The Baikal Ice Marathon – The Ultimate Winter Endurance Race

The Baikal Ice Marathon is one of the world’s toughest endurance challenges. Over the years, the one-of-a-kind event has seen participants from over 50 countries. These are athletes with a heart of steel – they race across a 42 kilometer course across the completely frozen surface of Baikal, the oldest and deepest freshwater lake on Earth. Every year, the Baikal Ice Marathon is held for a noble cause – the Preservation of Clean Water. This year its 10th edition took place on March 1.

Although the terrain for the marathon is predominantly flat, it is still considered to be one of the world’s 10 most challenging competitions because of the freezing Siberian weather. The cold northern winds and harsh, unpredictable climate is, in fact, the biggest challenge faced by runners. In past marathons conditions have varied in severity – from high winds and biting cold, to a sunny sky with almost no chills. The lake’s surface is another problem; at times it can be hard and uneven, covered in small hills of ice rubble. Geometric springs and seismic activity beneath the ice may weaken it to form holes.

Baikal-Ice-Marathon

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Toddlers Drop the Beats at Brooklyn’s Baby DJ School

In another bizarre case of super parenting, some toddlers are being put through classes at the Baby DJ School in Brooklyn. The program was designed by composer and performance artist Natalie Weiss. She started off last September with six students aged between 9 and 20 months.

31-year-old Weiss said she got the idea when she took her DJ equipment to a friend’s house. “I was babysitting a little boy named Rider. He’s one-and-a-half. And I had my laptop and my midi trigger with me because I had a gig after. I asked him, ‘Do you want to see how it works?’ And he loved it! Seeing him have that enthusiasm and innocence and joy talking about pieces of electrical equipment, that’s when I said like, it’s time to educate kids about this stuff.”

So Weiss began to write songs that teach kids about disc jockeying and electronic music. One of the songs goes: ‘The midi-trigger’s connected to the laptop, the laptop’s connected to the PA’ set to the tune of ‘Dem Bones’ – a baby song about dancing skeletons. There’s one like a little baby rap: “I always, always pre cue, before I play in front of you!”

Baby-DJ-school

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Woman Spends 14 Years with Mannequin Family, Proves Single People Can Be Happy Too

You would think that a woman living with a mannequin family has got to be some sort of weirdo. Contrary to that expectation, Suzanne Heintz comes across as fairly normal. As normal as an artist can be, that is.

Suzanne is an art director at Starz Entertainment Group in Englewood, Colorado. Every day for the past 14 years, she has been coming home from work to her unique family – her synthetic husband Chauncey and never-growing adolescent daughter Mary Margaret. Over the years, she has traveled 16,000 kilometers across America and all over the world, taking happy portraits with her plastic loved ones as a part of an art project called ‘Life Once Removed’.

Before the mannequins became a part of her life, Suzanne said she was routinely badgered with questions like, “When are you getting married?”, specially by her mother. “Nobody’s perfect,” her mother said to her about 15 years ago, “If you are going to get married, you’ll just have to pick somebody.” To which Suzanne replied, “Mom, it’s not like I can go out and buy a family and make it happen.” Or could she?

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Minnesota Farmer Single-Handedly Builds 50-Foot Snowman

Greg Novak, a farmer from Gilman, Minnesota, spent hundreds of hours building a gigantic snowman. He calls the towering 50-foot structure ‘Granddaddy’. While some neighbors have seriously questioned Greg’s sanity, he hopes that the snowman will shake onlookers out of their winter blues. “If you can’t beat the winter, embrace it,” is his motto.

Novak came up with the idea for Granddaddy in late January, when he had to move great mounds of snow to prevent the roofs of his greenhouses from collapsing. “As long as you’re moving it, might as well do something practical with it,” he thought. So he set to work with all his farming equipment. Novak began by piling the snow on to skid loaders. He then used a silage blower to direct the snow into stacked cylinders – Granddaddy’s body and head. The base cylinder is 45 foot wide, while the others are smaller but still impressive in size.

“Granddaddy’s arms are a 61-foot grain elevator. An augur they used to be. The eyes are plywood – 4 foot wide by 6 foot high. The nose is a 55-gallon barrel, the smile is like, 10 foot wide. The scarf is about 80 foot long, the broom is about 35 foot high, the buttons are garbage can covers,” Novak describes his creation.  Snow storms, frigid temperatures and other weather-related setbacks often hampered Novak’s progress. “The weather wasn’t cooperating. The higher I got, it seemed like the more weather-related issues I got. Like too warm, you couldn’t blow the snow. Too cold or too windy, you couldn’t blow the snow because it wouldn’t stay up there. But we got it up.”

