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The latest news from Life

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    The Insider Picks team writes about stuff we think you'll like. Business Insider has affiliate partnerships, so we get a share of the revenue from your purchase.

    travelpro spinner

    Everyone has the packing essentials they never travel without, but the list can look a little different for business travelers, who tend to take shorter, more frequent trips and must juggle packed schedules once they touch down at their destination. 

    Business travelers need to stay organized, connected, comfortable, and well-rested as they shuffle between time zones. Anything that helps achieve this balance makes for a happier — and more effective — businessperson, so before you send your most trusted employee off to the international office, make sure she has these products and services packed. 

    There are the obvious options, like a reliable, expandable carry-on suitcase and a portable battery pack, but also consider smart and innovative additions like work shoes you can actually walk a whole day in and a notebook that saves all your meeting scribbles to the cloud. 

    Here are 12 things that should be on every business traveler's packing list. 

    DON'T MISS: Amex Platinum vs Chase Sapphire Reserve: Which card offers superior airport lounge access, according to a frequent flyer

    SEE ALSO: 26 packing essentials we never travel without — from a $150 mobile WiFi hotspot to a $6 pack of face wipes

    Wireless earbuds

    Jabra Elite 65t Wireless Earbuds, $169.99, available at Amazon

    While over-ear wireless headphones offer better sound quality, earbuds are better suited for travel when you have limited bag space. The battery life of these earbuds is five hours (15 hours with the charging case) and once you're off the plane, you can make clear phone calls because they're optimized with four-microphone technology. They're also Alexa-, Siri-, and Google Assistant-compatible. For an affordable, under-$100 option, check out these SoundCore wireless earbuds from Anker.



    A foldable Bluetooth keyboard

    Jelly Comb Pocket Size Portable Bluetooth Keyboard, $29.59, available at Amazon

    If you're not packing your laptop but want to get some work done, this foldable keyboard that can connect to your tablet or phone will let you do so without taking up as much space. It's light and sturdy, but a drawback to its portability is that the key positions are squeezed together, so typing might not be as seamless of a process as usual. Still, the convenience might be worth the compromise

     



    A battery pack

    Jackery Bolt 6000 mAh Power Bank with Built-in Lightning Cable, $29.99, available at Amazon

    It's always a good idea to have a battery pack on hand when you travel, and this doesn't change when you travel for business. While there are many battery packs on the market to choose from, our pick is Jackery's because its built-in cable charges your phone twice as fast as the original charger, and it's neither so small that it can only charge your device once nor so bulky that it weighs you down. 

     



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    the halal guys 3644

    • The Halal Guys' food carts are open almost 24 hours a day, rain or shine, and there seems to never be a shortage of customers. 
    • The chicken-and-rice chain has been growing throughout New York City and has ambitions to open as many as 400 more restaurants globally, CEO Ahmed Abouelenein told Business Insider. 
    • I spent a morning shadowing The Halal Guys' general manager Mohamed Omar at the chain's original cart on the corner of 53rd Street and 6th Avenue. 

    There's a lot that goes into The Halal Guys' famous chicken-and-rice platters.

    The Halal Guys carts, which are open from 10:00 a.m until 4:00 a.m. on weekdays and 5:30 a.m. on weekends, have a constant stream of customers lining up to try its platters and sandwiches. The chain's carts are open rain or shine, even in snowstorms and hurricanes.  Before the sun even rises, carts are washed, vegetables are chopped, and vendors are stocked up with everything they'll need for the day. 

    The Halal Guys' first cart opened in 1990, initially becoming popular with Muslim cab drivers looking for fast, authentic halal food, which is food that's permissible under Islamic law. The chain has since grown to five carts and two restaurants in New York City, plus 82 locations across the country. The first brick-and-mortar location opened in 2014, just before the company began its franchisee program with Fransmart.

    And according to CEO Ahmed Abouelenein, the expansion is only just beginning. Abouelenein told Business Insider that The Halal Guys plans on opening as many as 400 restaurants globally over the next several years, with more than 100 opening in the first quarter of 2019.

    In New York, general manager Mohamed Omar oversees the kitchen at headquarters and each of the five Halal Guys carts. Omar started with The Halal Guys six years ago as a driver, and before becoming a manager he worked at the carts, cooking food and training new employees. 

    I spent a recent morning shadowing Omar at the original cart on the corner of 53rd Street and 6th Avenue. Here's what the day was like:

    SEE ALSO: We compared Dunkin's first store to its brand-new 'store of the future' — and it showed how far the coffee giant has come

    My day started at The Halal Guys' headquarters in Long Island City, where the carts are washed and stocked every morning.



    In addition to the five food carts, there are two Halal Guys restaurants in New York City.



    All of the ingredients are stored at the headquarters ...



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    red trees white house christmas

    • The White House has unveiled this year's Christmas decorations.
    • The official theme is "American Treasures."
    • The first family's official holiday card and ornament join the elaborate installations on display throughout the White House's main rooms and public areas.

    Each year, the halls of America's most well-known address get decked out to set off the season's festivities.

