Australian Family Set New Guinness Record with 502,165 Christmas Light Installation

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We love it when the holidays are around the corner; there are just so many odd stories to talk about! Our first Christmas story this season is here: an Australian family who put up over half a million Christmas lights in their Canberra home and set a new Guinness World Record.

This isn’t the first time father-of-three David Richards and his family have done this. In 2011 they set the record after putting up 331,038 lights. Last year a New-York family beat them with a whopping 346,283. The Richards wanted their title back so badly that this year they’ve installed 502,165 lights – that’s 31 miles of wire. They also have a glowing reindeer and loud music to boot.

Some of the Richards’ neighbours are very upset and haven’t spoken to the family since 2011. But most of them love the dazzle and come to visit from several miles away. David says, “I have always loved Christmas. Having the Christmas lights with the community coming in and sharing it is a time when you get to know people you probably should know better, I guess.”

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China’s Best Mao Zedong Impersonator Is Actually a Woman

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57-year-old Chen Yan used to be an average, run-of-the-mill homemaker. The only noticeable thing about her: her striking resemblance to Chinese revolutionary Mao Zedong. Chen was teased mercilessly for this as a child, reducing her to tears. But in 2006 she made a decision that would completely change her life –  to embrace herself and her appearance. Chen is now a full time Mao impersonator, an extremely popular one.

Impersonating Chairman Mao isn’t exactly a piece of cake. It’s a demanding and controversial job, because female impersonators of Mao aren’t very common in China. To look the part, Chen has to touch up her face, wear a Zhongshan suit and arrange her hair like Mao’s trademark style. She has to walk on specially made 26cm stilts, camouflaged to look like a larger shoe size. A typical performance is about 40 minutes long – Chen waves to the crowds, smokes and stares solemnly into the distance. I must say, she does a damn good job of it. It’s almost impossible to tell there’s a woman behind the costume.

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Concussion Turns Ordinary Man into Musical Genius, Overnight

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If getting hit on the head means that I’d get to be a kickass musician for the rest of my life, I think I would seriously consider it. It sounds impossible, but something of the sort happened to 41-year-old Derek Amato. He really didn’t have a choice about it, though.

Derek had no idea his life was about to change forever when he dove into the shallow end of a pool to catch a football at a party. He hit his head and had a concussion, resulting in Acquired Savant Syndrome – a rare condition where people display profound abilities (called savant skills) after suffering head trauma, abilities that they didn’t have at birth. In Derek’s case, the acquired ability is music.

Derek is one of only 30 people in the world with this rare condition and the only one to have acquired music as a savant skill. Before the fall, he just dabbled in guitar and had no idea how to read or write music. And now he can play eight different instruments with the ease of a professional musician. Watching him play on video, it’s pretty hard to believe this man has had no formal training in music at all.

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The Cotton Ball Diet – A Dangerous Weight-Loss Trend

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I thought the Tapeworm diet was as bad as weight loss fads could get, but I was mistaken. Desperate dieters keep coming up with new, innovative methods to shed pounds. The latest trend is to eat cotton balls soaked in orange juice, lemonade or smoothies.

It’s all over the internet. Chat rooms, YouTube videos and blogs are describing to young women how the cotton ball diet is done. The trend is said to have caught on after model Bria Murphy (Eddie Murphy’s daughter) admitted to seeing models subjecting themselves to this diet. “I’ve heard of people eating the cotton balls with the orange juice. They dip it in the orange juice and then they eat the cotton balls to help them feel full,” Murphy told her interviewer on Good Morning America.

The idea behind the cotton ball diet is to feel full without having to gain weight. Some practitioners stick to just eating cotton all day. Others chow down on these fillers before a meal, so they can eat less. Dieters are able to swallow as many as five juice-dipped balls in one sitting, before they feel completely full.

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Polish Designer Turns Cane Toads into Fashion Accessories

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In a fairy-tale world, you could kiss a frog and turn it into Prince Charming. No such luck in the real world. If it’s any consolation though, a Polish designer is converting thousands of toads into highly desirable fashion accessories. I mean, who wants men when you can have designer purses, right?

The highly poisonous cane toads live in the South Sea Islands in Australia. They are considered an invasive species, which means they are a serious threat to the native biodiversity of the continent. Introduced to Australia from Hawaii in 1935, their main purpose was to control the native cattle beetle. The mission failed and cane toads began to multiply at an alarming rate – there are now over 200 million of them. The Australian army was deployed to get rid of them by the thousands.

