This Is How They Harden Kindergarten Children in Siberia

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The kids at the No. 317 kindergarten in Krasnoyarsk, Siberia are making themselves immune to flu viruses and winter colds by walking outside naked at temperatures as low as -15 degrees Celsius and pouring buckets of freezing cold water over their bodies.

Ever since photos and videos of the extreme hardening process were exposed in the media, the Siberian kindergarten has come under fire from parents worried about the children’s well-being. But caretakers like Margarita Filimonova insist the practice is totally safe, as the children are only allowed to go outside in the freezing weather after three years of slow training and medical testing. It might seem extreme, but the staff insist the practice makes the children fitter and improves their health significantly. Kindergarten No. 317 has been hardening its children for the last 13 years, and some of the kids who went here went on to become Olympic champions in various sports. It’s the only institution of its kind in the region which uses this kind of extreme exercises.

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Japanese Company Offers Valentine’s Day Insurance for the Lonely

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Valentine’s Day, the most romantic celebration of the year, is fast approaching, and while some people can’t wait to declare their love and shower their partners with gifts, flowers and chocolate, for others it’s just a day of painful loneliness. However, Japanese bachelors no longer have to worry about being the only ones at the office who never gets anything on Valentine’s, thanks to a new service called Valentine’s Day Insurance.

So how does this service work, you ask? Well, it’s pretty simple, actually. All a person has to do is visit the Valentine’s Day Insurance website, purchase the ¥500 ($5.50) policy and provide an address where their Valentine’s gift should be delivered. Once they’ve done this, they’re guaranteed to receive a package on February 14, containing chocolates and a personal message from a self-professed beautiful woman called Rieko. I know what you’re thinking, having to buy your own Valentine’s Day present is pretty lame, but for some Japanese men it’s a lot better than having to cope with the uneasiness of being the only ones who didn’t get anything. Well, them and every woman in the Land of the Rising Sun, because here only men receive presents from women, usually in the form of chocolate. In fact, so much chocolate is purchased for the occasion that some Japanese chocolate companies record half of their annual sales in the few weeks before Valentine’s Day.

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Chinese Boy Has Been Living and Sleeping with a Python for 13 Years

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A family from Dongguan, China, has recently made headlines after it became known that their 13-year-old son’s best friend is a 15-foot Burmese python. The predator even looks after the boy when his parents are away.

Most grownups would turn away and run for their lives at the sight of a 220lb python, but 13-year-old Azhe Liu can’t get enough of his slithering friend. Ever since he was just a few months old, the two have been sharing the same bed, and today they are simply inseparable. Six years before Azhe was born, his father, Chen Liu, found a snake egg, brought it home and hatched it out. When the boy came, the python already weighed 20 kilograms, but having a snake around the house didn’t seem to bother the family. ”I’d always thought them the most beautiful creatures and I was interested to see what would happen when my son came along,” Chen says. ”After a while we were certain the snake wouldn’t hurt him and we began to leave them together alone. They really are inseparable.” Azhe and his Burmese python started sharing the same bed, and when he was just 9 months old, he was left alone with it, as the parents left to work. They would play and cuddle all day long, and during the hot summer months, the snake’s cold body acted as a natural air-conditioner.

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Grown Men Have Been Playing a Game of Tag for 23 Years

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23 years ago, nine boys were playing a fun game of tag around the campus of Gonzaga Preparatory School in Spokane, Washington. Fast forward to present day, they’re sill playing the very same game, but with a few exciting twists.

Playing tag is fun when you’re a child, but men in their 40s can’t really chase each other on the playground, screaming “you’re it!” So Bill Akers, Patrick Schultheis, Sean Raftis, Mike Konesky and their other five childhood friends devised a plan to keep playing their game without making people around them nervous. The last time they played the tag in their home town was on the last day of high-school. Joe Tombari remembers that day in 1982 when he plotted to tag a friend that had left school early. Little did he know that his buddy had been tipped off and was waiting for him in his parents’ car with the doors locked. There was no time to tag someone else, so Joe was “it” for life. ”The whole thing was quite devastating,” Tombari told the Wall Street Journal. But that wasn’t going to be the last tag session of their lives, not by a long shot…

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Kids Toughen Up at Brutal South Korean Winter Boot Camp

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When the South Korean Army announces its biannual boot camp for civilians above the age of 13, there are lots of people who are more than happy to attend. Held at the command base in western Seoul, the 4 to 14 day camp offers basic military training to anyone able to pay the entry fee of 40,000 won (that’s about $36). Teenage boys and young women are seen attending the camp, sometimes along with their families. This doesn’t exactly come as a surprise, given that military culture is quite deeply ingrained in South Korea, a country ruled by army-backed regimes till the mid 1980s.

