Numbers Stations, part 2

On Wednesday we took a look at three of the more popular numbers stations. Since most of them are out on YouTube anyway and there are so many interesting ones, I figured it would be more fun to post more of them instead of doing a YouTube video this week. So, without further adieu, here are some lesser-known stations.

Cherry Ripe Station

This is another British station, apparently closely related to the Lincolnshire Poacher Station that I mentioned in part one. Instead of playing “Lincolnshire Poacher” between numbers, however, this one plays a tune called, obviously, “Cherry Ripe”. It appears to be based out of Australia or Guam.

Why do I imagine a grove full of satyrs dancing around with radio equipment?

Gong and Chimes Station
This German station plays an oddly ethereal tune that sounds like it would be more in place on a church broadcast than a shortwave spying station.

It could be sexy if you imagine her wearing a nurse’s outfit. Could be.

The Swedish Rhapsody Station
And the award for god-awful creepy goes to the Germans for this blight on mankind’s ears. The video only makes it worse, unfortunately. You’ll never look at ice cream trucks the same way.

It’s okay. You weren’t going to sleep anyway, right?

The Yosemite Sam Station
Here’s a short clip from a very odd American station that’s recently popped up. Just listen. Yes, this is actually a real transmission.

It’s been triangulated as being somewhere near Albuquerque. I’m not even joking.

And there are plenty more out there, from Cuba, China, and all sorts of other corners of the world. Check out the Conet Project if you’re really interested, because there are quite a lot. Hell, you could even build or buy a shortwave radio of your own and try looking for some.


Numbers Stations, part 1

When you need to get a message to someone these days, you’re not hurting for options. Between ten billion social networks, e-mail, instant message, text message, or getting real old-fashioned and just calling them, we’ve got it pretty easy. But how secure are those communications? Ostensibly, they’re secure enough for day-to-day use. Realistically, they’re not that secure at all, considering any and all of those things can be hacked and, if you read any sort of tech news, you’ll find that such a thing happens quite frequently.

So what can you do? Well, you can encrypt the message. But what if the recipient is a spy, deep undercover, and the very act of transmitting a message to that person could blow their cover, regardless of its content?

“Bond- Your last physical showed evidence of a sexually transmitted disease. Please contact all previous partners from the past 48 years.”

Well, that’s where governments have to get a bit clever. Did you ever try to talk in code when you were a kid? You could say whatever you wanted in front of everyone, and only you and your friends knew what you were talking about. That, essentially, is the idea behind numbers stations. They’re shortwave radio transmissions that transmit encrypted codes to spies. All you need to listen is a shortwave radio and the knowledge of the station’s frequency.

Of course, the problem is that anyone else can listen to them, too, including ham radio nerds. So, all throughout World War 2 and the Cold War (and from some that still operate today), people listened and recorded the odd broadcasts from these stations, and have since conveniently put them on the internet for everyone to enjoy.

Since there are a lot of these, and they’re all just YouTube videos of the recordings, I’ve decided to post several of them and split it up over two days. So it’s kind of like mashing up a Wednesday article with a Friday video post. Hooray!

Lincolnshire Poacher

This station seems to be a British station, and according to some amateur radio enthusiasts, appears to originate from a Royal Air Force base on the island of Cyprus. It’s named after the snippet of the folk song, “Lincolnshire Poacher”, that plays between numerically coded messages. This particular station is no longer on the air.

It could also be a crazy lady who gets a kick out of reading off financial reports and messing with a Casio keyboard.


This Russian station, known as “The Buzzer” because of its regular buzzing tone, going off approximately once a second, is famous among numbers station enthusiasts. Not because of what it normally plays, of course, which is kind of like someone blowing a kazoo in your ear in short bursts for fucking eternity. Its notoriety comes from the fact that it has played almost the exact same broadcast for nearly 30 years. Notice how I said “almost”. The Buzzer has actually had voice messages relayed on it a mere three times in 28 years, in 1997, 2002, and in 2006. The long gap between the voice transmissions has caused a lot of interest, in addition to the fact that conversations and background noise can occasionally be heard over the signal. The actual purposes of the station and its messages are still unknown. Recently, European hijackers have begun broadcasting over the station, causing some confusion over what is and isn’t a legitimate signal from UVB-76, meaning that several possible transmissions heard in 2010 are now questionable.

This video was oddly hilarious when YouTube had the vuvuzela button.

The Backwards Music Station

Very little is known about this mysterious station that broadcasts over several varying frequencies and has appeared to come from both England and the U.S. at different times. It doesn’t actually play backwards music, but some sort of odd, screeching, grinding, and banging sounds. No voice transmissions have ever been recorded, but it has been theorized that the station is actually some sort of very complex coded message.

