Spikeball – Volleyball’s Brilliant Distant Cousin

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Intense, competitive, trash talk – are the three terms used by the founders of Spikeball to describe the game. After watching a short video of how the sport is played on their website, I’m finding it very hard to disagree. It’s really quite exciting just to watch, so playing it should guarantee an absolute whale of a time.

Spikeball is probably best described as volleyball’s distant cousin, but there’s a lot more to it than just that. The net used for Spikeball is small and circular – probably the size of a Hula Hoop, and it sits on the ground at ankle level. The ball is pretty small too, just about palm-size. Two teams play against each other with only two players on each team. The objective of the game is to smack the ball across to your opponents, just like in volleyball. However, with spikeball, you need to bounce the ball on the net first, so it ricochets upwards at an opposing player. They in turn have to be able to bounce it back to your team, within three hits, or you score. You score points every time they miss, and a score of 21 is needed to win the game.

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El Diablo Restaurant – Cooking Food over an Active Volcano

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What could be more natural than having a barbecue party on a volcano? Apart from the obvious health and safety hazards, that is. But such things are not a concern at the El Diablo restaurant, where chefs actually cook food over the heat produced by an active volcano.

Located on a Spanish island called Lanzarote, northwest of Morocco, El Diablo is a unique restaurant where the chefs have access to a volcano of their own. Of course, it isn’t like a lava-spewing mountain, because if that were the case there would be no question of leisurely eating. No, this volcano is more like a hole in the ground, through which volcanic heat erupts from the deeps of the Earth.

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The Bottled Smoke Artworks of Jim Dingilian

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Jim Dingilian is one of those rare artists who stretch the limits of creativity with their amazing creations. He uses candle smoke to paint picture-perfect images on the inside of empty bottles.

“The miniature scenes I depict are of locations on the edge of suburbia which seem mysterious or even slightly menacing despite their commonplace nature. The bottles add to the implied narratives of transgression. When found by the sides of roads or in the weeds near the edges of parking lots, empty liquor bottles are artifacts of consumption, delight, or dread. As art objects, they become hourglasses of sorts, their drained interiors now inhabited by dim memories” Jim Dingilian says bout his art.  How he manages to create such detailed images inside the bottle remains a mystery, but I’m thinking he uses some sort of slim tool to scratch at the candle smoke. Still, how he manages to keep a steady hand and work through that narrow bottle hand is beyond me.

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Sweden’s Classroom-Free School – The Future of Education?

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It’s news like this that makes me wish I could become a kid and go back to school again. I mean, just look at the pictures. If school was like this, who wouldn’t want to go? To me, the school looks like it’s come out of the future, or from a sci-fi movie. It’s definitely surreal. But a closer look shows that it isn’t very different from, say, a Google office. Kids seem to be working independently on their laptops, in a place that’s comfortable and convenient for them. I do wonder if all that lounging around is good for their posture, though.

The school you’re looking at is the brainchild of Swedish Free School Organization, Vittra. They operate 30 schools around Sweden, with an aim to ensure that learning takes place everywhere on campus. So, they’ve eliminated classrooms all together. This particular school is the latest, called Telefonplan, and it was opened last August. It was designed and built by the architecture firm Rosan Bosch. At Vittra, students are free to work independently, and if they find the need to collaborate with peers on a project, they have a few options for that too. The ‘village’ is a tiny house meant for group work, and ‘organic conversation furniture’ allows the kids to interact with each other as well. Each student receives a computer from the school too, which is used as a major tool for learning.

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Ria van Dijk – The Woman Who Shoots Herself Shooting

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It’s not unusual to have photographs of yourself taken every year. But in the case of Ria van Dijk it is, because she’s in the exact same pose in each of the pictures – shooting a target. The 92-year-old from Tilburg, Holland has been going to funfair shooting galleries every year since 1936, and has won the prize every single time – a photograph of herself shooting.

Shooting galleries at fairs are set up in such a way that when the target is hit, it triggers the shutter of a camera. The result is a photograph in which the viewer is in the position of the target. The picture is the prize that participants win for their efforts. Even before she participated in the shooting gallery, Ria had plenty of practice at home, as a child. Along with her brother, she used to shoot at a target with air guns in the garden of her home. She says they would do this just for fun. So when she went to the fair at age 16, her friends encouraged her to give the shooting game a try. She won the picture on the first shot, and went on to win another one. Ria went back to the fair a year later to win another picture and that was when it all began.

