Man Builds 100-Foot Replica of the Titanic in His Backyard

Scotish ship enthusiast Stan Fraser has spent eleven years of his life building a 100-foot model of the Titanic, in his own backyard.

The 46-year-old former lighting engineer has always had a thing for the Titanic as well as maritime items in general, and his house in Inverness is filled with life jackets, models of other ships and copies of old newspaper articles reporting the Titanic’s tragic accident. His mother used to tell him lots of seafaring stories when he was a child, and he developed a strong passion for the sea that stuck with him throughout his life. He chose a nautical theme for his house and turned his cousin’s old rowing boat into a pirate ship for his kids.

But it was the famous Titanic that fascinated Fraser the most, as he says it was the most beautiful ship ever made, even compared to modern sea liners. He started working on a small replica of the Titanic for fun, but he kept making it bigger until he decided on a 1:100 scale model of the ship. Stan used two caravans he had in the garden as the base of his masterpiece, then someone gave him an old shed to use as material, and another friend who was building a house, helped him out with wood and nails. This got him started, but he spent the next eleven years working on his incredibly detailed model.

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German Girl Trains Cow as a Show Horse

Regina Mayer, a 15-year-old girl from Laufen, Southern Germany, rides her pet cow Luna as if she were a well-trained show horse.

The young girl always wanted her own horse, but her parents kept saying “no”, and since she had a stable full of cows at her disposal, Regina decided she was going to try and ride one. After hundreds of hours of training and many baskets of treats, she managed to teach Luna to jump over home-made hurdles, just like a show horse.

Regina remembers that she knew Luna was special ever since she was born, three years ago. The calf came right up to her, she wasn’t shy like most other young cattle, and they developed a special friendship ever since. The 15-year-old began riding Luna about six months ago and she even contacted a riding school in Switzerland, and received some tips on how to train and equip the bovine in a way similar to a show horse. The two went for long rides around the countryside of Southern Germany and Luna become more and more comfortable, especially since her friend Regina made sure to give her delicious carrots during each outing.

Young Regina Mayer says Luna is definitely very clever, she knows what she can do and what she can’t. Right now she’s able to jump over a-meter-high hurdles, but the rider is confident this year they will reach 1.20 meters. She admits people always look at her funny when they see her riding a cow, but she wouldn’t dream of trading Luna for a horse. The trained cow has become her best friend, following her around wherever she goes, something a horse would never do.

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Nestinarstvo – The Fire Dancing Ritual of Bulgari

A centuries-old custom that can be traced back to the Tracians, Nestinarstvo (Fire Dancing) is a mysterious ritual in which people actually dance on smouldering embers without getting any burns.

Believed to be one of the oldest pagan rituals in the Balkans, Nestinarstvo has defied persecution by both the Christian Church and communism and is still practiced in some Bulgarian and Greek speaking villages of the Strandzha Mountains. One of this remote settlements is the legendary Bulgari village, where people still dance on hot coals, just like their ancestors have done for thousands of years.

The enigmatic ritual of Nestinarstvo begins at sunset, when the chief nestinar (fire dancer), wearing a white shirt and red sash wrapped around his waist, arrives in Bulgari’s square and begins spreading the hot embers in a circle. Street lights are turned-off  and all the villagers gather around the scorching dancing ring, accompanied by the sound of bagpipes and drums. The nestinari begin dancing around the circle, carrying religious icons, and then suddenly walk through fire, their feet lightly touching the red-hot embers, sometimes pressing down hard in circular motion. The dance continues until the nestinari put out the blaze with their feet.

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Retired Farmer Spends 30 Years Building Scale Model of Herod’s Temple

Alec Garrard, an 80-year-old retired farmer from Norfolk, England, has spent the last thirty years working on a 1:100 scale model of Herod’s Biblical Temple.

Mr. Garrard has liked creating models all his life, but as he was getting older, he began thinking about a single big project that would see him through to the end of his life. Having always been interested in architecture and religion, the retired farmer thought to combine his two passions and create a unique scale model of Herod’s Temple. He had seen one or two other models of the structure during Biblical exhibitions, but he didn’t find them accurate enough, and he knew he could do better.

