Thursday, May 29, 2008

Japan's Seven Most Mysterious Creatures

Number Two: The Tsuchinoko (shown above)

"The Tsuchinoko is a snake-like cryptid found throughout Japan. Reports describe the Tsuchinoko as having a thick, stubby body measuring 12 to 30 inches in length, often with a distinct neck, gray, brown or black scaly skin, and venomous fangs. Some accounts suggest the Tsuchinoko has a loud, high-pitched squeak and can jump as far as one meter. The earliest known written record of the Tsuchinoko dates back to the 7th century, where it appears in the Kojiki, the oldest surviving book in Japan. In some legends, the Tsuchinoko can speak, has a tendency to tell lies, and enjoys the taste of alcohol."

Hmmm. Sounds familiar. See the rest of the list at Pink Tentacle!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Fighting Cholitas

You want women's sports? I'll give you women's sports. Just last night, I was flipping through the TV channels when I spotted something VERY interesting. In the center of a wrestling ring, surrounded by a cheering crowd, a couple of women with long braids and lovely ankle-length skirts were pummeling the snot out of each other.

Turns out, they were two of the fighting cholitas. Apparently, every Sunday in Bolivia, women enter the ring to wrestle in front of throngs of their adoring fans. They stomp, taunt, and dropkick each other--while wearing the traditional multi-layer skirt of the region.

Though I suspect it's as "real" as American professional wrestling, you have to admire the ladies' toughness and athleticism. If I ever need a bodyguard (again), I'm definitely heading down to Bolivia.

See the trailer for the documentary "The Fighting Cholitas" below! (Keep in mind--it may look rough, but it's all for fun.)

PS: The rump move made my day.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Too Good To Play With the Boys?

Jaime Nared is a twelve-year-old, 6'1" basketball superstar. In fact, she's so good that she's been kicked off her team.

What? Yep, Jaime has been playing in a boys' basketball league for a while, and though her teammates seem in awe of her talent, the parents of the competition weren't thrilled to discover a basketball goddess dominating the court. As soon as they caught a glimpse of Jaime's unbelievable skills, they searched the books and found an obscure rule banning mixed gender teams. So Jaime--by far the best player in the league--got the boot.

Because she's a girl. And because she's the best.

Check out a video of Jaime on Good Morning America below.

PS: I love the teammate they interview. He's awesome.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Just One Good Idea

Okay, remember back on Earth Day when I said that if each of us came up with just ONE good idea we might be able save the world? Well I'm about to take a big step toward proving that theory.

Daniel Burd, a sixteen-year-old Canadian high school student has identified and isolated microbes that can eat plastic. This is BIG. Right now, most plastic waste goes into landfills, where it can sit for thousands of years, poisoning the soil around it. But Daniel Burd estimates that his remarkable little microorganisms may be able to gobble up a plastic bag in less than three months!

One high school science project may just have helped save the planet. Daniel Burd, the Irreglars salute you!

Read more here.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Photoshop's Latest Victims

Imagine you purchase your school's latest yearbook. You eagerly flip through the pages to find your own picture. It's there, all right. But there's something about it that isn't quite right. In fact . . . OMG . . . it looks as though your head has been attached to someone else's body. Someone who isn't even the same gender as you!

That's what happened recently to the students at McKinney High School in Dallas, Texas. When they examined their latest yearbook pictures, they discovered that outfits had been changed, necks had been stretched, and hair had been shortened. And that's not all. Thirty-four students had been given someone else's body. There were girls in boys' clothes and boys with clearly feminine bodies. One person was missing an entire arm--and another's clothes had been digitally erased. Her body below the neck was just a flesh-colored blur.

No one has figured out what exactly happened to the McKinney year book pictures. Did an employee get a little Photoshop happy? Was it all just a crazy hoax? Whatever the case, it certainly made the school year a little more memorable.

Read more here.

Friday, May 23, 2008

I Want a Mini Pig!

The owners of the Pennywell Farm in the UK have finally bred the perfect piglet! They're one-fifth the size of regular pigs and their sweet personalities make them ideal pets. In fact, according to the BBC you can have one of your own for only $300. (Plus shipping and handling.)

I would like to have a dozen mini pigs, which I would train to be my personal army of the night. They're so cute, people would be helpless to stop them! **EVIL LAUGHTER**

Thursday, May 22, 2008

One Fast Fish

Cameras recently captured a flying fish sailing above the surface of the ocean for almost a full minute! Check out the video here.

