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Friday, September 17, 2010

7 Lesser Known Wonders of the World

Written by tonyleather


Photo: Jean-Marie Hullot

We all know that there are sights on earth regarded as the Wonders of the World – whether ancient or modern – sights such as the Great Pyramids of Giza, the Taj Mahal, or the Grand Canyon in Colorado with its awesome grandeur. These are not, however, necessarily the sights you have to see, because the word 'wonder' can apply to so many other locations around the globe. Here are a selection of stunning places to see, if you ever get the chance.

7. Metéora Suspended Rock Monasteries, Greece meteora

Photo: Janmad

An astounding sight to behold, Metéora, also known as the 'Suspended Rocks’, is a very large and important complex of Eastern Orthodox monasteries in Greece. Six buildings constructed on the tops of natural sandstone rock pillars make for an impressive sight. These astonishing structures were built amongst the Pindus Mountains of central Greece and were obviously meant as defensive buildings, since access was made as difficult as possible in the beginning. Only through the use of either long ladders lashed together, or large nets for hauling supplies, could access to the monasteries be obtained – though it is somewhat easier nowadays.

6. Banaue Rice Terraces, Philippines banau

Photo: McCouch S

Over an area of 4,000 square miles, 5,000 feet above sea level in the mountains of Ifuago in the Philippines, you will find something that local people refer to as the ‘eighth wonder of the world’: hand-carved terraces on which rice has been grown for at least 2,000 years. Ancient peoples did this incredible work over an unknown number of generations, the terraces watered through an irrigation system flowing from the rainforests above them. People maintain them to this day for planting crops, and it is widely believed that if all the terraces could be lined up end to end, the resulting line would completely encircle the globe. Truly amazing.

5. Sigiriya Rock Fortress, Sri Lanka sigiriya

Photo: Ela112

Built over 1,500 years ago, during the reign of King Kassapa I between AD 477 to 495, Sigiriya, also known as ‘Lion’s Rock’, is an ancient rock fortress and palace ruin situated on the island of Sri Lanka. A popular tourist spot, this fantastic outcrop is surrounded by what is left of extensive gardens and reservoirs. Sigiriya is one of the seven World Heritage Sites of the island, renowned for its ancient frescos, similar to those of the Ajanta Caves of India. The site may, during prehistoric times, have been inhabited, and historical records tell us that it acted as a mountain monastery from the 5th century BC.

4. Tower of Hercules, Galicia towerofhercules

Photo: Alessio Damato

The Tower of Hercules is believed to have existed from the 2nd century onwards. Foundation base inscriptions tell of a Roman engineer called "Sevius Lupus", and written references to the Tower have been found from as early as 415AD. The lighthouse is 180 feet tall and overlooks the north Atlantic coast of Spain. The original tower is thought to have had an outer access ramp and to have burned a wood fire as a warning beacon. In 1788, King Carlos IV ordered the building of an enclosing facade around the structure, still in place to this day. The tower is the oldest Roman building acting as a fully functioning lighthouse in the world.

3. Ajanta Caves, Maharashtra, India Ajanta Caves

Photo: Jonathanawhite

Mentioned earlier in the description of Sigiriya, the Ajanta Caves – ancient and religiously significant – are to be found in Maharashtra, India. These wondrous caverns are home to incredibly detailed paintings and sculpture which belong to the genre of Buddhist religious art. Originally occupied, it is thought, from the 2nd century, some 300 years after that the caves were abandoned. For over 1,000 years they lay unvisited and undisturbed, until 1819, when a British officer in the Madras army came across the almost hidden entrance to one of the caves while out hunting. Captain Smith, the officer in question, left a remarkable legacy of discovery for future generations.

2. Torun Old City, Poland


Photo: Rene Klein

The medieval town of Torun, in Poland, was where Nicolaus Copernicus was born. Archaeologists date the original settling of this town to 1100 BC, and from the 7th to the 13th centuries, there is evidence of a settlement at a river ford. Teutonic Knights built a castle nearby between 1230 and 1231. Franciscan monks settled in the city some 30 years later, followed by Dominicans, and in 1264 the New Town was founded. In 1280, the city joined the mercantile Hanseatic League and became an important medieval trade centre.

1. Bagan Ancient City, Burma bagan

Photo: Nicholas Kenrick

Mandalay is a part of the Burmese peninsular that contains the incredibly ancient city of Bagan. This place has been called by various names, including ‘Arimaddanapura’, ‘Tambadipa’ and ‘Tassadessa’, as it has been the ancient capital of several Burmese kingdoms. Bagan is the only unrecognized World Heritage Site listed here. The reason is that the ruling military junta has failed to make repairs to the ancient site that are in keeping with the original architectural styles and instead have used modern materials which look very much out of place. All the same, this is still a little known wonder of the world, and well worth a visit.

