Who Needs Privacy: 5 People Live in Paris Subway Station Apartment

Here’s another example of a bizarre business promotional strategy. This time it’s by IKEA and they actually took over a Paris subway station.

In a bid to prove that with IKEA furnishing you can make any living space comfortable, the company erected an apartment right in the middle of the Auber station in Paris. It was only 581 sq ft. in size and five people lived in it for five days (Jan 9th to 14th). The company tried a similar event around two years back when they decked subway platforms with IKEA furnishings, but this took things a step forward. Or maybe a giant leap. The apartment mainly consisted of IKEA storage products, clearly aiming at space management. Plain to view through huge clear-glass windows for the hundreds of thousands of people who use the subway, their publicity stunt sure didn’t miss any eyeballs. Time-lapse videos have been made of the construction of the apartment. Videos documenting the experiences of the five people living there have also been put up by the company.

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Man Spends 16 Years Building 6-Million-Matchstick Model

Bulgarian artist Plamen Ignatov, has dedicated the last 16 years of his life to making a detailed matchstick model of the Rila Monastery, from around 6 million matchsticks.

Now, we’ve posted a lot of impressive matchstick creations, from the model of Minas Tirith built by Patrick Anton, to the matchstick fleet of David Reynolds, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a detailed model. Just hearing that the artist spent 16 years working on it, one can tell he was seriously passionate about assembling this matchstick masterpiece, and after laying eyes on it, you understand why it took him so long. The whole religious complex is incredibly detailed, with even the shingles realistically reproduced, and Ignatov even managed to fit a picture of Jesus into one of the walls, and painted religious figures on the wooden pavement of the monastery courtyard.

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The Berezka Ensemble – Russia’s Floating Dance Group

Trade secrets are common in many areas of life, but dancing? I wondered how it could be possible for a dancer to have a secret step, when their art is plain for all to see. Turns out there is a particular dancing group from Russia that has a secret technique – the floating step – that no one can really see.

The Berezka Ensemble was set up in 1948, by choreographer Nadezhda Nadezhdina. Since then, it has become a symbol of sorts, something that Russia has been identified with. Having traveled to over 80 countries for performances, the troupe has recently made the news for something other than their famous floating step. The dancers have covered over 47,000 dancing kilometers, through their signature step. That’s longer than the diameter of the Earth!

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New York Subway Workers Run “Rate My Rat” Photo Contest

For those of you who have used the subway in New York, the sight of rats must be quite common. Those pesky rodents are spotted quite frequently on subway tracks and platforms. Apparently, subway workers have had enough of this and want their workplace to be completely free of rats. And they’ve come up with a totally unique idea to accomplish this – a rat photo contest.

New York subway workers are holding a photo contest – for the “nastiest” shot of a rodent. Subway commuters are being urged to click pictures of the rats they see every day and upload them to the website http://www.ratfreesubways.com. The grand prize is a monthly transit pass. The site was created by the largest union in the city, the Transport Workers Union Local 100. The winning photograph is to be selected by popular opinion. Visitors to the website are able to vote for the most repulsive picture on the ‘Rate my Rat’ section. They have five options to choose from – Handsome, Cute, Plain, Ugly and Beastly. Most of the rat-pictures have been rated between 3 and 5, while a few actually have been called cute.

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Meet the Man Who Only Owns 15 Things

There are a lot of people who make the news for their extravagant lifestyles, lavish homes, large collections of cars or shoes, and other such things. But Andrew Hyde is someone who’s become popular for just the opposite – owning very few things. 15, to be precise (not counting socks and underwear).

No, he’s not homeless, he’s not poor, and he’s definitely not unemployed. In fact, Hyde is a technology mogul. He works as a consultant and mentor for young companies, he’s the founder of Startup Weekend, and an organizer of TEDxBoulder conference. Constantly shuttling between New York and Silicon Valley for work, Hyde doesn’t live in a house or an apartment. When he’s not working, he’s traveling extensively, taking his worldly possessions of 15 things everywhere he goes. Andrew Hyde says that he has always been interested in the concept of minimalism, starting out by seeing if he could make do with just 100 items. But in August 2010 he took the concept even further, selling all of his belongings but for 15 things.

