Miss Cellania's Blog Posts

Ode to the Brain

(YouTube link)

The ninth song in the Symphony of Science series uses auto-tune to melodize scientists telling us about the amazing human brain. This creation features Robert Winston, Vilayanur Ramachandran, Jill Bolte Taylor, Bill Nye, Oliver Sacks, and the already-melodic Carl Sagan. Link -via Everlasting Blort

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Featured Designs from the NeatoShop:

This Week at Neatorama

This week we managed to give away a baker's dozen t-shirts and a hat! Why? A, folks love to win things; b, we enjoy how creative you guys are with your contest entries; and c, we are promoting the NeatoShop, which is Neatorama's main revenue source and the reason we can run fewer ads than most blogs this size. We also had some neat feature articles this week you don't want to miss!

Jiil Harness looked into the darker side of science history with 5 Science Experiments Gone Wrong.

She also brought us some clever and beautiful art, in 25 Artist Renditions of Movie And TV Posters.

We took a peek into The Luxuriant Flowing Hair Club for Scientists, courtesy of the Annals of Improbable Research.

Mental_floss magazine gave us 10 Modes of Transportation that Never Got Into Gear.

From Uncle John's Bathroom Reader, we learned about Hetty Green, The Witch of Wall Street.

Last week, Tiffany invited everyone to share their stories of the strange and funny things little children say at NeatoBambino. The response was wonderful! Read the t-shirt winning responses at Out Of The Mouth Of Babes: Part 2, and all the responses in the comments of part one.

John Farrier came up with a strange and wonderful contest called Besieged by Zombies at the NeatoShop. The idea was to defend yourself from a horde of zombies by using NeatoShop items, which sparked some wild ideas from the people who entered! The winning stories are in the followup post.

The Name That Weird Invention! contest went up Monday from Steven Johnson's Museum of Possibilities. Ladybuggs takes first prize for Convertuble, and Pat wins second place for Car Pool. Both win t-shirts from the NeatoShop!

In Mal and Chad's Fill in the Bubble Frenzy game this week, amanderpanderer’s line was selected to go in the speech bubble: “We always did make quite the paramecium.” She’ll be getting a t-shirt from the NeatoShop!

To be honest, in the What Is It? game this week it was hard to tell which answers were honest guesses and which were trying to be funny! just a guess was the first with the correct answer: this is a measuring device for a horse’s neck, so collars can be custom-sized. The funniest answer prize goes to The Professor, who called it “Occam’s Hooky-Thing” that wasn’t quite as successful as Occam’s Razor.

Bonus: Neatorama's Facebook page is not just a mirror of what's on the blog. You'll find extra links, discussions, and funny stuff there every day! You'll also find extra interesting things in our Twitter feed, published in small bites. Join in the fun -April Fool's Day is coming up next week, so you can count on some strange things happening!

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Muppet Whatnot Workshop

FAO Schwarz has a Muppet Workshop, where you can have your own "Muppet Whatnot" created just for you. You can design yours online with this generator. I made this one; others have designed Whatnots that look like Charlie Sheen, Bill Clinton, and others. Having it actually made into a Muppet will cost you $129.99. Link -via reddit

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It's Showtime!

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You know how sometimes you hear a word over and over and it starts to sound really silly? Yeah, this is one of those times. Who knew so many movies features this one idiom? Apparently Eddie Murphy says it in every film he's done! The very last word is NSFW. See a list of the films at Pajiba. Link -via the Presurfer

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Brilliant Inventions that Look Like Gag Gifts

Would you believe... a helicopter ejection seat? A solar-powered flashlight? An inflatable anchor? They're not jokes -well, they are the subjects of some jokes, but these gadgets really exist, and they really do the job, as you'll see in this list from Cracked. NSFW text. Link -via The Daily What

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Analog Tele-Phonographer

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A low-tech solution to a modern problem! Christopher Locke made an amplifier for his cell phone using a broken trumpet and scrap metal. No power cords, no batteries, no moving parts. And you can slip your Mp3 player in it as well. Link -Thanks, Chris!

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Danielle, the Girl in the Window

A couple of years ago, we posted a link to a Florida story that gripped the nation. "The Girl in the Window" was the victim of severe neglect. Her name is Danielle, and although she was almost seven years old when she was removed from her home, she could not speak or interact with others, and was extremely malnourished. Danielle was a feral child. The St. Petersburg Times has updated the online story several times.

