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750 online college courses from some of the most prestigious universities and professors in the US and UK, available as online courses or iTunes downloads. Of course, there is no credit attached to them and you won’t earn any degree. However, if you want to enhance your learning with the real deal but have no money, this is the place to go.

For the truly intellectually promiscuous OpenCulture offers everything from astrophysics to engineering, psychology to law and more. It also links to other free learning experiences, like free language classes, free kids classes, free movies and free textbooks.

I like that. A lot. Knowledge and learning available to anyone with access to a computer for free. There are even free certification courses available. just became the poster site for

Mont Blanc

Mountain Climber Finds Treasure Trove of Gems in The Alps

An unnamed French mountaineer climbing Mont Blanc in the Alps came across a buried metal box. Inside was a stash of rubies, emeralds and sapphires estimated to be worth over $330,000. The hiker turned the treasure over to French authorities, who will attempt to find the owners or heirs.

Mont Blanc

Mont Blanc, French Alps
photo by SNappa2006 on Flickr

Europe’s highest peak, Mont Blanc is the site of several airplane crashes. One occurred in 1950, another in 1966. The gemstone trove is believed to have been part of the wreckage of the 1950 wreck. Other items including papers and letters have been found in the area over the years.

Mont Blanc

photo from wikimedia

Some of the gemstones were wrapped and labeled “Made in India.” An Air India plane crashed in the area in 1950. The gems were likely part of the ill-fated plane’s cargo, but French authorities say it is still too early to tell.

Source: Wall St. Journal/India

Mont Blanc

Mont Blanc reflected in mountain lake                                               photo by by Bruno Monginoux


Seriously, WTF Drug Users? The Worst Drug In The World


We’ve all seen the infamous “Faces of Meth,” chronicling the rapid and horrific decline of meth users from more-or-less normal looking people to walking corpses. Something worse has hit the streets of the US.


Krok house and users

The homemade drug called Krokodil was previously seen in Russia. It is a disfiguring and lethal mix of codeine and hydrocarbons like oil, paint thinner, alcohol or gasoline. Iodine and red phosphorous are other primary ingredients. Some cooks add hydrochloric acid to the mix.

It is easy to cook in a home kitchen and takes about 30 minutes to make. Users inject this poison into their veins, and the caustic ingredients cause severe tissue damage. The first two cases in the US were reported in Arizona.



Krokodil user cooking up and preparing to inject


Krokodil, or desomorphine, causes damage to blood vessels and tissue at the injection site. This causes gangrene and the flesh and bone literally rots form the inside out. Some of the sores resemble crocodile skin, thus the street name. In Russia, krokodil users live two to three years.

The drug produces a heroin-like high at a bargain price. The high lasts only about 90 minutes, compared to hours-long heroin nods. The drug was first seen in Russian in 2002, but was originally patented in the US in the 1930s.

It became popular in Russia due to the difficulty and cost of obtaining heroin. The cost is three to nine times less for krokodil. Time Magazine called the narcotic “the most horrible drug in the world.”


Krokodil user – gangrenous legs

Amputations are common, and krokodil dissolves jawbones and teeth. Blood poisoning, meningitis and burst arteries occur, and other users simply rot from the inside out. Most users who continue to use die.

The United States Drug Enforcement Administration has monitored desomorphine since 2011, but does not yet regulate it. They are waiting on samples from the Arizona to confirm the presence of the drug. The DEA says two reported cases are insufficient to justify regulation. The FDA spokesperson commented, “People are mixing codeine and gasoline, and shooting it into their veins. What do they expect?”


De-sheathed leg of Krokodil user

Permanent effects of the drug, besides skin and bone rotting, including speech impediments, brain damage and erratic movements. The rotting flesh, speech problems and jerky movements have prompted people to nickname krokodil the “Zombie Drug.”

The few people who manage to quit are permanently disfigured. Withdrawal can last over a month, compared to about a week for heroin. If you want to be completely grossed out, here are some of the less graphic photos of users. Click THIS LINK for worse pictures — definitely not worth the price of the high.


Consequences of Krokodil – desheathing rotted skin from leg

Source: USA Today , Huffington Post , Mother Jones


Ridiculously Detailed QR Code Carpet Drawings – OUTLET SALE – Shop Now!


