When I was in Olympia, Washington doing a book signing and exploring an alleged haunting at The Evergreen State College, I had a strange event happen with my phone. It got hacked. Now I know you are saying, what’s so strange about that? Well, according to the phone company, my primitive flip phone shouldn’t have been hacked. The guy at tech support said that while Smart phones get hacked all the time, flip phones rarely do.

He said someone must have really wanted my information and then he half jokingly said you could have a ghost in the machine. I laughed because he knew who I was and I said yea I’ll get back to you on that.

Meanwhile, I was being teased for having such a primitive phone by my friends. They think I should get with the times and get a Smart phone.

I laugh uncomfortably and say – I am fine with the phone I have.

I guess that while I love new technology, I have had a lot of bad luck with it – I have friends who say that when I touch computers, they always break down. I tell them at work, I have no problem with my computer.

I have talked with people who say that whenever they touch an electronic object, it malfunctions. Others can pull a slot machine and have it hit jackpots time after time. There are people who claim they can’t touch a pinball machine without it tilting or malfunctioning while others say when they use a soda machine, they often get two cans of soda.

There are also people who claim that when they walk down the street at night street lamps turn off for some odd reason.

That has happened to me many times and it always gives me the creeps.

When it comes to new technology, I have always been the one who holds out to the bitter end before I buy it. Maybe it is because I have been burned so many times by allegedly new technologies that usually end up becoming obsolete. For example, does anyone remember the video disc? I was told that these were the next big thing and thought it would be cool to have my own video disc player. So I spent a lot of saved money on having one of those radio shack models and I was one of the first on my block to have one.

Eventually, it became a nuisance because the discs of new movies were hard to find and when you did find them they were very expensive. The technology eventually faded away as people were buying home VCR’s because you couldn’t record on a video disc.

I eventually gave the machine to Goodwill. I sometimes wonder if someone else was duped and thought it was cool tech and so they bought it marked down to about 15 bucks.

Likely, it was thrown out and forgotten in the technological failures in history. Another silly move is that when I moved to Portland, I was urged to record all of my shows on what was called a Digital Audio Tape machine. Maybe you remember that DAT players were machines that played what appeared to be mini video tapes that could record up to 3 to 5 hours of material.

Well, I recorded a lot of my shows on Digital Audio Tape thinking that I could save them and have volumes of Ground Zero shows that could be reviewed and played later. I was told that this technology would be great for storing recordings. The DAT players virtually disappeared in 2005 and with the ability to record MP3 digital on the computer no one wanted to sit down and convert hundreds of shows into another format and even though a friend of mine bought a DAT player for me so I could extract them. I was too busy to sit through 5 hours of tape time and gave up.

I was told that DAT players are used for audio in radio and film to this day. However, I haven’t seen one in any studio since 2003.

It was unfortunate because I recall a show that I did where the radio station I worked at was literally shut down by the spirit of an entity that we referred to as the Djinn.

It was during a phone interview with a man named Tommy Johnson, who was paid $50,000 dollars for a couple of jars he said had Djinns trapped in them. He claimed the Djinns were created by some Hillbilly witch and that when a third jar he had broke, a black shadowy figure appeared and has been harassing him ever since.

While talking with Tommy, I was beginning to understand that something frightening had happened to him and he was thinking about not speaking to any journalist. The whole affair had basically taken its toll on his family situation and he felt he needed time off from his job as a janitor at a local elementary school.

He said this entity had put a lot of people in danger. As he was talking to me, I could hear in the back ground his Great Dane barking loudly. I asked him if something was wrong and while on the air he dropped the phone and began yelling out. He then was yelling stop! STOP! Each time his yelling got louder and sterner. He then said he could not continue this conversation because the entity was right in front of him. I told him not to hang up and begged him to try and get the entity to make a noise.

I heard a hum on the other end and what sounded like an electronic whine in the phone – he then told me the entity turned into a mist and as he pushed the phone towards the entity, it disintegrated into the phone’s receiver.

He then said he had to go and ended the call abruptly.

He no sooner hung up the phone, and the radio station went off the air, when the transmitter kicked back on – we decided to play back the call on the air.

When we did the tape player malfunctioned and the plug in the socket sparked – we actually were thinking that we were experiencing a real ghost in the machine scenario and so we opened up the phone lines to discuss what just happened.

The show was played on the weekend as a best of show – and again the tape player malfunctioned. It was completely useless.

I guess you could say that I have been a victim of the proverbial ghost in the machine many times before and I am sure many people have problems with technology to the point of feeling that something is haunting or trying to control their computers or cell phones.

The idea of cursed phones and computers is certainly not new and skeptics say there are logical explanations for malfunctions or even ghostly calls where strange phone numbers show up on caller ID and the callers sound like demons in hell.

Back in 2007, many people probably don’t know of the “cursed phone number scare.” It only lasted for a little while because phone companies, worried they would lose sales said it was a hoax.

It began with eerie e-mails that began circulating on the Internet. The so-called “red number,” “cursed phone number,” or “death call” mails began making the rounds, and typically contained warnings not to pick up calls from certain numbers, which would appear on the screen in red.

These numbers were usually a series of 7 zeros – or 7 sixes or 8’s.

The e-mails said that if you answered these calls, something terrible would happen. It was reported that people who answered these calls would hear strange voices or mysterious high frequency signals which would lead to a loud burst that could cause brain hemorrhaging and instant death, and that dozens of people had already been killed by answering to these sinister numbers.

