Size Does Matter at Controversial Pigs of God Festival

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Pigs of God is a controversial Taiwanese festival and contest where pigs that have been force-fed for years are publicly slaughtered, then put on floats and paraded through the city streets.

The origins of this gruesome event aren’t very clear, but while some say it’s part of the religious beliefs of the Hakkas, an ethnic group with a population of over four million in Taiwan, animal rights activists claim that in the last few decades it has become a simple meaningless contest used by families to show off their wealth and power. They are currently fighting for the banning of a clear form of animal cruelty, and the substitution of real pigs with ones made of dough, rice or flowers.

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Shopping Mall Creates Perfect Place for a Romantic Dinner – A Room Made of Chocolate

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A shopping mall in Vilnius, Lithuania, decided to surprise its shoppers on Valentine’s Day by offering them a unique visual treat – a room made entirely of dark and white chocolate.

“We wanted to create something special for Valentine’s Day. The chocolate room looks just like a traditional Lithuanian sitting-room,” Frederikas Jansonas, spokesman for the Akropolis shopping mall, said about the 17-square-meter space from floor to ceiling, and adorned with chocolate furniture and interior decorations, such as edible candlesticks, books, flowers and paintings.

A team of seven Lithuanian food artists used 300 kilograms (661 pounds) of chocolate to create this one-of-akind chocolate room, which sculptor Mindaugas Tendziagolskis says is “the best place for a romantic Valentine’s Day dinner”. What’s for dinner, you ask? Well, just look around and I’m sure the answer will come to you naturally.

But visitors will have to wait a little longer to have a taste of the chocolate room, as it will remain on display through March 8th – International Women’s Day – when it will be broken into pieces and distributed to visitors.

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World Guy Rolls Giant Globe across America to Raise Awareness about Diabetes

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“People don’t ask me if I’m crazy – they tell me I’m crazy” says Erik Bendl, also known as “World Guy“, a man who has spent most of the last few years trekking across the US rolling a giant globe.

Walking around 2,200 miles across 23 states is quite a challenge for any 48-year-old, but Mr Bendl decided to make it even tougher by rolling a 36-kg-heavy inflatable globe, everywhere he goes. It may sound useless and stupid, but it’s actually for a good cause – raising awareness about diabetes and the complications it causes.

World Guy lost his 54-year-old mother to diabetes, in 1987,and always wanted to do something memorable in her honor. In the late 1990s, he took the giant canvas globe he and his son used to play with and embarked on a 160-miles-long journey across Kentucky, for the American Diabetes Association, and also began walking in parades around the state. In 2007, after he and his wife got divorced, Erik Bendl set out on his first major trek across America, a 430-mile walk from Louisville to Pittsburgh.

Now, he’s halfway through his fifth long walk, talking to people he encounters and posting their stories on his blog, via the Blackberry smartphone hanging around his neck. He is accompanied by his dog, Nice, who loyally follows him on his daily 10-mile walks. When he completes his daily trek, he returns to his van, drives it to the spot he ended his walk, sleeps and does it all again the next day.

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Giant Porcelain Rabbit Is Made from 30,000 Plates

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The people of Jingdezhen City, China have found an original way to celebrate the Chinese Year of the Rabbit – they’ve built a giant statue of a rabbit from 30,000 porcelain plates.

Ever since the Song dynasty, 1,700 years ago, Jingdezhen has been known as the “porcelain city” because of its porcelain-making history, so it made perfect sense the locals used centuries-old skills for the celebration. Just like that porcelain dragon from Yangzhou that I posted about last week, this giant rabbit sculpture features a metal frame covered with thousands of porcelain plates.

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Seattle Artist Creates 7-Foot-Long Pen

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Jim Woodring, creator of a series of popular comic books, has unveiled a seven-foot-long pen that actually works.

