Saturday, February 28, 2015

A Good Old-fashioned Snowball Fight Between Franciscans in Jerusalem

A group of Franciscan friars enjoy a good old-fashioned snowball fight in Jerusalem:

Via Fark.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The World's Largest Cave with Its Very Own Ecosystem

In Vietnam's Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park is the world's largest cave Hang Son Doong situated, having its own ecosystem. This magnificent place was discovered in 1991 by a local farmer and then rediscovered by a team of scientists in 2009.

In 1991, a local farmer by the name of Ho Khanh was walking along a stretch of lush forest within the heart of the Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park in Quang Binh province, near the border between Laos and Vietnam. It was an area that he had passed many times before and he was not paying any particular attention to his surroundings when suddenly the jungle floor opened up beneath him and Mr. Khanh only barely managed to hold on as the ground crumbled beneath him. When he was able to get his bearings, he peered into the gaping chasm that had suddenly appeared out of the thick foliage and saw that there was now a steep drop where he had stood that descended down into darkness. By pure chance and blind luck, this man had discovered an entrance that had remained hidden from man for millions of years into what would turn out to be the largest cave in the world, a behemoth five times larger than the largest known cave at the time.

For years the entrance remained unexplored. Locals were afraid to go near it, partly because of the dauntingly steep drop, and partly because of the strange roaring sounds that bellowed out from its depths […]

It was not until 2009 that members of the British Cave Research Association undertook an expedition to penetrate into the mysterious jungle cavern and explore the darkness below. By that time the man who originally had found it no longer even remembered exactly where it was, so the team had to ascertain its position from what he could recall and from other locals, who still feared it. It was to be the beginning of a breathtaking journey into an ancient, forgotten realm that no human being had ever set foot in.

Hang En Cave is the world’s 3rd largest cave, also located within the Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park:

Photo credit: Carsten Peter

Via @SheAHow and MessyNessy.

The World of Colours and Patterns in the City of Istanbul

To instill some warmth into our long dark winter days, a visit to architect Yener Torun's Instagram account is a good place to start, where he captures the beautiful and colourful city of Istanbul, revealing its great architecture.

"Miss France":

"…I'm A Symmetry Addict.":

Latest Food Trend: Japanese Tiny Cuisine

The latest trend in the world of food: Real food prepared and served in a tiny format.

[…] The trend started in Japan, but recently it started catching on with viewers worldwide, with some of these videos racking up hundreds of thousands of views.

So why do so many people find the idea of pinky-sized cuisine appealing? For starters, most of these “recipes” use real-life ingredients, cooked with a small candle or canned heat. The fact that you can actually eat some of these bite-sized creations makes them a lot cooler than if someone had whipped them up using inedible plastic toys.

Shrimp tempura:

Via Metro (SE).

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Magnificent Aurora Borealis Over Abisko National Park, Sweden

A magnificent aurora borealis was seen over Abisko National Park, Sweden, on Feburary 16th, 2015.

Visit Lights Over Lapland for more aurora images, videos and merchandise.

How to Chop An Onion the Marco Pierre White Way

Earlier today, I watched chef Marco Pierre White chopping an onion on Masterchef Australia with incredible knife skills. Sadly, I can't find that clip online, so this is the next best thing:

Portrait of the First American to Summit Everest

American mountaineer Jim Whittaker was the first American to reach the summit of Mount Everest during the expedition of 1963. In this portrait "A Life Well Lived" by director Eric Becker, Jim talks about expanding your comfort zone by taking risks and his love for our vast nature.

Via Aeon.

How MindBodyGreen Came to Life

Jason Wachob is the founder of the wellness site MindBodyGreen. Seeing Jason's entertaining presentation of how the site came to life, I realized I've just been gifted with three words, that put together can guide me every day, so that I don't miss out on the essentials. See for yourself!

