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21 incredible photos of people practicing religion all around the world in 2017

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india religion

The five largest religions — Islam, Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism, and Hinduism — represent about 77%of the world's population.

Every year, billions come together to celebrate their faith.

Here are some of the most powerful moments captured in photos in 2017:

SEE ALSO: Mesmerizing maps show how religion has spread throughout the world

DON'T MISS: Islam will overtake Christianity as the world's largest religion by 2070

Hindu priests sit inside a cave as they perform evening prayers on the banks of the river Ganges in Devprayag, India.



A 93-year old Holocaust survivor celebrates the anniversary of his bar mitzvah ceremony in Haifa, Israel.



Artists dressed as Hindu gods Rama and Laxman act as fireworks explode during Vijaya Dashmi, or Dussehra festival celebrations in Chandigarh, India.



See the rest of the story at Business Insider

Experts say these are the best places to buy appliances — and it's not looking good for Sears

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appliances shopping

  • Abt Electronics and Appliances get the highest rating from shoppers for appliance purchases, according to Consumer Reports.
  • It's followed by Amazon, Costco,Nebraska Furniture Mart, and R.C. Willey Home Furnishings, according to Consumer Reports.
  • Sears and Menards get the worst ratings.

 

For decades, Sears was the top store in the US for buying dishwashers, refrigerators, stoves, and other major household appliances. 

But with Sears closing hundreds of stores, shoppers are now going elsewhere for these major purchases.

Lowe's and Home Depotnow sell more appliances than Sears, and new players, like Amazon and JCPenney, have been entering the market.

Consumer Reports surveyed 42,000 shoppers to determine which retailer is the best for buying appliances. Customers rated the retailers on categories like price, selection, and service.

Out of 22 major appliance sellers, Abt Electronics and Appliances had the highest ratings, followed by Amazon, Costco, Nebraska Furniture Mart, and R.C. Willey Home Furnishings. Lowe's and Best Buy ranked 15th and 16th, respectively, and Home Depot ranked 19th.

Abt and Amazon received top ratings in almost every category, but Costco had higher ratings than both retailers for prices.

Coming in last place among the major appliance sellers were Sears and Menards

Menards got poor marks for selection, service, and website usability, a subpar rating for price, "and only a middling rating for its in-store atmosphere," according to Consumer Reports. "Sears isn't much better than Menards overall, buoyed only by favorable marks for installation and haul-away scores."

The survey asked readers to rate 62,000 appliance purchases they made from spring 2016 to spring 2017 at 30 chain retailers across the country, as well as from independent retailers and manufacturers.

SEE ALSO: Furious shoppers say Whole Foods' produce has turned 'depressing,' 'barren,' and 'bone-dry' — and they blame Amazon

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: I spent my birthday looking for free food — here's what I got

I visited the quirky sandwich shop that beat out fine-dining joints to be named the best new restaurant in America — here's what it's like

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Turkey and the Wolf

  • Bon Appétit named the sandwich joint Turkey and the Wolf the best new restaurant in the US in 2017. 
  • The decision to elevate the quirky, low-budget concept over other restaurants created some controversy. 
  • Turkey and the Wolf is filled with '90s nostalgia, cheap cocktails, and an incredible fried bologna sandwich. 

 

When Bon Appétit announced its list of America's best new restaurants for 2017, the No. 1 spot came as somewhat of a shock. 

Instead of an elegant sit-down Italian restaurant or an upscale icon, the publication crowned Turkey and the Wolf — a sandwich joint in New Orleans where nothing costs more than $13 — the best new restaurant of the year. 

"What they are offering — wildly inventive sandwiches, salads tossed with ingredients like pig's ear cracklin's, and cheeky snacks like homemade Bagel Bites — is as difficult to pull off as most tweezer-built dishes found at so-called serious restaurants," Andrew Knowlton wrote of the restaurant. 

With such effusive praise for a restaurant famous for its fried bologna sandwiches, I knew I had to visit. So, on a recent trip to New Orleans, I decided to stop by Turkey and the Wolf to see if it lived up to the hype. 

SEE ALSO: Starbucks' new Christmas Tree Frappuccino is its most brilliant social-media stunt drink yet

Turkey and the Wolf is located in a mostly residential neighborhood called Irish Channel, a few blocks off of busy Magazine Street.



It's a simple operation, with customers ordering at the counter and workers yelling to each other in the kitchen. We arrived right at opening time — 11 a.m. — to beat the crowd, but we weren't the only ones waiting outside when the doors opened.



The menu copies suburban childhood classics — bologna sandwiches, wedge salads, and tacos made with American cheese. With a wave of restaurants "elevating" various cultures' street food, Turkey and the Wolf is serving an updated version of the nutritionally empty foods that many Americans ate growing up in the '80s and '90s.



See the rest of the story at Business Insider

Green Monday is secretly one of the biggest days for the retail industry — but it could die soon (WMT, AMAZN)

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Green monday

  • Green Monday, which falls on December 11 this year, is the online version of Super Saturday. It's the day when everyone panics about getting their online purchases in time for Christmas.
  • That has made it the biggest online shopping event of December — and one of the biggest of the year.
  • With new shipping guarantees, however, the importance of the holiday may be fading away.

 

Green Monday doesn't have quite the fanfare surrounding it that Black Friday and Cyber Monday do, but that doesn't make it any less important.

Traditionally, it's the day when shoppers wake up and realize that if they're going to order a gift for someone online, they'd better get on it.

Ebay coined the term "Green Monday" more than a decade ago after it noticed an uptick in orders on a particular day. It traditionally falls on the second Monday in December, the last day with at least 10 days left to order before Christmas. This year, it's December 11.

Think of it like Super Saturday for online shoppers who wait until the last minute.

