The Awe-Inspiring Salt Portraits of Rob Ferrel

A true artist doesn’t really need expensive tools and materials to produce something beautiful, and San Antonio artist Rob Ferrel is the perfect example. For months, he has been treating his Instagram followers with  highly realist portraits that he creates using nothing but salt, a few brushes, and a piece of cardstock.

Ferrel begins by pouring salt on a table and then moves it around with brushes until recognizable features begin to emerge. He also uses cardstock for clean, sharp lines. Once the portrait is ready, he photographs it and posts it to Instagram, and then gathers up all the salt to make his next masterpiece.

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The Country Where People Actually Like Receiving Injections and IV Drips

Cambodia is known for its rich culture and history, natural beauty, exquisite temples like the Angkor Wat, the Vietnam war, the Khmer Rouge, land mines, and more. But not many people are aware of the nation’s quirks and eccentricities – like this one particular obsession that locals have with needles.

While most people in other parts of the world would do anything to avoid getting injected, things are quite the opposite in Cambodia, where citizens have a fascination for injections and intravenous drips. The reason for this fascination is unclear, but it seems that a strong belief in needles has become ingrained in the nation’s psyche. So much so that people want IV drips or injections even in situations where they’re not needed at all.

“It’s not just in the village,” a Western doctor, who preferred to remain anonymous, told the BBC. “Everybody who goes to hospital gets an IV because they think it’s important and the doctors and nurses think it’s important. If you walk into a hospital, pretty close to every patient will have an IV. They’ll just get them, you know, ad infinitum, until they leave the hospital.”

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The Australian Canine Heroes Protecting a Colony of the World’s Smallest Penguins

Middle Island, a picturesque outcrop located off the coast of southern Victoria in Australia, is home to a colony of the world’s smallest penguins. Originally known as fairy penguins, these adorable little birds are no taller than a foot and weigh only about 1kg. There used to be hundreds of them at one point, but their population dwindled as they were hunted by foxes. That is, until a chicken farmer came up with an ingenious solution to use dogs as bodyguards for the penguins.  

The problem was first noticed in the year 2000, when the sea’s natural current led to increased sand-build up, encouraging a growth in the fox population. The island is uninhabited by humans, and separated from the mainland by a 30-meter stretch of water. So at low tide, it’s easy for the foxes to cross from the mainland and reach the island, and hunt the adorable penguins.

Soon, the fairy penguin population started dwindling to the point where they were in danger of being completely wiped out “We went from a point where we had about 800 penguins down to where we could only find four,” said Peter Abbott from the Penguin Preservation Project. “In our biggest bird kill, we found 360 birds killed over about two nights. Foxes are thrill killers. They’ll kill anything they can find. The colony really was on its last legs and just one more fox attack would’ve finished it off.”

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100-Year-Old Abandoned Church Gets Transformed into Awesome-Looking Skate Park

The 100-year-old church of Santa Barbara, in Llanera, the Spanish principality of Asturias, had been abandoned for over half a century,  before a group of skating enthusiasts decided to turn the old place of worship into a unique indoor skate park called Kaos Temple. Today, it is probably the most stunning community skating venue in the world.

The church was originally a private one, designed by Austrian architect Manuel del Busto for a few local businessmen in 1912. But they abandoned the area in the 1930s during the Civil War, and the church remained unused for several decades until it was purchased by a group of individuals called the Church Brigade, in the late 2000s.

After some brainstorming, the group decided that the indoor space was perfect to install a skating ramp in. And that’s exactly what they did, slowly gathering funds and getting help from friends whenever they could. In 2012, ‘Kaos Temple’ opened its doors to skating enthusiasts.

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The World’s Most Expensive Dollhouse Costs a Lot More Than a Real House

Priced at an eye-watering $8.5 million, the Astolat Dollhouse Castle is easily the most expensive dollhouse in the world. The 800 pound, 9 foot tall museum-quality miniature house, with its 29 rooms and a wizard’s tower to boot, was inspired by the fantasy castle ‘Astolat’ that features in Alfred Tennyson’s poem Lady of the Shalott, and built over a period of 13 years, between 1974 and 1987.

Miniature artist Elaine Diehl was primarily in charge of building the Astolat Dollhouse, but she collaborated with many artists all over the world. According to Wikipedia, the “interiors and adjoining areas were each constructed to the highest standards of that time,” while “the exterior took a year to sculpt to the final finish.”

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French Homeless Man Becomes Bestselling Author after Writing Book on Being Homeless

After being homeless for nearly three decades, Jean-Marie Roughol’s life is about to change for the better. The 47-year-old’s memoirs about begging on the streets of Paris has become a national bestseller this holiday season, selling nearly 50,000 copies and earning him cult status.

