During the course of my work, i get to listen to all sorts of interesting stories. Most of these border on smirk-worthy but there's the occasional gem that makes you go "Oooooh..." I've recently had the pleasure of hearing one first hand.
A friend of mine recently lost her father to a heart attack (May he gain a better rebirth) and the funeral had just been concluded. She was taking the lift up to her office floor from the ground level when she noticed that throughout the journey upwards, no one would come into the lift despite the lift being empty except for her. The doors would open, people would look inside and then nervously wave her to continue onwards. Puzzled, she would close the lift doors and continue onwards where the next stop would prove to be an identical experience. She started feeling funny after the third time and that's when she realised that the people were actually seeing something IN the lift with her and were refusing to have anything to do with it.
Now i don't know what i might have actually done in a situation like this but girlish screaming and flapping arms come to mind. Anyone ever dreaded looking over your shoulder in a lift? That's why Aaron's advice is : Press your back to the rear wall at all times.It also ensure human naer-do-wells can't get the jump on you either.
Aaron blogged at 10:27 AM
Wednesday, March 29, 2006
3 MEN AND A BABY...AND A GHOST
This isn't anything obscure.In fact, this is one of the more popular urban legends around about paranormal occurences being caught on film. This particular legend has been debunked numerous times in the past by fans, photography experts, and even the actors and the director himself. However, people will believe what they want to believe regardless of what you tell them but a little background on this case...
The lurker in the window
Direct your attention to the photo above. As you can see in the screencap, there's Ted Danson and his onscreen mom holding an adorable little critter. Also clearly visible is the other little critter lurking amongst the drapes. Judging from the height of the figure, it's rather short and seem to resemble a young boy, possibly around 13-14 years of age. There are several variants to the legend but the most common one (search online and you'll see) is of a 9-year old boy commiting suicide ala shotgun. The variants go on to detail how the parents of the boy moved out of the apartment where the movie was eventually shot and the footage captured. It goes on to detail how the mother sued the studio for refusing to remove the image from the film. There's even a version where the mother goes insane upon seeing the image of her son in his burial clothes and had to be confined to a mental institution, where she remains to this day....OOooOoO...
The Cardboard truth
The truth however, is a lot less exciting. The figure was actually a cardboard cut-out that Ted Danson's character kept in his apartment (apparently, he was a narcissist). The cut-out is even seen again later in the movie as shown above. In addition, the interior shots were taken in a soundstage in Toronto so there was no 'apartment' for a ghost to haunt. You would think that this would be the end of this particular legend but some people just won't let a good story lie.
Now almost 20 years on, we have paranormal 'experts' stepping forward to resurrect this ghost of movie's past. A short bio of these experts :
"Dr. Dave Oester co-founded the International Ghost Hunters Society in 1996, which is widely accepted as the largest organization of the genre on the Internet. Along with his companion Sharon Gill, he travels across US in his RV to visit and investigate sites of alleged haunting. Author of around 20 books and lecturing all over the country, they even put together self-taught Ghost Hunting programs"
Considered an authority on these matters, he revealed in an interview that he felt that the boy in the movie was genuine. He mentioned that Hollywood producers in those days didn't know how ghosts appear and what forms they manifest in. Lacking this knowledge, the producers would, quite naturally, write the whole thing off as a case of mistaken identity. Talk about being lost in your own world! It saddens me that this so-called authority would weaken the stance of paranormality in the eyes of the world like this. By being so firm and resolute about something that was proven to be wrong, he has given skeptics greater ammunition to shoot paranormality down. It's similar to crapckpot preachers and televangelists zealously defending 'miracles' that were staged to defame them except in this case, it's self-inflicted. Sigh...yes, my face is in my hands now.
