The Matchstick Fleet of Bernardo Cassasola

Argentinian artist Bernardo Cassasola has spent a large part of his life building ship models exclusively out of matchsticks. Now, he’s the proud owner of an entire fleet of incredibly detailed wooden vessels.

“It’s related to life. When I want to be somewhere I just sit down and I can fix my gaze on what I do. I feel wonderful sensations. I can be anywhere in the world because I’m just working with matchsticks,” Bernardo Cassasola once said, in an interview with Reuters. The 63-year-old artist from Argentina has been creating matchstick models since the age of 13, and as the years past, his creations became larger and more detailed. His impressive collection numbers millions of matchsticks, and includes musical instruments like guitars, banjos and violins, architectural models and impressive ship replicas. Throughout his life, Cassasola created a number of extremely accurate matchstick galleons, but his most noteworthy masterpiece is, without a doubt, the 10 feet six inches (3.2 m) war ship he worked on for 7 and a half years. This painstaking labor of love features stunning details like a tiny wooden helm, a scope, down to the handles of the ship’s doors. The multi-decked galleon was unveiled in 2008, when Bernardo Cassasola also announced his next challenge – a 10-meter-long replica of the Titanic made from matchsticks. This guy should definitely meet Wayne Kusy, the man who builds ships with toothpicks, I’m sure they’d have a ball.

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Overtoun Bridge – Scotland’s Mysterious Canine Suicide Spot

There are some things in this world that are simply beyond explanation. Like the fact that in the past 50 years, about 50 dogs have jumped to their deaths from the exact same spot on the 100-year-old Overtoun Bridge in Milton, near Dumbarton, Scotland. In 2005, five dogs had jumped in a span of just 6 months. The canine suicide spot is located between the last two parapets on the right-hand side of the bridge, which is where all the dogs took the fatal leap. And to add to the strangeness, almost all the incidents have taken place on clear, sunny days, the dogs always being long-nosed breeds – collies, retrievers and labs.

The situation, according to the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, is a ‘heartbreaking mystery’. “There are lots of owners whose dogs have died and who are trying to find out why they jumped,” the Society says. One of the victims on the bridge was collie dog Ben, who leaped to his death in 1995 while taking a walk with his owner Donna Cooper, her husband, and her son, Callum. Without any warning, Ben just leapt over the parapet and landed on the rocks below after a 50ft fall. Suffering a broken paw, back and jaw, the vet decided that it wasn’t worth putting him through the pain. “Callum still asks about Ben. He was very upset by the dog’s death and wants to know if his leg has been fixed in heaven,” said Cooper, a year after Ben’s death. The case of golden retriever Hendrix was pretty much similar, although she got very lucky. Kenneth Meikle, her owner, said, “I was out walking with my partner and children when suddenly the dog just jumped. My daughter screamed, and I ran down the bank to where the dog lay and carried her up to safety. Next day, thank goodness, she was fine. We were lucky because she landed on a moss bed which broke her fall.”

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Indian Believers Roll in Food Scraps of Higher Caste to Cure Their Illnesses

A century old ritual in India dictates that those considered low-caste Hindus must roll in the remains of food eaten by members of a higher caste. But it’s not the ritual itself that’s strange. The strange part is that while social activists are actually seeking to outlaw the practice, the ‘low-caste’ Hindus don’t want to stop rolling in the leftovers.

The ritual, called Madey Snana (Spit Bath) is specific to the state of Karnataka, during an annual event at the famous 4000-year-old Kukke Subramanya temple in the coastal district of Mangalore. It is also followed at the Sri Krishna temple in Udupi town. As a part of the century-old Snana, Dalits (members of a lower caste) roll over leftover food eaten by Brahmins (the upper caste) every year, in the belief that all their troubles will disappear and ailments will be cured. It is practiced every year on the festival of Champa Shasti or Subramanya Shasti. Last year alone, 25,000 people rolled over the ‘spit’ of the Brahmins. This happened even as the district administration watched helplessly after their attempts to ban the practice failed.

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Young Entrepreneur Auctions Off His Last Name for 2013 to the Highest Bidder

Jacksonville-based entrepreneur Jason Sadler has come up with an ingenious way to raise some money- he has offered to legally change his last name for the whole of 2013 to the name of the company who offers hims the most money. The online auction ended yesterday, and starting January 1st, Sadler will be known as Jason HeadsetsDotCom.

