HashOut: 2007.12
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Cheers to the cup of tears

For those who believe in drowning their sorrows, a bar in the Chinese town of Nanjing is just the place. Broken-hearted patrons are provided tissues and menthol drops along with their drink. Friendly bartenders also provide onions and red peppers for those who have some difficulty in letting out the tears.

The mood is decidedly downbeat with sad music in the background and dolls available for customers to throw around or beat to vent their anger. Customers must pay the equivalent of US$6 an hour, in addition to their drinks' bill, to weep and wail. But it would seem that drinking to forget is a favoured option.

Interestingly, the drinking habit in China has marked a rise in the past couple of years. The country, boosted by increasing incomes and a rising number of women drinkers, has replaced the United States as the world's largest beer brewer since 2002.
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Tears of stone

Photos fade, but memories in granite do not vanish. For the sculptors of Barre, Vermont, immortality is a perk of their job.

The 85-acre Hope Cemetery, opened in 1895, is an example of their classic art. Every one of the 10,000 plus monuments here is made of Barre Gray granite.

One carving has a couple sitting up in bed wearing pajamas and holding hands. A stone race-car celebrate local driver Joey Laguerre. Ace sculptor Brusa's grave has his statue of 'The Dying Man,' slipping away, held by his wife.

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Hitching a ride

When a ship carrier aircraft, you call it an aircraft carrier; and when an aircraft carries space shuttles? Yes, a shuttle carrier aircraft (SCA). In picture is the Atlantis riding piggyback on the NASA 911. The NASA's SCAs are two modified Boeing 747 jets. The SCAs are used to ferry shuttles back to the Kennedy Space Center from landing sites too distant for ground transport. The SCA-shuttle combo burns 100 litres of fuel per kilometre and can fly non-stop for 1,900 km. Each transcontinental trip costs about $1.7 million and its ground handling crew alone is 170-strong! » Continue reading


Sacred odours

Father Henryk Jankowski, popular for his support to the solidarity movement, announced that he planned to launch perfumes, clothing and cafes branded with his image.

Jankowski already has a wine branded after him under the name 'Monsignore'. While many Catholics admire him for his role in ousting the communists, many do not approve of him being on the panel for selecting the waitresses for the 16 cafes he plans to open.
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The Queen has a YouTube channel. As the Observer points out, she beat the White House. Sadly, they disabled embedding. » Continue reading


Don't say yech!

Before you click away from the page, let me tell you that the cockroach is not that a scary or dirty as you think, says a Taiwanese study. To start with, its eye is an arrangement of around 3,000 lenses and it can smell food over 20 metres away.

It breathes through body holes called spiracles that can be closed with a kind of hairy lid. So, if you flush a roach down the toilet, it doesn't drown; it just shuts off the holes and swims to safety! The best thing it does is eat up your garbage. You don't scream when you see the garbage man just because he works amongst rubbish, right?
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Colonial Aroma

Habana 1791 colonial fragrancesHabana 1791, a perfume shop in Cuba, is thriving even though it sells just 12 fragrances. Its speciality is colonial fragrances, both perfumes and room fresheners. Rose, jasmine and lilac petals, Rangoon creeper and orange blossoms, tobacco leaves, lime peel, sandalwood resin and lavender oil go into these perfumes.

The ingredients are crushed and soaked in an alcohol solution. This matures for two months before being strained and sold at $7 to $20 per bottle. What's more? Your choice will be mixed and bottled in front of you.
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Signal Bench

Residents of East Prawle village in Devonshire, UK have been queuing to use a bench on their village green. Apparently, it is the only place from where they can make a mobile phone call. Villagers discovered that by standing on the seat they could receive a signal from the nearest mast, which is 3.5km away. Now the parish council is building a 2ft podium for cell-phone users! » Continue reading


Speed trance to perfection

Do you want to develop a great sense of humor or overcome your fear of dogs? Would you like to reverse the aging process, overcome an illness or improve your driving skills? You can find a solution to these and 300 other problems in Instant Hypnosis.

It is a misconception that induction into hypnosis is time consuming and requires complete relaxation. Contrary to popular belief, it is possible to hypnotize a subject in just a few seconds by causing confusion, loss of equilibrium, misdirection, shock, and eye fixation.

