Archive for Entirely Too Cool

That side of Paradise

Gerard Van der Leun, Camp Fired out of Paradise, reports on what’s happening down the road in Chico, California:

In the 24-Hour Walgreens Pharmacy on East Avenue, the pharmacists have been working overlapping shifts since the fire swept over Paradise last Thursday. These people and their back up staff work seemingly rock solid for hours on end. They fill and file and dispense medications which people from Paradise do not have with them. This is a demanding and thankless and exhausting task. And yet — I am the witness — they have been doing this without letup. Many have come in from surrounding towns, from Redding, to help and to keep the medications needed by a town of 30,000 displaced into a city of 80,000. Yes, the Walgreens pharmacists are leaving it all on the field.

[Tuesday], after the banking holiday of Monday, there was what can only be described as a run on the banks. Not a hostile or panicked run on the banks but just an overwhelming number of people needing to get their money straight in one way or another … such as “My ATM card and my ID were melted in my wallet when my pants burst into flame.” Please understand that today in Chico that is a reasonable statement. And the bankers all showed up looking cool and formal and professional and competent and moved the vast lines of people through with all hands on deck and cleared up a myriad of money crises. One banker I spoke with came up from Santa Rosa on his day off to help the team. He was a sharp dressed man. He and the other bankers were leaving it all on the field.

They all were leaving it all on the field everywhere in Chico. From Penney’s in the Mall to the Birkenstocks Store downtown on Broadway. In big jobs, and in small jobs, there was a long train of people working at the top of their game no matter what their game was. It has been days of this now in Chico; days of there being no big jobs or small jobs but only the unremitting effort the people to help their fellow citizens no matter what.

And since none of the Acronym Agencies have really shown up yet, this has all been done without any real government organization. Instead, it has been like watching a spontaneous Humanitarian Olympics rise up out of the town itself; and once started it has become as self-organizing and self-sustaining as the fire itself. Today as I moved around Chico I saw a town, untouched itself by the flames, rise up to restore and rebuild the lives of their fellow citizens of Paradise; lives that the fire had stolen. And by the end of the day, you could feel, palpably feel, that Chico knew it would win. Chico was leaving it all on the field.

You know what’s scary? The sheer size of the Wikipedia page called “2018 California Wildfires.”

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Looking good for 60

Joe Sherlock turned up this shot of a truly wild 1958 Chevrolet:

Exotic paint job on '58 Impala

A 1958 Chevrolet Impala, exhibited at SEMA last week, is not what it seems to be. Looking like a bare-metal finish automobile decorated everywhere with etchings, engravings and machine turnings is actually a paint job.

Displayed by Kuhl Racing and Japanese paint and automotive parts producer Rohan, the car showcased the artistry of custom painter Takahiko Izawa, who is credited with the invention of “metal paint” and for his unprecedented technique of “engraving” an entire car body.

Izawa reportedly uses various stencils and spends hours applying and sculpting the painted surfaces to achieve an awesome 3-D effect. The result is spectacular. There are lots more photos at Jesse Bowers’ Just A Car Guy site.

Now I’m trying to imagine this same treatment given to one of those bat-winged ’59s.

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The sound of peace

It didn’t last forever, or even for very long, but at the time, it seemed to be the best thing that ever could have happened:

A hundred years later, it would be well to remember how things can change in a matter of minutes.

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Enough for one day

Daily Dose of Internet is a YouTube channel with nearly four million subscribers, each of whom gets about three minutes of random snippets each day. This sampling from September is fairly representative, I think:

That octopus is fascinating for reasons other than just being an octopus, I think.

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Where does the time go?

I can imagine this on my wall. Yours, maybe not so much — but I could be wrong:

freakishCLOCK by Sabrina Rossi

The deets you demand:

Industrial designer Sabrina Fossi advocates that it is minute differences and details that distinguish objects. This approach enables sharp and innovative designs: her FreakishCLOCK Wall Clock is certainly an outstanding product. The young designer’s goal is to minimalize the time concept. Instead of having a standard hours hand, the entire face of the watch is a spinning disk with a hole in the shape of the hours hand. This allows you to see through the disc, into the actual face of the watch, which has numbers written on it.

Having once incorporated a bar-clock mechanism into a three-gallon cardboard ice-cream carton when I was a kid, I can appreciate this off-the-wall, or rather on-the-wall, approach. And it’s only €99, which doesn’t seem unreasonable for something you’re going to look at many times every single day.

