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Seattle Artist Creates 7-Foot-Long Pen

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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Developer Destroys Building Stairway to Evict Top Floor Residents

A Chinese family claims property developers have demolished the staircase in their apartment building to force them to move out.

What do you do when you really need a piece of land, but just can’t talk one last family into giving up their home? That calls for desperate measures, but this developer went a bit too far when it decided to actually destroy an entire staircase, to prevent a family from reaching their home on the top floor.

According to 42-year-old Zhao Yanhong, the Mianyang Yachuan Property Company wants to tear down this apartment building, in order to build a much more profitable factory, and her family is all that stands in their way. Apparently, they hired thugs to “convince” other residents to leave their homes, but there was no forcing out the family on the seventh floor. So, one day, they turned up with machinery that knocked down the entire staircase, all the way to that last apartment.

Now, the remaining residents can only enter and exit their home through ladders and climbing what’s left of the old staircase, which is very dangerous. They’ve already sued the property developer, and judges have ordered that all work be suspended for six months, while they investigate. Also, a new staircase is to be constructed for Yahong’s family.

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Greenpeace Turns Chopsticks Back into Trees

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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Woman Gets Full-Back Twilight Tattoo

Cathy Ward, a 49-year-old die-hard fan of the Twilight franchise,  got a full-back tattoo of the main characters, to show appreciation for helping her lose weight.

That’s right, Twilight actually helped someone lose weight, which is kind of ironic, because watching movies and reading books doesn’t exactly strike me as an active lifestyle. But in Cathy’s case, the interest in the vampire saga kept her away from stuffing her face all the time and helped her shed 14 dress sizes in just six months. All it took was for her to watch the first movie in the series, and she was hooked. She went out and bought all the books and DVDs, and dedicated most of her spare time to Twilight.

After losing the weight, Cathy wanted a permanent reminder that it was all thanks to the Twilight saga, so she got a small tattoo, which eventually turned into a full-back artwork. She spent 22 hours in the tattoo artist’s chair and paid over $3,000 for the custom Twilight work of art. But money was never an issue for Cathy Ward, because, as she sees it, she could have spent her money eating and drinking, instead she chose to do it on something she’s passionate about.

While many people would say she has more than enough ink covering her body, this Twilight fan says she’s not about to stop here. Cathy plans to cover her entire torso and arms with Twilight-inspired tattoos, hopefully before she celebrates her 50th birthday. A big fan of Robert Pattinson, she wants to get a tattoo of his character, Edward Cullen, on her abdomen.

Cathy Ward hopes to, one day, meet the cast of Twilight, so she can show them her impressive body art.

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Ultimate Children’s Playhouse Costs $230,000

Built for the children of a Swiss millionaire, the world’s most expensive playhouse cost $230,000 and took over 2,000 man hours to complete.

The Wendy playhouse was built by a small British firm, in North Lynn, Norfolk, and then transported to Gstaad, Switzerland. It was ordered by an extravagant millionaire who wanted to surprise his children for Christmas, by giving them a miniature replica of the chalet he owns in the foothills of the Alps. But this isn’t your average playhouse; this thing has double glazing, underfloor heating, four rooms, including a large living room with a chimney illuminated by LED lights, fully fitted kitchen, and pretty much anything else you’d expect to find in a high-end home.

Before starting construction, Russell Bowlby, head of the Flights of Fantasy playhouse building firm, went to Switzerland to study the building style, and weather conditions the commissioned playhouse had to withstand. With temperatures under -20 degrees Celsius, during the Winter, it had to be thoroughly insulated and heated, so the kids could play comfortably. A team of ten craftsman spent 2,000 manhours building the world’s most expensive playhouse, and an extra 10 days to fit the interior.

Around $155,000 covered the cost of the materials and construction, while the shipping of the house from Norfolk to Gstaad was another $95,000. Bowlby says “you won’t find anything like this playhouse in the world – its is as expensive as it gets.”

While I’m sure this will make an ideal playground for the millionaire’s children, I can’t help but wonder if he isn’t spoiling them just a bit, with presents like this. After all, he could have bought several normal houses in some parts of the world, for that amount of cash.

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Super Grandmother and Super Grandfather Contest Held in Georgia

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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Africa’s Most Dangerous Animal Is Man’s Best Friend

The hippo is regarded as he most dangerous animal in Africa, but that hasn’t stopped a South African animal lover from making friends with one.

40-year-old Marius Els breeds around 20 different animal species, on his wildlife ranch, near Petrus Steynlakes, South Africa, but he has a real soft spot for Humphrey, a 6-year-old hippo that’s like a son to him. While all of his friends are too scared to go near the animal, and his wife told him not to get too close, Marius climbs on Humhprey’s back  as he swims across a 200-meter-wide lake.

