Saturday, October 31, 2015

Halloween Party (and Rob's New Superhero Outfit)

Haunted Mansion Hostess and Robin
Yesterday at the office,Rob's office had an annual Halloween party, which included a costume contest and a food contest. This year, I (Rob) baked cupcakes and attended as a different superhero.

Our friend Lynn Jenner and my co-worker loves Halloween as much as I do (Tom doesn't like it), so she arranged the party.

CUPCAKES-- I would like to think I did our friend Jason Hisley (pastry chef extraordinnaire /bakery owner of La Cakerie in Baltimore) proud, because although I used Pilsbury Halloween cake mix, I decorated the cupcakes with all kinds of themed stuff and candy corn. I won third prize for them! :) 

Robin and Batman
Rob and Batman
ROB'S NEW "ROBIN" COSTUME - One of my favorite superheroes has always been Robin the teen wonder (Batman's sidekick). Robin's costume has changed a lot since he debuted in 1941 and now wears boots, long pants, and a black cape. The yellow cape, short pants and little booties went away because they were impractical).  So, I put the costume together using various components of other costumes I had (Green boots from my Green Lantern costume and a black cape from a Dracula costume). My costume also won first prize, too!  How fun!
Lynn as the Haunted Mansion Hostess

Before the party, I was walking around my building and in the lobby was another NASA employee dressed as Batman, so we HAD to get a picture together!

Karl the pirate and Robin
Just like animals: L to R: the Owl, Bunny suit, Bear, Fox
HAUNTED MANSION GREETER - Lynn J. loves Disney so she came as the greeter  to the Haunted Mansion! She had the entire outfit down to the name tags! 

Robin and Katniss Everdeen
Robin and Cynthia the Riddler
Kasha the Satellite being fixed by engineer bunny
Ryan the Owl and Robin
Robin and Laura as Indy
Aries as the Martian Potato Sack and Robin
OTHER GREAT COSTUMES - Laura and Rob both came as Indiana Jones, Ryan came as an owl, Jefferson came in a NASA clean room suit with rabbit ears, because they're called "bunny suits," Pat as a fox, Ashley came as Katniss Everdeen from "The Hunger Games" novel/movie, Amy came as an expectant mom (because she is), Leslee as a nanny, Stephanie as a
Robin the teen wonder
teddy bear, Karl as a pirate, Michelle as a 50s Sock hop girl, Kasha as a satellite, Cynthia as the Riddler, and Aries as the last sack of potatoes that astronaut Mark Watley had when he landed on Mars in the movie "The Martian." 

Friday, October 30, 2015

A Halloween Ghostly Podcast of Stories: Ghostpod U.K. (and a story from Rob)

Recently I submitted a story of my encounter with a young boy's spirit to Ghostpod U.K. who used it in a brand new Podcast of Ghost and Spirit Stories just in time for Halloween. So while you're driving, making a brew or handing out Halloween candy LISTEN HERE:

Stories on this Podcast
  1. Radio Gaga - Denise, Bedfordshire, UK
  2. Haunted Parking Lot - John, Phillipines
  3. Mysteries of Creek Road - Tom, New York City
  4. Marshmallow Mike - Tony, Indiana
  5. Lady of the Lake - Ian, Quebec
  6. The Medium's Message - Rob Gutro, USA
  7. The Chair - Roger, Plymouth, UK   
To visit the GHOSTPOD U.K. Website for more podcasts:

We are a group of friends who just love real ghost stories, so we have created a place where we can all share our experiences. If you like nothing more than to hear about peoples' real ghostly and paranormal encounters, then this is the podcast for you.
To answer all ghost questions!
All stories are welcomed in the spirit of open mindedness, without judgement or religious bias.  We just like to hear the stories as they happened from the viewpoint of those who experienced them.
We hope that you will enjoy our podcasts and be inspired to send us your own stories, or those you know.  Regards, all at

QUESTIONS ABOUT GHOSTS AND SPIRITS? Check out my book "Lessons Learned from Talking to the Dead." I wrote the book to answer all questions about ghosts and spirits and how they communicate with the living. It's filled with personal stories that offer proof.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Joke of the week: Flight Fright

Here's a classic joke, thanks to our friend Merle in Canada! - Keep it in mind the next time you fly somewhere.

