French Homeless Man Becomes Bestselling Author after Writing Book on Being Homeless

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After being homeless for nearly three decades, Jean-Marie Roughol’s life is about to change for the better. The 47-year-old’s memoirs about begging on the streets of Paris has become a national bestseller this holiday season, selling nearly 50,000 copies and earning him cult status.

The 176-page book, titled Je tape la manche: Une vie dans la rue (My Life as a Panhandler: A Life on the Streets), tells Roughol’s story from his rough childhood to winding up on the streets of Paris. He recalls how he was abandoned by his mother and brought up by an alcoholic father, ending up on the streets in his early twenties after losing his job as a waiter.

Roughol started writing the book two years ago, sitting on park benches, making notes in school exercise books. He got help with writing and editing from a long-time friend, former French Minister of Interion, Jean-Louis Debré. The two met many years ago when Roughol offered to look after Debre’s bicycle as he shopped on the Champs-Élysées, a sweet tale that is also included in the book. He compares meeting Debré to winning the lottery.

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Utah Neighborhood Is Using Decoy Packages to Confuse Thieves This Holiday Season

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Residents of the Daybreak community, in South Jordan, Utah, have come up with a brilliant strategy to ward off thieves this Christmas. They’ve taken to placing fake Amazon packages filled with junk on their front porches, in order to keep the real stuff safe.

According to realtor Kroger Menzer, Daybreak is a tight-knit community of about 4,000 homes and 15,000 people who all know each other very well well. For the past few years, many of them faced the same problem during the holidays – thieves would steal the packages that were delivered to their front door. So when a resident named Jeff posted the fake-package idea on Facebook, it caught on pretty quickly.

“When Jeff came up with the idea, it spread like wildfire,” Menzer said. “The post spread to Riverton and Herriman. That’s why it’s going to work, because it’s not just a half a dozen homes doing it. It’s a whole community.”  The contents of the decoy packages will vary.  Menzer says some people plan to put in old electronics while others are going with rocks. A few altruistic folks want to throw in some clothes, which might eventually be donated to the needy. And some people want to use the idea to actually catch thieves, so they’re installing tracking devices on the boxes.

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Vitality Air – A Startup Selling Canned Canadian Fresh Air

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A couple of Canadian entrepreneurs are capitalising on the lack of fresh, clean air in polluted cities by shipping out some of theirs. They’ve come up with a way to can fresh air from the Canadian Rocky Mountains and are now selling it all over the world under the brand ‘Vitality Air’.

“Essentially, we’re selling air,” said Troy Paquette, one of the co-founders, adding that the idea originated as a joke during a random discussion with his friend Moses Lam. They were discussing pollution when they thought it would be neat if they could just send some of their own fresh air to people who didn’t have any. And then they decided to do just that.

The first prototype was a Ziploc bag filled with Banff air, which sold on eBay for 99 cents. So they made a second bag and started a bidding war, and it went for a whopping $168. Inspired by their success, Paquette, 37, and Lam, 30, created a legitimate business in 2014. They started packaging air from the Rockies in canisters of various sizes, priced between $15 and $46. The $15 can contains about 150 inhalations worth of air.

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Controversial Hangover Clinic Opens in Australia

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Sydney’s new ‘Hangover Clinic’ promises to instantly take care of terrible hangovers through a “revolutionary treatment” that involves an IV drip. Depending on how bad their night was, customers are hooked to the drip for 30 to 45 minutes and are given saline infused with headache and anti-nausea medication, along with vitamins B and C. Antioxidants and oxygen are also included in treatment, priced between $140 and $200.

“Sometimes we just overdo it. Might be a BBQ at a mate’s place, or a drink with the girls, but since time began we’ve all been known to overindulge on the drinks, or our hectic schedules just run us down,” the clinic’s website states. “In as little as 30 minutes, we’ll have you off the couch feeling fresh and ready to tackle the day ahead, so you can feel like the best version of yourself.”

The clinic offers three types of ‘Hangover Remedies’.  ‘Jump Start’, the basic package, costs $140 and includes one liter of IV hydration, Vitamins B and C, and your choice of headache or anti-nausea medication. ‘Energise’ provides an extra jolt at $165, with the addition of oxygen treatment. And ‘Resurrection’ is for the truly hopeless cases – at $200 it includes an antioxidant boost along with the rest of the basic medication.

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The Real Santa – Oil Tycoon Gives $100,000 Christmas Bonus to Each of His 1,400 Employees

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Hilcorp, a private oil and natural gas exploration and production company based in Texas, is in the news for its unprecedented generosity towards employees. To celebrate an excellent year, CEO Jeff Hildebrand gave the entire company staff huge bonuses – $100,000 to each of the 1,381 workers! It seems Santa is real after all.