The expert model-maker started working on the project when he was in his 40’s. He first spent more than three years just researching the Biblical temple and then began constructing the model, exclusively by hand. The retired farmer cut the plywood frames of the temple walls, baked all the clay bricks in the oven and then stuck them together, and even sculpted and painted 4,000 half-an-inch figurines and dressed them in costumes. It looks absolutely amazing, but Alec Garrard says “I have been working on it for decades, but it will never be finished as I’m always finding something new to add”.

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Man Makes Quilt from Ladies Underwear

A man from eastern Missouri decided to show his appreciation for women’s underpants by making his very own ladies underwear quilt.

Louis Garret, from Louisiana, first saw a pantie quilt in a magazine he was subscribed to, and since he already had a collection of mannequins he loved to dress in old underwear and dresses, he decided to make a pantie quilt for himself. Garret, known to his friends as “Shovelhead”, becuase of his passion for Harley-Davidson bikes with shovelhead engines, asked his female friends to give him any old panties they weren’t going to wear anymore, and although some of them raised their eyebrows to his strange request, he ended up with some nice donations.

Shovelhead would go into women’s garments stores and pick out the pairs of underwear he liked, and he would tell all his new female clients about his special quilt and then asked them to donate their panties. But we’re talking about a man who wanted pure quality, so he wouldn’t accept any cheap, dollar-store polyester undies, just silk and nylon Victoria’s Secret-looking stuff.

The finished underwear quilt features 58 different ladies panties, and although recent media coverage could earn Louis Garret a hefty sum if he decided to sell it, the motorcycle aficionado says he never considered selling it, because he known most of the women who gave him their panties, so it has a weird sentimental value.

I wonder if he washed them panties before stitching them to the quilt…

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Living Keychains Are the New Craze in China

Live fish and small turtles sealed in plastic keychains have become increasingly popular items sold at subway entrances and train stations across China.

The living keychains containing  Brazilian turtles or king fish swimming in colored water are considered good-luck charms by many Chinese, but animal protection groups are outraged and call them a perfect example of “pure animal abuse”. Business is booming according to Chinese online newspaper Global Times, which reports one fish and nine turtle rings have been sold in just five minutes, on Tuesday, at the Sihui subway station, in Beijing.

According to vendors, the colored water in the 7-centimeter-long keychains contains nutrients that allow fish and turtles to live inside for months. While that may be true, Mary Peng, cofounder of the International Center for Veterinary Services, says they couldn’t survive in the sealed bag for very long, due to lack of oxygen.

While animal rights activists are protesting loudly against the sale of living keychains, there isn’t much else they can do, because China only has a Wild Animal Protection Law – if the animals are not wild animals they fall outside the law’s scope. Until the law changes to protect all kinds of animals, activists can only appeal to people not to buy them, and hope the market will die due to lack of customers.

Although some people buy these bizarre keychains to carry around for good-luck, there are those who buy them just to free the poor creatures from their tiny plastic cage.

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Cancer Survivor Makes Drug Jewelry to Pay off Medical Debt

Susan Braig, a 61-year-old cancer survivor from Altadena, California, began making jewelry from medication as a form of therapy, but now sells her creations to pay her medical bills.

Susan was diagnosed with breast cancer and started chemotherapy in 2004. She remembers she bought her first round of medicine our of her own pocket; it cost her $500 and looking at the little pills she got for that much money, it made her wonder if they were little gems. But the idea of actually using medication as jewelry came to Susan Braig in 2007, when she participated in a medical-themed art exhibition organized by the NewTown Pasadena Foundation. She decided to create a mock Tiffany & Co. jewelry advertisement for the exhibition, using different kinds of pills as diamonds, rubies and emeralds, but she eventually ended up making a princess’ tiara encrusted with her leftover cancer pills, as well as several other pieces. They were a hit, and many show-goers told Susan she should open her own jewelry line.

Now, seven years after starting her treatment, Susan Braig is cancer-free and running her own jewelry line, called designer Drug Jewelry. Friends and fellow cancer survivors donate their own old and leftover medicine, and she uses them to create colorful accessories priced between $15 and $150. She sells them at craft shows, where she wears a white medical robe, and is considering distributing them to hospital gift shops. The pills used for the over 500 pieces she designed so far are coated with a sealant and glued to the costume jewelry, to make them “non-abusable” as she says. The jewels come in an ordinary pill bottle, wrapped in a ribbon and placed in small bags made from surgical face masks.

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Woman Spends $8,000 on Plastic Surgery to Look Like a Drag Queen

21-year-old Collagen Westwood has admired drag queens ever since she was a little girl and is now doing everything she can to look like one.