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In lieu of the usual goblin count

I’m in no shape to do the up-and-down, to the door and back, repetitive-motion thing these days. Let it be said, though, that I do appreciate when someone’s really put some work into her appearance. (Or, when feasible, non- appearance: ten years ago a couple of girls somehow managed to evade detection by me or my motion detectors until they were right up against the front door. I question no one who has mastered the fine art of invisibility.)

This, I am sure, would have left me screaming:

https://www.instagram.com/p/BpdO4UilRWU/?utm_source=ig_embed&utm_campaign=embed_video

(Via HelloGiggles.)

Addendum: Apparently Instagram will allow an embed for only a short period of time. The URL still works if you paste it into the browser’s address bar.

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See the light

Welcome to the world, Hallie. Goodness, but you’re a tiny little thing:

A baby born weighing just 1lb 1oz (500g) is defying the odds, her mother has said.

Baby Hallie was born to Robyn Bryant and James Dury at 28 weeks after they were told to prepare for the worst.

During the pregnancy, Hallie’s legs and arms measured shorter than usual, leaving doctors concerned that she had a genetic issue.

She was delivered via emergency caesarean on Tuesday at the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff.

This is the part that perplexes me:

Further tests showed that she had a number of complications, including a fused kidney, and Robyn, 23, and James, 27, were told Hallie could die in the womb at any time from 20 weeks.

Nobody ever wants a stillbirth. Said Robyn:

“I don’t think anyone expected her to be breathing when she came out but she proved them all wrong, and was screaming. I wasn’t prepared for her to be crying so I was blown away.”

Before my daughter was born, we were told to expect the worst: all the machines that go Ping! were in unhappy agreement. And when she emerged, she let loose a banshee wail that, if nothing else, indicated that she was having no trouble breathing.

The family expect to spend their first Christmas together in hospital, where doctors expect Hallie to stay until “at least January.”

Ms Bryant said: “We could have been so much worse off and she could actually not be here. We’re very grateful.”

Yes, indeed.

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Ginsburger to go

Gotta love this:

(Via snipe.)

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Whiz kids at work

And they’ve come up with something interesting:

The world’s first “bio-brick” made from human urine was unveiled by University of Cape Town (UCT) civil engineering masters student Suzanne Lambert on Wednesday.

Dr Dyllon Randall, Lambert’s supervisor and senior lecturer in water quality at UCT, explained that the “bio brick” is created through a natural process called microbial carbonate precipitation. “It’s not unlike the way seashells are formed,” Randall said.

Parts of the urine are combined with loose sand and a bacteria to produce an enzyme called urease which breaks down the urine to produce calcium carbonate through a complex chemical reaction.

The calcium carbonate turns the sand into “cement”. The bricks are made in moulds at room temperature — better for the environment, as regular bricks are kiln-fired at temperatures around 1400°C and produce vast quantities of carbon dioxide.

Some years back, US experimenters tried to come up with a similar, um, product, but their method required the addition of a specially-developed liquid.

And there’s a useful byproduct:

[S]ome 97% of the phosphorus present in the urine can be converted into calcium phosphate, the key ingredient in fertilisers that underpin commercial farming worldwide. “This is significant because the world’s natural phosphate reserves are running dry.”

Research continues.

(Via Bayou Renaissance Man.)

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Baby got down

And he’s pretty darn good at it, too:

(Via Fark.)

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A seriously long haul

And not a particularly expensive one, either:

Vancouverites looking for low-cost flights to Iceland will soon have a new option when discount airline Wow Air adds a route out of the West Coast.

The announcement, which stacks more competition onto a crowded market, means passengers can soon fly out of Vancouver International Airport to Reykjavik, the island nation’s capital, six days a week.

The airline says one-way fares start at $129 [CDN] for flights beginning in June.

Not too horrible for 3,544 miles, though they’re not saying how many, if any, stops there will be along the route; far as I know, KEF (Keflavik Airport, serving Reykjavik) is the airline’s one and only hub. They already have service to/from Toronto and Montreal. (And if I ever need to go to Iceland, they also serve Dallas.)

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Tip this man all the money in the world

A good gotta-love-it story, and boy, do we need one now:

Steve’s Pizza in Battle Creek, Michigan, doesn’t make deliveries.

But the pizza place made one very heartfelt exception, with a compassionate worker making the three-hour-plus trip to Indianapolis to brighten the day for a family in crisis.

Wait, what?

Julie and Rich Morgan lived in Battle Creek more than two decades ago, but they never forgot how much they loved Steve’s Pizza. In a Facebook post, Julie wrote that it’s the “gold standard” they compare other pizzas to (although no other pizza stacks up).

They were planning a weekend getaway to Battle Creek so they could once again enjoy it, but Rich fell ill and ended up in the emergency room. Days later, they discovered he was losing a battle with cancer and would have to stay in hospice care in Indianapolis.