Shortly after a British Airways flight had reached its cruising
altitude, the captain announced:

"Ladies and Gentlemen, this is your captain.  Welcome to Flight 293,
non-stop from London Heathrow to New York. The weather ahead is good,
so we should have a uneventful flight.

So, sit back, relax, and...  OH...MY GOD!"

Silence followed.......................

Some moments later, the captain came back on the intercom.

"Ladies and Gentlemen, I'm sorry if I scared you. While I was talking
to you, a flight attendant accidentally spilled coffee in my lap. You
should see the front of my pants!"

From the back of the plane, an Irish passenger yelled “For the luvva
gawd you should see the back of mine!"

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Photos from the Hyattsville Library Ghost Talk

Margaret and Rob at the podium
Last week The Inspired Ghost Tracking team that I belong to was invited to give a
talk at the Hyattsville, Maryland Library so we gave our Intro to Paranormal Investigations. 
    There were some good questions about ghosts, spirits, how they work, and how to detect them. The audience was very young though- mostly teenagers. At least it's good to know that teens want to learn about what happens after people pass and learn the proper ways to investigate. 
Rob talking about the difference between ghosts and spirits
GOOD ADVICE - We cautioned them never to provoke a ghost- After all, you wouldn't be insulting a living person standing right in front of you, so why would you be mean to someone you CAN'T See?!?
View from the center aisle- Dana and Ronda did the AV support


Ghost Tracking is a Maryland based paranormal group that is called on to do public and private paranoramal investigations. 

QUESTIONS ABOUT THE PARANORMAL?  Check out Rob Gutro's book "Lessons Learned from Talking to the Dead" available in paperback and E-book on  It's written to answer almost any question you may have about the paranormal!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Fun at Barb Mallon's Halloween Event

Rob, Barb, Jonathan
   On Saturday, October 24, I (Rob) had a  fun time at Medium Barb Mallon's Halloween event -while Tom had an amazing time in with Medium Ruthie Larkin in Massachusetts. 
  I got to MC and introduce Palmist Peggy Arvidson, Tarot reader Tim Boyd, and of course Medium Barb Mallon. 
   Our friend Jonathan Oliver was there, too, and he's doing animal communications -so if you want contact info for any of these amazing folks, let me know. 
full house!
Peggy Arvidson, Palmist
   I went dressed in my Inspired Ghost Tracking Paranormal investigator Tee-shirt and talked about IGT investigations. It was lots of fun - and people came in some cool costumes! 

Tim Boyd, Tarot master
For medium Barb Mallon's website, visit: 
Barb Mallon, Medium   She is a evidential medium who brings through identifying pieces of information from a spirit person first, and then any messages they may have.

Rob Gutro, Paranormal Investigator
For Tarot Master, Tim Boyd, visit:  
Witch and Scarecrow
Tim is a Certified Tarot Consultant, certified by the Tarot Certification Board of America. He provides intuitive Tarot Readings utilizing his given psychic abilities and the Tarot.
Rob and Jonathan Oliver, Animal Commuicator

Scarecrow, Barb Mallon, Witch
 For Pragmatic Palmist Peggy Arvidson, visit:   Peggy says" I take an esoteric practice like palmistry and  move far from fortune-telling into life altering,practical planning so you can make the money you want to support the life and people you love. Helping you love life every day is the key!  