The Philanthropic Work of Harris Rosen

Once in a while, you stumble upon stories that are truly inspirational. The one with businessman Harris Rosen's philanthropic work falls into that category. By investing money in a drug-infested and violent neighborhood in Florida, the results have been truly amazing:

Twenty years ago, the Orlando, Fla. neighborhood of Tangelo Park was a crime-infested place where people were afraid to walk down the street. The graduation rate at the local high school was 25 percent. Having amassed a fortune from his success in the hotel business, Rosen decided Tangelo Park needed some hospitality of its own.


Rosen, 73, began his philanthropic efforts by paying for day care for parents in Tangelo Park, a community of about 3,000 people. When those children reached high school, he created a scholarship program in which he offered to pay free tuition to Florida state colleges for any students in the neighborhood.

In the two decades since starting the programs, Rosen has donated nearly $10 million, and the results have been remarkable. The high school graduation rate is now nearly 100 percent, and some property values have quadrupled. The crime rate has been cut in half, according to a study by the University of Central Florida.

Featured image: Taken from the Harris Rosen article in the magazine of the University of Central Florida.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Scandinavian Sweet Buns Now Serving in America

Congratulations America to the arrival of Scandinavian sweet buns! I've only had one this season, so I'm far behind.

Forget the all-night boozing, the spicy jambalaya and the gaudy-colored king cake. And definitely forget the scantily clad debauchery that is Mardi Gras.

Like the set-up of a Garrison Keillor joke, I'm here to tell you about Lutherans and their sweet February buns. Welcome to Fat Tuesday Nordic-style.

Known as semlor in Sweden and fastelavens boller in Norway, these cardamom-scented rounds of yeasted dough are filled with a thick ring of whipped cream and topped with a flurry of confectioner's sugar. Often, bakers blend a spoonful of almond paste with milk to tuck a super sweet surprise under the filling.

Recipe if you'd like to make them yourself.

Photo credit: Linda Lomelino

Via Metro (SE).

Office Workers: Perfect Your Posture

This animated video contains some healthy advice for those of us who spend many hours every day sitting still, so that we can maintain a good posture and health.

Via YogaDork.

Monday, February 16, 2015

805 Million Names: Zlatan's Campaign for UN's World Food Programme

Together with UN, footballer Zlatan Ibrahimović have launched a campaign to raise awareness for the 805 million people who are suffering from hunger in the world today due to wars, natural disasters and extreme poverty.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Making Time for Yourself

An important piece in Vogue by Mackenzie Wagoner about making precious time for yourself:

[…] I signed myself up for a ten-day mind-and-body cleanse that required me to stick to a few basic precepts: making all of my own meals, working out a few times during the prescribed period, taking one bath, and carving out ten minutes every morning and night to meditate. Simple enough, but my initial reaction to each task was, “Who has the time?” Then, upon further consideration, actually feeling frightened by how little space in my schedule I allot for basic human needs: Feeding and bathing myself, getting enough sleep, and improving my health and my heart rate. This is an even scarier realization when you take into account that I am a single woman with one job and no children—not even a house plant relies on me for life. How could I possibly be so busy?

Featured image: The Mandarin Oriental Bangkok via Condé Nast Traveller.

Via @kenchawkin.

Descension: Anish Kapoor's Vortex Installation

In Anish Kapoor's exhibition "Descension", a black intimidating whirpool has been installed at the Kochi-Muziris Biennale in India.

The completion of the installation:

And the final result:

Via Laughing Squid.

Cocaine Remedies in the Late 1800s

In the late 1800s, cocaine was added to drinks and pastilles to cure everything from fatigue to colds. Even heroin was used to treat ailments such as headaches.

Not your ordinary Fisherman's Friend (image via):

Ad for Vin Mariani, a tonic made from Bordeaux wine and coca leaves (image via):

Friday, February 13, 2015

Russell Simmons' Mini-workshop on How to Do Mantra Meditation

This is sort of a mini-workshop on how to meditate using a mantra by music mogul and Transcendental Meditation practitioner Russell Simmons, in which the mass mantra "rum" (or "ram") is used:

When Russell spoke with broadcast journalist Soledad O'Brien, he had this to say about the process he teaches:

When did you start meditating?