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

POP “The Moonwalker” - this guy has talent

POP “The Moonwalker”,

Michael Jackson would be proud!

13 of the Most Bizarre Lakes in the World

Beautiful green lake.
Photo: rosa amato/Flickr — Because lakes are land-locked bodies of water, they are our planet's experimental mixing pots. They can stew strange chemistry and give rise to anomalous creatures found no where else on Earth.

Click here for this fantastic Gallery:

Germany’s Repurposed World War II Bunkers


Could you imagine living in a bunker? Far from drab and depressing, repurposed bunkers take on a life of their own, providing peace, quiet and safety.

12 studio bunker Germanys Repurposed World War II Bunkers

Image via treehugger

Military bunkers have long been an eyesore for those living close to them. Like gray behemoths, they stand around, waiting to be used again for their original purpose. Luckily, though, they don’t necessarily have to go back to being used for warfare — in Germany, many were recycled as homes decades ago by students and people living alternative lifestyles.

6 hochbunker Germanys Repurposed World War II Bunkers

Three old military bunkers refurbished as stylish houses by Luczak architects in Cologne. Image via aknw.

However, now there seems to be a new trend: refurbishing old military bunkers and turning them into high-quality apartments. Germany has a treasure trove of these kinds of conversions, as many architects are rediscovering old bunkers as sustainable and easy-to-maintain residential buildings.

Not pretty but functional: the old German submarine bunker in Trondheim

11 sub bunker Germanys Repurposed World War II Bunkers

Image: Aslak Raanes

Architects Rainer Mielke and Claus Freudenberg of mielke+freudenberg specialize in converting old military bunkers in the northern German city of Bremen into living quarters. Their reasoning: “Bunkers have been built to receive people and to shelter them. Because of their massive construction, they last even without costly maintenance efforts.”

5 EmdenExBunkerRudolfBreitscheidStrasse Germanys Repurposed World War II Bunkers

Image: Emder Muschelschubser

And indeed, many architects appreciate their sturdiness and low risk of geological disruption, making them safe, lasting and stylish buildings, too. A prime example of this is the remodeled bunker in the northern German town of Emden (above). Here, only the strict square form reminds one of the building’s original purpose.

Military bunkers were built to protect troops and civilians, but also machinery and important equipment from air raids. There was a bunker building boom during World War II due to the development of aerial warfare and the existence of aircraft which could transport heavy bombs. In Germany especially, bunkers were built in abundance, as is still apparent today.

A bunker with a cool blue roof at Claussenstrasse in Bremen

 Germanys Repurposed World War II Bunkers

Image via thelocal

Many of them were industrial bunkers, built to safeguard important industries but also food, materials and files from aerial bombardment. Many also served as living quarters. On their website, Mielke and Freudenberg explain why it makes sense to repurpose old bunkers: “Because of their central location in many suburbs, many of them are ideal for living. We convert these bunkers into residential buildings in a modern and sustainable fashion and integrate these historical buildings into the cityscape without denying their own identity.”

A bunker turned studio in Frankfurt
bunker exterior Germanys Repurposed World War II Bunkers

Image via treehugger

The story behind this bunker is quite intriguing. Admittedly not the prettiest, Frankfurt’s residents too found it an eyesore but had to live with it, as demolishing the extremely compact bunker would have been too costly. Turning it into living quarters was also out of the question, as it is located in a non-residential part of town, between junkyards and shipping container depots. Finally, Index Architects came up with a practical solution and, using the old bunker as a giant table, added artists’ studios and a space for the Institute of New Media on top. And the old bunker? It’s now housing musicians’ studios.

Like a bird’s nest on top of the bunker

 Germanys Repurposed World War II Bunkers

Image via thelocal

After World War II, most bunkers were abandoned, as the occupying forces had no use for them and Germany was focused on rebuilding its economy rather than its military. However, given their sturdiness, they survived all these decades unscathed and can be found in abundance around WWII hotspots like the former mining area around the Ruhr, in Berlin and Dresden, along the borders, and even on some of the beaches. In the suburb of Poppelsdorf in Germany’s former capital Bonn, for example, Scherf Architects used an old WWII bunker as the foundation for three apartments and simply built on top of the existing structure, thus guaranteeing a good view.

3 bonn poppelsdorf Germanys Repurposed World War II Bunkers

Image via immowelt

The “basement” that is the old bunker, houses the heating, electricity and other maintenance functions.