“It’s just a true gift,” said receptionist Amanda Thompson, who has worked at Hilcorp for the past 10 years. “And I think myself, as long as everyone else is not going to give any less than one hundred percent each day.” With this kind of rewards, it’s really no wonder that the company was included in the FORTUNE list of 100 Best Companies to Work For, for the third year in a row.

“Mr. Jeff Hildebrand, and our president Greg Lalicker, they are such amazing motivators,” Thompson added. “Somedays I just kind of look down the hall and say I can’t believe these are my bosses and they’re the best.” She explained that Hildebrand and Lalicker had promised their employees a sizable bonus if Hilcorp’s size could be doubled in five years, and they kept that promise once that goal was reached.

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Entrepreneurs Inspired by Tinfoil Hats Create Stylish Headgear That Protects Against Harmful Signals

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If you’re genuinely concerned that wi-fi or other electromagnetic signals might slowly but steadily be hurting you, then you will be glad to learn that tinfoil hats are no longer your only option. A couple of Slovakian entrepreneurs have created the “world’s first signal proof headwear” designed to protect your brain by reflecting electromagnetic waves.

According to the Kickstarter campaign by Shield Apparel, the hats are stylish and comfortable, while also effectively protecting the wearer from signals emitted by cell phones, wi-fi routers, and microwaves, and all waves transmitted from electric devices. “It is the most comfortable and functional headwear you have ever worn,” the makers claim.

The founders of Shield Apparel are a couple of Slovak cousins who stayed up late one night talking about how their lack of sleep was probably caused cell phone or wi-fi signals. They started to wonder if signals really affect our well being a lot more than we realise, and then decided to do something about it. Inspired by tinfoil hats, they wanted to create something similar to shield humans from these potentially-harmful waves.

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Bitwalking – Potentially Game-Changing Digital Currency Pays People to Walk

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In a bid to make people walk more, a London-based startup is introducing a new app that pays people in digital currency based on the number of steps taken per day. ‘Bitwalking’ will soon be available on Android and iOS users in the UK, Kenya, Malawi, and Japan.

Bitwalking’s currency units are called ‘Bitwalking dollars’ or BW$. Users need to walk a total of 10,000 steps (five miles) to earn BW$1, equivalent to $1. The maximum money that can be earned per day is BW$3. The money earned can only be spent in the app’s inbuilt marketplace, or exchanged for real money.

According to the company’s website, Bitwalking will be most relevant in developing countries, where rural workers don’t earn more than a dollar a day. So by walking around with a tracker, they could potentially earn three times more. “We believe that everyone should have the freedom, the ability, to make money,” the website states. “A step is worth the same value for everyone – no matter who you are, or where you are. What matters is how much you walk.”

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Alcoholic Chains Himself Up in Room in Desperate Attempt to Stop Drinking

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Staying sober is a real struggle for alcoholics, and the protagonist of this sad story is no exception. 30-year-old Zhang Rui had been trying to kick the habit for a while, but when all his attempts failed, both he and his family got desperate. After what must have been a serious intervention, he agreed to let his mother chain him by the neck in a room, to prevent him from buying or stealing booze.

Zhang, who is still locked in his attic room in Bengbu, east China, told reporters that he couldn’t think of any other way to stop himself from harming others or drinking himself to death. Despite his poor living conditions, Zhang believes that confining himself is the only way to beat the addiction that has ruined his life. In fact, he wants to stay chained up and locked in there for at least six months, until he no longer feels the need to consume alcohol.

The tiny 10-square-meter space is sparsely furnished, with only a mattress for sleeping, a laptop and a small TV to keep him entertained. He doesn’t even have a toilet – just a bucket and a large bottle of water to keep himself clean. The chain around his neck is four meters long and weighs about 22 lbs, so he can hardly stand up on his own in his current state. It allows him to walk around the room as exercise, but not much else.

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Africa’s Honey Fences – Using Beehives to Keep Elephants at Bay

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Thanks to zoologist Dr Lucy King, farmers in rural Africa no longer need to worry about elephants wrecking their fields. Through ‘The Elephants and Bees Project’, she introduced the concept of honey fences – a low cost, organic solution that employs beehives suspended several meters apart to keep pachyderms away. The fences are essentially gifts that keep on giving, because the farmers are also able to make an additional income from the honey.

King first hit upon the idea after she read that elephants actually avoid acacia trees – their favorite food – if they spot a beehive in the branches. She then spent several years conducting behavioral experiments, like filming elephants reacting to the sound of bees buzzing played through a loudspeaker. Using the data she gathered, she began to develop the honey fence system – she suspended a series of hives at ten-meter intervals from a single wire, threaded around wooden fence posts. To get into the field an elephant would have to touch either the wire or the hive, disturbing the bees and causing them to swarm out in buzzing cloud.

