Man Completes 5,000 Km Trek Dressed as Stormtrooper

21-year-old Jacob French hates walking, and yet he completed a 5,000 km trek last year dressed in a stormtrooper costume. The 9-month trek was for the benefit of Starlight Children’s Foundation which works for sick children in Australian hospitals. Jacob’s journey was all the way from Perth to Sydney, and in the process he went through 7 pairs of shoes and lost 12kg in body weight. He also managed to raise $100,000.

Jacob was the one who came up with the idea in the first place. He had donned the stormtrooper costume for the first time during a half marathon in Oct 2010. The experience wasn’t very comfortable for him. “The suit was restrictive and got hot while I was running, but the seed was planted for the Troopertrek idea.” Since that marathon, Jacob started training more regularly and also acquired a lighter and much more flexible set of armor. Last summer, he made the announcement about his charitable walk, once again dressed like a stormtrooper in order to get attention to the cause. The arduous trek began in July 2011. Jacob walked over 10 hours a day, Monday to Friday, along with a wooden cart around with him containing all his clothes and carrying equipment. The stormtrooper attracted a lot of attention and even received support from passing motorists. The Trooptrek Facebook page has become very popular, with thousands of likes and comments. People find his initiative inspiring and motivational.

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The Incredible Wire Mesh Portraits of Seung Mo Park

Korean artist Seung Mo Park creates cuts up layers of wire mesh by hand, to create some of the most beautiful large-scale portraits you’ve ever seen. These true sculptural masterpieces are part of Park’s latest series, called Maya.

In the past, we’ve featured several extraordinary artists who work with layers to create their art, and Seung Mo Park is right up there with the best of them. Although he uses a projection of the image he’s trying to replicate, as reference, the precision with which he cuts each little piece of wire mesh is nothing short of impressive. Just so you understand the kind of skill required to pull off something like this, it’s important that you know each of his portraits is made up of several layers of wire mesh set a few centimeters apart, each sculpted by hand. The understanding of depth perception and the patience necessary to complete just one of these amazing works of art is simply awe-inspiring.

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Strange Wedding Tradition Forbids Newlyweds to Use the Bathroom for Three Days and Nights

Weddings in the Indonesian Tidong community have traditions that are truly unique. Perhaps the most adorable of their customs is the one where the groom isn’t allowed to see the bride’s face until he sings her several love songs. The curtain separating the couple is raised only after the musical requirement is met, and then they can see each other on a dais. But then again, not all the Tidong wedding rituals are this sweet. The bride isn’t allowed to leave the confines of her home during the engagement period, and a groom who arrives late to the wedding needs to pay a fine (usually jewelry). But the weirdest of them all is this – the bride and the groom aren’t allowed to use the bathroom for three days after the wedding.

It sounds a lot like the newlywed couple are being punished for an unknown reason. How else would you explain being prohibited from leaving the house, clearing bowels or urinating for three whole days? For those of us who couldn’t go even a couple of hours without using the restroom, this sure does seem like a torturous way to be welcomed into married life. But the custom is very normal and natural for the people of the Tidong tribe, who now inhabit the city of Sandakan, in Sabah, Malaysia. They believe that not practicing the three-day and night ritual would bring terrible luck to the couple – a broken marriage, infidelity, or death of their children at a young age. So the couple is watched over by several people, and allowed only minimal amounts of food and drink. After the three days are up, they are bathed and then permitted to return to normal life.

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Hairy Man Poses in Pink Tutu for a Very Good Cause

They’re silly, they’re awkward, and yes, these pictures will make you laugh. Because there’s something undeniably comical about a grown man dressed in a pink tutu, hugging trees or dancing in a meadow. The subject in the photographs is actually a New York photographer. Bob Carey has been posing for self-portraits across the US, wearing nothing else but the tutu. Before you jump into conclusions, he is neither gay nor a crossdresser. Bob is a happily married man who takes pictures of himself in a tutu to help his wife. Once you know more about the cause behind his photographs, they will seem less funny and all the more heart-warming and endearing.

