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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.

    most notable brands

    It's an exciting time to be in retail — as a brand, as a consumer, and for us as product writers. The Insider Picks team tested countless new products, learned the stories of many new startups, and followed the growth of dozens of our now-favorite companies. 

    A select few retail companies really impressed us in 2018, and for a variety of reasons — from superior product launches to admirable social initiatives with quantifiable impact.

    They're a standout representation of what it takes to succeed in retail today: the puzzle pieces of mission, product, branding, customer service, and other key business components fitting together to create a cohesive solution to the needs and wants of consumers. 

    Learn more about the all-stars of 2018 retail below. 


    Shop Everlane here

    Everlane has much to celebrate this year, including the opening of its first brick-and-mortar stores, which were welcomed with open arms in San Francisco and New York; stellar product drops like basic but comfortable underwear, the soft leather flats we can't stop talking about, and an outerwear collection made from recycled plastic water bottles; and another successful anti-Black Friday initiative that sent $260,000 to help fund beach cleanups across the country.

    The brand impressed us throughout the year for its continued commitment to ethical, transparent manufacturing practices and almost-eerie grasp of the styles customers crave — and how to fill the gaps with its own minimalist, carefully curated take. 



    Dagne Dover

    Shop Dagne Dover here

    It's not just you — we've been seeing a lot more Dagne Dover bags in the streets of urban jungles, too. This might be because of its increased but carefully managed offline presence in select Nordstrom stores, Equinox boutiques, and BANDIER shops, or confident push into styles and textures you wouldn't expect from a women's work bag company.

    Whether it's a work tote, gym and travel bag, or laptop bag, the women of Insider Picks have agreed that Dagne Dover hits it out of the park every single time with a consistent track record that's not always easy for experimental startups to achieve. 


    Shop Patagonia here

    More so it seems than other clothing industries, outdoor brands share a special connection with the environments they design for. With the push into recycled materials like down and cashmere, and the no-hesitation decision to send its $10 million 2018 tax cut to grassroots environmental activist groups, Patagonia ramped up its efforts to protect the outdoors. 

    The ubiquity of its vests and sweaters might inspire joke Instagram accounts, but at least they're the products of a highly-rated B Corp with a conscience. In February, it launched Patagonia Action Works to connect individuals to events, petitions, and organizations they might be interested in, and on Election Day, stores across the country closed as a reminder for citizens to vote.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Christmas trees can be a big fire hazard. Dry trees light up very quickly. Here's how to avoid it: Keep your trees watered. Don't overcrowd outlets.

    Do not use faulty or cheap extension cords. That includes lights you put on your tree. Space heaters can also be an issue around the holidays. Bottom line: Be safe this holiday season!

    This video was originally published in December 2017.

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    san francisco

    • The San Francisco housing market is so expensive that it's now commonly referred to as being in a crisis.
    • PropertyShark and Business Insider teamed up to take a look at the top 10 most expensive San Francisco neighborhoods in 2018.
    • The median home sale price in the top 10 neighborhoods ranged from $2 million to $4.4 million.

    The San Francisco housing market is notoriously expensive.

    In fact, as Business Insider previously reported, rent is so high that four-person households making under $117,400 qualify for low-income housing and even tech workers are abandoning the city in search of lower prices.

    To take a look at how prices compare across the city, Business Insider teamed up with PropertyShark and ranked the 10 most expensive neighborhoods in the city by median sale price.

    Read more: This $45 million San Francisco home could shatter the city's real-estate record — take a look inside the gorgeous complex

    The median sale prices in San Francisco's most expensive neighborhoods range from $2 million to $4.4 million. A look at the most expensive neighborhoods in LA, meanwhile, reveals a far broader gap: The median sale price ranges from $3.2 million all the way up to $10.6 million.

    Below, check out the most expensive neighborhoods in San Francisco in 2018, ranked from least expensive to most.

    SEE ALSO: The San Francisco housing market is so dire that people are leaving in droves — here's where they're headed

    READ MORE: San Francisco is so expensive that waiters can no longer afford to live in the city, and it's changing the way restaurants are serving food and hiring workers

    10. Monterey Heights

    Median sale price: $2,007,750 

    9. Parnassus Heights

    Median sale price: $2,050,000 

    8. Lone Mountain

    Median sale price: $2,180,000 

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    American Airlines Boeing 787 LAX

    • J.D. Power recently released the latest edition of its annual North America Airport Satisfaction Study.
    • Overall traveler satisfaction with airports is at a 13-year high.
    • However, airports serving major cities like New York, LA, Chicago, and Boston all find themselves at the bottom of the rankings. 

    J.D. Power recently released the latest edition of its annual North America Airport Satisfaction Study. The 2018 edition of the study found that overall passenger satisfaction is the highest ever recorded in its 13-year history. 

    Overall traveler satisfaction increased 12 points on a 1,000-point scale to 761. 

    According to the study, travelers surveyed by the consumer data and analytics firm reported improvements in several major areas including check-in; dining and retail; as well as terminal facilities. 

    John Wayne Airport in Orange County, California earned the highest score in the study with 815 points.

    Read more: The 10 airports in America that passengers love flying into the most.

    However, not all of America's facilities fared as well. 

    Airports serving major metropolitan areas such as New York, Boston, Chicago, and Los Angeles are all mired once again at the bottom of the rankings. 

    Unfortunately, things may get worse before it gets better for many of these cities. 

    "Several multi-billion-dollar airport construction projects—such as those in Boston, Los Angeles, and Chicago—are reaching phases in which passenger disruption and increased traffic will be incredibly hard to avoid," J.D. Power travel practice lead, Michael Taylor said in a statement. "How well these rapidly expanding airports manage throughout these infrastructure projects will provide valuable insight into what’s in store on a nationwide basis."