Green Monday has become the biggest online shopping day in December, and one of the biggest of the year. In 2016, online sales on Green Monday were their highest ever at $1.6 billion. That number now pales in comparison to the staggering $2.9 billion in online sales that were produced on Thanksgiving this year, but it's significant nonetheless.

Since it is a lesser-known shopping holiday, there are not as many advertised deals on Green Monday. Target and Walmart both have landing pages dedicated to it, but the deals themselves are not likely to have an individual Green Monday tag or emblem on them. Ebay still has a page for its Green Monday deals, however.

Shoppers can expect some deals to peek through, but those looking for discounts as vast and deep as Black Friday may be disappointed.

And, Green Monday's importance may be fading as more retailers embrace fast, free shipping. With the two-day shipping guarantee that comes with an Amazon Prime membership, and Walmart's two-day shipping offering with any $35 purchase, there may not be a compelling reason for last-minute shoppers to click check-out on Monday. Walmart and Amazon combine for the lion's share of all online purchases, especially during the holidays.

It's unclear how much longer people will think that they still need a lead time of at least 10 days to order presents for Christmas.

SEE ALSO: Holiday shoppers have a new habit — and it's good news for retailers

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: The 'L.O.L. Surprise! Big Surprise' is the hottest toy of 2017 — here's what it is and what's inside it

What the biggest 'War on Christmas' controversy gets wrong about history

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Jesus Mary and Joseph Holy Family Christianity

• Many people think the term "Xmas" in lieu of "Christmas" has secular origins.

• But "Xmas" predates any current talk about the alleged "war on Christmas."

• In fact, it can be traced back to the early days of Christianity.



On the surface, it certainly looks like "Xmas" shoves Christ out of Christmas. The word itself almost appears to cross out the mere mention of the holiday's religious focus.

But many of those who claim offense at the term "Xmas" fail to recognize the word actually dates back to Christianity's genesis. The "X" is a simplified version of the chi rho — the first two letters of the Greek word for Christ superimposed over one another

The early Christians were quite fond of symbols. They use a number of them, like the staurogram, the IX monogram, and the alpha and omega to represent their messiah. The chi rho symbol itself predates Christianity. Ancient-Symbols.com cites its origins as a symbol of luck and goodness in ancient Greece. However, early Christians claimed it as their own.

Chi Rho

It proved to be an enduring symbol, and even carried over into the English language — albeit, in an altered state. According to "Curious Customs" by Tad Tuleja, using "Xmas" instead of Christmas dates back to at least late medieval England. He writes that other, funkier versions, like "X'temmas," cropped up in 1531.

Despite its historical bona fides, the abbreviation has taken considerable flak over the years, especially in the US. In 1977, conservative New Hampshire Governor Meldrim Thomson sent a press release to journalists telling them to avoid using "Xmas" and to "Keep Christ in Christmas Day," according to the Montreal Gazette.

Politico estimates the most recent iteration of the "war on Christmas" began in 2004, with recently ousted Fox News personality Bill O'Reilly firing the opening salvo. As a result, "Xmas" has continued to be the target of such discussions.

Back in 2005, evangelist preacher, and son of Billy Graham, Franklin spoke with CNN's Soledad O'Brien, about those who say, "Xmas" instead of Christmas: "They're happy to say merry Xmas. Let's just take Jesus out. And really, I think, a war against the name of Jesus Christ... There's no question. I think secularists are trying to do this, to take Christ out of the Christmas. They don't want to rid of the holidays; they just don't want Jesus in the holidays."

It's understandable why some may feel that "Xmas" looks like it's erasing the true meaning of the holiday for Christians. But blaming the secularization of a religious holiday on a tiny, centuries-old abbreviation reflects a misunderstanding of history and language.

SEE ALSO: One of the most famous political writings of all time was really a fruitless job application from a struggling bureaucrat

DON'T MISS: The ancient story behind Valentine's Day is more brutal than romantic

DON'T FORGET: Fake news is nothing new — here’s how it killed my ancestor over 300 years ago

Join the conversation about this story »

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

These are the $800 knives that celebrity chefs like Mario Batali swear by

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Chelsea Miller started making custom knives in 2011 and has grown her client list to include some of the top chefs in the world. Business Insider visited her Brooklyn studio to learn how she does it. Following is a transcript of video.

Chelsea Miller: I'm Chelsea Miller and I make knives.

Some of the world's best chefs use her knives.

Chelsea Miller: The chefs at Eleven Madison, Mario Batali, Massimo Bottura. Chefs who make some really, really delicious food. Let's say that.

And they don't come cheap.

Chelsea Miller: My smaller knives start at $200, the largest knife, the chef knife are $800.

I moved to New York when I was 18 and I was singing, dancing, acting, and as much as I love that kind of storytelling, I grew up in Vermont on a farm, homeschooled, my father was a blacksmith, and I was really missing that quality of working with your hands and that creative process.

So I went home for a while at the end of 2011 and started playing around in my father's shop. These knives came out of that exploration.

My friends encouraged me to take out a booth at the Brooklyn Flea and the Brooklyn Flea is an incredible place to be as a creator because there's an incredible amount of foot traffic and a lot of high profile writers, photographers, chefs. And that's how I got my first publications in Saveur Magazine and The New York Times and it really blew up from there.

Most of all my knives have a grater on the side, which is very unique because I've never seen a knife with a grater, but also that is the original function of the original material that I make it from. They're made from horseshoe rasps which have that rasp on the side that was originally used for filing horse's hooves. So in my mind, I thought, "Why take that away?" We can incorporate that into this new tool.

Since I've started my own business, I've noticed a real progressive movement towards more and more and more handmade things and a lot more consciousness about where you items are coming from. Trying to buy things that are going to last you your lifetime instead of something that's meant to be thrown away the second you open it.