    This year's official theme for the White House decorations is "American Treasures," and decorations include hundreds of trees and ornaments of all sizes to celebrate America's cities, states, and citizens.

    Thousands of volunteers and staff contributed to make the winter wonderland that takes over several rooms and hallways.

    According to the White House, more than 100 open houses and many receptions will happen through the month of December, and more than 30,000 visitors will see the decorations in person during public tours.

    The White House released a video tour of this year's decorations on Monday:

    See the highlights in these photos of the decorations.

    SEE ALSO: See what the Trump White House looked like for Christmas last year

    DON'T MISS: 16 behind-the-scenes photos show the White House being decorated for Christmas

    President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump kicked off the decorating process by receiving the White House Christmas tree from a horse-drawn delivery.



    National Park Service staff then installed the tree as the first decoration in the Blue Room.



    A week later, the main rooms and halls were fully decked and ready to be unveiled days after Thanksgiving. The US Marine Band played in the glistening Grand Foyer during the 2018 Christmas preview.



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    one world trade center nyc

    • New York City's new One World Trade Center cost $4 billion and took eight years to build. 
    • I took a tour to see what the inside looks like four years after the first tenants moved in.
    • In addition to 78 floors of office spaces with jaw-dropping views, the building has an employee amenities floor with a café, game room with video game consoles and shuffleboard and billiards tables.
    • About 8,000 people work in the building, mainly for media and tech companies.

     

    New York City's new One World Trade Center, nicknamed the "Freedom Tower," cost $4 billion and took eight years to build between the start of construction in 2006 and the first tenants moving in 2014.

    Four years after opening its doors to the first tenants, about 8,000 people now work in the building for companies that include Condé Nast, streaming service DAZN, and workout app Aaptiv.

    The building is 1,776 feet and 104 stories tall, with office space on floors 20 through 98. It includes 3 million square feet of rentable office space, according to the World Trade Center's official website.

    I found the inside to be much more casual than I expected— and my tour guide, Jordan Barowitz, Vice President of Public Affairs for the Durst Organization, which oversees leasing in the building, backed up this observation.

    He told me when they first started marketing the building's office spaces in 2010, they thought it would be a "formal office building" with lots of "guys in suits." Instead, they got mainly smaller companies in media, technology, and other creative industries. While I certainly noticed some guys in suits, the majority of employees I saw were dressed casually, many with beards and sneakers.

    Here's what the inside of One World Trade Center looks like, four years after the first tenants moved in.

    SEE ALSO: NYC's new World Trade Center expected its offices to be full of 'guys in suits' — but I took a tour of the building and quickly saw that many of the actual tenants are very different

    DON'T MISS: Photos show how New York City built the Freedom Tower in the wake of 9/11

    I arrived for my tour of One World Trade Center on a sunny but chilly morning toward the end of October, ready to meet Jordan Barowitz, Vice President of Public Affairs for the Durst Organization, which oversees leasing in the building.



    The building is only a few minutes from my office so I walked there, but One World Trade Center is connected underground to the Oculus, a shopping center and transport hub.

    Source: Business Insider



    Through the Oculus, you can access 12 subway lines and get to Jersey City, New Jersey, on the PATH train in about 13 minutes.

    Source: Google Maps, WTC



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    AddictiveSubstancesGraphic_BI Graphics

    As anyone who has drunk a cup of coffee knows, not all drugs are equally harmful. Caffeine, the most widely consumed psychoactive drug on earth, is not a danger to human health.

    To give people an idea of the most dangerous substances, a team of psychiatrists, chemists, and pharmacologists at the UK's Royal College of Psychiatrists systematically ranked them based on three factors: how much physical harm they cause, how addictive they are, and how much damage they do to society as a whole, judging by things like costs spent on healthcare. They published their findings in the medical journal The Lancet.

    Here are the drugs that rank highest for dependency:

    SEE ALSO: A vape pen created by Stanford graduates is taking over US high schools — and doctors are frightened

    To assess the danger of each drug, the scientists looked at three types of effects.

    The following ranking focuses on dependency. The researchers further broke this category down into three factors that determine how addictive something is.

    1. Pleasure, the euphoria a user feels on the drug; psychological dependence

    2. The cravings a user experiences when the drug is withdrawn

    3. Physical dependence, the headaches or other physical symptoms a user experiences when the drug is withdrawn



    1. Heroin ranked the highest on the list in terms of dependency.

    The drug received a full three out of three in terms of pleasure, cravings, and physical dependence. 



    2. Cocaine received a three out of three in terms of pleasure.

    However, it was deemed to be slightly less psychologically addictive than heroin and about half as physically addictive.



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    George martha washington height difference 2x1

    While every American president and first lady has reached the same heights of political office and public service, not all reached the White House at the same physical height.

    The average height of US presidents was 5-foot-10-inches, and the typical height difference between presidents and first ladies was 6.5 inches.

    Scientific studies suggest that men have it better when it comes to success in the workplace, and that women are more likely to choose taller men than shorter men.

    John Adams and Abigail Adams were only separated in height by an inch, while Thomas Jefferson was over a foot taller than his wife Martha Jefferson.

