Hong Kong's hot market in haunted homes
For sale: Hong Kong apartment with sweeping sea views and three rooms, all signs of recent grisly murder in the bathroom eliminated, will take offers between 15-20% below market value.
In Hong Kong, where superstitions can make or break a property deal, a real estate advertisement like this is not beyond the realms of the fantastic.
With the local property market showing signs of cooling, almost every angle is worked to increase yields, and a trade in so-called haunted houses is now a visible feature of the market.
"There are a group of people that go around and bid on them," explains Eric Wong, a realtor with Hong Kong's Squarefoot.com.hk. "Chinese people, especially in Hong Kong, don't like houses where something unfortunate has happened.
"This means they can sell for less which makes the rental yields greater. The normal yields are between 3-4%, but an apartment where there's been a murder can get a yield of about 7%," he says
The apartment is then rented to someone who does not share the same set of beliefs -- normally a foreigner -- although some realtors say there are Chinese clients who don't care and one even identifies doctors and nurses 'who are used to working around the dead' as potential tenants.
"It often depends on the circumstances of the death and what stories and rumors are attached to it," says Wong. Particularly gruesome murders or harrowing deaths can affect the market price of the whole floor of apartments; in some cases the entire building.
"There was a bad murder in an apartment block in Quarry Bay in Hong Kong," he says. "A wife killed her husband, cut the body into pieces and placed the parts in dustbins on every floor. Even 15 years later, apartments in that block are still difficult to sell."
For superstitious Hong Kongers, the building is hongza -- a term derived from the Cantonese word hong, meaning violence, murder or calamity, and za meaning residence.
Hongza houses can sometimes sell for as low as 40% below the city average, although 15-20% is more usual. Wong says his company recently opened up a section on its website called Haunted House in response to the growing market.
"We were approached by agents who wanted to access this information more conveniently," he says.
The section, which details government data on unusual deaths and murders in apartment buildings across Hong Kong since 1977, makes for macabre reading. One typical entry for an apartment block in Yuen Long reads: "36-year-old female secondary school teacher faced a marriage crisis, jumped off the building after sending a text message to her husband."
With all the details rendered in the sparse language of a police log entry, one could be forgiven for thinking that Hong Kong life was a depressing litany of fatal misfortunes. However, realtors say an apartment is more or less hongza depending on what happened there.
"I have heard of realtors using this list which identifies places from one skull, which is like a fatal accident, to four skulls which is a high-profile murder," says Wong. "But I think it's really an unofficial thing."
One realtor, who did not want to be identified, told CNN that hongza tends to wear off as the apartment changes hands.
"A subsequent owner will not attract as much bad luck as the first person who buys the flat after someone died there," she says. "Even so they can sometimes sell quickly -- I was just about to sell a hongza house to a client when another agent made a winning offer for a client.
"My client must have missed it by all of half an hour."
Despite their popularity among savvy bargain hunters, apartments where people have met violent or unusual ends are heavily stigmatised and banks will routinely run checks before lending on a hongza house, realtors say.
Agents are legally required in Hong Kong to reveal to a buyer whether something has occurred on a property.
"A Lands Department search will show what has happened in an apartment," says Wong. "If we don't reveal that to a buyer they can take action against the agent."
For those with deep pockets, however, and without a willing foreigner to take up a lease, the investment strategy is simply to wait it out.
"Time heals all wounds," notes Hong Kong property speculator and blogger Mo Yu-Wen. "As time goes on, though, fewer and fewer people will remember what happened and the value will go up again." - CNN
Hong Kong Murders
Pilot locks himself in toilet of New York flight and sparks terror alert
A pilot inadvertently caused a mid-air terror scare after locking himself in the toilet and sending a passenger to the cockpit to get help.
The co-pilot refused to let the helpful traveller into the cockpit and messaged control tower at La Guardia Airport where the plane was due to land saying he thought an attack was underway and that someone with a 'thick foreign accent' was trying to access the cockpit.
Even after the passenger offered the co-pilot the password and continued banging on the door, he still refused him entry.
Fighter planes had been alerted but were never sent out.
Eventually the pilot managed to force his way out of the toilet and retake control of the plane.
In a recording obtained by the New York Post, he can be heard saying: 'The captain, myself, went back to the lavatory and the door latch broke and I had to fight my way out of it with my body to get the door open.
'There is no issue, no threat.'
The incident took place on a New York-bound Chatauqua Airlines flight from Asheville, North Carolina.