4 lueftungsanlage Germanys Repurposed World War II Bunkers

Image via immowelt

At the corner of Dortmund’s Wittelbacher and Landgrafen streets, the old bunker was a 20- x 20-square-meter block, 10 meters high with 2-meter-thick walls. It used to look gray and depressing…

8 Wittelsbacker alt Germanys Repurposed World War II Bunkers

Image via bunker-dortmund

… before it was turned into this cool building:

after Wittelsbacher Germanys Repurposed World War II Bunkers

Image via bunker-dortmund

Here is another bunker in Emden that has been repurposed.

7 flak wykoff emden Germanys Repurposed World War II Bunkers

Image via luftschutzbunker

There are a surprising number of uses for abandoned military bunkers. All it takes is a creative architect, some imagination and innovative design. People who like peace and quiet and a feeling of safety will appreciate living in one of these constructions. For other cool uses to which bunkers have been put, take a look here.

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Deep-Fried Beer Invented in Texas

Written by Das Fork


Perhaps one of the largest breakthroughs in drunken feasting has arrived. Deep fried beer, invented by a man in Texas named Mark Zable.

Deep fried beer

Deep fried beer, shaped like ravioli

What could taste better than beer inside of a pretzel-y dough ravioli pouch, and fried uber deeply for 20 seconds? The alcohol doesn’t burn, it just remains inside of the pouch for consumption. Mark’s cooking method apparently took him 3 years to develop, and he’s now got a patent pending on his incredibly awesome food invention.

Fried Beer

This deep-fried beer snack will be debuted in a Texas state fair’s fried food competition late September. You need to be 21 (the legal drinking age in the states), and then you’ll be able to fork over $5USD for 5 of these beer snacks.

The main source of beer has been Guinness, because of it’s durability.

“Nobody has been able to fry a liquid before. It tastes like you took a bite of hot pretzel dough and then took a drink of beer.” – Mark Zable.

Mark has been a very clever food inventor in the past, and hopes that this will grant him some money to dedicate to his passion of inventing new foods.

The Awesome Hidden Power of Dog Poop



Finally! A use for dog poop!

A way-cool invention called the Park Spark was unveiled last week in a Cambridge, Mass., dog park. The methane digester converts dog poop into energy, and that energy is now powering a gas-burning lamp at the park. Because of this, people can see where their dogs poop at night, and feed the machine, for a sort of never-ending flame. It’s kind of like an Olympic torch, only with more humble, odiferous roots.

Here’s how it works: Your dog poops. You scoop it with a specially made biodegradable bag, deposit it into a feeding tube, and turn a hand crank so methane rises to the top, and is available to be burned by whatever you connect to it. It’s that simple. You have made poop into light.

How amazing is that? The Park Spark is able to convert something that was not worthy of the bottom of your shoe into energy that can light up your night. And it prevents the greenhouse gas, methane, from doing environmental damage. The infographic below shows the contrast between scooping the poop, and making it into energy:


According to Fast Company, the Park Spark team can also envision dog poop being used to power portable tea stands, and popcorn (poopcorn?) stands. But it will never power large projects like lighting up an entire block. Poop is grand, but apparently it has its limitations.

The Park Spark in Cambridge wasn’t an underground number, but a couple of large yellow tanks above ground. Check it out below. 44690_156147797733954_129696893712378_560797_6176506_n


It’s brilliant to have a big, above-ground demo like this for people (like me) who would find it harder to imagine how dog doo can light up your life if the setup were below ground.

I hope the idea catches on, and that within a few years, any dog-filled park that doesn’t have a Park Spark will look like it’s stuck in the Dark Ages.

By: Maria Goodavage

Ten Weird Instruments that Changed Music

Check out the top 10 weirdest instruments in action.

Forget your '80s era synthesizer. If you're looking for a unique sound, the kind that make David Bowie look like a novice, search no more! Some of the strangest, most distinct sounds in music come from these 10 weirdos, all for your listening enjoyment.

#1 - The Theremin

You don’t even have to TOUCH this one to play it. Just plug in this seminal electronic instrument, and move your hands around nearby. Invented by Leon Theremin in 1920, it’s like an early, musical motion detector. Its sound is whiny, but very “futuristic.” Eerie, too, when played well. The movie soundtrack to the new The Day the Earth Stood Still and Sting’s song “Moon Over Bourbon Street” use the theremin effectively.

Check out the “Legend of Zelda” theme song played on a theremin below!