That meant a trip to Battle Creek was no longer possible, and the family concentrated on spending as much time with Rich as possible. Julie’s father — keeping it a secret — contacted Steve’s Pizza over the weekend and spoke to a manager, 18-year-old Dalton Shaffer. He explained the situation to Shaffer, and said a card from the pizza shop would lift their spirits.

Shaffer, who got the call as he was wrapping up work for the night, had a better idea: he offered to deliver a pizza to the family. [He] made the 225-mile drive from Battle Creek, Michigan, to Indianapolis, arriving around 2:30 a.m. to make the delivery. He brought the family a pepperoni and mushroom pizza.

Just when you thought the world had gone completely off its nut.

(Via Fark.)

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Hail, hail, Guiyang’s all here

About a third of a century ago, Jerry Reed lamented the Great Automotive Society: “If I ain’t out of gas in the pouring rain, I’m changing a flat in a hurricane; I once spent three days lost on a cloverleaf.” God only knows what would have happened to ol’ Jer had he been confronted with this:

Qianchun interchange in Guiyang, China

Not even Wikipedia can prepare you for this interchange:

[Guiyang] is located at the junction of four major segments of the national highway grid: the Gui–Huang, Gui–Zun, Gui–Bi, and Gui–Xin Expressways. The Gui-Huang Expressway (G60) links Guiyang with the cities and tourist areas of central and western Guizhou including Anshun, Guanling, and the Huangguoshu Waterfall. The expressway continues west to Yunnan Province as the Gui-Kun Expressway and terminates at Yunnan’s capital city of Kunming. G75 Lanzhou–Haikou Expressway runs north 180 km (110 mi) to Zunyi and is the most heavily travelled major highway in Guiyang. In Zunyi, the expressway becomes the Zunyi-Chongqing Expressway and runs a further 210 km (130 mi) north to Chongqing. G76 Xiamen–Chengdu Expressway links Guiyang with the regional cities of Bijie and Dafang in northwest Guizhou province, southeastern Sichuan province, and the Sichuan cities of Luzhou, Neijiang, and Chengdu — Sichuan’s provincial capital. The Gui–Bi Expressway begins at an interchange with the Gui–Zun Expressway in the city’s Xiuwen County approximately 20 km (12 mi) north of the city center, before terminating at the city of Bijie. In the city of Dafang, approximately 40 km (25 mi) east of Bijie, the Gui–Bi Expressway connects with the new Sichuan–Guizhou Expressway, a modern highway providing access to Luzhou and central Sichuan. The Gui–Xin Expressway begins at the junction of the Guiyang Outer Ring Road (G75, G60.01) and the Tang Ba Guan Road, approximately 5 km (3.1 mi) southeast of the city center. The Gui–Xin Expressway (G60, G75) runs east and southeast through the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region (G76), passing through Guilin, before entering Guangdong, and terminating at Guangzhou. Approximately 170 km (110 mi) east of Guiyang in the regional city of Kaili, the Hunan-Guizhou Expressway (G56, G60) links with the Gui–Xin Expressway providing high-speed vehicular access to and from Guiyang to the eastern Guizhou city of Tongren before continuing through Hunan to the major cities of Huaihua, Changde, and Changsha. The China National Highway 210 also runs through Guiyang via Xifeng and Longli.

A place that would build a stack like that would build a waterfall into the side of a skyscraper:

(Freeway-stack image swiped from the Friar.)

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All the sweets you want

I won’t even stand in your way.

(Via American Digest.)

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All through another town

Welcome to beautiful Porters Lake, Nova Scotia:

About three thousand people live here, 20 miles or so from Halifax.

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The Angry Bird prevails

Somewhere near Kona, Hawaii, there’s a jellyfish who, presumably unknowingly, could have changed the sports world forever:

Britain’s Lucy Charles took silver in the Ironman World Championship behind Daniela “Angry Bird” Ryf, who was stung by a jellyfish just before the start.

The 31-year-old Swiss said the pain was so bad she considered pulling out of the race in Kona, Hawaii.

After the swimming section, she was nine minutes off the lead but fought back to win in record time.

This is Ryf’s fourth consecutive win; she did it in a course record time of 8:26:16.

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Lyrics Illustrated

A picture, it is said, is worth a thousand words. How much of a picture do you need for a popular song, which probably has fewer than a thousand words? I have no idea. Fortunately, someone does:

Take some of music’s best known lyrics, combine them with a retro-inspired aesthetic, sprinkle in some humour and finally add a pinch of enigma.

The results are the intriguing pieces of art by San Francisco-based graphic designer Katrina McHugh.