    We found the heights through online research and speaking with presidential historical sites and libraries. But a few first ladies' heights have been lost to history.

    Here is the height difference of every US president and first lady we could find:

    SEE ALSO: Here's what every president's signature looks like

    DON'T MISS: All of the US presidents, ranked from tallest to shortest in one animation

    George and Martha Washington: 1-foot-2-inches (36 cm)



    John and Abigail Adams: 1 inch (2 cm)



    Thomas and Martha Jefferson: 1-foot-2.5-inches (37 cm)

    Jefferson was a widower when his presidency began, and his daughter, Martha, acted as first lady, along with wives of the Cabinet secretaries.



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    handwriting 4x3

    • Your handwriting says a lot about your personality.
    • For example, if you write large letters, it could mean you are people oriented, whereas small letters could mean you are introverted. 
    • Business Insider spoke to master graphologist, Kathi McKnight, who analyzes handwriting for personality traits, to figure out what these details in your handwriting mean. 

    Your handwriting reveals much more than you might imagine.

    There's a whole science behind analyzing handwriting for personality traits called graphology, which has been around since the days of Aristotle. Today, it's used for a variety of purposes, from criminal investigations to understanding your health. Someemployers even use handwriting analysis to screen potential employees for compatibility.

    Business Insider talked to master graphologistKathi McKnight about what the seemingly insignificant details in your writing say about you. "Just from analyzing your handwriting, experts can find over 5,000 personality traits," she says. 

    McKnight readily admits that the information she provides below is a basic overview, so it won't apply to everyone in every situation. Yet these factors can show you aspects about yourself that you may not have considered before. 

    Try writing out a sentence. We suggest: "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog." Then, keep reading to see what your handwriting says about you.

    SEE ALSO: Here's what every president's signature looks like

    Size of letters and words



    Slant



    Pressure



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    13 places travel december

    • To find the best places to visit in December 2018, Business Insider looked at climate data, cultural calendars, and peak travel times.
    • December offers all kinds of travel experiences, from unforgettable Christmas and New Year's celebrations to relaxing getaways on tropical islands.
    • The best places to visit in December include the "Hamptons of South America," a European capital filled to the brim with Christmas markets, and the rugged wilderness of Australia's southernmost state.

    As December nears and the year draws to close, travelers are looking for the site of their last big vacation.

    Thanks to the popularity of Christmas and New Year's Eve vacations, December is often one of the most expensive months of the year to travel to the world's tourism hotspots. 

    Whether you want to indulge in the holiday festivities or escape to a sunny island paradise, there are endless options for travelers in December. 

    We looked at airfare trends, climate data, and worldwide cultural calendars to select 13 vacation spots that should be on your radar for a December vacation. They include a glitzy resort town in Uruguay that's called the "Hamptons of South America," an icy European wonderland filled with Christmas markets and holiday cheer, and the rugged wilderness of Australia's southernmost state.

    Take a look at the places we recommend for a December trip, and plan away.

    SEE ALSO: 13 places to visit in November for every type of traveler

    DON'T MISS: The 13 best places to visit in October for every type of traveler

    Miami, Florida

    No city knows how to party quite like Miami, and on New Year's Eve, the city takes it to another level. You'll have your pick of parties, from sparkling rooftop soirees to thumping ragers on South Beach.

    There are plenty of other non-party activities to keep you busy, too. It's always beach weather in Miami, with December highs typically reaching the mid-70s Fahrenheit. Meanwhile, tourist favorites like the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens and Zoo Miami host special holiday-themed events in December. 

    Note that December is a huge month for traveling in Miami, so book airfare and hotels early for the best rates.



    Atlanta, Georgia

    Another Southeastern city that should be on your radar for December is Atlanta, Georgia.

    Only Chicago and New York City see more visitors than Atlanta each year, and for good reason. Must-sees for first-time visitors include the World of Coca-Cola and a studio tour at the CNN Center— both companies are headquartered there — the Georgia Aquarium, the Center for Civil and Human Rights, and the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park, which includes the civil rights leader's childhood home and church.

    If you can tolerate temperatures in the 40s and 50s Fahrenheit, Piedmont Park and Centennial Olympic Park are always good for a daytime stroll, and nearby Stone Mountain offers an epic lights-filled Christmas celebration each night. 



    San Antonio, Texas

    The end of the year is the perfect time to visit San Antonio, as hotel rates plummet but the temperature stays mostly warm.

    The Alamo is San Antonio's biggest claim to fame, and there are plenty of other activities that make the city worth an extended stay. Locals love the quickly growing Pearl District for its eclectic mix of food, shopping, and art, as well as the 15-mile River Walk and its unique canals, pathways, and architecture. First-time visitors should hop on a cruise for a guided tour.



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Hotel President Wilson 1

    • Some luxury hotels avoid posting their most expensive and exclusive rooms online.
    • Many of the rooms are available only for well-connected clientele who have heard of the rooms via word of mouth — and have the funds to pay for them.
    • Hotels keep their rooms unlisted for a variety of reasons, including to protect their assets and to create buzz.

