Thursday, September 3, 2015

Thai Collector Uses Ancient Ritual to Create Souls for Creepy ‘Child God Dolls’

Hey there! How's it going? Another hot day here in BUCO (Beautiful Uptown Cornwall Ontario). Why don't you fill your empty coffee mug and grab a virtual Thai doughnut (Pa tong go) to go with it. While were on the subject of Thailand, most Thais are followers of Thai Buddhism which incorporates Theravada Buddhism with a liberal splash of Hinduism and the ancient practice of Animism or spirit worship so the following is not really too surprising...

A creepy new trend in Thailand has people caring for supposedly haunted dolls, for good luck and prosperity. 

The Look Thep (Child God) dolls are believed to be inhabited by children’s spirits, created through special rituals. They’re considered to be an updated version of the ancient kuman thong, the practice of worshiping human fetuses that died in the womb. Look Thep allows people to revere the spirits of children without having to actually obtain dead fetuses. 

Several locals, including Thai celebrities, are vouching for the effectiveness of Look Thep dolls. Like DJ Bookkoh Thannatchayapan from 94 FM, who claims that his doll Wansai has made him successful in show biz. “The first day I got him, I took him out shopping for clothes in the baby section,” Bookkoh said. “Right after I paid for his clothes, I got a call that my cancelled job was back on!”

Bookkoh then tried to further test the doll’s powers – he promised it a gold necklace if it would get him a bigger job. And instantly, he received a call asking him to audition for a role in a movie. “I feel like Wansai really exists,” he said. “I love him as my child.” 

But no one in Bangkok is quite as obsessed with Look Thep as Thai doll collector Mae Ning. She’s the founder of the online Look Thep club and the brains behind the latest version of the dolls. She started making them three years ago, as a way of dealing with her stubborn son. “I thought to myself, ‘How do I control him? How can I make him behave?’ So I was inspired to make a doll in his representation and created a soul for it,” she explained. “I put my son’s charms into the doll. That’s how it started.”

Mae Ning now makes thousands of dolls, each waiting to be adopted by a new mother or father. She modifies factory-made dolls by adding weight and styling their hair. Then she conducts a ritual, invoking the power of the Hindu goddess Parvati, to create new children’s souls to inhabit the dolls. All the dolls are then given names and she counts their age starting from the day they “came to life”. So all the dolls are under three years of age. Sometimes, customers leave dolls with her as well, for her to fill with new souls. 

“We treat them as if they’re really alive,” she said. “I created a soul into it. Can’t you see that he looks very alive? They’re not just spirits. They’re children’s souls. They are the souls I created by chanting incantation.” Mae Ning is quite particular about not using the souls of dead children, and denies adding dead fetuses. She says she fills her dolls with “abundance” and “seeds” that represent life’s essence.

“It’s like I have the goddess in my body,” she added. “I practice religious precepts. I don’t know how to explain it. I am the body of Parvati, and I collect and love the dolls. Look Thep came from the idea that I’m the body of Goddess Parvati. And this is my child.”

Mae Ning says that the dolls have filled a void in many people’s lives. “When we raise a child, some children are stubborn and give us a headache,” she said. “Some people never found love. Some lost their child. After they adopted a Look Thep, their life has changed. From a broken family where they argue, they now have a cute Look Thep. Suddenly, the family is full of love. This is the case for most of my customers.”

Putchraporn Kuntaku, who discovered the Look Thep dolls through Mae Ning’s Facebook page, says that the dolls don’t really come to life for everyone. “Mostly, it’s people who love dolls who can see and feel which one has a soul. It’s more about what we feel,” she said. 

“People who don’t love dolls would say all dolls are the same. They cannot tell the difference no matter how hard they try.” 

“Maybe it’s just my imagination, but when I have my doll with me, I feel like I have someone by my side,” she said.

Okay...whatever! If it works for Mae Ning (Mother Ning) and others, I am happy for them and who knows. This world is full of strange wonders. 

See ya, eh!