The first time Bob took a picture of himself in the tutu was for a media campaign in 2003. It was just a silly idea back then, but the garment remained in his closet. Six months later his wife Linda was diagnosed with breast cancer. She was cured at the time, but the illness returned in 2006 and she has been under chemo treatment ever since. Linda’s condition has served as a reminder to Bob that laughter is really the best medicine. So he started posing in the tutu once more in order to make his wife laugh, calling it the ‘Tutu Project’. He began taking self-portraits at beaches, parking lots, subway stations and even amusement parks. The unexpected strangeness of these photographs has been very well received. Bob’s pictures have become immensely popular, which has inspired him to work on a book of his images, called ‘Ballerina’. The book will be dedicated to women fighting breast cancer, survivors, relatives and physicians who work for the cause. He plans to donate the proceeds from all sales to breast cancer organizations.

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Utopix – French Family Turn Barren Field into Outsider Art

Jo and Dominique Pillet’s home ‘Utopix’ is like something right out of a fairy tale. They started work on it about 30 years ago, and although it was completed as of 2010, it continues to evolve. The beauty of the house is not just in the construction, but the patience and perseverance put in by its builders, given that the land it stands on was considered to be barren. Utopix is located on an 11 hectare (27 acre) plot in Causse de Sauveterre, Lozere, France. Causses are sparsely populated plateaus of limestone. The limestone soil does not hold water and so the terrain is very much like a desert, but that didn’t stop this French family from fulfilling their dream.

The Pillets got married in the 70s and purchased their plot of land with the intention of building a beautiful home. Being artists themselves, they wanted to create something that was both functional and aesthetically pleasing. It’s been a long journey with several hurdles, but the couple has managed to complete the task and quite beautifully in fact. The construction project was started in 1979, and Jo Pillet mostly worked on it alone, or with the help of a few friends. He mostly made use of the abundant limestone in the region, structuring it in the form of igloos. The domed structures were then reinforced with concrete and wood, and later covered with stones to give them a cave-like feel. After two whole decades, the building finally began to take shape in 1992. Utopix has been quite popular since then, with local newspapers carrying stories, and several visitors coming to see it regularly.

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10 Coolest Finds of the Week #35

School Shaped Like the Millennium Falcon Causes Internet Stir (Lehigh Valley Live)

Ocean Predators Look Even Scarier Inside (Environmental Graffiti)

Scottish Hotel Menu Includes Live Comedian (STV)

World’s First Lickable Elevator Is Covered with Jaffa Cakes (Gizmodo)

Museum Boss Covers His Car with Broken Pottery (The Sun)

Woman Turns to Craiglist to Find Out Who Got Her Pregnant (NY Daily News)

Too Good to Be True Masks Are Actually Hideous (Nerdcore)

Still-Life Photos of Rotting Food Are Really Quite Beautiful (Laughing Squid)

Ethiopia’s Danakil Depression – The Hottest Place on Earth (Environmental Graffiti)

Realistic R2-D2 3D Cake Complete with Sound Module (Bit Rebels)

B-Style – Japan’s Fascination with Black Lifestyle

Young Hina has what is most coveted by Japanese women – pale skin. And yet, she visits tanning salons every week. Not just for a sun-kissed look, but for a deeper, darker shade. Hina is one of many young Japanese women who are crazy about B-Style (Black Lifestyle). They adore the African American pop/hip hop culture to such an extent that they are ready to compromise everything natural about their looks. After all, as Hina herself admits, “part of B-Style is that you do not look Japanese.” So there are trips to the tanning salons along with hair braids, clothing and accessories that reflect B-Style to the core.

For Hina it all started when her hair turned frizzy in high school. She then got interested in Black artists and found them pretty cool. Soon she found herself in a tanning salon for the very first time. Today, she is an employee at a trendy Tokyo boutique called Baby Shoop, completely dedicated to B-Style fashion. The boutique goes by the tag-line ‘Black for Life’. Hina loves working there as she feels the shop is a “tribute to Black culture and also to their music, fashion and dance.” And it’s not just Hina but all the shop girls at Baby Shoop that undergo deep tanning on a regular basis. One of the shop girls points out, “Really, with a tan you look slimmer. You look healthy and of course great.”

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Hamster Villa Lets You Experience Life as a Small Rodent

According to French scenographer Yann Falquerho, sometimes people really do want to live like their caged pets. I’m not sure I do, but Falquerho must be right, because his creation – the Villa Hamster – is immensely popular. The hotel allows you to experience exactly what the life of a caged hamster is like.