The soon-to-be-called Jason HeadsetsDotCom is known for his weird ideas of making money. His original business, IWearYourShirt.com, was launched in 2009 and required Sadler to wear a sponsored T-shirt featuring a company’s logo for a full day or an entire week, for a generous fee, of course. During the first year since the company’s inception, Jason wore a different T-shirt every day, and leveraged the power of social media sites like Facebook, Twitter or Flickr to get the word out about his clients. “I wore a different T-shirt for 800 days straight. No day off,” he told CNN Money. “I’d make online videos wearing the T-shirts, just going about my daily life.” He also tweeted about the brands, posted about them on Facebook and made a one-hour live video show on Ustream, where he talked about clients. Believe it or not, by 2011, Sadler had hired five people and was earning $250,000 a year in revenue, promoting important companies like Starbucks, Nissan or Zappos. How’s that for an original way of making serious dough?

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Mind-Blowing Portrait Made by Hand with 2.1 Million Dots Hides an Amazing Story

The portrait below was painstakingly done by hand, in 138 hours, using a technique called stippling, which required the artist, Miguel Endara to “draw” it with around 2.1 million ink dots. As amazing as that may be, it’s the story behind this incredible work of art that’s really mind-blowing.

The man whose face Endara recreated with millions of dots is Benjaman Kyle. You probably don’t know who he is, and believe it or not, neither does he. Back in 2004, he was left unconscious behind a dumpster at a restaurant in Richmond Hill, Georgia. He had no belongings, no ID, suffered from severe sunburns and was almost blind from cataracts. The hospital he was taken to already had a Jon Doe, so they named him Benjaman Kyle, using the initials of the fast-food restaurant where he was found. Benjaman had no idea who he was, and didn’t really remember anything about his life before the incident. After months of medical evaluation, he was diagnosed with retrograde amnesia. Authorities coudn’t find out who he really was, so Benjaman Kyle became the only missing person in America whose whereabouts were actually known. Worse still, without a social security number and a valid ID, his life was about to become even more complicated.

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Remarkable Chinese Girl Can Write with Both Hands at the Same Time, in Different Languages

Chen Siyuan, a young translator from Handan, China’s Hebei province, has the incredibly ability to write with both hands at the same time. Even more impressive is that fact that she can write vertically with one hand and horizontally with the other, or in two different languages.

In this age of technology, writing with both hands is not as valuable a skill as it once was, but that doesn’t make 24-year-old Chen Siyuan’s ability any less remarkable. This young English translator has been wowing onlookers with her amazing talent of writing with both hands simultaneously, in two different languages (Chinese and English). You’d be tempted to think this kind of unique capacity requires years of practice, but Chen says she discovered her ability completely by accident, during her high-school years. She was overwhelmed by the quantities of English homework, but found that she could complete respective tasks much faster by writing with both hands at the same time. “When I was in high school, I unconsciously wrote with both hands while trying to finish my homework in a hurry,” Chen told People’s Daily Online. “My classmates were curious and tried to imitate me, but none of them succeeded.”

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Pepsi-Chicken Flavor Potato Chips Hit China

Every year, potato chip maker Lay’s launches a new flavor in China, and this time it seems like they have a real winner on their hands – pepsi-chicken, a very popular dish in the world’s most populated country.

Who new Pepsi and chicken go so well, together, right? Well, the Chinese, apparently. Chicken wings tossed into a wok and caramelized in soy sauce, spices and cola is a simple and common recipe in China, and PepsiCo. wants to capitalize on its popularity by using it as the newest flavor for Lay’s chips. It might sound more like a recipe for disaster to us westerners, but bizarre flavors aren’t exactly new to China. In years past, lays has released a range of unusual flavors, including lemon tea (subtle), cucumber (cloying) and hot-and-sour fish soup (fishy). Knowing that, I think I might find pepsi-chicken potato chips almost edible. According to AdAge, “in potato-chip form, the [pepsi-chicken] flavor is vaguely similar to barbecue with a sugary aftertaste. If there’s any hint of Pepsi, it’s fleeting and lacks fizz.”

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English Artist Creates Masterpieces by Painting with Tea

Liverpool-based artist Carne Griffiths creates magical artworks by combining traditional mediums like ink with drinks like tea, vodka, brandy, whiskey and other alcohols.

