Extreme Ironing Is A Real Sport

Yes, you heard it right, extreme ironing is a real and practiced extreme sport around the world. It is known as a tough sport to get good at because it is one of the only outdoor sports that combines both the dangers and excitement of an extreme sport, with the well known and loved the satisfaction of a well-pressed shirt.

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It requires participants to take an iron and board to places they would never dream of doing they ironing: remote locations, skiing, surfing or even on jet skis. And then when you do get your ironing board out, you need to iron a few items of laundry – while performing your extreme sport. It may involve ironing on a cliff, or mountainside, somewhere that is difficult to climb. Some legends in the extreme ironing world are known to iron their clothes while scooting or canoeing.

The sport has roughly been around for over 12 years and is thought the idea started in the United Kingdom. An idea born in Leicester in 1997, the thought was that it would be great to combine the exciting and dangerous experience with the dull and boring mundane task of ironing. And well it definitely does achieve this combination.

But it was not until 1999, when there was a worldwide campaign to recruit more extreme ironers throughout American, Fiji, New Zealand, Australia, and South Africa that the sport really took off. And it even allowed Extreme Ironing International to be recognized as a true and real sport.

This eventually led to the World Championships happening in 2002 in the small village of Valley near Munich. A German ironist by the name of Hot Pants won the individual event and a British team was able to win the team event.

So if you are thinking about throwing yourself into this extreme sport, all you really need is an iron, a board, and some clothes to iron. Of course, practice makes perfect, so start in your garden before making your way up to a cliff.

Saffron The Most Expensive Spice In The Whole World

Spices can make or break your meal, as we all know a little spice can go a long way – if you know how to use them. But what they don’t tell you until you start exploring your options and different palettes, is that spices can make or break the bank. For example, a humble spice such as the chili powder or the garam masala does not really cost much at all.

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But on the other side of the table, you find the high-quality spices that are known to only be tasted by people living luxurious lifestyles. These are the spices that can sell for over $5,000 USD per pound. With a price tag that high, you might think you were putting a rare diamond on your plate, but no they are actually used quite regularly. In fact, you may even eat some of them in your meals on an almost daily basis. There is even a good chance you have some of these bank breakers already in your pantry.

One of them is of course saffron, the most expensive spice in the whole world. Clocking in more than caviar or even truffles, saffron is actually thought to be the most expensive food on the whole planet. It comes in costing over USD $5,000 per pound.

The spice is only native to Central Asia and regularly seen in Indian or Middle Eastern cuisine. It is actually harvested from the Crocus Sativus flower, only you need a huge amount of these flowers to harvest enough saffron spice. This is because the spice comes from the stigmas and the flower only has three stigmas. This means it will take a saffron producer over 60,000 flowers to just harvest one pound of dried saffron threads. And harvesting them is not easy either, it is extremely time-consuming and labor intensive.

Today, we find saffron farms in Spain, Italy, Greece, India, and Iran, but the highest quality saffron still comes from its native home of Kashmir. These Kashmir saffron threads are known as the red gold. They have been used for almost 40 centuries, by the Persians, Greeks, and Romans. They even used saffron as a red dye or to perfume their baths or temples.

One thing to remember is that when you are in the supermarket, if your saffron is not expensive, well then it is not pure saffron.

Bulletproof Glass Can Be Made To Be Just One Way

When you are sitting behind bulletproof glass or any form of high-level security, you may be used to thinking that it is either this or that – but not both. Surely if you are behind bulletproof glass then bullets cannot go through it either way. Well, the truth of the matter is that people do construct bulletproof glass that will stop a bullet one way but will let bullets fly straight through the other way.

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The physics of bulletproof glass has been long contended and researched, after all, they are an important part of modern society. From monarchs to presidents to the pope, everyone with a very high ranking profile in our modern world at some point sits behind bulletproof glass. You may think they are overly paranoid, but the risks of being shot by a lone sniper are just too great. Especially with how advanced modern sniper rifles have become, allowing high precision at long range.

It is, of course, natural to think that bulletproof glass is simply a substance that is strong enough to block bullets. And when we do think of it that way, it is pretty hard to see how it could let bullets fly through the other way. The secret is how the bulletproof glass is structured.