FBI and Port Authority cops met the plane when it landed in New York that evening. - metro
Get out of Your Seat!: An Average Passenger's Guide to Overcoming Airline Terror
Terror in the Skies: Why 9/11 Could Happen Again
Drink coffee...see ghosts
A study conducted at Durham University in 2009 found that people who consumed at least 315 mg of caffeine (about three cups of brewed coffee) a day were three times more likely to hallucinate than more conservative coffee-drinkers. Seeing things, hearing voices, and sensing the presence of ghosts were among the experiences reported by test participants and tallied as "hallucinatory" by the researchers.
According to the researchers, the ultimate question is this: are the hallucinations a result of the coffee-drinking, or is the coffee something hallucinators flock to as a way to help them cope with their experiences?
At least one study, conducted by researcher Harold Koenigsberg back in 1993, seems to support the plausibility of the former conclusion. Koenigsberg and his colleagues discovered that caffeine, delivered intravenously to test participants during their sleep, had the curious effect of inducing olfactory hallucinations; when test participants awoke, they reported experiencing a variety of strange smells. One participant even reported experiencing a scent like that of "plastic or burnt coffee."
All About Coffee
NOTE: Admitted coffee addict...do NOT know what I would do without it. Lon
In July 2010, 79-year-old Florida man Richard Smith went to the hospital complaining about breathing troubles and stomach pains. After his nurse accidentally injected him with Pancuronium—a drug that's given to death row inmates during the execution process—Smith's health troubles were gone. But so was he, eventually.
Smith's nurse at Miami's North Shore Medical Center meant to give him the antacid Pepcid, but grabbed the death drugs by accident. Whoops! The Pancuronium injection sent Smith into respiratory arrest; he was resuscitated but died a month later. Now his heartbroken family is suing.
Meanwhile, North Shore is sooooo sorry about all this! "This was a tragic event that was immediately self-reported to the agency for health care administration," hospital officials say in a statement. "We conducted an internal review and have several new processes in place to ensure a situation like this doesn't happen again." Nevertheless the nurse who gave Smith his fatal injection remains on duty in the intensive care unit.
You might be wondering why a hospital would have execution drugs on stock. Well, Pancuronium can be used as a regular muscle relaxant. Okay, so now you might be wondering why a hospital would keep such a potentially lethal drug next to its tummyache drugs. That's a question I can't answer. - gawker
How to Survive Your Hospital Stay: The Complete Guide to Getting the Care You Need--And Avoiding Problems You Don't (Lynn Sonberg Books)
Lloyd Pye's South Africa Lecture
My friend Lloyd Pye has been invited to lecture at the first annual UFOs, Science, and Consciousness Conference in Johannesburg, South Africa. Lloyd also writes about the infant 'Conehead' mummy recently found in Cuzco, Peru and the surprising reaction by mainstream scientists. Go to South Africa Lecture, Conehead Mummy and a Death
Encounter with alien entity
Connecticut - 2/25/2011: (unedited) Last winter or early spring I was walking in the Ansonia Nature center late at night as I sometimes do. I reported witnessing a conical-egg like craft landed there near the Nature Center pond several years ago. On this occasion, as I was returning home on the last leg of my walk through the woods at approximately 3:00am I was walking past a house on the outskirts of the woods. All of the sudden a dear runs frantically across the street in front of me maybe 20ft ahead and skids and falls in front of me as it had been spooked badly by something. I do not think that it was me that spooked the dear because if it had noticed me it would not have run literally right across my path. I thought this somewhat spooky - and I realize this is completely subjective - due to the weird quietness in the air like something is about to happen.
I continued walking towards home and took up a path along the border of the farm belonging to the last house next to the woods. The path is next to the woods bordered by some open terrain and fields on the other side. While I was walking my eyes were at a soft focus not paying attention to anything in particular. Then all of the sudden my body instinctively(?) stopped and my eyes focused on an entity approximately 25 yards ahead slightly crouched in a very aggressive posture staring right at me.
When I first saw the entity - and again this is entirely subjective - I already knew that it was an extraterrestrial alien of some kind without letting that thought occupy my mind as I was so involved in an instinctual stare down.