Putting the two stories (of Prince Charming and the Unwanted Toads) together is Polish designer Monika Jarosz. It all started when a friend gifted Monika a stuffed frog from New Zealand. “It disgusted me, but ended up fascinating me,” she says. The more she stroked it, the more she liked the idea of creating something from similar material. Soon the concept was born – leather purses and bags with the toad skin intact, head included.

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Innocent People Getting Punched for no Reason in Dangerous Knockout Game

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The Knockout Game is a disturbing trend emerging among teens in the US. A group of teens, get together and punch random passersby on streets. Their aim is to knock people out cold in a single punch. The singular move is termed the ‘one-hitter-quitter’.

Incidents of the Knockout Game have been reported throughout the US, mostly from the New York metro area and Washington. Media reports suggest that the elderly and women with children are not exempt from this brutal game. Some reporters think that the crimes have a motive; almost all the victims seem to be white, Asian, Jews, homosexuals, and sometimes even vegan. Earlier this month, CBS covered the Knockout Game in detail. One teen told reporters, “You just knock them out. You hit them with a blow and you take their belongings.” While some say that they participate simply for the fun of it, others are wannabe tough guys who want to test their strength.

One of the most recent victims of the game was Phoebe Connolly from Washington D.C. As she was riding her bike in the Columbia Heights section, a teen rushed up to her and punched her face with brute force. “My whole head went flying to the side,” she said. “One kid came from the side and pretty much cut me off. He threw a hook with his left hand and got me right in the face and he said, ‘Wapow!’”

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Woman Gets Platinum Jewel Implanted in Her Eye to Make Herself Unique

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Lucy Luckayanko is perhaps the only New Yorker to have an eye-stud. She spent $3,000 on a one-minute procedure to have a heart-shaped piece of platinum inserted into the white of her right eyeball.

Harvard and NYU-trained Dr. Chynn performed the procedure. Interestingly, he has been featured here on OC before. He made news last August as a love-crazed doctor desperate to find his soul-mate. He spent thousands of dollars on high-end matchmaking services and charity donations in exchange for dates. When nothing worked out, he began to offer free cosmetic procedures to anyone who would introduce him to the girl of his dreams. Going by this, we don’t know if Lucy has had to pay for her treatment or got it free in exchange for setting up Dr. Chynn on a date. In any case, she went ahead with it and now she looks like she has a piece of dirt stuck in her eye forever.

It seems doctors have done this procedure several times in Europe and Los Angeles, but this was New York’s first. To perform it, Dr. Chynn first injected an anesthetic into Lucy’s eye. Then he made a tiny incision to “try to divide a pocket in between the sclera (the white part) and the conjunctiva (the clear part)” of her eye. Using forceps, he placed the 3.5mm platinum stud in a drop of water on Lucy’s eye membrane. Since the stud is so small, it had to be floated into position. It was all over in a matter of minutes and Lucy went home with her new bejeweled eye soon after.

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Rooftop Agriculture – Chinese Farmer Turns House Roof into Fertile Farmland

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The curious case of the Chinese Rooftop strikes again!

First, there was the eccentric businessman who built a mountain-villa on the roof of a Beijing apartment building. Then there was that mysterious temple built on a Chinese skyscraper. Now we have the story of farmer Peng Quigen and his one-of-a-kind ‘sky-farm’. For several years, he has been growing rice, fruits and vegetables on the roof of his four-storey home in Shaoxing, Zhejiang province, 40 feet above the ground.

Peng’s sky-farm is no hobby. What he has done with just 120-square-meters of rooftop is pretty remarkable. He’s actually managing to yield large quantities of produce from this small, yet fertile, patch. Just last year, Peng harvested nearly 400 kilograms of watermelon, which is a whopping 30 percent higher than ground-level yield. This year he’s trying out rice – he says that in spite of the negative impact of typhoon ‘Fitow’, he’s expecting to harvest enough rice to feed one adult for one whole year.

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Woman Marries Ferris Wheel She Has Loved for Decades

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Love knows no limits for, a woman from Florida who married Bruce the Skydiver, an amusement park ride similar to a Ferris-wheel. Although the state of Florida doesn’t even allow same-sex marriages between humans, Linda married the steel ride last year. At the beginning of this year, the two renewed their vows during a ceremony conducted by a non-denominational preacher, who tied them “flesh to steel”. As expected, Bruce had nothing to object.