From the OMG WOW BEAUTIFUL files, we bring you these drawings.


joe and nathan

QR Code Carpet by Joe and Nathan

Created by art director Jonathan Bréchignac, of Joe and Nathan  design studio in Paris, these amazing carpet drawings were all drawn by hand with Bic pencils and pens. They reflect the size and designs of Muslim prayer carpets. Each is richly decorated with detail and patterns, and are inspired by different styles of art. There are even camouflage and animal patterned drawings. 

joe and nathan

The Blue Carpet

Bréchignac combines the genres and patterns, breathing new life and meaning into each while creating something utterly unique.

Look more closely and you see a hand drawn QR code in each of the four carpet corners. Each code connects with its own page on On that site, the detail connects the physical form of the carpet with an abstract, interactive virtual form.

joe and nathan

QR Code Corner

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Hello Kitty Contact Lenses: Turn Your Eyes Into Cartoons

Visit to choose from 30+ discount dental plans starting at $79.95 per year. Join today and get 3 extra months FREE!

Once upon a time, we viewed contact lenses as a great invention. Then we saw them as a necessary innovation, because glasses were so uncool. Glasses became cool again, so contacts had to step up their game to stay in the race. Colored contacts and special effects contacts became common.

Contact Lenses

Cosmetic Contact Lenses – the creepy ones

Now, those wacky folks at have taken it to another level entirely. Hello Kitty contact lenses, in several different colors, for the low price of $22.95.

What good is an obsession with Hello Kitty if you can’t stick the cat directly on your eyeball. You can get one big Hello Kitty cat face to cover your iris, or contact lenses with a ring of tiny cat faces encircling the pupil.

Contact lenses

Giant cat face on eyeball.

We thought the Hello Kitty thing was fading. Alas, no. Is there nothing that can’t be Kitty-sized? If the eyes are the windows of the soul, what does wearing a Hello Kitty head on your eye say about you?

According to the icandycontactlens website, “… the world’s first ANTI RADIATION kitty themed cosmetic lens was designed …  Natural sparkling patterns, comfort, clarity, and very high permeability…”

contact lenses

Actual ad for the Hello Kitty contact lenses

Emphasis on ANTI RADIATION is mine. Anti-radiation cats? Anti-radiation contacts? Seriously, WTF? How on Earth have we survived this long without ANTI RADIATION protection for our eyes? No wonder things are weird. Global warming and climate change, weird weather, and now this? I blame our lack of proper eyewear.

contact lenses

I think people would stare

I want the purple ones, how about you?

Images and information from

Underground House

Fantastic Real Estate Bargain – Underground

A $1.6 million house built completely underground

MLS ID 1329334

3970 Spencer St., Las Vegas, NV  Agent: Winston King

Underground House

Who lives here? The care taker (you heard that in the creepy voice, right?)

Do you have $1.6 million lying around, nothing to do but earn interest? Always dreamed of living near the Strip in Las Vegas? Have I got a deal for you.

5 bedrooms (all 16×20), 4 full baths, 4 car garage. 1.05 acre lot includes caretaker’s house, main home and guest house. Built in 1978. Unique décor.

Built in 1978 by businessman Jerry Henderson and his wife Mary, the house and 1 bedroom guest house are entirely underground. The entrance is through the above-ground caretaker’s house.  Henderson built the place, intending to survive the inevitable end of the world safely underground and away from the nuclear holocaust.

The home features a dance floor, swimming pool (larger than most houses), spa and putting green. It has a faux lawn on all four sides. The place has also been for sale since 2001 with no buyers. The price has dropped from $8 million to $1.7 million, and it’s bank owned.

Underground House

Faux lawn, putting green, etc. on the underground-outside. Is that Faux outside?

Allegedly the home contains over $1 million in Italian marble on the fireplace and around the pool. The great room is truly great – 40×46 feet, containing a dance floor and a stage. The interior of the house looks very Liberace-esque, with indoor fountains and waterfalls, and a pink bathroom and kitchen. Lots and lots of pink.

Underground house

Pink bathroom. So very, very pink

An underground outdoor grill lives inside a large fake rock in the fake yard. It vents through a fake tree. Lavish wallpaper, 360-degree murals, putting green, lighted display cases, and even a toaster built into the kitchen wall are features of this unique property.

Underground house

Kitchen. I’m hungry already.

Mr. and Mrs. Henderson, it seems, were not only ridiculously rich and devoid of decorating sense, they were also huge proponents of living underground. Henderson’s company sponsored an exhibit at the NY World’s Fair in 1964-65 called “Why Live Underground.” Henderson believed the end of the Cold War would be nuclear inferno rather than the Wall coming down and the haunting sounds of the Scorpions singing “Winds of Change.”

The Scorpions

The Scorpions. Singing Winds of Change. Get with the 80s, man!

