all talking together in a safe and confidential environment meant that we could start to put a name to it.

I explained that during my marriage I had developed a drinking problem and had tried nearly every anti-depressant that the NHS prescribed. My monthly assessments would both max out as a depressed person (PHQ-9) as well as someone who suffered from anxiety (GAD-7), but I was just told ‘exercise more’, ‘drink less alcohol’ then sent on my way.

The councillor explained the cycle that the abuser takes – the relationship in the cycle starts off positive, then slowly starts to turn – the affectionate slap starts to sting, little comments here and there have a bit more bite – challenging these would get a retort of “You’re being paranoid” or “oh don’t be silly”, until it comes to a head, when violence can erupt. However, with the gaslighting, and the rejections of your concerns, you end up in a state where you doubt yourself so much that you believe that you are in the wrong, and that the only way out of this cycle is to submit, admit you are in the wrong and beg for forgiveness. The abuser is the one in control and has the power.

I spent many years being told that something was wrong with me, and that I was not normal to the point that I believed it, and it was getting me down – so the negativity I was getting from her, and the self-reflected negativity was really bad. This self-depreciation and low self-esteem meant I relied on her more, I was giving more attention to her, and it was cyclical, forever getting worse, as each time the abuse cycle went round, the knot got a little bit tighter.

Both the councillor and my doctor explained that my ex-wife had a narcissistic personality disorder – selfishness, with a sense of entitlement and a need for admiration, someone to be the centre of attention, and a belief they are special and unique. They have a way of easily winning over new people, but can easily discard people, and turn others against those people to alienate them, and that really it was not my fault, and that all the guilt and pain I had been feeling for many years was unjust.

When we separated, the last string holding me together snapped. I moved into some shared accommodation, and into a room that made Harry Potter’s bedroom under the stairs look roomy. I stopped eating. I was losing on average a stone a week. I started hallucinating and came perilously close to killing myself. I got to the point where I had planned everything out and got everything, I needed apart from one thing. My doctor had given me a phone number to call if I were to ‘do anything’ – this would have had me picked up and locked up in a psychological hospital, I didn’t go that route because, as stupid as it sounds, I was unsure whether that would have counted as sick leave. I do remember though standing in the middle of the room, hunched over due to the angle of the ceiling, thinking, watching the walls rippling, and I imagined being a deep see diver, at the very edge of a trench, looking down into a darkness that was darker than dark. It felt like forever, just looking, then, just like storm clouds, it passed. My drinking got worse, but those suicidal feelings passed, and I promptly moved out and into a place of my own.

At this time, my line manager was not at all supportive – “Your problems are not problems for the company, so you should not let it affect your work” was the support I got. However, ironically, when he went through his own separation, he’d be stomping through the office shouting at his ex wife down the phone in front of everyone. That became a work problem instead.

When I explained this to the group, there was a painful silence, broken by a very quiet ‘wow’ – nobody else had come anywhere close to that.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing, and I am a firm believer in what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. I have taken solace from the fact that as painful as it has been for a few years of my life, I have come out of the other side of it. I have won. I have lost so much, but in the end I have still won. Without the constant negativity, threat of violence, and the ability to do and believe what I want, my relationship has improved leaps and bounds with my children, I bought my first house on my own, and I am starting to feel a sense of peace inside of me. People have noticed I am completely different, and I am becoming the real me. I very rarely drink alcohol, I exercise, and I am starting to enjoy life more. There are still scars – the thought of being in a relationship does scare me, and on occasions dip my toe in, but hastily retreat.

The last time my ex-wife tried to control me (even after we divorced), I decided to stand my ground. I noted all her complaints and accusations and responded in a formal two page letter after seeking advice where needed. When she read the letter, she asked me ‘Why did you do this?’ – the once great monster was reduced to what she really was. A small, insecure person. I explained “You had concerns, and instead of arguing about it, I contacted a few government agencies to check to make sure what I am saying is true, and that all your accusations are completely baseless”. I just got an “oh”. That was it. I had not just won the fight, but won the war.

This is my story. I have spoken to many people now, the group I speak to every week, and also people who have contacted me directly, both men and women to tell me their story, and how they too have won, escaping a relationship that has emotionally imprisoned them, but also the people who have been inspired by my story that they need help, they realise that they are in an abusive relationship and need help to take the first major step in escaping.

Is your workplace safe for your mental health?

Everyone suffers stress at one time or another at work, and for the most part, people can cope with that well. However, there are traits within the workplace that can have a detrimental effect. These are:

Bullying and Harassment

This is a no brainer. If someone is bullied in the workplace then this will take it’s toll on their mental health. Bullying can take many forms, but commonly this can be psychological harassment.

Poor Management Practices

This one may seem vague, but this covers many issues, such as:

  • A failure of management to explain the expected roles and responsibilities of an individual
  • Failing to provide sufficient resources for a role or workload
  • Failing to manage staff effectively
  • Poor communication leading to a feeling of being unsupported and a lack of guidance on day-to-day tasks
  • Unclear reporting lines
  • Failing to acknowledge concerns raised
  • Limited to no participation in decision making, with limited control over their work
  • Inflexible working hours, leading to a bad work/life balance
  • Badly defined or unclear objectives leading to people being unsure on what they should be doing
  • Giving people tasks which are unsuitable for their skills, or insufficient support, training, or knowledge with tasks which may lead to tasks not being completed
  • Unrelenting workloads which mean that jobs are rushed to completion or not completed with due diligence
  • Unfair distribution of group work leading to others compensating for an individual’s lack of progress
  • Health and safety policies which are missing or do not cover stress and other health and safety issues in the workplace are not identified and managed properly

Configure Lightburn for Neje Master 2S Plus

I have a Neje Master 2S Plus laser engraver, and I use Linux, so I have got myself a license of Lightburn, and proceeded to set the device up. Note: The majority of the instructions also work for Windows too. As for a Mac? I really don’t care.

First important thing is to install the GRBL firmware on the device – for this download and follow the instructions here (Neje Wiki)

Next, download the following two files:

When starting Lightburn, if you get the Devices box popup, click Import and import the Neje Master 2S Plus.lbdev file. If you don’t, click the Devices button near the bottom right of Lightburn and click Import

Once this is done, to improve performance, Select the Edit menu, and select Machine Settings. On the new window, click Load and select the Neje Master 2S Plus Device Settings.lbset and then click Write.

This will configure the Neje Master 2S Plus for use with Lightburn!

If using Linux, then make sure the user is allowed to use serial – depending on the distro, you will need to make your user a member of either dialout or uucp – you can do this simply enough with the following command: sudo usermod -a -G [groupname] [username]