Marius has raised Humphrey since he was just five months old, and over the years, the two have developed a special relationship that people just don’t understand. Most of the world may look upon hippos with fear, but he considers Humphrey to be like a son, although the 1,200 ton creature could chew through him with ease. But, apart from occasionally throwing Marius off his back in the water, Humphrey acts very friendly around his owner, especially after Marius offers him a feats of his favorite treat, apples.

Despite the special friendship with Marius, Humphrey feels very lonely at this point in his life. He had another good friend, a goat, but she got eaten by a jackal, so now he’s all by himself. Marius says he’s been trying to get a tamed female companion for Humphrey, but there’s no such thing in Africa right now, and bringing in a wild one would be too dangerous. If the untamed female isn’t younger than he is, they would just kill each other. On the other hand, he can’t release Humphrey in the wild, because the other male hippos would almost definitely kill him in a fight. At least Humphrey will also have Marius to keep him company

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Young Entrepreneur Makes Shoes from Recycled Billboards

Jimmy Tomczak, a young entrepreneur from Michigan, is taking the footwear world by storm, with his original line of shoes made from recycled billboards, Paper Feet.

Jimmy says he’s an outdoors guy who likes to walk barefoot as much as possible, but he always felt like he needed something to protect his soles from the hot asphalt. So, one day, he decided to create some sort of revolutionary footwear that had to be tear resistant, waterproof and light enough to make people feel like they were actually barefoot.

The first thing he tried was Tyvek, a material mostly used on FedEx envelopes, but even though it was puncture-proof and waterproof, it was way too thin for footwear. But when someone suggested he use an old billboard as tarp for his leaky roof, Mr. Tomczak knew he had found the material he was looking for. Billboards are five times as thick as shower curtains, and just light enough for his revolutionary “foot condoms”

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A Farewell to the Nevada Shoe Tree

One of Nevada’s most popular roadside attractions, the Old Shoe Tree, near Middlegate has been cut down by vandals.

The Old Shoe Tree on highway 50 (known as the loneliest road in America) was one of the quirkiest tourist spots in Nevada, featuring hundreds of old shoes hanging from its branches. Its origins aren’t exactly clear, but locals say people started throwing their shoes in it, in the early 1990s.

According to a local legend, the first people ti throw their shoes in the Nevada Shoe Tree were a couple of newlyweds passing through the desert on their way to California. They began to argue, so the groom pulled over near a big cottontree and left his wife there to cool down, and he went to the Middlegate Station Bar, to get a beer. When he came back, his bride was still in a fighting mood, so he took her shoes and tossed them into the tree, than left t get another beer. This time, when he returned, they were able to patch things up, but the shoes remained stuck in the tree, so they just left them there.  Over time, people who stopped to cool off under the cotton tree saw the shoes and threw their own, thus transforming it into a roadside tourist attraction.

Unfortunately, no one will have the opportunity to throw shoes in the Nevada Shoe Tree, or even take photos of it, as it was cut down by vandals, right on New Year’s Eve 2011. Locals are outraged, since the 70-foot cottonwood wasn’t just a symbol of the area, but a big help for local businesses which relied on the tourists it brought in.

The Churchill County Sheriff’s Department is investigating the matter, but sadly, nothing is going to bring back the Old Shoe Tree of Nevada. Check out the photos below, if you’ve never seen it before.

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Federer and Nadal Face Off on Floating Tennis Court

Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, the two top seated tennis players in the world, kicked off the tournament in Doha with an exhibition match on a floating tennis court. I never thought I’d get the chance to write a post about my favorite athlete of all times, Roger Federer, on a blog about oddities, but I guess you really never can say never.

Usually, there’s nothing a tennis player hates more than a flooded court, but in this case both Nadal and Federer were more than happy to get their feet wet, in order to promote the upcoming ATP Tour. They were brought in by boat, to a tennis court floating in a lagoon, on the coast of Doha, Qatar. The two exchanged a few friendly balls, but avoided sprints, as neither seemed to fancy a bath.

Nadal said: “For the past three years we have done a few different things, and this one was a very nice experience.” and Federer added “”It was good fun. It was so different. You’re always excited and nervous to see how it will turn out. It is always nice promoting an event and an entire tour with Rafa.”

What’s even more impressive is how these two tennis legends leave their rivalry on the court, where it belongs, and works so well on promoting different events, and tennis itself.