I leave a window of about three to six months. If I were making one knife at a time, that would take me a couple of days, but because I have so many I tend to make them in batches, so as many as I can, I start from the beginning process, maybe 10 knives at the same time. So for a few weeks I'll be working on those first initial processes on those knives altogether. Then I'll move on to the next stage.

I use the forge for all of my smaller knives and essentially what we're doing is we're heating the metal and then using the hammer to hammer out the metal, lengthen the metal, to give us a longer, smoother material. And I don't do that with the chef's knives because I want to leave that grater on the side of the knife.

So with the larger chef's knives, I've already cut out the pieces in Vermont with an oxy acetylene torch and then once I get them here, I start the stock removal process. So I start with my bench grinder, grinding away the excess metal on one side to leave the grater on the other.

And then I'll move to my belt sander, and using a series of belts that go from very coarse to very fine, I'll bring that blade down to a fine edge and make it all shiny and smooth and sharp.

Each piece, depending on the way that it looks, it calls for a different piece of wood. So I'll shuffle through a lot of wood to find the right wood for the right knife.

And we'll cut out the wood, we will sand the handle a little bit, then we'll drill the holes, glue it together, clamp it, and then wait for it to cure. I usually let it cure for about 24 hours.

Then we'll take that off, sand the handle down, all the excess glue off the edges. And then we'll put a final sharpen on the blade, oil up the handle, and it's ready to go off and cut some vegetables.

Join the conversation about this story »

Millennials are tracking their kids' whereabouts and internet usage on their phones — here are the apps 'parennials' are obsessed with

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millennial parent young phone

Millennials, roughly defined as being born between 1980 and 2000, have grown up with the internet. Now that older millennials are having kids, they're also giving birth to countless new apps for parents like them.

These apps can track a child's whereabouts, internet usage, and even bowel movements on a smartphone.

There's a massive market for apps built with millennial parents — or "parennials" — in mind. The New York Times recently reported that more than 16 million millennial women are now mothers, according to Pew

Here are the apps that parennials are obsessed with.

SEE ALSO: A high-fashion apparel startup wants to create a better uniform for working women — and millennials are obsessed

Winnie is a place for parents to connect and discover new things to do with their kids.

People on Winnie help each other be more successful parents. They can ask questions and get recommendations about everything from sleep-training to local childcare, and browse and search a directory of family-friendly restaurants, shopping, and parks. It's like Yelp for parents.

Sara Mauskopf, who created Winnie as CEO, is an alumna of Google and a millennial mother. 

Download the app »



Life360 lets you keep tabs on your kid's location.

Life360 answers an age-old question: "Where are you?" The app enables parents to track their children's whereabouts using GPS, and lets them save their favorite locations so that family members get automatic alerts when someone comes or goes. A chat feature allows family members to let the group know when they're running late.

Download the app »



Cozi is a calendar for the digital-savvy family.

There's no shortage of calendar apps for your phone, but some parents say Cozi is the first you should try. Specifically designed for families, the app helps parents keep track of each family member's (color-coded) individual calendar, shopping lists, and to-do lists all in one place.

Users have the ability to add new events and lists and send reminders to ensure that no one misses a practice or an appointment.

Download the app »



See the rest of the story at Business Insider

There's even more evidence that one type of exercise is the closest thing to a miracle drug that we have

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woman running jogging exercise

  • Aerobic exercise provides a ton of benefits, from a lift in mood to more toned muscles.
  • Some of the benefits can emerge within minutes, while others might take several days or weeks to crop up.
  • A new study suggests that aerobic exercise also changes the makeup of the microbes in our gut.

Aerobic exercise, or "cardio," might be the closest thing to a miracle drug that we have.

When we commit to regular workouts that raise our heart rate and get us moving and sweating for a sustained period of time, magical things happen to our mind and body. We start to think more clearly, feel better about ourselves, and even build buffers against age-related cognitive decline. Our lungs and heart get stronger, too.

But cardio may have other less obvious benefits as well. A small study published in November suggests that activities like walking, swimming, and running — while they are no short-cut to weight loss— also change the makeup of the microbes in our gut. These microbes play a role in everything from our energy levels to inflammation, a key early warning sign of illness.

"These are the first studies to show that exercise can have an effect on your gut independent of diet or other factors," Jeffrey Woods, a University of Illinois professor of kinesio logy and community health who led the research, said in a statement.

That could have important implications for learning more about why exercise seems to be so uniquely capable of lifting our spirits and energizing our bodies.

Cardio impacts our gut — but not in the way you might think

JanjiFor the most recent study, published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports Exercise, Woods and a team of other scientists looked at 32 lean and obese women who had been essentially inactive before the study. For six weeks, three days each week, the participants either cycled, walked or ran on a treadmill, or used an elliptical machine. They started with a moderate 30-minute workout and worked up to a vigorous one-hour burst by the time the study finished.

"They had a choice of activity on any given day, but most chose the treadmill," Woods told Business Insider.

After their six-week workout regimen ended, the participants were instructed to go back to their normal sedentary lifestyles for another month and a half.

The researchers looked at the microbes in participants' guts using fecal samples immediately after their exercise program, and then again after six weeks of not working out. They found that after weeks of exercise, people's concentrations of butyrate — a special type of fatty acid that helps keep our guts happy by tamping down on inflammation and producing energy — went up. These concentrations soared in the lean participants, and picked up modestly among those in the obese group.

"The bottom line is that there are clear differences in how the microbiome of somebody who is obese versus somebody who is lean responds to exercise," Woods said. "We have more work to do to determine why that is."

How aerobic workouts clear the mind and lift our mood

An elderly man swims

Precisely how cardio affects different types of bodies remains somewhat murky. But its powerful ability to clear the mind has been well documented by a handful of recent studies.

