Prayer Nuts – Intricately Carved Wooden Marvels of a Time Long Passed

While most rosaries these days consist of glass or wooden prayer beads, there was a time when wealthy Europeans used ‘prayer nuts’ – minutely detailed, small-scaled boxwood carvings. Each nut was a masterpiece in itself, decorated on the interior and exterior with intricate carvings representing Biblical stories.

The delicate wooden orbs were designed to be worn on a rosary, or on a belt by members of the nobility or wealthy merchant classes in northern Europe. At times, fragrant substances may have been inserted into the orbs, so that the nuts may have served as pomanders as well.

Recent studies suggest that prayer nuts of the early 16th century were reduced to such a small scale that they might have become impractical to use. The religious significance might have faded away, and these nuts may have later been made just to be studied and marveled at, as private collectors’ items.

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There’s a Truly Unique Island Home For Sale in Hungary

If you’re looking for a truly unique island home, you might want to check out this newly listed property in Hungary. It’s no a tropical paradise and the water is actually a small pond in the middle of an agricultural area, but at least it’s quiet.

The small house is located straight in the middle of a 120-square-meter man-made pond and apparently includes all modern amenities, including running water, electricity and sewage system. Whoever built it must have been a real fishing enthusiast as the pond is stocked full of different kinds of fish, from carp to bream and even sturgeon. Overall, there is a total of over 10,000 kilograms of fish living in the pond and they come with the house.

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Turtle-Shaped Island Spends Nine Months Underwater, Only Appears in Spring

Every year, with the coming of spring, thousands of Chinese tourists flock to the The Gorges Reservoir to see an elusive turtle-shaped island rise from the waters of the Muodaoxi River. The event, dubbed ‘spring turtle rising from water’, is celebrated by local residents because turtles are considered auspicious and a sign of longevity.

It sounds like a fascinating natural phenomenon similar to the Jindo Moses Miracle that takes place in South Korea, but in this case the “magic” is man-made. The water level of Muodaoxi River is controlled by the Three Gorges Dam. In spring, the reservoir supplies water to the areas downstream, bringing down the water level and exposing the island.

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China’s Eco-Heroes: Blind Man and Friend with No Arms Plant 10,000 Trees in 10 Years

Jia Haixa and Jia Wenqi are the most unlikely pair of environmentalists we’ve ever come across. The former is blind, while the latter is a double-amputee. Yet, they’ve managed to use their symbiotic relationship to plant over 10,000 trees in the past decade.

Haixa and Wenqi began their beautiful partnership when they were unable to get jobs due to their impairments. They have now become each other’s eyes and hands, and taken on the task of transforming a three-hectare stretch of riverbank in Yeli village, in north China’s Hebei Province.

“I am his hands,” said Haixia. “He is my eyes. We are good partners.” The 53-year-old was born with congenital cataracts that blinded his left eye. Then, in 2000, he lost sight in his right eye as well after a work-related accident. Wenqi, on the other hand, lost both arms in an accident when he was only three years old.

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Japan’s 60-Minute-Candy – A Real-Life Version of Willy Wonka’s Everlasting Gobstopper

There’s a wacky new diet product sweeping Japan, and it’s modeled after Willy Wonka’s famous Everlasting Gobstopper. Aptly named the ‘60-Minute Candy’, it’s a lollipop with a three-centimeter ball of sugar that lasts for an entire hour!

The 60-minute-candy has gone viral in the Japanese Twitterverse, with hundreds of women passing it on as a great way to suppress sugar cravings. A gigantic lollipop doesn’t really pass for diet food, but a few licks of it apparently beat gorging on a candy bar, and since it lasts so long it’s also more affordable.  Well, because it’s long-lasting, it’s actually great to suppress cravings for foods with higher calories. And they’re so handy that people could carry them around and take them out from time to time for a good lick.