"In 1994, Christopher Wilson confessed on his deathbed that the fabled picture taken by his grandfather Robert Wilson, in 1934, of a creature sticking its head out of Loch Ness was a hoax. The confession was subsequently itself called a hoax, and the story calling the confession a hoax was hinted to be one itself. Which means the Loch Ness monster legend is needed alive and well, and remains just as fascinating. The question towards the "Three Men and a Baby" ghost boy isn't whether it is true, nor if you believe in it. The question is what do you WANT to believe in, and WHY"
This excerpt illustrates my point quite clearly. People will believe whatever they want to believe, regardless of whatever evidence you present to them. You may shake them for a while but eventually, they will pump themselves up internally to either develop a spanking new, equally absurd belief or rationalise things such that they were never wrong in the first place. As for me,i'm just here for a meaty story. While this has been debunked, there are others out there that might defy all explanations. I'm still here and i'm still looking...
Aaron blogged at 8:35 PM
Thursday, March 16, 2006
ONCE UPON A TIME oh gawd! It's been almost 6 months since i last posted anything. If anyone is still reading this, bless your little hearts for even bothering to check on me. Unfortunately for you, this is a pretty much a no-substance post but i just couldn't hold it in.I gotta let it out!
At the moment, there's this Mandarin show featuring in the local cineplexes called "The Heirloom". It's a creepy flick about a house with a haunted 4th floor where an entire family committed suicide. I think you can see the creepy potential in that theme...but anyway, so my bro goes to watch this show and later that night, he comes into my room at about 2am and casually mentions to me that he went to watch the movie with a bunch of friends. Naturally, i asked him how was it. He ranted a little about how crap the show was and that it was a big letdown but then, he told me what proved to be the biggest hair-raiser i've heard in quite a while...
While watching the show, certain events on the screen triggered a memory in him of a time when we were still staying in our house in Taman Megah. Now this house was really haunted (i'll tell you the tale at a later date if you haven't heard it) and both my bro and i were staying in the same room. We were about 7-10 yrs old at the time so memories tend to be a little fuzzy. However, he began to recount this time where we were both sleeping late one night and for one reason or another, he woke up and sat up in bed. He then looked over to where i was sleeping and for some strange reason, he couldn't recognise me. At this point of the story, i asked him "you mean you couldn't recognise me?" and he replied "It was not that i couldn't recognise you...it didn't look like you". I looked at him for a few moments and he looked both puzzled and perturbed. You can imagine the mental discord when you recall something and it's both eerie and disturbing. We talked a little more about it before he went off to bed and left me alone with my thoughts. What exactly happened there? It could be any one of these possibilities:
1) He was groggy and with his brain so sleepy, he could have seen a pink hippo for all we know 2) His new 'memory' is actually a mental construct prompted by a hyperactive imagination inspired by on-screen images 3) It wasn't me that he saw but the 'little kid' that lurked in that house and was snuggling up to me (brrr)
Now, i know my brother and he's not prone to making stuff up. He's a practical guy and not one to sensationalise anything nor quickly believe in the paranormal without sufficient evidence. For him to voice this out didn't mean that he believed it was a ghost or a demonic manifestation.It just meant that he saw something he couldn't explain. I can't explain it but i have my suspicions...let's just say that somethings are better left unexplored and this avenue is another one i would like to relegate to "campfire stories".
Aaron blogged at 4:34 PM
Wednesday, October 05, 2005
ALIEN LIFE IN INNER SPACE?
It's a fact that we have have explored and understand more of Outer Space than we do of our own terrestial oceans. This is due to a number of factors, among which is the problem of the tremendous pressure at the deepest depths, and the slow and ponderous descent that will tax the supply of breathing air for any manned submersible. Pressure rises by 650 pounds for every 100 feet of depth and the Abyssal Plains (the true ocean floor) lie at depths between 9,000 - 10,000 feet. A quick calculation will turn up a figure of about 61,750 pounds of pressure. In addition, the Marianas Trench (the deepest trench in the world and therefore, the lowest elevation on Earth) is 35,810 feet below sea level. With almost 7 miles of water above, an object at that depth would experience a pressure of 16,000 pounds per square inch.
In 1960, when the Trieste bathyscape undertook the 5-hour dive to the bottom of the Marianas Trench, they only spent 20 minutes on the ocean floor observing the various lifeforms and floor features before beginning their 3 hour 15 minute ascent. The submersible only seated 2 and to withstand the staggering pressure, it had walls 5 inches thick and weighed 13 tons. However, an exploratory submersible need not be manned to be effective since it can be equipped with camera and lighting equipment. Without the concern of passenger safety, additional remote sensing equipment, propulsion devices and power supply can be fitted onto the vehicle therefore adding to its effectiveness.
