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11 Artifacts from the Museum of Broken Relationships

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Brokenships.Tumblr.com

Ever had a broken heart? Own an object that won’t let you forget? That's what the Museum of Broken Relationships collects. Aside from the obvious remnants of failed relationships (rings, dresses, cutesy gifts), Brokenships displays some somewhat unusual items donated by those who have loved and lost. Here are 11 of the stranger exhibits.

1. Mannequin hands

The weird leftovers of a 5-year "love-hate relationship" in Berlin include a pair of wooden hands. The donor explains:
"One night I left my room and did not come back until next morning to find it was completely destroyed, sprayed all over with polyurethane foam. A total chaos. My favorite mannequin had no choice but to believe it.”

2. A tingler

What do you do when a departed girlfriend leaves behind her erotic head massager? Donate it: "One of the things one doesn’t give back to ex-girlfriends.”

3. A side-view mirror

Five years in the '80s ended badly for a couple in Zagreb: "One night his car was parked in front of the ‘wrong’ house. He paid for that negligence with his side-view mirror. I was sorry afterwards since the car was not to blame."

4. The "divorce day" dwarf

"He arrived in a new car. Arrogant, shallow and heartless. The dwarf was closing the gate that he had destroyed himself some time ago. At that moment it flew over to the windscreen of the new car, rebounded and landed on the asphalt surface. It was a long loop, drawing an arc of time—and this short long arc defined the end of love."

5. Air-sickness bags

Their long-distance relationship lasted a couple of years, but the mementos collected en route to each other survived much longer.

One Croatia Airlines, one Lufthansa, one Hapag Lloyd Express and three GermanWings. I think I still have those illustrated safety instructions as well, showing what to do when the airplane begins to fall apart. I have never found any instructions on what to do when a relationship begins to fall apart, but at least I’ve still got these bags.

6. The letter T

A Slovenia couple who met online didn't survive the first real-life encounter. "When we actually met in person the mutual interest was lost and he gave me the letter T from his keyboard, as he did not need it any longer.”

7. An animal made of plastic molecules

After a few years, gifts can get a little unusual. This donor gave the museum "an animal constructed out of different objects (chemical puzzle) with eyes glued on and a piece of paper saying who gave me this present."

8. An axe

After a few months of cohabitation, one partner left to travel for three weeks, but returned to find her girlfriend had fallen in love with someone else and was going on vacation alone.

In the 14 days of her holiday, every day I axed one piece of her furniture. I kept the remains there, as an expression of my inner condition. The more her room filled with chopped furniture acquiring the look of my soul, the better I felt. Two weeks after she left, she came back for the furniture. It was neatly arranged into small heaps and fragments of wood. She took that trash and left my apartment for good. The axe was promoted to a therapy instrument.

9. Intimate shampoo

These are things you don't remember to pack when you leave for good. “After the relationship ended, my mother used it for glass polishing. She claims it’s absolutely great.”

10. A wooden watermelon

Fifteen years is a long time to collect strange objects, like this faux watermelon. "Watermelon or just an illusion? Or both? Parallel lines do not meet. I’m fortunate to have Damyan and to enjoy real watermelon in summer. The illusion is gone. Parallel lines do not meet.”

11. Candy thong, unopened

"He never bought me flowers because flowers, he said, were for boring people. Instead I got sausages or new parts for my bicycle. I didn’t mind because I loved him. After four years he turned out to be as cheap and shabby as his presents. He cheated on me with a colleague from the office and dumped me via e-mail.”

More items are on display at the museum's Tumblr, on the website, and at the Museum of Broken Relationships itself, if you're ever in Zagreb, Croatia.

What's the weirdest remnant you have of a past relationship?

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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva
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Man Buys Two Metric Tons of LEGO Bricks; Sorts Them Via Machine Learning
May 21, 2017
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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva

Jacques Mattheij made a small, but awesome, mistake. He went on eBay one evening and bid on a bunch of bulk LEGO brick auctions, then went to sleep. Upon waking, he discovered that he was the high bidder on many, and was now the proud owner of two tons of LEGO bricks. (This is about 4400 pounds.) He wrote, "[L]esson 1: if you win almost all bids you are bidding too high."