I kinda feel like this is the sound will bring my machines to life and turn them against mankind.

Come back on Friday for part two!


The Winchester Mystery House

When I was a kid, there was this house around the corner from me. It was a two-story house, and fairly small. I didn’t know the people who lived there at all. I didn’t know one damn thing about them. One thing that stuck with me, though, was that, for some reason that I couldn’t grasp as a child, there was a door on the second story that just opened up into nothing. It was smack in the middle of the house. The closest thing I could imagine for an explanation? Obviously, it was to trick burglars, who’d see the door, attempt to run out, and severely injure themselves on the way down.

When I got older, though, I drove by one day and saw they’d put up a balcony. I guess it had always been meant to be there.

Or a clever burglar built it and left it behind like some really expensive calling card.

Because, really, who’d build a house with stuff like doors that lead into nothing to trick people? Who even has that kind of time and money? Apparently, Sarah Winchester had both, but lacked a little in the sense and sanity departments. She spent 38 years (and the modern equivalent of $71 million) building just such a house. And it wasn’t necessarily people she was intending to trick.

That’s 38 times longer than the Chocolate Rain dude’s entire music career.

There are plenty of rumors about why she began this massive project, but the most common story goes like this: After her husband, William Wirt Winchester, son of the creator of the Winchester Repeating Rifle, died in 1881, he left her a massive inheritance. (About $20.5 million and another $1,000 per day. That’s not adjusted for inflation.)

She fell into a deep depression, however, and reportedly consulted a psychic in Boston for guidance (though some variations on the tale say there was no psychic at all, but Sarah was instead guided by a prophetic dream.) Supposedly, Sarah Winchester was told that her father-in-law’s invention had taken many lives, and it would take many more. Eventually, the psychic warned her, the spirits of those people would seek vengeance against her. And so, Sarah Winchester decided that she would need to take drastic measures to deal with these spirits.

Building a time machine to go 100 years in the future and hire fictional characters might actually be a less elaborate scheme.

She decided she needed to build a house. And not just any house, but a house made of pure crazy. She would keep the vengeful spirits of those killed by Winchester rifles at bay by building stairs that lead nowhere, rooms that were mirror images of each other, windows opening onto blank walls, and, as previously noted, doors that opened into nothing. Winchester also had a particular obsession with the number thirteen. Many rooms had thirteen windows, some staircases had thirteen steps, and there were thirteen total bathrooms in the house.

A construction team worked on the house 24/7 for the entire 38 year construction period, which only ended upon Sarah Winchester’s death. She would reportedly hold a séance each night and ask the spirits what she should do next. Then, in a move that was either really clever or really fucking insane, she’d draw up new additions for the house that were the opposite of the spirits’ recommendations.

“Hold this up to a mirror, throw in a couple of fake doors, don’t wall the cat in, and I’ll see you tomorrow morning.”

Winchester’s desire to keep building even led to neglect for the already existing parts of the house. When the top three stories of a seven story section of the house collapsed in an earthquake, she opted not to rebuild that section, instead leaving it at four stories and continuing to expand outward. It’s claimed that, when the house needed to be re-painted or have new carpeting put in, it would take the workers so long that by the time they were finished, the paint or carpet would need to be replaced again at the spot where they had originally begun working.

When Sarah Winchester died, the house took up six acres and had 160 rooms with 2,000 doors, 10,000 windows, 47 sets of stairs, and 6 kitchens. Legend has it that carpenters left nails half-hammered when they heard Winchester was dead.

“From that day forward, I swore I would only take up a hammer out of anger.”

Shortly after Winchester’s death, the house was sold to a local investor, who opened it to the public as a tourist attraction. The noble practice of making money off of confused outsiders continues today, and the house has even gained a reputation for being haunted by the ghost of Sarah Winchester herself. Ironically, her ghost is supposedly unable to leave the house because it’s too complicated to navigate.

“Up ceased to be a direction and became more of a vague concept about 50 years ago.”

The Winchester Mystery House


Sedlec Ossuary

Catholics are weird. My family’s Catholic from way, way back. They all know it’s weird, but they stick with it because it’s a family/traditional thing. (My great-grandma had sixteen kids, if that tells you anything. No multiple births. That’s right, grimace in pain, ladies.) I mean, when you’re dealing with a 2,000 year old church that doesn’t like to contradict itself, even on stuff from centuries ago, you’re gonna get some strange shit in there.

You know, stuff like this.

