Life without Fear – Russia’s Hands-On Approach to Conquering Your Fears

Life without Fear is an increasingly popular hands-on course that helps people overcome their phobias and anxiety by putting them through a series of extreme trials, including walking on hot coals, sitting on broken glass, swimming in ice-cold water and even eating pieces of burning cotton.

There are people dealing with fears all around the world. In most western countries experts rely on psychology to help patients confront and beat their phobias. Acknowledging your fears, talking about your problems and visualizing yourself overcoming them are some of the most widely used methods, but in Russia, they have a more direct approach. Life without Fear is a two-day course during which participants go through all kind of extreme challenges and facing their greatest fears head on. Created by Valery Bochkarev, a life coach and fire interaction expert, and Alexander Blagov, a personal trainer and martial arts fighter, Life without Fear relies less on theory and lectures and more on direct contact in order to convince people that fear is just an illusion that can easily be overcome. The main idea is to push participants into doing things they never thought themselves able to, whether it be stopping falling knives with their stomach, dancing with balls of fire or breaking wooden poles with their neck.

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Weeping for Strangers – The Professional Mourners of Taiwan

In Taiwan, staging a dramatic funeral for relatives who have passed away is of the utmost importance. So, to create the proper atmosphere, wealthy families hire professional mourners who cry, sing and crawl on the ground to show their grief.

Taiwan’s “filial daughter” phenomenon emerged during the 1970s, when sons and daughters left their families to work in the city. Transport was limited, so if one of their parents died and they couldn’t make it back in time for the funeral, they would hire a filial daughter to take their place and lead the family in mourning. For some Taiwanese, showing grief in a dramatic fashion is the highest reverence for relatives who have passed away, because funerals are considered the most important times to honor one’s family. But not everyone has it in them to shed tears and show their pain in public, so to help create a grieving atmosphere, they hire professional mourning daughters. They chant, dance and wail, warming the hearts of the audience and helping them release their emotions. Crying on command isn’t easy, but professional mourners, like 30-year-old Liu Jun Lin, say it helps to really get involved in the event and consider the family that hired them their own. ”I just imagine that I am part of the family and I fuse myself into the occasion,” she says.

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English Farmer Makes Vodka from Cow Milk

Jason Barber, a farmer from Dorset, England, has spent three years creating the world’s first milk vodka. Now, his Black Cow label is the poison of choice for celebrities like Elizabeth Hurley and James Bond star Daniel Craig.

47-year-old Jason Barber, a sixth generation farmer, got the idea for his pure cow milk vodka after watching a TV documentary on Tuva, a small Siberian republic where people make vodka from yak milk. Intrigued by the idea, he set out to make his own, from the milk of the 250 cows on his farm in Beaminster, Dorset. It took him three long years to perfect the process, but the final result is nothing short of impressive, according to food and drink experts. Barber starts out by separating the milk into curds and whey. He uses the former to make cheese, while the latter is fermented into beer, using special yeast, to convert the sugar into alcohol. After being distilled, the milk beer goes through a special blending process. The resulting vodka is triple-filtered and hand-bottled. Made from fresh whole milk Black Cow vodka is apparently an exceptionally smooth drink with a distinct creamy character.

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Sidewall Skiing – Saudi Arabia’s Latest Driving Craze

Nobody does dangerous driving stunts quite like the youth of Saudi Arabia. Sure, drifting is pretty cool, and Ken Block’s Gymkhana is awesome, but they’re nothing compared to the latest driving craze in the Middle East. It’s called “sidewall skiing” and it basically means driving a car on its side wheels at high speed.

A few years back, footage of Saudi daredevils skating on the country’s dessert highways while clinging to speeding cars went viral on video sharing sites like YouTube. But that got old really fast, and the bored youth had to come up with something even more dangerous exciting. These days they get their kicks by driving around on two wheels, while passengers perform all kinds of tricks, like standing on top of the car, or even changing tires at high speed. The life-threatening stunt was apparently popularized by action films like ”The Dukes of Hazzard” or “Diamonds Are Forever”, and was recently featured in rapper M.I.A.’s “Bad Girls” video. Sidewall skiing has also become a spectator sport, with crowds of young men and women sitting on the side of the road cheering on the adrenaline junkies. Some even take part in their death defying routines by laying down on the asphalt and allowing the vehicle to pass over them at breakneck speeds. Drivers use a ramp to tilt their cars on two wheels, then rely on their maneuvering skills to keep it from flipping over and potentially killing their balancing passengers. Somehow, saying this sport is extremely dangerous seems like a huge understatement.