    The J.D. Power study measures overall traveler satisfaction with mega, large, and medium-sized airports in the US and Canada.

    The study takes into consideration six factors — in order of importance — 1) terminal facilities, 2) airport accessibility, 3) security check, 4) baggage claim, 5) check-in/baggage check, and 6) food, beverage, and retail. 

    The rankings are based on data gathered between September 2018 and September 2018 from 40,183 respondents who traveled through at least one North American airport during the three months prior to being surveyed. 

    Here's a closer look at the 10 lowest scoring airports in J.D Power's 2018 North American Airport Satisfaction Study: 

    SEE ALSO: Delta's CEO just reignited the nastiest feud in the airline industry by accusing Qatar Airways of violating a deal with Trump administration

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    10. Boston Logan International Airport: 747 points.

    9. Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport: 744 points.

    8. Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport: 743 points.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    earthrise apollo nasa AS8 14 2383HR

    • "Earthrise" is the first image of Earth captured by humans from space
    • The photo of Earth was taken aboard Apollo 8 on December 24, 1968, by lunar module pilot Bill Anders.
    • The image made people aware of Earth's fragility, since it was seen against the blackness of space.

    On December 24, 1968 — exactly 50 years ago — Apollo 8 astronauts Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and William Anders became the first humans to circle the moon.

    The mission was historic. But equally memorable is the famous "Earthrise" photo that resulted, showing Earth rising above the lunar landscape.

    Until that point, no human eyes had ever seen our blue marble from so far away.

    In Life's "100 Photographs That Changed the World," acclaimed wilderness photographer Galen Rowell described the unprecedented view of Earth as "the most influential environmental photograph ever taken."

    The image of our planet, which seems so small and vulnerable in the blackness of space, made people more aware of its fragility.

    Read more: Astronauts explain why nobody has visited the moon in more than 45 years

    Earthrise is now one of the most reproduced space photos of all time, appearing on US postage stamps, posters, and the cover of Time magazine in 1969. Many have pointed out the irony of the photo, since Apollo 8 was sent to study and take pictures of the moon's surface — not Earth.

    "Of all the objectives NASA had set before launch, no one had thought of photographing the Earth from lunar orbit," Robert Zimmerman wrote in his book "Genesis: The Story of Apollo 8: the First Manned Flight to Another World."

    The famous photo was taken during the mission's fourth pass around the moon, at which point the spacecraft had changed its orbit, making it possible to see the Earth above the lunar horizon. 

    Apollo 8

    None of the astronauts were prepared for that moment, including lunar module pilot Anders, who had been put in charge of photography. 

    In an interview for a BBC documentary, Anders described the sequences of events like this:

    I don't know who said it, maybe all of us said, 'Oh my God. Look at that!' and up came the Earth. We had had no discussion on the ground, no briefing, no instructions on what to do. I jokingly said, 'well it's not on the flight plan,' and the other two guys were yelling at me to give them cameras. I had the only color camera with a long lens. So I floated a black and white over to Borman. I can't remember what Lovell got. There were all yelling for cameras, and we started snapping away.

    Initially, both Borman and Anders claimed responsibility for the now-famous picture. An investigation of transcripts later revealed that Borman, who was the first to recognize the importance of the moment, took a black-and-white photo before Anders snapped the iconic color photograph. 

    Fred Spier, a senior lecturer at the University of Amsterdam, notes in his article "The Elusive Apollo 8 Earthrise Photo" that Borman and Lovell each played a crucial part in prompting Anders, who had the only color camera, to take the shot. 

    "Experienced astronaut Frank Borman was the first to the importance of the picture, while equally experienced astronaut James Lovell was quick to follow," Spier writes. "Space rookie William Anders, however, was in charge of taking the photos. In doing so, Anders had to follow a rather tight and well-defined photo plan, in which there was little or no room for unplanned snapshots."

    Spier continued: "Anders first offered some resistance and then quickly did what the other told him to do. Although it now seems beyond doubt that Anders actually snapped the famous picture, it also seems fair to say the picture came as a result of the combined efforts of all three astronauts."

    SEE ALSO: 50 years have passed since NASA's Apollo 8 mission circled the moon for the first time — here is every Apollo mission explained

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Listen to the haunting sounds astronauts heard on the far side of the moon

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    wh christmas portrait

    • The first family sends staff and supporters a holiday card every year.
    • The White House's annual tradition dates back to 1927.
    • President Donald Trump's two cards are very similar, both wishing people a "Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year."

    While it may be less common these days to send a holiday greeting via snail mail these days, the White House hasn't let go of its 91-year tradition.

    Starting with Calvin Coolidge in 1927, each sitting US president has wished their staff and supporters a happy holiday. Each card is unique, and recipients change from year to year.

    With the help of the White House Historical Association, we've pulled together 66 White House holiday cards from the past eight decades. Happy holidays!

    SEE ALSO: Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton have surprisingly affordable style — and it's a brilliant political strategy

    Donald Trump, 2018

    Donald Trump, 2017

    Barack Obama, 2013

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    american eagle 3431

    • Coziness is one of the most popular trends in clothing retail right now. 
    • The trend is inspired by the Danish concept of hygge, which is all about the contentment that comes from feeling cozy and enjoying simple things. 
    • Knit sweaters, Sherpa coats, and fuzzy slippers are everywhere this holiday season. See how the trend has been taking over stores. 

    If you've walked into just about any clothing store this winter, you've probably seen the word "cozy" on, well, everything. 

