Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Fans of Child Labor Unite! - Baby Boss

I am a big fan of child labor (for proof, see my previous post on Kinderkookkafé). Yes, I know how that sounds and no, I'm not taking it back. Children need to earn their keep, and if it means roughing up those cute little chubby hands, then so be it. Serendipitously, the people of Taiwan agree with this viewpoint and have come up with an ingenious way of disguising child labor as a family attraction.

At Baby Boss in Taipei, children are invited to try their hand at different professions, like construction worker, hairdresser, pizza maker, astronaut, fire fighter. At each job placement, attendants help dress up the kids in convincing costumes, give them a run-down of the job, and let them give the equipment a whirl. It's all very realistic and fun. The fire hoses really spray water, there's a real crane at the construction site, and real pizza gets made (and eaten). At the end of each session, the children are paid in "baby bucks," which they can then spend at the shops within the building. I know. BABY BUCKS. If that's not reason enough to fly to Taiwan immediately, you're obviously a Communist.

Monday, December 22, 2014

And You Thought Your House Needed Work - Upside-Down House

Credit: WonderfulEngineering.com

So here's a trend I never saw coming: upside-down houses. This one, on display at the Tierpark Zoo in Gettorf, Germany, is the the latest in a series of topsy-turvy abodes to be built around the world; some are exhibits open to the public, while others are actual personal dwellings. The interior of these houses are upside-down as well, so the furniture is bolted down (up?) and visitors are required to walk on the "ceilings."

Come to think of it, why live in a boring old right-side-up house when you can live the inverted life? You'd never have to deal with a leaky roof. If a burglar breaks in, he won't be able to steal anything because all the furniture would be stuck to the floor ... er, ceiling. And he'd be very confused. Plus, your neighbors will leave you alone because you're obviously cray cray. Win-win-win. Never has anything made so much sense to me. Excuse me while I go check my local real-estate listings.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Who's Down for Some Hiking? - Haiku Stairs

Did your last vacation include physical activity beyond lifting piña coladas? Is your idea of fun doing a lap around the nearest national park? Do you own a walking stick? If you answered yes to any of these questions, I'm not sure I can be friends with you. You're probably in better shape than I am and look better than I do. But I'll let you in on a secret anyway. There exists in Oahu, Hawaii, a hike that offers fantastic views of the top of Pu'u Keahi a Kahoe. Consisting of steps, platforms and ladders (some completely vertical), the Haiku Stairs, or "Stairway to Heaven," leads visitors more than 2,300 feet up, from Haiku Valley to a peak that rises above the clouds. The rickety 4,000-step path was originally constructed during World War II to provide access to transmission stations at the top of the ridge.

Before you run to grab your walking stick, I must tell you that it's currently illegal to attempt this hike, as no one wants to see "stairway to heaven" become a literal term - although there are plans in the works to reopen the stairs to the public. Trespassers have been stopped by the police, and tickets have been issued, so you have been warned! I do not encourage or condone illegal behavior! Unless you're planning on bringing me back some spam musubi, in which case, carry on.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Is That a Microchip in My Food? - Haohai Robot Restaurant

Caption: Quirky China News / Rex Features

When I was a kid, I was sure that by the time I grew up there'd be robots everywhere, taking care of all the things I didn't want to do. They'd walk the dog, water the plants, attend my company holiday parties. Well, here I am in the future, a proper adult ... with nary a robot servant in sight. What gives?

Turns out I'm living in the wrong country. In Harbin, China, there's a restaurant called Haohai that's staffed by robots. Robots take your order, prepare your food, bring them to your table, even serenade you upon request. Next time I'm in China, I think I'll pop in and try to convince one of these guys to come do my laundry. Just don't tip too badly, or the robots will, of course, revolt. And then the robot apocalypse will be on you.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Wreck Diving for the Wealthy - Visiting the Titanic

Did you know that you can go see the Titanic? Like, the famous ship that crashed into an iceberg. Like, the actual wreck at the bottom of the ocean. Like, the real Titanic that carried the Astors and Leo DiCaprio. Well, that last part may or may not be factually correct, but whatever. I can see you're already on board (snicker).

All you gotta do is fork over sixty grand. Oh, I should've mentioned that first? Apologies. But get this - after you turn in that chunk of change, you get to hop on a tiny submersible vessel with Great Canadian Adventure Company in Edmonton and sink 12,460 feet to the spot where the Titanic has been resting for more than a hundred years. Marine biologists accompany you on the dive to tell you what you're looking at and make sure you don't meet a similarly tragic fate on your own nautical adventure. Can't you hear the strains of "My Heart Will Go On" already? That's your cue to start saving your loose change for the trip. Because why pay down your mortgage when you could go on an undersea exploration of the biggest FAIL in history?

Monday, December 1, 2014

It's Not Bad for You If You Live in It - Palacio de Sal

I'm a member of Team Salt. Don't get me wrong - I love me some sweet, too, but salt is what keeps me going through the day. It looks like the people who run Palacio de Sal in Bolivia have somehow gotten wind of my vices and decided to exploit them - by building the world's only salt hotel, on the banks of the world's largest salt flat. The walls of the hotel are made entirely of salt, as are the ceilings and the furniture. The guest rooms are shaped like igloos, only they're made from salt blocks. I know. Let the licking commence!

Actually, there's a strict policy against licking at this hotel, as the point of it is to provide a therapeutic atmosphere, not a delicious one. Which is kind of like saying, "Here's a kettle-cooked potato chip ... now RELAX IN IT." I guess I'll have to settle for the meals prepared by the hotel's dining room, which specializes in dishes made with sugar. Nah, I'm kidding. It's salt.

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