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Fangweng – China’s Cliff-Hanging Restaurant

Trekking in the mountains generally means having to survive on packaged food; but not if you’re in China. There’s a particular mountain in the Hubei Province, 12 km north of the city of Yichang, where you can actually experience fine-dining on the side of a cliff. Located in the Happy Valley of Xiling Gorge, the Fangweng hanging restaurant offers a breathtaking view of its natural surroundings to adventurers brave enough to set foot in it.

The dull brick building that acts as an entrance to the Fangweng Restaurant simply doesn’t do the place justice, and it’s only after you pass through it that you can give yourself a pat on the back for discovering such a unique venue to experience Chinese cuisine while admiring the natural beauty of Xiling Gorge. Unless you’re afraid of heights, in which case the 30-meter-long narrow concrete bridge hanging on the side of a vertical cliff overlooking the Yangtze River might just be your worse nightmare. Luckily, there’s a metal railing you can grab on to while you crawl your way to the actual restaurant. The bridge leads to a dining hall carved into the cliff-side, where most of the tables are set. Warmly lit by traditional lamps hanging from the ceiling and decorated with Chinese furnishings, the cave itself is a sight to behold, but the main attractions of Fangwen are the two concrete platforms extending away from the cliff, from where diners can see all the wonders of Happy Valley or watch bungee jumpers as they leap off a nearby bridge.

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Would You Pay $91,500 for a Crocodile Skin T-Shirt?

French luxury goods manufacturer Hermes has recently made headlines after it’s been discovered that its flagship store on Madison Avenue is selling a crocodile skin shirt for the mind-blowing price of $91,500.

Yes, today is April 1st, but this story is no joke. The pricey men’s garment was actually presented last fall as part of Hermes’ spring 2013 “crocodile chiffon” collection, but was only recently spotted in the company’s New York store. Judging by the French brand’s reputation for outrageous prices and the fact that the t-shirt is apparently made of innovative lightweight crocodile skin, everyone expected it to cost a small fortune, but probably not as much as four decent cars. Most people wouldn’t pay more than $30 for at-shirt, but that didn’t stop Hermes from slapping a $91,500 price tag on its black crocodile tee. Pretty unbelievable right? That’s what bloggers from The Awl thought, so before breaking the story, they managed to snap a shot of the label as evidence, despite the store’s no-photo policy. While the technology behind making Hermes crocodile skin clothes lighter and less sticky during the hot summer months may be impressive, does it really justify the astronomical price?

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Tokyo’s Monk-Run Bar Mixes Cocktails with Buddhism

Who says booze and religion don’t mix? That’s certainly not the case at Vowz, a unique Tokyo bar run by two Buddhist monks who serve customers delicious cocktails, religious chants and sermons.

There are over 10,000 bars in Tokyo, but none like the Vowz, in the city’s Yotsuya neighborhood. Opened by Japanese Buddhist monk Yoshinobu Fujioka, this offbeat watering hole has been bringing members of his congregation together for 13 years. ”They become totally different believers here, the distance between them and myself diminishing,”the shaved-head bartender says. “They are more connected with each other.” In the old days, people would go to Buddhist temples to socialize and have a drink, but times have changed, and Fujioka decided to adapt in order to remain close to the people. So he opened the Vowz Bar, a place where people could come in and listen to Buddhist sermons and homilies without feeling constrained in any way. ”At the temple, folks are always well-behaved and attentive, no matter how long or boring the sermon is,” head monk Gugan Taguchi says. “Here at the bar, they don’t like my sermons — they walk out.” But thanks to the friendly atmosphere and the tasty cocktails prepared by the monks themselves, that hardly ever happens.

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World’s Hottest Pizza Is Three Times Stronger than Police Pepper Spray

It’s called the Saltdean Sizzler, and according to recent tests performed by the Warwick University, it’s three times hotter than the world’s strongest chili and even police pepper spray. That makes it the spiciest pizza on Earth.