The recently finished writing tool, dubbed “Nibbus Maximus” was recently showcased at the Gage Academy of Art, in Seattle, in front of over one hundred people. Considering this was practically the first time he used the Nibbus Maximus, apart from a few tests he did with the nib, he handled it pretty well and managed to both write and draw with it.

While attaching a 1 1/2 foot-long nib to a 5 1/2 foot-long wooden handle may not seem very difficult to do, there’s a reason most people thought it couldn’t be done. Jim put a lot of effort into making the tip of his giant pen, especially getting the surface tension just right, so it holds the ink and releases it on paper, properly. Eventually, his beautiful hand-engraved, brass-plated steel nib did just what it was designed to do.

But why go through the trouble of making a giant tool, like the Nibbus Maximus, right? Well, because people said it couldn’t be done and Jim Woodring knew that it could, so he just had to prove it to everybody.

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Greenpeace Turns Chopsticks Back into Trees

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Can you bring dead wood back to life? No, but you can turn them into trees again! This was the slogan that fueled Greenpeace and Ogvily’s campaign to help people realize the dangers of cutting down millions of trees to create disposable chopsticks.

Two hundred volunteers from various Beijing universities answered Greenpeace’s call and set out to gather 80,000 used wooden chopsticks, from restaurants around the Chinese capital. They cleaned them all up and then assisted artist Xu Yinhai in assembling them into four life-like trees. It was no easy task, but Green peace hopes this effort will inspire Chinese people to be more conscientious about their use of resources.

According to statistics from China’s Forest Ministry, the country produces 57 billion pairs of disposable chopsticks, which require over 1.18 million square meters of forests. Since China’s wood resources are very limited (ranking 139th in the world) its people have to ask themselves if it’s worth sacrificing 3.8 million trees a year, for something they just throw away after a meal.

The chopstick trees were planted on December 20, 2010, in one of the most popular malls in Beijing, The Place, in the Chaoyang district, and are planned to be displayed at universities and art venues around the city.

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Canada’s Goldstream River Turns Green for the Holidays

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The winter holidays are now behind us, but it seems I missed one of the biggest pranks of 2010 – the green river of Goldstream Park.

It happened on December 29, 2010, in Victoria’s peaceful Goldstream Park. The waters of the river suddenly became neon green, and everyone passing by it rubbed their eyes to make sure what they were seeing wasn’t just an illusion. It was very real, but was it that made Goldstream River look so alien-like? After an hour or so, the fluorescent coloring vanished, but the questions about the bizarre phenomenon remained unanswered.

After analyzing the neon-green water, the local Environment Ministry said it was the result of a chemical called “fluorescein”. Neither the substance itself nor its products of degradation are toxic, and experts believe that fish and their habitat were not affected, judging by the concentration and flow rate of the river.

Authorities haven’t yet identified the culprits, but believed the dumping of fluorescein in the Goldstream River was just a holiday season prank.

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Super Grandmother and Super Grandfather Contest Held in Georgia

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A a charity house in Tbilisi, Georgia organizes an annual “Super Grandmother and Super Grandfather” contest, to allow the elderly to fulfill their childhood dreams.

Every year, people aged over 70, from all over Georgia, come to Tbilisi to compete in the Super Grandmother and Super Grandfather contest, an event that allows them to display their artistic talents. Some play the piano, others dance, sing,and perform plays, but whether they win the coveted title of Super Grandmother and Super Grandfather or not, all contestants leave happy they were able to fulfill their dream of performing on stage.

Local and national television crews and reporters often attend the contest organized by the Ktharisis charity house, as some of the elderly contestants really are talented, and they want to speak to them, or write stories about them. Some contestants even make appearances on TV shows where they perform along established Georgian artists.

The 2011 edition of the super grandparents contest took place on January 5th.

I think there should be a “Super Grandmother and Super Grandfather” contest held in every contest around the world, to make the elderly feel like they have something nice to look forward to, every year. Well done, Georgia!