The engineering secret around the material is that it is not actually the material being used that blocks the bullets, it is how the material is put together. Traditionally bulletproof glass is made out of polycarbonate thermoplastic which is a special material which is known to be a rock hard substance and this material is layered between regular glass. The ultra-thick glass will, therefore, stop any motion of a bullet going in any direction, in fact, it will pretty much stop anything.

Here lies the difference with one-way bulletproof glass, it does have a hard substance also but only on the outside of the glass. On the inside you find a soft and flexible layer, when a bullet hits the hard exterior it will slow down so fast that the bullet actually flattens itself. Yet when you do the same from the inside, you will find that the soft layer will move with the bullet.

The movement will ultimately cause the hard layer to crack, allowing the bullet to fly through without any issues. That is some pretty amazing engineering.

An Enormous Statue Of Jesus In Poland Provides WiFi

A huge statue of Jesus rises over 108 feet in the air, the tallest statue of Jesus is located in Poland. Known as Christ The King, it towers over the residents of Swiebodzin in Poland since 2010 and now it has been receiving some modern updates. Traditionally a statue of Jesus would be an immense representation of Christian faith.

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However, now it appears that Jesus is being upgraded to Jesus 2.0 with signal broadcasting equipment being embedded into the statue’s crown. The thing is that no one really seems to know what this upgrade is for. The statue is the result of a now-deceased local priest called Sylwester Zawadzki, the project was actually crowdfunded with over $1.45 million in donations from residents of the town and elsewhere.

According to a local Polish news outlet called Fakt 24, there have been quite a few local scandals and controversies that have come to light since it was constructed. And the latest arguments seem to be around the signal broadcasting equipment being added. It appears that some people do not think a sacred statue of Jesus should have anything to do with providing WiFi to the area. Some priests have even thrown up their hands saying it is profane.

The equipment is set up on the statue as it is a prime spot to be able to provide a strong internet signal to the whole local region. But the real mystery is that the Church overlooking the statue: the Divine Mercy Parish appears to not know anything about the antennas. They have advised that Jesus’s head is not available for rent and that they knew nothing of any broadcasting equipment being installed.

Which begs the question on what sort of mysterious signals could be being broadcasted. But a message from a local internet provider in the Swiebodzin region advised the antennas were indeed a request by the parish. Maybe a way to provide internet to everyone sponsored by the church. Though apparently, the church required the antennas for a video surveillance system.

Is this some sort of big brother statue spying on the whole region, or is it a divine wireless system for all to use. It looks like we will never really know.

Public Shaming And Prison For Using Plastic Bags In Rwanda

Sometimes you may find them hidden in underwear or coiled tightly around a smugglers arm, and they are not narcotics or any illegally mined diamonds that are being smuggled across the border into Rwanda. But they are in the eyes of the Rwandan border guards just as bad. The offending contraband is plastic bags and the Rwandan government sees them to be just as bad as drugs.

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Border officials are always on the lookout for illegal plastic bag smuggles. That is because in Rwanda it is illegal to import, produce, use or sell plastic bags and even plastic packaging. There are only a couple of specific exceptions for industries such as hospitals or pharmaceuticals. This is a nation that is part of around 40 in the world that has banned, restricted or taxed the use of plastic bags.

However, Rwanda’s approach is by far the most aggressive. Traffickers caught with any illegal plastics can be liable for hefty fines or even prison sentences. They will also be shamed and forced to make a public confession, along with an apology. Smugglers can receive up to six months in prison, but any executives of companies caught producing plastics can be given a year long prison sentence. Stores have even been shut down for wrapping bread in cellophane.

Rwanda sees plastic bags as a global issue, they take hundreds of years to degrade and are massively blamed for clogging the oceans and killing marine life. Kenya has also put in place a punishment for people selling or importing plastics. Rwanda’s main concern is that plastics are a source of flooding and also stop crops from receiving enough rainwater when the soil is littered with plastics.

And the zero tolerance policy appears to be paying off well, the streets of Kigali the nation’s capital are extremely clean. Densely populated areas are virtually spotless and citizens are required once a month to partake in a giant neighborhood cleaning effort – even the president partakes.

Not to mention that plastic bag vigilantes are everywhere, from airports to villages. And these informants tip off the authorities about suspected sales or use of plastic.