The aspiring singer, whose childhood idols were Boy George, Lily Savage and Dead or Alive lead singer Pete Burns, says her mother had a lot of drag queen friends, so she grew up admiring them and wishing she was as glamorous as they were. The young woman from London was bullied and made fun of as a child, and from age 12 she’s been dreaming about plastic surgery and changing her appearance.

Now she’s living the dream, dressing up as a drag queen when she goes out at night and spending her savings on collagen injections and nose jobs to make her look more like her idols. ‘I have a couple of different wigs that I wear when I go out, and people are always assuming I’m a transvestite. I love it when people mistake me for a man. It doesn’t offend me – I think drag queens look fantastic,’ she says. When she’s getting ready for a night on the town, Collagen needs at least three hours and the help of a make-up artist friend to put on her huge blonde wig and doll-like make-up.

The drag queen wannabe says she loves looking plastic and can’t wait until she raises enough for more plastic surgery. She intends to have breast augmentation, as well as have some of her ribs removed so she can wear tighter corsets, anything to make her look more like a drag queen. ‘They’re glamorous and beautiful – what woman wouldn’t want to look like that?” Collagen concludes.

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Designer Makes Impressive Gown from Discarded Children’s Books

Boston-based fashion designer Ryan Novelline has created an amazing fairytale dress using only pages from children’s Golden Books.

If you had any doubts regarding human creativity being endless, this unique creation will definitely make you a believer. Now I’m not very big on fashion, but I know impressive when I see it, and Ryan Novelline’s gown made entirely out of recycled and discarded children’s Golden Books is one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen.

The skirt is made entirely of illustrations from the book sewn together with metallic gold thread, while the bodice is made from the books foil spines. Both have tape backing for reinforcement. The total surface area of the skirt is 22,000 square inches.

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Man Uses Donkeys to Tow Faulty Luxury SUV Back to Dealership

A Shenyang businessman made Chinese headlines the other day, after he used two donkeys two tow his faulty Range Rover back to the dealership, in protest.

Just two weeks after another dissatisfied car owner had his Lamborghini Gallardo smashed with jackhammers, in protest of poor quality vehicles that auto companies chose to sell in China, a similar incident took place in front of a Rover dealership. A man sick of having to repair his Range Rover every few months, rented two donkeys and had them tow his broken vehicle back to its manufacturer, and asked for a total refund.

The protester bought his luxury SUV in 2010, for 2 million yuan ($304,000), and it reportedly broke down six times before he eventually had to replace the entire engine. When the car died on him for the seventh time, the angry owner felt he had to do something to send a clear message to car makers about the shady quality of their products. So he rented the donkeys, glued a protest banner to the SUV and towed it back to the dealership.

Although his actions grabbed a lot of media attention, they weren’t enough to convince Rover to give him the total refund he asked for. They’ll probably just fix it for him, again.

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Clock Collector Has Plenty of Time on His Hands

With over 1,500 different clocks covering every wall in his house, Jack Schoff holds the Guinness Record for the largest collection of clocks.

A clock placed above the door to Jack Schoff’s home, in North Berwick, Maine, is meant to prepare every visitor for what awaits them inside, but the sight of 1,509 clocks adorning every square inch of a small studio apartment isn’t easy to take in, especially if it’s your first time visiting. Everyone lets out a “Wow”, but Jack Schoff isn’t impressed anymore because “everyone says the same thing.”

Unlike most other quirky collectors, Jack hasn’t always been fascinated by clocks. In fact, he only began collecting them seven or eight years ago, when health issues forced the former Portsmouth Naval Shipyard pipefitter to take some time off. With so much time on his hands, sitting idly at home, there was only one way to go – clocks. “I was going stir crazy, so I started taking clocks apart and putting them back together, you know, just for something to keep busy,” he says. He and a friend would drive throughout the Seacoast region, from one yard sale to another, buying all kinds of clocks. Then, people started hearing about his crazy hobby and began leaving old or broken clocks on his doorstep, so he doesn’t even know where some of the items in his collection came from.

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Indian Woodcarvers Give the Skateboard an Oriental Twist

What do you get if you combine the old fashioned skateboard with the talent of a dozen Indian woodcarvers? The answer can be admired in the photos below.