I take an esoteric practice like palmistry and  move far from fortune-telling into life altering,practical planning so you can make the money you want to support the life and people you love. Helping you love life every day is the key! - See more at:
I take an esoteric practice like palmistry and  move far from fortune-telling into life altering,practical planning so you can make the money you want to support the life and people you love. Helping you love life every day is the key! - See more at:
Back row- and Rob in his Superman jacket

Monday, October 26, 2015

Linthicum: Woman's Club to host 'Inspired' ghost trackers Tonight at 7pm

Tonight- another talk about Ghosts during Halloween month!  This one is in Linthicum, Maryland, near the Baltimore-Washington International Airport.  The Woman's Club to host 'Inspired' ghost trackers Tonight at 7pm - and we'll be there for this one (as co-presenters!).!

Linthicum: Woman's Club to host 'Inspired' ghost trackers

Phil Turner
Ghost trackers to speak at Linthicum Women's Club
For most, Halloween is a fun, annual tradition, but for long-time ghost and spirit tracker Margaret Ehrlich, the themes of this holiday are a consistent, year-round state of mind.
"Halloween brings out the ghostly in everybody, but for us, it's all the time," said Ehrlich, the founder of Inspired Ghost Tracking, a paranormal research and investigative team that serves clients in Maryland and surrounding areas.
"Many women will get ghost stickers and wear them on their finger nails, but only around Halloween time," said Ehrlich. "But I wear them all the time and no one thinks anything of it because they know that this is what I do."
Ehrlich and members of the Inspired Ghost Tracking team will lead a lecture open to the public at the GFWC Woman's Club of Linthicum Heights clubhouse, 110 N. Hammond's Ferry Road on Monday at 7 p.m.
Ehrlich's talk Monday evening will cover topics such as the difference between a spirit and a ghost and introduce her team's investigative methods and the solutions it provides when people call upon their services, which are free of charge.
Anita Dragan, chairman of the evening group, said she is excited to learn more about the paranormal.
"Everyone seems to know someone who has a ghost in their house," said Dragan. "I am excited – I have no idea what to expect."
Midge Knell, membership chairman for the club, said a ghost tracking team spoke to the group back in 2005 and that she thought it was a good time – 10 years later – to revisit the topic.
"It just fascinates me," said Knell of why she set this up as the group's monthly evening meet. "I just want to hear some of their stories and see what they've been involved in."
"I lived in what I thought, and my family thought, was a haunted house," said Ehrlich of her family home in Riverdale in Prince George's County. "It always intrigued me, and it always scared me."
"We had all kinds of things happen," said Ehrlich of why the family felt its house was haunted. "Our chairs would move around at night, we had an attic that would open up at night and close up in the morning. There were cold spots and you often smelled a fire burning when there was no fire burning."
Inspired Ghost Tracking - 2013 photo
Ehrlich, who described herself as a "spiritualist," said some people are afraid to ask for help with the paranormal because they either feel it is a taboo religious subject or just plain hogwash.
"A lot of people don't believe in this stuff because they were taught not to believe in it, but you get a whole lot of people who are intrigued by it and are just afraid to tell people," Ehrlich said.
"We attempt to remove what is going on in their home," said Ehrlich of what she and her team do for people who feel they have either a ghost or spirit in their house.
Regardless of one's beliefs or thoughts on the afterlife or the paranormal, Ehrlich said her lecture is simply meant to inform people of the services her group offers.
"We are not going to mock you if you don't believe in it," said Ehrlich. "You are either open to the paranormal or you are not. This is what we do – this is what we believe in. Hopefully with what we show you or what we tell you might look at it a little bit differently."

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Short Video :El Nino is Too Big to Fail Warns NOAA/NASA Forecasters

Recently NASA's Earth Observatory (a group of Earth science writers) issued a story about the current El Nino based on NASA and NOAA data. It features quotes from Rob's friend Dr. Bill Patzert of NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab in California. Bill is a climatologist/oceanographer/El Nino-La Nina expert and more.  That story was made into a Short Video called :El Nino is Too Big to Fail Warns NOAA/NASA Forecasters.
 The video uses NASA and NOAA imagery, and was created by :ShantiUniverse

SUMMARY: El Niño is strengthening and is now 'too big to fail', forecasters have warned. The latest analyses from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and from NASA confirm that sea surface heights and temperatures, as well as wind patterns, show surface waters cooling off in the Western Pacific and warming significantly in the tropical Eastern Pacific


Saturday, October 24, 2015

Animal Athletes Around the World!