42-year-old Falquerho had always felt that the hotel industry did not pay any attention to the animal transformation niche. So he decided to open his own hotel designed with a hamster theme. Villa Hamster opened in 2009 and has been very popular ever since then. Located in Nantes, western France, the hotel opened with a room tariff of $150 per night, but this was soon increased in accordance with the demand. “We have a lot of success with this little house. It is because of the concept to transform into an animal,” Falquerho told the press just a couple of weeks after the hotel was inaugurated.

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The Unique Hot Water Beach of New Zealand

Can you imagine a beach where the water is actually hot? Seems unnatural, but there really is such a thing in New Zealand. Located on the east coast of the Coromandel Peninsula (about 175 km from Auckland),  Hot Water Beach got its name from the underground hot springs which filter up through the sand in between the low and high water tidal reaches. The beach attracts a huge number of tourists every year (approx. 130,000) and is one of the most popular geothermal attractions of the region.

What’s even more interesting than Hot Water Beach itself is the ingenious way people create their own spas at the beach. This generally happens in the two-hour time frame before or after a low tide. During this period, you can actually dig large holes into the sand at the beach, allowing hot water to escape to the surface. A hot water pool is created in the hole – a natural spa of sorts. The water gets as hot as 64C (147F). Several tourists bring buckets and spades with them, and later relax in the large hole of thermal water they dug out.

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Masako Mizutani – Japan’s Lady of Eternal Youth

With the extensive use of Photoshop and other editing software, it’s extremely difficult to tell the difference between real and fake these days. But if the photographs of this Japanese model are to be believed, then she couldn’t be a day over 20. Believe it or not, Masako Mizutani’s real age is 43, and she’s a mother of two. Her age-defying looks have become a sensation in Japan, especially on TV. She’s being called ‘Japan’s Lady of Eternal Youth’.

Now, I’ve always felt that Asians, especially the Japanese, have beautiful skin that doesn’t seem to age very much. Even so, Masako clearly stands out from the rest of her countrymen. In the pictures, her skin looks unbelievably soft, supple and practically flawless. During her TV appearances last month, Masako revealed a few of her beauty secrets to the world. She supposedly spends five hours a day just taking care of her skin. Her tips include: drinking plenty of water to flush out toxins, eating a fresh, healthy and balanced diet, using vitamin E based creams, sunscreen, cleansing, toning, moisturizing, plenty of sleep and no smoking. Well, to tell you the truth, these tips are generic beauty advice that’s being dished out ever since I can remember. Unless she has some other secrets, they seem to be doing wonders in her case.

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Ramos, the World’s Most Annoying Alarm Clock

Have trouble getting out of bed early in the morning? Is the snooze button the most used (and abused) part of your alarm clock? Would you like to be able to wake up as soon as the alarm goes off? If you’ve answered ‘yes’ to any or all of these questions, then Ramos is the best gadget for you. The most annoying alarm clock in the world will make sure you get out of bed every single. morning at the right time. It is impossible to ignore Ramos, and there’s no way you can go back to sleep. Let’s see what makes it so special.

For starters, the makers of Ramos have done away with the ‘unlimited’ snooze button. Unplugging it won’t work either, because a battery takes over as soon as you yank out the cord. The ‘lockdown mode’ ensures that you won’t be able to reset the alarm as wake-up time approaches. So that effectively takes care of manipulating the alarm. But then it gets worse. Once the Ramos alarm clock starts to ring, there’s no button on it to turn the infernal thing off. The only way to stop the noise is by punching a defuse code into a telephone-style keypad that is installed in another room. You have no choice but to get out of bed and punch in the code, which requires some degree of brain functionality, so you will be awake by the time you are done with Ramos.

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The Ultimate Chinese Fake – A Fake Police Academy

‘Fake’ just keeps growing to epic proportions in China. The latest to join the bandwagon is a fake police academy that was allegedly duping students into believing they would receive a real degree. The Jiamusi People’s Police Academy in the Shandong Province offered three-year courses on law enforcement studies, at the end of which students would receive a degree and also employment with crime-fighting police teams. The £2,000 ($3,200) course was supposed to be taught by veteran officers. It was all the doing of Wei Zhenhai, the president of the fake academy.