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Chicago Spa Uses Breast Milk for Nutritious Facials

Not long ago, we wrote about how consuming breast milk is the latest fad among bodybuilders to gain muscle faster. And now, a spa in Chicago has found another interesting (albeit weird) use for mothers’ milk – nutritious facials!

The brand new River North spa, called ‘Mud Facial Bar’, features several $40 facials on its menu. But the most intriguing one actually involves breast milk at an additional charge of $10. The milk is mixed with white clay so that it can be applied to the face and dried. The unique treatment can supposedly make your skin as smooth as a baby’s bottom.

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Male Belly Dancers Are All the Rage in Turkey These Days

If you thought belly dancing was exclusive to women, you’re in for a surprise. Believe it or not, male belly dancing is a real thing in Turkey, and it’s totally in vogue. Sporting designer stubbles and dressed in skirts decorated with coins and shimmering tassels, the dancers jerk their hips to Turkish tunes, enthralling their audience with their exotic moves.

Interestingly, these male performers are not a recent phenomenon. Known as ‘zennes’, they used to be a regular feature at the courts of Ottoman Sultans, because Muslim women were not permitted to perform on stage at the time. But as the 600-year Empire declined and society modernized, women took on more public roles. The number of female belly dancers rose, and the number of zennes slowly declined.

Although they haven’t made an appearance for decades, interest in the ancient art form is now at a new peak. It all started with the Islamic-rooted Turkish government’s attempt to revive the nation’s conservative Ottoman past. Apart from the government’s attempts, the enthusiasm among the nation’s population for the Ottoman-era culture has helped improve the popularity of male belly dancing.

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Samsung Creates $30,000 High-Tech Dream House for Dogs

Samsung UK has come up with a real treat for dogs and their owners – a high-tech dream house for dogs. The unique pooch pad comes fully loaded with an automatic food dispenser, a grass turf covered treadmill, a hydrotherapy pool, vinyl walls that the owner can cover with photos, and a Samsung Galaxy Tab S for the dog’s browsing pleasure. With a price tag of £20,000 (roughly $30,000), the Samsung Dream Doghouse is being touted as the most expensive doghouse ever.

“With the Samsung Dream Doghouse, we wanted to reflect the nation’s growing trend for using technology,” said Samsung Electronics UK president Andy Griffiths. “From dogs who have social media profiles to owners who use video calling to check on their pet while away, technology is fast becoming an integral part of everyday life. The Samsung Dream Doghouse looks sleek and modern, featuring the kind of tech the discerning dog of the future will need.”

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Taiwanese Man Left with Almost No Memory Keeps Notes of Everything So He Doesn’t Forget Who He Is

Chen Hongzhi, from Hsinchu county, in north-western Taiwan, suffers from a unique condition – he can’t remember anything for more than five minutes. The 25-year-old literally has to start his life from scratch every day. So he writes down every single thing about himself in a diary, in order to keep track of everything that goes on around him.

Hongzhi’s amnesia is the result of a serious head injury sustained during a car accident when he was 17 years old. After spending months in intensive care, his body finally recovered but the span of his memory was reduced to only five minutes. This means that he continually forgets pretty much everything that has happened between five and ten minutes ago.

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7-Year-Old Wonder Kid Nicknamed “Google” Knows Pretty Much Everything

Seven-year-old Kautilya Pandit is what you would call a walking, talking encyclopedia, with the capacity to absorb information ranging from geography to biology and current affairs. He also dabbles in economic statistics, politics and pretty much any other subject you can think of. Within three months, the little kid managed to memorize information about 213 countries, their population, GDP, source of income, currency, religion, culture and heritage.

Kautilya, a resident of Kohand Village in Haryana, India, is now a national celebrity – he regularly travels to schools across India, answering live questions from other kids, on stage. In one of his latest appearances, he was asked unusual questions like the total surface area of Vatican City, the GDP of the UK and more. He was able to answer them all with ease.

