Tuesday, March 29, 2011
A handcrafted double bed has gone on sale for £4 million and is touted as the world’s most expensive place to rest your head.
The Baldacchino Supreme is inlaid with 107kg (236lb) of 24ct gold and is fashioned out of chestnut and ash wood with a cherry wood canopy.
It comes complete with Italian silk and cotton drapes and the headboard can be customised to take diamonds for that hint of extra bling.
The luxury item was made by British designer Stuart Hughes, who specialises in dolling up items for the super rich, such as gold-plating iPhones and selling them for £22,000.
He also hit the headlines when he customised an iPhone 4 with a 65million-year-old T.rex tooth and meteoric stone.
The 39-year-old Liverpudlian, who worked with Italian design company Hebanon for the bed, said the ‘incredible’ detail made it ‘out of this world’.
‘It is the sort of thing only the super rich can afford, billionaires who have everything and are always looking for unique gifts,’ he added.
He has made two of the beds so far, with each one taking three months.
One has already been snapped up by an Italian businessman.
Sunday, March 27, 2011
Language is meant to power our dreams into physical reality. When we “spend” our language on half-baked ideas, or passionate views we may have heard about but have no direct experience with, when we use language destructively or we say things we don’t really mean, we lose personal power. Personal power comes from being in integrity and diminishes whenever our integrity is undermined. Unfortunately, very few of us are taught the skills of using language as an integrity-building force.
To find the roots of our dishonesty with ourselves, we need only look as far as our cultural patterns around language and lies. Most of us consider ourselves good people. We recycle our cardboard, give to charity and generally try to do the right thing when we have the opportunity. Yet most nice people also lie quite frequently. Why is that? And how has that become acceptable behavior?
The dictionary describes the word “lie” in the following way: v 1. to say something that is not true in a conscious effort to deceive somebody, 2. to give a false impression; n 1. a false statement made deliberately, 2. a false impression created deliberately.
In all four of these descriptions, one thing stands out clearly: that lying is something we do deliberately — that our purpose for lying is to intentionally deceive. Obviously, this type of activity seems at odds with being “nice.” How is it that we can consider ourselves good people and include lying? We may think our lying is for a good reason: to keep from hurting someone’s feelings, to smooth over conflict or to make someone happy. After all, what does it hurt to tell a little white lie every once in a while?
What lying does, as a rule, is to create multiple realities. When you lie, reality splits — it “dis-integrates.” You now have one reality that you know and live in, knowing the “truth” about a particular issue, and the reality that the people to whom you’ve lied live in, which is designed around somewhat or totally different information. The people to whom you have lied make decisions and choices based on the reality they inhabit, but it’s a different reality than the one you inhabit, so that split will now influence your relationship and your common future.
Presumably, you told the white lie to make these other people’s reality “nicer,” but you probably also told it to make your reality more comfortable (i.e., by lying, you avoided “feeling bad,” disappointing them or being the bearer of bad news). The problem is, you are creating this potentially huge disintegration without having any real way of knowing what the repercussions of that reality-split will be down the road. You can’t know how this separate reality might circle back in the future, and you can’t really know whether the net outcome for this other person will be better or worse than the course of the reality that might have resulted if you had told the truth. All you can know for sure is that you’ve now created a rift in a continuum of both your own and these other people’s lives, and you’ve taken charge, if even in a small way, of designing someone else’s reality.
The more lies you tell, of course, the more multiple realities you create and must live with. That’s an enormous responsibility, and it can also be energy draining, because it literally costs you integrity — the state of being connected, sound, consistent and undivided.
When enough “white lies” are floating around in your midst, your integrity becomes fractured. You may feel pulled in a thousand directions, and unable to make decisions without the fear that all these “custom made” realities could come crashing down around you. You may also not feel like you fully know or trust yourself at times.
In his book, The Four Agreements (Amber-Allen Publishing, 1997), author and Toltec wise man don Miguel Ruiz presents a simple but profound code of personal conduct based on adhering to four basic principles or “agreements.” The very first agreement is “Be Impeccable With Your Word.”
The word impeccable comes from the Latin im, meaning “without,” and pecatus, which means “sin.” So impeccable (which we generally think of as meaning “perfectly clean”) really means “without sin.” According to Ruiz, to sin is to go against yourself, in word or in deed. To speak something other than your highest choice and truth is a form of fragmentation.
In the first section of The Four Agreements, he advises: “Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.”
Those are wise words, and they provide the basis for personal integrity. But if we accept that all of us are already wandering around in slightly different realities (thanks to each having access to different knowledge and experience), what is truth, really? How can we be sure we are speaking it, and speaking it with full integrity? How can we know when we are simply telling the truth, and when we are gossiping or talking out of turn?
At one time or another, most of us have been on the receiving end of someone who just had to “speak his or her truth,” but who also seemed to have had an agenda about making us wrong, guilt-tripping us or hurting our feelings. We’ve been in situations where someone says something totally inappropriate or unkind and then uses, “Well, it’s true!” as an excuse.
