M. Lavinashree – World’s Youngest Computer Wiz

After passing the Microsoft Certified Professional test, when she was just eight years old, young M. Lavinashree has now become the world’s youngest Red Hat Certified Engineer.

M. Lavinashree was born in rural Tamilnadu, India, but her parents noticed her incredible mind, when she was just a baby. At just 1 and a half, her mother taught her the English alphabet by playing with colored letters. She would dictate the alphabet letters and Lavinashree pointed at them accurately. Then she began learning national symbols, songs, Indian personalities, shapes, fruits, and many other things. When her older sister started studying Thirukural (a Tamil poem written by a sage, over 2,000 years ago), Lavinashree begged her mother to teach her the kurals, and at the tender age of three, she won her place in the Limca Book of Records (Indian equivalent to the Guinness Book of Records) for her photographic memory. She managed to recite 1,330 couplets of Thirukural…

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Chinese Icemen Take World’s Longest Ice Bath

Jin Songhao and Chen Kecai, two of China’s most seasoned icemen, managed to beat the previous world record for the longest ice bath.

Wim Hof, the Dutch known as “Ice-Man” spent New-Year’s Eve covered with ice cubes, and claimed the title of the longest ice bath, with 115 minutes. But the previous record holder, Chen Kecai, wasn’t about to just sit by and watch his title get snatched right from under him. Together with fellow iceman Jin Songhao, they staged their own cold-enduring event, on January 3rd, in Zhangjiajie, Hunan Province.

The two daredevils immersed themselves in plastic boxes and were covered with ice cubes, up to their necks. Kecai started shivering after “just” 40 minutes, but he insisted the doctors let him see his challenge through to the end. Eventually, he managed to stay in the box for 118 minutes, thus beating his Dutch rival’s record. Unfortunately for him, Jin Songhao lasted 120 minutes and is the new holder of the record for the world’s longest ice bath. Well, at least Chen Kecai can take comfort in the fact that he lost to a fellow Chinaman.

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Brass Van – Probably the World’s Heaviest Art Car

The Brass Van is a unique art car completely covered with various brass items. Also known as the “California Fantasy Van”, this artwork on four wheels took 22 years to complete.

Hunter Mann is the present owner of the Brass Van, but it was actually his late godfather, Ernie Steingold, who crated it. A vacuum-cleaner repairman, Steingold first started adding brass to his 1975 GMC van, in the early 1980s and continued doing so for the next 20 years or so. It all started one day, when he decided to attach three brass elephants to the hood, as ornaments. Then he got it into his head to cover the vehicle with brass coins, and he did just that – around $15,000 worth of coins, at the time he finished the job. From there on in, he just kept adding brass.

Mann, the current owner of the Brass van, says there are around 5,000 pieces of brass presently attached to his vehicle, weighing about 10,000 pounds. In fact, this car is so heavy, its tires have to be changed every 4,000 miles, and I don’t even want to think about the mileage…

As you would expect, Hunter Mann gets pulled over by police, about once every five days. Most of the officers just want to ask him about his Brass van and take photos with it. Even though he gets asked the same questions every time, Mann never gets tired of answering them.

When it’s not on tour, the Brass Van can be found at ArtCar World, a museum for art cars, in Douglas, Arizona. Just in case you were wondering about how much such a unique vehicle costs, the Brass van was appraised at $350,000.

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Store Tells Its Clients “Come in Underwear, Leave Dressed”

Spanish clothing brand Desigual kicked off its sales season in a truly original way  that made people show up at its store in nothing but their underwear.

Would you brave the cold weather for the chance to pick out top and lower garments, free of charge? Well, thousands of people around the world did just that – they spent hours outside Desigual stores, hoping to be among he 100 lucky ones that would enjoy the brand’s offer. Featuring the slogan “Come in underwear, leave dressed”, Desigual challenged its customers to show up outside its branch stores, and leave with whatever items they wanted, for free. Unfortunately, only the first 100 people got to enjoy this ridiculous sale…

Some people actually showed up outside the stores at 3 pm the previous day, to make sure they are among the chosen few, but those that didn’t make the cut also had something to be cheerful about. Desigual decided to give them half-price discounts on all the items in the shop.

