Moroccan Riad

The above picture is of a riad in the western Moroccan city of Essaouira, photographed by Christine Oakley.  The riads of Morocco are traditional palaces with interior gardens or courtyards.  Wikipedia explains the riad concept:

The riads were inward focused, which allowed for family privacy and protection from the weather in Morocco. This inward focus was expressed in the central location of most of the interior gardens and courtyards and the lack of large windows on the exterior clay or mud brick walls. This design principle found support in Islamic notions of privacy, and hijab for women. Entrance to these houses is a major transitional experience and encourages reflection because all of the rooms open into the central atrium space. In the central garden of traditional riads there are often four orange or lemon trees and possibly a fountain. The walls of the riads are adorned with tadelakt plaster and zellige tiles, usually with Arabic calligraphy, with quotes from the Quran.

I greatly enjoy this particular riad.  Its use of dark royal purple curtains contrasts wonderfully with the trailing green of the hanging vines.  The intricately decorated lamps, dangling from exaggerated chains, cast a nice subtle glow on the brown and black walls and hand railings.  It has just the minimal amount of light, and every part of the scene is a carefully thought out work of art.

Published in: on December 27, 2012 at 8:58 pm  Leave a Comment  

5 Interesting Ways to Dispose of Your Corpse

Thinking about taking your last breaths and wishing there were a method of disposal for your body more interesting than simply being stuck in a coffin and left to decompose in the ground?  Well, there are many more interesting options!

1. Life Gems

LifeGem is a company that will take your cremated ashes and turn it into an actual, certified diamond.  The company extracts the carbon from your remains, purifies it, and subjects it to intense heat and pressure.  The gem can then be mounted on a ring and worn by a loved one forever.

2. Eco-Burial

A Swedish company called Promessa Organic will freeze your corpse until it becomes brittle, and then subject it to powerful vibrations that turn it into powder.  The powder is then poured into a cornstarch urn, which can be buried and composted in a shallow grave.

3. Buddhist Sky Burial

The hard, rocky ground in Tibet does not serve well for digging graves, and coupled with the region’s many reincarnationist Buddhists who believe that the dead human body is an empty vessel that has no more use, the tradition of sky burial has become quite common in Tibet.  If you so prefer, you can have your body dismembered and crushed into a pulp, which is mixed with barley flour, tea, and yak butter.  Buddhist monks will then feed your remains to hungry vultures in the desert.

4. Burial in Outer Space

Forget burial in ground or at sea.  An American company called Celestis Memorial Space Flights now offers to launch your remains outside the Earth’s stratosphere.  Celestis offers four different burial options for your cremated remains: you can orbit the Earth for a while and then crash back onto the surface ($695), you can orbit the Earth permanently ($2495), you can crash onto the surface of the moon ($9995), or you can be launched into deep space ($12,500).

5. Human Taxidermy

Cut decomposition out of the picture entirely.  Let your loved ones remember you in death as you were in life.  Human Taxidermy Services can stuff and mount your corpse, just like they can do for any pet.  Whether you simply want to be lying down ($2000), you want to be giving a military salute ($5000), or even something as novel as the pose of Michelangelo’s “David” statue ($10,000), HTS puts the “fun” back in “funeral”!

Published in: on December 26, 2012 at 1:43 pm  Comments (1)  

See a Real, Authentic, Used Guillotine

Paris, France’s museum, Musée d’Orsay, offers an exciting exhibition on Crime & Punishment.  As part of this exhibit, they recently added a vintage 1872 guillotine.  The contraption stands 14 feet tall, and is the first guillotine to be publicly displayed in France since France’s abolition of the death penalty in 1981.  The controversial but morbidly fascinating item is a powerful reminder of an era now gone.  The side of the wooden bed nearest the blade is stained an ominous reddish-brown, no doubt from years of active usage.