Granddaddy-snowman

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New Jersey Cheerleader Is Suing Her Parents for Not Paying Her College Tuition

In one of the most sensational courtroom dramas in recent American history, a teenage cheerleader tried to sue her parents for refusing to pay her college tuition. Unfortunately for her, a New Jersey family court judge ruled on Tuesday that the parents are not obligated to do anything of the sort. In fact, all of 18-year-old Rachel Canning’s requests were denied – weekly allowance, high school and college tuition, living expenses and her attorney’s fee.

It isn’t for lack of money – Rachel’s parents, Sean and Elizabeth, have put aside a college fund for her. But they’ve taken the extreme step of withholding those funds because of her bad behavior. “We’re heartbroken, but what do you do when a child says, ‘I don’t want your rules but I want everything under the sun and you to pay for it?’” said Sean Canning.

According to the parents, Rachel has always been a troublesome child. She routinely gets into trouble and refuses to follow simple rules like doing chores and keeping a curfew. She also bullies her sister and has been suspended from school twice so far. But when she refused to stop seeing her boyfriend, who they think is a bad influence on her, it was the last straw. They gave her only two options – either dump him or get out. Rachel chose the latter.

Rachel-Canning

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Real-Life Forrest Gump Walks 34,000 Miles in 14 Years Spreading a Simple but Powerful Message

14 years ago, Steve Fugate took it upon himself to walk across America, as therapy after losing his son. Since then, he has achieved his goal 6 times, and is currently on his seventh attempt. Through his extraordinary journey, he hopes to spread just one simple message – ‘Love Life’. He started his latest walk on March 23, last year and is still going strong. He has already passed through 21 states and has 27 more to go. “My feet swell, my knees hurt, my legs hurt. I do not like walking. But I do it specifically for a reason,” he said. It’s estimated 67-year-old Steve has walked over 34,000 kilometers since he first set out on his legendary treks.

Fugate, a native of Florida, had never really been a fan of walking, but he found it to be a great way to spread love after he lost his children. 1999 was a particularly tough year for him. He was going through a failed marriage and his business had taken a hit. To make matters worse, his son Stevie, 26, was convicted of drunk driving. It was all getting a bit too much to handle, so Fugate decided to go trekking on the 2,167 mile Appalachian Trail, leaving his son in charge of the business.

Unfortunately, young Stevie was also dealing with several serious issues at the time and committed suicide. Fugate received the tragic news as he was trekking through Pennsylvania. “When he put a gun to his mouth and pulled the trigger, he ended my life too,” said the heartbroken father. After a brief period of grieving, he made up his mind to finish the trek. This turned out to be a life-altering decision. “When I was out there, something happened to me. I couldn’t imagine any other human being going through what I did. It’ll change your whole life.”

Steve-Fugate

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Man Sets New Guinness Record for Typing Sentence with His Nose in the Shortest Time Possible

For the likes of Mohammed Khurshid Hussain, from Hyderabad, India, having just one Guinness World Record isn’t good enough. The 23-year-old already held the title of fastest typist of the English alphabet on a keyboard – just 3.43 seconds –  but that was set using his fingers. Now he’s gone and done it with his nose.

Mr. Hussain set out to break the world record for nose-typing last Thursday. His mission: to type the sentence ‘Guinness World Records have challenged me to type this sentence using my nose in the fastest time’. The previous record holder was another Indian, Neeta, who finished the task way back in 2008, in 1 minute and 33 seconds.

That seems like a tough record to beat, but Mr. Hussain did it with a lot of time to spare. He typed the sentence in just 48.62 seconds, way ahead of Neeta. “If you want to set a record, every millisecond counts,” he said. “This time I typed with one eye closed, as it is difficult otherwise to locate the keys. This is my second attempt to break the record. Earlier last month, I typed the sentence with my nose in 53.44 seconds, for which I am yet to receive the certificate.”

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The Eerie Melted Bricks of Fort Zverev, in Russia

Fort Zverev, built in the 1870s by Russian engineer Konstantin Zverev, lies in complete ruins today. Nonetheless, it is as much of an attraction now as it was in its heyday. Located on an artificial island in the Baltic Sea, just north of Kronstadt, the fort is a derelict structure that can well be described as ‘hell on earth’. The rusting bunker hatches, water tubes and machine gun mounts scattered on the surface are hardly an indicator of what lies within.