Grooming Secrets of the 17th Century

(Above: But how did he get such a beautiful smile?)

You know what I've been looking for? An instrument that will help me get rid of all that pesky ear wax--AND keep my teeth clean! I thought I might have to search forever until I came across this story yesterday.

Seems divers searching a 385-year-old shipwreck off the Florida Keys have discovered the device of my dreams. The combination toothpick/ear wax spoon is three inches long and made from an once of pure gold. It sank with its well-groomed owner to the bottom of the sea in 1622, when a hurricane destroyed the Spanish galleon Santa Margarita.

Snicker all you want. According to experts, the dainty device (shown below) is worth around $100,000.

PS: Whatever you do, NEVER search for pictures of ear wax. I did, and think I might need to lie down now.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Rotterdam's Bird Man

Right now, somewhere in the city of Rotterdam (Netherlands), there's a man living in an enormous nest attached to the side of a skyscraper (above). From time to time, he dons a feather headdress. There's also a giant egg involved (below). What's the meaning of all of this? Your guess is as good as mine. You see, the guy's website is entirely in Dutch. I have a sneaking suspicion it's ART of some sort. (Though wouldn't it be great if it were all deadly serious?)

Any Dutch speakers out there who'd care to clue us in?

via Neatorama

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Who's Breeding Gigantic Beetles?

(Above: Radio control arthropods)

Not long ago, a suspicious package arrived at the Mohnton, Pennsylvania post office. The return address was a town in Taiwan and its contents were listed as "toys, gifts, and jellies." Yet something was moving around and scratching inside of the box, and the local postmaster was pretty sure that it wasn't fruit preserves.

The package was sent to Philadelphia where it was X-rayed. Inside, customs officials found more than two dozen enormous Hercules, rhinoceros and Goliath beetles--all five to six inches in diameter. Many of the beetles were labeled by gender, which means the recipient was probably intending to breed them.

Of course in Japan, these types of bugs are used in beetle battles. Is it possible that the (not so) bloody sport is already being played in hidden rooms across America?

(Below: One of the seized bugs)

Monday, May 19, 2008

Can Animals Predict Earthquakes?

(Above: What were the toads trying to tell us?)

Last week, thousands of toads inexplicably appeared in the streets of Mianzhu, China. Hundreds of miles away, zebras began banging their heads against the doors of their zoo cages and normally docile pandas stomped around in their pens. Crazed elephants swung their trunks at their keepers while the screeches of peacocks shattered visitors' eardrums.

Then, on the afternoon of May 12, an earthquake struck. It leveled schools, destroyed countless other buildings, and left thousands upon thousands of people dead or homeless. Now the question that everyone wants answered is: Did the animals know?

For centuries, people have witnessed strange animal behavior in the hours before earthquakes. But to this day, no one has figured out why animals seem to be able to predict the disasters. Do they feel rumblings that we can't? Can they detect changes in electrical fields or sniff gases being released from the earth? Perhaps they hear sounds that human ears don't register.

Whatever the reason, scientists would love to be able to harness the animals' predictive powers. Both China and Japan have tried in the past, and they've experienced many successes--and many false alarms. But I'll tell you this: If I ever spot a thousand toads crossing Fifth Avenue, I'm getting the heck out of New York.

Read more here, here, and here.

(Below: Pandas--because they're cute.)

Friday, May 16, 2008

Need a Little Peace and Quiet?

There may still time to place a bid on this lovely lighthouse located in the Chesapeake Bay. Built in 1905, it's the perfect place to write a book and do a little squid spotting.


How to Get Rich in Your Sleep

(Above: Waiting to be rescued--or making a fortune?)

NASA is offering $5000 a month to anyone willing to stay in bed for 90 straight days. (Unfortunately, I have a feeling you need to be eighteen years old to participate.) It's all part of an experiment that's designed to find ways to help astronauts stay in space longer. You can even read and play videogames! I think I could be REALLY good at this. Find out more here.

On a related note, earlier this year, a Dutch college student launched a website which allowed people to watch him spend his days lounging in bed.

Said the student, "I stay in bed all day, except for taking a shower, going to the bathroom and making something to eat. That's all I want to do. And I want to stay in bed until I'm very rich." Twenty-one days into his project, he'd already made more than $7000.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Freaks of Nature

(Artwork by Karmasoup.)

A green puppy was born in Louisiana last week. Could it be an alien-canine hybrid? Check out the video here.

