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Free to fly in the face of convention

When I switched from writing about sports to the news side of the paper a little more than a year ago, never did I imagine I would type a sentence containing the words Obama and clone.

But there I was Friday night, at a paranormal conference, listening to the opening speaker's theories on all things Obama -- and everything else.

When somebody is talking about clones, UFOs and mind control, you know you have struck journalistic gold.

President Obama being a clone of an Egyptian pharaoh? Even the birthers have got to think that's a little extreme. Not even Les Knoll would hitch a ride to that theory, would he?

Friday night was entertaining, and each person was entitled to believe -- or disbelieve -- the speaker, Freeman Fly. By the way, love your name, Freeman. You expect a conspiracy theorist to have a name like John Smith? Course not.

Perhaps lost in all the sexy talk about asteroids and aliens was the serious business of the paranormal for conference organizers Terry and Sherri Rowe of Stockton.

A former pastor, Terry Rowe eventually left the pulpit after people kept coming to him and his wife to tell them stories of their houses being haunted. They don't teach you that in the seminary, he said.

The Rowes felt compelled to try to find answers.

"I felt like I need to go further, and help people more," Terry Rowe said.

The Rowes, who have been involved in the paranormal full-time for the last 16 years, have their own website, where they sell paranormal investigation tools. They founded the Kansas Paranormal Alliance.

For me, I couldn't help but remember Friday night of some "weird stuff" that happened to me.

Not that I believe President Obama is cloned -- if I were to clone anybody, it would be George Brett -- but something that can't be explained happened while I was in the process of moving a few years ago.

I had the radio plugged in, but not turned on, in the bathroom while I was using the vacuum cleaner in the living room. I shut off the vacuum cleaner, and, seconds later, I heard music in the bathroom. I went to check, and the radio was on.

I still haven't figured that one out. Sounds like something you would see on one of those shows like "Ghost Hunters" or "Ghost Adventures."

Terry Rowe said such shows have popularized the paranormal, which isn't necessarily a good thing.

Amateurs who don't know what they're getting themselves into are putting themselves at risk.

"They've made pop culture of these types of investigations," he said. "It's very dangerous, and they're asking these things to touch them."

Even Freeman Fly doesn't believe in every conspiracy theory. Fly said even he doesn't believe the one about President Obama visiting Mars.

Everybody -- even Freeman Fly -- has to draw the line somewhere.

Randy Gonzales is a reporter for The Hays Daily News. rgonzales@dailynews.net