Apart from the ones run by the army, there are privately-run boot camps as well, which have become quite popular in recent times. People from various walks of life, ranging from school kids to nostalgic war veterans, company employees to families on vacation attend this kind of events. The army says the boot camp is an opportunity to test your limits, enhance your physical ability and learn to adopt the strong spirit of ‘making the impossible, possible.’ Major Lee Joo-Ho, a boot camp spokesperson says: “Boys obviously make up the biggest part because they have the mandatory service coming up.” What he’s referring to is the two years of mandatory conscription that all able-bodied South Korean men have to attend, in order to  train themselves in case of an attack from North Korea. “But more young women are showing an interest, since they were allowed to join a college-based officer commissioning program last year.”

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Artist Hides $12,600 Check in Art Gallery to Raise Public Interest

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Tomas Georgeson, an artist from Buckinghamshire, England, has come up with an ingenious way of getting people to visit the local Milton Keynes Gallery – he placed an advert in the local paper informing town folk that he has hidden a blank check for £8,000 ($12,600) somewhere in the gallery and that they are invited to claim it by March 1.

There are a number of ways to get people interested in art galleries. Some people bury themselves in a tiny hole for a whole week, others give birth in front of a live audience, but probably the most effective way is to actually offer visitors financial incentives. That’s what English artist Tomas Georgeson decided to do, in a desperate attempt to raise local interest in Milton Keynes’ gallery. He has apparently hidden a blank check for £8,000 somewhere inside the small venue, which visitors are invited to look for and claim as their own. Although the bold artist says it’s pretty much all the money he has, treasure hunters can be sure it won’t bounce. He describes his unusual gesture as a statement of support for the galley, and a way to”get people through the door and change the mood of the place.”

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A Gap in Style – Front Teeth Removal Is Trendy among South African Youth

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It’s rare for fashion trends to last as long as 60 years. But this one tradition has never gone out of style among generations of youth in Cape Town and other regions of South Africa – dental modification. It sounds odd, but the South African youngsters actually like to sport toothless smiles, after getting their front teeth removed. Dressed mostly in baggy sweaters and caps drawn low over shiny sunglasses, the gummy smile is unique to these young South Africans who like to strike gangster poses. According to 21-year-old Yazeed Adams, “It is fashion, everyone has it.” The trend is often referred to as the ‘Cape Flats Smile’. The name comes from a populous neighborhood where this bizarre body modification is done by a large number of teens. But Jacqui Friedling of the University of Cape Town’s human biology department, who studied the phenomenon in 2003, says that she found fashion and peer pressure to be the main reasons for removing teeth, followed closely by medical reasons and gangsterisms. “It is the ‘in’ thing to do,” she says. “It went through a wave, it was fashionable in my parents’ time.” True enough, the practice has been around for at least 60 years now. Traditionally, dental modification such as filling of teeth and ornamentation was found only in tribal people. In modern Cape Town, it is seen as a rite of passage for teenagers, most often from the poorer families. Some stories say that the tradition started from the fisherman, who couldn’t communicate with each other on boats. So they created the ‘gap whistle’ as an effective means of communication. The men today feel their ‘gaps’ attract women, and vice versa.

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Meet Jon Gnarr, By Far the Coolest Mayor in the World

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The coolest mayor in the world never went to university, is an ex-taxi driver and used to be in a local punk rock band called ‘Runny Nose’ before he became a comedian and actor. That’s just the tip of the iceberg as far as Jon Gnarr is concerned, a man whose achievements in life are so bizarre that it is truly a wonder how he became the mayor of Reykjavik, Iceland’s capital city and home to over half of the nation’s population.

