Shaila’s Weblog

Posts Tagged ‘stories

The Taos Hum

Some residents and visitors in the small city of Taos, New Mexico, have for years been annoyed and puzzled by a mysterious and faint low-frequency hum in the desert air.

taos_hum

Oddly, only about 2 percent of Taos residents report hearing the sound. Some believe it is caused by unusual acoustics; others suspect mass hysteria or some secret, sinister purpose. Whether described as a whir, hum, or buzz and whether psychological, natural, or supernatural no one has yet been able to locate the sound’s origin.

Bigfoot

For decades, large, hairy, manlike beasts called Bigfoot have occasionally been reported by eyewitnesses across America. Despite the thousands of Bigfoot that must exist for a breeding population, not a single body has been found. Not one has been killed by a hunter, struck dead by a speeding car, or even died of natural causes.

bigfoot

In the absence of hard evidence like teeth or bones, support comes down to eyewitness sightings and ambiguous photos and films. Since it is logically impossible to prove a universal negative, science will never be able to prove that creatures like Bigfoot and the Loch Ness monster do not exist, and it is possible that these mysterious beasts lurk far from prying eyes.

Intuition

Whether we call it gut feelings, a ‘sixth sense,’ or something else, we have all experienced intuition at one time or another. Of course, gut feelings are often wrong (how many times during aircraft turbulence have you been sure your plane was going down?), but they do seem to be right much of the time.

intuition

Psychologists note that people subconsciously pick up information about the world around us, leading us to seemingly sense or know information without knowing exactly how or why we know it. But cases of intuition are difficult to prove or study, and psychology may only be part of the answer.

Mysterious Disappearances

People disappear for various reasons. Most are runaways, some succumb to accident, a few are abducted or killed, but most are eventually found. Not so with the truly mysterious disappearances.

bermuda_triangle

From the crew of the Marie Celeste to Jimmy Hoffa, Amelia Earhart, and Natalee Holloway, some people seem to have vanished without a trace. When missing persons are found, it is always through police work, confession, or accident never by ‘psychic detectives’). But when the evidence is lacking and leads are lost, even police and forensic science can’t always solve the crime.

Ghosts

From the Shakespeare play “MacBeth” to the NBC show “Medium,” spirits of the dead have long made an appearance in our culture and folklore. Many people have reported seeing apparitions of both shadowy strangers and departed loved ones.

ghosts

Though definitive proof for the existence of ghosts remains elusive, sincere eyewitnesses continue to report seeing, photographing, and even communicating with ghosts. Ghost investigators hope to one day prove that the dead can contact the living, providing a final answer to the mystery.

Deja vu

Deja vu is a French phrase meaning ‘already seen,’ referring to the distinct, puzzling, and mysterious feeling of having experienced a specific set of circumstances before. A woman might walk into a building, for example, in a foreign country she’d never visited, and sense that the setting is eerily and intimately familiar.

dejavu

Some attribute deja vu to psychic experiences or unbidden glimpses of previous lives. As with intuition , research into ,human psychology can offer more naturalistic explanations, but ultimately the cause and nature of the phenomenon itself remains a mystery.

UFOs

There is no doubt that UFOs (Unidentified Flying Objects) exist – many people see things in the skies that they cannot identify, ranging from aircraft to meteors. Whether or not any of those objects and lights are alien spacecraft is another matter entirely; given the fantastic distances and effort involved in just getting to Earth from across the universe, such a scenario seems unlikely.

ufo

still, while careful investigation has revealed known causes for most sighting reports, some UFO incidents will always remain unexplained.

Placebo EFFECT

Medical science is only beginning to understand the ways in which the mind influences the body. The placebo effect, for example, demonstrates that people can at times cause a relief in medical symptoms or suffering by believing the cures to be effective — whether they actually are or not.

placebo

Using processes only poorly understood, the body’s ability to heal itself is far more amazing than anything modern medicine could create.

Fish Falls

e of the most recent examples of fish falling from the sky took place the summer of 2000 in Ethiopia. A local newspaper reported: “The unusual rain of fish, which dropped in millions from the air – some dead and others still struggling – created panic among the mostly religious farmers.” This is just one of countless case studies of rains of fish, frogs, periwinkles – even alligators – that have been cataloged over the centuries, many by famed paranormal researcher Charles Fort. (Such rains of creatures have been, in fact, come to be known as “Fortean” activity.)

fishfalls

Most often these rains of animals are attributed to severe storms, tornadoes, water spouts and related phenomena. Although the theory has not yet been proved, it holds that strong winds pick up the fish or frogs from bodies of water such as ponds, streams and lakes, carry them aloft – sometimes for miles and miles – and then drop them over land.

