Prowler – New York City’s Real-Life Female Superhero

It’s not the first time we’ve reported cases of real-life superheroes here on OC. But this sure is a first – a female superhero who has gladly shared her identity. And that’s not all. She’s also probably the first superhero to be concerned about her own safety. So she only patrols the streets of Brooklyn with fellow male superheroes. She is ‘Prowler’ by night, dressed in black spandex, red cat mask and clawed gloves, and Nicole Abramovici by day, a 32-year-old home-organizing businesswoman.

Abramovici is a part of the Big Apple chapter of a group called Superheroes Anonymous (only, she isn’t). She came to know about this group of male superheroes patrolling the city through a newspaper article and was inspired to join them. “I am one of the very few females active as a real-life superhero,” she said. “I wanted to help the homeless and the abandoned animals of New York, so pretty much immediately I decided on the name Prowler.” Abramovici admitted that the name Prowler isn’t always seen in a positive light, and is perceived as a person who creeps around at night, stealing. “But I wanted to make the prowler a force for good,” she said. On most nights, you can find her seeking out the needy with her superhero mentor, ‘Life’.

Photo: Canele Bernard/Rue89

Life said that he doesn’t think gender makes much of a difference for real-life superheroes. It’s all about helping people for him. Of his mentee, he said, “Prowler has always been very street savvy so my job was to show her the ropes as a superhero. She has been very helpful because she speaks Spanish and I don’t.” Abramovici’s own inspiration is from the classic female superheroes like Cat Woman and Bat Girl, who were “super hot and empowered.” She said that she feels like the same person under the costume, but what’s different is the attention, and the fact that she is able to make homeless people smile. Her enemies – poverty, destitution and cruelty against animals; her weapons – food, clean clothes and toiletries, which she distributes to the homeless to help them survive. During her nightly patrols on the streets of the Big Apple, she also gives homeless people advice on hygiene and takes time to just talk to them and maybe put a smile on their faces.

Photo: Canele Bernard/Rue89

Abramovici is quite unfazed about the fact that her identity is no secret. Both her parents know about her night-time routine, but prefer not to speak to her much about it. “I am daddy’s girl, so he worries the most, but they know I’m an adventurous person, and they trust me.” But when this news first broke out in the media, her two boyfriends were still in the dark. Abramovici had hoped that if they did find out, they would support her. “If the guys I’m dating see this I hope they’ll still treat me exactly the same. I’m still the same person,” she insisted. We do wonder how that turned out.

 

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Food Trends Prediction For 2013

 

 

 

 

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Popcorn

What is it? New frontiers in gourmet popcorn — unusual flavors, thoughtfully-sourced ingredients.

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Smoke

What is it? Smoke is being used to preserve and flavor ingredient food and drinks far afield of standbyes like trout and salmon: potatoes, bourbon, creme fraiche and even water, to name a few.

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Vegetables As Main Courses

What is it? Chefs bored by the same old seared pork chops and braised short ribs have been experimenting more and more with putting vegetables at the center of the plate rather than forcing them to play supporting roles, much to the delight of vegetarian diners.

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Fermentation

What is it? Foods like kimchi and sauerkraut have become extremely prominent due to their unusual meld of umami and sour tastes.

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Artisanal Bread

What is it? Restaurants and bakeries alike have been putting more effort into their bread baskets of late.

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Non-Alcoholic Beverages

What is it? As younger diners, pregnant women and non-drinkers visit high-end restaurants more often, they increasingly look for beverage options that don’t include booze but nonetheless taste interesting.

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Chef Collaborations

What is it? Chefs are increasingly coming out of the kitchen to make new kinds of food in concert with other chefs or with food companies.

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Barrel-Aged Hot Sauce

What is it? Like barrel-aged bourbon or wine, except hot sauce

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Winter Veggies, Served Fresh

What is it? Especially at high-end restaurants, vegetables that grow in the winter, like squashes, kale and turnip, have been served more frequently in preparations that are lighter and fresher than old staples like roasting and stewing.

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Chicken

What is it? With the price of beef, lamb & pork soaring, restaurants have increasingly looked toward luxurious preparations of chicken as a viable meat entree on moderately-priced menus.

