South African Artist Turns Driftwood into Amazing-Looking Sculptures

Tony Fredriksson, a South African sculptor, is best known for his mesmerizing, raw, almost haunting driftwood creations. He began working with the material in 2007 and quickly learned how to use the organic knots and twists of washed up logs to bring them to life. 

Fredriksson begins by sketching out his ideas in a journal, and going through a few references for accuracy. He then begins his hunt for the perfect piece of driftwood to suit his vision. He sorts his wood collection by type, shape, and size, and prefers to use a single piece for each sculpture. So he looks for one that naturally resembles at least one element of his design.

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The Indian Village That Took Up Chess as an Alternative to Drinking

The people of Marottichal, a sleepy little village in the state of Kerala in southern India, have a rather unusual passion for chess. Believe it or not, they’re all chess enthusiasts. Their love for the game is such that even when they’re not playing, they’re talking strategy all the time.

But villagers weren’t always interested in the checkered board game. Back in the ’60s and ’70s, their passions lay elsewhere – mainly in the local liquor that they made for a living. Many of the residents were addicted to the cheap brew, with disastrous consequences for the whole community. Things got so bad at one point that a few villagers actually requested government authorities to raid the village and get rid of some of their liquor stock.

But things began to change when one villager – a 10th grade student named C. Unnikrishnan – decided that he wanted to learn chess. Inspired by a news report about American legend Bobby Fischer, a grandmaster at age 16, Unnikrishnan traveled to a nearby village to attend classes and learn the game himself. And once he got the hang of it, he made it his mission to get everyone in the village hooked.

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Serbian Dentist Spends 15 Years Living Isolated in a Forest in the Czech Republic

Aleksandar Pirivatric, a 50-year-old Serbian dentist, appeared in the city of Belgrade last Saturday, after spending the last 15 years concealed deep in the forest of Krusna Gora, in the Czech Republic.

Aleksandar used to be a renowned oral surgeon in the Czech city of Teplice, but the Serb couldn’t legally reside in either country because he had no documents. So at one point, he ended his practice and took to the forest for nearly a decade and a half, visiting the nearby city from time to time, for supplies. His bizarre story was finally discovered by Peter Silva, a Czech professor who befriended him after noticing his regular presence on the outskirts of Teplice.

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Bad with Plants? This High-Tech Flower Pot Can Keep Any Plant Alive

If you’ve always wanted to grow plants but aren’t blessed with a green thumb, the ‘Parrot Pot’ is just the thing for you. It’s a smart pot that pretty much grows plants itself, keeping them alive no matter how badly you mess up.

Priced at $99, the Parrot Pot has sensors that measure light, moisture, temperature, and the level of fertilizer, ensuring that the plant always gets what it needs. If it finds that more light, water, or fertilizer is required, it sends the user alerts through a smartphone app called Flower Power. What’s more, it can actually water your plants for you using a pre-filled water tanks. 

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Tiger Finds Best Friend in Live Goat That Was Offered to Him as Food Months Ago

A caged Siberia tiger has surprised the staff at Primorsky Safari Park, near Vladivostok, Russia, after befriending a goat that had been offered to him as live food. That was months ago, and even though everyone thought the friendship wouldn’t last long, the two are still inseparable.

Up until late November 2015, 3-year-old Amur, one of the last remaining Siberian tigers, had never shown any sign of compassion for the live food, caretakers at Primorsky Safari Park offered him twice a week. He would usually pounce on scared rabbits and goats and kill them with a swift stroke of his paw. But something was different about the goat that was thrown into his enclosure last November. Apparently, no one had taught the goat to be afraid of tigers, so he didn’t just up and run at the sight of Amur. He just stood his ground, which confused the giant feline, who didn’t attack it as he normally did other live prey.

“The tiger was confused and gave up,” explained Dmitry Mezentsev, head of the park. “It happened once before, another goat pushed back and the tiger decided not to eat him, but once he showed weakness—that was it—his predator killed him. The situation now is different and the animals are great friends.”

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Ukrainian Man Has Been Walking Barefoot for the Last 10 Years, Regardless of Weather

Despite the region’s sub-zero winters, a Ukrainian man from Kiev has been walking around barefoot since February 2006.