“The Widow” is not the only reason to visit the Musée d’Orsay.  Other mesmerizing paintings and displays, featuring many portrayals of suffering, death, and decapitation, tell the story of crime and punishment in France from the Revolutionary to the modern era.  Get a taste of what they have to offer on their website.

Published in: on December 8, 2012 at 11:38 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Galen C. Moses House (c. 1874)

The Galen C. Moses House was designed for Mr. Moses, a successful area bank president and philanthropist, by the architect Frances Fassett in 1874, and then redesigned in 1901 by John Calvin Stevens.  Situated on “the handsomest residential street in the state of Maine,” this veritable museum of a home is on sale in Bath, Maine for $624,900.

With a new coat of nice grey paint, a well-sharpened wrought-iron fence, and some thorn bushes in the landscaping, this home would make a wonderfully haunting estate.

Published in: on November 30, 2012 at 3:34 pm  Leave a Comment  

Gorgeous Grey and Red Victorian Dwelling

Upon viewing this outstanding property listed on, one will instantly fall in love with it.  If you’re looking to make your next home in Saratoga Springs, New York, look no further than the Historic Winans-Crippen House:

The Winans-Crippen House at 66 Franklin Street was built in 1871 by the Winans family. David Winans was a local merchant. The house was designed by Saratoga Springs architect J. D. Stevens, architect of several structures in the city, including the United States Hotel on Broadway (designed in partnership with Frelin C. Vaughn). Built in the Second Empire style popular around the time of the Civil War, the house was expanded by an addition to the north in about 1877. The house is a contributing structure in the West Side – Franklin Square Historic District listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is included within the City of Saratoga Springs’ Historic District.

Published in: on April 10, 2012 at 1:03 am  Comments (1)  

Owl Messenger Bag

There’s just something charming about nocturnal predators.  And what better of such creatures to have on your messenger bag than an owl?  These shoulder strap messenger bags being sold on Etsy look perfect for holding your books, carrying your laptop, or swooping down and breaking the necks of small rodents.  The bag comes in a few different colors.

Published in: on March 21, 2012 at 11:36 pm  Leave a Comment  

5 of the Strangest Culinary Delights in the World

In the Directory Journal this week is a fascinating article on 5 of the strangest dishes that one can sample in various parts of the world.  Everything from a deadly, poisonous fish that takes years of training to prepare, to food that wriggles all the way down your throat, to a freshly boiled duck embryo that you suck straight from the shell.  These, of course, might seem revolting to some of our readers, but have you ever stopped to think about how terrible some of the foods you routinely consume might seem to people from other parts of the world?  Bon Appétit!

Published in: on March 20, 2012 at 11:48 pm  Leave a Comment  

1929 Cadillac Hearse

This link may be outdated by the time you’re reading this, but I thought you would be interested in seeing this 1929 Cadillac Hearse for sale on Ebay.  The stylish, ornate artwork that adorns this vehicle is just breathtaking.  The first thing one notices about the car would have to be the large, gothic half-cross perched atop the roof, as well as the sweeping ridges.  Talk about dying in style!

Published in: on July 19, 2011 at 6:22 pm  Comments (1)  

Haunting Shipwreck Photographs

Dark Roasted Blend has a link to a mesmerizing piece on Twisted Sifter, which displays photographs of twenty five of some of the most haunting shipwrecks in our world’s seas.  They point out a UN estimate of about 3 million shipwrecks currently on the ocean floors.  Here’s just a few of my favorites:

Tobermory, Ontario, Canada

Gytheio, Greece

Truk Lagoon, Micronesia

Woody Point, Redcliffe Peninsula, Australia

Published in: on April 29, 2011 at 7:45 pm  Leave a Comment  

Bats in Dublin

The Ravishing Beasts Taxidermy blog has uncovered a trove of beautiful photos by Michael Stamp depicting taxidermied bats in the Dublin, Ireland Natural History Museum.  Here’s just a few of them:

Published in: on April 28, 2011 at 4:46 pm  Leave a Comment  
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