The peculiar fact that challenges this theory is this: in most cases, the rains are of one kind of animal only. It rains one species of herring, for example, or a particular kind of frog. How can this be explained? Could a powerful gust of wind be so discriminating? If the storm scooped up water from a pond, wouldn’t it rain all kinds of things one finds in a pond – frogs, toads, fish, weeds, sticks and probably beer cans?

Near-Death Experiences and Life After Death

People who were once near death have sometimes reported various mystical experiences (such as going into a tunnel and emerging in a light, being reunited with loved ones, a sense of peace, etc.) that may suggest an existence beyond the grave. While such experiences are profound, no one has returned with proof or verifiable information from “beyond the grave.”

near-death-experience

Skeptics suggest that the experiences are explainable as natural and predictable hallucinations of a traumatized brain, yet there is no way to know with certainty what causes near-death experiences, or if they truly are visions of “the other side.”

There are many thousands of Chinese restaurants around in the UK and everyone has their favourite dish, but only in China itself do chefs specialise in a range of slightly more unusual delicacies.

A glass of deer penis juice amongst food on a table at the restaurant


Many of the restaurant’s guests are wealthy businessmen

The dish in front of me is grey and shiny.

“Russian dog,” says my waitress Nancy.

“Big dog,” I reply.

“Yes,” she says. “Big dog’s penis…”

We are in a cosy restaurant in a dark street in Beijing but my appetite seems to have gone for a stroll outside.

Nancy has brought out a whole selection of delicacies.

They are draped awkwardly across a huge platter, with a crocodile carved out of a carrot as the centrepiece.

Nestling beside the dog’s penis are its clammy testicles, and beside that a giant salami-shaped object.

“Donkey,” says Nancy. “Good for the skin…”

She guides me round the penis platter.

“Snake. Very potent. They have two penises each.”

I did not know that.

Deer-blood cocktail

“Sheep… horse… ox… seal – excellent for the circulation.”

She points to three dark, shrivelled lumps which look like liquorice allsorts – a special treat apparently – reindeer, from Manchuria.

The Guolizhuang restaurant claims to be China’s only speciality penis emporium, and no, it is not a joke.

The atmosphere is more exotic spa than boozy night-out.

Nancy describes herself as a nutritionist.

“We don’t call them waiters here. And we don’t serve much alcohol,” she says. “Only common people come here to get drunk and laugh.”

But she does offer me a deer-blood and vodka cocktail, which I decide to skip.

Medicinal purposes

The restaurant’s gristly menu was dreamt up by a man called Mr Guo.

Boiled ox penis


The Chinese believe that eating penis can enhance your virility

He is 81 now and retired.

After fleeing China’s civil war back in 1949, he moved to Taiwan, and then to Atlanta, Georgia, where he began to look deeper into traditional Chinese medicine, and experiment on the appendages of man’s best friend.

Apparently, they are low in cholesterol and good, not just for boosting the male sex drive, but for treating all sorts of ailments.

Laughter trickles through the walls of our dining room.

“Government officials,” says Nancy. “Two of them upstairs. They’re having the penis hotpot.”

Most of the restaurant’s guests are either wealthy businessmen or government bureaucrats who, as Nancy puts it, have been brought here by people who want their help.

What better way to secure a contract than over a steaming penis fondue.

Discretion is assured as all the tables are in private rooms.

The glitziest one has gold dishes.

“Some like their food served raw,” says Nancy, “like sushi. But we can cook it anyway you like.”

Rare order

“Not long ago, a particularly rich real estate mogul came in with four friends. All men. Women don’t come here so often, and they shouldn’t eat testicles,” says Nancy solemnly.

The men spent $5,700 (£3,000) on a particularly rare dish, something that needed to be ordered months in advance.

“Tiger penis,” says Nancy.

Bull’s perineum (Photo credit: Stefan Gates)
Bull’s perineum is also a delicacy

The illegal trade in tiger parts is a big problem in China.

Campaigners say the species is being driven towards extinction because of its popularity as a source of traditional medicine.

I mention this, delicately, to Nancy, but she insists that all her tiger supplies come from animals that have died of old age.

“Anyway, we only have one or two orders a year,” she says.

“So what does it taste like?” I ask.

“Oh, the same as all the others,” she says blithely.

And does it have any particular potency? “No. People just like to order tiger to show off how much money they have.”

Welcome to the People’s Republic of China – tigers beware.