Real Game of Thrones Filming Locations Across the World

There are many shows that people look back on with fondness, but few have had as significant a cultural impact as Game of Thrones. Some may say the show’s one of the greatest stories ever told.

There are several ingredients to the show’s recipe for success, but one of the biggest (not counting the dragons) is the settings.

Ever wonder where HBO gets so many amazing locations? Here are some of the best places seen on the legendary show and their real-world counterparts.

Let us start with the heart of the Seven Kingdoms and the home to liars, deceivers, and smallfolk: King’s Landing…

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The Unlimited Travel American Airlines Ticket

In 1987, Steve Rothstein bought what was known at the time as the American Airlines golden ticket. An airline ticket that gave him access to a lifetime of unlimited travel. And he used it to the max, clocking over 10 million flights and 10,000 flights.

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He even used this superpower to help complete strangers fly when needed. He was able to fly a close friend to the Louvre and sent a priest he met to Rome so that he could finally meet the pope. Sometimes he simply hopped over to another city for a baseball game, or a couple of times just to buy a sandwich. And that meant that really everyone on the airlines knew his name, even American Airlines CEO knew his name.

Rothstein said he became a sort of legend, a hero of the airlines, he would just show up and automatically get a seat no matter what. But in 2008, the tables turned and the airlines accused him of fraud. This led to them snatching away his unlimited access boarding pass.

This was because American Airlines was trying to figure out a way to terminate their AAirpass completely which was costing the company millions of dollars every year, even though there were only around 66 pass holders around the world.

Rothstein bought the AAirpass for $250,000 and also a companion ticket for $150,000. At the time he was living in Chicago and pursuing a career in investment banking, it seemed like a great deal. He said he loved it, he could just go someplace whenever he felt like it without having to worry about it – just make the reservation and go.

In 2004 he traveled 18 times, going to Nova Scotia, Maine, London, Los Angeles, and Denver. As he would rarely know who his companion would be until the last moment due to business trips, he would book his guest under fake names such as “Bag Rothstein” – which was later why the airlines accused him of fraud.

During his time, he helped many lost travelers who he found crying at the airport due to flight problems. Rothstein felt that due to his companion ticket, the acts of kindness were just things he had to do as a decent human being. Rothstein’s pass is currently terminated, but he is fighting this decision and has filed a lawsuit against them.

The Sheepdogs That Protect The Little Penguins

On an Australian Island, there was a strong and vibrant colony of little penguins – that was until the foxes came and nearly ate them all up. Luckily for the little penguins they had a farmer on their side who decided to come up with an amazing way to protect them, in fact, it is so magical it was turned into a film.

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Middle Island is a rugged and beautiful island off the coast of Southern Victoria in Australia, it is one of the only homes of the world’s smallest penguins. They were originally called fairy penguins, but that was deemed to be offensive and politically incorrect so they have now been given the title of little penguins. And well, to be honest, it is not an insult, they only do stand between 30 to 40 cms tall.

There used to be hundreds of them in their colony on the Middle Island until the foxes turned up. Peter Abbott from the Penguin Preservation Project said that at one point they could only locate four of the penguins when their colony used to be 800 strong. One time they found over 360 penguins killed in one night, unfortunately, foxes are indeed one of the worst types of predators when it comes to killing: they kill for the thrill of it.

Middle Island is uninhabited by humans but it is only separated from the mainland by a stretch of water that is just 20 to 30 m at most. So when the low tide arrives the sands that build up to give the foxes a passage without really needing to get wet at all. And the fox population start to grow extremely quick due to an easy source of food. Which led to one farmer by the name of Swampy Marsh coming up with a novel idea of sending one of his Maremma dogs onto the island.

Normally Maremma dogs were used to keep their chickens, goats or sheep safe, so it was thought it would be the perfect solution. And it was! Immediately after sending Oddball as the dog was called onto the island, the foxes started to change their patterns and were less inclined to go hunting on the island. Amazingly since the dogs have been on protection duty over the last 10 years, no penguins have been killed by a fox on Middle Island.

The Grueling Gaokao Exam Is The Toughest In The World

China’s college entrance exam known as the Gaokao is thought to be one of the toughest examinations in the whole world. If you want a spot in one of the 2,200 Chinese universities then you need to ace your Gaokao exam. And it goes much deeper than that, sure the exam decides the university ranking you will be allowed to enter, but it is also widely accepted that it will determine the entire course of their lives.

