Personal Blogs: Too Revealing?

Have you ever read a blog post and felt as though you’re secretly reading someone’s journal? I’ve even experienced irrational paranoia that the blogger in question may be able to trace my identity somehow and know that it was me who was tactlessly ravaging through the pages that describe the innermost workings of their heart and mind.

I read a post earlier that made me take a quick look around the room to see if anyone was watching, that’s how personal it was. I recognise that writing is a form of catharsis, but I feel like some things were just never meant to be shared with so many faceless people. I suppose that’s why I started a blog about random things that grab my attention – whatever prickles my fancy.

Can anyone relate to what I’m saying here, or are personal blogs the order of the day? Real people like real things that they can relate to, especially raw emotional stuff?

I love escapism. I like to take a break from the ordinary pressures of life and the weighty emotional issues that plague the human race. I suppose I might even be accused of taking pleasure in writing about frivolous, irrelevant fluff.

Personal blogs – too revealing? I think so. That’s my irrelevant observation for the day.

On a lighter note, it’s the one month anniversary of The Candid Cactus. Cheers, and here’s to a bright future! I can assure my readers that I will deliver informed, hard-hitting, opinionated blogging on the most entertaining fluff I can find. Enjoy the journey and please feel free to contribute.

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Why Men Shouldn’t Write Advice Columns

A newspaper snippet that made me chuckle:

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Ask Akinator The Web Genius – He’s So Accurate It’s Scary!

I stumbled upon this link earlier:

It takes you to a site where a web genie will guess any character you can possibly think up. He asks you a few questions to which you simply respond yes or no. The first character I thought of was Brandon Flowers; Akinator guessed it. Then I thought up Princess Di; Akinator was right on the money once again. I realised that these characters were probably too easy as they’re high profile people, so I thought about Babe the pig – he got it! Then I thought about a cartoon I watched when I was a kid that was discontinued in 1995, Darkwing Duck … he guessed this one correctly aswell! I thought that my pet dog would surely get the better of him, but to no avail – he guessed it too.

I finally managed to stump him when I thought up Moon Face from the Faraway Tree (a book by Enid Blyton which I read as a child). It was a proud moment.

I should be finishing off a varsity assignment right now, but Akinator has stolen almost an hour of my evening. Clearly my essay topic isn’t very interesting 😦

Anyway, give it a go. It is very entertaining.

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Body Odor: Seductively Stinky?

B.O. – foul, repugnant, disgusting and altogether revolting? If you catch a whiff and you don’t want to sniff, don’t bother to take another look.

B.O. – aromatic, balmy, fragrant and fresh? If it doesn’t smell stale and you want to inhale, take another look.

Two rules to live by if you’re still on a quest to find a mate. For all of the elevating qualities of the human race, there are some instances when it’s safe to say we’re not much more than glorified animals.

The first time I discovered that smell plays a big role in the choice of a human mate, I was somewhat disgusted. I mean dogs sniff each other! yuck!

It’s been scientifically proven that every individual possesses their own unique body odor. Our sweat glands produce an odourless water and salt solution to regulate body temperature, but the apocrine glands produce a slightly thicker substance that, after interacting with bacteria on the skin, has a distinct odor, your body odor. Not only does body odor play a crucial role in attraction, but it can speak volumes about your health. For instance, B.O. that smells like bleach could indicate kidney or liver disease, whereas a fruity body odor could indicate diabetes.

We may not be consciously aware that body odor is an indicator of immunity, but on a primitive, instinctual level, we are. It’s been proven that individuals are attracted to a mate with a different immune system to their own. It makes sense from an evolutionary point of view – your offspring will get the best of both worlds. So if you are entirely put off by someone’s smell, it may very well be that this person has a similar immune system to your own.

It’s all very unromantic. Surely we’re not that primitive? Unfortunately yes, and we shouldn’t fight our natural inclinations, as our choice of a partner has significant implications for future generations.

