Saturday, May 3, 2008

Alien Images Appear On Wall In Western Canada

Some Believe Images Are Just Reflection From Window

POSTED: 9:25 am EDT March 21, 2008
UPDATED: 9:29 am EDT March 21, 2008
Some believe aliens have landed in western Canada after seeing strange reflections appear almost nightly on the wall of a Calgary home."I looked out and I thought, 'Oh my gosh, I've lost my mind,'" resident Karen Henuset said of the first time she saw the specters. "So I asked our nanny to come and take a look at this, and the hair on her arms just stood straight up."It's as "clear as day. You see two eyes on each of them, they both have this little thing over their head. It's a little weird," said resident Reid Henuset.A neighbor said he believes the image is a reflection off of a window. And it only happens every afternoon between 4:30 p.m. and 6 p.m.The only sure way the image goes away -- clouds.Although some adults may be skeptics, ask the neighborhood kids what they think and the answer is unanimous."There's aliens, real-life aliens on a wall," one unidentified girl said. "No one believes us."

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Just When I Thought I Was Lost…

May 1st, 2008

More times than I can count, I have found myself lost and looking for some sign to help get me back on track.


Luckily, signs like these have been put up in Asia to make sure tourist never get lost.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Reward offered for inflatable pig lost after Roger Waters' Coachella set

A giant inflatable pig scrawled with the words "Don't Be Led To the Slaughter" floats over the crowd during Roger Waters' headlining set on the third day of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio, Calif., Sunday, April 27, 2008. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS/Chris Pizzello

INDIO, Calif. - Have you seen this pig? It's huge, inflatable, features the word "Obama" and it has lost its way in the California desert.

Organizers for the Coachella music festival announced that the gigantic blowup swine, released into the night sky during Roger Waters' headlining set Sunday, was still out there - and they want it back.

The festival is offering a US$10,000 reward plus four Coachella tickets for life for the safe return of the pig, according to spokeswoman Marcee Rondan.

As tall as a two-storey house and as wide as two school buses, the pig was led from lines held on the ground Sunday as Waters played a version of Pink Floyd's "Pigs" from the 1977 album "Animals." Then it just floated away.

"It wasn't really supposed to happen that way. I don't have the details," Rondan said.

As for safety concerns, Rondan speculated, "Because it's inflatable, as it loses air it becomes less and less dangerous."

She did not know how much it weighed.

As of Tuesday, Rondan said, the festival had not been able to contact Waters, the Pink Floyd co-founder and songwriting mastermind behind albums such as "Animals" and "The Dark Side of the Moon."

The pig displays the words "Don't be led to the slaughter" and a cartoon of Uncle Sam holding two bloody cleavers. The other side reads "Fear builds walls" and the underside reads "Obama" with a checked ballot box for U.S. Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama.

Rogers, who told the crowd "that's my pig" as it drifted off into the night, closed out the three-day festival.

Pink Floyd shows have used blowup pigs throughout the years. Rondan called Sunday's "the same prototype" as past pigs.

"People are putting search teams together to find this pig," Rondan said. "But it may float in the night sky, never to be seen again."

Brain training games boost IQ, study shows

Brain training puzzles really can boost intelligence, a study shows for the first time today.

The exercises are an increasingly popular way for people of all ages to keep their minds alert.

It has been suggested before that Sudoku number puzzles improve memory, while crosswords expand the vocabulary. The elderly are also said to benefit from a new generation of computer exercises played on video consoles to improve recall.

However, for the first time, scientists have proven that mental exercise really does limber up the brain and make it more quick-witted.

A Swiss-American team reports in a leading scientific journal how they used a computer based brain-training method to improve general problem-solving ability.

Many psychologists had thought the only way to improve this was actually by practising the specific problem solving task you wanted to get better at. However, this theory is overturned in the work by Drs Susanne Jaeggi, Martin Buschk├╝hl and colleagues at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor and University of Bern.

They say you can improve generally problem solving ability by carrying out unrelated mental exercises and puzzles.

In the experiment, the team gave 35 volunteers a series of mental training exercises designed to improve their working memory, while they also had 35 more subjects who did not undergo the "brain boot camp".

Those who underwent the mental exercise tests, were shown a sequence of squares appearing one after another on the computer screen every three seconds. The task was to decide whether a certain square was at the same position as another one previously seen in the sequence.