Kautyla-Pandit

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Atheist Making over $100,000 a Year Selling Bibles Says He Feels Bad about It but Money Is Too Good to Stop

Lots of people sell products they don’t believe in, but in Trevor McKendrick’s case, you just can’t ignore the irony. That’s because Trevor is an atheist who sells Bibles for a living – and something just doesn’t feel right about that, even to him!

Interestingly, Trevor did not consciously choose his profession – it sort of fell into his lap by accident. He happened to be out at a dinner with his family in February 2012, when he found out that a relative was making $8,000 to $10,000 a month just by selling iPhone apps.

Trevor found the prospects too good to ignore, so he decided to step into the app business himself. All he wanted to do was to make about $600 a month, which would have been enough to cover his rent. So he went on to the Apple store to find an app that was making a lot of money, but “sucked”.

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Chinese Woman Somehow Memorizes Every Single Entry in the Oxford English-Chinese Dictionary

At an age when people usually start forgetting things, this Chinese woman has managed to do the opposite – she’s actually memorized the entire Oxford English-Chinese dictionary from cover to cover!

Li Yanzhi, 51, from China’s Shaanxi Province, can not only recite all 220,000 entries in the 2,458-page dictionary, but can also accurately describe their meanings. Ms. Li works as a lecturer in Financial English at Xian Transport University’s Economic and Banking School. But she needs an extra income to be able to support herself and her 26-year-old autistic son who is unable to care for himself. A mother and divorcee of 20 years, Ms. Li said she took on the Herculean task in the hope of receiving more translating work.

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Indonesian Woman Puts House on the Market, Offers to Marry the Buyer

Indonesian homeowner Wina Lia has come up with an innovative strategy to find matrimonial bliss – she’s put up her house for sale and has offered to marry the buyer! 40-year-old Lia owns a two-bedroom home in Sleman, a sleepy little district near the Javanese city of Yogyakarta. The lovely house comes with a small fish pond, a spacious backyard, and of course, the chance to gain Lia’s hand in marriage.

The online ad featuring Lia’s home listed the asking price at $76,500 but also mentioned a unique bonus: “Buyers who don’t negotiate the price can ask the owner to marry (terms and conditions apply).” The ad promptly went viral, with local news agencies tracking Lia down to check if the claim was genuine. Turns out that it was.

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Chinese Company Builds 57-Storey Skyscraper in Record 19 Days

Chinese construction company Broad Sustainable Building recently released an online video showing how they managed to build a 57-storey building in a record time of 19 days. ‘Sky City’, located in Changsha city, comprises 800 homes and office space to accommodate a total of 4,000 people.

The company’s original proposal for the site was actually a 97-storey building that would have been the world’s largest skyscraper. But just after 20 stories were completed, construction work was stopped for one year because local officials wanted to review the plans. Ultimately, they had to reduce the plan to 57 stories due to the building’s close proximity to the airport.

In spite of the major delay, the entire construction from start to finish was completed in less than three weeks of work. The 4-minute clip shows employees building each storey offsite and delivering it to the location. A timelapse sequence shows the assembling of the mammoth building which require a total of 19 days to complete – that’s exactly three floors per day!

Sky-City-China

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30 Days of Bugs – Student Goes on Insect Diet for a Whole Month

We’ve heard people going on all sorts of crazy diets, but this one is a first – an American student recently went a 30-day bug fest! Throughout  the month of February, Alabama student Camren Brantley-Rios ate insect-laced meals three times a day.

The 21-year-old, who documented his bug-eating experience on a blog called ‘30 Days of Bugs’, believes that traditional meats such as pork and beef are unsustainable as sources of protein. He considers insects to be the diet of the future, so he’s experimenting with creepy crawly ingredients to make delicious dishes.

There was a time when Camren himself was repulsed by the idea of consuming insects. But now that he’s actually done it, he says it hasn’t been too difficult to get used to. “I’m mainly sticking to three species,” he said. “Mealworms, waxworms and crickets. Those are definitely the bulk of my diet. But I’m trying here and there to incorporate things a little bit more exotic.”

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