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Coolest Finds of the Week #24

7 Creepiest Abandoned Japanese Love Hotels (Environmental Graffiti)

The Cockiest Shrine Bangkok (Asia Obscura)

A Cheap Way to Turn Your Room into a Shrine to Star Trek (Facebook)

Woman Treats Pet Kangaroo Like Her Child (Huffington Post)

No Pants Subway Ride 2012  (Laughing Squid)

Unicorn Poop Cookies (Geekologie)

Braille Burgers for the Visually Impaired (Global Post)

Improbable Reptile-Insect Relationships (Environmental Graffiti)

Italian Photographer Launches Penis Calendar (Business World)

Animal Lover Keeps Horse in Living Room (Daily Record)

The Mind-Blowing Wood-Carved Paintings of Kronid Gogolev

Kronid Gogolev is a master wood-carver who creates incredibly detailed artworks inspired by the rural and provincial life of Russia’s northern regions.

For our artist of the day we chose to showcase Russian veteran wood-carver Kronid Gogolev, a man’s whose intricate wooden paintings are nothing short of awe-inspiring. Using simple tools, he is able to turn rough pieces of wood into masterpiece depicting the way of life and the traditions of the Russian northern village, capturing its original beauty. Each of his creations has its own unique features and characteristics, but they all manage to capture the attention of the viewer, transporting him to the real-life picturesque settings of the north.

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Girls Licking Doorknobs – More Madness from Japan

It seems like Japan is in the news, more often than not, for bizarre activities. The latest that’s making waves on the internet is a Tumblr blog with pictures of girls licking doorknobs.

The work belongs to illustrator Ryuko Azuma, who says the idea started as many good ones do – with a drunken tweet. Famous for his sexy, edgy drawings, one night he tweeted that a collection of photos of a girl licking a doorknob would be a big hit. Azuma says he wouldn’t have done anything about it if the tweet had gone unnoticed. But as luck would have it, it didn’t. A 21-year-old photographer, Ai Ehara, replied to the tweet and that was how the ‘Doorknob Girl’ was launched. Ehara herself posed as the first Doorknob Girl, but when the site went viral, they began to hire several other models for the job. According to Ehara the idea was ‘extraordinarily unusual’.

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Saudi Father Tries to Sell Son for $20 Million, on Facebook

A Saudi man was all over the news a few days ago for putting up his son for sale on Facebook – for a whopping $20 million. Now he says that he did it only to bring attention to his poverty, and he didn’t really intend to sell his son.

In a country where the male child is regarded precious, it came as a shock when Saud bin Nasser Al Shahry did the unthinkable. He was under serious attack and criticism, especially from religions leaders of the nation. A prominent Islamic scholar, Sheikh Mohammed Al Nujaimi said that Al Shahry had violated Islam by offering to sell his child despite his financial problems. Al Shahry responds that he never did want to sell his son. Facing bankruptcy, and with no one else willing to help him, he had to resort to such an extreme measure. “Of course I never intended to sell my son. I only made this announcement to attract the attention of decision makers in the country to my tragedy after I became jobless and started to beg for food and clothes,” he told local newspapers.

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Chinese Women Train Hard to Become Professional Bodyguards

While many men may find it odd to have a woman protect them, the Chinese have no such qualms. How else could you explain the huge demand for female bodyguards? In fact, they are paid much higher than their male counterparts.

Tianjiao Special Guard Consultant Ltd is perhaps the first firm to provide open group training in China for female bodyguards. Each trainee is put through 10 months of rigorous instruction during which time they gain skills in martial arts, anti-terrorism training, reconnaissance and business etiquette. The best student could be invited to study further at the International Security Academy in Israel.A four-week training program at the beach forms a part of the 10-month curriculum.

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Would You Believe These Goldfish Are Actually Painted?

Japanese artist Riusuke Fukahori paints incredibly realistic three-dimensional goldfish embedded in layers of transparent resin. His artworks look more like photos of actual fish swimming peacefully in their little tanks.