You’d think that a goofy guy has the chance to be President for the day only in the movies, but it seems in Reykjavik anything’s possible. Jon Gnarr, who was diagnosed with severe mental retardation and ADHD as a child, started his own political party in 2010 after refusing to join up with any of the existing parties. Funny enough, he named his party ‘The Best Party’. Simple, yet brilliant, isn’t it? It had to be, because he won his very first election to the office of mayor with 34.7% of the popular vote. According to what Gnarr told the media, his first real challenge as a politician was deciding between the names ‘The Best Party’ and ‘The Cool Party’. He ultimately settled for the first because it sounds dorkier, which was the vibe he was looking for. Called ‘Besti Flokkurin’ in the local language, the party is a motley group of artists, comedians and punk rockers, none of whom have had any prior experience in city-planning or politics. The only thing they did do well before the elections was record an Icelandic take on the Tina Turner song ‘Simply the Best’ and use it as their official campaign song. With lines like “We want a city that’s cuddly and clean and cool,” and “Tell the squatters in-charge that it’s time to leave,” the song was both silly and attention-grabbing at the same time. If the goofy mayor is to be believed, the city was being run by ‘blathering loons’ and it’s no surprise at all that the Best Party won.

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Homemade Dialysis Machine Keeps Man Alive for 13 Years

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A man from Nanjing, China, has recently made headlines after it was discovered he built his own dialysis machine, and managed to keep himself alive for 13 years, after he couldn’t afford to receive proper hospital care.

A research fro 2008, shows only one in ten Chinese people can afford regular dialysis treatment, but one man refused to give in to his illness simply because he couldn’t pay the high hospital costs. Hu Songwen was studying to become a meteorologist when he was diagnosed with renal failure, in 1993. From that point on, he was forced to visit the hospital every six days to have his blood cleaned through dialysis, a treatment that cost him around $80 per visit. He hand his family managed to support the costs for six years, until all their savings were exhausted. That’s when he decided to build his own dialysis machine, using only a textbook, kitchen equipment and medical supplies. ”When I told the doctors what I was doing, they said I was crazy,” he said, but his homemade contraption has kept him alive for the last 13 years, at a fraction of the hospital costs. He spent an initial $800 on a pump, after failed attempts to make his own, and now each dialysis session costs him around $10 in filters and chemicals. ”The most important part of the machine is the filter, and I can use each one eight times. A new filter costs $16, while a proper medical machine can run into hundreds of thousands of pounds” Hu said.

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Education Anywhere – Underprivileged Indian Children Attend Outdoor School under a Bridge

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40-year-old Rajesh Kumar Sharma, from New Delhi, started a makeshift school under a metro bridge, where he teaches children from the city’s slums too poor to attend regular schools. He believes education is the most important weapon for India’s youth, and if they don’t have it, they are doomed for life.

Mr. Sharma is not a real teacher. He runs a general store in the city, but for two hours a day he leaves his brother in charge of the business and rushes to his improvised outdoor school, under one of Delhi’s metro bridges. If it wasn’t for Rajesh and the dozens of children who go here daily, you would never guess this is a place for education. There are no walls or desks, just the bridge acting as a protecting roof in case of rain, and three squares painted black and used as blackboards. The teacher doesn’t only provide his knowledge for free, but also all the reading and writing materials, and the rugs his students sit on during classes. The kids, aged 4 to 12, learn math and basic reading and writing, in preparation for future admission into Government schools. In fact, out of the 140 children he started the school with a little over a year ago, 70 are already attending public schools. ”They still come here everyday. I manage to keep them ahead of the school curriculum,” Sharma told India Express.

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Sound of Silence CD Sold by Church Proves Big Hit

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St Peter’s Church, in East Sussex, England, has found a novel way to found its repairs – selling CDs with the sound of silence recorded inside the 800-year-old house of worship.

