India’s Fascinating Fortune-Telling Robots

Indians have long since been passionate about predicting the future. Horoscopes are created with the help of an astrologer on the very day a child is born and these documents are consulted from time to time during major milestones of a person’s life. Especially when a match is made as a part of an arranged marriage, an astrologer is duly consulted to make sure the horoscopes of the bride and groom are compatible with each other.

While all this may seem very strange to an outsider, for Indians it’s a part of normal and natural life. In fact , progress in terms of fortune-telling technology has been made too. In several homes, local astrologers have been replaced by computer software that serves the same purpose. One simply needs to enter their name and time/date of birth to receive a complete report of their past, present and future.

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Ria van Dijk – The Woman Who Shoots Herself Shooting

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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Thousands of Iranian Women Training to Become Ninjas

Ninjutsu is considered to be one of the deadliest forms of martial arts in the world. But this doesn’t deter the 3,500 odd Iranian women who are currently receiving official training in the sport.

In fact, when I saw a video of these women in action, I was awestruck by their agility and the ease with which they performed gravity-defying stunts and back flips. I couldn’t even tell that the ninjas were female until they removed the masks from their faces.  Iran, like many other Islamic countries, has stringent rules regarding the freedom and conduct of women. The laws severely restrict them from participating freely in society; perhaps this is where they derive their quiet strength from. The Ninjustu school in Iran was started in 1989 by Sensei Akbar Faraji. This was the first time the martial art was introduced to the country. While the club now has over 24,000 members, the number of female participants is slowly on the rise. According to Faraji, in Ninjutsu, men are called ninjas, while women are addressed as kunoichi.

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Real-Life Photoshop – Model Has 20-Inch Waistline

30-year-old Ioana Spangenberg has something some skinny female models only dream of. A 20-inch waistline and a body that doesn’t accumulate fat, no matter what she eats. Now, isn’t that a dream come true? Not for Ioana, though. In a classic case of the grass being greener on the other side, the Romanian model says she wants to put on weight in order to be able to look normal.

Ioana seems to be blessed with the much-coveted ‘hourglass’ look, quite literally in fact. She says that she was of normal weight when she was a kid, and the transformation started to occur when she was a teenager. At age 13, her waist was only 15 inches and her friends could actually put their hands completely around it. In an attempt to put on weight, she would eat Mars bars and other sweets, but nothing ever worked. Ioana blames this on the small size of her stomach, which makes her feel sick if she eats too much. Perhaps her body’s constitution is too much of a good thing, because she was never happy with herself until she married. It was her husband who encouraged her to become a model, and she is now finally comfortable in her own skin.

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Artist Paints Incredible Artworks with His Mouth

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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Brain Tumor Survivor Has Painted Every Sunrise for the Last Seven Years

People find unique ways of storing and recording memories of the most important days of their lives. Some save cinema ticket stubs from their first date, some like to keep home videos and photo albums of family events. The methods of storing memories – both happy and sad – are endless. But the story of Cody Cox stands out from the rest. He chose to remember the last day his nephew Justin Tyler Berry was alive in a very different manner – by purchasing a painting depicting the last sunrise his nephew had ever seen. This was possible because brain tumor survivor Debbie Wagner has been painting the sunrise every single morning since December, 2005.

56-year-old Wagner is from Bennington, Kansas. In her healthier days, the mother of three loved to read long novels, cook up complicated recipes, take care of her family’s finances and always got nine straight hours of sleep every night. When she was diagnosed with not one, but two tumors in her brain in 2002, her life changed forever. Although the surgery to remove the tumors was successful, she lost the ability to do many of the things she loved. Wagner could no longer multitask, follow recipes or novel plots, balance a checkbook, or even sleep soundly through the night.

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Calcio Fiorentino – The Ultimate Manly Sport

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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English Astronomer Makes World’s First Meteorite-Aged Wine

What do you get when you mix an interest in wine-making and a passion for astronomy? Why meteorite wine, of course. Meteorito, as it’s called, is a unique blend of wine that has been aged with a 4.5 billion-year-old meteorite.

Meteorito, a Cabernet Sauvignon, is the creation of Norwich-born Ian Hutcheon. Ian has long been involved with wines as well as astronomy, and always wanted to find a way to combine his two interests. The Englishman now works out of Chile, where he owns a vineyard in the Cachapoal Valley. Out of his passion for outer space, he also opened an observatory in 2007, called the Centro Astrononomica Tagua Tagua. This is currently the only place in the world you can purchase Meteorito wine, although Hutcheon is interested in exporting it to other countries.

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Maramadi – The Famous Bull Race of Kerala

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

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

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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Japan’s New Creepy Anti-Aging Mouthpiece

Throughout the years, we’ve seen some pretty genius inventions from Japan, but every once in a while they come up with something so strange, so bizarre, you can’t help but ask yourself “what were they thinking?” The new Face Slimmer anti-aging mouthpiece is one of those things…

The so-called face Slimmer was launched in Japan, late last year, by a well-known cosmetic company called Glim. It’s a weird-looking rubbery thing that looks a lot like the mouth of a blow-up doll, and it supposedly solves your sagging face problem while giving you that coveted duck-face look. You know, the one every “cool” teenager poses with in their Facebook photos. Now, unlike most other Japanese inventions, the Face Slimmer isn’t high-tech. In fact it’s as low tech as they come, all you have to do is put it in your mouth and start exercising your face muscles. Think of it as a squeeze punch for your mouth…

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Kissenger – The Long-Distance Kiss Messenger

Hooman Samani, an artificial intelligence researcher in Singapore, has developed a kiss-transmission robot messenger that can emulate and transmit a kiss over long distances. It’s called the Kissenger.

About a year ago, I wrote an article about young Japanese student working on an experimental device able to transmit  kisses over long distances. His machine looked pretty awful, and I remember thinking “the concept is interesting but that thing will never go into production”. Hooman Samani’s “Kissenger”,on the other hand, looks a lot more commercial, and could actually prove a hit, especially in some Asian countries where goofy technological breakthroughs are very popular. His new kiss-transmitting device is about the size of a softball, is shaped like a bunny, and features a pair of artificial lips that are highly touch-sensitive. Sound good? Wait till you see how it works.

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Artist Makes Realistic-Looking Leaves from Human Hair

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

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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