The 37-year-old takes songs referencing nature from artists as diverse as Otis Redding and Snoop Dogg, and has illustrated them as infographics.

An example, from the works of Bill Withers:

Ain't no sunshine when she's gone

“It’s incredible how much nature is in music, when you’re listening out for it,” McHugh tells BBC News. “I think people like tying an emotion or something non-physical to a real, physical property.

“I love the idea of how nature is a constant and how, even after 500 years, people can still connect to the same idea.”

Fascinating.

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Troll level: near-infinite

It’s about the Banksiest thing Banksy’s ever done:

The anonymous buyer submitted his bid via telephone.

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I wish this was on special

Revised version of Creep by Radiohead

(From reddit via Miss Cellania.)

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Not lying in a pond

I think we may have found our new queen:

An eight-year-old found a pre-Viking-era sword while swimming in a lake in Sweden during the summer.

Saga Vanecek found the relic in the Vidöstern lake while at her family’s holiday home in Jönköping County.

The sword was initially reported to be 1,000 years old, but experts at the local museum now believe it may date to around 1,500 years ago.

The lake was well below its usual level, no thanks to an ongoing drought, which may have helped the girl retrieve the weapon.

Saga’s father Andy Vanecek told the English-language website The Local he initially thought his daughter had found an unusual stick or branch in the water.

It was only after he asked a friend to take a closer look did he discover that it was likely to be an ancient relic.

The museum is now looking for more relics while the lake is still on the dry side.

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Not so pon farr away

It’s not actually Vulcan, and it would be highly illogical to assume that it is:

In 1991, Gene Roddenberry wrote a letter to Sky & Telescope about what kind of star the planet Vulcan was likely to orbit. In that letter, he specifically picks out one such star, 40 Eridani. Later, 40 Eridani became the canon Vulcan star system featured in a handful of episodes of Star Trek: Enterprise.

In real life, 40 Eridani is a triple star system located about 17 light-years from the Earth. The main star, 40 Eridani A, is about 84 percent as massive as our sun. The other two stars in the system are much smaller and orbit 10 times as far away from the main star as Pluto orbits from the sun.

While 40 Eridani isn’t the largest or brightest star in the night sky, it is pretty close to us, making it a good target for scientists searching for planets around other stars. Recently, a group of scientists at the Fairborn Observatory working with the Dharma Planet Survey took a good look at 40 Eridani and discovered a planet circling it, just like Gene Roddenberry said it would.

Could this be a Class M planet? Don’t bet on it:

What we do know is that it is about twice the size of the Earth and orbits its host star once every 42 days. Such a short orbital period means that this planet is located very close to its star, making it hot and dry. In fact, it’s unlikely to have any kind of life living on it at all.

Well, not even Gene Roddenberry gets everything right.

(Via Finestkind Clinic and fish market.)

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Unforgettable

I don’t remember there being such a competition in Canada:

A Chilliwack, B.C. man can memorize more than 250 random numbers in five minutes and now has the distinction of having Canada’s best recollection.

Braden Adams, 32, won the 2018 National Memory Championship over the weekend, where memory athletes are tasked with recalling random names, images and numbers as fast and accurately as possible.

As part of the competition, Adams was able to memorize the order of 263 random images in five minutes, 258 random numbers in five minutes and 155 random words in 15 minutes.

All three results are new Canadian records and left him as the clear-cut champion in the eight-person championship.

This is about as far as I can push myself:

Still undetermined: who is Don Alverzo, and what does he need with all those tweezers?

(Via Fark.)

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Where was this when I needed it?

Perhaps the ultimate solution for the student whose paper just isn’t long enough:

Any skiving student worth their salt knows the usual tricks to make an essay look longer: use larger punctuation marks and spaces, mess around with the margins, maybe even try to creep up to a larger font size. But now, there’s an easier solution: Times Newer Roman, a font from internet marketing firm MSCHF (which you may remember from the Tabagotchi Chrome extension). Times Newer Roman looks a lot like the go-to academic font, but each character is subtly altered to be 5 to 10 percent wider, making your essays look longer without having to actually make them longer.

According to Times Newer Roman’s website, a 15-page, single-spaced document in 12 point type only requires 5,833 words, compared to 6,680 for the standard Times New Roman.

There are, of course, drawbacks:

Times Newer Roman will only work for assignments you have to submit by hand or in a PDF. If you’re sending in a Word document using a custom font that professors almost certainly don’t have installed won’t help. Similarly, Times Newer Roman is only useful for hitting larger page counts; if you have a strict word count limit, you’re out of luck.

(Via Fark.)