Believe it or not, the 30-minute recording featuring only dull sounds like squeaking pews, soft footsteps and the hum of distant traffic proved a hit not only with local parishioners eager to contribute to the repair fund, but also peace and quiet lovers from countries like Germany, Austria and even Ghana. It seems that in this day and age, chill-out music like Buddha Bar just doesn’t cut it anymore. People have such busy and noisy lives they often feel the need for simple silence.  ”There are a few noises here and there – if it was total silence people might get bored,” said one East Sussex churchgoer. “Those who have bought it have enjoyed it.”

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French Haunted House Auctioned Off on eBay for Just 1 Euro

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A listing on the French version of eBay recently went viral after being picked up by major news outlets. Apparently, someone is selling a haunted house in Arbresle, Rhône-Alpes region, for just 1 euro.

It’s true that the place doesn’t look like much, if the photos are anything to go by, but still 1 euro for a 110 square meter home and a 350 square meter piece of land is really cheap. Maud69620, the person who listed the house does have her reasons for basically giving away the house for free. According to the description on eBay, a horrible murder took place there sometime during the 1950s, and now it’s haunted by troubled spirits. Paranormal phenomena observed inside the house include knocks on windows, strange voices and murmurs, weird noises and moving objects. All that’s missing from a complete haunted house package is a ghost. But Maud is not in the mood for jokes. In fact she specifically asks those who think her listing is a fake not to contact her, as the ad is only addressed to those who believe in the spirit world.

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Downsize Fitness – The Gym That Only Accepts People Who Are At Least 50 Pounds Overweight

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Have you been wanting to join a gym, but hesitated because it feels weird to work out among all those super-fit people? Well, what you need is a place exactly like Downsize Fitness, the gym chain that only accepts clients who are at least 50lbs overweight. With branches in Chicago, Las Vegas and Dallas, the gym chain was inspired by the hit TV show The Biggest Loser, and aims to reduce the insecurities that larger people go through at regular gyms. So the only skinny people allowed at Downsize Fitness are the trainers.

And it doesn’t stop just there. The gym has gone a great length to ensure that its clients do not feel bad about themselves and stay motivated to come back every day. The facility has no mirrors lining the walls, and the windows are frosted so that passers-by cannot look inside. The machines are also specifically designed to suit those who are chronically overweight and obese. 39-year-old Francis Wisniewski, the owner of Downsize Fitness, was once overweight himself, so he knows exactly what it feels like to enter a gym filled with trip and super-fit people. When he finally shed his extra pounds, he identified the gap in the market. He is now the perfect ambassador to promote the business, having lost 60 lbs in the past year with the help of his team at Downsize Fitness. “Large clubs make you feel on display,” he said in an interview. “I’ve been big my whole life, and small incidents probably make it seem worse than it really is. But at the gym, it’s all out there for everyone to see. I was embarrassed to go the gym myself, it’s intimidating to go in when you can’t do all the exercises, when you feel like people are going to be staring at you and people are going to be judging you. And I know if I’m feeling it, overweight women feel worse. ”

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Family Is Literally Living under a Rock in the Mexican Desert

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For the last three decades, Benito Hernandez and his wife have been living under a huge rock, in Mexico’s Coahuila Desert, 80 kilometers from the US border.

Benito Hernandez started visiting the 40 meter diameter rock that now serves as a roof for his sun-dried brick home when he was just eight years old. He liked it so much that he decided to one day make it his home. Many 8-year-olds have crazy dreams, but Benito’s followed him into adulthood. 55 years ago, when he and his family first discovered the remote rock formation, a man could claim a piece of land by settling on it for long periods of time, so during the many years they spent working in the area harvesting the Candelilla plant, he beat off other who would claim the rock for themselves and 20 years later he finally became its legal owner. He could finally build his dream house under the boulder that fascinated him all this time.

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French Company Offers Thrill-Seekers the Chance to Be Kidnapped

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A basic abduction package in France will cost you about $1,300. No, not the ransom, but actually getting yourself kidnapped.

If you’re looking for an experience straight out of a Hollywood movie, Eastern France is the place you need to be, where a small company called Ultime Realite provides the unique service. The basic package consists of being seized by strangers, bound, gagged and bundled into a car, and kept in a dark cellar for four hours. Advanced packages include tailor-made services such as boat chases, helicopter escapes, and being kept for longer periods of time.

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