    How are you supposed to book a room that isn't listed on a hotel's website?

    Well, the point, as reported by Bloomberg, is that you probably can't, unless you're connected enough to have heard about it by word of mouth.

    That's often the case with ultra-luxurious rooms and suites that high-end hotels purposely omit from their listings. There are no photographs, no descriptions, and no prices available; to anyone who isn't in the know, it's as if they don't exist.

    Hotels keep such rooms secret for a variety of reasons, whether protecting the hotel's assets or protecting the guest's identity and privacy.

    Then, of course, there's the thrill of exclusivity. As The New York Times put it, hotels use these unlisted rooms "as a way to delight valued guests or generate buzz."

    Read more:A 5-star boutique in Switzerland with a world-famous infinity pool no longer has to pay for advertising, thanks to Instagram

    These rooms go by a variety of terms — owner's suites, partnership suites — but one thing they have in common is a hefty price tag.

    Take, for example, Blue Lagoon— one of Iceland's most recognizable tourist attractions. The Retreat is a luxury hotel with 62 suites that can be booked online, some of which offer direct access to the lagoon. But tucked away within The Retreat is The Blue Lagoon Suite. There's no mention of it on The Retreat's site, but, according to Bloomberg, it goes for $10,050 a night — and requires a minimum two-night stay.

    Booking details vary for these unlisted rooms. In some cases, an interested guest has to call ahead and specifically request the suite. Other hotels require that their penthouse suites be booked by email in advance, so that managers have time to vet the guest before making a decision.

    Even if booking an unlisted hotel room is a bit (or a lot) out of your budget, there are still ways to customize your five-star hotel experience with some semisecret perks. That can include free Champagne or chocolate-covered strawberries and even special decorations in your room.

    And hotels aren't the only businesses that build a name for some of their products — if not their entire brands — by choosing not to advertise them. Consider Goyard, a two-century-old Parisian brand.

    As Business Insider's Hillary Hoffower previously reported: "Goyard's prime press strategy is silence. It forgoes any advertising, e-commerce, and celebrity endorsements. It rarely grants interviews and very occasionally makes products available to the mass market."

    Clearly, in some cases, not talking about your luxury product is the best way to make people want it.

    SEE ALSO: The world's 10 most expensive hotel suites

    READ MORE: This futuristic hotel is going to be built at the base of a glacier in remote, northern Norway — and it looks like it's straight out of a sci-fi movie

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: The author of 'Boy Erased' reveals what gay conversion therapy is really like — and how he survived it


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    The Insider Picks team writes about stuff we think you'll like. Business Insider has affiliate partnerships, so we get a share of the revenue from your purchase.

    foodie gifts 7

    It's not too difficult to identify a foodie in the wild. Do they plan their next meal as they eat their current one? Are their travel itineraries made up entirely of restaurants and bars? Have they exhausted every cooking show and food documentary offered by Netflix? If so, congratulations — you have a foodie on your hands. 

    This holiday, you can fuel their appetite and never-ending quest to enjoy good food with these unique gifts. Treat them to one of the best meals they've ever had, then top it all off with a food or cooking-related gift. 

    The way to a foodie's heart is through their stomachs — and one of these 21 gifts:

    Looking for more gift ideas? Check out all of Insider Picks' holiday gift guides for 2018 here.

    A Dutch oven from a new startup

    Dutch Oven, $95, available at Milo

    For a fraction of the price, you can gift a quality Dutch oven that's just as nice as Le Creuset or Staub. Milo may not be a legacy name, but it performs like one — and it comes with a lifetime guarantee. 



    Bowls that look like lettuce leaves

    Tory Burch Lettuce Ware Soup Bowls (Set of 4), $148, available at Nordstrom

    These hand-painted soup bowls are an unexpected and colorful addition to the dinner table. The fact that they resemble lettuce counts as one's daily vegetable intake, right? 

     

     



    A book that shows them how to create the ultimate appetizer spread

    Platters and Boards: Beautiful, Casual Spreads for Every Occasion, $16.96, available at Amazon

    The beautiful arrangements in this book will have dinner and party guests eating with their eyes first. It contains 40 appetizer boards of spreads, dips, and drinks for all times of the day. 



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    The Insider Picks team writes about stuff we think you'll like. Business Insider has affiliate partnerships, so we get a share of the revenue from your purchase.

    Everlane $100 cashmere sweater review

    • Everlane has a great line of $100 cashmere sweaters for women and men.
    • The relatively low cost reflects Everlane's transparent pricing and declining costs in raw materials.
    • I wore the $100 Cashmere Crew as an unofficial uniform last winter, and it's a great deal.

    It's that time of year again. The cold is creeping in through drafty windowsills, Central Park once again smells like decomposing leaves and roasted peanuts, and cashmere and wool coats — the unofficial mascots of the winter season — are being unfolded from their summertime storage. 

    For me, that means Everlane's $100 Cashmere Crew, which without much conscious involvement, became my cold weather uniform last year — a reliable choice for everything from weekend apple picking outings to groggy Monday mornings. 