Danielle is now 12 years old, and has been adopted by Bernie and Diane Lierow, who also have five sons. She still suffers from the effects of "environmental autism" due to her earlier neglect, but is making great strides. A book about Danielle will be released later this year. See pictures and video of Danielle at her parent's website. Link -via J-Walk Blog

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(YouTube link)

This bookshelf designed by Corentin Dombrecht is purr-fect for a home with cats -since they are going to climb your bookshelves anyway! The wood is unpainted and unvarnished to prevent a cat from slipping, and there's a built-in cat hammock on the top. The Cat-Library™ doesn't seem to be available for sale -yet, but it is making the rounds of design shows. Link -via Metafilter

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The Upper Hand

Aled Lewis is a professional illustrator (featured previously) who posts funny stuff on his Tumblr blog Aled Knows Best. One of his recurring themes is to pose toys to illustrate an unexpected punch line. This is only one of many that made me laugh! Link -via Nag on the Lake

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Midnight's New Leg

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Midnight the miniature horse was born missing part of one leg, and then was so neglected by his owner that he was seized by authorities. The adorable horse was close to being euthanized when the staff at Ranch Hand Rescue came up with a plan to get Midnight a new leg. You have to watch this one all the way through -you'll be glad you did! Link -via Gizmodo

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On the Bluff, in the Buff

Rescue workers banded together on Tuesday to retrieve a naked woman from the side of a cliff in the San Diego area. The woman was apparently trying to reach Black's Beach, a traditionally clothing-optional beach below the cliff at Torrey Pines State Park. San Diego Fire and Rescue Department spokesman Maurice Luque told the story.
It took lifeguards about 30 minutes to rig a series of rescue ropes. A female lifeguard then rappelled about a third of the way down the 500-foot cliff to an exposed ledge, where the very exposed 27-year-old woman was stuck.

After hooking up the young woman in a rescue harness, the lifeguard helped her rappel to the beach several hundred feet below, where she was provided with clothing. The entire operation took about an hour from start to finish.

The young woman was unharmed, Luque said. She will not be charged for the rescue, he added.

However, the unidentified woman was ticketed for disregarding signs and entering a restricted area. Link (with partially blurred video) -via Arbroath

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"Minor" Spill is Major for Penguins

Andrew Evans of National Geographic is on a photo expedition to the Tristan da Cunha island group in the South Atlantic. He expected to get beautiful pictures of wildlife and their natural habitat, but fate took another turn. A cargo ship crossing from Brazil to Singapore crashed on the rocks of Nightingale Island, and began to spill the 800 tons of fuel it was carrying.
The captain and all crew escaped the vessel, but by last Saturday the ship had begun to break up in the heavy surf. The oil slick had spread around the island and then out to sea in the direction of Inaccessible Island.

Our ship, the MV National Geographic Explorer arrived at Tristan Da Cunha yesterday and sailed to Nightingale Island this morning, as intended on our original itinerary with Lindblad Expeditions. Instead of mere bird watching, we were met with the disturbing sight of penguins and seals coated in sticky black oil.

Nightingale Island is home to some 20,000 of the endangered sub-species of Northern Rockhopper Penguin. Sadly, these are the birds that were hit the hardest—thousands are expected to die from the effects of the oil spill. While this spill is relatively minor in comparison to so many in the world today, it represents a major calamity for the fragile birdlife on pristine Nightingale Island and a heavy blow to the small group of islanders of nearby Tristan da Cunha.

Although hundreds of the rockhopper penguins were collected to be cleaned, many more hundreds are left covered with oil, along with seal pups and other wildlife. Read Evans' report and see more pictures at National Geographic's Digital Nomad blog. Link -Thanks, Marilyn Terrell!

(Image credit: Andrew Evans/National Geographic)

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The Aurora

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Terje Sorgjerd took footage of the Aurora Borealis around Kirkenes, Norway, near the Russian border. A week of footage is condensed in this beautiful time-lapse video. -via Metafilter

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10 Modes of Transportation that Never Got Into Gear

1. The Monowheel

In 1869, French craftsman Rousseau of Marseilles built the first in history's line of unsuccessful monocycles. Sitting inside the monowheel, the rider steered the contraption by shifting his or her weight in the desired direction. As if that wasn't difficult enough, the massive outer wheel remained directly in the driver's line of sight at all times. Braking was also potentially hazardous, as stopping too abruptly would cause the rider to be propelled forward along with the outer wheel. But perhaps the biggest strike against the monowheel was the immediate comparison of any rider to a gerbil -something even the French wouldn't tolerate.