    Sweaters, hats, leggings, t-shirts, and even fanny packs this winter are fleece-lined, ultra-soft, and most importantly, cozy. 

    The cozy trend isn't anything new — it became popular a few years ago, when the Danish concept of "hygge" started gaining traction. Pronounced "hoo-ga," the Danish concept is better translated as a feeling than a single word. Embracing the idea of hygge is all about feeling cozy and content by enjoying the simple things in life.

    In Danish culture, hygge is a way of life. Hygge started catching on as a trend in the UK in 2016 after several books were written on the subject. In 2017, the trend hopped over to the US. And according to Country Living, there was an influx of books published on the subject within just a few months. 

    Though the trend has been going strong for a few years already, retailers don't seem to be letting go of it anytime soon. Many of the stores we visited in recent months have been marketing their clothes as "cozy," "plush," and "soft," showing ads with models bundled up in oversized knit sweaters and cozy hats. 

    "There is no doubt that the casualization trend has taken over the wardrobes of many Americans,"  NPD Group analyst Maria Rugolo wrote in a company blog post in November. "But this holiday season we will see this trend in all of its furriness."

    See how the trend has been taking over stores: 

    SEE ALSO: We shopped at American Eagle and Abercrombie to see which was a better store — and the winner was clear

    The word "hygge" doesn't have a direct English translation, but it can best be described as a sort of coziness. And American Eagle Outfitters was all about coziness when we visited a Midtown Manhattan store.

    It seemed everything in the store was geared towards comfort.

    “While consumers will look to get dressed up for holiday festivities, comfort is the key word. Brands that are incorporating fashion along with athletic and comfort elements will win,” Beth Goldstein, executive director and industry analyst at NPD Group, told Footwear News last month.

    Source: Footwear News

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Dubai Burj Al Arab Most Luxurious Hotel (1 of 74)

    • One of the most decorated luxury hotels in the world, the Burj Al Arab in Dubai, was recently named the "best hotel in the world" by the Ultratravel Awards. The Burj has frequently been called "the world's first seven-star hotel" and "the most luxurious hotel in the world" by travel writers and critics.
    • I recently stayed at the hotel on a trip to Dubai to see if the Burj Al Arab could possibly live up to the hype.
    • Adorned with more gold and marble than any reasonable person would choose, the Burj Al Arab impresses through the sheer force of its vision of luxury.
    • A guest's every whim is attended to, the architecture and design astounds with color, patterns, and vertigo, and extravagances like caviar and truffles find their way into numerous dishes at the hotel's restaurants. It's like living in the dream world of an Emirati royal or President Donald Trump.

    If you've ever wondered what it's like to vacation like a billionaire, the Burj Al Arab in Dubai is likely the closest we normies will ever get. 

    Shaped like the sail of an Arabian dhow ship and built for $1 billion, the hotel is full of extravagances like a Rolls-Royce chauffeur, a 14-piece set of Hermès toiletries, personal butlers — Burj says the staff-to-guest ratio is 6:1 — and 24-karat gold everything. 

    Since the hotel opened nearly 20 years ago, the Burj Al Arab has won accolade after accolade for its bonkers approach to luxury.

    In just the last year, it was named the Best Hotel in the World by The Telegraph's ULTRA Awards and given a Five-Star Award by Forbes Travel Guide. When it first opened, a journalist was supposedly so enamored with the Burj that she exclaimed that it must be a seven-star hotel, a rating that does not exist.

    Gold-plated luxury usually makes me roll my eyes, making me think something along the lines of, This is what the richest people in the world waste their money on? 

    I certainly had that reaction when I stayed at the Burj Al Arab on a recent trip to Dubai, but I also found myself overwhelmed by the sheer audacity of the hotel's luxurious vision. 

    While I can't condone spending the $1,500 a night minimum it costs to stay there, I can say that staying the night inside the dreamworld of an Emirati royal is a very interesting trip.

    Keep reading to see what it was like:

    SEE ALSO: I stayed at Robert De Niro's ridiculously swanky new hotel in Ibiza — and it makes you feel like a celebrity, if you can afford it

    SEE ALSO: I stayed at New York’s most iconic luxury hotel that charges up to $50,000 a night and was once owned by Donald Trump

    The Burj's vision of luxury starts with its location. The hotel was built on a tiny man-made island a few hundred meters off the Dubai coastline. That means any would-be visitors must enter via guard-monitored bridge.

    Most people arrive via complimentary chauffeured Rolls-Royce pick up. Your other option is to arrive in a private helicopter — to a private helipad, of course.

    Compared to the rest of the Burj, the lobby is nothing to write home about, with low ceilings and a pared-back design. But that's by design. The lobby is mostly used to corral tourists coming to marvel at the structure, not guests.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    • My young son equated happiness with comfort, describing the sensation of feeling happy using words like "warm" and "comfortable."
    • According to Maslow's hierarchy of needs, all human beings need to feel a basic degree of safety and a sense of belonging to achieve happiness.
    • Ultimately, my son decided that the meaning of happiness is "hard to describe," a sentiment people of all ages must share.

    If someone stopped you on the street and, with no warning, asked you what it means to be happy, what would you say?

    When considering the question myself, I found most of my thoughts going first to tangible things. Does happiness mean having a great home? A decent bank account? A powerful car?

    I believe that material things can bring passing pleasure but not true happiness, no matter how fine they may be. The absence of things, however, can certainly bring about the opposite of happiness.

    As I understand it, happiness and gratitude exist in almost equal proportions. Happiness comes from appreciating what you have in your life — people and possessions — and in finding ways to enjoy what you do with your time.

