Meet Erik Weihenmayer, the World’s Most Accomplished Blind Adventurer

Erik Weihenmayer became blind at age 13, but he has never let this life-altering event limit him in any way. He is one of those rare individuals who have not just managed to overcome a disability, but live like it never happened. He is also the only blind person in the world to have scaled Mount Everest, among other achievements.

At age 44, Erik is the world’s most accomplished blind adventurer. To be honest, his accomplishments are on par with any other exceptional normal person. He is a role model even for people with normal vision. He has managed to completely disregard his blindness; it’s like he’s been everywhere and done everything. Mountaineering, wrestling, cycling, skiing, kayaking, paragliding, skydiving – the list of Erik’s activities are seemingly endless.

When he was younger, Erik focused on just one sport – wrestling – and he was brilliant at it. He represented his state in the US National Freestyle Wrestling Championships. He graduated college in 1993 with a Master’s degree and soon became a school teacher. This was when he took up rock climbing and trekking on the side. He was amazing at that too – he summited Mount McKinley (the tallest peak in the US) and then Kilimanjaro (tallest in Africa).

Erik-Weihenmayer

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27-Year-Old Woman Marries 72-Year-Old Man, Proves Love Doesn’t Have Age limits

Zhang Feng was 23 years old when she declared her love for 68-year-old Wen Changlin. The unusual couple, now 27 and 72, have a beautiful baby boy named Tian. Although they look very odd together, their smiles show how happy they are.

The couple from Hunan province in China have been making TV headlines ever since baby Tian was born. Changlin admitted that their age makes them an unlikely pair. “Yes, I look like her grandfather, but I am used to the stares. What is important is our love and the fact that I was able to give her the child she so desperately wanted to cement our union,” he said.

The story of how they got together is a very unusual one. In 2001, Zhang and her father were suffering from a medical condition. Changlin, a Chinese doctor, moved into their home to care for them. He lived there until 2006, when Zhang’s father passed away. During this time, Zhang began to feel safe around the doctor, trusting him more than anyone else. “He took such good care of me that I began having feelings that he was Mr. Right,” she said.

age-gap

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Texas Life-Size Gingerbread House Sets New Guinness Record

The world’s largest gingerbread house has been erected on Texas A&M Traditions Club grounds, in Bryan, Texas. The 39,201.8 cubic-foot house set a Guinness World Record this year, and is helping raise funds for a local trauma center. It measures 60 feet by 42 feet and its tallest point rises 20.11 feet.

The idea for the house first came to Bill Horton, managing director of the Traditions Club, in September 2012. He was watching a Food Network special on gingerbread houses at the time. At first he thought he could get the house done by November, but soon realized that it would take a lot more work. That’s when the project got postponed to this year.

“Everybody got excited that we were trying to do this,” he said. Ninety percent of all the raw materials were donated – from lumber to electrical supplies to ingredients. Lots of people volunteered too. Club members, bakers and locals joined hands to create the home.

biggest-gingerbread-house

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Fascinating Orchid Mantis Mimics Flowers to Attract Unsuspecting Prey

The orchid mantis, named after the flower it strikingly resembles, fools prey and predators alike. Its imitation of orchids is so convincing that insects are more attracted to it than the real deal.

Camouflage isn’t a strange concept; many animals and insects adopt clever disguises to avoid predators. But orchid mantises are unique. They stand out instead of blending in, beating orchids at their own game.

Most people find insects gross and disturbing. I must confess, I’m one of them. But I caught myself admiring pictures of orchid mantises. They are such beautiful creatures with their petal-shaped legs and rich pink, white and purple bodies. These features create a “tantalizing lure” for insects, says James O’Hanlon from Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia.

orchid-mantis

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Androgynous Male Model Understandably Mistaken for a Girl on Asian Websites

Weibo, the Chinese version of Twitter, is abuzz with photographs of 18-year-old Yiming Zhao. This beautiful young model and make-up artist captured the hearts of millions of Asian netizens. Unfortunately, their hearts broke when the truth was revealed to them – their dream girl is, in fact, a boy.

Yes, Yiming might be effeminate, but is very much a boy. It’s easy to see why so many people were fooled, though. His slender figure, sweet smile and mesmerizing gaze make it very hard to believe he’s not a girl.