Giant pythons could soon invade the Southeastern US. Don't say I haven't warned you about a MILLION times. Read more here. No dogs were harmed during in the writing of the article. (Only a duck, an alligator, a bobcat, a deer, and a pet store owner.)

Forget Godzilla. Huge, aggressive, and terrifying crows have taken over Japan. They steal candy from babies, carry away ducklings, and cause hundreds of blackouts each year.

You're on a boat in the middle of the ocean, and suddenly the water around you begins to pulse with light. Either you're about to be beamed up to the mother ship or you've just encountered some creatures with a very special talent. Check them out here.

Is this the biggest bull in Britain? (See below.) At six feet and six inches, Chilli is the size of a small elephant. And he's still growing.

Bonus Material:

Extra sticky frog tape
An unusual fish poison
What is it?

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


On Thursday, May 15, at 4:30 PM, please join Kirsten Miller at the Kew Gardens Hills Library in Queens and discover . . .


72-33 Vleigh Place, Flushing


To Catch a Thief

On April 27, Kait Duplaga returned home to find that her apartment had been burglarized. More than $5000 in electronics had been taken--including Kait's Apple laptop computer. The police had no leads, and for a while, the thieves must have believed they had executed a perfect crime.

But they didn't count on Kait's crazy computer skills!

Last week, Kait received a call from a friend who said he'd seen her computer logged into iChat. The thieves were online! So Kait, who works at an Apple Store, decided to catch them in the act. She used a brand-new Mac feature called "Back to My Mac" to log into her computer remotely. Then she used the computer's built-in camera to take pictures of the crooks.

One of Kait's friends recognized the men as guests at a party they'd thrown a couple of weeks earlier. The police were able to identify them, and all of Kait's belongings were recovered!

Read more here.

Thanks for the tip, Sekrit7!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Mystery of Track 61

Underneath the luxurious Waldorf Astoria Hotel in midtown Manhattan lies a mysterious train station. Few people have seen it, and even fewer know why it was built--or who once rode in the private train car that still sits on the tracks.

Who was powerful enough to have a secret train station built beneath one of the fanciest hotels in the world? And why did he need his own private car?

Find out below . . .

Monday, May 12, 2008

Robot Jellyfish and Bionic Dolphins

Scientists in Germany have managed to create the first "intelligent" robotic jellyfish. (Shown above.) According to National Geographic, the Aquajellies use a type of 'swarm intelligence,' to set their own courses, which allows them to come together or avoid each other as needed. They can even 'talk' using light pulses and radio waves.

Hmm. I don't trust jellyfish, and I don't trust robots. Nothing good can come of this.

Fortunately, there's the story of Winter the dolphin to cheer me up. In 2006, two-month-old Winter was rescued in Florida waters after losing her tail in a crab trap. She survived, but without a tail, she could never learn to swim properly. So world-renown prosthetist, Kevin Carroll decided to MAKE her a tail. (He's also made prosthetics for dogs, ducks, and ostriches.) Now Winter holds the record as the world's first bionic dolphin. Read more here.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Catching Fish in Manhattan's Basements

The other day I dropped by BLDGBLOG and discovered one of the most remarkable posts I've ever come across. Seriously--nothing's gotten me this excited in months. The subject was basement fishing. In New York.

According to the post, in 1971, a gentleman named Jack Gasnick wrote a short piece for the New York Times in which he described a most unusual discovery. He claimed that, in the basement of his old hardware store on Second Avenue and 53rd street, he had uncovered a large stream that was stocked with fish.

He said he made the discovery around 1956, shortly after a storm flooded the building's cellar. When the water finally drained away, he was surprised to find two or three fish left behind. He decided to investigate, only to discover an old iron grate beneath the dirt on the basement floor. He and his brother managed to lift the grate, and here's what they saw . . .

"We had a lantern to pierce the cellar darkness and fifteen feet below I clearly saw the stream bubbling and pushing about, five feet wide and upon its either side, dark green mossed rocks. This lively riverlet was revealed to us exactly as it must have appeared to a Manhattan Indian many years ago.

With plum-bob and line, I cast in and found the stream to be over six feet deep. The spray splashed upwards from time to time and standing on the basement floor, I felt its tingling coolness.

One day I was curious enough to try my hand at fishing. I had an old-fashioned dropline and baited a hook with a piece of sperm-candle. I jiggled the hook for about five minutes and then felt a teasing nibble. Deep in the basement of an ancient tenement on Second Avenue in the heart of midtown New York City, I was fishing."