39-year-old Carne Griffiths relies on drinks to make his art stand out. He isn’t the only artist to find his inspiration in drink, famous masters like Vincent Van Gogh and Salvador Dali enjoyed a glass of alcohol to release their creative talents, but Mr. Griffiths has a very different approach – he uses them as paint. “I have drawn with fountain pen for many years, often with plain water washes. When I decided to leave my post of creative director at an embroidery firm to pursue a love of drawing I experimented with liquids such as brandy,” Carne said in an interview about his medium choices. “I liked the effect this had on the inks I was using but decided that an alternative that wasn’t such a wasteful crime would be a better option so I started experimenting with different types of tea.” Using a combination of ink and tea allows the English artist to create repeating layers which he then partly washes out with various types of tea, and making new drawings out of what appears beneath.

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Man Answers Iron instead of Phone, Burns Half His Face

Yes, apparently this kind of thing can happen. At least according to Tomasz Paczkowski, from Elbag, Poland, who while trying to help his wife with house chores, accidentally picked up the hot iron instead of the phone and ended up burning half his face.

32-year-old Tomasz Paczkowski had taken a week off from his job, and one morning he decided to prove to his wife that he could be a real asset around the house. Before going off to work, she asked him to iron some clothes, and Tomasz was more than happy to oblige. But, as we men know, ironing can get pretty boring after a while, so the young Pole got the “brilliant” idea to multitask. ‘Women are always going on about multi-tasking, so I set up the iron, opened a beer and turned on the TV to watch boxing’ Mr. Paczkowski said. Everything was going great, and he was actually starting to enjoy doing housework, only at one point he got so involved with the boxing that he wasn’t really thinking about what he was doing. That’s when the phone started ringing…

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Belgian Hotel Lets You Spend a Night in the Human Digestive System

Up until now I’d always associated Belgium with chocolates. But not anymore. Not since I read about the gut-wrenching (well, maybe that’s an exaggeration) experience that customers have at the Hotel CasAnus, located on a small island halfway between Antwerp and Ghent in Flanders, Belgium. The place is just as horrendous as it sounds, at least as far as exteriors are concerned. Shaped and designed like an enormous human intestine, the hotel is the creation of Dutch designer Joep Van Lieshout. The place is one large human colon, and the finishing touch is the rear – a giant replica of an anus.

Not everyone might envision spending their vacation inside a structure dedicated to the human digestive system, but surprisingly, a large number of people are actually interested in such an experience. The interiors aren’t all that bad, featuring double beds, showers and central heating. Run by Belgian art lovers Geert and Carla Verbeke-Lens, who purchased it as a part of their collection at the 30-acre Verbeke Foundation sculpture park, is certainly one of the most unique hotels to spend your vacation at. According to Carla, “guests are really happy to sleep undisturbed in a place surrounded by nature. They can see black swans and frogs and discover the stars in the night sky, as well as visiting all our different exhibitions. More and more travelers are coming to us from all over the world to explore what they call a ‘unique place’.” That’s no exaggeration, stats show that more than 20,000 tourists visit the Verbeke Foundation each year and many of them choose to stay at CasAnus. Several other activities take place at the foundation, like art exhibitions of collages and bio art.

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Israeli Artist Upcycles Bicycle Chains into Intricate Dog Sculptures

Israel-based artist Nirit Levav has found a way to create beautiful art an recycle metal, at the same time. She uses discarded bicycle chains to create realistic sculptures of man’s best friend.

Nirit Levav Packer graduated from the Parsons School of Design, in New York City, with a degree in fashion design. She built a career for herself, specializing in bridal gowns, but after years of working in the fashion industry, Nirit realized she couldn’t satisfied her artistic urge to create solely as a designer. so she started broadening her education by studying iron sculpting, pottery, jewelry and ceramics. Although her newly acquired skills helped develop as an artist, it was at her father’s theater sets workshops that she most of her training, including welding, metal cutting and experimenting with various materials and substances. The time spent in her father’s workshop also inspired her love for recycling, as nothing was ever thrown away there and everything could be used to create something new.

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Going Out with a Bang – Firework Funerals for Pets

Scattering a loved one’s ashes in water is apparently a thing of the past. At least, as far as pets in Sydney are concerned. Ashes to Ashes, a service run by trained circus performer and pyrotechnician Craig Hull, allows people to part with their pet’s ashes with a bang – sending them up in the air as fireworks, descending onto the waters of Sydney Harbor as their final resting place.