I started meditating almost 20 years ago, but I started TM more recently.

Transcendental meditation.

Transcendental meditation, which I know you do, as well. I started that more recently — I guess eight, nine years ago. But for me, like, my book is a very simple kind of a meditation. It's based in mantra, light TM. It borrows almost every idea you can borrow from TM. It demystifies it — the whole practice of it, and it makes it accessible, I hope, to a lot of people.

Tip: See also my post "Transcendental Meditation and the Alternatives".

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Tintype Portraits of Mohawk Ironworkers by Melissa Cacciola

Melissa Cacciola's photo series "Skywalkers: The Legacy of the Mohawk Ironworker at the World Trade Center" consists of thirty portraits of Mohawk ironworkers from the Kahnawake reservation in Canada who have been working at the World Trade Center site in the aftermath of 9/11.

Using the old photographic process called tintype, gave these portraits an interesting vintage look:

Using the historic process of the tintype (a photographic positive on a lacquered metal plate, invented during the 1850s), Cacciola created individual portraits of each ironworker using a large format camera, period brass lenses, and hand-made film emulsions. Some of the earliest known tintypes in existence are of Native American subjects giving further relevance to the use of this nineteenth-century process.

Read the WSJ piece to find out more about the men's personal stories.

Featured image: Joe, 2012.

Sean Dunne's Documentary Florida Man

Having only seen the trailer and with the absence of a synopsis, it makes me summarize Sean Dunne's documentary "Florida Man" to be all about people, a work with great visuals and intimate portraits. Reading Sean's interview done by Directors Notes, you find out that the initial difficulty grasping the film was on purpose:

It’s about the struggle. More than any of my previous work I really wanted Florida Man to open us up and gain permission from our audience to get loose and make films that aren’t necessarily about any one thing. In the process I feel like we made a film that is kind of about everything. We purposely set out to make a film that was hard to describe, a film that you have to experience, something that transcends the current confines of this beautiful medium. If viewers feel like they were there with us, like they were laughing with Florida Man, not at him, then we’ve done our job. Well-made documentaries, in my opinion, should leave you feeling introspective, not judgmental, not above the subject, but one with them. That’s what we were trying to accomplish with Florida Man.


Watch the full film.

You find more of Sean's work here.

Via Dangerous Minds and Brian Smith.

American Kids Eat Around the World When Having Breakfast

In this video, kids are eating around the world when having the most important meal of the day. My usual breakfast doesn't resemble any of these, but it's most interesting to learn about other countries breakfast habits, although I think that most cultures cook a wide spectrum of different meals.

And, to the Dutch grown ups: Thanks for encouraging the children to have hagelslag (chocolate sprinkles) for breakfast.


Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The Rocket Snowboard

Two G40 rocket motors were used to power up this snowboard on its test run:

Via @btoddrichards and AWSM.

A Magazine Writer's Encounter with Transcendental Meditation

In GQ's lengthy piece "The Totally Stressed-Out Man's Guide to Meditation", magazine writer Josh Dean takes us through his initiation into the practice of Transcendental Meditation and the personal transformation that comes out of this daily practice.

The thing everyone asks you, when you share the news you've taken up meditating, is: Does it work? My wife in particular liked to ask me this, and I tended to tell her one of these things: I think. I'm not sure. I can't tell. The honest truth is that this is a very hard question to answer. (She also laughs at me—still!—every time I tell her I'm going to meditate.)

The question I was asking two months after my first session, when I went for a follow-up, was about the mixed quality of my meditations. Sometimes, when my mind is most at ease, and not preoccupied by thoughts—especially the annoying meta-thoughts, such as "I wonder how much time is left?"—the time flies by. TM can be like a tour through your subconscious, and in twenty minutes you can cover a lot of ground traipsing past the various things agitating your psyche. It can also be trippy, and I am sometimes startled to find myself a few minutes into a lucid dream.

