Strange Love – 4 Women in Love with Inanimate Objects

Thanks to Objectum Sexuality, the Statue of Liberty now has a lover, a three foot model the Greek God Adonis has a girlfriend and the Eiffel Tower has a wife, as does the Berlin Wall. What sounds completely bizarre to us is in fact normal to these four women who suffer from the psychological condition that makes them experience romantic feelings towards inanimate objects. Let’s delve a little deeper into their stories of love.

Amanda Whittaker

Amanda is a 27-year-old shop assistant from Leeds, and head-over-heels in love with the iconic Statue of Liberty. In her home she has a shrine to the famous landmark, which demonstrates her love. “She is my long-distance lover,” says Amanda. “I am blown away by how stunning she is.” She affectionately refers to the statue as ‘Libby’, and although she would like to be married to it, she says she’s holding herself back in consideration of the many others who might be in love with it too.

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Tough Mudder – Probably the Toughest Event on the Planet

“The Tough Mudder is not a race, it’s a challenge,” say the organizers. And it most certainly is, given the grueling nature of what is perhaps the toughest event in the world. Consisting of 10 to 12 mile ‘hardcore’ obstacle courses, the event designed by British Special Forces is meant to test stamina, strength, grit, and camaraderie. Tough Mudder is the brainchild of former counter-terrorism agent Will Dean. During his MBA course at Harvard, he was frustrated with the monotony of marathons, triathlons and mud runs. Wanting to participate in an event that truly challenged the core of his personality, he came up with the idea of Tough Mudder.

According to their official website, Tough Mudder is much more than just a race because it gives participants the opportunity to a personal challenge. Simply completing the course is an achievement in itself. The participants are not timed, and there are no winners as this is no contest. In fact, one of the rules of the event is to help your fellow mudders whenever they seem to be struggling with themselves. Men and women are strongly encouraged to participate, but the event is open only to those above 18 years of age. So far, over half a million people have participated worldwide. And 25% of them have been women. The events are currently being held in USA, Canada, Europe, Japan, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.

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The Bone Chapel of Portugal – A Creepy Sacred Destination

A structure with interiors covered completely in human bones – sounds like the stuff that scary houses are made of, right? But believe it or not, it is actually a place of worship. Capela dos Ossos, or the Chapel of Bones, is located next to the Church of St. Francis in the medieval Portuguese town of Evora. The 16th century chapel is a large room that has been adorned with the bones of over 5,000 monks.

The decision to use human bones as building material for a church is certainly an unusual one, but there’s a story to justify it. It seems that in the 16th century, Evora had about 43 cemeteries that took up way too much land. When the decision was made to destroy some of these cemeteries, the corpses of 5,000 monks were exhumed in an effort to save their souls from condemnation. It was decided that the remains of these monks would be relocated to the Capela dos Ossos. However, the existing monks soon realized that it might be a better idea to put these bones on display, rather than behind closed doors. These monks were concerned about the societal values of the wealthy town of Evora.  So they set about creating a place for meditation, a place where the undeniable reminder of death would help people transcend the material world.

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The Chalk Masterpieces of Rustam Valeev

Rustam Valeev is a 20-year-old street artist from the city of Sterlitamak, Russia. Using simple pieces of white chalk, he is able to create incredibly detailed portraits right on the pavement of his home city.

Doodling with chalk was one of my favorite pastimes, as a kid. I remember I spent hours trying to draw simple things like people, butterflies, or animals, but my works never looked as good as what Rustam Valeev creates. In fact, the only other person I know who can create such realistic artworks is Paul Cadden, who renders photo-realistic masterpieces with graphite and chalk. But while Paul draws on paper, Rustam practices his skills on rough pavement. Although his street art hasn’t been featured by any important Western media outlets, his beautiful portraits have gone viral on some of the most popular sites in Russia.