Instant-Hypnosis.com provides a huge collection of hypnosis downloads for almost anything you can think of -- self-improvement, fear and phobias, body image, illness, skill improvement, personal development, business success, addictions and habits, mental health, love & emotions, sleeping disorders, pain relief, relaxation, and general health.

You could give it a try and if you are not yet ready to hypnotize yourself, you can definitely take the FREE five-part hypnosis mini-course to get you started.
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Genetic elixir

It looks like genes will keep you in your jeans till kingdom come. The buzz is that a nematode worm holds the key to eternal youth. Researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, California, have identified a gene that links calorie restriction to longevity. The over-expression of a gene, encoding the protein PHA-4, led to increased lifespan in worms. This might lead to development of drugs that mimic the effects of calorie restriction.

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Just design

They call it 'Design for the Other 90%'. The Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum is holding the exhibition to emphasis that popular design benefits only 10 per cent of the world's population, as only they can afford most things. The exhibition showcases 30 design projects addressing basic needs in developing countries.

The LifeStraw (in pic) is a water purifier which turns any surface water into drinking water. Other designs include a bamboo treadle pump for farmers to pump up groundwater, the Big Boda Load-Carrying Bicycle for carrying cargo or two passengers, and the Q Drum which helps people transport water by rolling the tyreshaped drum along the ground, rather than carrying it. The most innovative is One Laptop Per Child's X01 laptop computer that costs around $200.
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Love or war?

A British-made radio-controlled vibrator has been banned in Cyprus as a threat to national security. The Cypriot military is concerned that the sex toy's electronic waves will disrupt the army's radio frequencies.

Makers Ann Summers said that it's Love Bug 2, a small, egg-shaped device operated by a remote control had a range of less than six meters! But the vibrator is sold in Cyprus with instructions asking buyers to use it only when they go abroad!
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Don't litter the 'living room', please

Venice will deploy six stewards in St Mark's Square to prevent tourists from stripping off their T-shirts, taking a nap or dropping fast-food wrappers in the piazza that is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Bordered by St Mark's Basilica, the Clock Tower, the Doge's Palace and the Grand Canal, the square is one of the world's biggest tourist attractions.

Wealthy tourists to the square sip their espresso in style at the Cafe Florian, which dates from 1720 and was frequented by Goethe, Casanova, Byron and Proust. But in the pricey city many more opt for take-aways.

However, the mayor does not want Coke cans and chocolates wrappers in the piazza that Napolean called 'the drawing room of Europe'.
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Patsy makes us proud

From Kochi to Ontario, a 28-day voyage to the US in 1960! From a naive college student, to the honoured Order of Canada in 2007 -- an award for exemplary achievement and service. Such has been the meteoric rise of Patsy George, 66, a retired public servant and social worker who lives in British Columbia.

Parental pressure had made Patsy take a pre-med couse, only to drop it. "My professor asked me what I wanted to do after college. I told him I was interested in political activism, but not as an elected official." He suggested community development and that's what set her off on her long, eventful career in public assistance and social welfare. Closest to her heart is legislation for protection of rights for children. "I feel strongly for the orphans in Africa. It's not their fault that they were born to parents with Aids," says Patsy, who is also the president of the United Nations Association, Canada, Vancouver branch. She has one wish for India, equality for women, and a message for the youth, 'Think of yourself as a global citizen in a world that is so fragile.'
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Ancestor Tourism

Reading room of the National Library of Ireland in DublinWhen other countries market desert tourism, eco-tourism and the like, Ireland is cashing in on 'ancestor tourism'! After centuries of emigration, an estimated 70 million people worldwide claim Irish connection. The first port of call for these tourists is the national library (in pic), from where they head to country offices and churches. Tourism Ireland estimates that one in four tourists has Irish lineage. » Continue reading


Way to Antarctica

If you would like to go to Antarctica where would you catch a ship from? Ushuaia -- the capital of the Argentine province of Tierra del Fuego -- one of the world's southernmost cities.

With scientists and environmentalists predicting that the white-continent would eventually dissolve, tourists are flocking to Ushuaia.

Every year, about 50 ships cross the Beagle Channel and beat southwards to the Weddell Sea and make landfall in Hope Bay.