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Gochujang

What is it? A Korean hot sauce that some thing could soon supplant sriracha as the red Asian condiment of choice.

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Cured Meat

What is it? Chefs and meat processors are still finding new ways to produce scrumptious varieties of salumi & charcuterie beyond things like prosciutto and pancetta.

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Tea

What is it? Some people think tea is the new coffee, and that we’re likely to see more varieties in the future.

South Korea’s Toilet Theme Park

 

 

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The Restroom Cultural Park,  in the city of Suwon, South Korea, is a massive complex dedicated to the humble toilet. The main exhibition hall itself is shaped like a large toilet bowl and the pathway leading up to it is adorned with bronze figures of humans in mid-squat. The facility was opened to public earlier this year and is the only one of its kind in the world. Other indoor exhibits include WC signs from around the world and toilet-themed art. What’s even more interesting than the toilet theme park is the story of its origin.

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Apparently, the place was initially home to the former Mayor of Suwon, Sim Jae-duck. He died in 2009, but that has not stopped the South Koreans from still regarding him as their very own ‘Mr. Toilet’. This was partly due to the fact that he ran a successful campaign in the 1980s to dramatically improve South Korea’s old toilet system, and also because Mr. Sim was born in his grandmother’s loo. So inspired was he by his place of birth that he built his own house in the shape of a toilet. He, in turn, is said to be the main inspiration behind the theme park.

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The toilet park may be a source of humor for many, but it is supposed to carry a serious message as well. Several of the exhibits are meant to raise awareness about the conditions of public toilets in the developing world. According to Lee Youn-Sook, one of the employees at the Restroom Cultural Park, “we just focus on eating every day. We sometimes overlook the importance of a toilet. But we already know, upon waking up in the morning where we should go to – the toilet. But people don’t want to talk about this. So, we just dedicated to the public a toilet culture – a toilet is not only a toilet for us but can be a cultural space, important for health, sanitation and water conservation. So we call this the toilet culture.” Mr. Sim himself believed that the toilet is a place for serious contemplation. He founded the World Toilet Association in 2007, and is said to have told delegates, “The toilet is not merely a place for excretion. It can save humankind from diseases. A place of relaxation and purging, the toilet is a place for introspection. The toilet is also a central living place that possesses culture.”

 

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Mengunjungi Taman Kaktus di Cameroon Highlands

Anda tahu kaktus? Pernahkah melihat taman kaktus? Kalau belum pernah melihat maka Anda disarankan untuk mengunjungi Taman Kaktus yang ada di Cameroon Highlands. Disini Anda bisa menyaksikan berbagai jenis kaktus. Namanya Cactus Valley atau Lembah Kaktsu Cameroon Highlands.

Berkunjung kesini berarti Anda menenggelamkan diri dalam lautan kaktus yang dalam. Kawasan unik ini bisa Anda masuki dengan membayar RM4 untuk orang dewasa dan RM2 untuk anak-anak. Objek wisata yang menjadikan kaktus sebagai daya tariknya ini tak pernah kehabisan pengunjung yang selalu datang membludak setiap harinya. Kebanyakan yang datang kesini ialah para wisatawan domestik baik itu yang berasal dari Cameroon Highlands sendiri maupun dari berbagai daerah di Negeri Jiran. Cactus Valley akan lebih ramai lagi ketika musim liburan tiba (termasuk libur akhir pekan).

Kaktus-kaktus yang ada ditaman ini ditanam di media pot yang dikelompokkan sesuai dengan jenisnya. Disini Anda bisa menjumpai aneka jenis kaktus dari berbagai ukuran dari yang kecil sampai yang besar. Berada disini seolah Anda tengah berada dibelantara kaktus atau hutan homogeny. Kaktus memang berduri namun Anda tak perlu khawatir akan terkena durinya yang tajam karena sudah disediakan pagar pembatas untuk melindungi pengunjung dari gesekan durinya. Tak hanya kaktus yang ada disini namun juga berbagai jenis tanaman hias yang juga bisa Anda jumpai disini.