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Artist Paints Incredible Artworks with His Mouth

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Nothing can stop a person with innate artistic abilities, not even the absence of functioning limbs. 50-year-old Steve Chambers is a perfect example of this. The artist from Norfolk, UK, paints breathtaking sceneries using only his mouth. It’s simply amazing how such accurate strokes can be achieved while holding a paintbrush with one’s teeth.

Chambers, who suffers from arthrogryposis syndrome, has been disabled since birth. His arms lack muscles and the joints in his legs are stiff. While many people in his condition struggle to perform daily tasks, Chambers began painting at a very early age. He says it didn’t take him very long to get the hang it. “To me using a paint brush with my mouth is like you using your hand to pick up a spoon.” He started off by using his mouth to hold a pencil, which according to him wasn’t actually difficult because he didn’t know anything different. However, he did get frustrated as a kid when he couldn’t get the effects he wanted while drawing.

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Calcio Fiorentino – The Ultimate Manly Sport

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Imagine a sport that’s a mix between soccer and rugby, with absolutely no rules whatsoever. Man, that’s got to be brutal! And that’s exactly what Calcio Fiorentino is. It’s the ultimate sport to prove your strength, power and courage.

The game originated in Italy during the 16th century in Piazza Santa Maria Novella, Florence. The words Calcio Fiorentino can be loosely translated as the Florence Kick. True to its name, the game was devised by four of Florence’s most prominent noble families. Their intention was simple, to be able to show off their physical prowess to their enemies. In those days, spectators of the game were limited only to the ruling class.

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Maramadi – The Famous Bull Race of Kerala

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The most famous traditional game involving bulls is Spanish bullfighting, but the people of Kerala, India, have come up with a way celebration that doesn’t involve torturing and killing poor animals. It’s called Maramadi, and it’s held every year, in the post-harvest season.

Maramadi is essentially a bull racing event, only instead of a track, it takes place in flooded rice fields, which makes it infinitely more entertaining for the crowds watching from the sidelines. In preparation for the event, the freshly ploughed fields are filled with water, thus ensuring that every competing team makes a big splash for the audience. Although bulls are the main competitors in Maramadi, their human masters have the important role of guiding them during the race, making sure they don’t stray off the course before reaching the finish line. Each team consists of two bull and three guides, who have to keep up with the animals if they want a shot at wining. That of course takes good speed perfect balance.

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Iglu Dorf – Living Like an Eskimo in a Luxury Igloo Village

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Looks like Igloo hotels are becoming more and more popular these days. A few weeks ago we wrote about the Igloo Village in Finland, and now we introduce you to Iglu-Dorf, a concept hotel that offers igloo villages in seven locations in Andorra, Switzerland and Austria. What’s different about these igloos is the fact that they are rebuilt every year, using 3,000 tons of snow from the Pyrenees and the Alps.

The history of Iglu-Dorf began with one extreme skateboarder’s crazy idea to spend the night in an igloo so he could be the first on the slopes the next day. Apparently being first is a matter of great pride for skateboarders, so he decided to build himself an igloo to make sure no one beat him to that first ride down the mountain. The next day he looked like the happiest person alive, and when someone asked him why he had a big smile on his face, he just pointed at the mountain and said “You see that line over there? That was me.” More and more people followed his example and asked to sleep in his igloo. The next season he built two igloos, then three, and that’s how the Iglu-Dorf igloo villages were born. Now the company builds 12 of them every year, in different locations around Europe.

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La Maison a Vaisselle Cassee – Outsider Art in Louviers, France

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La Maison a Vaisselle Cassée or The Broken Crockery House, is a very special place located in Louviers, France. I took a look at a few pictures and couldn’t help being reminded of the gingerbread house from Hansel and Gretel. Of course, you can’t eat this one and there’s no evil witch living there.

This was the home of Robert Vasseur and his wife, who abandoned wallpaper and painstakingly decorated their home with mosaics made from broken crockery, seashells, twinkling china and glass. Born in 1908, Vasseur was a milk transporter and also worked in textiles. His strange passion for mosaic decoration started way back in 1952 when he first got the idea while doing repair work in his kitchen. He embellished an old cement kitchen sink with broken crockery mosaics and never looked back. Starting with that old sink, he expanded his idea to the interior of his house, the backyard, then the garden and later even the dog house. This went on for the next 50 years or so.