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India’s Controversial Baby Dropping Ritual Is Back

The devotee scales the high walls of the religious shrine on a rope, a bucket dangling off his back. Once he is at the top (typically about 30ft high), he miraculously retrieves a baby from the bucket, handing it over to a bunch of men standing on the balcony. One of these men takes hold of the baby’s hands and feet, holding the child as though it were a basket. He swings the kid back and forth in the air, exclaiming a chant in the praise of the Lord. And then, shockingly, the baby is dropped.

Baby dropping could be India’s most bizarre ritual. Screaming, wailing babies are dropped from several meters into the air, and there are a group of 14 to 15 men standing right below, holding a blanket that breaks the baby’s fall. Just as it bounces on the blanket once, it is caught by one of the men and handed over to the mother. Understandably, it takes several minutes before the baby recovers from the shock.

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Obsessed Man Collects over 20,000 Bird Ornaments

It all started when Lawrence Cobbold was 9 years old, after he purchased a picture of a bird . Today, at age 38, his home is so filled to the brim with bird ornaments. His place is so full of bird memorabilia that he has to wash up, do his laundry and have his meals at his parents’ house. In the past 25 years or so, Lawrence has managed to collect over 20,000 ornaments related to birds. His treasures could all be worth about £40,000 ($63,000) according to his own estimation.

Lawrence’s amazing bird collection consists of 15,000 ornaments, 4,800 thimbles, 1,000 fridge magnets and 300 plates. Apart from these, he has about 300 pictures, 150 mugs and 100 jigsaw puzzles that are in some way, related to birds. Each and every room in his house, every cupboard, loft and shelf is completely covered with bird-related items. Each room, in fact, has a theme of its own. The three-bedroom property belongs to his father Tony. Lawrence moved there after his previous residence, a two-bedroom house, was no longer sufficient for his ever-growing collection. Four hours of Lawrence’s day are spent rearranging and cleaning his collection– two hours before work and two hours after. When he’s not busy with his collectibles, he works full time as a warehouse attendant at the Co-op Retail Distribution Center in Plympton, England. He usually buys the ornaments at Plympton, Plymstock, Mutley Plain and Elburton, where he is constantly on the prowl for new items to add to the collection.

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The Coromoto Ice-Cream Shop – 900 Weird Flavors and Counting

Coromoto, an ice cream shop in Merida, Venezuela, is probably the closest you can ever get to Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans from Harry Potter’s wizarding world. The place sells ice creams of virtually every flavor you can think of. Granted, you won’t get vomit or earwax, but you’re sure to come across a few strange flavors like onion, chili, mushrooms, wine and even garlic. The ones you’d probably never want to try are egg, sardines-in-brandy and macaroni-and-cheese flavored ice creams. Of course, for those who don’t like experimenting much, regular flavors like vanilla and strawberry are available as well.

Manuel da Silva Oliveira, a Portuguese immigrant, worked for years at large ice cream companies, before he realized the potential that exotic and unusual flavors held. He then proceeded to perfect an avocado-flavored ice cream, after wasting about 50 kg in his attempts. In 1980, he opened the Heladeria Coromoto, where the Avocado ice cream is now one of the most popular, and is paired with sweet corn, black bean, mango or coconut flavors. The shop sells the largest number of flavors in the world, holding a Guinness World Record for it. There are around 900 flavors to choose from, with 60 of them being served on any given day. Changes are made according to the season.

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Coolest Finds of the Week #34

Heavyweight Pets Enter Slimming Contest (The Sun)

The Deceptive Beauty of Indonesia’s Deadly Acid Volcano (Environmental Graffiti)

86-Year-Old Gymnast Proves Age Is Just a Statistic (MSNBC)

Back to the Future Fan Creates Iconic Delorean Replica (Brian O’Neal)

Amazing Fabric House Models by Do Ho Suh (Design Boom)

World’s Oldest Performing Clown (Chicago Suntimes)

Thailand’s Treetop Restaurant (Gizmag)

Snoop Dog Creates Smokable Songbook (The Dieline)