OMG, OMG, OMG. That is the coolest story I've ever heard. Because as crazy as it sounds, any long-time reader of this blog knows that there are lots of underground rivers and streams throughout the city. (Need a refresher? Click here.) There's even a map (below) that shows all of them.

Of course some experts claim that fish couldn't survive underground for that long. But several visitors to BLDGBLOG noted that blind carp are known to live in the ancient, underground cisterns that lie deep beneath Istanbul, Turkey. People who live above the cisterns often catch the fish through holes in their basement floors.

So it IS possible. Can you imagine? You invite a friend over for dinner. When she asks what you'll be eating you just hand her a fishing pole and lead her down to the basement . . .

Read more here, here, and here.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

The Sinkhole That's Eating Texas

On Wednesday, a dainty 20-foot sinkhole appeared in Daisetta, Texas. Then it began to eat the town. By Friday, it was 900 feet across and 260 feet deep. Filled with a toxic mixture of various liquids and debris, the hole has consumed vehicles, oil tanks, and telephone poles. Scientists think it's stopped growing, but since they DON'T EVEN KNOW WHAT STARTED IT, it's hard to take their predictions too seriously.

Read more, and see an amazing video of the sinkhole in action at CNN.

Thank you Sekrit7 and FooFoo for sending me the story! (Great minds think alike!)

Friday, May 09, 2008


On Thursday, May 15, at 4:30 PM, please join Kirsten Miller at the Kew Gardens Hills Library in Queens and discover . . .


It's going to be amazing.

72-33 Vleigh Place, Flushing


(Artwork by Lori Nix)

For the Adventurous Eater: Cuy

(Photo by Madelaine Adelaide)

I've always heard that cuy is delicious. The national dish of Ecuador, it's been eaten by the people of the Andes for more than 4000 years. But I NEVER expected to find out that it's sold in restaurants right here in New York.

That's because cuy tends to freak out Americans (and Swedes and Australians). Odds are, it will freak you out, too. But here at Ananka's Diary, we are citizens of the world, right? We're open to new cultures, new flavors, new experiences, right?

Well keep your mind open while you read this!

PS: In case you don't get it, this is one of those links that may not be for everyone.

PSS: It's not dog.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

The Museum of Impossible Smells

(Above: Le medecin de la peste--a medieval plague doctor. The bizarre bird-like masks held a variety of fragrant herbs, which were believed to ward off the Black Death.)

Ever wondered what a meteor impact smells like? How about Cleopatra's hair? Or the surface of the sun? Well if you're going to be in England this summer, you can find out!

In what I believe may be the MOST AMAZING exhibit of all time, the Reg Vardy Gallery at the University of Sunderland has brought together fourteen of the rarest, most unusual odors for your sniffing pleasure. (Sorry, no Sharpies.) You can sample the fragrances of plants and flowers that have been extinct for hundreds of years--or you can fill your nostrils with the stench of a burnt Soviet space station or the first aid kit of a medieval plague doctor.

Please--I BEG YOU--bring this exhibit to New York!

Read more here and here.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Make Something!

You know who I admire the most? People who can actually MAKE stuff. Unfortunately, I'm not one of them. Don't get me wrong, I'm pretty handy. (I believe every girl should own her own toolbox, drill, and electric saw--if only for self-defense purposes.) But aside from a rather ugly pair of curtains (and a couple of strange books), I don't think I've ever CREATED anything.

That's about to change.

Over the past few days, I've come across several DIY projects that got me thinking. And with Mother's Day just around the corner, maybe it's time to get crafty.

I could transform an old dollhouse into a faerie house. This looks like a pretty cool project, but since I'm not big on faeries (and neither is my mother), I'd be more likely to make a haunted house or abandoned asylum.

I could make a coat rack out of dismembered baby dolls. (Shown above.) This one's pretty awesome. I think I might whip up few of these for my OWN closet.

Homemade pop-up photographs are surprisingly easy and CHEAP to construct. (And if you can find one that will also embarrass your siblings, you can kill two birds with one stone.)

On a less practical note . . . my mother's unlikely to ever wear a Skittles wrapper prom dress (although that would make the best pop-up photo OF ALL TIME) and I doubt I have the skills to make a "growing" calendar, but you have to admire the ingenuity that went into these projects.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

The Tennessee Fainting Goat

(Above: An ordinary goat.)