"Aerobic exercise ... has a unique capacity to exhilarate and relax, to provide stimulation and calm, to counter depression and dissipate stress," the authors of an article in the Harvard Medical School blog "Mind and Mood" wrote.

Some of cardio's benefits — like a lift in mood — can emerge as soon as a few minutes into a sweaty bike ride, while others — like improved memory — might take several weeks to crop up.

The reason aerobic workouts seem to lift our spirits seems related to its ability to reduce levels of natural stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol, according to a recent study in the Journal of Physical Therapy Science. Activities like running and swimming also increase overall blood flow and provide our minds with fresh energy and oxygen — another factor that could help us feel better.

Those benefits may be one of the reasons that working out is so helpful for people with depression. A pilot study in people with severe depression found that just 30 minutes of treadmill walking for 10 consecutive days was "sufficient to produce a clinically relevant and statistically significant reduction in depression."

But the mental benefits of heart-pumping workouts aren't confined to better moods. This kind of exercise also seems to improve our memory and may even guard against some of the detrimental effects of aging. Those boons suggest cardio may help defend the brain against physical changes that come with age.

A study published in May found that in adults aged 60-88, walking for 30 minutes four days a week for 12 weeks appeared to strengthen connectivity in a region of the brain where weakened connections have been linked with memory loss. And a recent study in older women who displayed potential symptoms of dementia found that aerobic exercise was linked with an increase in the size of the hippocampus, a brain area involved in learning and memory.

If you're over 50, a study in the British Medical Journal suggests the best results come from combining aerobic and resistance exercise, which could include anything from high-intensity interval training, like the 7-minute workout, to dynamic flow yoga, which intersperses strength-building poses like planks and push-ups with heart-pumping dance-like moves.

So what are you waiting for? Get moving, and keep it up.

SEE ALSO: How long you need to do cardio to reap the benefits for your body and brain

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: The world's largest pyramid is not in Egypt

7 unavoidable questions to ask your partner before it's too late

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couple man woman dating friends married talking sad beach water

  • You'll never know everything about your partner — and that's OK.
  • But there are certain facts you should definitely know before things get serious. Think how much debt they have and how they feel about divorce.
  • We checked out a Reddit thread on the topic and highlighted some of the most compelling questions.


You will never get to know your partner perfectly. In fact, that's one of the beautiful things about being in a relationship: Your partner is constantly surprising you.

That said, there are some basic things you probably should know before establishing a life with someone. Over on Reddit, there's a thread titled, "What questions should everyone ask their partners before getting married?" Most of the questions apply to couples starting to get serious, and not just couples heading to the altar.

Below, we've highlighted seven of the most important questions from that thread. Read on and see which you still have to ask.

SEE ALSO: 7 strategies that can help make your relationship happier in 10 minutes or less

Do you want kids?

That's a tip from IntoTheMystic1.

It's best to address the topic of parenthood sooner than later, so no one winds up resentful — or heartbroken — years down the line.

If you or your partner are (understandably) worried that having kids will change your relationship for the worse, you should arm yourself with knowledge about what helps parents maintain intimacy.

Some researchers suggest that there are certain "buffers" against marital disaster after the birth of a child, including:

-"Building fondness and affection for your partner" 
-"Being aware of what is going on in your spouse's life and being responsive to it"
-"Approaching problems as something you and your partner can control and solve together as a couple"



Who will do the cooking, laundry, and housework?

That question comes from Back2Bach, who adds: "What can we do as a couple to divide the routine chores and responsibilities so that each feels they're making an equal contribution to the relationship and daily living?"

Back2Bach is onto something: According to a 2007 Pew Research poll, sharing household chores is the third most important factor in a successful marriage. (The first two are faithfulness and a happy sexual relationship).

In an excerpt from "Fast-Forward Family" published in The Atlantic, three researchers write that even today, women tend to shoulder the brunt of their family's housework.

The researchers also write that having some guidelines about who does which chores when can be helpful:

"The couples in our study who lacked clarity on what, when, and how household tasks and responsibilities would be carried out often said that they felt drained and rushed and had difficulty communicating their dissatisfaction in their lives. Spouses who appeared to have a clear and respectful understanding of one another's roles and tasks, in contrast, did not spend as much time negotiating responsibilities; their daily lives seemed to flow more smoothly."



How much debt (if any) do you have?

VanDriver1 writes, "It may not be a deal breaker in regards to getting married but A $20k surprise after the wedding is not something you need to deal with."

An honest conversation about finances — especially about debt — is key before getting married, or even getting serious. As Business Insider reported, lying about your debt can potentially destroy your relationship.

For one thing, Valerie Rind, author of "Gold Diggers and Deadbeat Dads: True Stories of Friends, Family, and Financial Ruin," said, "If you're tying your horse to someone else's wagon, you need to know not only what's coming in, but what's going out."

What's more, Rind said, "You need to know how somebody runs their finances because that totally affects the whole picture."



See the rest of the story at Business Insider

Inside the New York City offices of $45 billion hedge-fund firm Two Sigma

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Two Sigma offices

What do you picture when you imagine a hedge-fund office? A noisy trading floor full of hedge-fund guys in fleece vests?

Two Sigma, a $45 billion hedge-fund firm that uses advanced technologies to find investment opportunities, is a little different. The firm, which says it has seen head count grow by more than 400% in the past seven years, is as much a technology company as it is a finance company, analyzing over 10,000 data sources to find patterns in markets.

That approach seems to have paid off. Two Sigma ranked as the fifth-biggest hedge fund in the world in Institutional Investor's Alpha's 2017 Hedge Fund 100 list, while cofounders David Siegel and John Overdeck each made $750 million last year, according to the magazine's list of the top-earning hedge-fund managers. The firm also runs an insurance business, Two Sigma Insurance Quantified, a market-making arm called Two Sigma Securities, and a venture-capital arm.