    On a recent morning drive to school, I took advantage of a lull in the conversation and asked my five-year-old son what it means to be happy. Ben — who, full disclosure, is four years, eleven months, and one week old at the time of this writing, but I'd say we're close enough — thought about it for a while, then said, "I think happiness is like when you're comfortable. Like when you just feel very warm and very comfortable."

    Taking pains not to color his thought process in any way, I gently prodded him to expand on his thinking, and Ben's next words were ultimately the most telling: "I mean, it's really hard to describe. It's like I know what it feels like but I can't really describe it without just using the word, so that's hard."

    For the record, I'm quoting verbatim here. Ben has always been fantastically eloquent (and verbose) for his age. Once, at age 19 months, he said, "This is a little bit hard to eat," regarding a cracker. If you’ve read about early childhood development, saying that sentence at that age is, to use the language of the discipline, nuts.

    I agreed with Ben that describing what it means to be happy is difficult, saying the same was true for me in my mid-30s. He nodded and looked contemplative for a while, then reiterated his first point. "It's when you're very comfortable and feeling smiley and just feeling happy," he said.

    I relayed Ben's thoughts to my wife, who immediately brought up Maslow's hierarchy of needs, a theoretical approach to considering human well-being presented by psychologist Abraham Maslow in the 1940s.

    According to Maslow, a human cannot become fully self-actualized and will constantly experience varying degrees of anxiety, stress, fear, and dismay if a series of basic needs are not met. These are, starting with the most essential:

    1. Physiological Needs — water, food, health, e.g.
    2. Safety Needs — Physical security, stability, etc.
    3. Belonging — A sense of community with family, friends, and beyond
    4. Self-Esteem — Self-love, respect, and acceptance
    5. Self-Actualization — A realization of innate potential

    It took me a moment to connect the dots, but what does all that really add up to? I'd say if a one-word summation were required, the word "comfort" would be an excellent choice.

    SEE ALSO: 30 mistakes every parent makes

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: History of the Christmas tree: Evergreens were sacred to ancient Egyptians. Then people started decorating them.

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    women mother daughter

    • My expectations of the working experience of adulthood have shifted radically since my 20s.
    • Here are the life lessons I've gained from six early beliefs that turned out to be completely wrong.


    At 20, I believed that I was an adult and that I knew everything. You won't be surprised to learn that I was wrong on both counts.

    The older I get, the less I cling to perceptions from my youth. Many of the assumptions I took into my early adult life made me feel bad about myself because they were unrealistic, and I couldn't live up to them.

    Here are six things I thought I understood about adult life when I was 20 that I now know, in my 50s, were off-base.

    SEE ALSO: When I decided to change careers in my 50s instead of retiring early, I drew on a skill from acting school I hadn't used in decades

    1. Adulthood is easier than it's made out to be

    The year I turned 20, I was a senior in college. I had learned everything I needed to know, clearly. There was no doubt in my mind that I would simply stride off my college campus and take the world by storm.

    What I didn't know then was that adult life is actually a never-ending series of hills to climb. Adulthood isn't about knowing everything but being nimble and flexible enough to master the new challenges that come every day.

    2. I am mature and without much need to grow

    I don't want to hate on my 20 year old self. I was reasonably together, spunky, and willing to work hard. But I was so clueless.

    In my early 20s, I was fired from my second job for boldly telling my boss I had too much respect for my clients to sell the ad agency's work, because I thought the quality had gone downhill. I was so surprised when I got fired the next day. After that, I began to catch a clue that life is better when I am able to see things from other people's perspectives.

    3. It's imperative to find your soulmate and get married early

    Don't tell anyone, but I spent my high school years wolfing down Harlequin romance novels. This gave me a slightly warped sense of relationships.

    I assumed my first serious boyfriend would be my guy forever. We would get married and have kids early. I call this my "White Picket Fence" fantasy.

    This plan hit a snag when our relationship ended when I was 20. It hit another snag a few years later, when I came out as a lesbian. No picket fence for me – same sex couples couldn't even get married at that time.

    Life, in its usual unpredictable way, came full circle. I did meet my soulmate (just not in my 20s), and I'm actually grateful my wife didn't know me at 20. That girl was a jerk.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Royal Caribbean Empress of the Seas

    • Two sailors who had been stranded at sea for 20 days were rescued by a Royal Caribbean cruise ship on Friday, a Royal Caribbean representative confirmed to Business Insider.
    • Royal Caribbean's Empress of the Seas found the sailors while traveling between Grand Cayman and Jamaica after being rerouted from Cienfuegos, Cuba, to Ocho Rios, Jamaica, due to bad weather.
    • The sailors, one of whom was unable to walk at the time, received food, water, and medical attention after boarding the ship.
    • Once the ship reached Ocho Rios, the sailors went to a local hospital.


    Two sailors who had been stranded at sea for 20 days were rescued by a Royal Caribbean cruise ship on Friday, a Royal Caribbean representative confirmed to Business Insider.

    The sailors had departed from Porto Limon, Costa Rica, on December 1 for a fishing trip, and their boat had moved away from their fishing nets while they were sleeping due to strong winds, James Van Fleet, Royal Caribbean's chief meteorologist, said via Twitter. They used all of their fuel attempting to return, Van Fleet said.

    Read more: A lawyer who reps cruise-ship workers reveals the most shocking thing he's heard about their job

    Royal Caribbean's Empress of the Seas found the sailors on Friday while traveling between Grand Cayman and Jamaica after being rerouted from Cienfuegos, Cuba, to Ocho Rios, Jamaica, due to bad weather, the Royal Caribbean representative said.