2. The Daihatsu Trek

It's a car! It's a bed! It look suspiciously like a child's toy! For the outdoorsman who has everything except a really expensive Big Wheel, there was the Daihatsu Trek. A single-passenger off-road vehicle, the Trek not only allowed drivers to travel to remote areas, it also gave them a place to bed down for the evening. With its collapsible seat, steering wheel, and roll bar, the boxy monstrosity from 1990 offered all the comforts of a really cheap motel room. And while we can't be sure why the car never made it past the concept stage at Daihatsu, we can only guess members of the off-road focus groups felt silly driving a Transformer.

3. The Avrocar

A quasi hot potato of international engineering, the Avrocar was initially funded by the Canadian government, designed by a British engineer, and eventually assumed by the U.S. Defense Department as part of the Cold War weapons race. The UFO-like contraption was 18 feet in diameter, but only 3 feet thick. It featured vertical takeoff and landing and was designed to reach speeds up to 300 mph while remaining elusive to radar. Unfortunately, the two-person craft was never able to stabilize at heights above eight feet, nor travel faster than 35 mph. After eight years and more than $10 million, the project was abandoned in 1960.
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Smiling Americans

Do Americans smile too much? An opinion piece at Pravda says "Americans smile all the time as if they are plugged in." That is, compared to Russians.
For some reason, a smile makes a Russian person suspicious. Many Russians think that those who smile a lot are not really healthy mentally.

American Annette Loftus, who visited the Soviet Union for the first time in 1991, said that she was culturally shocked when she returned to the USA and saw the smiling Americans around.

Many Russian tourists traveling to Thailand still feel uncomfortable about this country. Thailand is known as a country of a thousand smiles.

"No smile feature is one of the brightest traits of a Russian individual," professor Sternin believes. "In Russia, a smile is not a signal of politeness. It is not considered normal in Russia to smile to strangers, the Russians do not return a smile for a smile automatically."

"The paradox is: the Russians smile less because they are more open to others. The Russian seriousness is a habit not to conceal people's feelings and emotions. Historically, the Russians are mostly in a bad mood, but they are not hiding it," the professor believes.

But what if you genuinely feel good and want to share the happiness? Maybe that's the problem with Americans. Link -via J-Walk Blog

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That's a Big Fish!

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Captain Linda Cavitt caught some footage of a 20-foot basking shark from the safety of the pier in Panama City Beach, Florida. Josh, the kayaker, was a bit closer.

yes he was eaten part 2? is coming....j/k no it's a docile basking shark, they eat plankton. The kayaker did jump in the water and swim with the shark though but as soon as Josh grabbed it's tail the shark swam away from him

Yes, he really did. -via BroBible

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Cat Rescued From Soup Can

A stray 4-month-old kitten in Louisville, Kentucky, helped himself to the remnants of a discarded can of soup and got his head wedged tight inside the can.
The kitten was brought in by MAS animal control officer Raymond Thomas on Monday, and was immediately taken to the veterinary staff, Gulbe said.

An initial attempt was made by veterinary assistant Brenda Keel to remove the can, but the kitten started crying. He was sedated and a pair of bolt-cutters were used to cut the can off of his head.

Gulbe said the kitten was also hypothermic and received medical attention to stabilize his condition.

Staff named the kitten "Campbell."

Campbell, who cleaned up well, is now up for adoption. Link -via Fark

(Image credit: Metro Animal Services)

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Dancing Android

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An android, meaning the Android phone mascot, dances up a storm in Taiwan. Impressive, for a guy in an inflatable costume! -via I Am Bored

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The Toba Event

The largest volcanic event in recorded history was the Mount Tambora eruption in 1815, which spewed so much rock and ash that the following year was known as "the Year Without a Summer." But that was small compared the the Toba Event, in which a volcano in Northern Sumatra erupted 73,000 years ago and spewed out 28 times as much debris -and may have wiped out most of the human population of the earth.
As the volcano erupted it deposited 6 meters of ash on parts of Malaysia and a 15 centimetres thick ash layer over the entire Indian subcontinent, and acid rain fell for years. The temperature of the planet fell abruptly 3–5°C and according to some (based on ice cores for Greenland) it jump -started the next global ice age.

It just so happens that this massive environmental catastrophe coincides with evidence for a massive human population decline resulting in a genetic bottleneck. According to the Toba catastrophe theory the resulting 6 to 10 year volcanic winter destroyed most of the vegetation in the area where humans would have been living and may have reduced the population to as few a 1000 breeding pairs.