But, as with any religious group, there are some people who take it to a whole new level of madness. For example, in the Czech Republic, about 45 miles east of Prague, there’s a nice little Baroque cathedral, the kind the Czech Republic is famous for, in a town called Sedlec. It’s called Hřbitovní kostel Všech Svatých,or Cemetery Church of All Saints. Once upon a time, this was a normal little church with a normal little cemetery, but, in the year 1278, an Abbot named Henry had to go and make things crazy.

On a visit to Jerusalem, Henry visited Golgotha (the hill where Jesus was crucified) and took a jar-full of soil back to Sedlec. He then spread the soil all through the cemetery. This simple act of piety led to a sensation. Soon, every sick guy in Eastern Europe wanted to be buried in the Sedlec Cemetery because, rumor had it, if you were buried at Sedlec, you got into heaven, no matter what.

There’s a movie plot in there somewhere, I just know it.

By 1318, just 40 years later, over 30,000 people were buried in Sedlec’s cemetery. Just like pants with too much ass in them, something had to give. What could the monks be expected to do with so many bodies? They were already burying them inches apart and had expanded the perimeter of the cemetery grounds to larger and larger spaces around the chapel. And then, like sprinkles on top of a big shit sundae, this little thing called the Black Death happened.

Is that Waldo in the lower right?

But that was more like a big backhoe full of shit over a shit sundae. The Black Death killed approximately 100 million people throughout Europe, nearly 25% of the entire continent. Suddenly, cartfuls of corpses were lined up at Sedlec. The monks knew they had to do something. Finally, one of them had a brilliant idea. They’d convert the basement level to an ossuary and store the bodies inside the building. They all agreed, probably because they were out of other options since the Vatican had advised them not to deny anyone who wished to be buried there. They dug up the graves immediately surrounding the chapel (those were the people who’d been buried the earliest) and used that land to expand the new chapel. Once that was done, they got a half-blind monk to cart the bodies of the dead inside. Since they were the longest-buried, they had all turned to nothing more than skeletons at that point, making them pretty easy to store.

“Put ‘em with the others.”

This seemed like a perfectly good solution. Every couple of years, they’d clean out another section of the cemetery and start burying new people there, giving everyone a chance to be buried on holy ground. Then they’d move on to the next oldest section, then the next, and so on. If that happened today, you better believe it’d be shit-storm city, but apparently everyone was okay with it, and it kept on going for 500 years. But in 1870, the then-current monks felt that the chapel had become a bit unseemly, and ordered a local woodcarver, František Rint, to spruce the place up a little. After his work was done, he’d organized all the bones into some nice… art? Yep, Rint had decided to use the bones to decorate the building itself. It looks exactly like you’d imagine a church decorated with bones would.

“Hey, hey, who won the skeleton beauty contest? NO BODY!”

Sure, it doesn’t look so bad. I mean, it’s a little grotesque, but hey…

“What’s a skeleton’s favorite instrument? A TROM-BONE!”

Wow, yeah, that’s totally a tunnel of bones. I guess there is some pretty crazy stuff in th…

“Yeah, that’s a ROTTEN one, but it really TICKLES MY FUNNY BONE! Eh? Eh?”
“…Do they all do this?”

Holy fucking horrifying. Is that a pyramid of dead fucks? Why yes, yes it is. Oh, and don’t miss the chandelier.

“Why couldn’t the skeleton cross the road? HE DIDN’T HAVE THE GUTS! …Hey, where are you going?”

It may look like something out of a nightmare contractor’s catalog, but it has at least one of every single bone in the human body. Rint even used bones to construct the coat-of-arms of the family who hired him.

“I guess our humor was too DRY! HAHAHAH!”
“Holy fuck Steve, shut up already.”

The monks apparently loved it, because the ossuary is still open today and has frequent tours. It’s been described as “the creepiest place on Earth” and has been used for location filming for such masterpieces as the Dungeons & Dragons movie. (Personally, I find the D&D movie more pants-shittingly disgusting, but whatever.) Make sure to check out the links under Sources, because just describing it and throwing a handful of pictures at you doesn’t do it justice. There are some really great photo galleries available. (Also, presumably, you don’t have to put up with skeleton puns.)

Wikipedia (Decorated with the bones of past admins)
Frisco’s Kutna Hora – The Sedlec Ossuary page
Environmental Graffiti


Aokigahara Forest

You have a place where you sleep, possibly with hookers. You have a place where you poop, also possibly with hookers. You have a place where you eat, hopefully not with hookers, as many of them have poor table manners. But do you have a place where you off yourself? Well, the Japanese do.