Andrzej Novosiolov apparently began the bizarre practice on a whim – his feet felt unusually hot one evening, so he tried walking on fresh snow without footwear and found the sensation surprisingly pleasant. Although his feet began to ache from the cold within a few minutes, he made a habit of walking barefoot on snow, going longer and longer each time. Eventually, in April, he stepped out of his house without shoes and was able to spend the whole day outdoors that way.

It still wasn’t easy for him, though, as Andrzej often injured himself stepping on broken glass and other sharp objects. But reading about Olga Gavva, a manager from St. Petersburg who had also adopted a barefoot lifestyle, he decided not to let these accidents keep him from doing something he genuinely enjoyed. Over time he taught himself to walk intuitively, learning where he should step and where not to. This way he slowly got to the point where he didn’t need to invest in footwear any more. He claims to be able to walk barefoot in temperatures down to seven degrees below zero and when it gets colder than that he just runs to keep his feet from freezing.  

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Chinese Companies Are Asking Female Employees to Get Pregnant on Schedule

While couples in China are welcoming the end of the nation’s decades-long one-child policy, private companies seem to be reacting to the news with ludicrous new policies regarding maternity leave. They’re actually asking female employees to submit an application of pregnancy, seeking the company’s approval to become a parent up to a year in advance.

It seems that these companies are introducing ‘reproductive schedules’ to avoid too many maternity leaves arising from ‘simultaneous pregnancies’. A woman who recently applied for a job in northeast China’s Jilin Province was told that if recruited, she’d have to apply for pregnancy approval at least a year in advance, and wait for her turn to become a mother.

“It’s out of helplessness that we regulate this,” she quoted the company’s HR department as having told her. “After the easing of the one-child policy, many of our working staff say that they want a second child. But from the management side, we need to take the interest of the company into consideration.”

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Mr Plastic Fantastic – Guy Has 1,497 Valid Credit Cards

Working up a credit score for Walter Cavanagh has got to be a mathematical nightmare – the man has nearly 1,500 valid credit cards to his name and holds the Guinness record for the most credit cards.

‘Mr. Plastic Fantastic’ – a title conferred on him by Guinness World Records – is also the proud owner of the world’s longest wallet. It stretches 250 feet, weighs 38 pounds, and can hold 800 cards. But he uses it only to carry a few cards, while the rest are safely stowed in bank safe-deposit boxes.

Cavanagh started collecting credit cards in the late 1960s. “Me and a buddy in Santa Clara, Calif., made a silly bet: the guy who could collect the most credit cards by the end of the year would win dinner,” he recalled. “I was fresh from the Peace Corps and I got 143 cards by the end of the year. My friend gathered 138.”

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Startup Lets You Share a Hotel Room with a Stranger to Save Money

A new startup called The Winston Club is offering travelers the opportunity to book hotel rooms at just 50 percent of their cost. Obviously, there’s a catch – they have to be willing to share the room with complete strangers.

“We started Winston Club because we felt there should be an easy way for people to connect when they’d like a low-cost way to access the comfort and convenience of a hotel,” said founder Byron Shannon. “We wanted a safe, reliable, economical solution that provided a better experience than hostels or CouchSurfing alternatives.”

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The Artistic Water Tanks of Punjab

The state of Punjab, in northern India, is well known for its rich, vibrant culture, including great food, music, and dance. But what most people don’t know is that the Indian state is also home to some of the most extravagant water tanks in the world.

The concrete structures that the people of Punjab use to store water on the roofs of their houses are hardly ever ordinary-looking or boring. Instead, these ‘designer’ tanks come in a variety of unlikely shapes and sizes inspired by people’s interests and experiences. It’s not uncommon to see water tanks modeled after airplanes, army tanks, ships, birds, animals, and even humans!

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Millionaire Lends His Luxurious Mansions for $1 a Month to People Left Homeless by Tornadoes

A benevolent businessman from Texas has opened up two of his mansions to help house and rehabilitate the victims of the recent tornadoes that devastated the state. Ron Sturgeon, who is reportedly worth $75million, told affected families that they could live in his mansions for three months, at a meagre rent of $1 a month.