Tip: See also my post "Transcendental Meditation and the Alternatives".

Featured image: Illustration by Brian Cronin.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Kodak Moment: Kitten Observes a Rainy Day

A kitten spends the day inside during some rainy weather (the description could also read "instant mood booster"):

Via Onedio.

Arnold Schwarzenegger Turned to Transcendental Meditation in the 70's

During the 70's when Arnold Schwarzenegger's professional career rocketed in several areas, he began to feel a bit overwhelmed and ended up practicing Transcendental Meditation for a year, a practice he has since discontinued in exchange for other mind sharpening activities.

As his international celebrity — and bank account — grew, Schwarzenegger realized that despite his signature extreme self-confidence, he was starting to feel overwhelmed, he tells author Tim Ferriss in the latest episode of Ferriss' podcast.

"Eventually it felt like I've got to do something about it because I have such great opportunities here and everything is happening and everything is going my way, but I'm just clustering [it all] into one big problem rather than separating it out and having calm and peace and being happy," Schwarzenegger said.

He told Ferriss that during this time he ran into a friend at the beach who told him that he was teaching Transcendental Meditation (TM), which prompted Schwarzenegger to reveal he had been struggling with anxiety for the first time in his life.

His friend set him up with an instructor who taught him proper TM technique, which entails sitting with your eyes closed for 15 to 20 minutes while breathing deeply and repeating a mantra.

"I did 20 minutes in the morning and 20 minutes at night, and I would say within 14 days or three weeks, I got to the point where I could really disconnect my mind ... and learn how to focus more and calm down," Schwarzenegger says.

Tip: See also my post "Transcendental Meditation and the Alternatives".

Featured image: Arnold trains with Dave Draper. Unknown photographer. Via

Via @MeditationAVL.

Flotsam and Jetsam: The art of Beachcombing

In the documentary "Flotsam and Jetsam", we're taken to the small Dutch island Texel, where its residents engage in something called beachcombing. Due to the tidal system surrounding the island, things that have been claimed by the sea ends up on the shore, to be found by the people of Texel. They have even installed a museum with some of the oddest items found.

Via Aeon.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Brunchcity: Miniature Towns Built atop of Iconic Dishes

In their ongoing project "Brunchcity", illustrator Bea Crespo together with photographer Andrea Portoles, combine miniature landscapes of famous cities with the food they are most famous for, which makes for an adorable and educating result.

Brussels on top of waffles:

The city of London:

Featured image: The city of sunny Marrakech.

Listen to Jeff Bridges' 'Sleeping Tapes' (2015)

In collaboration with Squarespace, actor Jeff Bridges has created the album "Sleeping Tapes" (2015) that will assist you in getting a good night's rest. After skimming through the album, I'm not sure it will do just that, if I someday end up in dire need for help with insomnia, but it's certainly something of a mesmerizing art project. I have always enjoyed the voice of Jeff, so this is a perfect match.

Short Documentary: An Amish Man

Filmmaker Philip Bloom's short documentary "An Amish Man" portraits carpenter Dennis who earns his living making beautiful cabinets. Hearing Dennis talk about how the amish try to coexist with our modern society and yet, living a life that takes good care of our earth, is really interesting and makes you reflect.

To find out more about this project, head over here.

Via Aeon.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

NBC's Brian Williams Raps "Rapper's Delight"

From "The Tonight Show", NBC Nightly News' Brian Williams raps "Rapper's Delight" by The Sugar Hill Gang. This is so well edited!

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Norweigan Skier Pulls Off a Nose Butter 180 to Switch Frontflip

Skier Bård Smukkestad's nose butter 180 to switch frontflip is something quite spectacular:

Friday, February 6, 2015

Photo Series: A Weather Man in Deep Solitude

Photographer Evgenia Arbugaeva's photo series of the weather man Vyacheslav Korotki is a rare glimpse of someone who lives deeply in solitude, far away from our civilization. The images are absolutely fantastic and coupled with Korotki's profile, this is an absolutely intriguing work.