    It's warm and soft, but still ultimately lightweight — making it perfect on its own, layered, or tucked into a skirt. The relaxed fit works for the office, weekend plans, or lounging around the house with a cup of coffee and a book. This also makes it a good investment piece, since I can wear it alone on chilly fall nights and layered during colder winter nights — it is a closet staple for six months of the year.

    In other words, the Cashmere Crew has been a great use of $100.

    It's a foundational closet piece, and it never disappoints. It's unobtrusive, chameleon-level versatile, and both looks and feels good effortlessly. I've had more fun buying statement pieces, but rarely have I ever gotten so much wear per dollar.

    The Crew comes in six sizes (XXS - XL) and 22 colors, but I would suggest starting with a staple color that works with the bulk of your closet, like black, charcoal, or dark navy. You can always stock up on more colors, but I guarantee you will thank yourself for beginning with one that weathers repeated wears gracefully. I ordered true to size, but if you're concerned about tightness, you should be happy with the next size up. 

    Read more: I put 5 of Everlane's best-selling shoes to the test in NYC — and ranked them by comfort level

    everlane under 100 cashmere

    It's not cheap, but it is relatively affordable. Everlane uses Grade-A cashmere — the best there is — but sells it at the same price you might find Grade-C in another store. Unlike lower-quality options, Grade-A is stronger and doesn't pill as easily. 

    According to Everlane, the cost of raw cashmere fluctuates wildly, and retailers raise prices to reflect higher cashmere costs when necessary. However, they rarely lower prices when the raw cost declines. Because of their 100% transparency model, Everlane has adjusted prices to reflect the declining cashmere costs in recent years (from $125 originally to $100 for the last few years).

    Cashmere sweaters — like many items on the site — have a pricing breakdown for the interested customer. According to the company, it cost $42 to make the Cashmere Crew, but traditional retail markup would sell it for $210. Everlane has priced it at $100. 

    Though you are getting a nicer form of cashmere, $100 still isn't chump change. But, if you're looking for a good deal, then this is a great option.

    I don't have a minimalist closet with spare options, but I opt to wear this sweater at least once a week during the cold season. It's soft, comfortable, flattering, and comes in a silhouette that makes it even more versatile than the average crewneck cashmere sweater. If you need to stock up on winter closet workhorses you know you're going to inevitably live in, you may want to take a look. 

    Shop the women's Everlane Cashmere Crew for $100, available in 22 colors

    Shop the men's Everlane Cashmere Crew for $100, available in 12 colors

    Shop all Everlane Cashmere, $100 - $155

    DON'T MISS: Everlane has launched a line of $68 stretch denim that never gets baggy — here's what we thought after putting it to the test

    SEE ALSO: This unsung hero of women's footwear makes comfortable, stylish shoes under $300 — here's what we thought of its fall boots

    Join the conversation about this story »


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    The Insider Picks team writes about stuff we think you'll like. Business Insider has affiliate partnerships, so we get a share of the revenue from your purchase.

    williams sonoma $19.95

    The Star Wars franchise has captivated and continues to captivate audiences of all ages around the world. Nearly everyone can identify at least one person in their lives who loves the epic space story and has watched each of the movies a dozen times. 

    Thanks to the franchise's long-lasting and universal popularity, there are more than enough Star Wars products to go around, from props and clothing to decor and books. Finding a Star Wars-related gift isn't the hard part — finding one that's creative and unexpected is. 

    You can surprise them this year with one of these 25 Star Wars gifts they don't already have. As you'll see, there is a wide range of ways to incorporate new and interesting galactic fun into their lives. 

    Looking for more gift ideas? Check out all of Insider Picks' holiday gift guides for 2018 here.

    SEE ALSO: 31 cool tech gifts for the home that suit every kind of budget

    DON'T MISS: 34 cool stocking stuffers you can get on Amazon for under $20

    Mugs shaped like a Stormtrooper and Darth Vader

    Darth Vader and Stormtrooper Ceramic Mugs, $19.99, available at Target

    They'll feel like they can conquer the morning just like Darth Vader and his Stormtroopers after sipping their coffee from these ceramic mugs. 

     



    Super comfortable underwear that also glows in the dark

    Men's Star Wars Boxer Brief, $24, available at MeUndies

    Women's Star Wars Bikini, $18, available at MeUndies

    One of MeUndies' many Adventurous prints is not only a fun group of Star Wars characters, but it also glows in the dark for extra quirkiness. We love its soft and stretchy micromodal underwear so much, we recommend MeUndies as some of the best underwear men and women can buy. 

     



    A bedside lamp for a young Star Wars fan

    Star Wars Porg Mood Light Table Lamp, $14.99, available at Target

    The last thing they see before they go to sleep and the first when they wake up is this fluffy, curious bird. 

     

     

     

     



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Christmas shopping NYC

    • Black Friday has come and gone, and now the holiday-shopping season is in full swing. 
    • Black Friday as a singular shopping day is becoming less important thanks to online shopping and frequent discounting.
    • Still, holiday spending is expected to top $717 billion this year, according to the National Retail Federation.
    • These photos show how much holiday shopping has changed over the years. 