The Annual Texas Rattlesnake Massacre (Environmental Graffiti)

Incredibly Detailed Star Wars Drawings Made with One Continuous Line (Geek Tyrant)

Living with the Dead – Manila’s Cemetery Dwellers

Graveyards in Manila can be a strange sight for first-time visitors. Some of them hold a strong resemblance to mini-townships, with no sign of the eerie quietness that usually shrouds such spaces. Mausoleums house shops that sell canned sardines, noodle packs, candy, candles and other essential items. Even prepaid cards for mobile phones are available. Meals and drinks are sold at informal restaurants set up between graves. The walls are scaled with makeshift ladders, helping inhabitants to get in and out with ease. Wondering why in the world would the dead need such conveniences? Well, they’re not for the dead, but for the living. Several thousand homeless people in Manila have made graveyards their permanent homes. The biggest graveyard of the Filipino capital, North Cemetery, is now like a small village in itself with a population of 10,000.

I’m not sure about for long this has been going on, but it must be a pretty long time considering that some inhabitants have actually inherited mausoleums from their great-grandparents, and ended up living there accidentally. But a majority of the graveyard population consists of those who come from the provinces of Philippines to the big city and are unable to make ends meet. Apart from running shops and eateries, the people here make a living by working with the graves. At funerals, teenagers carry coffins for 50 pesos (about 50 cents), adult men are employed to repair and maintain tombs, while women take care of cleaning mausoleums. Children collect plastic, scrap metal and other garbage, which are eventually sold.

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Build It and They Won’t Come – World’s Largest Shopping Mall Is 99% Empty

The New South China Mall in Dongguan, China is the biggest in the world. With an area of over 7 million square feet that can accommodate 2,350 stores, and attractions such as roller coasters, ghost trains and a replica of the bell tower of St Mark’s Square in Venice, you would think the place would be swarming with people. So did the owners of the mall, who expected over 70,000 visitors a day when they started building it. But today it stands empty, with almost no customers entering its gates. The 553 meter indoor and outdoor roller coaster hasn’t been operated since it was installed and 99% of the shops have never been leased out. The only ones that do operate are a series of fast food joints at the entrance of the mall and another few shops inside the huge complex.

New South China Mall was built in 2005 by Hu Guirong, who made his millions making instant noodles. He started the project with great enthusiasm, sending teams all over the world in search of ideas for his dream mall. And most of these ideas were even translated into reality. Where else in the world would be able to see a gondola on a mock Venetian canal inside a mall? But then something went horribly wrong, because when the place was completed in 2005, it simply failed to take off. It wasn’t even a dead mall, where tenants simply depart and business winds down slowly. No, Guirong’s mall never attracted merchants in the first place, as they felt it wasn’t a realistic place to set up shop.

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Size Doesn’t Matter – Man Builds $200 Tiny Eco-Homes from Ordinary Household Junk

A tiny house doesn’t necessarily have to be shabby. And a stylish one doesn’t really have to cost a lot of money. Proving these points is carpenter Derek Diedricksen, who makes small wooden dwellings out of junk at $200 apiece. They look nothing like junk, though. The decorative detailing in these houses make them pretty interesting places to live in.

The largest structure made by 33-year-old Derek is Gypsy Junker – 24 square feet in size and 5ft 10 inches high. The smallest one is just 4ft tall. But then the interiors of these houses are so pretty that anyone would be interested to spend at least one night in them. Everyday junk is used in the building process, like the glass from the front of a washing machine that becomes a porthole-like window and a sheet of metal is used as a flipdown counter. Castoff storm windows, shipping pallets and discarded cabinets are used as well. Stained glass windows and the likes are used for that decorative touch. Some of the houses built by Derek are also portable, ranging from 4 to 24 square feet in size.

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Sarajevo Roses – Painful War Memories Etched in Asphalt

They sound like something beautiful, and they are quite nice to look at, but as soon as you learn the story of the Sarajevo Roses, you realize they are really the legacy of a truly tragic event, the Bosnian War of the 1990s.