Wednesday, September 2, 2015

This Muzzle Will Turn the Cutest Dog into a Scary Werewolf

means 'Hello!' 
in Russian. 
How the heck are you? Ready for a mug of coffee and a virtual muffin, doughnut or Russian pastry? Help yourself. Ya-dada-dada-dadada-da! Hi! Hi! Hi! Hi! 

A Russian company has created a menacing muzzle that can transform dogs into fierce-looking werewolves. Fitted with bloody, pointy, ginormous artificial teeth, the werewolf muzzle will make even the cutest poodle look so terrifying that no one’s ever going to try to pet it without your permission. 

One of the first users of the werewolf muzzle is Marina Kurulyova, who became an internet sensation after posting pictures of her dog, a giant Schnauzer, wearing the muzzle. Marina said she doesn’t use it to scare people away though. 

“This muzzle is just a comic alternative,” she said. “It is rather made for fun than for training. Our friend has bought the muzzle for her dog, a Doberman, and we just tried it. That’s how the photograph was made. The Schnauzer and the Doberman were photographed together, the muzzles amplifying their aggressive personalities.

The contraption features a realistic dog nose and snarling snout, apart from the realistic teeth. Made of non-toxic plastic, the muzzle is harmless to dogs and even allows them to breathe easily through the mouth. It was designed to scare away would-be attackers and protect dog owners during late night walks, especially those who are worried their dogs aren’t tough enough!

Yikes! Wouldn't want to meet a dog wearing one of those in a back alley. For sure, people would keep their distance if they saw one of these muzzles.

See ya, eh!


Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Dutch Students Turn Wasted Rotting Fruit into “Fruit Leather” Accessories

Hiya! How’s tricks? Thanks for clicking by today. As always, you’re right on time. Coffee’s brewed and the VTs are straight out of my virtual oven so help yourself! Good story today about an enterprising group of Dutch students...

A team of six undergrads in the Netherlands have come up with a brilliant use for wasted fruit – they’re converting it into leather! 

The eco-friendly project – titled ‘Fruitleather Rotterdam’ involves transforming rotten fruit into a durable, malleable, leather-like material. It started off as a school assignment at the Willem de Kooning Academy in Rotterdam, in which design students were supposed to set up a flash retail event. After brainstorming, this particular team decided to tackle the problem of food wastage as well. 

“The academy gives us a perfect view over Binnenrotte Square in Rotterdam, where they have a market each Tuesday and Saturday,” said Hugo de Boon, one of the students involved. “We saw how the square would be completely littered with food waste (at the end of the day), so we realised this was a problem we would want to solve from a designer’s point of view.”

After some research, they figured out that over 7,000 pounds of food were being wasted each day at the market, and lots or stand owners were dumping the food illegally to avoid paying for proper disposal. So the kids started collecting leftover fruit directly from the vendors – mangoes, oranges, nectarines, apples, and more – and used it to manufacture a leather-like material.

They’ve refused to reveal the exact manufacturing details, calling it a “group secret”, but de Boon broadly explained the process: they start by deseeding the fruit and mashing it all up. Then they boil it to kill bacteria and prevent it from rotting. After cooling it, they spread the paste on a “specific surface” that is “crucial in the drying process”. Once dried, the Fruitleather is ready for use.

For starters, the team created a bag completely out of fruitleather, to showcase its various properties. But according to de Boon, the versatile material can be used to make furniture, accessories, and clothing as well. “Many people make the mistake that we are currently just making bags,” he said. 

“We used the bag as a visual for the public to show that products can be made out of the material, but it is the material itself that we produce.”

Fruitleather has garnered lots of interest from various manufacturers. A car seat maker has already contacted the students about buying their product, but they’re now focused on improving their manufacturing process for more output and better quality. “The production process will need to increase for the demand as well, but before making that step, we first want to answer the questions that we as a team have about the material,” de Boon said.

“What we want to achieve with this project is to create awareness for the problem that is food waste, and show that there is a solution,’ the Fruitleather Rotterdam official website states. “Food isn’t trash, you just need to find a different purpose for the resisting material. We used our design background to come up with a solution.”