My point here is that with our inability to properly explore 71% of our earth's surface, there must be hundreds upon thousands of species yet undiscovered. Some species have been discovered to be so bizarre as to defy our conventional definition of life. A case in hand is the Giant Tube Worm first discovered in 1977...
These huge creatures grow around deep sea hydrothermal vents in the ocean floor which releases hydrogen sulfide gas powered by volcanic heat. The bizarre creatures grow up to eight feet and live in hard, tube-shaped chitin that attach to the rocks. In the photo on the left, you can see the reddish worms protruding out of the pale tubes. These worms derive nourishment from a symbiotic relationship with a certain species of bacteria called chemoautotrophs (chemo = source of energy from chemicals; auto = synthesize their own food; trophs = type of feeding). When scientists first stumbled upon these worms, they were at a loss as to how these creatures were not only surviving, but flourishing without apparent means of sustenance. The worms have no mouth, anus, stomach or intestines! It's basically a bag of bacteria with an aorta and gonads. Closer inspection revealed that the insides of the worms were lined with bacteria that oxidize the hydrogen sulfide gas and convert them into carbohydrates for the worms. In turn, the worms deliver blood which contain hemoglobin that helps the bacteria break down the sulfides. How do the bacteria get in the worms? Well, when the worms are very tiny, they have a primitive mouth and gut through which the bacteria enter. As the worm ages, the mouth and gut disappear, trapping the bacteria inside the worm.
A little less bizarre is the reigning champion for heat endurance on the face of the planet...the Alvinella pompejana or the Pompeii worm. Where the tubeworms stay a safe distance from the 400 degrees centigrade vent water,the Pompeii worm live in dense communities right at the edge of the vents where water can hit or exceed 100 degrees centrigade. These worms have vast colonies of primitive bacteria living on their backs that impregnate and reinforce a compound that the worm secretes, creating a fleecy mane that scientists assume play some part in protecting the worm from the extreme temperature. As a matter of interest, here's a link that allows you have a better 360 degree view of the little critter : http://www.ocean.udel.edu/extreme2002/creatures/pompeiiworm/
Because the worm and the bacteria can survive in such temperatures, they must have enzymes that can handle the temperatures without being cooked as well.These enzymes are generating a great amount of interest for their heat resistant properties and their uses can extend from paper milling, sewagereclamation to food processing and laundry detergents. Ah the great things such little fellas can inspire...
Each year, the ocean turns up a wealth of discoveries that fascinate and excite us with their diversity and potential. As the Giant Tube Worms have demonstrated, we need to expand our minds and accept that life isn't restricted by the need for such mundane elements as oxygen and sunlight and isn't defined by our narrow view of terrestial biology. If conditions dictate that a lifeform should evolve to be a semi-gelatinous mass, a wisp of sentient gas, a crystalline creature that absorbs radiation, or a something equally fantastic, then life will deliver. Scientists frequently look for evidence of water as a determining factor for the possibility of life but why should it be so? What makes us believe that other forms of life would need water at all? If life evolved on a planet with seas of liquid methane, then methane would be a sign of possible life on other planets,wouldn't it? Maybe the sulphuric acid clouds harbor floating worms much like the Pompeii Worms or better yet, these clouds ARE the life forms that have developed consciousness somehow, much like the sentient god-like ocean in the novel, Solaris. What we define as being alive is only life as we know it. That's a pretty good disclaimer for scientific discoveries in the future that might otherwise embarass the scientific geniuses out there but then, that's life isn't it...life as we know it.
Aaron blogged at 2:40 PM
Tuesday, September 27, 2005
A EARTHY PARADOX
An interesting bit of peculiarity from the Fortean Times:
On this day in history, an odd geographical feature was reported in 1985. It was a strip of land in Huanre county, Liaoning province, northeast China, which ran down from a hill to a river. In winter when the temperature drops to round about minus 30 centigrade, the strip remains at 17 above zero. In summer, the reverse occurs, rain turns to ice as it hits the strip of ground and the earth freezes three feet below the surface. Local inhabitants, who have known about the anomaly for a century, use the strip as a vegetable patch in winter and natural refrigerator in summer.