    "Had we not changed itinerary to get to better weather, we would never have been in that spot at that time," Van Fleet said

    The sailors, one of whom was unable to walk at the time, received food, water, and medical attention after boarding the ship, Van Fleet said, and once the ship reached Ocho Rios, the sailors went to a local hospital. The ship's crew gave them $300 to buy clothes and food after they left the hospital, Van Fleet added.

    The sailors told Empress of the Sea crew members that they had only brought enough food and water for seven days, Van Fleet said. Water had become their "primary issue" as they tried to fish for food, Van Fleet added.

    "I don't know about you, but I've already seen a Christmas Miracle. 20 days at sea should tell you everything about the odds of them being found alive," Van Fleet said. 

    Have you worked on a cruise ship? Do you have a story to share? Email this reporter at

    SEE ALSO: Working on a cruise ship can be brutal — but 2 lawyers who rep cruise-line workers explain why even terrible cruise-ship jobs can be attractive

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: These bespoke metal cars take 2,000 hours to make by hand — see the step-by-step process

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    Cook Out 17

    • Cook Out is the fast-food king of North Carolina. 
    • The chain only has locations in 10 states but has developed a cult following in the South. 
    • We visited a Richmond, Virginia, location and saw why customers adore Cook Out. 

    New Yorkers love Shake Shack. The West Coast swears by In-N-Out.

    But North Carolinians say that there's one burger chain that trumps them all.

    Cook Out is a North Carolina-based fast-food chain serving up burgers, barbecue, and milkshakes, and it's renowned in the South for its low prices and high quality.

    But if you don't live in one of the 10 states the chain is in, you might have never heard of this cult restaurant and its fervent following.

    So we went to Richmond, Virginia, to sample the much-hyped chain and see how it measured up to the coastal titans of the burger business.

    SEE ALSO: We tried two cult chicken chains that are quickly taking over the nation — and the winner was clear

    DON'T MISS: Southerners swear by this regional chicken chain's breakfast menu — we went to see if it lives up to the hype

    While Cook Out is known for its classic drive-thru locations with outdoor seating, the chain has recently been opening more sit-down restaurants.

    As we walked into the rustic restaurant, gentle strains of Christian rock piped over the speakers — the kind of songs where you can't quite tell whether the lyrics are describing a romantic love or a more spiritual suitor.

    The menu is wide-ranging, and the best way to sample it is by ordering a Cook Out Tray. The food is outrageously inexpensive when compared with what we typically see in New York City, and where else can you get a quesadilla and a corn dog as sides in addition to your entree?

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    That holiday mistletoe? Not as romantic as you would think.

    Mistletoe is actually a parasitic plant. It crowds trees in densely packed balls. Weighing up to 50 lbs, it absorbs water and nutrients. Its berries are toxic to humans and pets and will cause vomiting and stomach pain if ingested.

    So, why kiss under it? 

    Mistletoe's uses go back thousands of years. The Celtic druids associated it with fertility because it would bloom in winter. A Norse myth tells of mistletoe being used to kill, and then resurrect, the god Baldur. And his mother vowed to kiss all who walked underneath it. But the real tradition of kissing under mistletoe began during the Greek festival of Saturnalia, Dec 17th-23rd. And would later appear during marriage ceremonies.

    Its incorporation into Christmas festivities may have developed in the middle ages. As Christmas adopted traditions from other cultures' winter holidays. By the 18th century, it had become common for men to steal a kiss from a woman who wandered under the mistletoe. Victorian English custom reportedly denied marriage proposals to any woman who refused a kiss.

    The proper etiquette for mistletoe kissing:

    "The gentleman should pluck one white berry while kissing the lady on the cheek. One kiss is allowed for each berry. When the last berry is gone, there should be no further kissing."* – Linda Allen, Decking the Halls.

    (*Rules may not be up to date for modern holiday celebrations.)

    This video was originally published on Dec. 12, 2016.

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    2018 toyota 4runner

    • The automotive data and research site has compiled a list of the 10 vehicles that are most likely to last for 200,000 miles.
    • Seven of the 10 spots on the list were taken by SUVs, with the other three taken by a pickup truck, minivan, and sedan.
    • Toyota and General Motors each have four vehicles on the list, more than any other automaker.
    • The Toyota Sequoia took the top spot.

    Durability is one of the most important factors to consider when buying a car. For the vast majority of consumers, buying new cars on impulse is not a financially or logistically feasible option. And for those who own a single car, a breakdown can be a major disruption to a daily commute or travel plans.

    The automotive data and research site has compiled a list of the 10 vehicles that are most likely to last for 200,000 miles. The website compiled the list by looking at more than 13.5 million used cars, from model years 1981 through 2017, that were sold in 2017 and tracking which models were most likely to have at least 200,000 miles at the time of sale.

    Seven of the 10 spots on the list were taken by SUVs, with the other three taken by a pickup truck, minivan, and sedan. Toyota and General Motors each have four vehicles on the list, more than any other automaker. The Toyota Sequoia took the top spot, with 6.6% of the used Sequoias analyzed by iSeeCars being sold with at least 200,000 miles. The average across all vehicles was 1.2%.

    These vehicles are the most likely to last 200,000 miles. Next to each vehicle is the percentage, between model years 1981 and 2017, that were sold used with at least 200,000 miles in 2017, according to data analyzed by

    SEE ALSO: How 10 of the world's most famous subway systems compare, from Dubai to New York City

    10. Honda Odyssey — 2.4%

    2.4% of the Honda Odysseys included in the study lasted at least 200,000 miles.

    9. Toyota Avalon — 2.4%

    2.4% of the Toyota Avalons included in the study lasted at least 200,000 miles.

    8. Toyota Tacoma — 2.6%

    2.6% of the Toyota Tacomas included in the study lasted at least 200,000 miles.