Vyacheslav Korotki is a man of extreme solitude. He is a trained polyarnik, a specialist in the polar north, a meteorologist. In the past thirty years, he has lived on Russian ships and, more recently, in Khodovarikha, an Arctic outpost, where he was sent by the state to measure the temperatures, the snowfall, the winds. The outpost lies on a fingernail of a peninsula that juts into the Barents Sea. The closest town, by any definition, is an hour away by helicopter. He has a wife, but she lives far away, in Arkhangelsk. They have no children. On his rare visits to Arkhangelsk, he has trouble negotiating the traffic and the noise. […]

Korotki's working materials:

A view of the Barents Sea:

Via Onedio.

Train Dashes Through the Snow in Salisbury, New Brunswick

Talk about raw power when this train driver, who seems to work in a constant whiteout, comes speeding in a snowy winterland in Salisbury, New Brunswick, Canada.

Via Metro SE.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Cockpit View When a Boeing 737 Takes Off from Saint Martin

For some reason, I have a weak spot for aviation, although I never (yet) travel myself. I just love to see airplanes take off and go in for landing, and even better, watch footage from inside the cockpit. I have mentioned in a recent post that offers you just that, but today I found this great alternative: the YouTube channel 737Channel with great HD footage.

In this video, a Boeing 737-800 takes off from the famous airport Princess Juliana International Airport of Saint Martin.

And this is one of the reasons why this airport is so famous (video from YouTube channel TheGreatFlyer):

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Mantra Meditation Lecture by Michael Olpin

Dr. Michael Olpin, who works as a professor of Health Promotion at Weber State University, learned Transcendental Meditation more than twenty years ago, and has practiced it almost daily ever since. In this lecture, Michael teaches us the exact same process that he was taught, but without the religious aspects that are associated with the TM program. He has been teaching this meditation process for more than 15 years with students experiencing the same effects as thoose found when practicing TM.

During the lecture there is a handout with instructions in how to meditate, which you find here.

Watch full lecture:

Update: Michael has co-authored the book "Unwind!: 7 Principles for a Stress-Free Life" with Sam Bracken.

Tip: See also my post "Transcendental Meditation and the Alternatives".

Bert Haanstra's Oscar-winning Short Film Glass (1958)

Bert Haanstra's Oscar-winning short film "Glass" from 1958 explores the Dutch glass production and the hard, but artistic labour involved. A great piece of work!

Via Aeon.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

NYC, 1981: A City's Violent Past

The short documentary "NYC, 1981" conveys one city's violent past. In '81, New York experienced one of its most violent year ever, and featured in this documentary are the men and women who were in the midst of it. As one of them says: "You can not be in it and not of it".

This short was partly due to promote the film "A Most Violent Year". To further support the film, a blog has also been created.

Via Laughing Squid.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Large Scale Photorealistic Oilpaintings by Dutch Artist

Dutch artist Tjalf Sparnaay's large scale photorealistic oilpaintings depict everyday objects such as fried eggs and ketchup bottles.

"Kaviaar" (2011):

To see more of Tjalf's work, visit TAXI or the artist's gallery.

Photo credit: Tjalf Sparnaay

Short Film Narcose: A Hommage to the World of Freediving

Julie Gautier's short film "Narcose" documenting her husband Guillaume Nery's freedive down to 125 meters, is one great hommage to freediving with incredibly beautiful underwater cinematography.

Deep water freediving exposes its practitioners to a form of narcosis, which induces several symptoms, among which a feeling of euphoria and levity that earned this phenomenon its nickname of «raptures of the deep».

NARCOSE relates the interior journey of Guillaume Néry, the apnea world champion, during one of his deep water dives. This short film draws its inspiration from his physical experience and the narrative of his hallucinations.

Alternating between reality and imagination, the film shows how far human abilities can be stretched and it reveals the intimate and primal bond between the athlete’s inner world and his aquatic environment, bringing the understanding of the human relationship with the underwater world to new levels.

Watch the full film:

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