All commercially-available skateboards are artistically designed, but companies usually opt for spray paint, abstract graphics and prints to personalize the board. German curator Tobias Megerle teamed up with a dozen traditional woodcarvers from Mumbai to give the skateboard a brand new make-over inspired by traditional Indian patterns.

Megerle remembers “The very first time I drove past I was magically attracted to the carved wooden objects in Mahim, all the open workshops, the woodcarvers sitting on the floor with their traditional tools, working on their items, the whole atmosphere”. As an artist he wanted to do something with their work, and after several visits studying their craft, he picked the good old skateboard to undergo the carvers’ artistic treatment.

Tobias Megerle’s art project was named Final Cut, and its main goal was to keep the skateboards functional even after Mumbai’s carvers were done with them. The results are truly amazing, and the German curator hopes his project will lift India’s woodcarvers from the state of craftsmen to that of artists.

These traditionally carved Indian skateboards are currently on exhibit at The LOFT at Lower Parel, in Mumbai, where they will remain until April 12.

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Marcus Levine’s Hammered Nail Art

Using up to 50,000 rigid steel nails to recreate something as fragile and curvy as the human body isn’t the easiest of tasks, but artist Marcus Levine manages to to it without as much as a sketch.

The British artist’s road to his brilliant career has been anything but predictable. Born in Yorkshire, Levine attended the Jacob Kramer Art College, but instead of pursuing his dream of making nail art, he opted for career as a TV graphic designer, and later joined the family business. It wasn’t until 2004 that he finally decided he wanted to make art for a living, and moved to Budapest. He began hammering nails into composite wood boards and completed his first real nail artwork in 2005. He continued to perfect his technique, creating increasingly dynamic interpretations of his subjects and pushing the boundaries with each new art piece.

Marcus Levine takes between three days and two months to complete one of his hammered masterpieces and uses anywhere between 15,000 and upwards of 50,000 nails. By placing them at various heights and distances, he can create various distinct tones and manipulate the intensity of the contours. He masters several techniques, like undulating the height of a nail or rotating its head round, but Marcus admits that light has  a big part to play in his art, as “from morning sun to evening sun the shadows across the sculptures change and affect the contrast, and by altering artificial lighting, the sculptures can appear as light as a pencil sketch or as dark as a charcoal life drawing.”

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Chinese Animal Lover Adopts 140 Stray Dogs

Li Zongwen, a former chef from Wuhan, has made online headlines after Chinese media discovered he has taken in 140 stray dogs from the outskirts of the city.

The 59-year-old man began adopting strays from the streets of Wuhan in 2009, and in just two years time he has taken-in an impressive 140 hungry dogs. He put a roof over their heads, but admits he couldn’t afford to feed all of them, without donations from other local animal lovers. Food and rent for Mr. Li and his big family of canines cost around 5,000 yuan ($760) which is way more than he could pay on his own.

Although sharing a home with 140 animals isn’t exactly an easy task, considering the noise he has to put up with at night, and the considerable mess he has to clean up after them, Li Zongwen doesn’t complain. On the contrary, he likes having them around as he prepares a big bowl of dog chow, using a garden shovel, and even eats his own meals in their company. Maybe he should get in touch with Ha Wenjin, the woman who looks after 1,500 stray dogs and 200 cats, I’m sure they have a lot to learn from each other.

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The Unique Burial Customs of Tana Toraja

The Toraja Tribe of South Sulawesi, Indonesia, is known for the cheerful way of treating death, and its unique burial grounds carved in sheer rock.

One of the most beautiful tourist destinations of Indonesia, the green hills of South Sulawesi are home to the Toraja, a tribe that still honors the old Austronesian lifestyle, similar to Nias culture. Most tribe members are Christians, converted during Dutch colonization, but traces of their old beliefs still remain and are most visible during funeral festivities and burial customs. The Toraja are obsessed with death, but not in a tragic sense; to them funerals are a lot like going-away parties celebrated by sacrificing dozens of buffaloes and pigs for a feast enjoyed by the entire community.

The main concern of a Toraja tribe member is to make sure he raises enough money so his family can throw the best party in town, when he leaves this world. Their bodies are stored under the family home for years after their death. During this time the remaining relatives refer to that person not as “the deceased” but as “the sick”, and raise money for the actual funeral, which is usually attended by hundreds of guests. Tourists are welcome to attend the festivities, as long as they don’t wear black or red.

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