    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.


    • GiftNow is a new service that takes the guesswork out of gifting — and honestly, I can't believe it didn't exist before.
    • The service lets shoppers buy gifts that don't ship until their recipients have been notified and have chosen options like size and color.
    • Stores like Target, Uniqlo, Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Kate Spade, Coach, and Michael Kors are currently working with GiftNow.
    • To better understand the concept, I just tested it out. It's an easy-to-use, efficient way to gift — here's how it works.

    Gifting is hard.

    Let's face it; no matter how many gift guides you scour through, how many hours you pour into trying to find a website where their size is in stock, or how much you spend, you can never really know what someone wants — unless you ask them of course, but we're trying to be discreet here. 

    Choosing that unexpected, yet perfect gift that wows the recipient is a great feeling, but the other end of the spectrum isn't so pretty. A lackluster gift — or one that's really great but just not really their taste — will likely end up in the overflow hall closet, brought to a White Elephant party, or even worse, back to the store where it was purchased.

    If you've ever been in this predicament, or are currently in this predicament because you couldn't land on that totally perfect gift, that's okay; we found a surefire way to solve your holiday gifting woes.

    GiftNow is a new service that takes the guesswork out of gifting — and honestly, I can't believe it didn't exist before.

    Essentially, GiftNow lets you instantly send someone a mold of the gift you want to get them, and then the recipient can take it from there, personalizing with their correct size and preferred color. It's a simple process that ensures your gift recipient will get something they love.

    To better understand the concept, we just tested it out. It's an easy-to-use, efficient way to gift — here's how it works.

    GiftNow is available at a range of retailers ranging from big-box stores like Target, to high-end department stores like Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue.

    To test, I went over to Uniqlo where the service is also available. 


    When you have chosen a product you're interested in, you'll see GiftNow listed with the rest of the purchase options. You don't even have to select a size or color; simply choose to GiftNow. Once you click, you'll be directed to the GiftNow window, which explains how the service works and lets you choose how you want to give the gift.

    You can choose to email, text, Facebook message, or hand deliver the gift. If you're curious about which you should choose, the window offers very helpful instructions on exactly how each method differs.

    Then choose from a few designs — I went for the festive and personal "Just For You." Write a custom greeting to go with the gift and finish off with the standard salutations of "To" and "From" — then your gift is ready to be given. The link is ready instantly, so you can choose when to send it to your giftee. If you're emailing it directly to them, you can have it sent immediately or schedule it for a specific date and time. 


    The gift comes to your recipient looking as much like an actual present as an online gift can — a gift box that opens to reveal a picture of the item you chose.

    Once your recipient opens the gift, the rest of the process is in their hands.

    From there, they choose their preferred size and color of the product and where they want it shipped. If they don't like the product at all — sorry — they can exchange it for something else on the site. Since you're actually picking out a gift, this still feels thoughtful and personal, but it also has just the right amount of personalization to guarantee that the person gets something they actually want. Plus, it's ready in a snap, which is great news for us last-minute gifters. 

    So, this holiday season avoid the awkwardness of choosing the wrong size or picking out a shirt in their least favorite color. With GiftNow you can play it safe, but still manage to give a gift that has that surprise factor. That's a holiday miracle.  

    Shop gifts at Target, Uniqlo, Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Kate Spade, Coach, Michael Kors, and more using GiftNow.

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

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

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    Hafþór Björnsson the mountain

    • Hafþór Björnsson is the official World's Strongest Man, having won the title at the 2018 World's Strongest Man competition.
    • He's also known for his acting role as Gregor "The Mountain" Clegane on the HBO hit series "Game of Thrones."
    • Björnsson is 6'9" and weighs 400 pounds, a size he maintains by consuming up to 10,000 calories every day.
    • He told Business Insider that the secret to his strength has much to do with his diet and exercise, but even more to do with positive thinking.


    2018 was a big year for Iceland's Hafþór Björnsson, who usually (and fittingly) goes by the nickname Thor.

    He turned 30, got married, and won the World's Strongest Man competition, a goal he had sought for more than half a decade. He can add that to a résumé including titles such as Strongest Man in Iceland and winner of the Arnold Strongman Classic. And there's his acting role as Gregor "The Mountain" Clegane on the HBO hit series "Game of Thrones."

    At six feet nine inches tall, Björnsson was always a big guy. But he didn't bulk up to 400 pounds of largely muscle through genes alone. He became the strongest man currently walking the planet through years of hard work, disciplined diet and exercise, and a positive attitude.

    Realizing he had a 'gift for strength'

    Björnsson told us that his participation in sports started with playing basketball when he was 12 years old. But he also spent a lot of time on his grandfather's farm, where he said he stayed active by "moving huge stones and rocks." By 16, he was at his full height, and by 19, he said, he realized he "had a gift for strength."

    A recurring ankle injury that ended Björnsson's budding basketball career at age 20 would lead him to make the most of that gift, as he soon began entering strongman competitions.

    When preparing for a strongman event, his training consists of a varied regimen of exercise and physical therapy sessions, helping him maintain strength while avoiding the injuries so easy to experience when a person works with hundreds of pounds of weight (or even a thousand-plus pounds, in some cases).

    "I train with heavyweights five times a week. I'm in the gym so often," he said. "But there's also a lot of other stuff I do outside of the gym. I do a lot of hot and cold treatments to make sure I stay injury-free, and so I can also train more often."

    Eating up to 10,000 calories a day

    Hafþór Björnsson

    When we sat down with him to ask how he stays strong and in shape, the food containers stacked beside the couch indicated that diet was definitely a part of the picture.

