The 2015 Harbin Ice and Snow Festival

Every year, in northeast China’s Heilongjiang province, the city of Harbin hosts the Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival, featuring massive ice and snow sculptures. At night, the sculptures are colorfully illuminated and visitors can climb and play on some of the structures. The festival officially opened on January 5 this year, and will run through the end of February. According to organizers, the winter festival now draws several million tourists each year, from China and from abroad.

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Photos of the Week: 10/11-10/17

This week we have photographs from Nepal, China, Venezuela, Siberia, Israel, Ukraine, Missouri, Nevada, outer space, and many more locations. Also, this week, I’m playing with visual rhyming—couplets and triplets of images that relate to each other or play off each other, either visually or contextually (or both). Several pairs and trios of images within today’s essay are deliberately sequenced in this manner, some more subtle than others. Please let me know, in comments or directly, if you like this, or if it feels a bit gimmicky, thanks.

[35 photos]

Win your wife’s weight in beer, plus cash, at the North American Wife Carrying Championship

The CBC just put up a photo gallery of their own about the North American Wife Carrying Championship, presumably from this year’s contest, which would have been this Columbus Day weekend, just ended.


I had known about the Finnish sport of wife-carrying (my parents once did it on a trip to Finland), but I hadn’t appreciated, till reading this Fox News item, that there is a North American version: the North American Wife Carrying Championship, in Newry, Maine, held each Columbus Day weekend, apparently going for over a decade now.

Contestants consist of pairs of husband-wife teams (though apparently, they allow unmarried couples as well, oh well), running through and around a variety of obstacles – e.g. up sand dunes, through waterholes.  If you drop your partner at any point, a time penalty is added to your total time.

As with the Finnish ones, if you win, you win your wife’s weight in beer, as well as cash, which is awesome, though it does present a quandary of sorts: on the one hand, the bigger your wife is, the more beer you’d…

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Architecture Du Jour: The Shaker Style

When I lived in the Capitol District (Albany, NY and the surrounding area), there were Shaker references everywhere; apparently there had been Shakers in the region, back in the day. And I learned about Shaker furniture, gained an appreciation for its beauty, and simplicity. I like Toddy Cat’s theory, in his comment. 😉 Hey, it’s as reasonable an explanation as any other! 🙂

Uncouth Reflections

Blowhard, Esq. writes:

The basic standards that defined both the buildings and their interiors were simplicity and utility. The Shakers frowned on any kind of decoration, and they favored pure, clean forms that were highly functional and economic to make. The house interiors were bright and airy, well-heated and clean, uncluttered and serene.

…As the Shaker movement developed, they began to systematize the layouts of their communities…What enabled the Shaker style to grow and develop was the fact that all unknown artisans involved were able to innovate, providing they held to the group’s essential tenets. “This freedom to experiment in the interest of betterment,” says [design writer Richard] Shepherd, “saved Shaker architecture from the blight of institutionalism or stereotype.”

— Building Without Architects: A Global Guide to Everyday Architecture

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