Wiener dog races!
Who knew that there were animal athletic challenges around the world? We didn't until we got last week's issue of TIME
magazine, who highlighted some challenges. Since you may not be aware of either, we're sharing them here!  Of course, our 4 year old black and tan dachshund Tyler says that he's an athlete, too, because he does agility courses!

Tyker ready to run!
WIENER RACES -  This is our personal favorite (and wasn't included in the article) because it's about dashing Dachshunds! Coast to Coast Dachshund Rescue (one of the rescues we work with, the other being DC Area Weimaraner Rescue) holds outdoor events and one of the things they have are "Weiner dog races." Our kids have never entered because Franklin would just stand around at the start begging for food, and Tyler would either go after another dog and bark at him/her or run to us.

DOG SURFING - Hawaii and California have had dog  surfing competitions since the 1920s. Apparently, points are given for the length of time on a surfboard, wave sized and "confidence" the dog shows.
Dog Surfing

PIG DIVING - Yup, this doesn't happen in the U.S. South, but in rural China! The Piggy Kingdom Amusement Park in Zhejiang province has pigs jump off a 39 foot platform. That's 6 feet higher than Olympic diving platforms.

Pig Diving
CAMEL RACES- The very first Camel Races are happening this year in December in Dubai, Saudi Arabia. It's actually a marathon that goes 31 miles and awards "luxury prizes" to winners.

SNAIL RACING?!? - Yes. Since the 1960s the World Snail Racing Championships in the English Village of Congham has held this race. Contestants have been said to come as far as Hong Kong. Of course, if they get there at a snail's pace, it'll take about 100 years from China to England. :) These races have happened since the 1960s and we're sure they must go on for weeks!


Friday, October 23, 2015

Making the Most out of a Very Disappointing Talk

Whenever I go to a public event to give a talk or a book festival or pet expo, there's always a chance that something won't work. So, you make the best of it. That's what happened this past Wednesday.

THE TALK- A Maryland Library worked with Margaret, Ronda and Dana of Inspired Ghost Tracking (of which Tom and I are members) to give a talk about one of most infamous (and violent) ghost investigation cases that I call  "A Double Murder Ghost Investigation."  The talk was scheduled a month in advance and the library even made a really nice on-line poster advertising it (and the talk was FREE). It was on Wednesday, October 21. 

Some of the IGT members
It took about 45 minutes to drive there (and about 30 minutes to get the books,banner, cards, equipment, etc. together). So just prep and travel time was 2 hours and we were there 2 hours. SO, for 4 hours spent away from family on a weeknight it was frustrating.  Fortunately, we had given the presentation before so I had the power point slides on a thumbdrive.

WHO SHOWED UP? About 14 people, and 10 of them were CHILDREN. Yes, Children. That being said, we the four of us (Tom stayed home with the dogs, fortunately), made a quick decision to show the presentation "How to be a Paranormal Investigator" instead.  (There was no violence, gore, or abuse in that presentation).

MY (ROB) ASSESSMENT OF THE NIGHT -  The Inspired Ghost Tracking Team  knows how to work together to make a bad situation better. Wednesday night was a huge disappointment audience and attendance-wise, but we made a good decision to change the presentation, and despite 2/3rds of the few attendees leaving before we finished, we kept our promise to the library. - I'm really disappointed that the library didn't advertise more, or take names to figure out possible attendance. Knowing numbers of people coming really would've helped reschedule the event to a time when more than 14 people (10 kids) could come.
The murder investigation is in my book "Lessons Learned from Talking to the Dead"

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Washington Post: Moderate Republicans are an endangered species

The following article appeared in the Washington Post on Oct 13 and we thought it interesting enough to share with everyone.