Unsure of whether to make someone your significant other? Next time they return home from the gym, breathe in deeply – be honest, do you find their body odor bearable, maybe even pleasant? You may have stumbled across your ‘smell mate,’ unromantic, but true.

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Confessions of a Facebook Stalker

It was about a month ago that someone accused me of being a Facebook stalker. “But I don’t even have a Facebook account,” was my hasty response. It’s true, ever since I wrote a varsity essay about identity construction online, I have resisted the urge to sign up for a Facebook account. I’ll admit, there have been late nights when I’ve thought, “oh stuff it, where do I sign up?” but the truth is that I have some strong opinions and convictions about social media forums which have ensured that I remain faceless on the World Wide Web.

My feelings about Facebook in a nutshell:

  • Online social media forums have become the number one arena where people experiment with their identity. For instance, I’ve seen it so many times – people who project that their life is one non-stop party. They only put up photos of their nights out and post status updates from their phones about where they’re at – ‘Rocking Tiki Bar with the best peeps in the world’ – uh … no … you’re not rocking anything, you’re texting Facebook, and obviously you’d rather update your status than converse with the ‘best peeps in the world.’
  • Why are people so proud about the number of friends they have accumulated on Facebook? Five hundred friends? Ya right! Even if you made it your life’s ambition to become acquainted with each one, you’d never really ‘know’ these people well enough to call them friends. In fact, I think Facebook should introduce multiple categories for adding people: 1.) Family and true friends, 2.) People I sorta like, 3.) People I don’t really like but feel obligated to add, 4.) Once off acquaintances, 5.) Complete strangers. I suppose my real gripe here is this – what makes a person say, ‘I kinda like it that people I don’t know look through my personal photographs which detail so much about my life that they would probably be able to find the exact GPS coordinates of my house, all of my regular hang-out spots and possibly even the freckle on my left thigh’?
  • Status updates – they really will be the downfall of the human race. Oh the anxiety … ‘What can I write that’s witty, clever, insightful, hilariously funny and cool?’ – all the pressure makes people write status updates like, ‘I love 3D movies, I wish everyday life was also in 3D.’ Talk about a brain drain! I spent hours sifting through the ridiculous status updates posted on a few nights ago. It’s no wonder that it is one of the most popular WordPress sites. There’s just a never-ending supply of material. I wish I’d come up with the idea.
  • Half-naked pictures – I just don’t get it. Most of the people who form part of one’s 500 ‘friends’ haven’t known much more of you than a handshake or a cursory glance in their direction, but now you don’t mind them seeing you half-naked? Looking for some soft core porn anyone? Just make some ‘friends’ on Facebook and you’ll have access to hundreds of dodge pics. Oh, and sorry for being so last century, but since when is it the done thing to post your honeymoon photos on Facebook?
  • And my final major gripe – oh the balls people have grown on Facebook! Even the quietest guy isn’t scared to put himself out there. The insults fly and arguments  are instantly publicized on news feeds to over 500 ‘friends.’ It all reminds me of the classic coward who lets his friends take down the big guy in a fight and then throws in a kick from the side once they’ve got him on the ground. If you wouldn’t kick the guy while he’s standing, should you really kick him when he’s down? Same thing here, if you wouldn’t say it to someone’s face, don’t say it over Facebook!

So those are just a few of my issues with Facebook. But why did I entitle this post ‘Confessions of a Facebook Stalker’? Well, the truth is, I browse Facebook a lot … via my sister’s account. I am very anti the idea of putting my own life out there for the world to see and become involved in, but I love the voyeuristic aspect of looking into someone else’s life (or what they project of their life) without them knowing. It’s thoroughly entertaining, and I’ve reasoned that it’s okay because if someone puts it all out there, they must know that people are going to look, plain and simple.

Nevertheless, I didn’t think of myslef as a stalker. But, my sister said that most people on Facebook do what is known as Facebook stalking at one stage or another. Urban Dictionary defines Facebook stalking as:
An individual who secretly looks up people on facebook, going through albums, comments and personal information to piece together a picture of this person. Potentially developing into an obsession.
Tristan is a facebook stalker, he fs’ed the girl before he went on his date with her. By the time they were eating dinner, he already knew what things she liked and disliked.