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The Giant Sand Drawings of Jamie Wardley

Sand sculptor Jamie Wardley transforms beaches into canvases for his art, as he tries to send important messages through his giant sand drawings.

Jamie first came into contact with the world of sand sculpting, as a young boy, on a trip in Norway. He met a sand sculptor who managed to turn two sand blocks into The Queen and Mr. Bean, in just a few hours, and Jamie was amazed by his talent, so he started asking the master all kinds of questions about his art. One thing led to another and before he knew it, the young boy had sand carving tools in each of his hands and was working on his very first sculpture. The sand sculptor was very impressed with his work, and told Jamie he could attend some of his classes, if ever returned to Norway.

It was years before Jamie Wardley contacted the talented sculptor, but when he did, he was welcomed back to the land of fjords, to start his apprenticeship as a sand sculptor. Along the way, the young Brit started making ice sculptures as well as impressive sand drawings, and now he’s one of the world’s most famous beach artists in the world.

Basically, Jamie and his team create these spectacular sand drawings by raking the sand while coordinating themselves perfectly, but he admits there are some trade secrets he only reveals during workshops. He and his team at “Sand in Your Eyes” create incredibly detailed sand drawings, up to 800 meters large. While they only last a few hours, before the tide sweeps over them, Jamie’s works can clearly be seen from the air and on the ground, during this short period of time.

Jamie Wardley’s company creates commercial sand drawings, like for companies who want to promote their products, but also takes interest in preserving the environment, and honoring history. Over the years they’ve created various sand drawings in protest to global warming and pollution.

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The Wonderful Kinetic Sculptures of Casey Curran

Seattle based artist Casey Curran creates some of the most interesting artworks I’ve ever seen – kinetic installations that look like they belong in a fantasy world. Feathers, artificial flowers and wire-made shapes are all controlled by a simple crank, located at the bottom, and it takes just a few strokes of the hand to set in motion a small unique world.

Truth is words and photos just don’t do these artworks justice, so make sure you see them in action in the videos, after the jump.


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French Aristocrats Launch Luxury Condoms

The ingenious idea of creating luxury condoms belongs to French aristocrats Prince Charles Emmanuel de Burbon Parme and Count Gil de Bizmont.

Inspired by a trip through the French town of Condom the pair decided to create a sophisticated, chic, useful and  eco-friendly product that wouldn’t make its users embarrassed to carry it around or leave it on the nightstand. Considering the success of luxury brands in our society, luxury condoms might just be the next big thing.

Count Gil de Bizmont says: “There [is] always a need for quality, good taste and beautiful objects. It is sexy to care about yourself and to want to pamper and provide yourself with the very best.”

While the condoms themselves are said to be more upscale than the competition, it’s the packaging that makes them special, as they have replaced the ordinary foil paper with an elegant little black box, similar to those used for jewelry. Count de Bizmont explains: “The luxurious presentation of our product removes any negative stigma associated with a woman who cares enough about herself to be sure to carry along an Original Condom box in her purse, or for a male to leave it on the nightstand without perceptions shifting about expectations, as they definitely should not nowadays.” I must say the that the price tag reflects all this, as a box with three prophylactics costs $13,50, one with six $20, and refills can be bought for  $2 a piece.

Part of the earning will be shared with non-profits that fight AIDS and HIV and their commitment to an eco-friendly environment was demonstrated through the development of new rubber tree forests and the placement of their condom factories on a plantation to reduce carbon emissions.

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The Photorealistic Paintings of Denis Peterson

Denis Peterson is a New York based artist of Armenian descent known around the world for his incredible photorealist artworks.

A few weeks back, I posted some incredible artworks by Tom Martin, and I started looking up more hyper-realist artist. That’s how I first found out about Denis Peterson and his mind-blowing paintings. Widely regraded as the father of hyperrealism, Peterson has exhibited his creations in galleries across the world, from the US, to Italy or France.