Beberapa tanaman berbuah seperti apel dan delima pun ditanam disini yang dimaksudkan sebagai tanaman penyeimbang. Oleh-oleh yang bisa dibawa dari kebun kaktus ini ialah kaktus yang dipajang dibagian display taman ini yang bisa ditebus dengan ringgit Malaysia. Harga enam buah kaktus mini berusia muda misalnya, sekitra RM10 atau Rp 30.000. Taman ini buka setiap harinya dari jam 08.00 sampai pukul 18.00. Taman ini bisa dicapai dengan berjalan kaki dari Brinchang yang hanya memerlukan waktu beberapa menit saja. Makanya jangan lupa ketika di Cameroon Highlands jangan lupa untuk berkunjung kesini!

Strange Wedding Customs – The Crying Ritual of the Tujia People

Throughout history, various cultures have had strange requirements of their women. But none perhaps as strange as the custom of crying before marriage, as followed in Southwest China’s Sichuan Province. According to the custom, it is mandatory for a bride to cry at her own wedding, whether she likes it or not.

The crying marriage ritual was at its peak during the early 17th century and remained so until the end of the Qing dynasty in 1911. It is said to have originated during the Warring States Period (475 to 221 BC), when historical records reveal that the princess of the Zhao State was to be married into the Yan State. At the moment of the princess’ departure, her mother is said to have cried at her feet, asking her to return home as soon as possible. This is said to be the first crying marriage ever. Although the custom is not as popular now as it used to be, there are still a large number of families that practice it with gusto. In fact, it is a necessary procedure for marriage among the Tujia people, in China’s Sichuan Province. The ritual itself is pretty simple – the bride has got to shed tears. If she doesn’t or is unable to, her neighbors will look down upon her as one of poor breeding. Worse still, she could even become the laughing stock of her village. In one extreme case, the bride was beaten by her mother for not crying at the wedding. Perhaps the girl was too happy to be free from her mother?

Photo: Explore Zhangjiajie

The ritual is practiced differently in various regions of the Sichuan Province. In the west, for example, the custom is called ‘Zuo Tang’ (sitting in the hall). Literally, this means that the bride is required to sit in a hall and cry. For a whole month before the big day, the girl walks into a large hall each night and weeps for about an hour. After about 10 days, her mother joins her and the two cry together. Another 10 days later, the grandmother joins the party. A few days later, the bride’s sisters and aunts join in too, in what can only be called a cry-fest. But then the crying isn’t just a random shedding of tears. There’s a song involved as well. Aptly named the ‘Crying Marriage Song’, the exaggerated singing of the verses is said to set the wedding atmosphere quite nicely. Some of the other songs are centered on themes of diligence, etiquette and filial piety.

If you think this is bizarre, well there’s more. Some enthusiastic brides do not limit themselves to just crying. They even swear at the matchmaker. Since women of the olden days had no say in their marriage and were at the mercy of matchmakers, they had full liberty to give the matchmakers a sound piece of their mind. But this isn’t practiced as often as it used to be. The whole point behind the crying marriage ritual is to set off a mood of happiness by using sorrowful words that are false. However, so many brides are unhappy with their lives and choice of husband that they are said to cry for real.

A bunch of women crying at a wedding, the bride included, does sound a tad melodramatic. However, when you come to think of it, it does let all the boohoos out, so the bride can probably let go of the pains of her life up until that point. Perhaps it helps in making a fresh start in life. But then I do feel sorry for all those brides who are unable to cry. I can sympathize with them. If asked to cry, I would probably only laugh harder.

 

How to eat fufu in Ghana, Africa

When traveling, experiencing the food of a culture can be one of the most exciting parts of the journey. Not only can you learn a lot about a group of people by their dining etiquette, but eating itself is fun.

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Recently, I was lucky enough to take a trip toGhana in Western Africa where dining rules and the cuisine itself differ greatly from that of Western culture. One specialty that is a local favorite, as well as a dish on every visitor’s list of foods to try, is fufu.

At first glance, fufu looks just like a lump of mashed potatoes sitting in some kind of soup. In your head you may picture yourself picking up a spoon, dipping it into the soft, creamy mound, and putting it into your mouth without a care in the world. Possibly it will taste buttery, and maybe there will even be some onions or chives in there.

If this is what you’re thinking, then you have never actually experienced fufu.