In August, Business Insider took a tour of the firm's two New York offices, which are across the road from each other in the SoHo neighborhood. The offices are stashed with arcade games, computing memorabilia, gyms, a hacker space, and a music room.

SEE ALSO: These before-and-after photos show tech billionaires' dramatic transformations

There was a teach-in on Python for Research when we visited 101 Avenue of the Americas, one of three talks the firm hosts weekly.



The kitchen was well stocked.

You may be able to see a Juicero machine on the left side. Two Sigma Ventures, the venture arm of Two Sigma, is an investor in Juicero, which recently announced a price cut and layoffs.



Across the road at 100 Avenue of the Americas, there's another kitchen, with staff taking time out to play games.



See the rest of the story at Business Insider

From police-grade cooling vest to $750 beard, here's what it takes to make a living as Santa

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Santa Jim Boston

Santa Jim understands the value of a top-notch beard — no straggly, wispy nonsense or anything that could easily get pulled off.

Instead, he imports his beard, which ties on in three places, from Switzerland for a whopping $750.

To Santa Jim, it's worth every penny.

According to this professional, private events Santa Claus — Jim Manning when he's out of the red suit — a lot more goes into playing Santa than simply showing up, finding the nearest couch, and letting kids sit on your lap.

Below, Manning shares more about the business of being Santa:

SEE ALSO: What it's really like to be a professional Santa Claus

DON'T MISS: A man who's played Santa for 13 years shares the 5 most annoying things he wishes parents would stop doing

First: Create an online presence

In 2004 I grabbed the domain name SantaBoston.com, and that's really been what's sent a lot of the Santa Claus traffic to me. The website presence has been important, and I've added social-media presence over the years. I'm now seeing direct social-media results — people see me on Instagram and they're hiring me from that. But the website is still the No. 1 way people contact me.

And having a mobile-friendly website has been huge. My website wasn't mobile-friendly until about three years ago. Now about 78% of people look at my website on their phones or their iPads.

The content that goes on the website is important, too. There are a lot of Santa Clauses who have websites, and fortunately I've had a lot of them helping me in terms of what the site needs.

People want to see ... Do you look good as Santa? Do you seem trustworthy? And what are your prices? And you don't put your prices on your website, because that's just not something you do. But people want all that information, and they want it quickly, and they're going to decide whether to reach out to you from that.



Then, start booking a year in advance

The busy season is December, Thanksgiving to Christmas. We start receiving calls and emails in August to book events. Some people will book from the year before. But the real majority of the requests start coming in October and November. And a lot of last-minute requests come in, too. The real season starts to ramp up after Thanksgiving.

The first week of December is more promotional work — a lot of photo shoots. I did a photo shoot for Legal Sea Foods, where they had me as Santa Claus taking photos of their clam chowder or their lobster. Drug stores, car dealerships — they'll bring me in to set the tone for the season and whatnot.

Then toward the middle of December, that's when I start getting into more corporate parties, private parties. And then as we get closer to Christmas Eve, the majority of my events are parties in people's homes.

Christmas Eve is the busiest day. I'll do 10 appearances. This year, my first visit is at 11 a.m. and my last visit is scheduled for 9 p.m.

Most weekdays are two to three visits. Weekends are much busier. Sunday I did eight different visits. I'll have five or six days off somewhere in between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Santa Jim charges $499 for a visit, and does upwards of 80 visits during the season.



Be sure to suit up

I've also got a lot of my own costs. This isn't a part-time thing for me — this is my full-time gig. So I have an operations manager, and a lot of money goes into advertising and promotions.

I spend over a hundred dollars on gloves every year. My dry-cleaning bills are pretty expensive.

The gloves I wear are band gloves that have little grips on them. Why do they have grips on them? Because when I'm turning the pages of "The Night Before Christmas" I don't have to fumble around. To me, details like this are super important.

The wigs and beards and mustaches? A friend of mine imports them from Switzerland. One wig, beard, mustache set costs me about $750, and I have five of them, which I've built up over the course of a few years.

My beard is tied on in three different spots. It's really beautiful, and children under the age of 8 have a tough time distinguishing between my beard and a real beard. 

 The belt cost me $400 — that was handmade from a leather maker in Montana, which a big, gold-brass buckle.

I've got a cooling vest, which law-enforcement officers use to stay cool, because I'm playing Santa Claus for upwards of 10 hours. I've got the fat suit

I spend over $300 a year on dry cleaning with all my suits. I've got five suits that I keep in regular rotation. So pretty much as soon as I wear a suit I'm dropping it off at the dry cleaners and I'm keeping them on a constant rotation because I want to look as fresh as possible.

Driving-wise, this year I'm driving 75 hours, probably over 3,000 miles. So there's gas, tolls, and so forth.

Then there's food. Normally I cook for myself and my wife, but I don't have time for the month of December, so I end up eating out a lot, doing take-out. I tried finding a meal-delivery service. But at the end of the day, it's a lot of grab-and-go.



See the rest of the story at Business Insider

'He held onto my hand, and he kept kissing me': 3 women accusing Trump of sexual harassment speak out in harrowing interview

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Rachel Crooks

  • Jessica Leeds, Rachel Crooks, and Samantha Holvey recounted their allegations of sexual misconduct against President Donald Trump in an interview on NBC News' "Megyn Kelly Today" on Monday.
  • "All of a sudden he was all over me, kissing and groping," Leeds said.
  • Crooks said Trump held her hand and kissed her on the mouth when she was working as a receptionist at Trump Tower in Manhattan in 2005.
  • On Sunday, Nikki Haley, the UN ambassador who is one of the highest-ranking women in the Trump administration, said the president's accusers "should be heard."
  • The White House denied the accusations on Monday, saying in part, "The timing and absurdity of these false claims speaks volumes, and the publicity tour that has begun only further confirms the political motives behind them."