Recently, oceanographers found a large number of species which were hitherto unknown to science. Where were they hiding so long? Under the ice shelf, of course.
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Standing guard

Terracotta Army, Shaanxi, ChinaFor centuries they have been on guard. The Terracotta Army is a collection of 8,099 life-size terracotta figures of warriors and horses located in Shaanxi province. The ancients baked parts of each soldier separately and put them together like a modern assembly chain. Last year, a German art student, Pablo Wendel, infiltrated the exhibit. His disguise made it difficult for security to find him among the statues. » Continue reading


Podcasting couch

Podcast logoHow to select and collect your own radio and video clips

Podcasting sounds like a tricky tech term, but put simply, it's a way of sharing audio and video files through the Internet. You simply download them to play on your iPod, MP3 player or computer at your leisure. Once you start searching, the volume and variety of podcasts available will seem mind-blowing.

Why is it so popular?
You can grab a copy of everything from your favorite radio news program to a ten-minute fitness video from a yoga teacher in New Delhi. Better still, you can listen or watch offline at whatever time and place suits you.

Do I need an iPod?
You can get by with just a computer, but if you want to listen to your favorite program on your way to work, invest in a portable player. Some iPods and other MP3 players play both audio and video.

Which websites?
Use the Podcast Directory in iTunes, go to podcastalley.com or podcastingnews.com, or use a search engine like Google to find out what's on offer.

So how do I do it?
Check out iTunes or download a free "podcatcher" software application such as iPodderX, iPodder or Juice.
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Visa Photos: The Rules

Here are tips to help you pose for a visa or passport photo:
Visa Photos: The Rules
  • No cheesy grins, as mouths should be shut. Adopt a neutral expression and look straight at the camera, so face and both ears are seen properly.
  • Hair must not obscure your face, so keep those fringes in check. Make sure facial hair does not hide the outline of your nose or mouth. No head coverings, unless religious.
  • Embassies usually require plain-white backgrounds and each one has slightly different rules about photo sizes, so find out what's mandatory. Some embassies, or their visa agents, offer photo-booths, but they tend to charge you more than regular studios.
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Scratch Those Allergies

Does cuddling your kitty make you sneeze?
No need to get rid of her, says allergist Clifford Bassett, MD. Take steps to ease symptoms:
  • Ban pets from your bedroom, and get an air purifier.
  • No pet is completely hypoallergenic, but those that shed more trigger more symptoms, says Shirlee Kalstone, author of Allergic to Pets?.
  • Vacuum and dust often to eliminate sneeze-inducing dander and fur.
  • Bathe and brush your pet often, especially if he sheds. If your symptoms are sever, have someone else do it for you.
  • Getting a new cat? Consider a light-coloured female. One study found that dark male cats create more allergic reactions.
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Forced Wedding PosterThe big fat South Asian 'weddings' have managed to get under the skin of the liberal Brits. Reportedly, instances of forced weddings in Asian families settled in Britain are increasing. A Forced Marriages Unit (FMU) operated by the Home Office and Foreign Office has stepped in. In July, the British parliament enacted the Forced Marriage (Civil Protection) Act 2007.

If you or someone you know is being forced into a marriage, contact the FMU at 020-7008 -0151 between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday or email fmu@fco.gov.uk. The FMU offers confidential support and information. If you would like to know more about the work of the Forced Marriage Unit, log on to www.fco.gov.uk/forcedmarriage.

Confidential advice is also available from a large network of support groups, including The Police, the National Domestic Violence Helpline, and women's refuges nationwide.
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Keep your breath sweet

How to prevent bad breath (Halitosis)?Would you tell your best friend if she had halitosis -- or bad breath? Most people wouldn't, according to a survey by the British Dental Health Foundation. Bad breath is mostly caused by poor dental hygiene, but can be triggered by a pungent meal or bad nutrition, or it can indicate medical problems.

To test yourself, lick the inside of your wrist, wait ten seconds and then sniff! If the smell is unpleasant, it's likely that your breath is too. For a sweeter smell:
  • Brush your teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste.
  • Floss daily -- brushing alone only cleans about 60 per cent of the surface of your teeth.
  • Use a mouthwash: some kill the bacteria that cause halitosis.
  • Drink more water -- a dry mouth can cause bad breath. Also, chewing sugar-free gum stimlates saliva (also relieves indigestion).
  • The traditional remedy is to chew parsley, which has long been recognized as a breath freshener.