Aokigahara Forest is the world-famous Japanese suicide forest, home to an estimated 2,000 suicides every single year. Okay, not really, it’s more like 100+, but that caught your attention, didn’t it? 100 suicides doesn’t sound like many, but when you consider that most people just kill themselves at home, and even other famous suicide spots like the Golden Gate Bridge only have about 30 per year, it starts to sound pretty wild.

“Someday, Aokigahara. Someday, I will be number 1 again.”

It’s been called “The perfect place to die”, and it’s gotten so bad since the recession began that Japanese officials have stopped releasing the exact number of people who die there each year, fearing that the forest’s infamy will just entice more people who are considering killing themselves to head out that way. And make no mistake, suicide is a big deal in Japan: it has the highest rate of any first-world country. Since the 1990s there have been years where rates increased over 30%. At least 30,000 people have died by their own hand there each year for 12 years straight. It’s a massive cultural problem and the Japanese government has become concerned that their society is becoming so inundated with suicidal thoughts and behaviors that one can lead to others just because it’s popular.

“If all your friends jumped off a bridge, would y… oh.”

And 100 suicides a year in Aokigahara might be a low estimate. The forest is so large, thick, and inaccessible that many bodies don’t get discovered for months, or even years. Some parts are so dense that sunlight can’t penetrate (tee hee, penetrate) the canopy, even in the middle of the day. Corpses also tend to be eaten or dragged off by animals, and in some cases, the cause of death is ambiguous, and so it can’t be reasonably assumed to be suicide. Forest workers will have mass hunts for bodies at the beginning of each year, gathering hundreds of volunteers to help go through the thick, expansive woods, just searching for the dead. (If one is found during normal operations throughout the year, they’re taken to the forest station, where a room with an empty bed is set aside just for the dead. To make shit even creepier, there’s another bed that the forest workers are made to sleep in. Otherwise, superstition says that the body will scream all night and haunt the forest for eternity.) Although there are walking paths, much of the forest is off said paths, and many of the people coming to kill themselves are far more likely to go off the paths and travel deep in the forest. Large hills and sinkholes also tend to make a simple walk from one end to the other nearly impossible.

It’s like some fucked up version of “Where’s Waldo?”

So what’s made this place such a popular last thing to ever see? Well, it is nice looking. I mean, besides all the dead folks. Some say that it’s related to an extremely popular Japanese romance novel released in the 1960s, “Kuroi Jukai” (Lit. “The Black Sea of Trees”, a nickname for the forest), which ends with a couple visiting the forest to commit a joint suicide. The novel portrays the act as beautiful and romantic, for which some blame for the current reputation of the forest. And culturally, Japan has never had a major issue with suicide. It’s never been illegal, nor has it even been considered morally questionable for the most part, until recent times.

Even before the 60s, however, folklore stated that the forest was haunted. It’s rumored that it was once a popular location for Ubasute, a cultural practice (once believed common, but now known to have been far less so) that involved taking the elderly out to secluded locations and leaving them to die.

“Peace out, grandma.”

Another factor is that the forest is located directly in front of Mt. Fuji, long-considered sacred in Japanese culture. But whether it was the novel, or the history, or the religious significance, or some combination of all of those that started Aokigahara’s history of death, its momentum is only getting more powerful. Some spiritualists say that the mass number of suicides committed there since the 60s has caused the forest to become tainted, and that sadness and evil now permeate the roots of the trees there. The Japanese government is of the opinion that people just need a little convincing to stop killing themselves there (and stop killing themselves in general, but, you know, baby steps). As a preventative measure, they’ve erected signs all along the walking trails, asking visitors to think about their lives before deciding to die.


So far, though, it hasn’t helped much, as the number of bodies found in the forest is increasing, sometimes doubling from year to year. Even people from other countries have taken to coming to the forest after hearing about it. A Canadian man interviewed by Japanese journalists said, “I heard about it on the internet. It just sounded like such a beautiful place. I wanted it to be the last thing I ever saw.” Locals say that they can tell who’s coming just to look at the forest, who’s hunting for bodies and scavenging for left-behind wallets and personal effects, and who’s there to die.

“Okay, what’s your name? Oh, it’s just a visitor’s log. Okay, enjoy the forest!”

Wikipedia 1 2 3 (Where the contributors are thicker than any forest)

If you really want to see a series of pictures from the forest that a pair of hikers took, click here. (Definitely not work safe, possibly not lunch safe depending on your gastronomical fortitude.)