Mattheij had noticed that bulk, unsorted bricks sell for something like €10/kilogram, whereas sets are roughly €40/kg and rare parts go for up to €100/kg. Much of the value of the bricks is in their sorting. If he could reduce the entropy of these bins of unsorted bricks, he could make a tidy profit. While many people do this work by hand, the problem is enormous—just the kind of challenge for a computer. Mattheij writes:

There are 38000+ shapes and there are 100+ possible shades of color (you can roughly tell how old someone is by asking them what lego colors they remember from their youth).

In the following months, Mattheij built a proof-of-concept sorting system using, of course, LEGO. He broke the problem down into a series of sub-problems (including "feeding LEGO reliably from a hopper is surprisingly hard," one of those facts of nature that will stymie even the best system design). After tinkering with the prototype at length, he expanded the system to a surprisingly complex system of conveyer belts (powered by a home treadmill), various pieces of cabinetry, and "copious quantities of crazy glue."

Here's a video showing the current system running at low speed:

The key part of the system was running the bricks past a camera paired with a computer running a neural net-based image classifier. That allows the computer (when sufficiently trained on brick images) to recognize bricks and thus categorize them by color, shape, or other parameters. Remember that as bricks pass by, they can be in any orientation, can be dirty, can even be stuck to other pieces. So having a flexible software system is key to recognizing—in a fraction of a second—what a given brick is, in order to sort it out. When a match is found, a jet of compressed air pops the piece off the conveyer belt and into a waiting bin.

After much experimentation, Mattheij rewrote the software (several times in fact) to accomplish a variety of basic tasks. At its core, the system takes images from a webcam and feeds them to a neural network to do the classification. Of course, the neural net needs to be "trained" by showing it lots of images, and telling it what those images represent. Mattheij's breakthrough was allowing the machine to effectively train itself, with guidance: Running pieces through allows the system to take its own photos, make a guess, and build on that guess. As long as Mattheij corrects the incorrect guesses, he ends up with a decent (and self-reinforcing) corpus of training data. As the machine continues running, it can rack up more training, allowing it to recognize a broad variety of pieces on the fly.

Here's another video, focusing on how the pieces move on conveyer belts (running at slow speed so puny humans can follow). You can also see the air jets in action:

In an email interview, Mattheij told Mental Floss that the system currently sorts LEGO bricks into more than 50 categories. It can also be run in a color-sorting mode to bin the parts across 12 color groups. (Thus at present you'd likely do a two-pass sort on the bricks: once for shape, then a separate pass for color.) He continues to refine the system, with a focus on making its recognition abilities faster. At some point down the line, he plans to make the software portion open source. You're on your own as far as building conveyer belts, bins, and so forth.

Check out Mattheij's writeup in two parts for more information. It starts with an overview of the story, followed up with a deep dive on the software. He's also tweeting about the project (among other things). And if you look around a bit, you'll find bulk LEGO brick auctions online—it's definitely a thing!

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Nick Briggs/Comic Relief
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What Happened to Jamie and Aurelia From Love Actually?
May 26, 2017
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Nick Briggs/Comic Relief

Fans of the romantic-comedy Love Actually recently got a bonus reunion in the form of Red Nose Day Actually, a short charity special that gave audiences a peek at where their favorite characters ended up almost 15 years later.

One of the most improbable pairings from the original film was between Jamie (Colin Firth) and Aurelia (Lúcia Moniz), who fell in love despite almost no shared vocabulary. Jamie is English, and Aurelia is Portuguese, and they know just enough of each other’s native tongues for Jamie to propose and Aurelia to accept.

A decade and a half on, they have both improved their knowledge of each other’s languages—if not perfectly, in Jamie’s case. But apparently, their love is much stronger than his grasp on Portuguese grammar, because they’ve got three bilingual kids and another on the way. (And still enjoy having important romantic moments in the car.)

In 2015, Love Actually script editor Emma Freud revealed via Twitter what happened between Karen and Harry (Emma Thompson and Alan Rickman, who passed away last year). Most of the other couples get happy endings in the short—even if Hugh Grant's character hasn't gotten any better at dancing.

[h/t TV Guide]

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