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Fufu is a cassava-based dish. Basically, the root-based plant is boiled in water then pounded down with a mortar and pestle. What you have now is a thick dough-like mixture that needs to be ferociously stirred, which usually takes two people, one pounding the fufu with the long, wooden pestle and the other reaching in and moving it around in between the pounding. As an outsider, I always found this a bit hard to watch, as it always looked like the person moving the fufu around was moments away from losing their arm.

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Once the mixture is completely smooth you shape it into smaller balls, which are usually put into a soup and served with meat. Each time I had fufu, it was served with fried chicken in groundnut soup, a spicy broth made with a peanut base.

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As most people who travel to Ghana will have their fufu made for them at a restaurant or someone’s house, the real task is knowing how to eat it. It is important to realize that in Ghana, eating with the left hand is considered extremely disrespectful. In this country, and many other Africa countries, your left hand is used for cleaning yourself (i.e. when you use the toilet) and the right hand is used for eating and handing things to others. Moreover, while Western dining etiquette places an emphasis on silverware, fufu, like much of the cuisine in Ghana, is eaten with the hands (the right hand, to be specific).

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Before dining, two bowls filled with water will be placed in front of you, one for washing your hands before the meal, and one for washing your hands after. To eat this dish, break off a small piece of the fufu and make a small indentation in it. Use this indentation to scoop up some of the soup, then place it in your mouth, and, without chewing, swallow. Yes, I said without chewing. I found this concept very difficult to grasp for some reason, as instinct tells most of us to chew our food. However, my Ghanian companion would scold me, saying, “You don’t need to chew it, it’s already soft!”

The texture is a lot like gum, as there is a stretchiness too it, but also a bit more doughy. While a bit flavorless itself, dipping it into the soup gives it a spicy peanut flavor while adding some consistency to the meal. Once you remember the etiquette and get used to eating soup with your hands, it becomes quite simple to enjoy this local Ghanian favorite.

Camouflage Company Makes Harry Potter’s Invisibility Cloak a Reality

Created by Canadian camouflage design company Hyperstealth, Quantum Stealth is a is a material that renders its wearer completely invisible by bending light waves around it, which is in effect very similar to the invisibility cloak worn child wizard extraordinaire, Harry Potter.

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could put on your very own invisibility cloak and just roam around undetected? Sadly, that’s not going to be possible for most of us, but if you’re a US soldier, this fantasy could become a reality sooner than you think. Apparently, the US Military is currently backing development of special materials to make American soldiers completely invisible on the battlefield, and according to one camouflage design company, it might soon get its wish. Hyperstealth Biotechnology Corp. CEO, Guy Cramer, says their new “Quantum Stealth” material has finally made the sci-fi/fantasy technology a reality. Unfortunately at this time, we can only take his word for it, as its development is so secret that the company cannot even show footage of how it works, on its website, offering only mock-ups of its effects.

Still, Cramer remains unfazed by the wave of skepticism, saying that “the people that need to know that it works have seen it”. And no, he doesn’t mean the students of a real-life wizard school, but command groups from within the US and Canadian Military. “‘These groups now know that it works and does so without cameras, batteries, lights or mirrors…It is lightweight and quite inexpensive.” the Hyperstealth CEO said. ” Both the U.S. and Canadian military have confirmed that it also works against military IR scopes and Thermal Optics.” Instead of going into details about how Quantum Stealth manipulates light waves to conceal even the target’s shadow, Mr. Cramer talked about how he sees the technology being used. In his opinion, it would be invaluable for pilots stranded behind enemy lines in order to avoid capture, but also for special units carrying out raids in broad daylight. Also the next generation of aircrafts could be invisible not only to radars but also to the naked eye, while tanks and submarines could only be detected by the sound of their engines and guns.

In a recent interview with CNN, Guy Cramer said he only disclosed information about Hyperstealth’s breakthrough to attract the attention of the US Military. After it got enough exposure in the press, the Military asked to see Quantum Stealth in action, to verify if it really works. So there you have it folks, the next time you see an invisibility cloak in real life, it’s most likely it won’t be concealing a spectacled wizard, but a machine gun-wielding soldier…