This morning, I was quite upset to read in the New York Times that a very special creature may soon disappear from the face of the earth.

Tennessee Fainting Goats (also known as Nervous Goats, Wooden Leg Goats, and Tennessee Scare Goats) possess a very peculiar trait. Whenever they're startled, the goats appear to "faint" for about ten seconds.

The "fainting" is the result of an otherwise harmless hereditary disorder. And it's totally hilarious. (See the video below.) Hopefully the International Fainting Goat Association (which boasts a fabulous logo) will be able to save the breed before it's too late.

An animal this amusing must not disappear!

P.S.: I found this while searching for a picture to go with this post. Ahhh. I LOVE Japan.

Monday, May 05, 2008

It's a Girl!

And she's GORGEOUS.

Thanks, Carry No Seal!

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Unfortunately, I've Been Known to Sleepwalk

(Photo by Sergio R. Nunez C., who appears to lead a magical life.)

I've been looking for a way to combine my new hobby (rock climbing) with my greatest passion (napping). Kidding (sort of), but I always did wonder where climbers took shelter when a big storm or bad case of food poisoning hit. Fortunately, I found the answer at BLDGBLOG. It's called the portaledge.

Of course, these fantastic contraptions have been around for a couple of decades, but they're new to me. Designed to withstand foul weather and powerful winds, they can be temporarily attached to a rock face, allowing you to dangle long enough to wait out a thunderstorm or take a pleasant nap.

(Photo below from Abitare magazine.)

Dressing a Detective

So I found this video on the New York Times website this morning. It's about the custom-made suits that New York City police detectives purchase to wear on the job. Most of the information won't come as any surprise if you've read Kiki Strike.

According to the video, the special suits are cut so that detectives can move about freely, whether they're chasing bad guys or throwing punches. They're made a bit wider in order to hide the tools a detective needs on the job--including a gun. A nice suit also demands respect when a detective goes to interview witnesses who wouldn't take him seriously if he were wearing a pair of jeans or khakis.

But what do lady police detectives do? The answers to that question could make a much more interesting video. For instance . . .

Where do they find shoes that look fashionable--but won't slow them down in a chase?

How do they style their hair? (Long hair could be a serious problem in a fight.)

Do they ever wear skirts?

How do they hide their guns without looking lumpy around the middle?

Sports bra or no sports bra? (These questions must be asked!)

Handbag or no handbag?

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Aliens Infiltrate Canada!

Every day, at 4:30 PM, the image above appears on the wall of a home in the Canadian city of Calgary. Some people claim it's nothing more than light reflecting off a nearby window. But, as usual, the kids in the neighborhood know what's REALLY going on. "There's aliens, real-life aliens on a wall," said one frustrated girl. "No one believes us."

I believe you. (It's more fun that way.)

See a slideshow and video here.

Friday, May 02, 2008

More Secret Agent Gadgets

Scienceray has a nice list of "8 Essential Gadgets for a Secret Agent." Some are a little yawn-inspiring. However, a couple are downright FANTASTIC.

For instance, the lock-picking gun shown above is the sort of thing I dream about. (When I'm not having nightmares about giant stingrays.) Unfortunately, the link on the site doesn't appear to work! Will I never be able to get my hands on one of those marvelous gadgets--which I would use not for crime, but for the benefit of all humankind?

Thursday, May 01, 2008

You Call Those GIANT Stingrays? Pshaw!

I just came across a National Geographic photo essay featuring some so-called "giant" stingrays that were discovered in Thailand. They're kinda big, I guess. But they have nothing on the beasts that came after me while I was on vacation last month. (OK, maybe they were just minding their own business and weren't actually out to murder me.)

Here's the story. It was early in the evening, an hour or so before sundown, and I was snorkeling near a little reef. Suddenly, huge, enormous, nasty-looking stingrays began swimming all around me. Now it's important to note that I've been terrified of stingrays since I was little. I used to book it back to shore every time I saw one that was more than six inches long. My parents thought it was hilarious. (So cruel!)

These were about TEN feet long! I thought I was going to pass out. (In case you think I'm a wimp, I should point out that most "scary" creatures don't bother me much. I'm only afraid of stingrays, sharks, and millipedes. Now you all know my hidden weaknesses.)

Anyway, I made it out alive. I suspect stingrays gather in the evening to feed, so I shall be a morning snorkeler from now on.

Has anyone else had any terrifying encounters with the creatures of the deep?