Granted, there are so many other possible explanations, logically speaking, of course but I will elaborate on the strangeness of the encounter with this entity anyway, even if it was not of extraterrestrial origin. The entity glowed a dull grey-blue and if I remember correctly the moon was shining so there was some visibility as far as light is concerned. The strange thing was the entity uniformly glowed the dull grey-blue everywhere as if it were naked and had no cloths on. I mean if it were blue-grey skin due to the moonlight, the entire entity would not have been that color due to the fact that it should have been wearing clothing of some type if it were human. No clothing was noticed on the creature. I am not new to UFO and alien reports due to earlier sightings I have experienced and subsequent research, but the over-sized head, skinny legs and arms, large eyes were not present on this creature normally attributed to "grays". In fact the entity seemed much more human-like in form, athletic, intense, focused, at the ready, aggressive in posture. I did not notice any eyes on the creature in the grey-blue haze that was its form yet I could tell it was staring directly at me in a sort of stand-offish way like two animals in the wild that are infringing on each others terrain. After locking eyes or glances for three seconds as if I had stumbled upon this entity and it was surprised to see me there or as if it was waiting for me and that I had noticed it too soon and been too alert, the entity very athletically turned and ran full speed into the woods at about a ninety degree angle to the line connecting our paths. I heard the bushes rustle as the creature took off into the woods and also another sound to my immediate left that sounded like a dear going through the woods by the size of the sound as if it were chasing after the entity as the two paths sounded close or like they would eventually intersect when traveling at such a speed through the woods.
Right after the entity took off dashing headlong into the woods I yelled at it as loudly and aggressively as I could. This is subjective again and is not really hard proof, but I sometimes get premonitions that I will encounter an ET entity in the woods and that we are sometimes on similar mental bandwidth or thinking channels and that if we were to meet there should be a designated location to do this. I had passed the designated location which I have thought about enough for it to be decided upon and familiar a location to meet at and I yelled at the creature as loud as I could to meet in the right spot (which of course may have been a little more boring of a scenario I later concluded) angered that the supposedly agreed upon location was ignored. Please pardon this craziness (or I feel crazy disclosing the experience in this way) I just thought I would add this anyway.
I told a friend about the incident and she said it was just some random person walking in the woods at night and that it was nothing. This of course is very possible and could easily dismiss this incident away. But there was a strange energy to the encounter and locking stares on each other to the extent that I was nervous and didn't want to continue the path I was going because I had the sense like I might be ambushed by something. There was an extreme sense of tension, intrigue, and danger. I walk back in the woods at night somewhat regularly and dear stalk and approach me within 15-20 feet at times and all other kinds of sounds occur and I do not become scared even though I can't see anything at all but what the small dim flash light can show me. So this being the case, if it had been a real person, it would had to have been a very aggressive, intense, serious, one with a strange eerie aura about it to frighten me. And from the people that i have seen walking back in the woods during the day, what on earth would cause him to stare at me in an overtly aggressive manner for three seconds after I saw him and then run head long full speed into the woods. Crazy right? I went back to the spot the following day and looked at the spot where I thought the entity had approximately been and all along the path next to the woods there was very thick shrubbery, grass, trees, bushes, a tangled mess and I thought to myself, how on earth did this thing run full speed through this tangle. It seemed simply impossible to me.
Right when I had decided to turn around to go an alternate route home instead of through the woods because I was nervous of an ambush and felt more safe going through a neighborhood with streetlights but I regretted for a moment not taking off after the creature myself. But as I said it would have been impossible to go through the thick bushes and foliage to do that. The strangest impression that I get from this incident is that when I locked eyes with the creature I felt like it had been waiting for me or was watching me and that I wasn't supposed to have seen it so soon so it was embarrassed or something and ran off. And when it ran off, and this is very important, it was not in a scared manner but a very regimented, sure, quick, escape type of way but in a way that let you know it meant business and wasn't scared or nervous but just needed to get out of the area and for some reason it did not belong there because I saw it. So I walked home the long way on a lit street through the neighborhood just going over the event and continually saying to myself that I was glad that I went the way I did, sure that if I had not I could have possibly been ambushed. How strange that if I saw simply another human I would have had these impressions and feelings especially since I regularly go back there and am used to the place at dark. It is just hard to believe than another human would have acted the way that this entity did. All I can do is report what I saw, which is shaky at best. Nevertheless, the sighting of the landed conical craft that I witnessed prior to this sighting a while back at approximately the same location in my mind lends credence to the feelings and impression that I have that this entity was something other than human. - MUFON CMS
Alien Agenda: Investigating the Extraterrestrial Presence Among Us
The Secret History of Extraterrestrials: Advanced Technology and the Coming New Race
Twilight of the Gods: The Mayan Calendar and the Return of the Extraterrestrials