Sliced and pickled

“Oh yes,” she adds, “the same group also ate an aborted reindeer foetus.

“That is very good for your skin. And here it is…”

Another “nutritionist” walks in bearing something small and red wrapped in cling film.

My appetite is heading for the airport.

Still, I think, it would be rude not to try something.

I am normally OK about this sort of thing. I have had fried cockroaches and sheep’s eyes, so…

There is a small bowl of sliced and pickled ox penis on the table.

I pick up a piece with my chopsticks and start to chew. It is cold and bland and rubbery.

Nancy gives me a matronly smile.

“This one,” she says, “should be eaten every day.”

Courtesy: BBC NEWS

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/from_our_own_correspondent/5371500.stm

I have seen her for the first time… I think love at first sight!

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Always I used to be around her

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This is the point where our friendship started…

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Then after one day I proposed her

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And this is how I tried to impress her

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Finally she was impressed

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We had a very good time

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But elders came to know and they didn’t allow us to meet

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We tried to convince them

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But of no use,so we decided to go away

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And lived happily thereafter!

LAS VEGAS • Siobhan Grennan learned how to play poker to please a man. She was then just old enough to count the pennies from her paper route, and the man – her brother, three years her senior – was sufficiently bored that he was prepared to spend a few hours with his sis. But the hours added up, and by the time Siobhan was 14, her big bro figured she was ready for the big leagues: playing with his friends.

“One day, Kevin invited a bunch of guys over for a poker game and he said, ‘Hey, my little sister wants to play, do you mind?’ and they all thought, what a cute kid, sure, and so I played – and cleaned up,” recalls Grennan. “It was the first time I realized that being a girl in a guy’s game has an advantage: Men underestimate me.”

Thirtysome years later and, by most accounts, men are still underestimating female poker players, or they’re intimidated by them, distracted by them or attracted to them – take your pick. Web sites such as womenspokerclub.com and pokergoddess.com encourage women to take advantage of such advantages: “Use your feminine wiles to outwit your opponent,” says one site. “Use their insecurity,” says another.

Such sites classify men into types – for example, Chauvinist, Macho Man, Mr. Flirt and Daddykins – along with tips on how to play each. When playing Daddykins, defined as a man who wants to show off to his little girl, a woman should listen, nod and never challenge his opinion. But she should take note of what he’s revealing about his hand and style of play. When playing a guy who flirts, know that in his attempt to seduce he’ll rarely raise you even if his hand is strong. If he does raise, fold; flirty dude is sitting on a sure winner.

Although Grennan, a 47-year-old single mother and senior producer at MuchMoreMusic in Toronto, relies primarily on her poker skills to win, she admits to playing the girl card. While the genders are equal, they are different, she insists. “For example, men aren’t as good at multi-tasking. And so when I sit down at a table, I always start chatting. It throws them off their game.”

Until recently, her play has been limited to games with friends and in poker tournaments held in local pubs. But she’s always longed to go to Las Vegas to find out if she could hold her own in a “real” casino. The opportunity to do so came about this summer when her 12-year-old daughter, Kate, accepted an invitation to visit Grennan’s family in Ireland for a month. “I knew I had to take this chance to spend a few days of my freed-up time in Vegas and so I called some girlfriends and we all decided to go.”

In mid-July, giddy with the prospect of fulfilling a dream, Grennan hopped on a plane en route to the gambling mecca of North America.

I had the opportunity to shadow her.

When we first met up at the Mirage Casino on the famed Vegas Strip, her aircraft had landed but Grennan was flying. “Isn’t this wild?” she gushed, her eyes dancing like the lights of the nearby slot machines.

It was a blistering hot afternoon, but the cool interior of the vast room, with its low ceilings, dim lighting and unending flow of complementary cocktails, created an ambience of eternal evening. The place was hopping – not surprising considering Vegas’s occupancy level is 90% – and although there were plenty of women around, most were trying their luck at the slot machines, not the poker tables.

Still, casino dealer John Leake, 35, assured me that at a table of 10 players, typically one or two are women, way up from five years ago. In any tournament, it is estimated that 6% to 10% of entrants are female, and a few of them have done very well in recent years.

Last year, Winnipeg’s Cheryl Lynn Deleon placed seventh at the World Poker Tour North American Championship held at Fallsview Casino. A day before her 19th birthday, Annette Obrestad of Norway became the only woman to win the World Series of Poker Europe Main Event. She walked away more than $2-million richer.