The world’s hottest pizza was created by Paul Brayshaw, of Paul’s Pizza, in Saltdean, England, a self-confessed spicy food fanatic and fan of the Man vs Food TV show. After opening his own pizza place, Paul decided to include a challenge on the menu, and stared working on the hottest pizza he could make. He used one of the strongest chilies on the planet – the ghost chili – and spiced it up even more with a special chili paste with chili extract. The 32-year-old father of two says the Saltdean Sizzler starts out as a regular pizza, with a homemade dough base, regular Italian tomato and herb sauce and fresh mozzarella, but turns into a world of pain after he adds his killer sauce. Apparently it even changes from a nice “red tomato color” to an “evil black/red”. Ever since he put it on the menu last year, Paul has sold over 1,300 Saltdean Sizzlers, but only eight men and one woman have managed to eat all six slices of the 10-inch pizza. That’s just 0.1% of challengers.

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Australian Shop Charges Visitors $5 Just for Looking

Tired of having people walk into her gluten free produce store looking around and asking questions only to leave empty-handed and buy similar products somewhere else, a business owner from Brisbane, Australia, put up a sign announcing would-be shoppers they will be charged a $5 fee for “just looking”.

A photo of the notice in the window of Celiac Supplies went viral on popular social news site Reddit, this week. A lot of people thought it was a joke, but reporters from the Australian Associated Press tracked down the owner of “Brisbane’s only glutenfree and wheatfree store” who confirmed the measure was for real. Apparently Georgina felt forced to take radical action after spending several hours each week giving advice to people only to see them walk out empty handed and buying the same kind of products from local supermarkets or online shops. ”I’ve had a gut full of working and not getting paid,” she told AAP. ”I’m not here to dispense a charity service for Coles and Woolworths to make more money.” Her frustration is also fueled by the fact that in most cases her prices match those of larger supermarkets, but people still prefer to shop elsewhere thinking they’d find them cheaper. As you can imagine, her $5 “just looking” tax has turned some potential customers away, but Georgina says a few have actually paid up.

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Tom Sukanen – The Man Who Built a Ship in the Middle of the Canadian Prairie

Driving down the No. 2 highway south of Moose Jaw, bang in the middle of the Saskatchewan prairie, one can see a large ship flying Finnish and Canadian flags. Confused about a ship so far away from the sea? Well, we were too. But it turns out the ship was built there for good reason by a Finn named Tom Sukanen during the Great Depression. His plan was to use the vessel to sail back to his homeland of Finland.

Tom’s story is the stuff that several Finnish and Canadian documentaries and plays are made of. Born in 1878 in the Finnish archipelago, he learned to sail and navigate with a compass and sextant, and also became proficient in steel working and shipbuilding – the only trades available on the coast where he grew up. At the age of 20, he sailed to America and ended up in Minnesota, like many other Norwegians, Finns and Swedes. He married a young Finnish girl and managed to make a small living on the farm his father-in-law had left them, raising a family of three daughters and a son. It wasn’t the life he had dreamed of when he left Finland, so 1911, out of desperation, he abandoned his family and went across the Canadian border in search of his brother. He completed the 600-mile journey on foot, finally reuniting with his brother in the Macrorie-Birsay area in Saskatchewan.

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Vegan Black Metal Chef Cooks Healthy Dishes with Hellfire and the Power of Rock

32-year-old Brian Manowitz, better known as the Vegan Black Metal Chef, has one of the most unusual cooking shows on the internet. Dressed in his vinyl Armor of Death and boasting a KISS-inspired face paint mask, he cooks all kinds of delicious vegan meals to the sound of black metal.

Manowitz, a freelance sound engineer from Orlando, has been a vegan for the last 13 years. He’s also a big fan of black metal music, so he decided to combine both of his passions into a unique and entertaining project known as Vegan Black Metal Chef. He set up a site where he posts recipes and photos of his delicious cooking, but it was his YouTube channel that brought him worldwide fame a couple of years ago. Brian’s videos always open to the sound thunderous drums and distorted guitar riffs, and show him in his dark dungeon-like kitchen decorated with leather-bound cabinets, medieval chopping tools and spooky candles, as he explains how to prepare vegan dishes with a crackly voice. All vegetables are “butchered” with his collection of awesome knives, or smashed with a mace, and cooked on a pentagram stove altar. ”You can’t summon the essence of Satan into your food without the pentagrams,” Manowitz says.