Sounds pretty amazing, doesn't it? Why don't these paranormal researchers go and research stuff like this instead of Bigfoot and Nessie and unknown species of big cats? This is something that is solid and substantial. It's been in existence for ages and is completely accessible to testing and probing. The benefits of discovering the source of these unique properties could mean duplicating its benefits for other regions where living conditions are harsh. Could it be the soil? Could it be an unknown element in the rock below? Could it be the freak alignment of natural energies between the river and the hill? If there was such an anomaly in my neighbourhood, you can bet that on one quiet morning in the middle of the Chinese New Year celebrations when there's nooooobody around, i'll bury myself neck deep in the soil just to see what happens. Anyone wanna join me?
Aaron blogged at 11:45 AM
Friday, September 23, 2005
THE MYSTERY OF DAVID LANG
I love mysterious disappearances. Not that i would actually like to disappear nor wish that someone disappear, but i love stories of a disappearance so baffling, that the only remaining explanations are too fantastic to be taken seriously. There have been many strange accounts of people disappearing in the most unlikely of times and places, such as the case of David Lang. This has been in circulation for some time and has become so synonymous with the term 'mysterious disappearance' that it has become legend. The story goes like this :
On the afternoon of September 23, 1880, on a farm just a few miles outside of Gallatin, Tennessee, a remarkable event was witnessed by five people. The farm was occupied by farmer David Lang and his family -- his wife, Emma, his two children, eight-year-old George and eleven-year-old Sarah, and their household servants. On that afternoon, the children were playing in the front yard, when Mr. and Mrs. Lang came out of their house and Mr.Lang started across the pasture toward his quarter horses. As Lang was crossing the pasture, the horse and buggy of the family's friend, Judge August Peck, came into view on the lane in front of the house; the children stopped playing, as Peck always brought them presents when he visited. Both Mr. and Mrs. Lang saw the buggy, and Mr. Lang waved to the judge as he turned to walk back towards the house. A moment later David Lang completely disappeared in mid-step. Fully witnessed by his two children, his wife, Judge August Peck, and the Judge's traveling companion (the Judge's brother-in-law), David Lang had just suddenly ceased to exist; understandably, Mrs. Lang screamed. All five witnesses ran to the spot they had last seen David, but there was nothing to hide behind or under; the field contained just grass. The adults quickly searched the field to no effect. By this time, Mrs. Lang was becoming hysterical, and was taken back into the house as neighbors were called with an alarm bell. By nightfall, all the neighbors were involved in the search, and, by lantern, they checked every foot of the field, stamping their feet to try to detect any holes that David might have fallen into. Nothing was found.
In the following weeks, Mrs. Lang was bedridden with shock; all the family servants except the cook, Sukie, left; and curiosity seekers were chased away from the farm by the local authorities. The county surveyor confirmed that the field was on perfectly solid ground, with no caves or sink holes. Months after the occurrence, in 1881, Lang's children noticed that the grass at the site of their father's disappearance had grown strange and yellow, and formed a circle with about a fifteen foot diameter. Sarah called to her father, and, seemingly as a result, both the children heard him faintly calling for help, over and over, until his voice faded away. Mrs. Lang never fully recovered, and there was never a funeral or memorial service for Mr. Lang. Mrs. Lang eventually left the farm and allowed Judge Peck to rent it out, with the exception of the field in the front of the house. That pasture was left untouched as long as she lived...