Shades of Death Road

Have you ever seen one of those old cheesy horror movies where the locals call some nearby old ruins “Terror Hollow” or some shit? And how maybe the scariest thing there is some pissed-off badgers?

“Fuck it, we’ll call it Terror Hollow. I’m out of here.”

Okay, now what if I told you there was a place in Warren County, New Jersey that’s called Shades of Death Road? Funny, right?

What if I told you that’s its actual, official name?

Oh, shit.

And what if I told you that, considering everything that’s happened there, that that name is actually pretty tame?

“Wait a second,” you say. “Why is it called Shades of Death Road anyway? And why are you a paragon of manliness?” Well, person who is not my wife, as she would never say such a thing, I would be happy to tell you why it’s called that, except no one knows anymore.

“Okay, so, twisty road, in the middle of nowhere, only two lanes, maybe it’s called that because of all the fatal car accidents and because the residents have a weird sense of humor?” I’d say you were on to something, if it hadn’t been called that since before Henry Ford was even born, much less inventing automobiles.

There are other theories regarding the road’s name, however. Some say, for example, that in the olden days, highwaymen liked to hide out in shady spots along the road, then jump out and attack people.

“You want my pants? Have ‘em.” “Er… I asked for your money.”

Other legends say that it wasn’t named for the highwaymen, but instead because those highwaymen were beaten and lynched, then hung at intervals along the road. God damn, that is brutal. I mean, they did rob and rape people, but, seriously? That’s a hell of a “Don’t fuck with us.”

The final commonly given explanation is that the road was named after an outbreak of malaria. Wait, what? Yep, in the mid 19th century, the area was filled with swamplands, which attracts mosquitoes who, of course, carried malaria. In fact, it was such a big deal that the government said, “This shit has to stop.” They drained all the swamps, leaving the mosquitoes with no place to live. 

Homeless. Thanks a lot, government.

So, after the malaria epidemic passed, it’s believed that some smartass may have proposed changing the name of the road, which may have previously been Shade Road, to Shades of Death Road.

“Well, that’s all fine and interesting, King Ashe the Benevolent, but I could give a fuck less about why it’s called that. You said it’s actually worse!” That’s true, I did say that. And now I will tell you about it.

Firstly, just off the road, you’ve got Ghost Lake. Unlike Shades of Death Road, this is not its official name. Also unlike the road, the reason for its name is pretty clear. On some mornings, a white vapor tends to emanate from its surface. Okay, so that’s not so weird. That happens lots of places. But, it’s also rumored that the sky stays bright there, as if it were dusk, no matter what time of night it is. Fair enough, that’s pretty interesting. Oh, and there’s a deserted cabin nearby that locals say is haunted by the ghosts of dead highwaymen. Those fucking highwaymen.

“No, really, leave them on. Why do you people keep taking your pants off?”

In fact, the whole area where Ghost Lake is located is called Haunted Hollow. (There’s gotta be an old movie somewhere with that name in it.) It’s probably pretty apt, because right nearby is a place called The Fairy Hole. (Go to bed, Tinkerbell, you’re drunk.) It’s a small cave, but in the early part of the last century, it was found to contain several pieces of Native American pottery and arrow heads. Since the cave appeared to be sparsely used and out of the way of their normal routes, and due to the presence of burial grounds nearby, it’s been theorized that this could have been some sort of ritual site for the dead. And if bad horror movies have taught us anything, (Besides the fact that locals apparently come up with really uncreative names for places) it’s that anything to do with Native Americans and death is a recipe for horrible disaster.

The first result for “Indian burial ground” in Google Images. Holy shit.

Now, all this doesn’t include stories of an unpaved, one-lane road where you might see a red light that indicates you’ll die, reports of apparitions, fogs, and a haunted bridge supposedly occupied by the ghosts of two children who were run over there. Oh, and I’d remiss if I didn’t share this one- a “spirit guide” who takes the guise of a deer and stands on the side of the road. Apparently, if you don’t slow down enough, the deer might jump out in front of you and cause an accident. (Seriously? No shit?)

But let’s talk about a more down-to-Earth kind of weird. Say, a couple of guys in the 1990s who found not one, not two, but hundreds of Polaroid pictures scattered around the area. (Remember those? They were so quaint. The 90s, I mean.) Now, sure, Polaroids on their own aren’t scary.

God damn. Nevermind. Yes, they are.

These Polaroids contained pictures of a television changing channels, a woman lying on a piece of metal with no expression on her face, and other things that even Weird NJ magazine wouldn’t publish. And this is a magazine about weird stuff specifically in New Jersey. Who knows what they won’t print?

Wikipedia (Where the research comes to you.)