Willow Is the New Wood of the Coffin Business

A 200-year old willow processing company has recently targeted the coffin business, and apparently had great success.

P H Coate & Son’s English Willow Coffins, from Somerset, England,  has started offering dead people an alternative to traditional wooden coffins. Some individuals are just bored by the same old wooden coffins, as if they died and have been buried in them too many times. Anyway, John Parfitt and company say willow is the more popular pick these days, because of it alluring aesthetics (cough!) and environmental reasons.

Willow coffins are hand-crafted by skilled willow basket masters (that explains why they look more like coffin-shaped baskets), using a traditional method, and clients have a selection to pick from. Environmentalist are going to go mad for these babies, but what about those artistic wooden coffins from Ghana, what happens to them?

Photos by Matt Cardy/Getty Images Europe via Zimbio

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Car-puccino – The Coffee-Powered Car

A team of wacky scientists from BBC1′s “Bang Goes the Theory” TV show, have converted a 1988 Volkswagen Scirocco into a coffee-powered car, nicknamed Car-puccino.

As revolutionary as this concept sounds, it’s more of a fun project than a cost-efficient one. The idea behind Car-puccino is relatively simple: coffee, like wood or coal, has traces of carbon in it, so it burns. Use a bucket load of coffee, heat it enough to break it down into hydrogen and carbon monoxide, direct the gases towards the engine, and you’ve got yourself a running vehicle.

That sounds easy enough, but there is a down-side to using coffee as fuel. First of all, it’s between 25 and 50 times more expensive than petrol. Car-puccino is schedule to journey 210 miles, from Manchester to London, and the team estimates it will burn through 70 kilos of coffee. Multiply that by 13-26 British pounds per kilo (depending on the quality and brand) and you get some pretty big numbers. Plus, Car-puccino will have to pull over every 60 miles or so, so the crew can clean up the filters of tar.

Pretty original idea, but I doubt we’ll ever see Car-puccino go into production. I wonder what the exhaust fumes smell like, though…Espresso?

Daily Mail via AutoRoyalty

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100-Year-Old Chinese Woman Grows Horn in Her Forehead

Zhang Ruifang, a 100-year old woman, from China’s Henan Province, has a strange horn coming out of the left side of her forehead.

This reminds me so much of the horned lady, but Zhang’s horn is much more…horn-like. The 1-century-old woman says her bizarre horn started growing last year, and now measures between 5 and 6 cm in length. Although the horn causes her no pain, I can only imagine how unhappy this poor woman is with her situation.

Photos via ImagineChina

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Dentist Presents World’s Largest Toothpaste Collection

For Dr. Val Kolpakov, a dentist from Saginaw, Michigan, dentistry is more than just a profession, it’s a hobby. He managed to put together the largest collection of toothpastes in the world, just for fun.

Doctor Kolpakov began collecting toothpastes after reading about Carsten Gutzeit, a German who had collected 500 tubes of toothpaste. He thought that was a great hobby for a man of his profession, so he started contacting all his dentist friends, from foreign countries, and asked them to send him whatever toothpastes they used there. He also started a website, toothpasteworld.com, and began searching for toothpastes on eBay.

His impressive toothpaste collection now stands at 1,800, and includes various flavors, from chocolate, to bamboo and several alcoholic drinks. The most valuable item in Dr. Val’s collection, is an antique Georgian tooth powder box, from 1801, that he paid $1,500 for. Back then toothpaste wasn’t even invented.

Another interesting item is the radioactive Doramund toothpaste, dating back to World War 2, when people believed radioactive materials would help rebuild gum tissue.

A new Guinness Book category has been approved, specifically for Doctor Kolpakov, and now all he need do is submit proof that he has the world’s largest collection of toothpastes.

Photos by Ashley L. Conti/ The Saginaw News via mlive

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Panpaati – The Edible Furniture of Enoc Amengol

Spanish industrial designer Enock Amengol has designed a set edible of chairs and a side table that seem stolen from the gingerbread house of Hansel and Gretel.

Sure they’re shaped like chairs, but judging bu their frail look, it doesn’t seem like they can handle some real weight. But, on the other hand, they do what no ordinary chair can: they feed you. That’s right, just pour some olive oil on these babies and you got yourselves some delicious over-sized bruschette.