Back when the fort was still in use, the Russians stored a type of fuel similar to napalm in the basement. Unfortunately, in 1970, an unexpected fire that started in the fort spread to the basement as well, causing an uncontrollable inferno. The incident was simply horrific – the burning fuel reached temperatures over 2000 degrees Celsius. It got so hot that the brick walls and ceiling literally melted and ran down like icicles.

Fort-Zverev

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Marksman Paralyzed from the Neck Down Fires a Rifle with His Tongue

Being paralyzed from the neck down doesn’t stop 53-year-old Victor Morris from doing what he loves – firing his rifle. He had a special rig designed that allows him to fire using one of the only parts of his body that still move on command – his tongue! A native of Aberaeron, in West Wales, the quadriplegic had a rugby accident 24 years ago that left him in his current state. In spite of this, he hasn’t lost his spirit. In fact, he has even managed to beat other able-bodied shooters in international competitions.

“I was desperate to shoot again but never thought I would. After the accident, the thought (that) I’d never be able to use the rifle again was always in the back of my mind,” he said. “It was a difficult thing to come to terms with. I’m so happy to be back doing something I love.” Victor’s love for shooting began when he was only 12 years old. He was competing by the age of 15, and represented Wales for 10 years in clay pigeon shooting contests. He was 29 when the tragic event occurred – while playing rugby for Lampeter against Llandarcy.

“I went into the scrum and the next thing I knew I heard a horrible sound – three cracks – then I blanked out for a second,” recalled Victor. “I came around and I remember being stretchered off. That was it. I was paralyzed from the neck down. It wasn’t painful, I just felt numb. I couldn’t feel a thing.”

Vic-Morris

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Stinky Candle Company Challenges Classic Scents with Unique Manly Aromas

Would you dare to buy candles that were labelled ‘Stinky’? Apparently, there are people who would! The Stinky Candle Company was set up by Jeff Bennett after he got sick of boring scents like vanilla, lavender and shea butter. He came up with 25 unique smells – including bizarre stuff like leather, pencils, wood, wet grass, money and even car exhausts.

The Chicago based inventor seems to have gone all out in choosing scents for his new collection. His range also includes food-inspired aromas like bacon, wine and fast food. The candles are priced between US $6 and $8. We’re not sure how well these candles are selling, but it doesn’t look like Jeff is too bothered about that. He’s more excited about the candles. Eventually, he aims at increasing the range from 25 to 200.

He spoke about his inspiration behind creating the candles: “A lot of people I knew really liked scented candles and they loved receiving them as gifts. I wondered why we only ever see the same fragrances in shops and thought it would be a fun idea to try and come up with some unusual ones.” So he got to work on the concoctions in his garage, sourcing specific odors from a fragrance house.

Stinky-candle-company

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Japanese Company Launches Pillow Specifically Designed for Pillow Fighting

Did you know that pillow fighting is actually a serious sport in Japan? And that there exists a pillow specifically designed to be used in official pillow fights? And that it is the ‘Officially Recognized Pillow by the All Japan Pillow Fighting Association’? I wish I’d known all this sooner. Perhaps I’d have considered moving to Japan to become a professional pillow fighter. Such a cool job.

The association even has official tournaments. Just last weekend, they had an All Japan Pillow Fighting Tournament in Ito City. The participating fee was $20 per team, and they all competed for a grand prize of $1,000. Japanese pillow fighting has its own set of rules: it’s a lot like dodge ball, but fluffier! Each team consists of five members, who have to remain within the team’s court (about 356 square feet) at all times. From the moment the whistle sounds, all they do is throw pillows like crazy, using blankets to shield themselves. Getting hit by a pillow directly sends a player out of the game.

Sounds all right so far, but this is where things get really bizarre. During the match, the referee calls out from time to time: “The teacher is coming!” One of the teams will have to take the cue and lie down immediately, pretending to sleep. One member from the opposite team can walk over and steal as many pillows as he can. Then the game resumes. Doesn’t it sound a lot like the crazy games we invented as kids?

pillow-fighting-Japan

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Hipster Wannabes Resort to Facial Hair Transplants to Get Coveted Look

In a bid to keep up with the hipster beard trend, New York men are opting for a bizarre form of plastic surgery – facial hair transplants. I didn’t even know this was possible, but apparently, the procedure results in a real-looking beard. You can crop it, shave it, or let it grow out, just like you would a natural beard.

