Girl Has Half of Brain Removed, Now Paints Like a Pro

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The human brain is a remarkable thing, and the incredible story of Taisia Sidorova, who gained an amazing artistic talent after having the left side of her brain removed, is proof of that.

Three years ago, 21-year old Taisia Sidorova, from Sankt Petersburg, Russia, suffered a severe car accident that left her with a smashed skull and bone fragments wedged in her brain. Doctors were skeptical about her chances of survival, and was even given the last rites, but even after she had the left hemisphere of her brain removed, she hung in there. The part of her brain responsible for logic and analysis was replaced with a protective metal place, but even though her family was warned that a long, painful recovery period was to follow, and that Taisia may never be the same, they never gave up on her.

Irina Sidorova, the girl’s mother, remembers she was like a vegetable in the beginning, and doctors didn’t believe she would survive. But she stayed by her bedside praying, massaging her limbs and talking to her. The miracle she was waiting for occurred on New Year’s Eve, while she was crying on Taisia’s bedside. The girl moved her arm trying to wipe away her mother’s tears. It was the breakthrough nobody expected anymore, and in two years’ time she regained her strength, started to speak and even learned to hold a pencil and paintbrush.

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Designers Recreate Double Coffee Logo from Coffee

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Latvian coffee shop chain, Double Coffee, celebrated the opening of its second venue in Moscow, Russia, by creating a giant mosaic of its logo, from cups of coffee.

The event took place on June 18, on Old Arbat Street, in Moscow, where a group of designers armed with clipboards started arranging plastic cups of coffee right on the pavement. No one really knew what they planned to do, at first, but as their work started to take shape, everyone recognized the logo of coffee shop chain Double Coffee. To celebrate their second Moscow venue, right on Old Arbat Street, they used 3,300 cups, 220 liters of coffee and 120 liters of milk to recreate the brand logo. To finish the job, the young designers sprinkled ground coffee around the logo to keep the cups together. It’s not clear what happened with all the coffee once the tasty installation was dismantled, but I’m sure the curious crowd that gathered around it was more than happy to help clear the street.

A similar coffee mosaic of the Mona Lisa was created two years ago, in Sydney, Australia, using 3,603 cups of coffee and 564 pints of milk.

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Russian Tuner Covers Audi A5 with 450,000 Swarovski Crystals

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Russian tuner Shampa stole the show at a tuning exhibition in Moscow, when they rolled out a white Audi A5 covered with 450,000 Swarovski crystals.

Now I’ve seen some pimped out rides in my days, including a gold-plated Mercedes, but I have to say Swarovski crystals are the best choice if you want your car to really shine. I was sold when I saw that SL600 covered in 300,000 Swarovski crystals, in Tokyo, and Shampa’s latest creation just made it that much more obvious. Apparently they ordered the crystals directly from Austria, it took 1,440 man hours to cover this baby in bling and cost the Russian tuner 6 million rubles, which is around $215,000. It’s the only one of its kind.

So what do you think, exceptional tuning or tasteless exhibitionism?

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Russian Band Plays Live Gigs Using iPhones and iPads as Instruments

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Cooperative Style, a teenage rock band from Kazan, Russia, is the world’s first group to play a series of live concerts using only Apple iPads and iPhones as musical instruments.

Instead of using traditional instruments, the teenagers download apps for drums, keyboards and guitars and play their Apple gadgets on stage, through a downloaded mixing desk. They play covers and hits by rock legends like Nirvana, and say their audiences really like their original performances. Ruslan Halikov, the iPhone guitarist of Cooperative Style says it’s a lot harder to play a virtual guitar that it is a real one, not to mention rock and roll poses don’t look cool at all. Still, the public seems to like what they do.

While these guys may be the first to play Apple’s cash cows in live gigs, the iPhone and iPad have long been used to make music by amateur groups, and some of their performances are really very good. You can find loads of videos on YouTube.

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Metro Surfing – Russia’s Deadly Extreme Sport

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Moscow’s metro system has recently become the scene of a new and deadly extreme sport – metro surfing. Teenagers jump on the back of trains and try to cling on for their lives as they video-tape the whole experience.

Believe it or not, metro surfing began as a desperate way of catching a ride during rush hour. The Moscow subway system is very crowded at this time and it’s close to impossible to get into the train, so young people started clinging to the back of it to reach their destination in time. Unfortunately, this desperate way of traveling somehow turned into a popular pass-time for teenagers looking for cheap thrills and internet fame. Metro surfers have now become such a common site that normal commuters hardly notice the crazy kids hanging on for their lives at the back of the train.

Wearing distinctive gloves, and sometimes clothes the same color as the metro to blend-in better, surfers wait on the platform the same as everyone else. Then, as the train leaves the station, they jump on the back of it and ride into the narrow tunnels, trying not to fall off. Most of them have cameras attached to their headgear to record the entire thing. They then post them on popular social media sites like Youtube or vkontakte (Russian version of Facebook), and brag among their friends. Even more alarming is that there are now groups of up to 2,000 members posting and commenting their metro surfing adventures online, and their numbers seems to be ever growing.