If you've tried everything -- and given up smoking! -- seek advice from your dentist.
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Awash in Wash

The average person generates hundreds of kilos of dirty clothes a year, but few of us wash them correctly. Simple steps for cleaner loads:
  • If you use a top-loading washing machine, fill a few inches of water, add detergent and then the clothes. Few of us do it in this order, but it can make a difference to the cleaning.
  • Wait five minutes to add chlorine bleach. Detergent and bleach fight each other when added together. You may get a poorer performance than if you'd just used detergent.
  • Don't mix powder and liquid detergents. Powders and liquids are different chemically, and they may inhibit each other if used together.
  • Use the heater sparingly. Heating consumes 25 times more power than a cold wash, which is quite efficient if you use a good detergent.
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Surf safe and anonymous with VPN

There are several reasons to consider browsing anonymously and through an encrypted Virtual Private Network (VPN), not just to access porn or log onto Second Life as the opposite gender. It's your financial information and career that could be at risk.

Consider what would happen if your boss came to know your home IP address and searched the Internet for your postings and online activities by IP address. Or worse yet, if your boss's competitor, or your competitor tapped into your confidential online business communications.

Owning your own business means you are a primary target for industrial espionage - and most small businesses never think twice about their communications security. The vast majority of espionage, worldwide, is for economic and business data, trade secrets, buying patterns, economic and financial patterns. One ill-advised email that can be traced back to you could sink your company.

With Christmas around the corner, last minute shopping online is inevitable. But are you sure that your credit card or paypal details are safe? It's highly possible that your credit card details land on a hacker's hard disk before it reaches the merchant's bank.

With the growing issue of government intrusion into private affairs, both personal and economic, VPN and anonymous surfing has become even more compelling. Google recently handed over the IP address of a user of its blogging software to an Israeli court after the author was accused of slandering Israeli politicians. Yahoo has been heavily criticized for handing over details about its users to the Chinese authorities that have led to the jailing of three people who criticised the Chinese government online.

The only solution to all these problems is anonymous browsing with Virtual Private Networking. VPN provides you a shield of encryption against spies and hackers; and an untraceable IP address for anonymous browsing.

Apart from the security aspect a Virtual Private Network also lets you access restricted websites in your country or company. And unlike web proxies Virtual Private Networks are much faster and reliable.

Blacklogic.com provides Anonymous Surfing with their 128 bit encrypted VPN Service for US$5 a month with a 150 MB daily traffic limit. You can get an unlimited VPN Service for US$15 a month.
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The Dirty Kitchen

In Europe they're called sculleries; in North America, dirty kitchens. Whatever the name, these rooms allow you to segregate the messy aspects of food prep from your eat-in kitchen -- a big selling point for people who entertain a lot.

Often connected to the main kitchen, a dirty kitchen is generally smaller. Inside you put the gear you don't want guests to see: a second oven for sauces that spatter and bubble, a counter for slicing, a king-size sink, garbage cans and a door so you can take garbage out easily. You can make all the mess you want -- and just close the door when the guests arrive.
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Sneaky sources of Caffeine

You know you shouldn't have too much caffeine, since it can cause anxiety and insomnia. What you probably didn't know: Some foods pack a caffeine wallop nearly the size of your morning java jolt (a cup of coffee has about 80 mg of caffeine).

Food manufacturers aren't required to list the amount of caffeine in a product, so many people are in the dark. There are no government guidelines on how much we can safely consume, but dietitians say 200 to 300 mg a day is okay for most adults. (For kids the maximum must be 85 mg) Surprising sources:

Fizzy drinks: A can of cola has typically about 45 mg, while Mountain Dew has 55.

Chocolate: Sweet chocolate: about 20 mg per 30 gm, and baking chocolate 35 mg.

Iced Tea: Could contain about 30 to 75 mg per bottle.