Denis Peterson starts the creation process by taking a photo of his subject or scenery, magnifies it up 1 – 2000 times, to capture every small detail, and begins painting. As you can imagine, this kind of painting takes a while to complete – around a month, to be exact – but the artist’s efforts are well compensated, as he receives around $46,000 for each of his artworks.

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At 94, Indian Ramjit Raghav Is World’s Oldest Father

94-year-old Ramajit Raghav proudly claims the title of world’s oldest father, after his 54-year-old wife Shakuntala Devi gave birth to their first baby.

Both Ramajit and Shakuntala are equally happy and excited, considering baby Vikaramjeet as “God’s gift” and planning a second child for next year, although their ages are  past the normal fertility period.

Former wrestler, Ramajit strongly believes that he’s health will keep him around for many years, to see his soon grow up: “I will die only if a black snake bites me and that is very unlikely. Visit me after ten years and you will find me in the same appearance. My daily diet comprises three litres of milk, half a kilo of almonds and half a kilo of ghee [clarified butter].”

Mr. Raghav actually claims he is over 100 years old, but pension records state he is “only” 94. Still, doctors say that, although it can’t be ruled out, having a baby at this age is a very remote possibility. 

The former record holder was also an Indian man, Nanu Ram Jogi, who became a father for his 21st soon at the age of 90 in 2007.

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New Yorkers Celebrate “Good Riddance Day”

A giant paper shredder set up in Time Square was responsible with getting rid of all the bad bits of 2010.

This Tuesday, on the fourth annual “Good Riddance Day” held by the Times Square Alliance, people had the chance to free themselves from all the unpleasant memories of 2010, by writing them down and “feeding” them to the paper shredder. There to help were also a sledgehammer and a dumpster. Everything from ex-es, bills, eviction notices to political statements will be destroyed and recycled into toilet paper. And, even though weather conditions weren’t exactly ideal, there were plenty of participants and more are to be expected until Friday night. People who want to shred their bad memories of 2010, but cant make it to Time Square, can just send an online message and the staff will dump it into the shredder, for them.

Organizer Lori Raimondo says: “You can trust me: none of these memories will ever be seen again once they enter this truck.” Although their reasons to be there differs, one thing is certain – every one of the participants had something to get rid of before new year’s eve:

“I’m getting rid of my new job. I got rid of it in February, but I got a new one last month, so I can finally say ‘good riddance’ to it.”

“I said ‘good riddance’ to all negative energies in my life. All negative friends, all negative exes, all vices, anything that was negative in 2010. Out with that, in with the new.”

“It’s about turning your back on those bad things that you want to get rid of from the last year, either personally or in terms of the world, because the world is always a little bit crazy. Life is always a little bit crazy.”

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The Unique Crayon Art of Christian Faur

Looked at from afar, Christian Faur’s artworks look like common pixelated photographs, but as you draw near, you notice the thousands of colorful wax crayons used to create them.

‘I can still remember the pleasure of opening a new box of crayons, the distinct smell of the wax, the beautifully colored tips, everything still perfect and unused.’ says Christian Faur, but unlike other kids that used crayons, he stuck with them all the way to adulthood. Bored with using the usual paint and pencils, Faur turned to his childhood favorites, after seeing his young daughter playing with them.

The artist, from Granville, Tennessee, starts every one of his artworks by scanning a photo and breaking it down into color blocks. That’s when he starts placing different color crayons into a grid and finishes off by adding a wooden frame. The end result is truly awe inspiring. While they may not look like much from up close, the further you are from them the clearer they get. I dare you to get off your chair and take a few steps back and notice the difference.

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The Mind-Blowing Book Carvings of Long Bin-Chen

You’ve probably seen book carvings before, but Long Bin-Chen’s works are definitely in a league of their own.

Taiwanese artist Long Bin-Chen uses discarded old books to create incredibly detailed sculptures that look like they’re made of marble or wood. Although all his artworks are made out of several books, he carves them all in such a manner that they fit together in a seamless manner. While he could use any books he gets his hands on, Long Bin-Chen only uses those that are relevant to his sculptures. For example, for one of his Buddha heads, he used New York telephone books. This way, the head will represent a caring Buddha from the East who came to take care of the west.