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Russian Pensioner Amasses a Fortune of Five Million Kopek Coins

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Yuri Babin, a retired military officer from the Russian city of Novosibirsk, has spent the last 13 year collecting a fortune of about 5 million kopek coins.

The kopek is 1/100th of a Ruble, the Russian equivalent of a cent. Babin began collecting them in 1998, following wide scale Russian bank defaults that caused the kopek to become practically worthless. Instead of trying to get rid of them, this Russian version of Mr. Scrooge decided to put together a huge collection of coins. He would pick them off the street and ask vendors to change his currency in coins of the lowest denomination.

The “kopek millionaire”, as locals know Yuri Babin, now has a fortune of around five million coins, which weighs over 7.5 tonnes, but is worth just 50,000 rubles ($1,500). But it was never about the value for Mr. Babin, he just loves bathing in his impressive fortune, and has even used a few kopeks to make his wardrobe shine.

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Unique Matchstick Furniture Made in the USSR

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Many people don’t realize it when they first walk into Roman Yerokhin‘s apartment, but many of his beautiful pieces of furniture are decorated with some of the most unusual materials – burnt matchsticks and broken tiles.

But as soon as they sit at the large monolithic table in his kitchen and notice its decorative patterns are actually made from thousands of burned matchsticks, their jaws instantly hit the floor and then the questions start. The first thing that pops into their heads is that his family used these common materials because they were poor, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. In fact, Roman says his ancestors were wealthy jewelers before the communists came to power, and even during their regime, his parents made a decent living as graphic artists. The main reason they resorted to matchsticks as decorations is that any other materials were scarce, and having lived under a communist rule myself, I know just what he means. Communism put a roof over your head, provided you with a job and put some food on the table, but it did absolutely no toleration for exercising cultural and spiritual freedom.

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Vladimir Putin Museum Opens in Russia

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No, you didn’t misread the title, a museum centered on Russia’s controversial president prime minister has been set up in Strelna, near Sankt Petersburg.

Apparently, this small museum dedicated to Vladimir Putin is set up on one of the upper floors of Lindstrom Villa, an iconic structure that hosted the 2006 G-8 summit. The villa was leased to Konstaninovsky Co., owned by Oleg Rudnov, the boss of most of Sankt Petersburg’s media outlets, and a close friend of Putin. In return, Rudnov decided to turn one of the villa floors into a museum honoring Russia’s former president and current prime minister.

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Russians Go Swimming at -36 Degrees Celsius

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Members of a Russian winter swimmers’ club went for a swim into the Yenisei River, at a temperature of around -36 degrees Celsius.

Russians are no strangers to cold, and most of them cope pretty well with it, especially after a few shots of vodka, but under -35 degrees is extreme, even for them. Winter swimming is very popular in Russia, and the ritual of the Epiphany has thousands of people bathing in ice-cold water to purify their bodies, but this particular group of swimmers, from the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk, did it simply for fun. That’s right, they stripped down to their bathing suits and dived into the Yenisei River at -36 degrees Celsius, because that’s what they call a good time.

In case you were wondering, they all survived this crazy stunt, which means they’ll probably survive the next ice age.

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Prince Saint Vladimir – The World’s First and Only Chapel Boat

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The Prince Saint Vladimir is basically an old boat converted into a floating church that could make the sacred relics on board accessible to people in remote areas along the Volga River.

This isn’t the world’s first floating church, communities living on water have built plenty of them all around the world, but the Prince Saint Vladimir (named after the saint who baptized Russia) is the world’s first self-propelled chapel boat. Built back in 2004, the unique church was designed to reach even the shallowest waters, so that all the people of the Volvograd region could have access to a church and priest. There were two other similar churches built before, but because they were practically converted barges, they could only be moved by tugboats. The Prince Saint Vladimir is, however, a self-propelled craft.

On September 13, 2010, the great river voyage of the Prince Saint Vladimir began. The floating church will travel around 3,000 kilometers along the shores of the Volga, from the river mouth, all the way to Moscow. It will make stops in both cities and small communities along the shores, allowing people access to relics of eight great saints from the era of the Undivided Church. Its voyage will take the sacred ship to areas that have suffered from drought and terrible wildfires, and the Russian Church hopes it will bring comfort to locals.

Along with the captain and ship crew, a priest will be on board the Prince Saint Vladimir at all times, and he will celebrate the Sacred Liturgy at every stop.

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Russian Builds House Shaped Like Noah’s Ark

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Nikolay Orekhov, from the village of Kemerovo, eastern Russia, has built his house to look like a miniature replica of Noah’s ark. Not that he’s ever seen the real thing, but we’ve all been blessed with an imagination.