This astonishing chart shows how moderate Republicans are an endangered species

Political scientists have known for years that political polarization is largely a one-sided phenomenon: in recent decades the Republican Party has moved to the right much faster than Democrats have moved to the left. As Thomas Mann of the Brookings Institution has described it, "Republicans have become a radical insurgency—ideologically extreme, contemptuous of the inherited policy regime, scornful of compromise, unpersuaded by conventional understanding of facts, evidence, and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of their political opposition."

The data backing this claim up are pretty solid. The most widely-used measure of political polarization, a score of ideology based on voting developed by Kenneth Poole and Howard Rosenthal, has shown that the Republicans in the Senate and especially the House have drifted away from the center far more rapidly than Democrats. The chart below, taken from the most recent slice of their data released just last month, illustrate this pretty clearly:

Right around 1975, the Republican party sharply turned away from the center line and hasn't looked back. The Democrats have been drifting away from the center too, but nowhere near as quickly.

Every once in awhile an op-ed writer will come along and make a qualitative argument along the lines of "no, really, it's the Democrats who are polarizing!" Peter Wehner, a former official in three previous Republican presidential administrations, did just that in the pages of the New York Times last week. His argument amounts to the notion that since President Obama has pursued some policies that are more liberal than Bill Clinton's, "the Democratic Party has moved substantially further to the left than the Republican Party has shifted to the right."

Well, no -- just look at the chart above! Here's another way of looking at it: How many moderates are in each party? Here's another interesting chart from the Poole-Rosenthal data, showing the number of House members in each party who are not centrists -- that is, whose ideological scores put them on the more extreme ends of the partisan scale.

As you can see, in the most recent Congress nearly 90 percent of Republican House members are not politically moderate. By contrast, 90 percent of Democratic members are moderates. It's quite difficult to square a chart like this with a claim that Democrats are abandoning the center faster than Republicans. As the chart shows, there are plenty of centrist Democrats left in the House -- but hardly any centrist Republicans.

It's worth pointing out that none of this is happening in a vacuum -- House Republicans are become more extreme because Republican voters are electing more extreme candidates. We see many of these same patterns playing out among the electorate as well, as a massive Pew Research Study demonstrated last year.
Christopher Ingraham writes about politics, drug policy and all things data. He previously worked at the Brookings Institution and the Pew Research Center.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Our Funny Story: "Squirrel head!"

Over the summertime what Tom thinks is a really funny thing happened to me (Rob) and I call it "Squirrel head!"

The Story of "Squirrel Head"
The dogs' stuffed squirrel, with head intact

Our dogs, Dolly, Franklin and Tyler have a lot of stuffed toys. Some of them are stuffed animals that look like squirrels since they love chasing the real ones in the back yard. One evening, Tom and I went out and had dinner with friends and we put up a gate between the den and the kitchen, so the dogs didn't get up on the chairs to look out the window (especially because the Dachshunds could hurt their backs).

As we came in the house, I removed my glasses (which I wear for distance - as I can't see more than 3 feet in front of me without blurred vision). That was my first mistake! 

As I took down the gate, I stopped at the doorway to the kitchen and looked down and saw a rounded shape that looked like the head of the stuffed animal squirrel. Keep in mind there was a dim light in the kitchen, so it was dark. So, I picked it up. That was my second mistake! 

I immediately threw it back down on the kitchen floor when I realized that our Weimaraner Dolly, got so excited when we came home, she let out a little "Number 2" on the floor!! 

WELL, It LOOKED like the head of the stuffed squirrel!   

Ever since then, Tom loves to joke with me and say "Go pick up that squirrel head!"


Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Part 2: A Tour of the Bromo Seltzer Clock Tower!

Richard, Rob, Tom and Jim after the clock tower tour
Yesterday we told you about a visit we took to Baltimore's landmark Bromo Seltzer Tower and explained what Bromo Seltzer was. Today we'll take you up to the famous clock tower. There's a lot of cool things about this structure, so join us with our friends Jim and Richard as we take you on a tour of this landmark!  (For Superhero fans, it reminded me of the clock tower the Barbara Gordon, aka Batgirl had her apartment in). - Rob and Tom
Rob and Tom in the tower


A Tour of the Bromo Seltzer Clock Tower! 