Click here to read the rest of the article:

The World’s Largest Skatepark: New Jiangwan City, Shanghai, China



SMP Skate Park is an enormous outdoor spans 44,936 square feet and is the largest skate park in the world. Each year SMP holds an international skate competition known as “The Showdown.” If you’re a skater, its hard to think of a more fitting place to compete. Not a skater, not a problem! Enjoy the activities from a 12,300 square foot viewing deck and plaza!

Here is a demo that was put on by the Dc Shoes in the street course section of this massive skatepark.

Riders will find an exceptionally long vert ramp with two extended roll ins, bowls that spine into other bowls, a massive full pipe, pipes that lead from one section of the park to another, flat banks, quarter pipes of all sizes, a mini ramp, fun boxes, hips, grind poles, hand rails, wall rides and more. Whether you are an amateur or highly experienced, SMP has something to offer for everyone!

Guy Has Acid Freakout While Watching '2001' in Theater

2001_body image.jpgAnd you thought ringing cell phones were annoying. At a recent screening of 2001: A Space Odyssey, an audience member on LSD lost control and started flailing his arms and yelling during the film’s Star Child sequence. How he kept his cool through Hal’s revolt and the trippy Star Gate sequence is anyone’s guess. Thanks to mobile phone cameras, the freak out is now making the Internet rounds and even though his ramblings are mostly incoherent, the video is quite a spectacle. It also made me think about those rare instances where audience disruption can actually enhance moviegoing.

Usually, even the most muted conversations during a movie infuriate me. But every now and then, the right disruption during the right movie can really bring out the pleasures of seeing a movie in a communal setting. During horror movies when audience members frantically chastise a character, I’m reminded how film immerses people on even the most visceral level. And there have definitely been a few times where well-timed audience one-liners salvaged otherwise worthless movies. In fact, part of the magic of seeing a movie with a huge group of strangers is that you never know how people will react.

I once saw a screening of Paul Morrisey’s Blood For Dracula where an audience member was either on drugs or blackout drunk. He made noises through most of the movie that only occasionally sounded like words, and never coherent ones.

Finally, during Roman Polanski’s cameo, the guy erupted with excitement and yelled “Polanski!” It was about then that the theater manager finally showed up to escort him out. The guy rambled about Polanski and mentioned Knife in the Water as if this somehow explained his behavior. When the manager said he hadn’t seen Knife in the Water the guy exploded, “What? That sh*t is classic! Come on! We’re going to my house right now to watch it!” We had all been united in opposition before, but I don’t think the entire audience laughed so hard together at any other point during the film.


So, while I empathize with Todd McCarthy’s lament that his children will remember the disruption more than the film itself, and agree that the situation wasn’t handled well, part of me wonders if the audience at the Egyptian has a whole new level of appreciation for the power of Kubrick’s images after witnessing their effect on the guy in the video below.

· A Bummer Trip for “2001” At The Egyptian [Indiewire/Deep Focus]

Exclusive Interview with Cranio + 40 of His Best Graffiti Street Art Photos

Exclusive Interview with Cranio + 40 of His Best Graffiti Street Art Photos — Cranio is a very talented artist we recently discovered. He approaches art in a manner that is hard to frame, not traditional but not modern either.

click here for the article and gallery:

The 11 Best Dude Ranches in America

The 11 Best Dude Ranches in America — Dude, of course, is the original slang for “city slicker,” and dude ranches’ collective history dates back to the 1880s, when families who’d recently moved out west would invite friends to visit their cattle ranches. Once the practice spread, ranch owners realized they’d better start charging for room and board

Click here for the full article:

The Odd Evolution of the Baby Carrot

baby carrot photo


If you were to ask the average American child what a carrot looks like, they would likely endeavor to describe something that more resembles a flame-colored finger: rounded at the edges and uniformly smooth. The idea of carrots being knobby, conical, and deep orange with a feathery green crown is just plainly outmoded after two subsequent decades of baby carrot dominance. The baby carrot, being far more accessible, homogeneous, and kid-friendly, has redefined our notion (or at least the younger generation’s notion) of what carrots can, and should, look like. But as with all points of progress (especially concerning processed foods) it wasn’t always this way.

Some would say that baby carrots are the dumb, consumer-driven spawn of the more dignified garden-variety carrot. Others, namely farmer Mike Yurosek, would say they are a genius exercise in agricultural efficiency, and a hell of a moneymaker. As the baby carrot lore goes, Yorosek got tired of seeing 400 tons of carrots a day drop down the cull shoot at his packing plant in Bakersfield, CA (the culls are those carrots that are too twisted, knobby, or plain ugly to be marketable). Sometimes more than 70 percent of his carrots were tossed, composted, or fed to livestock. In an effort to recoup some of these losses, Yurosek devised a way to take these culls, shape them and shave them into those familiar baby carrot fingers and essentially turn waste into profits (most baby carrots sell for 50 percent more than conventional carrots – it is all in the packaging).