The White House lashed out Monday at the women who have accused President Donald Trump of sexual harassment after three of them recounted their accusations during a television interview.

Jessica Leeds, Rachel Crooks, and Samantha Holvey, who initially went public with their accusations last year, detailed them on NBC News' "Megyn Kelly Today" on Monday.

"We are private citizens, and for us to put ourselves out there to try and show America who this man is and especially how he views women, and for them to say, 'Nah, we don't care' — it hurt," Holvey said. "Now it's just like, all right, let's try round two. The environment's different. Let's try again."

The White House denied the accusations in a statement.

SEE ALSO:Trump could be forced to testify on sexual-harassment allegations — and if he lies he could be impeached

"These false claims, totally disputed in most cases by eyewitness accounts, were addressed at length during last year's campaign, and the American people voiced their judgment by delivering a decisive victory," the statement read. "The timing and absurdity of these false claims speaks volumes, and the publicity tour that has begun only further confirms the political motives behind them."

Samantha Holvey

Crooks said that she introduced herself to Trump in 2005 outside an elevator in Trump Tower in Manhattan, where she worked as a receptionist, and that he kissed her on the mouth.

"He held onto my hand, and he kept kissing me," Crooks said.

"I was shocked, devastated," she said, adding: "I remember hiding in our boss' office because no one else was there, it was early in the morning, and I called my sister ... I felt horrible."

Crooks said that at the time she thought she would lose her job if she told her company anything about the interaction.

"I wish I had been stronger then," she said.

She said the denials from the White House were "laughable" and "crazy."

"I can't imagine anyone wanting to come into the spotlight about this," she said. "The things that happened to us spanned decades, states, all over. What could we possibly — have we colluded to come up with these tales that all sound so eerily similar."

Holvey, a contestant in the 2006 Miss USA pageant, which Trump owned, described Trump walking through the dressing room while the women were dressed in only robes.

"He lined all of us up," she said. "I thought this was going to be like a meet-and-greet."

But Trump was "looking me over like I was just a piece of meat," Holvey said. "I was just simply there for his pleasure. It left me feeling very gross, very dirty, like, 'This is not what I signed up for.'"

Jessica Leeds

Leeds said she was on a flight in the late 1970s when Trump, seated next to her, started groping her.

"All of a sudden he was all over me, kissing and groping," she said. "Nothing was said ... It was just this silent groping going on."

She added, "When his hands started going up my skirt — I'm not a small person — I managed to wiggle out and stand up, grab my purse, and I went to the back of the airplane."

Leeds said she was at a gala in New York three years later when she ran into Trump, who recognized her and called her a c---.

"He called me the worst name ever," she said. "It was shocking. It was like a bucket of cold water being thrown over me." When Kelly pressed Leeds on whether Trump called her a "c---," Leeds said "yes."

Trump has denied Leeds' accusation.

"People that are willing to say, 'Oh, I was with Donald Trump in 1980, I was sitting with him on an airplane, and he went after me,'" Trump said at a rally in October 2016. "Believe me, she would not be my first choice."

Leeds said she decided when Trump announced he was running for president that she would go public with her story.

"I really wanted people to know who he is," she said.

The interview aired the day after Nikki Haley, the US's ambassador to the United Nations, discussed the president's accusers.

"They should be heard, and they should be dealt with," Haley, one of the highest-ranking women in the Trump administration, said Sunday on CBS's "Face the Nation." "And I think we heard from them prior to the election. And I think any woman who has felt violated or felt mistreated in any way, they have every right to speak up."

Trump could be forced to testify on sexual-harassment accusations

Summer Zervos

Trump is facing a defamation lawsuit brought by Summer Zervos, one of at least 16 women who have accused him of sexual harassment.

Zervos, a former contestant on "The Apprentice," said last year that Trump "very aggressively" kissed her, groped her breasts, and began "thrusting" his genitals at her in a 2007 meeting at The Beverly Hills Hotel. She says Trump damaged her reputation when he called her a liar.

Trump could be forced to testify on the many sexual-harassment allegations against him as part of the lawsuit. His accusers could also be called to testify.

Crooks said Monday that she had no interest in filing a lawsuit against Trump but that she would support Zervos' lawsuit.

"I would be happy to support her," Crooks said. "For me, it's just about getting the truth out there."

Trump's legal team is arguing that the case should be dismissed because a sitting president can't be sued in state court and that a trial could distract Trump from his official business.

A decision on whether the case can proceed could come before the end of the year.

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NOW WATCH: The woman behind the #MeToo movement on why she would never meet with Trump

What not to wear to your office holiday party

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office holiday

  • The annual holiday party is a tricky etiquette situation.
  • It's best to dress close to how you normally do for work, so you don't embrass yourself.
  • Still, you should try to have a little bit of fun with your outfit. 

 

Ah, the office holiday party. A sticky social situation to navigate. 

The holiday party is often seen by some to be the perfect opportunity to ruin their carefully cultivated work reputation by drinking one too many gin and tonics and taking over the dance floor when Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas Is You" suddenly blares over the rented restaurant's speakers.

That kind of embarrassment will be difficult to avoid, unfortunately. What's easier to avoid: looking like a fool in your outfit.

Dressing for the annual holiday party is tricky. It's not a work setting — there's no need to dress like you do for work. In fact, if you do, your colleagues might label you a square addicted to your job, or worse, a Grinch.

Dress too far outside of the norm, and you may create an altogether different impression on many people who haven't seen you outside of the 8th-floor conference room before, however. (Read: Leave the Phish band T-shirts at home.)