The 176-page book, titled Je tape la manche: Une vie dans la rue (My Life as a Panhandler: A Life on the Streets), tells Roughol’s story from his rough childhood to winding up on the streets of Paris. He recalls how he was abandoned by his mother and brought up by an alcoholic father, ending up on the streets in his early twenties after losing his job as a waiter.

Roughol started writing the book two years ago, sitting on park benches, making notes in school exercise books. He got help with writing and editing from a long-time friend, former French Minister of Interion, Jean-Louis Debré. The two met many years ago when Roughol offered to look after Debre’s bicycle as he shopped on the Champs-Élysées, a sweet tale that is also included in the book. He compares meeting Debré to winning the lottery.

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Utah Neighborhood Is Using Decoy Packages to Confuse Thieves This Holiday Season

Residents of the Daybreak community, in South Jordan, Utah, have come up with a brilliant strategy to ward off thieves this Christmas. They’ve taken to placing fake Amazon packages filled with junk on their front porches, in order to keep the real stuff safe.

According to realtor Kroger Menzer, Daybreak is a tight-knit community of about 4,000 homes and 15,000 people who all know each other very well well. For the past few years, many of them faced the same problem during the holidays – thieves would steal the packages that were delivered to their front door. So when a resident named Jeff posted the fake-package idea on Facebook, it caught on pretty quickly.

“When Jeff came up with the idea, it spread like wildfire,” Menzer said. “The post spread to Riverton and Herriman. That’s why it’s going to work, because it’s not just a half a dozen homes doing it. It’s a whole community.”  The contents of the decoy packages will vary.  Menzer says some people plan to put in old electronics while others are going with rocks. A few altruistic folks want to throw in some clothes, which might eventually be donated to the needy. And some people want to use the idea to actually catch thieves, so they’re installing tracking devices on the boxes.

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Vitality Air – A Startup Selling Canned Canadian Fresh Air

A couple of Canadian entrepreneurs are capitalising on the lack of fresh, clean air in polluted cities by shipping out some of theirs. They’ve come up with a way to can fresh air from the Canadian Rocky Mountains and are now selling it all over the world under the brand ‘Vitality Air’.

“Essentially, we’re selling air,” said Troy Paquette, one of the co-founders, adding that the idea originated as a joke during a random discussion with his friend Moses Lam. They were discussing pollution when they thought it would be neat if they could just send some of their own fresh air to people who didn’t have any. And then they decided to do just that.

The first prototype was a Ziploc bag filled with Banff air, which sold on eBay for 99 cents. So they made a second bag and started a bidding war, and it went for a whopping $168. Inspired by their success, Paquette, 37, and Lam, 30, created a legitimate business in 2014. They started packaging air from the Rockies in canisters of various sizes, priced between $15 and $46. The $15 can contains about 150 inhalations worth of air.

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Nature’s Photoshop – Venus the Two Face Cat

Meet Venus, a five-year-old tabby who’s become an internet sensation for her strikingly unusual appearance – half of her face is orange while the other is black!

The divide, right down the center of her face, seems too perfect to be true, so much so that you’ll be tempted to dismiss it as fake. It doesn’t help that her eyes are different of different colors as well, one green and the other blue. But on her website, Venus insists that she is 100 percent natural.

“No makeup at all,” she says. “Not even eyeliner. In the salon where I get my pedicures done Photoshop and spray paint aren’t even allowed.” And she also dismisses the idea that she’s a Chimera – a mythical lion-goat-snake creature. “It’s appalling, but hey, I didn’t invent the English language.”

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11-Year-Old Skips Rope 108 Times in 30 Seconds, Sets New World Record

11-year-old Cen Xiaolin can move his legs faster than most people can count. The boy recently set a new rope skipping world record by completing a whopping 108 skips in just 30 seconds!

That’s so fast that you can’t even see the rope. In fact, judges at the first World Inter-School Rope Skipping Championships, in Dubai, simply couldn’t keep up with him. They were unable to count Cen’s steps while he was skipping, as it was all a bit of a blur. They had to rewatch the footage in slow-motion eight times to verify the exact number of steps. Later, he broke another record by skipping 548 times in three minutes.

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Controversial Hangover Clinic Opens in Australia

Sydney’s new ‘Hangover Clinic’ promises to instantly take care of terrible hangovers through a “revolutionary treatment” that involves an IV drip. Depending on how bad their night was, customers are hooked to the drip for 30 to 45 minutes and are given saline infused with headache and anti-nausea medication, along with vitamins B and C. Antioxidants and oxygen are also included in treatment, priced between $140 and $200.