    The holiday-shopping season is here.

    Though Black Friday itself is becoming less and less important thanks to the rise of online shopping and frequent discounting year-round, many retailers have been prepping for the shopping season for months. In some cases, stores set their Christmas displays up as early as October

    This year, holiday spending is expected to top over $717 billion, according to the National Retail Federation. And the holiday shopping craze isn't new — long lines and hectic crowds have always accompanied holiday shopping, long before the term "Black Friday" was coined.

    The photos below show how holiday shopping has changed — and stayed the same — since the early 1900s:

    SEE ALSO: Here are the most over-the-top gifts on Neiman Marcus' guide for the ultra-wealthy

    Macy's has long been a destination for holiday shoppers.



    This 1933 photo shows shoppers in New York City, admiring the window displays of a department store.



    Men dressed as Santa stood in the streets, collecting charity donations ...



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    twitter phone

    • Twitter collects a lot of data on you, including a compiled list of "inferred interests" it uses to personalize your experience.
    • This interests list was initially rolled out to Twitter users a while back, but the feature was rediscovered this week and users have been tweeting their own lists, some of which include topics are weirdly specific and seemingly inaccurate.
    • Find out below how to find your own list of what Twitter thinks you're interested in.

    If you've ever wondered what Twitter knows about you (or thinks it knows about you) based on your online activities, there's an easy way to find out. 

    There's a special "inferred interests" dossier that Twitter creates for every user of the social network. These personalized lists are Twitter's best guesses about your predilections, from favorite TV shows to sports, and even some seemingly random stuff. 

    The "inferred interests" data was made available to users more than a year ago, but the existence of this feature has for some reason resurfaced this week on Twitter. Users have been tweeting out their lists of personalized interests, which include topics such as news, science, and soccer. 

    "These are some of the interests matched to you based on your profile and activity that are used to personalize your experience, including ads," Twitter says about your inferred interests. "You can adjust them if something doesn't look right."

    The random and sometimes weirdly specific nature of some of these inferred interests are raising chuckles among some users:

    I checked mine, and Twitter seems to think I'm incredibly interested in the Shrek reboot— so much that it's listed twice.

    Here's how to check out what Twitter thinks your interests are:

    SEE ALSO: 'Shrek' is getting rebooted and people don't understand why it's happening

    You can find out your interests, according to Twitter, under your "Settings and privacy" tab.



    Select "Your Twitter data," which is found all the way toward the bottom of your settings list.



    Scroll down to the section titled "Interests and ads data." Not only can you find your "inferred interests" collected by Twitter (the first section), but you can also discover what data Twitter has collected — and shared— so it can personalize the advertisements it shows you on its platform.



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    Google Pixel assistant

    • Google has started to roll out its artificial intelligence-powered reservation booking service, called Google Duplex, to some Pixel users.
    • The feature debuted over the summer at Google's I/O conference, where it stunned the audience with its eerily human-sounding voice, including its usage of "um" and "ah."
    • Critics first questioned the ethics of AI software making phone calls without first identifying itself to the person on the line, but Google Duplex did in fact identify itself, according to multiple businesses where Business Insider made reservations.
    • The service is beneficial for those who are shy about placing phone calls, but it's just as simple (if not quicker) to make a reservation with OpenTable or Google Maps.

    Google is bringing Pixel users one step closer to never having to make another phone call again thanks to a new voice-enabled tool that can schedule appointments and book dinner reservations for you.

    Duplex, the newest artificial intelligence tool for Google Assistant, has started rolling out to Pixel phone owners, a Google spokesperson confirmed to Business Insider. The technology can perform actual phone calls for you in order to make you a haircut appointment, or book a restaurant reservation. 

    Google debuted the technology back in May at its annual I/O conference, but never provided a clear timeline of when Duplex would be available for customer use. With the rollout, not all Pixel users will have access to the technology right away, but our device did have Duplex software enabled. 

    Take a look at how you can use Google Duplex to make a reservation:

    SEE ALSO: The 25 most valuable US startups that failed this year

    To get started, all you have to do is ask your Google Assistant to make a restaurant reservation.

    You only get three options off the bat that are (by default) near your location, so to get different results, you can ask more pointed questions — such as type of food, price range, or neighborhood.

    When Google presented the technology earlier this year, it showed Duplex making a reservation at a salon. However, in our tests, we could only get the technology to work with restaurant reservations.



    Once you've identified the restaurant you want to book, ask Google Assistant to make a reservation there in order to engage the Duplex feature.

    Your Assistant will ask a series of questions: how many people the reservation is for, what time you want to book, and even if your reservation time is flexible in case the restaurant is booked up already.



    For some restaurants, Duplex won't be able to make reservations. It could be because the restaurant doesn't take phone reservations, or the business has disabled the use of Duplex there for booking appointments. Google Assistant doesn't specify.



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    Skincare can be a sensitive topic. Everyone has different concerns, but ultimately, we all have the same goal of feeling and looking good in our own skin.

    The truth is, despite all the magazines and websites telling you otherwise, you don't have to spend hundreds of dollars on skincare to see results. Sometimes simpler (and cheaper) really is better.

