April 2011

Pearl Fryar, Unlikely Titan of Topiary

April 25, 2011

Photo by Duane Burdick To some people, a shrub is just a shrub; to Pearl Fryar, a shrub is a canvas. Fryar is an artist with plants. But he didn’t start out that way. When he bought his home in 1981, Fryar didn’t know anything about gardening. Still, he wanted to win Yard of the […]

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Ueli Steck, Speed Mountain-Climber

April 21, 2011

The Eiger is a wall of ice and stone in the Swiss Alps. It rises 3970 meters (13,025 feet) above Gindelwald. The north face of Eiger is also called Mordwand, or “the wall of death”. In the past century, at least sixty-four climbers have died trying to scale this treacherous slope. The western flank of […]

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Michael Moschen, Juggling Genius

April 19, 2011

Michael Moschen is one of the world’s most accomplished jugglers. Moschen is especially adept at contact juggling, a method in which the juggler doesn’t toss props into the air, but keeps them close to the body. When he was twelve, Moschen and his brother (and next-door neighbor Penn Jillette) learned to juggle from a library […]

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Ben Underwood, the Boy Who Could See with Sound

April 15, 2011

Ben Underwood was your average teenager. He liked to goof around with his friends, skate in the street, and waste time playing videogames. The only difference? Underwood was blind. In July 2006, People magazine published a profile of Underwood, the boy who saw with sound. The opening paragraph is awesome: There was the time a […]

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Dozens Work to Save the Life of Heart-Attack Victim

April 13, 2011

We hear a lot about the bystander effect, the socio-psychological phenomenon in which average people stand by idly instead of helping a victim during an emergency situation. This concept was made famous by the murder of Kitty Genovese in 1964, but has been reported as recently as yesterday in other traumatic situations. It’s refreshing, then, […]

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Steven Sasson, Inventor of the Digital Camera

April 11, 2011

When did you first see a digital camera? I first saw one in 1999. A friend borrowed a one-megapixel Kodak DC240 from somewhere, and he showed it to me one night over dinner. I was amazed. I’d recently become interested in photography, and the cost of film was killing me. A digital camera seemed like […]

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How to Be Awesome

April 9, 2011

This is a guest post from my colleague, Chris Guillebeau. How to Be Awesome was originally published at his site, The Art of Non-Conformity, in slightly different form. The other day I was talking with my friend Phil, a doctoral student in philosophy. Phil is much smarter than me — of that there is no […]

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Miriam Makeba, Mama Africa

April 7, 2011

In February, my wife and I took a vacation to southern Africa. As our bus drove through Soweto, our tour guide sang to us “The Click Song” from Miriam Makeba. This song is a novelty to Western ears because it’s sung in Xhosa, one of South Africa’s eleven official languages. (It’s spoken by about 18% […]

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Olga Kotelko, the 91-Year-Old Star of Track and Field

April 4, 2011

Most of my life, I’ve been fat. I’ve been a sedentary man, sitting in front of a computer, eating corn chips and Sno-Balls. Over the past couple of years, though, I’ve changed. I’m eating well and have even started exercising. In fact, I exercise a lot. Physical fitness is hard work. Some days, I wonder […]

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