The woman has a condition called “objectum sexuality”, meaning that she considers certain objects as potential lovers. In fact, before Bruce, Linda was romantically involved with a train and a helicopter, which determined her to choose jobs that allowed her to be closer to her beloved objects. Consequently, she was both a pilot and a train conductor. Unfortunately, her affection for the locomotive wasn’t appreciated, so she lost her job. As she says, “I was seen in a romantic embrace with a train and subsequently, I was fired”. The first encounter with the park ride, back in 1982, was very special for Linda. As she remembers, “I got this weird feeling I can’t explain. My heart was pounding as we went up the platform and got on the ride. I felt like I was being taken by this ride.” Just like in any great love story, the mother didn’t agree with her daughter’s relationship. “My mother’s reaction was completely off the wall; she was a very religious person. To her, I was an abomination to God and she wanted to change that … she really thought I was demon possessed.” Linda cared more about Bruce than about her mother’s opinion, so she ran away and joined the carnival, where she would cuddle the ride at night. Unfortunately, 3 years later, a storm damaged Bruce, who was taken for repairs in Wichita, Kansas.

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How Do You Stop a 400-lb Running Back? You Don’t!

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At 6’4”, (190 centimeters) and 400 lb (181 kilograms), Tony Picard, a senior at the White Swan High School in Yakima, Washington, is not only the biggest running back in high-school football, but probably the biggest in the history of pro football, as well.

Just like the famous William “Refrigerator” Perry, who played for the Chicago Bears during the 80′s and 90′s and is known as one of the biggest players to ever play pro football (6’2” and 335 lbs.), Tony “The Tone” Picard started out as an offensive lineman, but after his coach noticed his unusual speed, he was reinvented as an unlikely running back. His qualities for the position became evident at a football camp a couple of years ago, during a game of basketball. “He was so agile and making shots from way out there,” White Swans coach, Andrew Bush, recalls. “I said ‘I’ve got to use this somehow.’” He gave Picard just two instructions: average 4 yards per carry and don’t fumble. In the first 10 games of this season, the Tone has averaged 5 yards per carry. “Most teams will sacrifice five guys to stop him: four linemen and a middle linebacker. That leaves three guys on each side to stop the rest of our team,” the coach says. “Everything else opens up: our outside running, our play action, and our entire passing game. We average about 450 yards as a team offensively.”

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Over One Million Starlings Leave Rome Covered in Bird Droppings

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With nothing to scare them away, starlings are definitely leaving their mark on Rome, this year. The chirping black birds flock from northern Europe to Italy’s capital, which they prefer because of its warm Mediterranean climate. They’ve been spending their winters here for a long time, but until now, authorities have been able to keep them from covering the ancient capital in a disgusting layer of droppings. This year, financial cuts have left locals at the mercy of these tiny but numerous guano bombers.

The first documented time when starlings overwintered in Rome was in 1926. If at first they settled on the outskirts of the city, little by little they moved further into it, drawn by the heat radiating from the buildings. More than 1,5 million starlings are now nesting in Italy’s capital city and doing their business pretty much everywhere. The birds, which arrive in Rome in two waves, one in October and the other in January, have the habit of leaving the city at daybreak to fly over to the olive groves in the city suburbs. After spending the entire day eating olives, they fly back to the city, where they leave their greasy, stinky business on cars, buildings, statues and streets. Because of the heavy bird droppings, the Lungotevere, one of Rome’s greenest boulevards, had to be closed because of the high risk of accidents not only for pedestrians, but also for vehicles.

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Sport Scientist Loses 24 Pounds in 24 Hours, Proves Rapid Weight Loss Is Possible

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Ross Edgeley may become everyone’s new best friend after he recently demonstrated that gaining weight doesn’t have everything to do with fat. The 28-year-old sport scientist and writer did an experiment to prove that “your nutrition and self esteem shouldn’t be governed by the weighing scales if you’re on a diet. So many people are slaves to the scales and have their self-esteem and nutrition governed by them. I hope this experiment will create a healthier relationship between people and the weighing scales and people will realize weight can fluctuate based on many factors, not just fat”.

The scientist’s extreme experiment had him trying to lose 14 kilograms in no more than 24 hours. Keep in mind that this was a dangerous experiment that was done under the doctors’ strict supervision, so DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME. Edgeley’s main goal was that of losing as much water as possible. “As much as 50 per cent to 70 per cent of our body weight is made up of water. So weighing 95kg that means in theory 47.5kg of my body is water weight. Cutting too much water could be fatal since it’s needed for your vital organs to function and even maintain a healthy blood volume, but cutting a lot of water from the body through sweat suits, diuretics and not drinking any that day would dramatically reduce my weight”, he explains. To force the water out of his system, he began his 24-hour experiment by taking a very hot bath with Epsom salt baths. He drank a bit of water spiced with diuretics (vitamin C, dandelion root, caffeine), he didn’t include carbs nor salt in his diet (salt is known to retain water), he took saunas and went to the gym. By doing that, he managed to lose the 12 kilograms and feel a little light-headed as a result. Since the lost weight was just water, he put it back in just a couple of hours after he had reached his target.