    "Diet is very important to stay in shape, to stay strong. So I'm very consistent with my meals. I eat six meals every single day," he said. "I eat mostly steak, rice, carrots, with some peppers, sometimes chicken. I eat so much, really. And definitely the hardest part of being in these competitions really is the diet."

    Björnsson said that he eats up to 10,000 calories each day to be able to maintain the shape and strength necessary for competitions.

    "There's a lot of eating, if you want to stay the best," he said. "I have to eat every two hours, I have to fuel my body. And there's a lot of timing, prepping meals, when I eat them. I think sometimes, 'Is this worth it?' I'm always eating, and I'm never hungry. I'm always eating and working out."

    Read more:I tried intermittent fasting for a month — and I saw 7 life-changing results

    The power of positivity

    Becoming the World's Strongest Man goes beyond the approximately 10,000 calories Bjornsson consumes daily and the hours spent in the gym. It's also largely a mental game.

    "I don't have a least favorite exercise, I don't believe in thinking about that, about least favorites," he said, when asked to name one. "I don't like to think that way. You have to have your mind positive towards everything in life, and I try to be very positive. To be good at everything, you have to be positive towards it. I train and I work very hard toward my weaknesses, and I have any weaknesses, I work even harder to make them my strength."

    But does The Mountain have a favorite exercise?

    "My favorite exercise is the deadlift, definitely that one," he said.

    That comes as no surprise, as in the spring of 2018 he set a deadlift world record by lifting 1,041 pounds.

    SEE ALSO: A Canadian photographer who built his 104-square-foot tiny house with his own hands says he 'house-hacked' his way into 'living for free'

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: How "Game of Thrones" sets stunt people on fire

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    Dyker Heights Christmas Lights 8

    • The neighborhood of Dyker Heights in Brooklyn, New York, puts on a Christmas light display every year.
    • It has become a tourist attraction, with guided tours and buses.

    The suburban Brooklyn neighborhood of Dyker Heights is a quiet and friendly area year-round — that is, until the holidays start.

    That's when the neighborhood is flooded with thousands of Christmas-light peepers anxious to see the area's famed displays. Countless homes in the neighborhood take part, putting up dazzling and awe-inspiring feats of festivity, and likely producing similarly awe-inspiring electric bills.

    In 2015, I took a trip to Dyker Heights to see the hyped "Dyker Lights" for myself. Keep scrolling to see some lights that would make Clark Griswold die from envy.

    SEE ALSO: Inside New York City's most festive bar, where they spend more than $60,000 a year getting ready for Christmas

    Dyker Heights is a good half-hour drive from downtown Manhattan, and about an hour away on the subway. Luckily, there are Dyker Lights tour buses that will take you there hassle-free — for a price.

    You can see most of the best displays between 11th and 13th avenues around 81st through 86th streets.

    Some of the homes put up stately, elegant arrangements.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Santa Claus diver

    • The North Pole isn't much to see: it's a watery place where sea ice drifts across the Arctic Ocean.
    • No people live there, but walruses and polar bears do. 
    • Santa would probably feel more at home in Antarctica, where a candy-cane-striped pole marks the southernmost spot in the world. 

    The North Pole is probably one of the worst places on the planet for a workshop full of toys.  

    If Santa Claus really set up shop at the northernmost point on the globe, he'd have to wear a wetsuit.

    That's because the North Pole isn't a land mass at all; it's a watery place that's home to shifting sea ice and walruses. 

    north pole walrus in the Arctic sea, Svalbard, Norway

    Perhaps that's why the people of Lapland, Finland have long claimed they live in Santa's hometown. But they are not even the closest people to the North Pole. That prize goes to the residents of Longyearbyen, the world's northernmost town, which is located on the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard, some 650 miles from the pole.

    People who live at those latitudes endure four months of total darkness, and another four bathed in around-the-clock light. Other northern regions, such as Russia, Alaska, Canada, and Greenland, also all get very little light in the wintertime, as the sun's rays shower the southern hemisphere

    polar night russia north pole

    Read More: The darkest day of the year is here — here are some science-backed ways to fight winter blues

    But none of those people live exactly at the tippy-top of the world. Very few humans have ever visited that spot.

    Polar Explorer Eric Larsen went on a 500-mile trek to the North Pole in 2014 along with mountaineer Ryan Waters. The two skied part of the way, but to reach the true North Pole, they had to put their gear in the water and swim. 

    Eric Larsen North Pole

    That's because there's no land mass at the pole. In the map below, you can see where the Pole is in relation to Alaska (on the left) and Europe (to the right). The big snowy blob is Greenland.

    north pole

    The North Pole may not look the way it's depicted in children's books, but there is a mysterious ocean portal there: the 14,070-foot-deep Fram Basin. In this area, where the ocean floor spreads apart, the surface temperature of the salty water averages around freezing on an annual basis

    As far as Santa's workshop is concerned, the South Pole might be a better location choice. That point lies on an actual continent: Antarctica. And there is even a candy-cane-colored stick in the ground there to mark the Pole's exact location. 


    Now that, my friends, looks like something that could grace the entrance to Santa's workshop, if ever there was one.

    If Santa lived at the South Pole, he'd also have people to hang out with. The US' Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station houses up to 250 astronomers and astrophysicists every summer. Scientists studying seismology and the Earth's atmosphere also use measurements taken at the site. You can check what the people there are up to right now via a live webcam

    south pole noaa

    The world's southern tip also hosts frequent Antarctic explorers like 33-year-old Colin O'Brady, an American who is currently trekking across the southern continent. O'Brady recently made it to the South Pole; he's aiming to become the first person ever to cross the land solo and unaided.