The weird mails caused widespread panic in places like many European countries and in the Middle East; where there were soon numerous people talking about others they knew who had succumbed to the deadly calls.

Before long, the rumors had transformed and evolved to include not only claims of instant death, but also the even more absurd notion that the numbers could induce impotence or pregnancies. During this hysteria, numerous theories were being thrown around including an organized government plot or Luddite terrorists.

This story inspired movies like “The Ring” where a phone call kills you seven days later, and “One Missed Call “ where a person hears a lullaby ring on their cell phone, answers the call and hears their final moments three days before they die.

While this all sounds peculiar maybe outrageous – there have been many stories in the news about strange electronic voices behind left on answering machines and claims of phone calls from dead loved ones.

There is the true story of Charles Peck, a man who died in a train crash back in 2008.

Chuck Peck was among the 25 dead in the Los Angeles Metrolink crash on the 12th of September 2008. His family, knowing that Chuck was on the train that faithful evening, kept getting calls from his cell phone. No voice was on the other side of the line, no audible voices. All they could hear was static on the other side of the line.

Throughout the night, Chuck’s sons, brother, stepmother, sister and fiancée all got the phone calls after the crash had been reported. Chuck’s son believed his dad was alive and trying to contact them. Chuck’s son CJ kept yelling into the phone: “We love you, Hang in there. They are coming to get you.”

It was not until 3:28 am that the phone calls stopped. None of the family members got any more phone calls. One hour later, Los Angeles firefighters recovered the remains of Chuck Peck. Coroner’s officials told Peck’s family members that he was killed instantly. His body showed no sign that he lived even for a short time after the crash.

For years, the “phone calls from the dead” phenomenon has been a thing of urban legends. Paranormal cases that involve ghostly phone calls are just reports, never official recordings or actual proof that they were indeed made from the departed. One thing is for certain – the calls were made to loved ones and the calls were made all night up until the discovery of the body.

Coroners say there is no way the body could have lived even for a short time after the crash. Peck’s phone was never found.

During an evangelical broadcast featuring Reverend Tom Tillman and his wife Debbie, a young man named Michael called and asked if they would pray for him. Michael felt that he was having a crisis in faith and told the radio hosts that he needed to find Jesus after dabbling in Hinduism. During the broadcast there was a strange voice on the line that Tom and his wife heard.

It seemed that Michael did not and seemed a bit confused the Reverend and his wife asked if he was alone in the house.

The Reverend asked in Jesus name who the demon was. It just seemed to mutter a few garbled words and the word “hell” could be heard. There was no explanation as to what was heard on the call.

Reverend Tillman said that off the air the demon said it was Shiva and then said it was lying and that it was a legion of demons surrounding Michael in his home.

Not much was said after that and the call remained a mystery.

Recently, the Washington Post reported that Atlanta, Georgia residents Christina Lee and Michael Saba are reporting that several strangers come to their home accusing them of having stolen their phones. Strangely, the phones are never there.

Sometimes, families will show up; other times, it’s groups of friends or a random person accompanied by a police officer.

Despite using different service providers, everyone who bangs on their door has been led to their home by a phone-tracking app.

The problem, as the couple desperately tries to explain to visitors is that the missing phones aren’t at the house and never have been.

The pair doesn’t understand why exactly, but both Android and iPhone users on various networks are being directed to their house by phone-tracking apps.

Once the awkward situation is explained, most lost-phone-seekers understand. But there are some who place absolute faith in their tracking technology and ate convinced that the couple is lying, provoking potentially volatile conflicts.

In June, the police came looking for a teenage girl whose parents reported her missing. The police made Lee and Saba sit outside for more than an hour while the police decided whether they should get a warrant to search the house for the girl’s phone, and presumably, the girl. When Saba asked if he could go back inside to use the bathroom, the police wouldn’t let him.

They told him that it was a crime scene and that no one would be allowed inside.

They were also being called persons of interest in the case.

No one knows why this is happening.

While complicated theories are flying about why the couple are being victimized, there are many people who can’t explain why they are getting calls on their phones that they say sound like alien or demonic messages.

The phone company claims that these calls are the cause of packet loss or auto dialer malfunctions.

However, most people that have received the calls say that there are real voices that don’t sound human trying to communicate with them.

It is interesting to note the cell call that is an alleged alien signal or ghost voice seems to be the 21st century’s answer to the abduction phenomena. Many people are receiving these calls and are traumatized by them. There are others however who conclude that they are just interference and hang up or erase a message in the voice mail if one just happens to be left.

Even though this anomaly happens all the time, there are only a handful of people stepping forward to admit that they have been receiving calls.

Cases like these underline the fact that the technology we use every day somehow can either turn against us or be used as a tool for opening up a communication with something supernatural or paranormal.

A long time ago, there were artifacts that were said to be cursed. There were amulets and jewelry, and sometimes certain people are marked for curses. If we believe in such things, then perhaps a ghost in the machine can be a reality and that cell phones, phone numbers or even computers can be cursed or even hijacked by a malevolent force.

It seems that as we move forward and our technology evolves, changes and progresses, we may stumble on to an ethereal frequency that gives us messages from elsewhere, and for some, it may not be good news – it may be a your disconnect notice.