The two houses, reportedly worth $3.5million, are currently unoccupied and up for sale. Sturgeon himself was in Jamaica on vacation when the tornadoes struck north Texas last week. When he returned, he decided to put the mansions to good use.

“Does anyone have friends or relatives that lost their home in Garland or other city that needs housing?” he wrote on his Facebook page. “I have a 10,000sf home in Colleyville (empty for sale) that I will loan to someone to stay in for up to three months. And an extra car they can use. No charge. The home is big enough for two families. The home is pet friendly with a 10 car garage to store belongings in.”

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Japanese Fashion Designer Has Her 93-Year-Old Cool Grandma Model Her Creations

Meet Emiko, a supercool granny taking the Japanese fashion industry by storm. At age 93, she’s got the spunk and energy of a six-year-old, and she’s positively adorable as she models her granddaughter Chinami Mori’s colorful creations.

Chinami is a fashion designer from Osaka, who specialises in Saori – a freestyle hand-weaving technique that produces playful, unpatterned garments. She uses lots of bright, colorful fabric and yarn to create whimsical clothing and accessories like hats, scarves, bags, tops, and more at her studio. Saori is based on the idea that anything goes and what’s important is heart. “There are no rules,” she explained. “I can weave as freely and colorfully as I want.”

Emiko, who Chinami describes as her “favorite person in the world,” would stop by at the studio every day just to spend time with her. Eventually, she started trying on a few of the clothes and accessories that her granddaughter made. And Chinami realised that she’d found her perfect model for her designs. So she got Emiko to pose and took a few photographs, later posting them on Instagram. The response of her fans was overwhelmingly positive and the 93-year-old grandmother has become a regular feature on the designer’s Instagram account, attracting new followers with each new photo she posts.

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This Tiny Gadget Could One Day Replace Your Washing Machine

Washing machines could soon become obsolete, thanks to this tiny, portable washing device. It looks like a harmless little bar of soap, but ‘Dolfi’ is a high-tech gadget that uses ultrasonic technology to convert a bucket or a sink anywhere in the world into a dirt-busting washing machine.

To use Dolfi, all you’ve got to do is fill a sink with water, add dirty clothes and detergent, and drop the device in as well. Switch it on and stand back as it emits powerful ultrasonic waves that travel through water, creating, high pressure bubbles. The bubbles implode creating strong jets of water that push the detergent through the fabric removing dirt and stains. The entire process lasts just 30 minutes.

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French Bakers Hide Two Diamonds in Their Pastry to Boost Sales

In a bid to attract more customers and boost sales, a husband-and-wife baker duo in France have decided to hide diamonds in their pastry products. Nicolas Lelut, 35, and his wife Julie, 30, are expecting a mad rush outside their bakeries – ‘Délices de Belleville’ in Paris, and ‘L’Amandine’ in Custines, where the two diamond-containing pastries will go on sale among 800 ‘plain’ ones.

The promotional sale is all set to take place on January 6, on the occasion of The Epiphany, a Christian feast day that celebrates the incarnation of God the Son as Jesus Christ. Customers who visit either Délices de Belleville bakery on the day will have a 0.25 percent chance of winning a 0.20-carat diamond worth 600 euros. The pastry at Délices de Belleville will contain a white diamond, while the one at L’Amandine will carry a blue one. Both the rocks have been provided and certified by a reliable local jeweler.

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Bar Themed After Seinfeld’s George Constanza Opens in Melbourne

A new bar in Melbourne is dedicated entirely to the balding and temperamental Seinfeld character George Costanza. ‘George’s Bar’, located in the north-east suburb of Fitzroy, features Costanza-inspired decor, including posters and quotes. A sign outside the bar even encourages patrons to ‘Be more like George’.

The owners came up with the idea because they like Seinfeld and couldn’t get over how perfect George was as a bar theme. “I think he is probably the most suited of any of the characters,” explained co-owner Dave Barrett. “His humour is fairly dark and dry and fits in with a bar, it probably works more than any of the other characters would.”

“Also, when we were developing this new venue, one of the names we came up with was George’s, and we to some extent worked backwards on ways to market that and so to some extent that is where George Costanza came into it as well,” he added. Their marketing strategy has apparently worked – barely two weeks after opening, stories about the quirky theme have gone viral online.

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