Between 1992 and 1996, Bosnian Serb Forces bombarded the city of Sarajevo in what is remembered as the longest siege in the history of modern warfare. As you can imagine this kind of event leaves serious scars both in the hearts of those affected and on the city’s infrastructure. A Sarajevo Rose is a concrete scar made by a mortar shell explosion that was later painted with red resin as a memorial to those who were killed during the Siege of Sarajevo. It seems unnatural to compare the mark of a mortar explosion to the beauty of a rose, but the unique fragmentation pattern of a mortar round hitting concrete does indeed have a floral look. Still, while roses are a symbol of love and beauty, Sarajevo Roses represent a collective memory of the physical scars of war.

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World’s Quietest Place Lets You Hear Your Internal Organs

The mad and hectic pace of life, sometimes makes us all crave some peace and quiet. But then, as they say, too much of a good thing can actually be bad for you. That applies to silence, as it turns out people can’t stand to be in the world’s quietest place for too long. The longest a person has lasted in there is 45 minutes.

The place I’m talking about is a room at Orfield Laboratories in South Minneapolis. The room, also known as the ‘anechoic chamber’, is 99.99% sound absorbent. The double-insulated walls are made of steel and foot-thick concrete. Along the walls are also 3.3-foot thick fiberglass acoustic wedges that contribute to the ultra-quietness. The room holds the current Guinness World Record for being the quietest place on Earth. While it does seem like a dream come true, especially for those who live with kids or have stressful jobs, it’s actually not all that great. The room gets so silent that you can actually hear your internal organs at work. And after a while, the hallucinations begin.

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Can’t Get a Girl? Website Lets Guys Hire Fake Girlfriends for $5

GirlfriendHire.com is a new website where you can hire a girl to do ‘girlfriend-type’ things for you at a cost of just $5. Now before you get your hopes up, there are no ‘dirty’ services available. The website targets tweens and teens, so typical girlfriend activities would include doing your homework, flirting on Facebook, sending naughty texts and making your friends jealous. According to the website, it is “the first place on the internet dedicated to connecting guys and girls, to help guys breakup with their girlfriends, prank their friends, get their ex-gfs back, create a fake breakup message and even hire a girl to do your homework.”

Hiring girls to do fake relationship stuff does sound kind of sad, but there’s no dearth of boys willing to shell out the 5 bucks. Plus, girls get to make some quick money and no one’s really hurt in the process. I checked out the website and there’s a list of girls offering various services, called ‘flings’, ranging from, “I will text you anything for $5” to “I will give relationship advice for $5”. The most popular of them all is, “I will be your Facebook friend for $5”. Isn’t that cool, to be able to make money out of your Facebook friends list? Boys can put up ‘fling’ requests too and these tend to be creative like, “Make a video summarizing Battlestar Gallactica in a skirt or bikini” and “Put 15 tootsie roll pops in your mouth singing the alphabet backward in a bikini”. And there are the more desperate ones with “Send me a fake message on Facebook telling how much fun you had last night”.

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Chinese Millionaire Becomes Miner to Stop Gambling

Addictions are a life-long struggle for most people. There are very few who manage to successfully kick self-destructive habits for good. 39-year-old Chinese millionaire, Qijang Zhang Yongqiang, is one such person. He was able to get rid of his gambling addiction by taking up a unique hobby – mining.

Zhang is the owner of a couple of supermarkets and a few other properties in China. As a rich person, he had taken to gambling and soon got addicted to it, losing up to 80,000 Yuan ($12,700) on some nights. On one such night, after losing a huge amount of money, he realized that he needed to do something to save himself from destruction. So in 2008, the millionaire decided to put gambling behind him, and took up a job as a miner. Initially, he did it just to keep away from the nasty habit, but soon he fell so much in love with the work that it became his full-time job. His wife and parents are quite supportive and help by operating the supermarkets while he is at work.

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