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Now that’s a Web site

Just look at that thing:

300m of spiderweb

In fact, let’s go in a little (just a little) closer:

This is what you’re seeing:

A Greek beach has been turned into an arachnophobe’s worst nightmare, as spiders have covered it in a web some 300 metres long.

A video, posted to YouTube by Giannis Giannakopoulos, shows the beach at the town of Aitoliko in western Greece under siege from the dense web.

The web has been built by spiders of the Tetragnatha genus. They are often known as stretch spiders, as they have elongated bodies — and in another worrying development for those who fear spiders — Tetragnatha extensa are small enough and light enough to be able to run across water faster than they can move on land.

Threat to humans? None, really, though you’d have a hard time convincing some of them of that.

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Pedals through the metal

I once rode a Schwinn (!) bicycle down the side of a mountain in the dead of night at an indicated 60 mph. The term “scared spitless,” or something similar, applied.

Now imagine going three times that speed:

It’s a feat inconceivable to most sound-minded mortals: This past Sunday, Denise Mueller-Korenek rode a bicycle more than 180 mph — 183.93 to be exact, which is faster than the takeoff speed of an Airbus A340 — and crushed the motor-paced bicycle land speed record.

This was not just any other ride, of course. Mueller-Korenek mounted a specially equipped bike with a massive gear and tethered it to a race car, which then accelerated to 100-plus mph — the velocity necessary for the rider to turn over the cranks on her own volition. Then she unhooked from the car and stayed in the slipstream, smashing the pedals around to hit the highest speed possible under her own power.

Note that term “motor-paced.” There’s no engine on this bike. The race car drags it up to some absurd speed, and then the rider pedals like crazy.

The whole thing took about five miles, Mueller-Korenek, a 45-year-old national champion cyclist from Valley Center, California, told Bicycling. She and her driver Shea Holbrook, a seven-time Pirelli World Challenge winner, already held the Guinness World Record for the fastest female motor-paced time at 147.7 mph, a speed they hit using a specially adapted Range Rover in 2016. (They had hoped for another record-setting attempt that year, but were rained out.)

I am properly awed.

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Step up and collect your prize

But first, a few boasts:

Bow before my greatness. Genuflect to my superior intellect. Tremble in fear of my awesome mind, for I have triumphed in an Internet trivia contest. I am an HQ Trivia champion.

Yes, I beat out some 300,000 competitors to emerge victorious without even using an earned extra life. I would place a video of Queen’s We are the Champions here if I did not find the song and the band almost as odious as Steve Miller and Aerosmith.

The prize was a nice $5,000.

There is, of course, a downside:

I should point out that I was not the only winner: about four thousand shared the pot. My cut was right at $1.25.

Still, at the top marginal rate, the taxman gets only 46 cents.

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Cut ’em off at the past

If this doesn’t get your mind wandering, probably nothing will:

Hypercubes, toroidal or otherwise, exist in four dimensions, the fourth being somehow at right angles to the other three. And mathemagically, it turns out that a two-dimensional representation thereof would be similar to a one-dimensional representation of a three-dimensional cube — or, for that matter, a non-cube, since all we see is the edge.

This is simultaneously intriguing and frightening.

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By the time we got to wood shop

This table? It is stardust. It is golden:

Amazing.

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The flag is out of the frame

But trust me, it’s there:

I blame the metric system.

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As it should be done

And I’m sitting here nodding my head. “Yes, this makes sense.”

Tuesday began a week of services honoring the late legend Aretha Franklin, who died at 76 of pancreatic cancer on August 16, leading up to her funeral on Friday at the Greater Grace Temple in Detroit. After being received at the Swanson Funeral Home in Flint, Franklin’s body was brought to lay in state at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, where fans are invited to attend a public viewing of the Queen of Soul for two days. She arrived at the museum on Tuesday in a gold-plated Promethean casket, dressed head-to-toe in crimson and ruby red — including her nails, lipstick, and high heels, with her ankles crossed to symbolize her poise — as a nod to her being an honorary member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., a historically black sorority which will also hold a service for Franklin on Tuesday night. “What we wanted to do is be reflective of the Queen,” museum board member Kelly Major Green told the Associated Press. “It’s beautiful. She’s beautiful.” The heels in particular, which are confirmed to be five-inch patent-leather Christian Louboutins (!), Green says, were deliberately chosen by her family to make the statement that “The Queen of Soul is [a] diva to the end.”

Size 9 (US), if you were curious. And given the sheer size of this spectacle, a thousand or so for a pair of shoes — a pair of shoes which will be worn until the end of time — the expense is negligible.

(Via JenLucPiquant.)

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