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Store Tells Its Clients “Come in Underwear, Leave Dressed”

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Spanish clothing brand Desigual kicked off its sales season in a truly original way  that made people show up at its store in nothing but their underwear.

Would you brave the cold weather for the chance to pick out top and lower garments, free of charge? Well, thousands of people around the world did just that – they spent hours outside Desigual stores, hoping to be among he 100 lucky ones that would enjoy the brand’s offer. Featuring the slogan “Come in underwear, leave dressed”, Desigual challenged its customers to show up outside its branch stores, and leave with whatever items they wanted, for free. Unfortunately, only the first 100 people got to enjoy this ridiculous sale…

Some people actually showed up outside the stores at 3 pm the previous day, to make sure they are among the chosen few, but those that didn’t make the cut also had something to be cheerful about. Desigual decided to give them half-price discounts on all the items in the shop.

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New Yorkers Celebrate “Good Riddance Day”

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A giant paper shredder set up in Time Square was responsible with getting rid of all the bad bits of 2010.

This Tuesday, on the fourth annual “Good Riddance Day” held by the Times Square Alliance, people had the chance to free themselves from all the unpleasant memories of 2010, by writing them down and “feeding” them to the paper shredder. There to help were also a sledgehammer and a dumpster. Everything from ex-es, bills, eviction notices to political statements will be destroyed and recycled into toilet paper. And, even though weather conditions weren’t exactly ideal, there were plenty of participants and more are to be expected until Friday night. People who want to shred their bad memories of 2010, but cant make it to Time Square, can just send an online message and the staff will dump it into the shredder, for them.

Organizer Lori Raimondo says: “You can trust me: none of these memories will ever be seen again once they enter this truck.” Although their reasons to be there differs, one thing is certain – every one of the participants had something to get rid of before new year’s eve:

“I’m getting rid of my new job. I got rid of it in February, but I got a new one last month, so I can finally say ‘good riddance’ to it.”

“I said ‘good riddance’ to all negative energies in my life. All negative friends, all negative exes, all vices, anything that was negative in 2010. Out with that, in with the new.”

“It’s about turning your back on those bad things that you want to get rid of from the last year, either personally or in terms of the world, because the world is always a little bit crazy. Life is always a little bit crazy.”

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Italian City Drives Its Tourists Up the Wall

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Climbing buildings has become a tradition for the Italian city of Sondrio. For several years now, passionate climbers have been gathering here to take part in the now famous  Sondrio Street Climbing festival.

This year, the event has managed to bring together around 200 professional climbers from all over the world, all eager to start climbing some of the oldest, most important buildings in the city. “It is the new sport of the future and we are pioneering it – street bouldering. And with the Sondrio Street Festival we have established ourselves as the world center for street bouldering,” a spokesman of the council explained.

Last year, 75 climbers showed up for this offbeat event, but the numbers of people interested in street bouldering is definitely on the rise. On December 18, over 200 climbers took part in the various events that included scaling granite columns, stone walls and even a 40 meter tall bell tower. Just like last year, winners were rewarded with a delicious pizza and pints of beer.

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Dolls Compete in Miss Barbie Beauty Pageant

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Do you remember how much you loved giving your dolls make-overs, when you were a little girl? Well, that wasn’t as childish an activity as you might have  thought – doll-obsessed grown-ups compete during Miss Barbie beauty pageants, every year.

This one’s no joke, folks, people actually go out of their way to come up with trendy outfits and makeup for their dolls, in the hope of winning a doll beauty pageant. And in order to qualify for the global contest – Miss Barbie Universe – first they have to win national events, like the one recently hosted in Venezuela. Before entering the stage and facing the judges, dolls go through the same preparations as real models: they have their hair brushed, get original hair-dos, try out their dresses and go through make-up sessions.

Contestants in the Miss Barbie beauty pageants have their own names, body measurements and even made-up professions that help impress the judges. I’m not sure what the actual prize is for winning this offbeat beauty contest, but I’m sure it doesn’t even begin to compare to the pride of the doll’s owner.