I pretty much fit the description above, but I was in denial about being a Facebook stalker until 3 weeks back. Someone at work started telling me about a friend of hers who used to be her flat mate (I’ve never met this friend of hers, but I already knew from Facebook pictures who she was talking about and that they had been flat mates). My colleague went on to tell me that her friend had just recently met an amazing guy (I knew this factoid aswell – from Facebook), and she also told me that her friend is a grade one school teacher (this too, I knew from Facebook). As I sat listening to my colleague tell me all these things that I already knew from Facebook, it hit me like a ton of bricks – I am a Facebook stalker! I had to ‘mmm’ and ‘ahhh’ through the entire conversation, pretending that it was the first time I had heard any of the information she was telling me, when really I would’ve probably told the story better than she did.

So there it is – I am a schizo hypocrital Facebook Stalker – I hate Facebook but I love it. The voyeur inside me just wants to come out to play every once in a little while 🙂

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American Idol Fires Kara DioGuardi: Hallelujah!

It’s official: Kara DioGuardi has been given the boot from American Idol. Nigel Lythgoe (the old guy from So You Think You Can Dance) has returned to American Idol as executive producer and didn’t see it fit to keep know-it-all DioGuardi around. I think it’s the best decision made in years! With Simon having left the show and Ellen deciding to leave of her own accord, Kara would’ve absolutely murdered the upcoming season with her drawling monologues and ridiculous pouting.

Clearly I’ve never been a Kara fan. In fact, I much preferred watching doped up Paula dance around like she was tripping on some hallucinogenic drugs while Simon repeatedly attempted to fondle her on the side. Last season I lost interest after the first round of auditions. Simon looked like a repressed, bored version of himself ever since being forced to work with Kara DioGuardi who pouts and pontificates like she’s the only one who knows best.

So who will make up the new panel of judges? There are rumors that the new panel might include Steven Tyler from Aerosmith, Jennifer Lopez, and possibly even Jessica Simpson. They will join lone original American Idol judge – old dawg Randy Jackson. It all sounds so ridiculous, I might just watch the next season. One thing’s for sure, I won’t be crying any tears over Kara’s departure – unless they’re tears of joy that is 😉

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Buried Alive: A Justified 19th Century Phobia

Buried alive: an unfounded fear in the 21st century, a very reasonable phobia during the 19th century. I spent some time googling the subject of premature burial, and what I found is somewhat disturbing. It’s called the Lazarus syndrome; where no vital signs are evident and a person is proclaimed dead only to later regain consciousness.

This happened more frequently during the late 18th and early 19th centuries when the methods used to proclaim a person dead were not as advanced as they are today. In 1896, an American funeral director, T.M. Montgomery reported that premature burial was proven to have taken place in 2% of those exhumed. Gasp! And that 2% figure came solely from those coffins that were dug up!

In fact, being buried alive was such a justified fear during the 18th and 19th centuries that safety coffins and special graveyards were introduced, fitted with a bell, a flag, an airway, an intercom, a fridge with all necessary food supplies, a fresh change of clothing and some deodorant to cover up that decaying smell (okay, so I added the last three – but that’s what I want in my coffin when I die + a gaming console to keep me occupied while I wait to be dug up). Let me not get carried away here, the bottom line is that premature burial happened, and obviously far more often than known figures actually reflect. Why? Because if we wanted to know actual percentages, we’d have to dig up all old graves to figure out just how often it actually happened.

Now for some gory details – the coffins that have been exhumed where people were found to have been buried alive revealed scratch marks on all sides of the coffin, the deceased to have pulled their hair out in distress, and many of the victims to be lying face down instead of face up as they were buried. AHHHH! The stuff nightmares are made of.