    I asked my coworkers to share the affordable skincare products they use and love, because who better to take advice from than a discerning bunch of product reviewers?

    Below you'll find 17 skincare products under $25 that the Insider Picks staff swears by. 

    SEE ALSO: A new Korean skincare company borne from a battle with cystic acne believes you only need 3 products to achieve clear skin

    Simple Micellar Cleansing Water

    Simple Micellar Cleansing Water, Pack of three sizes, $19.99

    Of all the expensive makeup removers and cleansing waters removers I've tried, this drugstore version is the one I tell everyone about. Unlike regular water, the chemical composition of micellar water allows it to bind to oil and makeup to remove everything with just a few swipes of a cotton pad.

    Not only does it get every last bit of stuff off your face, it also cleanses and leaves your skin feeling hydrated and fresh. On lazy days, my entire day's skincare routine includes this and nothing else. — Sally Kaplan, Insider Picks editor



    Mighty Patch Hydrocolloid Acne Absorbing Pimple Spot Dot

    Mighty Patch Hydrocolloid Acne Absorbing Pimple Spot Dot, 36 patches for $12.33

    This is my go-to solution for those angry, pus-filled pimples that sprout on your face at the most inopportune times. The stickers absorb the nasty fluids from your pimples and you can directly see the results: when you take off the sticker the next morning (or even as soon as in a few hours, depending on the nature of the pimple), the sticker turns white with the pus it has absorbed, and your pimple will have noticeably deflated.

    Since they're clear, I've even worn them during the day to work, and no one bats an eye. Though they're more expensive than most other brands, I've found these particular patches to be much more effective at healing the pimple and also to adhere to skin better.  — Connie Chen, Insider Picks reporter



    Muji High Moisture Light Toning Water

    Muji High Moisture Light Toning Water, $14.40

    My face would look like an exoskeleton if not for this extremely moisturizing toner. Muji's skin care line is the brand's unsung hero, but I would write an entire musical about this product if I had the creative energy. It's extremely hydrating, gentle on sensitive skin, and doubles as both a toner and a moisturizer — especially during the summer when you really only want a thin, lightweight layer of product on your face. — Sally Kaplan, Insider Picks editor



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    grateful

    For some, the countdown to Christmas starts the year before on December 26, while others wait until the fall to get out their wreaths and trees. Whatever your style, we can all agree that we appreciate the holiday cheer that lingers in the air after Thanksgiving. Whether your idea of welcoming the holiday season is something along the lines of listening to Mariah Carey's Christmas album on repeat or baking gingerbread men with your family (or both), there's nothing more festive than adding some holiday decor to your home.

    With Christmas around the corner, it's a great time to pick up some little decorations to get your space in the holiday spirit. You don't need to spend a fortune on expensive Christmas lights and antique figurines to add that much needed merriment to your home — there are plenty of retailers with great, inexpensive options for Christmas decorations. Luckily, we scoured the web and curated a list of cheap, cute Christmas decorations to get your home in the holiday spirit this season — so you can spend your money on the important stuff. Consider it our gift to you. 

    Check out our list of 23 cheap Christmas decorations under $25, below:

    Looking for gift ideas? Check out all of Insider Picks' holiday gift guides for 2018 here.

    An adorable snowman you can keep inside

    7-Inch Walter Snowman Plush Figurine, $19.99, available at Wayfair



    Christmas-themed photo booth props for a fun holiday party activity

    PartyGraphix Christmas Photo Booth Props, $12.95 (set of 15), available at Amazon



    Festive, Fair Isle stockings to hang by the fireplace

    Wondershop Knit Fair Isle Stocking, $13, available at Target



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    Donald Trump Xi Jinping

    • President Donald Trump announced that China will lower or eliminate their tariffs on US car imports.
    • The US sent $10.5 billion worth of new and used cars to China in 2017.
    • The announcement comes after Trump's dinner with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Saturday at the G20.
    • The two sides announced a 90-day pause of the US-China trade war.

    President Donald Trump announced on Sunday that China will lower or remove tariffs on American-made cars coming into the country.

    "China has agreed to reduce and remove tariffs on cars coming into China from the US," Trump tweeted. "Currently the tariff is 40%."

    The move is significant as US-made cars from BMW and others are popular in China. A total of $10.5 billion worth of new and used cars were shipped to China from the US in 2017, according to the Census Bureau.

    The tweet comes the day after Trump's dinner with Chinese President Xi Jinping that yielded a deal to freeze the escalation of the US-China trade war and pause the imposition of tariffs between the two countries.

    The Trump administration announced a 90-day détente in the trade war to give the two countries time to negotiate a broader trade deal. This means that the US will not raise the 10% tariff rate on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods to 25% on January 1, as originally scheduled.

    China also committed to buying a "very substantial amount of agricultural, energy, (and) industrial" goods from the US.

    While the deal is limited in scope, it was a sign of significant progress given the fact that the two countries have barely communicated since the first round of tariffs were imposed in July. A total of $360 billion worth of goods flowing between the two countries are subject to new tariffs imposed this year: $250 billion worth of Chinese goods coming into the US and $110 billion worth of US goods going to China.