And, if you get tired of it or stuck in an elevator, you can always eat it, right?

See ya, eh!


Monday, August 31, 2015

Meet Loki, the Internet’s Favorite Vampire Cat

Well, hey there! Thanks for clicking by today. Always a pleasure to see you. Got a cat story for you today so charge up your coffee mug, bite into a juicy red velvet virtual muffin and read on...

Loki is the internet’s newest feline sensation – her pictures have gone viral and people can’t stop gushing over her evil vampire face. With over 50,000 followers on Instagram already, her distinctive appearance is only making her more popular by the minute. 

Loki’s owner Kaetlyn Koch, from Portland, Maine, says that in real life, Loki is just as adorable as any other cat. She loves to to hide under bath towels and lay on her back for a rub. Her murderous stare only seems to emerge when she’s confronted with a camera lens. She looks downright scary with her fangs jutting out, even when she’s peeking out from under towels or lazing in Kaet’s lap. Loki’s eyes never seem to close, which is a bit of a mystery.

Kaetlyn didn’t know about the vampire look when she adopted the Siamese-mix cat from a shelter two years ago. “They didn’t give me many details about her looks,” she said. “They said it was healthy but she wasn’t able to close it (her eyelids). She’s been to the vet three times in the last year, and no one has made mention of her teeth or why she looks the way she does. Still a mystery.”

But as frightening as she seems, Kaetlyn says that Loki is positively harmless and docile. She was never interested in adopting a cat in the first place, but decided to take Loki in after hearing that the other shelter cats were attacking her. “I was brought to the office and they pulled open a desk drawer to reveal a very perturbed looking feline,” Kaetlyn said.

“She was huddled all the way to the back and glared at me with those big blue eyes, and the girls explained to me that she was very shy, but occasionally showed affection to specific employees. They fed her a few treats and then allowed her to retreat back into the darkness of the desk.”

“She wasn’t happy to see me, and according to the staff she really didn’t like anyone but a select few employees,” Kaetlyn added. “For whatever reason I felt drawn to her sweet face despite our bad first impressions, and I adopted her soon after. For the next few months she avoided me as much as possible and hid under my bed.”

Eventually, Loki began to trust Kaetlyn and has now become what she calls ‘the most affectionate cat.’ “She’s the most loving and snuggly cat I’ve ever had,” she added.
See more pictures of Loki the Vampire Cat at: 

See ya eh!'


Sunday, August 30, 2015

Entrepreneur Runs Out of Fruit, Creates World’s First Beer Jelly

G'day to you! I trust you are fit as a fiddle. It's Garlic Festival Day so Nong and I are heading down to Lamoureux Park here in beautiful downtown Cornwall right on the St. Lawrence River. Expect we'll buy some Thai food from our friend Anna who will be cooking and selling at the festival. Yum! Speaking of yourself to a mugful of coffee and a virtual treat while I tell you about a new jelly (hic!)...

Archaeologist-turned-entrepreneur Nancy Warner is making headlines for creating the world’s first jam made purely from beer. But before you get too excited, let me tell you it’s non-alcoholic, so there’s no real chance of getting tipsy at breakfast! 

Nancy had already quit her job as an archaeologist to start a preserves company called ‘Potlicker’, when she stumbled upon the unique recipe by accident. She had run out of fruit to make jams and jellies one day, so she reached into her beer cupboard instead. After much experimenting, she managed to come up with a clear ‘Beer Jelly’. It is now so popular that she’s producing about 3,000 jars a week! 

“I’m actually an archaeologist by trade and spent close to 10 years working in south eastern US archaeology before my husband Walter and I moved to Vermont,” the 34-year-old said. “I could not find archaeology work, so I developed a food blog hobby to keep me busy. The blog lead to a canning addiction, the canning addiction turned into a small business. I had bills to pay and lots of jam on the shelf so Walter packed me up and sent me to the farmer’s market.”