Everything was going according to plan for Mr. Zhenhai and the Jiamusi Academy, until a suspicious parent tipped off the real police in September of last year. A couple of police constables then paid a visit to the academy undercover, dressed as students. During the interview, Mr. Zhenhai couldn’t help himself and ended up boasting about his contacts in high places that would help him secure employment for his students. The constables saw through his flimsy lies and immediately pounced on the ‘president’ and his staff. They were arrested and the academy closed down.

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Thousands Flock to See Miraculous Frescoes of Macedonian Church

The phenomenon is being hailed as a modern day miracle. But there are some who are just not buying into it. Whatever the reason may be, what’s happening at the St Demetrius church in Skopje, Macedonia is very interesting. The gold halos around the paintings of saints on the walls of the five-century old church have miraculously turned brighter, overnight. The paint is reported to be noticeably sharper than it used to be before. Some reports suggest that the soot gathered over all these centuries is simply falling off, to reveal the original colors of the paintings beneath. The phenomenon first began with the image of the Virgin Mary and soon spread to the other works of art.

The miracle of the Macedonian Church paintings is turning out to be quite a popular one. Several hundreds have gathered in long lines outside the church, hoping to get a glance. Even Archbishop Stefan of the Macedonian Orthodox Church and Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski paid their visits. Father Dragi Trpeski says, “I’ve worked as a priest for 26 years but I have never witnessed a miracle like this.” Several theories have been put forth, attempting to explain the event. According to local clergy, the famous warrior St Demetrius is unhappy about the recent drop in visits to the church. Apparently, the presence of nearby construction sites has blocked main entrances and resulted in fewer visitors. Head of the Commission for Religious Communities, Valentina Bozinovska, suggests, “This is a message that we must immediately return to moral values, family and children, to preserve ourselves from the decadence we are facing.”

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Schoolgirl Falconer Solves Town’s Crow Problem

Sometimes kids can solve problems that adults have no idea how to tackle. 17-year-old Misato Isibashi is a fine example of this. The third year student at Takeo High School, Takeo City, has come to be known as Japan’s only ‘schoolgirl falconer’.  Takeo city is located in the Saga Prefecture, a place plagued by flocks of crows that attack farms and trash around office buildings, and cover everything in bird droppings. Powerless against this flying menace, the government of Saga has hired Misato to solve the problem.

Misato and her 7-year-old pet falcon, Momotaro, form a dream team that has proven pretty effective in getting rid of the pesky crows. When Momotaro is released, the crows simply burst out of trees and fly away to hide elsewhere. And they don’t come back for a long time afterward. A test flight was held on the evening of April 4th at the prefectural headquarters and it was confirmed the crows are quite frightened of the mighty male falcon.

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Japan Inaugurates World’s First Hotel for Sheep

UPDATE: As it turns out, this story is completely FAKE. After it was picked up by Yahoo News, this story got a lot of attention, but according to popular rumor-busting website, Snopes.com, it was just made up by someone who wanted to have a little fun. Well, I’m sure they had quite a laugh to see the Interwebs go crazy over their made-up Sheep Hotel. We fell for it, good job. We’ll just leave the original article below as proof of our “disgrace”:

Sheep are to the Japanese, what dogs are to the rest of the world – awesome pets. Owning sheep in Japan is considered quite fashionable and the latest luxury for the wealthy. Sheep are cute, cuddly, gentle and loving creatures, so who wouldn’t want to keep them, right? Pictures of the rich and famous dressed in designer clothing and holding their sheep by a leash are really quite amusing. And the wealthy Japanese apparently take quite good care of their sheep, even when they’re out of town. Hotel Sheep is a place where the Japanese leave their woolly pets behind whenever they are on vacation.

Hotel Sheep Guest House was inaugurated last month, the first and only place in the world meant exclusively for sheep. No other animal is allowed inside. Not even rams, because hotel authorities feel that ‘rams can be too harsh to accommodate’. And you would be surprised to know that at Hotel Sheep, the sheep aren’t housed in regular barns, but in luxury rooms. Thirty such rooms are available and each of these is equipped with several amenities, including fine beds and television sets, in case they get lonely. Other services include a full-time trained maid service, and complete clean up. Japanese sheep sure are lucky.

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