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Students spend many years preparing to take the entrance exam and sacrifice much of their social life. Taking extra classes and as much tuition along the way as they can, there are even many reports of parents quitting their jobs just to help their children study for this exam. However, a high score does not even guarantee the success of entering a great university.

You see a certain number of places are allocated for every university. And the competition for each place is extremely fierce, the gaokao exam allows the universities to single out the excellent from the just plain good. The system is extremely rigorous and strict, meaning it has received much criticism along the way, but for the past 70 years, it has been the only way to test China’s students.

And it even impacts society, with failure to do well on the gaokao exam normally means shame for the family name. This puts immense pressure on the students, many simply crack and drop out of school. There are even increasing reports of student suicide, notably, they jump out of buildings during high-stress periods.

Extremely in the poorer side of the Chinese society, poorer families see the gaokao exam as their chance to a better life – which means students have to get a high mark on it no matter what the costs. Some students are known to just sleep 2 hours a night and study non-stop.

The exam itself is extremely grueling, taking place over two whole days in June it lasts over nine hours. Critics state that it relies heavily on just learning things by heart and not actually trying to get the individuals to think.

The CIA Shoelace Code

If you are meeting your friend or colleague in public but can’t let anyone know about the meeting, how would you do it? The message is extremely important, it is a matter of security and lives depend on it being conveyed – but if you are seen talking, writing things down or making visible gestures then it could all be for nothing. This is the goal the CIA wanted to solve when they created their shoelace code.

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The dilemma came about during the height of the Cold War since they could never know if they were being watched or listened to by other government operatives. These days it sounds like something that would only happen in a spy novel or James Bond movie but during the Cold War, this was an everyday ordeal that operatives had to deal with. Lives would depend on an agents ability to send a message to a passerby without alerting anyone in public. Therefore, the CIA developed a shoelace code.

Because shoelaces are generally inserted into a shoe in three standard ways, any deviation from these ways becomes an opportunity to send a signal. You can do this, therefore, and use them as a way to send coded messages to a passerby, also because having shoelaces on a bit differently will probably not arouse any suspicion in public.

These coded CIA shoelace messages were published in a declassified version of a real CIA field manual from the 1950s. There was not however a standardized language, the patterns were normally to be used as a way to make an identification. But of course, if two operatives had met beforehand, then they could agree on a pattern to mean a different message.

As you can imagine the CIA used many ways to covert secret messages during the Cold War including things like button shapes or type of pen. It could even be as simple as having a pencil in one pocket, covert communication was a way to save lives.

The Alaskan Wood Frog Freezes For Seven Months And Then Hops Away

In one of the strangest ways to live through the winter, the Alaskan wood frogs simply let themselves freeze into a block of ice for seven months. They are not frozen completely solid, but two-thirds of their body turns into ice. And if you bent their legs they would snap like ice.

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So they are effectively frozen solid during the winder, if you pick them up they will not move at all. And research has shown that there are many strange things happening to their body during this process: their heart actually stops & blood no longer flows. If you look at from an organismal level, they are actually dead. The individual cells in the frog’s body are still alive, but they stop communicating with each other.

And the craziest thing that comes out of this frozen state? When Spring arrives they easily thaw out and hop away. Biologists have known about the freezing frogs during winter for decades and believe it has to do with their glucose levels. When this process happens the frog’s glucose levels skyrocket up very high, which lets them tolerate extremely cold temperatures seen in Alaska.

To figure out how the frogs were surviving so long in a frozen state, researchers stuck mini radio transmitters to their backs to be able to monitor a group of Alaskan wood frogs for 2 years. Once the frogs were frozen and settled they placed a little cage over their spot and started to record their temperatures at regular intervals. The amazing thing is over the course of the study none of the frogs died off, meaning these frogs have mastered how to survive the cold.

It is the glucose levels that are key, they allow water to be kept inside cells, frostbite happens when all the water in a cell becomes ice. Which in turn causes cells to dehydrate and die. Having high amounts of glucose, keeping everything super sweet, stop this from happening and keeps the frog’s cells alive.