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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Impressive Portrait Made with 750 Pairs of Socks

Hong Yi, aka “Red”, has already achieved Internet fame for her amazing works, a portrait of Yao Ming created with a basketball, and one of singer Jay Chou made by spilling coffee, but she keeps producing mind-blowing masterpieces. Her latest project is a detailed portrait made with 750 pairs of socks.

The beautiful Shanghai-based artist decided to pay tribute to Chinese film director Yimou Zhang by creating a large-scale monochromatic portrait of him with socks. She first got the idea for her unique work of art while strolling on a tiny alleyway in Shanghai. It was filled with clotheslines made of bamboo sticks with various clothing items hanging above her, and she remembers being surprised to find such a traditional side of life in a modern, bustling city like Shanghai. The unusual art medium is also a connection to Yimou Zhang who uses bamboo sticks in his period films, as well as in the 2008 Beijing Olympics opening ceremony he directed.

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Las Vegas Hangover Bus Offers Quick Hangover Cure on the Go

Now you can sin all you like in Las Vegas because not only can you go to heaven, but redemption will cost you just $130 and salvation, only $200. No, you won’t be released from the bonds of worldly life, but you sure will be cured of that nasty headache after a night of binge-drinking. Yes, the place we’re talking of is Hangover Heaven, the bus that exists “to resolve your post-partying ills, no matter what you were doing last night.” The unique service started by board-certified anesthesiologist, Dr. Jason Burke, specializes mainly in the treatment of alcohol induced hangovers. But they do have solutions for other problems too, so it doesn’t really matter what kind of mess you got into the previous night.

The Hangover Heaven is a blue bus with pickup points at major Las Vegas hotels. With a front lounge, a mid-section with bunks, a rear lounge, bathroom and relaxing interiors, the bus promises an ultra-smooth ride that will see the end of your hangover in just 45 minutes. Now I’ve only just had a bad hangover once in my life, but the experience was enough for me to know that 45 minutes to get rid of the horrible feeling is simply awesome. I do wish I could have had the option of taking this bus back then.

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17-Year-Olds Write Guide on How to Raise Teenagers, Get Published

Adults have always been talking about great parenting skills, but hardly anyone’s ever stopped to ask the kids what they have to say about the matter. 17-year-olds Megan Lovegrove and Louise Bedwell decided not to wait until they were asked. They just went right ahead and wrote a book about how to raise teenagers. The two girls have written the 200 plus-page guidebook based on their own experiences and interviews with 100 other teens. “Teenagers Explained: A Manual for Parents by Teenagers” provides advice for parents on handling teenagers and tackles issues ranging from cleaning up a bedroom to drugs and sex.

I personally would love to get my hand on this book, although I do not have the responsibility of raising teenagers. I’m quite curious to find out just what the book has to say on the subject, given that the authors are so young. It’s surely bound to be an interesting read. It is available for purchase on Amazon, in case you’re interested too. The back cover of the book supposedly has this to say: “The authors of other parenting books are practically ANCIENT. If you really want to know what your teenager is thinking and doing, who better to turn to than teenagers themselves?” And as proof of what they’re talking about, Louise is quoted, “Recently, I told my mum how someone had ‘parred’ me at a party; my mum thought I was swearing at her.”

Through their book, Megan and Louise offer help to clueless parents on things like ‘How to lure your teen from their room and actually get them out with the family’. There are also some useful tips in there. According to the girls, parents need to give their kids at least 3 hours to clean their room, and not check on them until the time is up. Also, house party gatecrashers can be avoided, they say, by making sure that Facebook-organized party events are visible only to friends, and the address is not disclosed. And to reduce phone bills, the advice is simple – encourage your teenager to use more smartphone apps. I’m sure a lot of teenagers won’t be complaining about that, if it means they would get new smartphones.

Megan and Louise attend Nonsuch High School for Girls in Cheam, South London. They were chosen to write the book after they took part in a creative writing contest organized by a publisher for 50 schools in the area. Louise says, “We wanted it to be a real ‘tell it like it is’ manual from the teenagers’ perspective.” Megan adds, “But we’ve also learnt a lot more about how adults think, so we also know how to keep the upper hand.” The book certainly does seem to offer a lot of practical advice. I especially like this one: ‘Do not fuss too much about your own appearance as this can rub off on your teenager and make them sensitive about their looks’. Makes a lot of sense, doesn’t it?

via The Telegraph

English Girl Has Eaten Nothing but Margherita Pizza for the Last 8 Years

If I had to eat the same meal for as long as 3 – 4 days in a row, I wouldn’t want to be touching it again for a long time . That’s why I cannot understand how 19-year-old Sophie Ray, from Wales, has been eating only Margherita Pizza for the past 8 years. The teenager hasn’t had a nutritious meal since she was two, and has survived on nothing but the cheese-and-tomato pizza since she was eleven.

Blame it on Selective Eating Disorder (SED), because Sophie cannot eat anything else without gagging instantly. Even a slice of pepperoni can cause her delicate stomach to turn. She has a phobia of new foods, so she’s pretty much scared to try out anything new. As with several other people suffering from SED, Sophie’s problem began with a bout of Gastroenteritis when she was 2 years old. After recovery, she was able to only consume cheesy pasta, lemon curd sandwiches and chips. As she got older, Margherita pizza became her staple food. “I love pizza,” she says. “Each brand offers a new flavor, but it’s all the same food so I don’t have to try new foods.” But she’s very particular, “It has to be cheese and tomato and it has to be cooked, I can’t eat it cold and I can’t have any toppings on it.”

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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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