Medicines: Analgesics like Anacin: 64 mg. Some diuretics may contain upto 200 mg per pill.
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Future Shock

A Nostradamus act has landed astrologer Sivasamy from Tamilnadu, India in the dock. He predicted 'long life' for a dead man. Gopalakrishnan of Madurai wanted a peep into his future, but just to be certain of Sivasamy's skills, he first gave the astrologer the thumb impression of a man who was no more. Sivasamy predicted from the thumb impression that the man would live a long life. Gopalakrishnan filed a complaint against the predictor for cheating. Wonder what future holds for Sivasamy. » Continue reading


Want to improve the quality of your life?

Go scrub the loo! Japanese fortune-tellers are now advising happiness-junkies to start by scrubbing the smallest room. A book titled Cleaning the Toilet to Attract Luck has been published to outline the correct method on how to attract good fortune using a brush and an array of cleaning fluids.

"Don't just wipe the floor, polish it," the book instructs. "It's important to maintain a positive mood while cleaning." So it is bye-bye Dale Carnegie and welcome Harpic!
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Send a hug

Bluetooth Hug Shirt by CuteCircuitWish you could reach out and hug someone? With the Hug Shirt, you can. It uses Bluetooth technology to send and receive embraces. Wearing a Hug Shirt, the sender hugs herself. Sensors in the shirt send the data (hug pressure, skin temperature, heart rate, length of hug) via Bluetooth to her mobile phone which in turn sends it to the receiver's phone, which relays it to his shirt, replicating the sensation.

Co-creator Francesca Rosella says the Hug Shirt, made of snug-fitting Lycra and cotton, feels as close to the real deal as it can get. They are available in a number of colors and styles for men and women and are washable!
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Picking up the right web host

Do you host a website or a blog on your own? If yes, you should have gone through the confusing stage of choosing a web host. It could be very difficult to decide which one to choose due to the number of hosts and the number of plans that each one provide.

However, it is really important that you make sure the plan you choose will meet your requirements. Comparing the plans based on just the price, web space and bandwidth may not serve your needs. For example, if you want to host a WordPress blog, you need to make sure the plans you compare include PHP and MySQL. If you are going to use Google Apps, you need to make sure you will have control over your DNS management. If you are going to use ASP, ASP .Net, M$ SQL Server, M$ Access Database, you have to check your web host is going to provide these facilities.

These are just a few of the parameters. Comparing innumerable such parameters could get tedious. Web hosting choice provides an advanced web hosting search that makes it easier to search for a web host matching your requirements. Just select the features you need and click Search for Hosts and voila! You have a list of hundreds of plans from various web hosts that you can choose from.
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4 Ways to Get Things Done at the Office

Demanding job? Get it under control with these tips. After all, there is life beyond your desk.
Hour Glass
  1. Get someone else to do it.
    "Don't be afraid to delegate. Make sure you know who does what, so you don't waste time taking on work that someone else already does, or should be doing. Delegated work shouldn't be seen as a 'side-stepped' chore. It should help create a stronger, more effective work force. But it has to be conveyed correctly. Explain exactly what you want someone to achieve and always give them a deadline." - Steven Kirkpatrick, Managing Director, Adecco Staffing UK and Ireland
  2. Stick to a timetable.
    "If you've got a big task in front of you, ask these questions. What has to be done before something else can happen? What things can you manage in parallel? What do you have direct control over? Use the answers and make a flow chart or a timetable of smaller tasks. Breaking it down in this way will stop you feeling so overwhelmed.- Susan Moger, Senior Fellow in Leadership, Manchester Business School
  3. Recycle your best work.
    "Keep successful project plans, proposals and reports. Use them as templates when you need to do similar work. You may not feel comfortable using old material as the basis for new work. But perfectionists fritter away too much time trying to hit 100%. Remember the 80/20 rule - if you hit 80% you've achieved a high enough standard and trying to achieve the remaining 20% will make more time than it is worth."- Gladeana McMahon, How to Make Life Happen
  4. Manage your meetings.
    "Get out your diary and grade all the meetings you've attended in the last month. Give a number five to those that were useful and relevant and a number one to those with no use or relevance at all. Take assertive steps to attend meetings only when it helps you achieve priorities or when managing the expectations of others.- Gina Gardiner, founder of Recovering Workaholics

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