At the same time, participants heard spoken letters and had to decide whether the currently heard letter was the same as one presented two or three steps earlier in the sequence.

If they did well the task became harder, while if they did badly it became easier. They repeated the exercises for between eight and 19 days.

Their problem solving ability was then assessed compared to the group who had not taken part in the exercises.

According to the results of the study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the group who took part in the puzzles had a significantly improved problem solving ability. Moreover, the more the participants trained, the more problems they could solve.

Motivation however, was also important too - suggesting people have to be committed to mental exercise to reap the benefits.

Dr Jaeggi said: "It's the same in sports: you can not expect to get better in football if you merely run around a little bit and not really want to improve."

This is the first evidence that mental exercise improves intelligence and problem solving ability generally and suggests time spent on crosswords, Sudoko and other number and word games is time well spent.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

A Visit to Beijing's Exclusive Penis Restaurant

By Stephan Orth in Beijing

Whole yak penis or sheep testicles on a bed of curry, anyone? A Beijing restaurant serves painstakingly decorated gourmet dishes for the fearless. They're supposed to increase male potency, but women should try a bite, too: Eating penis is good for the skin, apparently.

"Here, try it," says Zhaoran, a business student, as she places a beige-colored ox urethra onto her friend's plate. He's in the middle of wolfing down a piece of chewy dog penis.


Click on a picture to launch the image gallery (9 Photos)

A visit to the Guolizhuang Restaurant in Beijing is not for the faint-hearted. Here the menu consists almost entirely of penis and testicle dishes -- made from the private parts of deer, snakes, yaks, horses, seals and ducks, among others.

The platters have names like "The Essence of the Golden Buddha," "Phoenix Rising," "Jasmine Flowers with 1,000 Layers" and "Look for the Treasure in the Desert Sand." Are such flowery names meant to prevent guests from prematurely running off? After all, the "jasmine flowers" are made of layers of thinly sliced donkey penis, and the "treasure in the desert" is actually sheep gonads on a bed of curry.

"Chinese eat anything with four legs, except tables. And everything that flies, except airplanes," says Zhaoran, quoting a well-known Chinese saying. This may be true, but even in China a penis restaurant is unusual. The Guolizhuang restaurant opened two years ago on the aptly-named Dongsishitiao Street. Word quickly spread among well-heeled Chinese, and today there are five franchises. The chain is even expanding outside of China -- into the Chinatown in Atlanta, Georgia.

Deer Blood as Viagra

Lucy, a 20-year-old waitress, wears a traditionally embroidered silk shawl with images of courtly scenes and plants -- and a smiley sticker. Part of her job is thoroughly explaining the menu, as many guests are entering an entirely new culinary landscape when they visit the restaurant. "For thousands of years, Chinese medicine has used animal penises to cure kidney and erection problems," she says. But for their medicinal effect to work, the dishes have to be consumed regularly.

"But if you want something that works faster, we have a wine that contains extracts of heart, penis, and blood from a deer," she explains. "That has an effect within 30 minutes." This potency cocktail has been said to be better than Viagra, and it has no side effects.

Raw or roasted, whole or sliced, tip or base: the penis binge is not meant for Chinese guests as a superficial test of courage, but rather as a serious treatment for the libido. "The sexual act of this Russian dog lasts 48 hours and its mating season is seven months out of the year," is how the colorful, photo-filled menu praises a €16 ($25) penis dish.

A certain degree of care appears to be required when choosing a dish, depending partly on what one has planned for later in the evening. The sex and age of the customer also play a role. "Women should not eat testicles," Lucy says. "The hormones could give them a deeper voice and a beard." Penises, on the other hand, are completely harmless, and in fact are even "good for the skin," she says.

Children under 15 are not allowed in the penis restaurant; the hormones are said to interfere with natural growth. All the guests sit in booths, and most of them are older couples or all-male groups. "A lot of the customers are business people meeting with clients," Lucy says. "They order the most expensive meals -- their companies are paying."

Dog Penis Bone with A Cherry on Top

A waitress in pinstripe pants and a black jacket puts a pot of broth on an electric hotplate. Then Lucy carries out a glass plate with raw sexual parts from oxen and dogs, tastefully arranged on a bed of lettuce. A finger-long pointy bone protrudes out of a glass in the middle of the plate. There's a decorative cherry stuck on top. "Dogs are the only animals that have a penis bone," Lucy explains to the guests, pointing out the little groove on the side for the urethra.