Bought from trash collectors or collected directly from the streets, the books and magazines are first carved with a band or chain saw and then with a dental sander, for finer details.

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Historic Defense Tower Becomes Modern Home

With the intention of salvaging this building of historical value, industrial designer and owner Duncan Jackson paired up with a team from Piercy Conner Architects and managed to transform an old defense tower into a modern comfy home

The Martello Towers were built all over the coast of Great Britain in Kent, Sussex, Essex or Suffolk, in the 1800s, during the Napoleonic wars. They were meant to stop the French navy from reaching Britain’s shores, and were able to shoot cannon balls one mile out, but after Napoleon’s defeat, they became redundant.

Duncan Jackson and architect Stuart Piercy had their work cut out for them as this “make-over” of Tower Y was never going to be an easy job. Piercy admits: “When we first walked round, the cellar was five-foot deep in water, while the roof was covered in soil blown across the fields over the years. But the underlying structure was as strong as a battleship.”

“We made friends with the conservation and planning people. We needed them on our side. There are people who say the towers shouldn’t become homes because this takes away from their historic role. But if they aren’t going to be lived in, what’s to happen to them? Those that hadn’t been blasted away during target practice by the military have often been left to rot, and then demolished,” says Jackson.

Seen from the outside, the tower doesn’t inspire comfort, however imaginative you might be, but everything changes as soon as you walk through the door. The talent, skill and joined efforts of those who worked at this restoration have really payed off, as they managed to transform this tower into one of the most original modern homes of Great Britain.

It took 10 years to complete, but the end result really is breathtaking – a one of a kind home, combining a historic brick fort with the comfort of a palace-like home.

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6-Year-Old Girl Is World’s Youngest Yoga Instructor

Yoga has been around for thousands of years, and the benefits it has for the mind and body are unquestionable, so its ever-growing popularity is not surprising . But what is very surprising is  6-year-old Shruti Pandey, who has been a successful Yoga teacher for two years now.

Interestingly enough, she is not the only “miracle” in her family, as her older brother, Harsh Kumar, mastered all 84 yoga positions by the age of five, making it into the Limca Book of Records and becoming a source of inspiration and motivation for Shruti. But he has never been interested in becoming a teacher.

67 year-old Hari Chetan, Shruti’s instructor, who set up the Swami Brahmachand Saraswati Kaivalya Dham Ashram 35 years ago, is simply amazed not only with her flexibility, which many may find normal for a child this age, but also with her talent and determination. She proved to be e vary quick learner and as she mastered this art for herself, it didn’t come as a surprise when she started teaching others, in classes of around 30 adults that start at 5:30am. Everyone is amazed with her talent and the patience she puts in for everything and every one.

“The best thing about Shruti is she tries to provide an alternative position for the complicated ones that are difficult for an older person like me to do. She’s very patient,” says 90-year-old retired teacher Swami Bhanu.

After only three months of attending Shruti’s classes, 48-year-old businessman Lokendra Pal Singh says: “I have noticed a positive change in my life. I used to be short-tempered, but now I’m able to control my anger to quite an extent and it’s all thanks to a little six-year old.”

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Gingerbread Car Is the Sweetest Ride You’ve Ever Seen

If you thought elaborate gingerbread houses were impressive, wait until you see the life-size gingerbread car a team of chefs have created, in California.

I’ve seen quite a number of gingerbread houses this holiday season, and don’t get me wrong, some of them were pretty cool, but I was definitely looking for something a little more original. Luckily, the chefs at the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel, California came up with a brilliant idea – create an edible replica of a 1948 Ford Woodie. Unless you’re a big car fan, you’ve probably never heard about this model, but who cares, it’s an edible car!

The 8-foot-long, 6-foot-wide and 5-1/2-foot tall masterpiece was built from 150 pounds of gingerbread, and covered with 300 pounds of royal icing and thousands of M&Ms. Chef Brian Sundeen and his team spent approximately 800 hours working on the gingerbread house, but you can see their efforts paid off, just by looking at the car.

The gingerbread 1948 Ford Woodie will be on display until December 31st, at the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel, after which it will probably broken into pieces and given to children.

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