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Austrian Boy Fishes 100,000 Euros Out of the River Danube

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In a bizarre stroke of luck, a boy from Vienna, Austria managed to fish out a sizable treasure from the River Danube: €100 and €500 banknotes totaling a whopping €100,000!

The boy apparently noticed the notes from afar, and jumped right into the icy cold water to retrieve them. Passersby, worried that he was attempting suicide, immediately notified the police, who arrived at the spot just as the boy was coming out with the money. They later dried the soggy notes using a clothes dryer, giving rise to cheeky puns over ‘money laundering’.

At first, police thought the €100,000 were fake, and thrown in the river as a prank, but upon closer inspection, they realized the banknotes were genuine.

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Frugal Homeowner Pays Off $255,000 Mortgage in Just Three Years

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Setting the standards for extreme frugality in finances is 30-year-old Sean Cooper. Despite not having a glamorous job, he managed to save enough money to pay off a whopping $225,000 mortgage in only three years!

Cooper purchased a $425,000 house in Toronto, Canada, in 2012 and since then, created a strict pauper-like regime for himself. He started by getting himself two additional jobs to supplement his income as a pension analyst, working a total of 100 hours a week. He wrote financial articles in his free time, and also took a $13-an-hour job at the meat section of a supermarket, even though he’s a vegetarian. “It wasn’t the most glamorous job, but it helped me pay off my mortgage, so I can’t complain,” he said.

“For a lot of people, their mortgage is like a life sentence. I just wanted to not have a mortgage hanging over my head for the next 30 years.”

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Man Born Without Arms Becomes Professional Tattoo Artist

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27-year-old Brian Tagalog was born without arms, but he has never let this serious adversity keep him from leading a normal life. He learned to use his feet to perform mundane tasks, drive a car, fly planes and even ink intricate tattoo designs. The ambitious young man believes he is the only certified tattoo artist without arms in the world.

A native of Honolulu, Hawaii, Tagalog moved with his family to Tucson, Arizona, where he attended Sunnyside High School and the University of Arizona. He had always shown an interest in drawing, and set his mind on becoming a professional tattoo artist. Not many people gave him a chance, but he steadily honed his foot drawing skills, and after his aunt helped him buy his first tattoo gun, he learned to operate it with his toes just as well as others did with their hands.

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4-Foot-5, 95-Pound Football Player Doesn’t Let Size Stand in the Way of His Dreams

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Meet Adam Reed, a 17-year-old, 4-foot-5, 95-pound high school senior who despite his short stature made his high school’s varsity football team. Adam may be only the fifth-string running back for Plantation American Heritage school’s nationally ranked football team, but he’s actually their star player, with fans always lining up to take photographs with him at the end of every game.

At 4-5 and 95 pounds, Reed isn’t exactly the poster boy for American football. The biggest player on his team, in comparison, is Tedarrell Slaton, who stands at 6-6 and a whopping 338 pounds. In fact, Reed is nowhere close to the second smallest player in the team, Jason Heinstkill, who measures 5-8 and weighs 146 pounds. But he’s got more grit and determination in him than most players twice his size. “I’m a little undersized,” he said, nonchalantly. “But it’s whatever. I don’t let my size stop me from doing anything.”

According to Reed’s mother Lisa, he’s been passionate about football since childhood. “He started playing flag football at 5 years old, but it was no big deal back then because there was no tackling. He was always a strong and fast kid, but I never realised how good he was. When he said he wanted to continue playing, I said go for it.” Reed ended up playing on middle school and junior varsity teams at Heritage since the sixth grade, and got on the JV squad in high school as well. But making the high-school varsity cut proved challenging.

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Meet Mark Reay, New York’s Homeless Fashion Photographer

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It’s rather inconceivable that someone as talented and successful as New York fashion photographer Mark Reay might be homeless. Despite being handsome, well-groomed, and articulate – Mark didn’t actually have a home to go back to, after rubbing shoulders with the who’s who of the fashion world, for six long years.  

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Thrifty Pensioner Has Been Using the Same Plastic Shopping Bag for 34 Years

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Grandfather-of-three Martin McCaskie is a true environmentalist – the 72-year-old has used the same Tesco plastic bag for groceries over 2,000 times – since 1981!

Martin’s never made a big deal of being thrifty, so his own family didn’t know about his little vintage keepsake until he pulled the bag out of his pocked last week at his daughter Helen’s house. They were surprised to see the ancient yet well-maintained bag that the shopping chain had produced over three decades ago to commemorate their golden jubilee. Helen posted a picture of the bag on Facebook, where it went viral.

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