Rob and Richard

WHAT IS THE BROMO-SELTZER TOWER? -  Emerson Tower often referenced as Emerson Bromo-Seltzer Tower is a 15-story, 88 meter (289 foot-high) skyscraper erected in 1911 at the corner of Eutaw and Lombard Streets in Baltimore, Maryland, designed by Joseph Evans Sperry for Bromo-Seltzer inventor "Captain" Isaac E. Emerson. It was the tallest building in Baltimore from 1911 until 1923.

The tower and former factory
Rob and Jim
MODELED AFTER AN ITALIAN TOWER - The design of the tower along with the original factory building at its base was inspired by the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, Italy, which was seen by Emerson during a tour of Europe in 1900. Systems engineering for the building's original design was completed by Henry Adams.

Inside the clock tower
WHAT HAPPENED TO THE ADJACENT BROMO-SELTZER FACTORY? - The factory was demolished in 1969 and replaced with a firehouse. Bromo Seltzer tower on Eutaw Street in 1912. The Bromo-Seltzer Tower remains one of Baltimore's most distinctive landmarks.

THE CLOCK IS REMARKABLE! - The building features four clock faces adorning the tower's 15th floor on the North, South, East and West sides. Installed by the Seth Thomas Clock Company at an original cost of $3,965 they are made of translucent white glass and feature the letters B-R-O-M-O S-E-L-T-Z-E-R, with the Roman numerals being less prominent.

HOW IS IT LIT UP? HOW DOES IT WORK? - The dials, which are illuminated at night with mercury-vapor lamps, are 24 feet (7.3 meters) in diameter, and the minute and hour hands approximately 12 and 10 feet (3.7 and 3.0 meters) in length respectively. Originally driven by weights, the moving parts are now electrically powered.

NEEDED TO GET "OFF THE BOTTLE"-  The tower originally had a 51 foot (16 meter) Bromo-Seltzer bottle, glowing blue and rotating. Weighing 20 tons (18.1 tonnes), it was lined with 314 incandescent light bulbs and topped with a crown on a clear night it could be seen from 20 miles away.The bottle was removed in 1936 because of structural concerns.

Inside the Clock Tower 15 stories up
TOWER ABANDONED AND RE-OPENED - The tower was virtually abandone
Richard and Rob
d in 2002, but in early 2007 the Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts began renovations to transform the building into 33 artists' studios. The Baltimore Fire Department's John F. Steadman Fire Station, which opened in 1973 and is situated at the tower's base, houses BCFD Hazmat 1, Airflex 1, Medic1, Medic 23, MAC23, Engine 23, Rescue 1, and formerly Truck 2.

The Emerson Bromo-Seltzer Tower was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973. It is included within the Baltimore National Heritage Area.

Gift/Memorial Suggestions

Several of our friends have lost loved ones (human and pets) and we found that one of the best ways to honor their memory is to give to an animal charity.
What better way to recognize a life of love, than by giving another life a chance for love?
We donate to many animal rescues, but because we volunteer with
DC Weimaraner Rescue and Coast-to-Coast Dachshund Rescue, those are our 2 favorites.
Consider giving the chance of life to a dog or cat.

About us

We're two married guys who enjoy the simple things in life, especially our dogs. We volunteer for dog rescues, enjoy splitting dinners, exercising, blogging, helping friends and neighbors, ghost investigations, coffee and tea, Tudor history, weather, superheroes, comic books, mystery novels, traveling, 70s and 80s music, classic country, piano, gardening, writing books on ghosts and spirits, architecture, keeping a clean house, cooking simply, and keeping in shape. You'll find tidbits of all of these things on this blog and more.

Tom and Rob Thinking Hard!

Tom and Rob Thinking Hard!
Wondering what home project to do next