Riusuke Fukahori’s work could best be described as a a combination between painting and sculpture. The talented artist creates his “living masterpieces”using a complex process involving layers of cast resin and acrylic paint. He patiently builds up his fish, layer by layer, adding transparent resin to create a realistic three-dimensional effect. Despite the tedious and complex nature of the artistic process, the end results are highly dynamic, capturing the animated life of the fish.

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Amazing Indian Girl Is Friends with Six King Cobras

India has long been known as the land of the snake charmers. But here’s something very unusual. An 8-year-old Indian girl who plays all day  not with other girls, but with her pet King Cobras.

Kajol Khan lives in the village of Ghatampur in Uttar Pradesh, with her parents, six sisters, two brothers and six pet Cobras, her best friends. She comes from a family of snake catchers and hopes to carry on in her father’s footsteps someday. Her father, 55-year-old Taj Mohammad has been working as a snake catcher in Ghatampur for the past 45 years. While he has already passed on his skills to his son, he’s unexpectedly found himself a mentor to his daughter Kajol. The little girl has been used to snakes crawling around her since she was a baby, and hence feels nothing out of the ordinary in their presence. In fact, she prefers hanging out with her slithering buddies rather than go to school. She has been bitten – on her stomach, cheeks and hands – but this is hardly of any concern to her. Kajol has always been able to make a full recovery, thanks to her father’s herbal medicine, which has been a family secret for generations. “I have a lot of fun with the cobras. It hurts when they bite me but sometimes it’s my own fault because I tease them. It’s quite funny.”

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The Focara of Novoli – A Truly Epic Bonfire

Imagine a giant bonfire, 25 meters high, 20 meters in diameter, and viewed by over 60,000 people. This is exactly the spectacle that will meet your eyes if you happen to be in the town of Novoli, in south-eastern Italy, during this time of the year.

This ‘festival of fire’ is known as the Focara, held every year between the 7th and 18th of January. The actual Focara, or bonfire is lit on the 16th, when the festival reaches its crescendo. The tradition has its origins in the pre-Christian era, when it was celebrated to mark the end of winter and the beginning of spring. Today, however, it is dedicated to the memory of St. Anthony, who is the Patron Saint and protector of Novoli. The preparations for the Focara begin as early as mid December. On the 7th of January, the construction of the fuel assembled for the bonfire commences. It consists of bundles of vines that have been set aside by farmers after cutting back vineyards, once the grape harvesting is done the previous autumn. About 90,000 bundles are used, each one consisting of 200 vines. The construction of the structure is supported by wooden beams, and it is erected in Novoli’s Piazza Tito Schipa.

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Couple Marry for the Second Time after Husband’s Sex Change

Barry and Anne Watson first married in 2002, as husband and wife. Now, nine years later, they renewed their wedding vows, except this time they were wife and wife, and Barry was a woman named Jayne. A photograph of the couple shows he/she is much happier this time around.

Of course, things were not always a bed of roses for Jayne and Anne. Their relationship went through several upheavals, especially when Anne learned of Barry’s desire to have a sex change. But things worked out just fine in the end. 53-year-old Anne recollects being furious when Barry told her about the sex change. The 43-year-old was a bus driver at the time. Anne believed that Barry was cheating on her with another woman. She had absolutely no idea that what he actually wanted was to be a woman himself. They have come a long way since then, and are a happy couple now.

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Talented Italian Artist Paints with Wine

Wine has been the inspiration of many famous painters throughout the centuries, but Florentine artist Elisabetta Rogai is taking the relationship between the drink of Dionysus and art to a whole new level, by using wine as paint.

Can a painting truly age? The concept was first explored English writer Oscar Wilde, in his book, “The Picture of Dorian Gray”, and now, over a century later, it’s taking  a new meaning in the work of Elisabetta Rogai. The Italian painter uses only white and red wine, with no other chemical additives, to create beautiful paintings. This “allows the wine to reproduce on the canvas exactly the same process of ageing that normally takes place inside the bottle,” she explains, adding that “the wine aging, which normally occurs over the years, takes only a few months on the canvas.” The difference between a freshly painted artwork and a three-months-old one is clearly visible; the texture changes and the colors evolve from young purples and cherry reds to more mature tones of amber, orange and brown. Unlike the portrait of Dorian Gray, her works become more beautiful with time.

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