Japan Railways Allegedly Keeps Train Station Running for Just One Passenger

Last Friday, China’s CCTV News posted a heart-warming story on Facebook about how Japanese railway authorities are keeping a train station in a remote village open for the sake of only one passenger – a high school student.

“The Kyu-Shirataki-Shirataki train station is located in Japan’s north island of Hokkaido,” the post read. “Three years ago, due to its remote location and ending of freight trains, the Japan Railway (JR) decided to close it down. However, they changed their minds after they discovered a young girl used the station to go to high school every day.”

According to the report, the only two trains that stop at the station now are just for this girl, with a “unique timetable depending on when the girl needs to go to school and back.” Japan Railway apparently intends to keep the station open until March this year, when she will finally graduate.

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This High-Tech Travel Suitcase Follows You Around Like a Puppy

Thanks to this new hands free suitcase, carrying around heavy luggage may soon become a thing of the past. Designed by Israeli company NUA Robotics, this ‘smart’ suitcase is the technological equivalent of Mary’s little lamb – it’ll follow you everywhere you go.

The carry-on suitcase, currently a prototype, connects to a smartphone app via bluetooth. It has a built-in camera sensor that can ‘see’ you and follow you around on flat surfaces like airport floors. It comes with an anti-theft alarm to prevent someone snatching it away when you’re not looking, and, for the icing on the cake, it has a backup battery that you can use to charge all your devices.

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Making a Difference: 12-Year-Old Collects Thousands of Coats for the Homeless

12-year-old Makenna Breading-Goodrich is showing the world that you’re never too young to have social conscience. In a bid to help the homeless people in her community, she’s spent the past three winters collecting and giving away thousands of coats. She calls her initiative ‘Makenna’s Coats for a Cause’.

It all started three years ago, when Makenna watched a TV show about the hardships faced by the homeless during the cold winter months. Deeply disturbed by their plight, she soon came up with a simple solution – to go around her neighborhood, asking people to donate all the coats and jackets they could spare. All she had to do was find a way to spread the word, collect the coats, and get them to the less fortunate. Fortunately, her parents were very supportive and willing to help anyway they could.

“She said, ‘I think I can really do something to help,’” Makenna’s mother Jennifer recalled. “Any parent would look at their 9-year-old daughter with pride and tell her they’d be thrilled to help her in any way.”

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Glasgow-Based Artist to Be Given $22,000 to Live in Glasgow for a Year

In a controversial move, the Scottish Government has decided to grant Ellie Harrison, a Glasgow-based academic, £15,000 ($22,000) just to continue living in the city for a whole year.

The generous amount is a grant for an ‘art project’ during which London-born Harrison will not leave the city unless she’s unwell or a close relative dies. The goal, according to her, is to find out how “your career, social life, family ties, carbon footprint, and mental health will be affected” by not being able to leave a city. To figure that out, she’s also being given 12 months off work.

Harrison, a lecturer in contemporary art-practices at Dundee University, won the jackpot offer – funded by the National Lottery – after she pitched the idea for an “experiment” called The Glasgow Effect that would “challenge the demand-to-travel” placed upon her as a “successful” artist. Her idea is to explore sustainability by traveling less and focusing more on local opportunities.

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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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