How Baby Carrots are Made

That was back in the 90s, and since then baby carrots have become ubiquitous and near dominant in the produce aisle (along with a requisite item alongside ranch dressing). Many purists (or those that find little use for the cynical packaging and marketing of the product), call foul and claim that these carrots are hardly baby (this is true, as they are a variety of imperator carrots that are bred to grow faster) not as healthy (there have been studies that show, while they have higher sugar levels than most carrots, baby carrots contain significantly less beta carotene) and that they are soaked in dangerous chemicals to retain their freshness (there is some truth to this, as some baby carrots are treated with chlorine as an antimicrobial measure). Still, there is no stopping the diminutive baby carrot.

But tell this to the carrot growers of America. In a push to remain relevant in today’s junk food conquered market, carrot growers (specifically the baby carrot growers) have bank rolled a $25 million dollar campaign to boost baby carrot sales and market them as, not junk food alternatives, but as junk food themselves.

Baby Carrots! Extreme!

With a two-pronged attack utilizing a website as well as a number of slick television spots (and who knows how many other site-specific publicity stunts are in the works) the baby carrot rebranding has begun. With baby carrot packaging that more closely resembles bags of Cool Ranch Doritos than nature’s bounty, and tag lines like, “Eat ‘Em Like Junk Food,” subtlety is not exactly the tactic here. While the marketing campaign seems wholly unnecessary (which it is) it is not wholly cynical (only partially). This tongue-in-cheek rebranding effort, while obviously intended to boost sales, is also a sort of meta attempt to poke fun at the utterly stupid, testosterone-informed, mindless promotion that goes into selling product to children (or anyone for that matter).

Baby Carrot Commercial

Clever? Maybe. Will it convince junk food addicted kids to switch to baby carrots? Probably not. That said, I have little doubt that as long as people are averse to eating anything that looks like a real carrot (unless it is Cheetos), baby carrots will maintain that coveted placement in lunchboxes, snack packs, and as in-flight snacks around the country, if not the world.

Are you a fan of baby carrots and packaged produce in general, like sliced apples and cellophane-wrapped, microwavable potatoes? Or is the whole business of processing and packaging fruit and vegetables feel more like a ruse than added value?

Eric Steinman is a freelance writer based in Rhinebeck, N.Y. He regularly writes about food, music, art, architecture and culture and is a regular contributor to Bon Appétit among other publications.

Amsterdam Townhouse Has All The Green Gizmos But Is Gorgeous Too

by Lloyd Alter, Toronto

green townhouse amsterdam passivhaus photo interior
photos by I See For You / Föllmi Photography via DailyTonic

Suzanne Labarre at CoDesign is "smitten" with FARO Architecten's Woonhuis Weijnen 2.0, a townhouse near Amsterdam. No wonder; it is one of those rare combinations of true green and great design.

green townhouse amsterdam passivhaus photo kitchen

The layout is open and airy, all warm and wood-lined. There is some clever structural work, with the mezzanine held up by a monster tree trunk. But the systems are there too; according to Daily Tonic,

Thermic mass is reached by using clay plaster with phase changing materials for some walls. A very large boiler feed water container of 2 m3 provides a large accumulation of energy. The heat exchanger in combination with the high level of insulation and triple glazing provides a great level of comfort. The air supply comes via the outside and will be heated by a Sole ground source heat exchanger two meters under the house. Extra energy for space heating and warm water will be supplied by warm water collectors. These are integrated in the cornice of the façade. The temperature can be increased if needed by use of a pellet stove with a heat pump. The horizontal windows lie deep in the façade to prevent excess sun coming into the house.

green townhouse amsterdam passivhaus photo den

The large windows have adjustable sun screens. Rain water is used for both toilets and laundry. The large openings in the facade allow the use of solar heat. When there is a surplus of sun, sun screens will be used. The deep lying windows keep most of the sun out on a daily basis. The sun heats through vacuum tube collectors in the cornices the water for heating. Warm water collected in the large collection vats is used for floor heating and warm tap water. A heat exchanger is used for ventilation, returning heat from the 'used' air to the fresh air without mixing these (HR technique). For extra support, an earth heat collector can cool air in summer and heat air in winter. A wind turbine produces energy when the wind blows. This can be used directly in the house. Overcapacity can be send to the grid, and can be used again by no wind. The grid works as a buffer.

green townhouse amsterdam passivhaus photo home office

I want that home office. More images at Daily Tonic

Van Damme Friday : Let's Dance!!