There is some good evidence for this genetic bottleneck, and many geneticists feel that evidence suggests that all living humans, despite apparent variety, descend from a very small population, perhaps between 1,000 to 10,000 breeding pairs dating to about 70,000 years ago. It is also known that Eastern African chimpanzee, Bornean orangutan, central Indian macaque, and tigers, all recovered from population bottelnecks dating to around the same time. All of which would seem to fit neatly with the Toba super volcano event and the Toba catastrophe theory.

But as it always is in science nothing is neat or easy, and contradictory evidence is just as strong.

Today, what's left of the volcano is a huge, beautiful, water-filled crater called Lake Toba. But it's still a volcano, and may yet erupt again. Read more about it at Atlas Obscura. Link

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House Raided by Sheriff, Star, Tank

Maricopa County, Arizona, Sheriff Joe Arpaio and visiting lawman Steven Seagal went on a raid to a home in the West Valley area of Phoenix, where a man was suspected of cockfighting. The search warrant was executed as the SWAT team rolled into the neighborhood in armored vehicles led by a tank. They arrested Jesus Llovera during the raid Monday.
Llovera was alone in the house at the time of the arrest, and he was unarmed.

“I think taxpayers should be shocked,” said Robert Campus, Llovera’s attorney. Campus said he believes the operation costs tens of thousands of dollars.

Deputies had no probable cause to believe Llovera was armed or dangerous, according to Campus.

Campus said he believes the entire scene was basically a stage, to help actor Steven Seagal’s TV show, “Lawman.”

Seagal was riding in the tank.

The Sheriff’s Department has entered into a contract with Seagal and part of that contract gives Seagal carte blanche to go along with the sheriff as he arrests people.

Thousands of dollars in damages were made to the property and 115 birds were euthanized on the spot.

One neighbor was so frightened she called 911 to report the raid. Link -via reddit

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The Secret Messages in 12 Logos

Often we recognize and know a logo without ever really seeing what is there. Here are twelve company logos that incorporate motifs that you can easily miss if you never look closely, all explained to you. For example, what's that right in the middle of the Tostitos name?
The two t’s in the middle of the Tostitos logo are also guys sharing a tortilla chip, and the i in between them is a bowl of salsa on some sort of pedestal. This. Changes. Everything.

Yes it does. For one thing, I now crave salsa for lunch. See all twelve logos at Geekosystem. Link

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RIP Elizabeth Taylor

Legendary actress Elizabeth Taylor has died of heart failure. Born in England to American parents, Taylor {wiki} came to live in the US in 1939 and appeared in her first movie at age nine. Her striking beauty was partially due to a mutation that gave her a double row of eyelashes. Taylor acted in 70 movies and produced three. She was married eight times, twice to actor Richard Burton. Taylor had four children, ten grandchildren, and four great grandchildren. She was 79.
Beyond acting, Taylor is credited with bringing the world's attention to AIDS with her fund-raising and activism. In 1985, when Taylor's lifelong friend Rock Hudson died of AIDS, she brought national attention to the growing disease. It satisfying to her to use her celebrity for good - she raised and donated millions to the cause, founding the American Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR) and The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation.


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The Man Who Couldn't Wait

Hideaki Akaiwa was at work on March 11th when the earthquake and then the tsunami hit his hometown, Ishinomaki in Japan's Miyagi Prefecture. The city was covered with water ten feet deep -for days. Hideaki's wife was missing somewhere in the flooded area. Rescue workers told Hideaki that all they could do was wait for the military to come help. But the 43-year-old man did not want to sit idly by while his wife was missing, so he put on some SCUBA gear.
Regardless of how he came across this equipment (borrowing, stealing, buying, beating up a Yakuza SCUBA diving demolitions expert, etc.) Hideaki threw on his underwater survival gear, rushed into the goddamned tsunami, and dove beneath the rushing waves, determined to rescue his wife or die trying. I'm not exactly sure whether or not the dude even knew how to operate SCUBA equipment, but according to one version of his story he met his wife while he was surfing (which is awesome, by the way), so it doesn't seem like that much of a stretch to say that he already had a little experience SCUBA diving under a more controlled situation. Of course, even if this dude didn't know how to work the gear I'm certain that wouldn't have stopped him either – Hideaki wasn't going to let a pair of soul-crushing natural disasters deter him from doing awesome shit and saving his family. He dove down into the water, completely submerged in the freezing cold, pitch black rushing current on all sides, and started swimming through the underwater ruins of his former hometown.