So what can you do? First, identify the dress code of the party. This isn't always easy, as it will more than likely not be stated plainly on the invite. In such a case, dress no more than one degree down from your typical office dress code.

If your office dress code is business professional, dress business casual for the party. If your workmates dress closer to business casual on any given work day, don't be afraid to wear jeans and ditch the tie.

You can also stick with the typical office dress code, but remember that it's a holiday party. That means don't be boring. Sure, you can wear a grim charcoal business suit, but then you shouldn't be surprised when a stranger offers their condolences.

Liven it up a little. A statement piece — like a candy cane pin on your blazer or a pair of patterned menorah socks— is just the ticket.

As for not making a fool of yourself when you actually get to the party: you're on your own.

SEE ALSO: 12 gifts the modern gentleman actually wants this year

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NOW WATCH: The three best holiday gifts for a wine lover — according to a top sommelier

Shake Shack is giving away free burgers — here's how to get one for you and a friend (SHAK)

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Shake Shack

  • Shake Shack is giving away free burgers from Monday until Sunday. 
  • If you use Postmates to send a ShackBurger to a friend who doesn't already use the delivery app, you can get a code for a free burger of your own. 
  • Postmates is also offering free Shake Shack delivery all week. 

 

Shake Shack is giving away free burgers this week — if you use Postmates. 

On Monday, Postmates and Shake Shack announced that you can score a free burger for yourself and a friend all this week.

From Monday, December 11, to Sunday, December 17, Postmates users will receive a $10 credit towards a ShackBurger if they send a free ShackBurger to a friend who doesn't already use Postmates. Basically, both you and your friend can get a free burger if your refer them to the food delivery app. 

Postmates is additionally offering free delivery on all Shake Shack items until December 17. Both the free delivery and free burgers will be available in 17 markets, including Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, Boston, Brooklyn, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Miami, New York City, Orlando, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Antonio, and Washington, DC. 

SEE ALSO: I visited the sandwich shop that beat out fine-dining joints to be named the best new restaurant in America — here's what it's like

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NOW WATCH: I spent my birthday looking for free food — here's what I got

A Finnish journalist living in the US reveals the biggest misconceptions about Nordic countries

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Mire Ibrahim waves the Finnish flag during a demonstration against racism where an estimated 15,000 people attended in Helsinki, Finland on July 28th, 2015. Smaller supporting demonstrations were organised in Tampere and Oulu. REUTERS/Vesa Moilanen/Lehtikuva

Journalist Anu Partanen moved to the US from Finland in 2008.

In the nine years since, she's noticed Americans hold a number of misguided views about the way Nordic countries operate.

She detailed many of those misconceptions in her 2016 book, "The Nordic Theory of Everything: In Search of a Better Life."

Here are the biggest misconceptions she's found.

SEE ALSO: 5 people from around the world share what it's like to have single-payer healthcare

Nordic countries aren't as altruistic as they seem.

Nordic countries are famous for their universal policies: healthcare, daycare, paid parental leave, and higher education, among others.

But what people don't understand about these policies, Partanen said, is they are self-serving.

"The choices Nordic countries have made have little to do with altruism or kinship," Partanen wrote for The Atlantic in 2016. "This is what Americans fail to understand: My taxes in Finland were used to pay for top-notch services for me."



Citizens don't feel they live in a nanny state.

In "The Nordic Theory of Everything," Partanen addressed the notion that Nordic citizens feel dependent on their government for basic necessities, large and small.

The truth, she said, is people reap a lot of benefits from their universal policies, but don't feel reliant on them. The example she used was the Finnish baby box. New parents in Finland receive a box of baby clothes and toiletries, and they can use the box as a crib.

"Just in case an American might assume that Finnish playgrounds each winter become a sea of identical, government-issued snowsuits that call to mind a communist children's brigade," she wrote, "I can assure you that Finnish parents swap, inherit, and buy most of their children's clothing beyond what comes in the box."



Big business is alive and well.

In contrast to outsider views of Finland, Denmark, Sweden, and Norway as quaint countries with little going on, Partanen noted in her Atlantic piece that many multinational corporations are based in Nordic countries.

"Nordic nations have produced what is, by any metric, an impressive output of successful entrepreneurs, international businesses, and brands," she wrote. Those include Spotify (Sweden), Ikea (Sweden), H&M (Sweden), Nokia (Finland), and Lego (Denmark).

"At the most basic level, what the Nordic approach does is reduce the risk of starting a company," Partanen wrote, "since basic services such as education and health care are covered for regardless of the fledgling company’s fate."



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The right way to eat sushi, according to renowned Japanese chef Nobu Matsuhisa

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Nobu Matsuhisa, owner of Nobu Restaurants and Hotels and author of "Nobu: A Memoir," shares how to eat sushi the traditional Japanese way.

Following is a transcript of the video; it has been edited for clarity.

Nobu Matsuhisa: I’m Nobu Matsuhisa, owner of Nobu Restaurants Group and Hotels.

Chef Matsuhisa opened his first restaurant in 1987 in Los Angeles; today he owns 47. And there are six Nobu hotels around the world.

Matsuhisa: You don’t need extra wasabi. Wasabi is always inside, between the rice and fish.

So you can use chopsticks or your fingers — it doesn’t matter. Use what's more comfortable.

OK, here is wasabi and the ginger. Normally, people take the wasabi and dip soy sauce here, right?

But for me, it means a more traditional way. A piece of the fish, dip — put the soy sauce and wasabi on the middle of the fish. Then not much soy sauce.

So these are the three ways: sashimi, nigiri, and roll.

Nigiri sushi. Make half-turn, take the chopstick and put soy sauce on the fish side. You can see no rice. Just a touch of the soy sauce on the top of the fish.