Baked to symbolize the short-time life of furniture, nowadays, the bread furniture of Enoc Amengol, also known as Panpaati, are 100% degradable and 100% cool.

via Core77

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Toy Travel Agency Sends Your Plush Toys on an Amazing Journey

No time to travel? That’s no reason to kill the globetrotting mood for everybody. At least. give your favorite plush toy the chance to see one of the world’s greatest cities.

Toy Traveling, a new travel agency in the Czech Republic, has come up with an original plan to keep afloat in times of economical crisis. The owners of this unique company were inspired by the 2001 French hit movie, Amelie. Basically they offer people the chance to send their favorite toys on a memorable journey through Prague.

Your stuffed animal will get to see memorable sights like Prague Casle or Charles Bridge, and get his picture taken at all the major landmarks in the city. This is just the basic package, if you want your toy to really have a good time, you can pay extra for a massage, aromatherapy and even a picnic.

Prices start at 90 euro and go all the way to 150 euro, with all the extra services. It’s not cheap, but your plush toy will love you for it.

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Man Builds House out of 6 Million Glass Bottles

Tito Ingenieri, from Quilmes, Argentina, claims he has spent the last 19 years collecting bottles and using them to build an environment-friendly house.

Now, we’ve seen impressive bottle-made structures before, like the Bottle Temple of Thailand, or the house of plastic bottles, near Iguazu Falls, but none as impressive as Tito Ingenieri’s bottle house. I know it doesn’t look very stylish, but the man did spend almost two decades of his life working on it. During this time he collected 6 million non-returnable glass bottles, and asked his neighbors to save their bottles for him.

Mr. Ingenieri says his unusual home also acts as an alarm, when the waters of a nearby river are rising. The southern winds blowing into the necks of the glass bottles, makes a whistling sound. He also adds that he can teach anyone who’s interested in building a bottle house like his. If that’s you, check out his website for contact information.

via Treehugger

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Chinese Artist Makes World’s Thinnest Ceramic Bowl

Huang Cheng-nan, a ceramic master from China, has created a series of beautiful ceramic bowls, thinner than China’s Jingdae bowl, the thinnest ceramic in the world, according to the Guinness Book of Records.

Huang Cheng-nan’s ceramic bowls range from 12 cm to 20 cm in diameter, weigh between 4 and 8 grams, and are between 0.15 and 0.18 mm thick. His works are so light they can easily be supported by a cobweb. These fragile works of art are on display in Taipei, and will soon be acknowledged as the thinnest ceramic bowls on Earth.

Photos by REUTERS via Daylife

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Thamkrabok Monastery – World’s Toughest Rehab Clinic

Although the names of those who get treated here are never revealed, Thamkrabok Monastery has had many famous patients, from moviestars to high ranking politicians.

Hidden away in a forest, 140 km north of Bankok, Thailand, the Buddhist Monastery of Thamkrabok takes in alcoholics and drug users from all over the world. Unlinke famous detox clinics like Betty Ford (California), or Priory (London), this Thai monastery doesn’t have paparazzi lurking around, and it’s a lot cheaper. One month at Betty Ford Clinic costs $23,000, while just one week at Priory amounts to 5,000 pounds. At Thamkrabok Monastery, all you need is $3 for food, because treatment and accomodations are supported by donations.

Photos by GETTY IMAGES

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Cocky Chicken Adopts Puppies

Mable, a one-year-old hen, from Shrewsbury, Britain, has the impression she is a dog and takes the role of mother for a group of puppies.

Owners Edward and Ros Tate saved Mable from endig up in someone’s cooking pot, when she was hatched, a year ago. They’ve taken her in as a pet, but never noticed her strong maternal instinct, until Nettle, their dog, gave birth to puppies. The chicken observed the dog’s behaviour, and one day, as soon as Nettle left her nest, she hopped into her basket, snuggling up to the puppies, to keep them warm.

To the surprise of the owners and the actual mother, Mable keeps taking over the basket whenever she gets the chance.

via Daily Mail

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Pig Beauty Contest Held in China

The Pig Contest of Guanshan Village, Guangdong Province, China, is a centuries old tradition dating back to the Qing Dinasty.