The photographs show Yiming in a variety of costumes and hairstyles. Some pictures are selfies, while others show him modelling for big brands like Club Monaco. In some of them he’s deliberately dressed like a girl, wearing long wigs and wedding gowns. In others, you can spot right away that he’s male. Yiming is incredibly skinny, so I suppose that helps him pass off as male and female, if he so wishes.

Zhao-Yiming

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This Portrait of Morgan Freeman Is Actually a Finger Painting Done on an iPad

26-year-old iPad artist Kyle Lambert has created an ultra-realistic finger painting of Hollywood star Morgan Freeman. If you put Lambert’s painting and Freeman’s photograph side-by-side, it’s almost impossible to tell them apart. The features are practically lifelike, down to the last freckle.

The British artist from Cheshire took one month and used 285,000 finger strokes on his iPad to complete the painting. He used an application called Procreate that allowed him to zero-in and layer his work. Using the app’s features, he reduced the brush size to only a few pixels for extra precision. This enabled him to zoom in to apply stroke after stroke, producing the amazing, photo-like portrait.

Lambert says that Procreate was crucial to his finger painting process. “It captures every brush stroke automatically and you can export it to the camera roll,” he explains. “It has the best canvas size and video export. It’s the most like Photoshop.”

morgan-freeman-portrait

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Zalipie – Poland’s Fascinating Painted Village

People all over the world love decorating their homes, but few are as good as the villagers of Zalipie. Home décor is a centuries-old tradition in this secluded village of southeastern Poland.

The women of Zalipie paint their homes, not with a single color, but a range of vibrant floral patterns. These patterns adorn the external walls, doors, windows and even the roof. The entire village looks pretty in a riot of colors.

It isn’t clear when the tradition began exactly. Local legend says that it originates from a time when smoke from stoves would escape through little holes in the ceilings. Women tried whitewashing  to cover up the tiny spots of soot on the walls, but that didn’t work. So they switched to paintings of beautiful flowers instead.

Zalipie-painted village

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Guy Goes from Average to Ripped in Just Six Weeks

It took Spencer Matthews only six weeks to transform himself from a lumpy, regular guy to a Men’s Health model. The phenomenal transformation wasn’t easy at all. His secrets – kangaroo diets and grueling workouts. “I’ve just managed to get to be a Men’s Health model in six weeks and I can’t believe I’ve done it,” he told the Daily Mail Online.

I can’t believe it either; the before and after pictures are so drastically different. The pictures show his progress every couple of weeks and you can really see the change. It’s truly amazing what the human body can do if you really push it hard enough.

Matthews wasn’t alone in his efforts, he had constant support from a top fitness expert from Men’s Health. The magazine had approached him in September this year and asked him to train for six weeks with them. They promised that he would be in the best shape of his life, and they would publish the results.

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Unique Archerfish Spits Jets of Water to Shoot Down Its Prey

The water-pistol is a harmless toy for children, but apparently it can be a lethal weapon too. This particular species of fish makes use of water jets and the laws of physics to aim at and stun its prey.

The aptly named archerfish employs a unique process to hunt land based insects and small animals – it aims, spits, and stuns. It lurks under the surface of the water, waiting for unsuspecting insects to land nearby. Then, it spits out water jets at a great force, instantly killing the prey. The entire process takes just one-tenth of a second.

An archerfish can bring down insects as far as three meters above the water’s surface. Once it selects the prey, it rotates its eyes so that the prey’s image falls on a particular part of the eye. Then it presses its tongue against the groove on the roof of its mouth to form a narrow channel, and contracts its gill covers to issue a powerful jet of water through the channel. The power of this shot can be altered for prey of different sizes. The jet can be up to five meters long.

Archerfish

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South Koreans Use Bedroom Tents to Keep Warm This Winter

Indoor tents are all the rage in South Korea this winter. Apparently they keep you really warm and save electricity as well. In fact, some tent-users say their heating bill has been reduced by half. While the temperature in rooms gets as low as 19 degrees Celsius, the 40,000 won (US$37) tents are quite cozy at 23 degrees.

Given their multiple benefits, these tents are flying off shelves in South Korea. One tent maker claims to have sold 4 million in just a couple of weeks. Thousands of tents are on back order, and manufacturers are rushing to make more. We don’t know who came up with the ingenious idea, but it looks like almost everyone has caught on.