Ox penises are sliced along the side and bent into little stars. Lucy uses chopsticks to dip one into the hotpot of chicken broth, dates, and lychees. Then the meat is doused in soy- or hot sauce. The consistency and taste are a little like a bitter piece of calamari.

The second course, called "Henry's whip," is much more delicate and sweet. It's sheep's penis on a stick, covered in a sheath of mayonnaise and sweet cheese. It's called "Henry" because it's prepared in a Western style, Lucy says.

Some of the specialties are expensive: A yak penis costs €179, while a hotpot with 10 different penis-and-testicle selections served on an attractive, four-sided plate tower with little statues of animals will set you back €89. For particularly discerning palates, the menu also offers deer and sheep fetuses (€36 and €9, respectively).

But this is only a small sampling of what restaurant manager Chen Jianguo says he has to offer. "For special guests there's a special menu," he says. Some connoisseurs say there are even penises from endangered species, like tigers. But to have a bite of that, you'll have to fill out a special application form for a silver, gold, or platinum membership card and pay up to €905.

At the end of the meal, Lucy hands over a little red box with ribbons on it. The dog penis bone is inside. It's a souvenir, she says, and is supposed to bring luck and protect the holder against "harmful influences."

But what about the risks and side effects from the food itself? Is your pulse really going faster when you leave the restaurant, or is it just your imagination? And were those spots on your arm there before?

"I think my voice is slowly getting deeper," Zhaoran says.

Travel Channel’s Andrew Zimmern on his life of bugs & beasts

Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern on the Travel ChannelMost food-themed travel shows shouldn’t be watched unless you have a meal in front of you to satiate your inevitable hunger. But that’s not the case with the Travel Channel’s “Bizarre Foods With Andrew Zimmern.” Now in its second season, the Tuesday night program showcases the grinning chef-critic’s adventures in culinary treasures most Westerners would pass up for fear of throwing up.

Bull penis soup in Bolivia? Sure. Deep-fried chicken gizzard in Minnesota? Why not? The Morocco episode from Season 1 actually made me turn off the TV. In it, Zimmern sits at a table in the local market, ready to peel back the steamed skin and dig into the fresh sheep face on the butcher paper. The all-penis menu at Beijing’s Guo-li-zhuang might have elicited the biggest reaction from audience, but when asked about it, Zimmern just smiles and says, “That’s not even in my top five.”

So speaking of foods that would make most of us gag, what are some of the worst things he’s eaten in the name of television? “Gag-worthy for me is not necessarily what’s gag-worthy for everyone else,” he says. “The things that actually make me gag most are the putrefied foods. These are things like the hakarl in Iceland, the stinkheads in Alaska, the stinky tofu in Taiwan, the calea in Morocco. All of these are completely different, but they all are literally rotted.”

Zimmern often describes the street food as “gamey” or “gelatinous,” which some might take as a warning. But he says it’s when he smiles and exclaims, “Wow! That’s interesting” that you know he’s really trying to keep his game face on.

The food featured in the Chilean episode, which aired Tuesday night and re-airs through this week, might Piore, a sponge sea creature in South Americahave reached a new level of oddness. In it, the crew found a sea creature called a piure (pictured) and that Zimmern claims “was possibly the most visually horrifying thing I’ve seen.” The giant sponge reminded him of the Horta, the giant pulsing rock in the original “Star Trek” TV series, but “it was delicious.” Luckily, the episode also led him to some tasty, less-offensive-looking bull scrota in an onion-tomato-and-wine broth made by the Mapuche Indians.

This is all part of what Zimmern says his goal is for the show: “We show people that the world is a different place and make them realize that something that’s different isn’t something to be scared of,” adding, “I believe in the power of food as a communicating agent.”

He argues that the show also gives people a chance to see how the other half lives and that non-Western nations aren’t as lacking as they might seem. “People always remember that I eat the bugs,” he says. “They forget that in the next scene, I’m in the best restaurant in town. There just might be a handful of restaurants in Bolivia who might compete as international restaurants that could compete on anyone’s list, whereas in Los Angeles there are a hundred.”

That can be a weighty task on both the brain and the stomach. So where does this New York boy-turned-Twin Cities transplant go when he needs a rest? “I’d think I’d rather be sitting in a fala in Lanamanu Beach in Samoa than just about the best place in the world.” Just hope it’s near an open market in case he gets hungry. …