The first time i read it, it sent a tingle of wonder running down my spine. If he really did vanish as reported, what could have possibly happened? A portal into another dimension? A momentary wormhole? Did he slip into a parallel dimension or was a victim to an alien abduction? Or could it be more fantastic than that...we often watch in the movies about how time travellers are snatched back into their own times by some enforcement agency or invisible amoeba-like lifeforms that float around us, mutually oblivous to each other but hungry for our substantiality and matter. Could David have walked into one in the wrong place at the wrong time? However, further research into the matter revealed that the source of the legend was unreliable and it was likely that the event never happened. I cannot begin to tell you how immensely disappointed i was at that point. There was still a glimmer of hope that the story might be true but the bulk of research into the origins of the legend weighed heavily against it. Just an interesting story i thought i would like to share with you guys, one that helped steer me into this journey into paranormal discovery.
Aaron blogged at 2:49 PM
Tuesday, September 13, 2005
MACABRE EVOLUTION How's this for making your flesh crawl? A resident in London was preparing a red snapper for lunch when he found...something...in the mouth of the fish. He contacted the Lewisham Council's Environmental Health Department who brought in the expertise of the Keeper of Natural History at Horniman Museum in Forest Hill. The expert managed to identify the creepy crawlie as Cymothoa Exigua, an isopod (crustacean) that's indigenous to the Gulf of California and preys only on the Lutjanus Guttatus or Spotted Red Snapper. He speculated that either it was imported together with the fish in it's mouth or it has started to appear in European seas. Now i have to tell you just what this little freak does in the mouth of the red snapper...
If you would kindly direct your attention to the left, you can see the little parasite occupying the space where the tongue should be. What it does is that it attaches itself to the base of the snapper's tongue with its claws and drinks from the artery which supplies the blood to the organ. As the parasite grows, it diverts more and more blood from the tongue to itself, therefore causing the tongue to atrophy and eventually wither away. Cymothoa then attaches itself to the remaining stub of a tongue and floor of the mouth by little hooks. What's amazing is that it then functions as a replacement tongue and manipulates the fish's food, which the parasite feeds on as well.
As far as we know, this is the only case of a parasite being able to eat and fully replace an organ of its host and is thus, unique. Still, imagine the situation faced by the fish....it's probably not even aware that there's a living parasite in its mouth. It goes on with life, doing whatever it is that Red Snappers do for years to come, completely unsuspecting. Now imagine ourselves with a similar situation...it could be our own tongues that have been displaced by an impostor lifeform in our sleep. Injecting an anaesthetic into our tongues, it quickly and painlessly draws all the lifegiving blood from it. Perhaps it attaches itself to the stub as well and thrusts its little appendages down to our little bundle of nerves deep within the red flesh it so cozily rests upon. Through some heightened sensitivity to nerve signals or muscular contractions, it reacts accordingly as a tongue would, drawing sustenance from that with sustains us. Farfetched as it may sound, sometimes truth is far stranger than anything fiction can concoct. If something like this is/has happenend, i pray that i will never find out and that my ignorance lasts till my dying day. The thing can detach and crawl away AFTER my body is cold and uncaring.
There are a number of 'body snatchers' though that not only infects the host, but is able to affect their behaviour and thus, end the life of its host. Now this one particular parasite (non-human host only, thank the High Heavens) i found disgusting. It's Leucochloridium varidae, a parasitic worm that could possibly be a snail's worst nightmare.
Once it passes into the body of a snail, it sprouts several tubes that it sends into the eye-tipped tentacles of the snail. These tubes swell and expand, changing colors and pulsating at the same time to attract predatory birds by fooling them into thinking the tentacles are big, fat wriggling caterpillars. The swollen protuberances also prevent the snail from retreating into its shell. Even more disturbingly, the behaviour of the snail is affected as well, causing it to crawl into the open instead of shelter. This makes it easier for birds to spot the colorful tentacles and rip them off, taking the entire thing into its body. The bird then contracts the parasite, which scatters its eggs into the bird's dropping to be eaten by more snails.
I cannot even begin to imagine the circumstances that could force something to evolve a manner of procreation as bizarre as this. It boggles the mind to imagine the hit-and-miss evolutionary path these tiny creatures have crawled. I feel a twinge of compassion for the hosts of these parasites (the pain these pitiful creatures must feel) and hope that through my continued accumulation of good merits, that i never fall into the Apaya realms of the animals. May my suffering be limited to deciding on which restaurants to eat in...*bow*