47-year-old Nikolay Orekhov has spent more than a year working on his unusual house shaped like some sort of ugly ship. According to Russian site Life.ru, the reason behind this modern version of Noah’s ark is Nikolay’s fear of floods caused by climate change. He says he’s not a fanatic but he does strongly believe in the possibility of a serious flood.

But according to the livejournal of Viktor Borisov, who also took some photos of Orekhov’s ship-shaped house, the weird craftsman actually dreamed about building the strange structure, and has really no fear of an actual flood. Regardless of his reasons, Nikolay Orekhov managed to create a truly unique piece of architecture, and he did it all without any blueprints. All the plans he needed were all in his head, and frankly, you can tell by the final result.

Located in his backyard, Nikolay Orekhov’s strange house measures 9 meters in height and 14 meters in length, and is three levels high. On the first floor, the Russian builder created a bathroom (complete with sauna and swimming pool) and a small kitchen, the second floor features two bedrooms and a nursery, while the third one is a greenhouse.

Nikolay began building his ship-shaped house on the “sacred” date of July 7, 2007, and is now living in it with his family. His neighbors have started referring to his weird creation as the “Ark of Nikolayev”.

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Russian Woman Builds Glass Bottle House

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The glass bottle house built by Olga Queen, from Novoshakhtinsk, Russia is a fine addition to our hefty collection of glass bottle architecture, which already includes various bottle houses and a unique bottle temple.

In an effort to build herself a house out of cheap and environment-friendly materials, Olga Queen spent six months collecting glass bottles, around her home town of Novoshakhtinsk. She managed to gather around 5,000 of them, which proved enough to build her very own little dream house. Using some wood for the framework and concrete to fix the bottles in place, she manged to finish construction and is now ready to move in.

Glass might not seem like the right material to use when building a house, especially in a place like Russia, but the air trapped in the bottles actually provides great insulation. We’ll just see if Olga makes it through the winter in her little glass home.

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Russian WW2 Enthusiast Builds His Very Own Armored Division

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Vyacheslav Veryovochkin, a village craftsman from Russia’s Novosibirsk area, has become famous for building exact replicas of various World War 2 armored vehicles, in his own garage.

Vyacheslav Veryovochkin began constructing WW2 vehicles a few years ago, when he got his hands on the plans of a Lend-Lease Studebaker truck. With only some basic tools he had in his garage, he managed to create a perfect replica, and continued to build other models, as a pastime. Because he is trying to recreate historical pieces, the passionate craftsman only works according to the original plans of the vehicles, which he now looks for on the internet and in magazines.

Right now there are just six vehicles in front of Vyacheslav Veryovochkin’s home, but he says he has so far created around 30 different WW2 tanks and armored trucks. He is the only man in Russia to create such exact replicas, so some of his works have been acquired by museums, while others rented by Mosfilm, the main film studio in Moscow, to be used in an upcoming movie inspired by the events of Stalingrad.

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Russian Geek Shows Off His Processor Collection

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It’s official people, the world’s biggest geek has been located in Russia. Sporting a collection of over 1,000 computer processors, this dude has no competition.

If someone actually made a top of the geekiest things a man can collect, I’m positive computer processors would be somewhere in the top three. So it feels only natural that this guy be awarded the title of biggest geek of all, for his collection of over 1,000 computer processors. Some are from the time of the Soviet Union (those might actually be worth something), while others are a more modern.

But the oddest thing about this “high-tech” collection, is the setting of the photos, with that carpet on the wall that reminds me of my grandmother’s old home. Not really the right place for such a collection, don’t you think?

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The Suzdal Cucumber Festival

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Cucumbers may be just every day vegetables to you, but in the Russian town of Suzdal they are of such importance that they have their own yearly festival.

The first cucumbers were cultivated in the Suzdal area, around 500 years ago, and some locals even consider the popular vegetable inherently Russian. The people here consider cucumbers the most nutritious vegetable in the world, and they use them in thousands of different dishes, from cucumber soups, to cucumber cakes and rolls, and even cucumber drinks. This being of the biggest cucumber producing centers of Russia, you’ll have a hard time finding a household that doesn’t make a living growing cucumbers.

The Suzdal Cucumber Festival takes place every year, in the month of July, during the vegetable harvest. During this event tourists will learn everything there is to know about cucumbers, from hot to grow them to the many different varieties. The region’s most famous entertainers perform different plays relating to cucumbers, and tourists can try the various cucumber delicacies of Suzdal, as well as buy cucumber souvenirs made of clay, wood and other materials.

One of the most important events of the Suzdal Cucumber Festival is the cucumber eating contest, where competitors try to beat the competition by eating as many cucumbers in the set time limit. Judging by the whole atmosphere of the festival, the winner probably receives some cucumbers as the prize.

This year, the Suzdal Cucumber Festival took place on July 24.

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