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Great Walker Completes Journey Across the Great Wall

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Robert Loken, a 42-year-old Norwegian engaged in the journey of a life time, following his 21-year-old dream of walking across China’s Great Wall, has finally achieved his goal.

Robert Loken sold his house, quit his job and embarked on his trip with nothing else but the courage and ambition of conquering the Great Wall. It did not matter whether he would be the first to do it or the fastest, so he took his time and just started walking. His incredible journey began last April from Gansu province’s Jiayuguan, the Wall’s western most point, and ended 601 days and 6,000 km later, on Dec. 2nd, in the eastern most point, in Liaoning province’s Dandong.

All this time he had to face temperatures raging from -22C to 40C, scorpions or snakes, but as Robert himself admits, it was all as he imagined it would be. There were definitely some difficult moments, to say the least, one of them being when Robert blacked out for two hours due to high fever, while crossing the snowdrifts in rural Shanxi province. Luckily he had managed to put up his tent beforehand. “If I had lost consciousness, I would have frozen to death in the snow.” He also had to cope with dehydration, scorpions under his tent, snakes, wild dogs chasing him, but he never once thought about giving up. You would think isolation was a big issue as well, but Robert says that although he was physically alone, he always considered the Wall as being his companion “When I went in a town to stock up on food or relax, I would always greet the Great Wall as a friend when I come back.” Keeping a blog was also very helpful and “inspirational”.

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Kobe Luminarie – Japan’s Festival of Light

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Kobe Luminarie is an extraordinary light festival that takes place every December, in commemoration of the Great Hanshin Earthquake of 1995.

The first edition Kobe Luminarie took place in December of 1995, as a memorial to the lives lost in the terrible earthquake of January 17. It was entitled “Dreams and Light” and was a message of hope that two and a half million people came to see, on the first day. Following the success of the first festival, Kobe Luminarie became a yearly event that celebrates Kobe’s remarkable recovery from disaster.

Various light decorations are created from millions of small light bulbs and LEDs, from bright arches to citadels and whatever else Italian designer Valerio Festi and his team decide on. Since the name of the festival comes from the plural of the Italian “luminaria” -which means light decoration – the decision of employing an Italian team must not have been incidental. Every year, the theme of Kobe Luminarie changes, and that has people from all over the world coming back year after year, to see the new light structures. Approximately five million people attend the Kobe Luminarie every year.

Apart from the beautiful light structures, another impressive aspect of Kobe Luminarie is that it relies on its audience to keep going. Visitors support the event by putting coins in the donation boxes set up around the brightly lit structures, and this assures the funding for next year’s festival. A great way to show appreciation, considering the entrance if free of charge…

Just to be clear, Kobe Luminarie has nothing to do with Christmas, despite the common colorful-lights theme. This year, the festival of light took place between December 2-13, and was named “Il cuore nella luce” (The heart in the light).

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Peruvian Inventor Paints Mountain White to Restore Glacier

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Eduardo Gold, a Peruvian inventor, came up with the ingenious idea of painting the mountain peeks in white to restore the glacier on Andes mountains.

It seems that this phenomenon is due to global warming and Eduardo Gold’s idea is based on a very basic principle stating that if  solar light is reflected onto a white or light colored surface it goes back into the atmosphere,thus preventing the excessive heating of the ground. In the last years alone, Chalon Sombrero peak has lost almost 30% of its glacier.

Gold is not only willing to solve this problem, having painted 2 hectares in 2 weeks, but has also found a way to get financial help. This idea won him the prize in the “100 Ideas to Save the Planet” competition, for which he submitted at the end of 2009. The prize, awarded by the World Bank, is of about $200.000 (£135.000).

There is one more important thing to be mentioned : The paint he uses is a mix of ecological ingredients like industrial egg-white, water and lime.

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