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Real-Life Legolas Uses Ancient Techniques to Shoot Arrows Even Faster than Tolkien’s Elven Archer

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The bow was once a feared weapon used with deadly accuracy by master marksmen, but after the invention of gun powder and firearms, most ancient archery techniques were forgotten, and the lethal art became nothing more than a sport. Few people know this, but despite technological advancements, all of today’s archers are actually slower and less accurate than those of old  All except one – Lars Andersen, a Danish artist who, thanks to his intense study of ancient archery and unique skills, could challenge even the mighty Elven archer Legolas to a test of speed and accuracy and probably best him. This guy is so incredibly good with the bow and arrow he doesn’t even compete in archery tournaments. They’re just not challenging enough for him.

Lars can shoot 10 arrows in just 4.9 seconds, which makes him the fastest archer in the world today, but that’s probably the least impressive feat he’s capable of. The man has studied countless books on ancient archery and learned that the Saracens who fought against the Crusaders in the Middle Ages were tested to see if they could shoot 3 arrows in 1.5 seconds. Today’s experts were convinced such a thing was simply impossible, but Lars believed that if the books were indeed correct, then there must be something wrong with modern archery techniques. After 3 years of training, he was able to master the ancient techniques described in the books and proved that firing 3 arrows in less than 1.5 seconds was very much possible. As the legend himself explains, “I discovered historical texts that [described] Saracens who fought with the Crusaders had a series of tests which had been preserved. For example, one test required, at a 60-bow distance, to shoot three arrows so quickly that the last shall be in the air before the first has hit. That is three arrows in one-and-a-half seconds. That motivated me to accomplish it”.

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Nothing Says “I Love You” Like Cold Hard Cash – Chinese Man Offers Baskets Full of Money as Engagement Gift

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A wealthy Chinese suitor has attracted accusations that he is buying a wife rather than marrying one, after he gave his future bride 18 baskets full of money, as an engagement present. According to Chinese media, the baskets were stacked with 8.88 million Chinese yuan ($1.45 million) and weighed over 102 kilograms.

When it comes to romance, nothing says “I love you” like stacks of beautifully-decorated money. At least that’s what Meng Huang, the son of a rich construction magnate in China, seems to think. The 27-year-old filled 18 traditional gift baskets with cash and employed 18 people to deliver them to his bride-to-be’s home, as a token of his love for her. “This is how we do things here,” Huang said. “She is worth the whole world to me and I wanted to prove that with a world gift of cash”. The eccentric gift arrived at its destination in a fleet of luxury vehicles lead by a Maserati sports car, where it was gladly accepted by the bride’s family. The stacks of red 100 yuan bills depicting Communist founding father, Mao Zedong, were decorated with red ribbons and neatly arranged in the gift baskets for everyone to see. The sum, 8.88 million yuan was obviously not accidental, but carefully chosen, as the word for “eight” is linked with the meaning “wealth” in Chinese.

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Mystery Surrounding Death of Man Who Opened Pandora’s Box

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The death of 37-year-old Jason Airey is wrapped in mystery, as the man fell unconscious after allegedly opening a box with “Pandora’s Box” written on it. In Greek mythology, Pandora’s Box was actually a jar that contained all the evil in the world, and hope.

According to the parents of the deceased, nothing seemed out of the ordinary on the day of the tragedy, May 2nd 2013. Their son came back to their house in Carlisle, Cumbria, after he had gone shopping. As Jason Airey’s father, Dennis, recalls, “he was just his normal self. I think he had enjoyed himself in town. He had been shopping and said he was going upstairs to get changed”. As Jason never returned downstairs, his mother, Anne, went to his room to see if everything was alright and found him lying unconscious. Dennis remembers that his wife “ went upstairs and came back down saying something was wrong. She couldn’t wake him”. He rushed to his son’s room and every parent’s worst nightmare materialized before his eyes. “I got hold of him and his shirt was clammy. His face was blue. I could feel a faint pulse on his neck”. The grieving parents, both in their 60s, did everything they could to save their son’s life. Dennis performed CPR and the paramedics spent an hour doing everything to keep Jason alive before taking him to the hospital. Unfortunately, he died 2 days later at the Cumberland Infirmary.

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