“I started making beer jelly simply because I ran out of fruit,” Nancy explained. “It was a long winter in Vermont, I was addicted to canning and canned through all the fruit in my house, so I turned to my cabinets where I had plenty of beer and wine.”

When she first started making beer jelly, Nancy says she had never heard of anything like that before. But she did know about the centuries-old process of making wine jellies, so she thought it would be interesting to try it with beer. “I have made all of my own recipes and can find no record of anyone else making a pure beer jelly before I did.”

Nancy revealed that she makes the beer jelly in pretty much the same way that she makes fruit jelly – only substituting ‘kid’ (fruit) juice with ‘adult’ juice. “Each jar of jelly is approximately half full of beer or wine, but, for better or worse, the jelly is non alcoholic,” she said. “The alcohol is removed during cooking and by dilution of sugar.” (Dang!)

Nonetheless, her Beer Jelly was a big hit and she had to move production to a commercial kitchen in order to keep up with the growing demand. “The feedback is wonderful and sometimes overwhelming,” she said. “I never dreamed I would be running a business and hiring employees just to make my jams and jellies. I thought beer jelly was awesome and as it turns out I was not the only one.”

Apart from beer, the recipe calls for two other ingredients – cane sugar and citrus pectin. This makes the jam taste like a sweeter version of the original beer. “You can actually taste the hop and malt characteristics of each flavour jelly,” Nancy said. 

Beer Jelly comes in eight flavors, including ale, IPA, oatmeal stout, and porter. “We pair it with cheese but also use them to glaze meats and veggies – things like Apricot Ale glazed ham, Black IPA chicken wings, Burgundy Anise cookies, and Spiced Wine baked brie,” Nancy explained.  

Each 450ml jar contains around 225ml of beer, and is priced at about $7 apiece. 

Yee haw! That'll turn breakfast on its ear, don't'cha think?

See ya, eh!


Saturday, August 29, 2015

31 Foods That Fight Prostate Cancer

Hey! Hey! Wonderful to see you on this bright Saturday! What’cha up to? As usual, we were up at 4:30 to get Nong ready for work at 6:00. When I pick her up at 1:00, we’ll likely do our grocery shopping. Exciting day, huh? Fill your mug with some robust Arabica coffee then wrap your mitt around a virtual doughnut or muffin, why don’t’cha. I recommend a carrot muffin as it ties in with today’s topic. 

Prostate cancer has been on my mind lately as I was recently diagnosed with it (though doctors don’t seem too worried about it at this stage). But lots of orange and other veggies and fruit are apparently very beneficial so read on...

Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in men (next to skin cancer), so it’s no surprise that an increasing number of men are worried about this serious condition. But a new study published in the medical journal Cancer Epidemiology brings some good news for sufferers of the disease and those trying to prevent it.

Researchers assessed men suffering from prostate cancer in South Carolina who had already undergone surgery or radiation to treat the disease but still had a recurrence of prostate cancer. Because approximately 25 to 40 percent of men who receive these treatments still experience a recurrence in prostate cancer, the researchers attempted to determine whether specific nutrients might help.

The scientists assessed levels of prostate-specific antigen (PSA)—a common blood test that is used to screen for prostate cancer. High PSA levels are often an indicator for the disease. This test is used to assess for prostate cancer in men with no symptoms or in those with symptoms of the disease, which can include: slow or weak urination, needing to urinate frequently (especially at night), blood in the urine, erectile dysfunction, pain in the hips or back, weakness or numbness of the legs or feet, or loss of bladder control. Healthy men typically have PSA counts that are lower than 4 nanograms/liter of blood. A higher number is frequently associated with an increased cancer risk.

Researchers found a link between higher blood levels of certain nutrients and decreased PSA levels in the men, indicating that diets higher in these nutrients may reduce the risk of prostate cancer and even help reverse cancer in men suffering from the disease, like those men who participated in the study. Both carotenoids and tocopherols were higher in men with lower PSA levels.