    The announcement that auto tariffs on US-made cars is another concrete step towards what Larry Kudlow, Trump's top economic adviser, has said is the goal of no tariffs or non-tariffs barriers between the two countries.

    The tariffs were also imposed to try and force China to make changes to their economic practices, specifically the theft of US intellectual property. So far, China has been unwilling to commit to long-term changes that address the Trump administration's concerns.

    SEE ALSO: Trump's favorite trade war report card is looking uglier than ever

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Megyn Kelly in 2017: 'I regret a lot' of the controversial stuff I've said on live television


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    hh_banner_5

    When you live with a family member who has Prime, it's easy to just ask for their login information and take advantage of those benefits without paying for an extra membership. The trade-off is the loss of privacy.

    Everyone in my family uses my brother's account when we need to use Prime. It's convenient and keeps the cost of membership low, but it also means we can all see what everyone is looking at and buying. Furthermore, confirmation and shipping emails are sent to my brother and have to be forwarded to the appropriate recipient. 

    It turns out we've been overlooking a key feature that would help relieve these problems and help us regain control of our shopping: Amazon Household.

    Amazon Household lets each adult keep his or her personal account while sharing Prime benefits at no additional cost. Here's how it works:

    • You'll need two adults (ages 18 and over) each with their own Amazon account. One must have a Prime membership. 
    • Both adults must agree to share credit and debit cards associated with your Amazon accounts. Both accounts will retain their current payment methods, but you'll each be able to see and use each other's credit and debit cards. 
    • You can set up content you would like to share within your Household. This includes current and future purchases. After setup, you will still be able to manage or change your shared content. Shareable content includes apps and games, audiobooks, and eBooks, so you can have a whole family library accessible to you if you'd like. Here's what that setup looks like: 

    amazon household sharing

    • If you have teens (ages 13 through 17) in your household, you can add up to four teen profiles. This will allow them to have their own Amazon login to shop or stream content while still keeping their parents informed.
    • If you have younger children (ages 12 and under), you can add up to four child profiles which can be used on Amazon experiences geared toward children, like Amazon FreeTime. Children won't be able to shop on the site. 

    As you start shopping for the holidays, this feature is especially handy to keep your gift browsing and purchases secret from the rest of your family. Now you'll always be able to experience the satisfying feeling of surprising your loved one with an unexpected present. 

    Of course, you can't share the great Prime benefits with anyone if no one in the household has a membership in the first place. From speedy shipping and delivery policies to digital content access and exclusive member pricing, a Prime membership will be an indispensable tool for the whole family. 

    Start with a free 30-day trial of Amazon Prime here.

    Get started with Amazon Household here.

    SEE ALSO: All of Insider Picks' holiday gift guides, in one place

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    main_tiles_AudioAccessories_750x560

    • Amazon is running 12 Days of Deals on holiday gifts, starting December 2.
    • Each day has deals in a specific category (find the full list below), and they become available to shop at 12 a.m. (midnight) PT each day.
    • For furniture, Christmas trees, and ornaments, shop Wayfair's similar sale, going on during the same time frame. 

    You and the rest of America may have just bought a new Instant Pot, a pair of Bose QuietComfort headphones, and, according to the data, a small mountain of Michelle Obama's book "Becoming" on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. But you're only human — you didn't wind up getting your nephew a gift yet, and the blender you wanted wasn't part of the Cyber Week discounts. 

    For you and anyone else with holiday shopping to complete, Amazon's "12 Days of Deals" is a great second wave. For 12 days, the company slashes prices on a vast selection of holiday gifts, with each day featuring discounts on a different category. Deals start at midnight PT (3 a.m. ET) each day beginning on Sunday, December 2 and running through Thursday, December 13. 

    To find out which sales are planned for each day, look below. If you'd like an easy reminder, bookmark this page.

    These are Amazon's planned sales for the 12 Days of Deals, starting at midnight PT each day:

    • Sunday, December 2: Home Improvement 
    • Monday, December 3: Gaming
    • Tuesday, December 4: Toys
    • Wednesday, December 5: PC
    • Thursday, December 6: Home
    • Friday, December 7: Fashion
    • Saturday, December 8: Baby, Pets & Camera
    • Sunday, December 9: Beauty & Personal Care
    • Monday, December 10: Electronics
    • Tuesday, December 11: Kitchen
    • Wednesday, December 12: Furniture, Lawn & Garden
    • Thursday, December 13: Sports & Outdoor

    Now is a great time to plan ahead. Stack your wish list with holiday gifts you know you want to give, and check there to see if they're discounted on their category days. It's also a good idea to visit the main deals page in case you see something you hadn't discovered before, or a big discount makes a nicer model justifiable. And if you need Christmas trees or area rugs, check out Wayfair's own 12 Days of Deals event— running December 2 through December 13, too.

    Shop Amazon's Twelve Days of Deals to save on holiday gifts

    Looking for more gift ideas? Check out all of Insider Picks' holiday gift guides for 2018 here.

    Join the conversation about this story »


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