“Sometimes we just overdo it. Might be a BBQ at a mate’s place, or a drink with the girls, but since time began we’ve all been known to overindulge on the drinks, or our hectic schedules just run us down,” the clinic’s website states. “In as little as 30 minutes, we’ll have you off the couch feeling fresh and ready to tackle the day ahead, so you can feel like the best version of yourself.”

The clinic offers three types of ‘Hangover Remedies’.  ‘Jump Start’, the basic package, costs $140 and includes one liter of IV hydration, Vitamins B and C, and your choice of headache or anti-nausea medication. ‘Energise’ provides an extra jolt at $165, with the addition of oxygen treatment. And ‘Resurrection’ is for the truly hopeless cases – at $200 it includes an antioxidant boost along with the rest of the basic medication.

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The Real Santa – Oil Tycoon Gives $100,000 Christmas Bonus to Each of His 1,400 Employees

Hilcorp, a private oil and natural gas exploration and production company based in Texas, is in the news for its unprecedented generosity towards employees. To celebrate an excellent year, CEO Jeff Hildebrand gave the entire company staff huge bonuses – $100,000 to each of the 1,381 workers! It seems Santa is real after all.

“It’s just a true gift,” said receptionist Amanda Thompson, who has worked at Hilcorp for the past 10 years. “And I think myself, as long as everyone else is not going to give any less than one hundred percent each day.” With this kind of rewards, it’s really no wonder that the company was included in the FORTUNE list of 100 Best Companies to Work For, for the third year in a row.

“Mr. Jeff Hildebrand, and our president Greg Lalicker, they are such amazing motivators,” Thompson added. “Somedays I just kind of look down the hall and say I can’t believe these are my bosses and they’re the best.” She explained that Hildebrand and Lalicker had promised their employees a sizable bonus if Hilcorp’s size could be doubled in five years, and they kept that promise once that goal was reached.

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Chinese Barber Uses Leftover Hair to Create Insanely Realistic Portraits

Li Hailing, a barber from Lingbao, in central China’s Henan province, uses leftovers from his day job to fuel his real passion – art. He collects the hair that he cuts at his salon and, in his spare time, arranges the thousands of strands to create stunningly-realistic celebrity portraits.

Li, whose inspiration comes from sand painting, uses the same techniques for his hair paintings – he sprinkles hair onto a canvas with his hands and arranges them until recognizable portraits emerge. There is no glue involved, so the hair can all be blown off with a simple swift wave of the hand, leaving nothing behind on the canvas. Li photographs each piece of hair art before he destroys it and moves on to the next. It takes him a minimum of two hours to finish each hair painting.

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Entrepreneurs Inspired by Tinfoil Hats Create Stylish Headgear That Protects Against Harmful Signals

If you’re genuinely concerned that wi-fi or other electromagnetic signals might slowly but steadily be hurting you, then you will be glad to learn that tinfoil hats are no longer your only option. A couple of Slovakian entrepreneurs have created the “world’s first signal proof headwear” designed to protect your brain by reflecting electromagnetic waves.

According to the Kickstarter campaign by Shield Apparel, the hats are stylish and comfortable, while also effectively protecting the wearer from signals emitted by cell phones, wi-fi routers, and microwaves, and all waves transmitted from electric devices. “It is the most comfortable and functional headwear you have ever worn,” the makers claim.

The founders of Shield Apparel are a couple of Slovak cousins who stayed up late one night talking about how their lack of sleep was probably caused cell phone or wi-fi signals. They started to wonder if signals really affect our well being a lot more than we realise, and then decided to do something about it. Inspired by tinfoil hats, they wanted to create something similar to shield humans from these potentially-harmful waves.

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Bitwalking – Potentially Game-Changing Digital Currency Pays People to Walk

In a bid to make people walk more, a London-based startup is introducing a new app that pays people in digital currency based on the number of steps taken per day. ‘Bitwalking’ will soon be available on Android and iOS users in the UK, Kenya, Malawi, and Japan.

Bitwalking’s currency units are called ‘Bitwalking dollars’ or BW$. Users need to walk a total of 10,000 steps (five miles) to earn BW$1, equivalent to $1. The maximum money that can be earned per day is BW$3. The money earned can only be spent in the app’s inbuilt marketplace, or exchanged for real money.

According to the company’s website, Bitwalking will be most relevant in developing countries, where rural workers don’t earn more than a dollar a day. So by walking around with a tracker, they could potentially earn three times more. “We believe that everyone should have the freedom, the ability, to make money,” the website states. “A step is worth the same value for everyone – no matter who you are, or where you are. What matters is how much you walk.”

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