Carotenoids are a group of yellow-orange-red pigments known as phytonutrients (plant nutrients) found in foods like carrots, sweet potatoes, apricots, mangoes, pumpkin, tomatoes, papaya, peaches, squash and other similarly-colored foods. They include: beta carotene, lutein and lycopene. There are about 60 different types of carotenoids, but the study specifically assessed beta carotene, lycopene, cryptoxanthin and zeaxanthin. Researchers found that the higher levels of these nutrients resulted in a reduction in PSA in the men assessed.

Beta carotene is found in apricots, broccoli, carrots, collards, leafy greens, kale, mangoes, papayas, peaches, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, spinach, squash and tomatoes.

Lycopene is primarily found in guavas, pink grapefruit, papayas, rosehips, strawberries, tomatoes and watermelon.

Cryptoxanthin is found in oranges, papayas, peaches and tangerines.

Zeaxanthin is found in apricots, broccoli, carrots, collards, leafy greens, kale, mangoes, papayas, peaches, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, spinach, squash and tomatoes.

Tocopherols is another name for vitamin E. The study specifically assessed levels of alpha-tocopherol and found higher levels of the nutrient were linked to a lower PSA count. Excellent sources of alpha-tocopherol include: almonds, hazelnuts, pine nuts, Brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, mung bean sprouts, leafy greens, broccoli, asparagus, tomatoes, carrots, pumpkin, olive and sunflower oils.

We’ll load the shopping cart this afternoon with many of the above which are already a good part of our diet. I am also drinking my dandelion root tea, which is supposedly good for prostate cancer and I enjoy it as well (the tea...not the cancer). At the moment, though, I am taking a break from it as you are only supposed to drink it for two weeks at a time. Next spring, I’ll be out harvesting and pestering neighbours for their little yellow Italian wine flowers which I am sure they will be happy for me to take. I need to get my research assistant scouring the Internet to find out how to make the tea (so I don't have to spend $12 for a box of 20 teabags when they root of the solution is all around me).

See ya, eh!


Friday, August 28, 2015

Dapper Gentleman in His 70’s Becomes Online Fashion Icon

Guten tag! Thanks for clicking by. Got time for a coffee and a virtual doughnut, muffin or Blätterteig (German style puff pastry)? Of course you do...und you vill love it! Speaking of German style, here’s a fellow who is having fun with style in his senior years. 

Most people tend to lose interest in fashion as they age, but an elderly gentleman from Germany is stunning the world with his sartorial elegance. Through his impeccable sense of style, Gunther Krabbenhoft is proving that fashion and charm are not limited to the young. 

Gunther was recently photographed in Berlin, near the Kottbusser Tor station, and his pictures have created quite a stir online. 

His choice of clothes is simple, yet artistic, with clean lines and clever use of color. He regularly dons turned up jeans, corduroy jackets, classic bowties, waistcoats, brogues, hats, and braces – effortlessly nailing the look that modern day hipsters try so hard to emulate.

“I find that I dress pretty normal,” he told interviewers. “I’ve always dressed like this. When I went to work, when I go to exercise, I want to look at myself with joy. It’s always a reflection of my inner self.”

A few online reports suggest that Gunther is 104 years old, but he laughed it off as a rumour. He hasn’t revealed his real age, but he is assumed to be in his 70’s. But age is just a number, and as Gunter rightly proves, it has nothing to do with presenting yourself at your best!

As you can imagine, an impeccable style like Gunther’s doesn’t go unnoticed, so it comes as no surprise that he actually does some work as a model under contract with Berlin-based We Are Unlike You, a model agency “for unique characters”.

Das ist wunderschön, Gunther!

Maybe that is what I need to do as an artist...develop a style of dress of my own. Hmmmm...I may do some testing...let’s start with a three-piece suit, braces (already have two) boots, bow tie and hat at a jaunty angle...or perhaps a French Beret, jeans and sneakers would be more appropriate. Reckon I’d have to grow my moustache or beard back as well. What do you think?

Maybe I'll try something out at my Focus Art meeting on Wednesday evening...and/or the Garlic Festival here on Sunday. Looks as though a trip to Value Village is imminent.

See ya, eh!