Case examples? There are many! Here are just two:

  • Jenkins from Asheville, N.C. buried alive on the 20th of January 1885. This one really creeped me out because the story was published in the New York Times and you can read the actual archived copy of the report in PDF online. Take a look here if you’re interested. Basically this Jenkins guy, described as a ‘young man’, was sick with fever for several weeks. He then became cold, clammy and speechless and ‘appeared’ to have no action of the pulse or heart. He was proclaimed dead and was prepared for burial. However (and this is so creepy), they noticed on the day of his burial that his limbs weren’t stiff like those of a dead person and he was said to be ‘as limber as a live man.’ But, they buried him anyway (nice family he had, pfft). There was much talk in the neighborhood about the possibility of Jenkins being buried alive. These doubts were cast aside, until ten months later when Jenkins was exhumed with the intent of moving his body to the family burial grounds. When the heavy wood coffin was removed, it was suggested that it be opened to see whether the body was in a good enough condition to be hauled 20 miles before putting it into a metallic casket. It was then that they saw the frightful signs! (imagine some eery music while you read the rest) – to the horror of the onlookers, Jenkins’ body was found lying face downwards, there were fingernail scratches on all sides of the coffin, he had pulled the hair from his head in ‘great quantities’ – and naturally this caused much distress to his immediate family who had believed him to be dead at the time of his burial.
  • Sipho William Mdletshe from South Africa was involved in a serious car accident and declared dead in 1993. He was taken to a mortuary and placed in a metal box. The poor guy woke up after two days and two nights in the metal box, probably thought he was having a nightmare when he realized where he was, screamed for help and was ‘rescued’ by mortuary workers. He couldn’t wait to get home to his mourning fiance – she’d probably think he had returned with some divine wisdom … not quite … being African and superstitious as hell, she refused to let him come anywhere near her, thinking rather that he was a zombie who had returned to haunt her.

That’s all I have time for today folks. There isn’t very much more to say, other than that we should all be thankful that we didn’t live in the 18th or 19th centuries. Also, some of you should be thankful that you don’t live in Africa, as poor old Sipho had to go through that whole ordeal less than ten years ago. Hmmm … rant about South Africa? Nah, that’s a subject for another day.

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The Text/Twitter/Facebook Language Quiz

“My smmr hols wr CWOT. B4, we used 2go2 NY 2C my bro, his GF & thr 3 :- kids FTF. ILNY, it’s a gr8 plc.” – Can  you translate? This is an excerpt from a school essay handed in by a 13-year-old Scottish girl. Naturally, her teacher was mortified. I fancied that I would be able to translate the short piece of textese above, but I got stuck as soon as I reached ‘CWOT’. For those of you who tried and failed, here’s what the lil Scottish texter meant:

“My summer holidays were a complete waste of time. Before, we used to go to New York to see my brother, his girlfriend and their three screaming kids face to face. I love New York. It’s a great place.”

So it’s been said that we’re the sms generation, known for our inability to live without some form of social media. But it’s also been said that all of this texting is doing nothing for our language skills. Perhaps you disagree, but I for one do not like the idea of reworking the English language to the point where it is unrecognizable. For instance, take this university student who reworked the Lord’s prayer into a textese ‘masterpiece’:

“dad@hvn, ur spshl. we want wot u want &urth2b like hvn. giv us food & 4giv r sins lyk we 4giv uvaz. don’t test us! save us! bcos we kno ur boss, ur tuf & ur cool 4 eva! ok?”

I can appreciate the fact that shorthand messaging is a time-saver, but these are new levels of textese that I can’t relate to – on any level – mostly because I can’t for the life of me understand what the texter is trying to say.

Now that I’ve shared my opinion on the subject, it’s quiz time! Who are you when it comes to texting – the stickler, the EZ (easy) txtr or da gr8st txtr afaik. Give yourself points for every word you can translate and see which category you fit into below.