Originally the building connected via a tunnel to the building next door, which was Henderson’s office. After the Henderson’s died, the properties went to separate owners and the tunnel was filled.

The listing agent, Winston King, points out that the home is priced at only about $100 per square foot. He anticipates someone will purchase it soon, perhaps for an event space or another Las Vegas tourist tour.

Photos: Trulia Real Estate

Source: Review Journal;


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Spencer’s Gifts


St. John’s Bible Exhibit – Rockhurst College

The St. John’s Bible was commissioned by Saint John’s Abbey and University. It was created by Donald Jackson, Senior Scribe to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth’s Crown Office, along with a collaborative team of artists and scribes.

St. John's Bible

The Aaronic Blessing

This is the first illuminated, handwritten Bible of monumental size to be commissioned by a Benedictine monastery in over 500 years. All 73 books of the Old and New Testaments, using the New Revised Standard Version, are presented in seven volumes totaling approximately 1150 pages.

The work of the St. John’s Bible was done in a scriptorium in Wales. Now completed, the Bible’s home is Saint John’s University in Collegeville, MN.

St. John's Bible

Genesis – Creation

The St. John’s Bible was made using traditional materials such as vellum, ancient inks, gold and silver leaf, and platinum. It was written with quill pens fashioned from goose, turkey and swan feathers.

The Heritage Edition of the St. John’s Bible is the only full-size, limited, signed and numbered fine art edition that will ever be produced. 299 fine art editions were created and placed around the world in religious, arts, academic, healing and literary institutions.

St. John's Bible

Ancient Eve in the Garden of Eden

Bound in Italian leather and printed on 100 percent cotton paper using printing technologies invented for this project, the Heritage edition features the exquisite calligraphy, vibrant imagery and stunning gold and silver illumination inspired by the original.

My puny attempts at photography do not do this exhibition justice. All seven books are on display at Rockhurst College’s Greenlease Library, 51st and Troost, KCMO, through the end of September. Two books will remain at the library through the end of 2013.

St. John's Bible


My guide during this trip was the super-knowledgeable Ellen Spake. She took training at the St. John’s Abbey in Minnesota as part of the contract to bring the books to Rockhurst. Visitors are allowed to browse the books at their leisure, and Ms. Spake and her team of docents provide a wealth of information about the books. Any question about methods, materials, iconography, symbology and the makers is answered in great detail.

Thanks to my Mom for finding out about this exhibit and patiently accompanying me as I drooled all over the books and spent a couple of hours being amazed. I may have to return and drool some more, and listen to Ms. Spake tell the story of this amazing achievement.

I hope you enjoy the gallery of my photos, and I really hope you are able to see this exhibit at one of the 299 places around the world.

Mars Mission

Sleep Your Way to Mars

If you weren’t paying attention, NASA has been recruiting astronauts for a one-way trip to colonize Mars. No kidding. Sadly, they passed on hiring a middle-aged redhead (ahem) for the job. Their loss. 



Anyway, the question arises about just how the hell they are going to get people there without them going batshiat crazy on the trip. The voyage should begin in the next 15 years or so, so the selected crew starts training now for the arduous trip.

The Red Planet has been a dream for humanity for years. We’ve made giant leaps in technology and the requirements for space travel, so the colonization project may now be possible. NASA and project researchers are shooting for launch in or near 2030. In spite of how far away that seems, it really is not.

NASA-funded engineers are working on ways to put the astronauts into hibernation during the trip. No, this is not an Arthur C. Clarke novel, this is real life. Hibernation would make the Mars trip cheaper, safer, and easier on the crews, according to researchers. The plan is to induce a state similar to how bears snooze through a long winter.

Using current propulsion technology, it will take six to nine months to reach Mars. Happy and healthy awake astronauts will consume huge amounts of food, water, and living space. Happy hibernating astronauts, by comparison, would let the spacecraft travel lighter and leaner, with more resources devoted to other capacities. Less mass assigned to consumables reduces the cost of the entire system.

Mission to Mars


Life support systems would not have to work as hard and hibernating voyagers would be confined to one area of the ship. Radiation shielding would be hardened over that area, so no new propulsion systems to minimize radiation doses is be needed. More astronauts could go on the colonization expedition if they are hibernating. Having more people along will make the process after planet-fall much more efficient and productive.

Just how are these brainiacs planning to chill out the astronauts? The research team is using advances in therapeutic hypothermia developed for head and spinal cord injuries, for one. With this, tissue damage is prevented during low blood flow times by lowering the body’s core temperature.