Hundreds of thousands of tourists, from all over China, travel to Guanshan, every year, to take a look at the hundreds of pigs on display at the Pig Contest. This year, around 500 oinkers were sacrificed, cleaned up and set on display to be admired by passers-by.

After the most handsome pig is allected, the festivities end in a gargantuan feast, when the tasty participants are sliced up and served to the public.

Photos via Xinhua

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Bigloo – The World’s Biggest Igloo

Three friends from Bellevue, Green Bay, managed to build Bigloo, the world’s biggest igloo, in just three months of work.

Paul Steckart and his friends were standing in his backyard, after a snowstorm, and one of them said “Why don’t we build an igloo?”. So they did some online research, employed the concept of the spiral, and managed to build a pretty sturdy igloo. That was last year. This year the Bellevue gang set off to build the biggest igloo in the world.

To complete Bigloo, Paul Steckart used all the snow in his backyard and started bringing in more building material, from his neighbors’ yards. He says it’s a fun way to spend time with friends, but building a monster igloo is more than just fun. It requires a lot of math and patience. The snow is mixed with water and thrown into a snowblower, before it’s stuck into plastic containers. Each Bigoo block weighs between 60 and 100 pounds, depending on the amount of water used.

The 17-feet 4-inch tall and 27 feet in diameter Bigloo is the largest igloo ever built, surpassing the previous record of 13 feet 8 inches tall and 25 feet 9 inches wide, dating from 2008, in Canada. All it needs now is official confirmation from a representative of the Guinness Book of Records.

Photos by Evan Siegle via GreenBayPressGazette

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The Tampon Chandelier of Joana Vasconcelos

Named “A Noiva”, which translates as The Bride, the 5-meter-high tampon chandelier is one of the main exhibits at Joana Vasconcelos’ “Netless” exhibition, in Lisbon.

If you’re unfamiliar with Joana Vasconcelos, she’s the artist behind the amazing stainless pot shoes installation that we featured a while back. “The Bride” is one of her most original artworks, made up of over 14,000 tampons, wire and cotton thread.

There’s nothing peculiar about Joana Vasconcelos’ chandelier, if seen from a distance, but as you approach you begin to make out the strange materials she used. Right now, the tampon chandelier is only soaking up the gazes of art lovers, and will continue to do so until the Belem Cultural Center exhibition ends, on May 18, 2010.

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2-Year-Old Chinese Girl Weighs as Much as an Adult

Born at a normal weight, little Pang Ya now tips the scales at 41.5 kilograms, which is about as much as an adult Chinese woman.

Pang Ya weighed around 4 kilograms, when she was born, but reached 20 pounds in just 8 months, and ever since then she kept piling on the pounds. Now her worried parents are seeking medical help. They admit the toddler has a very healthy appetite, but claim doctors have no idea what is wrong with their daughter.

Pang Ya, from Taocun town, Shanxi province, is just one of over 60 million obese people in China. The numbers doubled between 1992 and 2002. That may have something to do with the opening of several fast-food chains in China.

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The Mysterious Dancing Forest of Kaliningrad

Located on the thin Curonian Spit that splits the Curonian Lagoon from the Baltic Sea, lies one of the strangest natural phenomena on Earth.

Known as the Dancing Forest by caretakers of Curonian Spit National Park and as the Drunken Forest, by locals, this unusual pine forest is made of trees of various shapes, most of them twisted in circles and spirals, along the ground.

According to tourists, the Dancing Forest looks more like a site near Chernobyl, with 20-year-old pines tied into natural knots and loops, like lumpy contortionists. A few years ago, the park manager invited students from local universities to conduct studies, and get to the bottom of the mystery.

Since then, several theories emerged, including one suggested by a psychic who said the forest is located on a spot where massive amounts of positive and negative energies collide. Others say the causes are geological, that it must have something to do with the unstable sandy soil. But the most widely accepted theory is that the Dancing Forest was manipulated by the powerful winds blowing in the area.

Whatever the reason, the Dancing Forest of Kaliningrad is definitely an interesting site, especially if you’re into strange natural phenomena.

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