What’s luring the ladies? Televised poker games give players such as Annie Duke, a mother who has made millions at the game, plenty of attention – thus generating female role models. Online poker sites mean women can learn the game and hone their skills before playing publicly. And because poker is no longer played in a smoke-filled back room but in a designated open area within a casino, the game is more accessible to women. Accessible, but not always welcoming.

Leake, who has dealt cards in Vegas for 15 years, has witnessed many a male with a chip on his shoulder. “Some men don’t like playing against women. I had one guy, after a female had folded, say, ‘See, this is why women shouldn’t play. They ruin the game.’ It’s even worse if they lose to them.”

Grennan took a seat at a Texas Hold ‘Em table, where the only other woman barely glanced her way. The men looked up, though.

Wearing a polka dot dress and matching hair band, Grennan was all charm. She introduced herself in such a way that you’d think she was sitting down to high tea.

I was surprised when the man sitting next to her transformed into a living, breathing stereotype. After shaking her hand, he launched into his life story – he’s from Milwaukee and sings in a barbershop quartet. Picking up on their common interest in music, Grennan chatted about her job at a television station famous for its music videos. Clearly enamoured, he folded his cards and cheered her on with a few quick tips.

The elderly gentleman to her right, annoyed by the chatter, gave Grennan a gruff look. He won the pot, however, and she rewarded him by patting his hand.

“You’re very stoic, sir,” she said lightly. “This should make you feel better.”

He couldn’t suppress a smile.

Grennan was playing the game well – in more ways than one – but after about 20 minutes, the $100 pile of chips she had started with has diminished.

Another hand was dealt. She peered at her cards and flushed. I knew she had something good because, earlier, she had told me, “I have a physical thing. When I’m excited I turn red. I’d have to wear a veil if I played poker professionally.”

As she struggled to keep her composure, her cellphone rang.

“May I take this?” she asked the table, a protocol she learned before coming here.

Undecipherable grunts and grumbles all around and so she picked up. During her brief conversation, the game went on, more cards were dealt and bets placed, and our multi-tasker stayed in the game. Within seconds of hanging up, she had won the pot.

“That was my daughter calling from Ireland,” Grennan chirped, sweeping the pile of chips toward herself. “I guess you can call this the luck of the Irish!”

The chap sitting at the other side of the table and watching his fortune being swept away looked as if he’d like to wring her neck.

Grennan’s winnings were the result of two pairs. In the next hand, she got another two pairs and once again, cleaned up.

The potential neck-wringer took a break, giving me a chance to get his take on female poker players.

“Women have a huge advantage at the table,” said Matt Mahoney, a 58-year-old father of three girls from Los Angeles. “They have incredible intuition. I can never get away with a lie to my wife or my daughters. And if a woman is playing poker and she dresses correctly, she can be so distracting. Some lean and stretch in certain ways – or maybe I’m just a letch.”

Grennan hadn’t resorted to undoing a button, but still he was wary. “I immediately put myself on guard when she sat down. I couldn’t tell if she could play well and I waited to see. I think she’s a good player. Luck of the Irish? Hey, I’m Irish, too.”

Not far away, at the nearby Rio Casino, Tiffany Michelle, a 24-year-old actor, singer and songwriter from Los Angeles, was showing the stuff she’s made of at the main event of the World Series of Poker. Like Grennan, Michelle learned the game as a kid playing with her brothers. Unlike Grennan, Michelle is a pro. In recent years, she’s been steadily moving up the ranks in professional poker circles and credits her success to pure skill. Mind you, she believes women have an edge.

“The minute a woman sits down at the table, men are automatically uncomfortable,” she told me. Clad in funky clothes and with a ball-cap pulled low over her eyes, the raven-haired beauty laughed. “I know the guys are intimidated by me and so they don’t play their usual game.”

Of the 6,844 players who entered the multi-day tournament, Michelle will go on to finish 17th, earning the coveted title Last Woman Standing. She also earns a whopping $330,000, the largest amount ever won by a female in the tournament’s history.

Grennan, meanwhile, left Vegas, $13 up.

Both were excited by their performance.

Said Michelle, “Doing well in this tournament is assisting in creating buzz for me in Hollywood. One day I hope to invest the money I make in poker in creating and producing, to get films and stories out there that I want to do. I tell women, if you enjoy poker, do it. Somebody has to win, so why not you?”

Said Grennan: “I wanted to prove to myself that I am good enough. I didn’t lose money which means I am.”

During my time in Vegas I asked various women who do well at the poker tables whether – in addition to winning – they get sweet satisfaction from beating the boys.

Some said no, but here’s the thing: They could be bluffing.   Courtesy: National Post


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