Doctors in New York City who specialize in the surgery say that the number of male patients is growing by the day. These men are willing to shell out up to $7,000 for a full, pumped up beard. Dr. Jeffery Epstein, who has performed the procedure for over a decade, said that earlier he would see just a handful of patients a year, but now he’s doing three to four per week. “Whether you’re talking about the Brooklyn hipster or the advertising executive, the look is definitely to have a bit of facial hair.”

It’s not just beardless hipsters doing the rounds at plastic surgery clinics, according to Dr. Yael Halaas. Most of her patients are young, hip and fashionable, but she also gets men who have struggled to grow beards all their lives. Some of them are undergoing a gender transformation, a few have facial scarring, and others are Hasidic Jews who want denser side locks. “I get a lot of detail oriented people – artists, architects,” said the doctor. She also notes that the most beard-centric areas in the city are Williamsburg, Bushwick and Park Slope.

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Guy Tattoos World Map on His Back, Colors Every Country He Visits

You need to have a map at hand when you’re making travel plans. Most people prefer packing one in their backpacks, but this one guy chose to put it some place he can never lose it – his back. Of course, he’d probably have to crane his neck to look at it in the mirror, but at least it isn’t going anywhere, right?

59-year-old Bill Passman is a travel nut. So far, he has been to at least half the countries in the world, and to keep track of every place he visits, he had the world map tattooed on his back, and very time he visits a new country, he has it colored by a tattoo artist. So far 60 different countries are colored on his back, and the rest are waiting to be filled.

Surprisingly, the lawyer from Louisiana only began travelling recently – at age 51, when he got his new passport. His first trip out of the country was to Tanzania and he has never looked back since. In 2010, he quit his job in order to travel full time. That was the year he got the tattoo as well. He travels most of the year, only returning home for about three months. While his adventures have taken him to all the seven continents (yes, even Antarctica), his favorite place is Guatemala.

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Kids Get a Taste of the Tough Life at Hungarian Military Summer Camp

Summer camp in the town of Mogyoród, Hungary plays out slightly differently than what most kids are used to in other parts of the world. Hundreds of children between the ages of 11 and 22 gather at the camp each year, to experience the tough military life for a week. These kids are actually attracted to the military way of life and volunteer to sign up for the camp. It’s not surprising, actually, given the fact that militarism is dominant in Hungarian society.

At the Military Traditional Association, the kids live in tents, receive military training from experienced, active soldiers and learn all about the Order and the Homeland. They stay up all night on guard duty, learn how to fire AK-47s (with blanks, of course) and are put through stimulation tear gas attacks. Intense physical exercise, educational behaviorism and screamed orders is what the week is all about.

Zsolt Horvath, head of the military summer camp, said: “We give them real military training at a basic level. They have endurance tests, running sessions in the morning, fitness exercises. Throughout the day they listen to trainers from various army units who teach them exercises.” Discipline is paramount at the camp – any misbehavior is punishable with push-ups. Both practical and theoretical training are imparted, hoping to groom future members of the Hungarian army.

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Man Says He Has Survived on Pizza Alone for 25 Years

They say junk food can kill you. But then you get to hear stories of people who eat nothing else and are doing just fine. Like this one guy who has been eating pizza exclusively for the past 25 years. Dan, a 38-year-old woodworker from Maryland, hates veggies so much that he won’t even use them as pizza toppings. The only spice he can tolerate on his pizza is oregano.

“I’m not just talking about a slice of pizza every day,” he said in an interview. “I usually eat an entire 14” pizza, and I only eat cheese pizza. I never get sick of it. If I go to one pizza shop or another brand, it’s like eating a completely different meal.” Dan made his bizarre food choice when he was just 15 years old. That’s when he decided to go vegetarian for ‘ethical reasons’. “I still loved the taste of meat, and I still love it to this day, but due to my beliefs, I gave it up. That was about 23 years ago. I also hate vegetables.”

My guess is that Dan’s body can metabolize food like crazy. How else can a person eat just pizza (essentially bread and cheese) for years and still stay so slim? But Dan’s weight is no indicator of his health. The man suffers from type 1 diabetes and his blood sugar drops quite frequently. It gets so bad at times that he blacks out on the kitchen floor in his underwear. One time, he blacked out while driving his new car home.

pizza-addict

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