Insisting on speaking the whole truth and nothing but the truth all the time doesn’t seem practical or wise; it seems reckless and undiscerning. This is where we need to come back and revisit that last, very important bit of Ruiz’s counsel: “Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.”
That might mean love for another person, but it also means love of the greater good, for a principle or fundamental truth. Sometimes you may have to speak up in a way that hurts or angers someone close to you but that you feel is necessary for the benefit of a larger group or purpose. And yes, sometimes it means you may elect not to share a particular truth out of care or respect for another person. The intersection of love and truth is a complex territory. What you need is a personal code of integrity that you can live with and be proud of.
You will find yourself to be a much happier person when your words match your intentions and when your actions match your words. You will find yourself sleeping better when there are no niggling half-truths keeping you awake at night.
As your word becomes more and more powerful, your reality will begin to reflect that. As you speak from a place of integrity, and use powerful language in the service of your highest choices, you will start to manifest those choices very much as you have described them. When that happens, you’ll know you are on the right path and headed in the best possible direction — the direction of your dreams.
Cedar Creek Treehouse, Ashford, Washington
Treehouses of Korowai and Kombai, West Papua
Green Magic Treehouse, Vythiri, Kerala, India
The Gibbon Experience Treehouses, Bokeo, Laos
Rooftop Treehouse, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Takasugi-an Tea House, Chino, Japan
Beach Rock Treehouse, Okinawa, Japana
Inkaterra Canopy Tree House, Tambopata, Perua
DIY Treehouse of Yesteryear, Location Unknown
Nameless Treehouse, Location Unknown
Over the years, Japan has become one of the most interesting countries in the world. Its unique culture, great food and technological edge has fascinated and inspired the rest of the world.
However, some of Japan’s customs and tastes have been widely misunderstood, and have even baffled some. Nonetheless, these 20 interesting facts have given the world a chance to see Japan as it is: An intriguing, culturally rich and economically sturdy super-power. Here are 20 interesting facts about Japan.
20. Raw horse meat is a popular entree in Japan. Sliced thinly and eaten raw it is called basashi – it is pictured above.
19. Over 70% of Japan consists of mountains. The country also has over 200 volcanoes.
18. A musk melon (similar to a cantaloupe) can sell for over 31,473 yen ($300.00).
17. The literacy rate in Japan is almost 100%.
16. There are vending machines in Japan that dispense beer!
15. Japanese people have an average life-expectancy that is 4 years longer than Americans. Maybe American’s should eat more basashi!
14. Some men in Japan shave their heads as a form of apology.
13. Japan has the second lowest homicide rate in the world, but is also home to the extremely spooky suicide forest, aokigahara. One occupant of the forest is pictured above.
12. Japan has produced 15 Nobel laureates (in chemistry, medicine and physics), 3 Fields medalists and one Gauss Prize laureate.
11. Younger sumo-wrestlers are traditionally required to clean and bathe the veteran sumo-wrestlers at their wrestling “stables”…including all the hard-to-reach places.
10. Japan’s unemployment rate is less than 4%.
9. Japan consists of over 6,800 islands.
8. “Tetsuo: Iron Man” (no relation to the comic book, or Robert Downey, Jr. film), a relatively popular, extreme, “Cyberpunk” film (a “cyberpunk” film is a science fiction film that involves technology – and the abuse thereof – and social unrest), was based on a play the director Shinya Tsukamoto wrote and directed in college. It is an excellent film.
7. A Paleolithic culture from about 30,000 BC is the first known inhabitants of Japan.
6. Prolific Japanese film-maker Takahi Miike made up to 50 films in a decade during the peak of his career.
4. 21% of the Japanese population is elderly, the highest proportion in the world.
3. In the past, the Japanese court system has had a conviction rate as high as 99%!
2. Japanese prisons (as of 2003) operated at an average of 117% capacity.
1. Raised floors help indicate when to take off slippers or shoes. At the entrance to a home in Japan, the floor will usually be raised about 6 inches (15.24 cm.) indicating you should take off your shoes and put on slippers. If the house has a tatami mat room, its floor may be raised 1-2 inches (2.54-5.08 cm.) indicating you should take off your slippers.
Mach 5 (Speed Racer)
Turtle Van (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Optimus Prime (Transformers)
Donald Duck's Car
Genius, say others.
But entirely normal for Jacob, a child prodigy who used to crunch his cereal while calculating the volume of the cereal box in his head.
"Whenever I try talking about math with anyone in my family," he said, "they just stare blankly."
So do many of his older classmates at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, who marvel at seeing this scrawny little kid in the front row of the calculus-based physics class he has been taking this semester.
When Jacob Barnett first learned about the Schrödinger equation for quantum mechanics, he could hardly contain himself.
For three straight days, his little brain buzzed with mathematical functions.
From within his 12-year-old, mildly autistic mind, there gradually flowed long strings of pluses, minuses, funky letters and upside-down triangles -- a tapestry of complicated symbols that few can understand.
He grabbed his pencil and filled every sheet of paper before grabbing a marker and filling up a dry erase board that hangs in his bedroom. With a single-minded obsession, he kept on, eventually marking up every window in the home.