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Artist Makes Realistic-Looking Leaves from Human Hair

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Human hair is fast becoming one of the most popular mediums in the art world. We’ve seen everything from dresses made of hair and hair necklaces to insect sculptures made from human air. Now, we’ve discovered the intricate art of Jenine Shereos, who uses the dead protein to create tree leaves.

Leaves may not seem very special when you’re walking all over them, barely even noticing their presence, but if you take the time to pick one up and really look at it, you’ll notice each one has a unique and intricate veiny pattern that’s pretty tough to recreate. It was this delicate and detailed venation that inspired Jenine Shereos to create her awe-inspiring series of human hair leaves. She began by stitching strands of hair into a water-soluble backing material, making a tiny knot every time one strand of hair intersected another. This way, when the backing was dissolved, the leaf was able to hold its original shape. The artist says the whole process was meditative, as she found herself “lost in the detail of the small, organic microcosms that began taking shape.”

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Filipino Restaurant at the Foot of a Waterfall

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Located in the Quezon province of the Philippines, Villa Escudero is a nice hacienda-style resort with cozy rooms and an exotic atmosphere. But what brought its international fame is the waterfall restaurant that allows tourists to enjoy a nice meal right at the foot of a small waterfall.

In most cases, getting too close to a waterfall can prove deadly, but not at this particular restaurant, at Villa Escudero. Here, people are actually encouraged to take off their shoes and get as close to the falls as possible. Set right at the foot of Labasin Falls, this special place invites customers to taste popular Filipino dishes, while fresh spring water from the falls flows under and over their feet, making this an unforgettable experience. As you can imagine, it’s nowhere near as impressive as Niagara, but visitors who don’t mind getting their clothes wet can sit right under the rushing waterfall and get their pictures taken. Words just don’t do this fantastic tourist attraction justice, so I’ll let the photos and video do the talking.

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Italy’s Natural Cathedral Is Made of Growing Trees

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Located on the outskirts of Bergamo, at the foot of Monte Arena, the tree cathedral created by Italian artist Giuliano Mauri is one of the world’s most impressive example of organic architecture.

Giuliano Mauri created “natural architecture” by blending organic materials like trunks and branches with classic architectural elements, creating impressive large-scale edifices. In 2001, his love for nature inspired him to draw up the plans for a project that took his art to a whole new level and left the people of Bergamo stunned – a cathedral made only of trees. The artist envisioned a unique organic building desinged in such a way that the branches of the trees forming its pillars would extend and arch to become its roof and walls. Unfortunately, Mauri died unexpectedly in 2009, and never got to see his grand plan come to life, but as a homage to his life’s work, the project was initiated in 2010, the International Year of Biodiversity.

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The Ghost-Like Smoke Paintings of Rob Tarbell

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Rob Tarbell has a very unique talent. By burning everyday objects under a paper canvas fixed on the ceiling of his studio, he is able to control the rising flow of smoke and create incredible works of art.

The artist first got the idea of using smoke as a medium for his art in 2007, and he quickly realized that in order to make it work, he needed to control the smoke, while letting it do what it does naturally. To him, that sounded a lot like what circus trainers do with wild animals, so this inspired him to use circus performances as the main subjects of his beautiful smoke paintings. Masterfully channeling the flow of smoke, Tarbell creates ghost-like figures, both animal and human performing circus acts, in a series entitled Smoke Rings. ”The performing animal images in the Smokes parallel the drawing process,” Rob says on his website. “The trainer must recognize and respect the innate nature of an animal when trying to modify its behavior to achieve a desired outcome: e.g. training a bear to dance or training a horse to walk upright. The same is true in working with smoke. The inherent properties of smoke must be respected, then permitted to – and yet discouraged from – acting naturally.”

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Coolest Finds of the Week #26

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South African Weathermen Could Face Jail Time for Wrong Forecasts (Yahoo)

Jaipur’s Painted Elephant Festival (Environmental Graffiti)

Man Spots Dead Mother’s Ghost in Guesthouse Photo (Metro)

MMO Game Wants to Break Record for Virtual Marriages (Geekosystem)

16 of the Smartest Children in History (Business Insider)

China’s Famous Salad Towers (The Consumerist)

Functional Bone Guillotine Model Made by Prisoner Awaiting Execution (Daily Mail)

India’s Incredible Hand-Drawn Movie Posters (Asia Obscura)

25 Beautifully-Colored Sea Slugs (Environmental Graffiti)

Man Sets New Record for Most Eyebrow Raises (Record Setter)

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