Hull first came up with the idea for Ashes to Ashes when his two beloved dogs died three years ago – Zeus, a German shepherd-akita cross and Gyprock, a white lab-cattle dog cross. They left a big hole in the performer’s life that he felt could be filled only with a big gesture of love. Having already scattered the ashes of a dear friend during an aerial routine at the opening ceremony of one of the Olympics (he won’t say which one), he wanted to give his dogs something even more spectacular. “I thought I’ll get a job as a pyrotechnician and I’ll send them up in fireworks. So I did,” says Hull. The event finally occurred on Sydney’s New Year’s Eve fireworks display in 2010. Hull says that he had a “vision of color and light” as his dogs’ ashes were fired into the skies that night, as opposed to the “sad memory of scattering them into the water.” “To be able to scatter someone’s ashes like that, scatter them over a huge area in the air was incredible. To be able to look up to the heavens when you send your loved ones off is a pretty amazing feeling. And I thought this is so amazing, other people should be able to experience this as well,” says Hull.

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Camouflage Company Makes Harry Potter’s Invisibility Cloak a Reality

Created by Canadian camouflage design company Hyperstealth, Quantum Stealth is a is a material that renders its wearer completely invisible by bending light waves around it, which is in effect very similar to the invisibility cloak worn child wizard extraordinaire, Harry Potter.

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could put on your very own invisibility cloak and just roam around undetected? Sadly, that’s not going to be possible for most of us, but if you’re a US soldier, this fantasy could become a reality sooner than you think. Apparently, the US Military is currently backing development of special materials to make American soldiers completely invisible on the battlefield, and according to one camouflage design company, it might soon get its wish. Hyperstealth Biotechnology Corp. CEO, Guy Cramer, says their new “Quantum Stealth” material has finally made the sci-fi/fantasy technology a reality. Unfortunately at this time, we can only take his word for it, as its development is so secret that the company cannot even show footage of how it works, on its website, offering only mock-ups of its effects.

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Controversial Artist Unveils Work Created with Hundreds of Dead Insects

Damien Hirst is known as one of the most controversial artists of our time, and his latest work only adds to his reputation. Capaneus, part of the ‘entomology‘ series that hirst has been working on since 2009, features hundreds of insect species placed in intricate geometric shapes and fixed in place with household gloss paint.

Considering many people find insects, spiders and scorpions disgusting or even frightening, it’s fair to say Capaneus is not an artwork for the faint of heart. However, considering Hirts’s past “masterpieces” include a diamond-encrusted baby skull, and an installation where maggots hatched, developed into flies and feasted on a severed cow’s head in a glass box, I’d have to say his latest creation is one of the least controversial. According to the English artist’s website, “this work’s title derives from Dante’s ‘Inferno’ which recounts how the warrior king Capaneus is struck down with lightening and thunder bolts by the angered deities whom he has held in contempt. Dante’s account originates from the Latin epic poem ‘Thebaid’ in which it is described how, body and helmet aflame, Capaneus falls from the walls to the ground below where he lies outstretched, ‘his lifeless body as immense as that of a giant.” Like the rest of the artworks in the “entomology” series, Capaneus alludes to Hirst’s long time interest in the nineteenth century fascination with natural history and the irony involved in having to kill something in order to look at it.

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Londoners in Need of a Hug Attend Cuddle Workshops

It was only a few months ago that we told you about this professional cuddler in New York who provides snuggles and cuddles for a fee. Now we’ve found out about an entire workshop that’s dedicated to the act of cuddling, this time in London. Organized by 36-year-old Anna Nathan and 42-year-old Neil Urquhart, the workshop takes place twice a month on Sundays and costs £29 (about $46). Participants at the cuddle workshop get to do just that – hold each other.

But it’s not just ‘ready-set-cuddle’ from beginning to end. There’s actually a process that’s followed during the four-hour sessions, for the participants to get acquainted before they can hold each other in full-on cuddles. And of course, there are rules as well. According to Anna, “You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do.” Some of the other rules include keeping a layer of clothing on at all times, placing your sexual energy aside, and the most important – no kissing. Attendants at the cuddle workshop come from various walks of life – ranging from a divorced 30-something badly in need of a hug, to a retired and lonely person. The room in which the classes are held is quite cozy, with green and red cushions scattered on the floor. However, the temperature is mostly cool, perhaps to encourage participants to keep their clothes on at all times.

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