But now, ginger. A piece of ginger, after one bite, if you try the next one, some tuna or shrimp or whitefish, take one piece of the ginger. Clean the salmon taste, then try the next pieces.

So, the sushi roll. Take this one, and this is no choice. Put the soy sauce in the rice but just a little. Just a little, then one bite. So everything is one bite. Don’t bite two bites.

I think it’s better to eat more the light, then a little bit heavy. It means more fatty fish at the end.

The final sushi may be better as a roll, even more — a cucumber, not like a fish. So cucumber roll, oshinko roll, and sour prawns. This is my way. I like that.

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What it’s like to eat at the elite spot frequented by Wall Street billionaires where you have to pony up $50,000 to walk in the door

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A93A3757 Bar and Woods 5

The restaurant at CORE: Club isn't easy to get into, but its certainly a place you want to be — particularly around lunch time.

For starters, you'll need to pony up a $50,000 initiation fee and approximately $17,000 in annual dues to join the elite club's ranks, which include NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, billionaire fashion entrepreneur J. Christopher Burch, former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci, and Blackstone Group CEO Stephen Schwarzman.

When we visited on a recent Tuesday around lunchtime, the restaurant was bustling with bigwigs dining on the fine Italian and French-inspired cuisine. 

Luckily, CORE: Club founder Jennie Enterprise invited us to join her for lunch. Here's what it was like.

CORE: Club is located in midtown Manhattan, a short walk from Fifth Avenue, Grand Central, Rockefeller Center, and dozens of corporate HQs. A perfect location for the 1% who form the club's core membership.



We headed upstairs to the lounge to meet CORE founder Jennie Enterprise and Greta Giordano, the club's director of member experience, for lunch. CORE's restaurant was originally designed by celebrity chef Tom Colicchio.

Much of CORE's senior management is "steeped in high-end food and beverage experience," Enterprise told Business Insider.

Michael Franco, the club's general manager, used to work at Le Bec Fin in Philadelphia, once considered the best French restaurant in America. Other members of the management team have worked at The Dorchester and three-Michelin star restaurant Per Se.

 



The restaurant, like all of CORE, is filled with contemporary art. While most pieces in the club change every couple of months, "Flood," the red piece in back by painter Barnaby Furnas, is one of the few pieces that never changes.



See the rest of the story at Business Insider

We went on a mass sausage dog walk in London where over 100 dachshunds gathered to frolic in the snow — take a look

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  • Around 100 dogs gathered in Greenwich Park in London.
  • The Sausage Walk London and it was founded by Grace Ang-Lygate and her dachshund Mildred.
  • This winter’s walk had an incredible snowy backdrop.
  • Sausage Walks take place every 3-4 months.

 

Every 3-4 months sausage dog owners in London take their pups for a mass walk.

It's called the Sausage Walk London and it was founded by Grace Ang-Lygate and her dachshund Mildred.

For this winter's walk, around 100 dogs gathered in Greenwich Park walking with an incredible snowy backdrop.

All walk ended with a group visit to the nearest pub.

The walk is organised on Facebook and Twitter with the hashtag #SausageWalkLondon.

Produced and filmed by Claudia Romeo 

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American Express and MasterCard are quietly killing one of the most annoying things about buying things in stores

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credit card receipt

  • MasterCard, Discover, and American Express have all announced that soon customers will not be required to sign receipts at check out. 
  • Signatures are no long a necessary safety measure, according to executives. 
  • The change will take place in April 2018.

 

In 2018, major credit card companies including MasterCard, Discover, and American Express will no longer require customers to sign their receipts. 

On Monday, American Express became the latest company to announce that it will stop requiring card members to sign receipts, beginning in April 2018. Previously, the company forced merchants to require all shoppers to sign for all transactions when checking out. 

With the rise of online shopping and new tech like EMV chips in credit cards, signatures have become less necessary as a safety measure, American Express said in a press release. 

In October, MasterCard announced that it would similarly stop requiring customers' signatures as of April 2018. And, Discover made a similar announcement last week.

At this point, The Verge reports, Visa is the only major credit card company that has not yet announced plans to kill the annoying — and increasingly unnecessary — signature requirement in 2018.

SEE ALSO: Celebrity chef Mario Batali is stepping back from his restaurant empire after allegations of groping and inappropriate sexual conduct

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NOW WATCH: 7 things you shouldn’t buy on Black Friday

We spent the day with a professional mushroom-hunter who forages ingredients for top fine-dining restaurants

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morchella mushroom hunting foraging sf 2166

Ingredients that fetch top dollar in underground markets and garnish plates at fine-dining restaurants may — quite literally — grow like weeds in your front yard.

The new frontier among top restaurants is "field-to-table," a version of farm-to-table dining that elevates ingredients found in the wild, such as mushrooms, stinging nettle, dandelions, miner's lettuce, and huckleberries.

Some of the most highly rated restaurants in San Francisco, including Benu, Quince, Atelier Crenn, and Lazy Bear, hire professional foragers to supply them with the freshest ingredients that Mother Nature has to offer. These modern hunter-gatherers spend their days, rain or shine, picking food and plants in the wild and can earn upwards of $1,000 for a fruitful haul.

Business Insider spent the day with Bryan Jessop, a professional forager who gave up a career in economics to follow his passion, to see how he makes a living by walking in the woods.

SEE ALSO: The San Francisco area is the new fine-dining capital of America — here are the top restaurants

Bryan Jessop does not want me to come along on his foraging expedition.

But we press on, because he's excited to share his passion.



For two years, he has hiked the Bay Area in search of the best wild food and plants, and he can't afford to have recreational pickers "surfing for porcini" in his top-secret spots.



After all, foraging is his livelihood. In 2015, Jessop quit his job as an economics consultant working with attorneys who represented big corporations fighting class-action lawsuits.



See the rest of the story at Business Insider
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