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Python Wedding Held in Cambodian Village

Over 1,000 people gathered in the Cambodian village of Sit Bow, to witness the wedding of two pythons, believed to bring prosperity and good fortune to the settlement.

Early 2008, I wrote a post about a Cambodian boy who had an unusually friendly relationship with a full grown python. Villagers believed he was the son of a dragon, and had supernatural powers. Fast forward to present day, Chamerun, the boy’s female pet snake is getting married to male Krong Pich, and the whole village has gathered for the big ceremony.

While most Camodians are Buddhists, they also believe in animism – a belief that spirits inhabit the bodies of animals – so whenever a bizarre animal makes an appearance, there are always speculations about it being housing some important spirit. Fortunetellers told the two snake owner their reptiles were soul mates blessed by the gods, and that they needed to be married and live together, otherwise the village will be struck by bad luck.

The marriage ceremony lasted two hours and was attended by people from all around the village area. Two Buddhist monks  blessed the snake couple, while villagers showered them with flowers and sang traditional wedding music. It must have been pretty creepy, for the pythons, of course.

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Chinese Icemen Take World’s Longest Ice Bath

Jin Songhao and Chen Kecai, two of China’s most seasoned icemen, managed to beat the previous world record for the longest ice bath.

Wim Hof, the Dutch known as “Ice-Man” spent New-Year’s Eve covered with ice cubes, and claimed the title of the longest ice bath, with 115 minutes. But the previous record holder, Chen Kecai, wasn’t about to just sit by and watch his title get snatched right from under him. Together with fellow iceman Jin Songhao, they staged their own cold-enduring event, on January 3rd, in Zhangjiajie, Hunan Province.

The two daredevils immersed themselves in plastic boxes and were covered with ice cubes, up to their necks. Kecai started shivering after “just” 40 minutes, but he insisted the doctors let him see his challenge through to the end. Eventually, he managed to stay in the box for 118 minutes, thus beating his Dutch rival’s record. Unfortunately for him, Jin Songhao lasted 120 minutes and is the new holder of the record for the world’s longest ice bath. Well, at least Chen Kecai can take comfort in the fact that he lost to a fellow Chinaman.

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

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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6-Year-Old Girl Is World’s Youngest Yoga Instructor

Yoga has been around for thousands of years, and the benefits it has for the mind and body are unquestionable, so its ever-growing popularity is not surprising . But what is very surprising is  6-year-old Shruti Pandey, who has been a successful Yoga teacher for two years now.

Interestingly enough, she is not the only “miracle” in her family, as her older brother, Harsh Kumar, mastered all 84 yoga positions by the age of five, making it into the Limca Book of Records and becoming a source of inspiration and motivation for Shruti. But he has never been interested in becoming a teacher.

67 year-old Hari Chetan, Shruti’s instructor, who set up the Swami Brahmachand Saraswati Kaivalya Dham Ashram 35 years ago, is simply amazed not only with her flexibility, which many may find normal for a child this age, but also with her talent and determination. She proved to be e vary quick learner and as she mastered this art for herself, it didn’t come as a surprise when she started teaching others, in classes of around 30 adults that start at 5:30am. Everyone is amazed with her talent and the patience she puts in for everything and every one.

“The best thing about Shruti is she tries to provide an alternative position for the complicated ones that are difficult for an older person like me to do. She’s very patient,” says 90-year-old retired teacher Swami Bhanu.

After only three months of attending Shruti’s classes, 48-year-old businessman Lokendra Pal Singh says: “I have noticed a positive change in my life. I used to be short-tempered, but now I’m able to control my anger to quite an extent and it’s all thanks to a little six-year old.”

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El Chupacabra Found in Kentucky?

It happened in Lebanon Junction, Kentucky, where this strange looking creature appeared in Mark Cothren’s yard and got itself shot Now, all over the internet, people are wondering if this is just an animal suffering from a skin disease or the fabled chupacabra.

The legend of “el chupacabra” (Spanish word for “goat sucker”) began back in the 1990s, when when more and more stories told by people claiming they had seen this creature started circulating in Puerto Rico and rapidly spread throughout the Americas.

“I was like ‘every animal has hair, especially this time of year!’. What puzzled me is how something like that could survive through a winter with no hair. Everybody is getting very curious, you know. The phone is ringing off the hook. It’s kind of a mystery right now,” said Mark Cothren.

Opinions differ from one person to another, as some assume it is a cat, maybe a dog or a raccoon, but if it’s one thing they all agree on, it’s that it’s really strange looking. “It’s hard to tell what an animal is from just a photograph. This is an animal that’s native to our area, most likely that is suffering from some type of disease,” said Sam Clites from the Louisville Zoo.

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