This winter has been pretty harsh for the South Koreans; they are facing power blackouts and surging energy costs with six of 23 nuclear reactors being shut down. People have been looking for cheaper heating methods that save electricity, and the tent is apparently working wonders for them. Families are sleeping in tents setup within their homes to keep themselves warm. Some of them have placed tents on top of beds for extra warmth.

indoor-tents

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Say What? The Clicking Languages of South Africa

I had heard of African names with clicks before, like ǂXóõ, ǂHõã and !Kung, but I thought they were limited to just a few words. Now, after some research, I’ve realized that clicks are used quite extensively in many South African languages.

If you’re having trouble understanding the click and its use, think of it this way – it’s just like any other consonant used in the English language.

The credit for introducing clicks to a worldwide audience goes to singer Miriam Makeba, whose life has been celebrated on Google’s Doodles this year. In her 1957 hit single, Pata Pata, you can clearly hear clicks in the lyrics. “Everywhere we go, people often ask me, ‘How do you make that noise?’” she said during an interview in 1979. “It used to offend me because it isn’t a noise. It’s my language,” she clarified.

Xhosa-language

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Russian Photographer’s Photos Reveal the Unique Beauty of Snowflakes

Alexey Kljatov is a photographer with a difference – he takes incredibly breathtaking shots of snowflakes with equipment that he developed at home, eliminating the need for cameras and lenses worth thousands of dollars.

It’s hard to believe that Moscow-based Kljatov is an amateur. Take a look at these close-up snowflake photographs and you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. The amount of precision and clarity he has achieved with just a home-made rig is amazing.

Kljatov used parts from old cameras and attached them to wooden boards using a bunch of screws and some tape. Doesn’t sound like much, but this set-up is really working wonders for him. The close-up views of the snowflakes are enchanting.

snowflake-closeup

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Meet the Man Who Artistically Carves Entire Caves by Hand with a Pickaxe

Sculptor Ra Paulette has a phenomenal hobby – he digs caves in New Mexico’s sandstone cliffs. Not plain, rocky, boring ones. Ra’s caves are smooth, artistic, and breathtakingly beautiful, and he creates them with his bare hands. His only tools – a pickaxe and a wheelbarrow.

67-year-old Ra came into his unusual profession after years of being a drifter. He was a college dropout, was discharged from the U.S. Navy and hitchhiked his way across America. He worked on a series of odd jobs – postal employee, security guard, janitor, and even farmer and one point.

Ra learnt the art of digging in the summer of 1985, when he worked in Dixon as an excavator. He would dig outhouses and build wells, giving him a longing to do something artistic with his hands. One thing led to another and soon, he was digging caves.

Ra-Paulette-caves

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South Korean Twin Sisters Look Unrecognizable after Amazing Plastic Surgery

Plastic surgery is so common now, it shouldn’t shock us anymore. But you can’t help being amazed at certain transformations. Like these South Korean twins’ almost unbelievable change.

We don’t know their names. All we know is that they were participants on the popular South Korean TV show – Let’s Beauty. The show focuses on people who say they feel held back by their appearance, helping them look better and feel more confident.

Snapshots of the twins’ transformation are all over the internet. Honestly, I think they looked pretty good before the surgery. But they look breathtakingly beautiful now. The photographs show a surgeon analyzing the twins’ appearance and going over the procedure. There’s a sneak preview of the dramatic difference in the making. And the final pictures show a detailed view of the completely reconstructed faces.

cosmetic-surgery

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How Bad Do You Have to Go? Extreme Toilet Perched on a Cliff in Siberia

The world’s most extreme toilet is located in Siberia, 2,600m (over 8,500 feet) above sea level. It’s not just the height that makes it scary; the toilet is perched rather precariously on the edge of a cliff. I think it looks like it might fall right off if a very heavy person used it.

What’s this lonely lavatory doing up there all by itself, you ask? Well, it’s meant to serve just five people – employees at the remote weather station at Kara-Tyurek.

Kara-Tyurek, which means ‘Black Heart’ in the local language, lies in the Russian Altai Mountains. Its weather station has been operational since 1939, and the five people working there have just the one toilet to use.

extreme-toilet

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