Researchers claim the metabolic rate decreases by five to seven percent for every one-degree Fahrenheit drop in body temperature. Researchers are aiming for ten degrees drop in core body temperature during the voyage, which factors to a 50 to 70 percent reduction in metabolism.

This is a far cry from freezing someone and thawing them out when they get to the end of the trip. Astronauts will still need air, and will get nutrients via IVs. Supposedly, the body temperature drop would induce unconsciousness by itself; otherwise, sedatives would need to be added to the IV feed.

Maybe adding middle-aged redheads to the voyage would require ice cream and lots of Xanax in the drip. I am beginning to see their point. However, I would want to be awake for part of the voyage just to occasionally revel in the awesomeness.

Mission to Mars

Mars Astronauts with Rover

Back to hypothermia. The research team is trying to figure out the best way to drop core temperature. Right now, the leading idea is using the gel pads doctors currently use. Cold IVs could also do the trick, but they are trying to avoid multiple needles, it seems.

They could also let the spacecraft cool down naturally in the cold vacuum of space, and then warm the place back up as the destination neared. I have visions of astronaut-shaped Pop Tarts, but that is probably wrong. So far, the longest hypothermic hibernation has been ten days for humans. That has been dictated by medical need rather than human tolerances.

Challenges for hibernating spacefarers would include bone loss and muscle degeneration from lack of gravity and lack of exercise. Space station astronauts have a gym set up, and must work hard on gravity-based exercises to keep up their strength. Unresponsive and immobile hibernators would have no such advantage.

However, one study is examining the practicalities of spinning the spacecraft to induce artificial gravity. They could spin the ship faster with sleeping astronauts, because motion sickness would not be an issue. Faster spinning equals more gravity, and thus less bone and muscle loss. Scientists are also looking at how bears, in hibernation for five to seven months, don’t lose muscle strength.

Mars Mission

Nautilus-X Demo Ship – NASA

Thankfully, research teams are also looking at things that would make hibernation impractical or impossible on the long trip to Mars. If they don’t find any deal-breakers, then they will move on to more in-depth research. The 2030s are creeping up faster every day. Engineers say the hypothermia experiments can begin on the International Space Station at any time.

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Monterey Bay

Colors of California – Monterey Bay Aquarium

Part 2 of my photo posts from my recent trip to California. All images are the sole property of Holly Cochran and  Unauthorized use or reproduction is explicitly prohibited.


Color Photos from the VERY amazing Monterey Bay Aquarium and surrounding beach areas. Highly recommended travel destination. Click on any image to embiggen it. You won’t be sorry!


I recently traveled to Central California, including the San Francisco Bay area, Monterey Bay, and Yosemite National Park. I took over 1000 photos, dozens of them actually in focus.  Below are some of my favorites, manipulated to black and white as an experiment in contrast and color. ALL photos are the exclusive property of and Holly Cochran. Unauthorized use or reproduction is explicitly not permitted. - Organic Home Goods, Natural Clothing & Everything Yoga! Click Here!

Starting with San Francisco Bay ~~~

Americas Cup

Americas Cup Sailboat in SF Bay

Gull and Buoy

SF Bay Buoy and Seagull

Golden Gate

Golden Gate Bridge



San Francisco Skyline from the Bay



Alcatraz Building



Alcatraz Blockhouse and Light House


Then traveling to Yosemite National Park ~~~

Bridal Veil Fall

Bridal Veil Fall – Not quite dried up this summer


El Capitan

El Capitan


Half Dome

Yosemite Vista Including Half Dome in the Far Distance


granite composition



Mountain Vista

Mountain Vista in Yosemite

granite 2

Granite Composition 2

Tuoleme LakeLake Showing Reduced Water Levels


Then to the Mariposa Grove of giant Sequoia trees, also in Yosemite ~~~

Mariposa Grove

Sequoia Perspective


Mariposa Grove

Carvings on a fallen Sequoia


Mariposa Grove

Giant Fallen Sequoia

Mariposa GroveSequoia with burn scar and evidence of new life

Mariposa Grove

Sequoia Grove


Finally, to Monterey Bay and the amazing Monterey Bay Aquarium ~~~

Monterey Bay Aquarium

Jellie Study


Monterey Bay Aquarium

Another jellie


Monterey Bay Aquarium



Monterey Bay

Monterey Bay Bird Hangout


Monterey Bay

Monterey Bay Tidal Pool


Monterey Bay

Monterey Bay Gulls


Check out my next post for Colors of California.