    He's now less than 100 miles from the finish line. O'Brady is wearing an orangey-red parka and towing a heavy "sleigh" full of wrapped-up "presents" — that is, all the food and gear that have kept him alive for more than 50 days.  

    SEE ALSO: At the bottom of the world, a 33-year-old is about to trek across Antarctica alone — a journey no one has survived. He's bringing just one pair of underwear.

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: The most popular Christmas traditions have nothing to do with Jesus

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    • United Airlines's Terminal E at George H.W. Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston is getting a culinary makeover. 
    • The reimagining of Terminal E was completed by airport dining experts OTG.
    • OTG's investment in United's Houston terminals totaled $180 million.
    • The four restaurants were designed by Rockwell Group and all feature unique architecture and eye-catching layouts, with each restaurant having its own flavor and type of cuisine. 
    • Q is a barbecue smokehouse with a meat-smoker built into the terminal. Gavi is an Italian restaurant and Tanglewood Grille is a Texas steakhouse. Yume is a Pan-Asian marketplace with a variety of food stations. 

    George H.W. Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston is adding four new stylish restaurants to its Terminal E. Done in collaboration with OTG, an airport experience consultant, the restaurants will be available for United Airlines customers to enjoy. 

    OTG is no stranger to airport dining renovations. The company has also worked its magic on United's Terminal at Newark Airport, JetBlue's terminal at JFK International, American's terminal in Philadelphia. 

    Read More:A new $11.7 billion airport just opened in Turkey, and it could become one of the world's biggest. Take a look inside the giant hub.

    The four new restaurants created for Terminal E were designed by Rockwell Group and all feature unique architecture and eye-catching layouts, with each restaurant having its own flavor and type of cuisine. 

    Q is a barbecue smokehouse with a meat-smoker built into the terminal. Gavi is an Italian restaurant and Tanglewood Grille is a Texas steakhouse. Yume is a Pan-Asian marketplace with a variety of food stations. 

    In addition to Terminal E, OTG has also worked to revamp Houston's Terminal B and Terminal C. In total, OTG's investment in United Houston terminals total $180 million. (United Airlines does not fly to Houston Hobby Airport.)

    Take a closer look at the four new dining options in Terminal E at George H.W. Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston:

    SEE ALSO: These are the best and worst airports in America to get stranded at over the holiday season

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    1. First up is Gavi. It's an Italian restaurant by Chef Ryan Pera.

    Gavi aims to mimic an outdoor Italian bistro.

    Its facade features a wavy black canopy and angular tree design.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    santa claus

    • Americans can't agree on Santa Claus' nationality.
    • According to an INSIDER poll, just over 15% of people think Santa Claus is from all countries, while just over 9% think Santa is from no country.
    • Popular responses also included White, German, American, and Fictional.

    Americans can't seem to agree where exactly Santa Claus was born.

    According to an INSIDER poll of 1,136 people, the most popular answer when asked what nation Santa Claus is from was "all," with 15.1% of the responses, or "none," with 9.1% of the answers.

    In order to leave the question as open-ended as possible, we allowed respondents to write in their answer. The format of the survey led to a wide array of responses, with many people not even citing a country.

    Coming in third was some variation of the North Pole, with 7.9%, of respondents identifying Santa's base of operations as his birthplace.

    Following the top of the world in popularity was white or Caucasian, which — despite not technically being a nation — garnered 83 responses, or 7.3% of the total.

    St. Nicholas, the Catholic saint who became the basis for many of the Santa Claus myths, was born in what is now Turkey but was at the time controlled by Greeks. Nicholas became the bishop of Myra, a city on the Southern coast of the country, and became known as the patron saint of gifts and children.

    Of the respondents to our poll just 20, or 1.8%, identified Turkey as Santa Claus' birthplace while 33, or 2.9%, identified a Hellenic state such as Greece or Turkey. One person did respond Myra, the name of the town where St. Nicholas was bishop.

    More than 10% of people thought that Santa was from some country in Europe, with the Nordic countries garnering 8.9% as well. Sixty-eight people, or 6%, thought Santa was from the United States, while 17, or 1.5%, gave some iteration of the British Isles.

    Here's a rundown of the responses received 10 times or more:

    • All: 172 respondents (15.1%)
    • None: 103 (9.1%)
    • North Polian/North Polish/North Polean: 90 (7.9%)
    • White/Caucasian 83 (7.3%)
    • German: 67 (5.9%)
    • American: 66 (5.8%)
    • Fictional: 49 (4.3%)
    • Norwegian: 32 (2.8%)
    • Turkish: 20 (1.8%)
    • Swedish: 18 (1.6%)
    • Canadian: 16 (1.4%)
    • Finnish: 16 (1.4%)
    • Supernatural: 15 (1.3%)
    • Dutch: 15 (1.3%)
    • European: 15 (1.3%)
    • Arctic: 12 (1.1%)
    • Greek: 11 (1.0%)
    • Black: 10 (0.9%)

    There were also a few interesting responses that did not garner much support. More colorful responses included three votes for Martian; two votes for Klingon, the fictional species from the Star Trek series, conservative, and Clausian; and single votes for Coca Cola, alien, satanic, "Holidayese," hippie, and Amazon.

    SurveyMonkey Audience polls from a national sample balanced by census data of age and gender. Respondents are incentivized to complete surveys through charitable contributions. Generally speaking, digital polling tends to skew toward people with access to the internet. SurveyMonkey Audience doesn't try to weight its sample based on race or income. Total 1,136 respondents, margin of error plus or minus 2.97 percentage points with 95% confidence level.

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: The Pilgrims actually stopped at Plymouth Rock because they were running out of beer

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