Surrounded by incredible hazards on all sides, ranging from obscene currents capable of dislodging houses from their moorings, sharp twisted metal that could easily have punctured his oxygen line (at best) or impaled him (at worst), and with giant f***ing cars careening through the water like toys, he pressed on. Past broken glass, past destroyed houses, past downed power lines arcing with electrical current, through undertow that could have dragged him out to sea never to be heard from again, he searched.

Hideaki maintained his composure and navigated his way through the submerged city, finally tracking down his old house. He quickly swam through to find his totally-freaked-out wife, alone and stranded on the upper level of their house, barely keeping her head above water. He grabbed her tight, and presumably sharing his rebreather with her, dragged her out of the wreckage to safety. She survived.

Hideaki wasn't finished, though. His mother was still missing. Read the rest of the story at Badass of the Week. Warning: lots of strong language. Link -via reddit

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Happy Birthday to The Shat!

William Shatner turns 80 years old today. In honor of the occasion, Buzzfeed has posted many pictures of Shatner in various roles, from the original Star Trek (and even earlier roles) to his current starring role in the TV series $#*! My Dad Says. Here you see him at age 26 during rehearsal for The Alfred Hitchcock Hour. Link

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The Biggest Rabbit Ever

The idea of giant bunny rabbits may remind you of Night of the Lepus, but this is no movie -it's prehistory. A new species called the Minorcan King of the Rabbits (Nuralagus rex) has been discovered on the island of Minorca. It weighed over 26 pounds and had rather small ears compared to rabbits we know today. These rabbits flourished on the Mediterranean island between 5 and 3 million years ago.
"N. rex was a very robust and peculiar rabbit," project leader Josep Quintana told Discovery News. "Surely he was a very calm and peaceful animal that moved with slow, but powerful, movements."

Quintana, a scientist at the Catalan Institute of Paleontology, and colleagues Meike Kohler and Salvador Moya-Sola describe the giant fossil rabbit in a Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology paper. They believe the rabbit lost the ability to hop, because the long, springy spine typical of modern bunnies was replaced by a short, stiff backbone.

The researchers think N. rex spent most of its days peacefully digging, searching for roots and tubers to eat.

Link -via The Daily What

(Image credit: Meike Köhler)

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A Timeline of Middle East Protest Movements

Recent anti-government protests in the Middle East vary immensely regarding how much news gets to international audiences, and we can find it hard to keep up with developments in so many different areas. The successful regime change in Egypt and the violence in Libya tend to crowd out news from other nations. The Guardian has published an interactive time line that will help you catch up with developments in not only Libya, but also Tunisia (where it all started back in December), Bahrain, Yemen, Jordan, and other countries experiencing civil unrest. Link -via Metafilter

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Video Wedding Invitation

(YouTube link)

Save the date, because there's some travel involved! She's from Mayo, Ireland and he's from London, England, so they're getting married in Cornwall. This video wedding invitation for Victoria and Paul uses the art of collage to make it memorable. Corey McKenna, who created the stop-motion wedding invitation we featured a couple of years ago for his own wedding, was recruited to make this one. The music is "Keep the Car Running" by Arcade Fire. -Thanks, Corey!

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Spring Break Badges

These unofficial spring break merit badges can be sent to your friends via Facebook. The Lobster badge is for someone who didn't use enough sunscreen. The one on the right is called Icarus, for your friend who went after someone who was too hot for them and was then shot down. See all ten badges at MyEdu. Link -Thanks, A S!

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Stolen Ostrich Saves Itself

A farmer in Pitesti, Romania was distraught to find his ostrich had been stolen by rustlers. But he needn't have worried -this ostrich may be part homing pigeon, because she escaped and found her own way home!
Owner Florin Diaconescu, 47, was very relieved to see her return back to the farm and was amazed at how she had managed to return by herself.

'I had given her up as gone forever,' he explained.

'But I saw this cloud of dust heading towards the farm and she came running into the yard as fast as her legs would carry her.'

The bird was reportedly running at about 40 mph when she arrived at the farm. Link -via Arbroath

(Image credit: Reuters)

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Postage Stamp Art

Peter R. Mason is the "Post Pop Art Man". He creates large images by using recycled postage stamps as pixels! Mason's latest work is a portrait of Prince William and Kate Middleton on the occasion of the upcoming royal wedding. See portraits of world leaders and celebrities, as well as still lifes and landscapes all done in stamps at his website. Link -via the Presurfer

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Profile for Miss Cellania

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