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Svetlana Kolosova’s Fairy Tale Palm Paintings Bring Back Warm Memories

Inspired by the immortal fairy tales of famous writers like Hans Christian Andersen and Antoine de Saint Exupery, Russian artist Svetlana Kolosova paints heart-warming ephemeral works of art on the palms of her hands.

Svetlana Kolosova has always had a thing for the arts, but taking care of her four children and focusing on household chores left her little time to focus on her passion. She lacked the time and concentration to work on complex oil paintings, so at one point she decided to combine her work around the house with her love for art. She replaced oil paints with watercolors and inspired by the wonderful stories she read to her children when they were little, she started painting fairy tale-inspired artworks on the most convenient canvas she could think of – her left palm. A tribute to the stories that fascinated so many young minds throughout the ages, Svetlana Kolosova’s magical palm painting series may be ephemeral in nature, but they manage to bring back such wonderful memories…

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Chinese Gaming Addict Has Spent the Last 6 Years in an Internet Cafe

China’s growing problem with internet and video game addiction is probably best described by the case of Li Meng, a young man who has virtually been living in an Internet cafe for the last six years, leaving only to buy food and take the occasional shower.

According to Chinese media, Li Meng graduated from university six years ago, but unlike most of his peers, who went on to look for jobs, make a name for themselves and start a family, he opted for a life in the fantasy world of online gaming. Ever since he finished school, Li has spent most of his time in one of the many internet cafes in China’s Northeast city of Changchun. The owner of the place says he’s been there for such a long time that he’s basically part of the furniture, and doesn’t even notice his presence anymore. He spends every day and night tucked away in a corner, with an open bag of food by his side, staring at the monitor and mashing the keyboard and mouse buttons, leaving for brief periods of time to catch a bite to eat and take a bath. Reporters who visited the young Chinese gamer at his “workplace” described him as a pale “bespectacled youth that clearly hadn’t been to a hairdresser for a long time”.

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Indian City Introduces Cardboard Traffic Policemen

They work seven days a week regardless of weather condition, never go on breaks, don’t take bribes and best of all, they require no pay. They are – wait for it – Bangalore’s new lifelike cardboard traffic policemen, and they’re watching you!

India’s tech-city of Bangalore has been facing serious difficulties dealing with traffic violations. Despite low car ownership, the rate of row fatalities has risen sharply in this city of 8.5 million people to at least two road-related deaths per day, in 2012. Some sources say Bangalore needs at least 6,000 traffic policemen to keep things under control, but it currently has a personnel of 3,000. Instead of supplementing their ranks, local authorities have come up with an ingenious idea to make drivers behave at the wheel that doesn’t require significant expenditures - life-size cardboard cutouts of traffic policemen strategically placed on the city’s busiest roads. Only three of them have been deployed so far, but results have been so encouraging that 10 more khaki-wearing fake cops will soon be rolled out to improve Bangalore’s chaotic traffic.

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Needle-Poked Canvas Holes Reveal Beautiful Portraits

Tel-Aviv-based artist Michal Taharlev creates stunningly-beautiful artworks inspired by old family photos without using brushes or writing tools. Armed only with a sharp needle and mountains of patience, she pokes the canvas thousands of times to reveal heart-warming images.

Inspired by pointilism, the painting technique that uses dots to trick the eye into making up a detailed image, Israeli artist Michal Taharlev used an 0.5mm needle and methodically poked holes in canvases to create her “Holes in Memory” series. Focusing on the details of old family photographs, she managed to recreate the original images in a gradient-like fashion. “The use of a needle on a photo and the violent act of damaging and obsessing over memories, yet in a very strict manner, gives a new meaning to the innocence and the unknown future the photos hold,” the artist says. I can only imagine the patience and concentration required to complete just one of these incredible works of art, as just a few miscalculated holes can ruin days-worth of painstaking work.

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