  • da, de or d      (1 point)
  • k                      (1 point)
  • c                       (1 point)
  • wit                   (1 point)
  • r                       (1 point)
  • w/o                  (1 point)
  • cya                   (1 point)
  • m8                   (1 point)
  • thr4                 (2 points)
  • 1ce                   (2 points)
  • nd                     (1 point)
  • asl or a/s/l       (2 points)
  • afaik                  (3 points)
  • brb                    (1 point)
  • atm                   (1 point)
  • idk                     (2 points)
  • t2yl                    (3 points)
  • wtf                     (1 point)
  • imo                     (1 point)
  • imho                  (2 points)
  • i ❤ u                 (3 points)
  • lol                       (1/2 point)
  • lmao                   (1 point)
  • btw                     (1 point)
  • rofl                      (2 points)

0-10 points: Come forth oh stickler for good old-fashioned diction.

10-25 points: EZ textr, you’re my type of person – not too enthralled in the world of texting that you would hand in your CV saying ‘imho, im a gr8 ppls prsn’. Nevertheless, you are at ease with sending a quick sms or twitter update so that it’s still half legible.

26-36 and a half: You may be da gr8st txtr afaik, but damn – no one can understand what you’re writing unless it’s someone in the same texting league. Surely the point of language is to communicate?
2b or not 2b that’s the ? 🙂

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The Closet/Ashamed Twilight Fan

If there’s one thing I can’t understand about Twilight fans, it’s this – most of them seem embarrassed that they’re fans to begin with. Surely if something is that good, you wouldn’t care what others think and you certainly wouldn’t feel ashamed? But yet I have encountered many a Twilight fan who sheepishly admits that they have read all three books, watched all the movies and kinda, sorta, maybe loved them. The conversation goes something like this:

me: I really don’t get the Twilight hype.

closet/ashamed Twilight fan: (awkward silence) ….. (reluctant admission) ya, I didn’t get it either, but then I read all three books over one weekend and they’re not that bad.

me: really? and you enjoyed them?

closet/ashamed Twilight fan: Ummm, well they’re kind of silly, but they’re really intense. I just couldn’t put them down.

me: the trailers for the Twilight movies just seem so bad.

closet/ashamed Twilight fan: the books are much better than the movies.

me: so did you watch all three movies?

closet/ashamed Twilight fan: ummm, yes, I booked my ticket before the movies were even released. I just thought I couldn’t not watch the movies after reading the books.

me: Oh, so you really like Twilight then?

closet/ashamed Twilight fan: no, not really. It’s really for tweens. Stephanie Meyer isn’t a good writer.

Maybe you’ve had conversations like these (with adults that is). Every tween under the sun would happily admit to being a Twilight fan – I’m team Edward and all of that crap. I just find it really humorous that there are countless adults who secretly love the books, the movies, all of it, and yet they battle to admit it. There are so many people like this that I’m starting to develop a Twilight fan radar. If I pick up on some half-truths, I dig a little deeper just to discover a fully fledged Twilight fan.

Anyway, that’s the end of my observation. But before I end off, a friend of mine sent me a really funny email entitled ‘If Mr Bean was … ‘ It included pictures of Mr Bean’s face pasted on various well-known celebs and movie characters. Perhaps you’ve seen it already. But this one was particularly funny:

This would make a funny Twilight sequel indeed, with Mr Bean cast as Bella Swan. Kristen Stewart is such a bad actress in any case. That girl has just one facial expression whether she’s on the red carpet, in Twilight, in Adventureland – it’s all the same, Kristen playing … herself!

Anyway, I’m clearly not a fan, but if you are, come out of the closet. You can do it … you know you want to … which team are you on?

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The Most Bizarre Deaths in History

While getting my daily dose of news this morning, I stumbled upon an interesting article about the most bizarre deaths in history. Laughing to death (fatal hilarity), death by a toothpick (peritonitis) and death by computer games (it was the end of the World … Of Warcraft for Lee Seung Seop). There’s more, a granny found in a heap of ashes (spontaneous human combustion) and a man who posted an ad on the internet inviting a guest to join him for dinner – the main course? the host himself (self-induced cannibalistic masochism).

You can read the full article here. It even includes a paragraph on how Jack Daniels died. He drowned in a vat of whiskey of course – no, not quite, but have a read, very interesting indeed.

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