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A Good Dad Is Worth $23,344

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Dad

While most fathers may consider themselves priceless, it turns out you can attach a dollar-value to Dad. And sorry, guys, it's lower than Mom's.

Insure.com crunched the numbers associated with the tasks involved in daddy-duty, and came up with a figure of $23,344 a year.

Bloomberg explains that the annual index uses Bureau of Labor Statistics wages to figure out how much all that barbecuing, driving, soccer coaching, and spider killing add up to.

Helping with homework turns out to be the most money-making dad job, accounting for $9,170 of the total.

Dealing with those spiders and other bugs is the smallest contributor: That job is worth $57 a year.

The 2013 total represents a hefty 15% rise over last year, thanks to wage bumps among occupations like plumbers. Mom's 2013 market value is $59,862. (We recommend you refrain from gloating until tomorrow, ladies.)

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7 Money Habits Of The Rich That The Rest Of Us Can Copy

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guy on boat

When you hear the word “rich,” what do you think of?

Yachts? Evening gowns? Travel?

That’s true to an extent, but not all rich people live that way. For this argument, we’ll define “rich” as having an excess of money, and “lavish” as obscenely using moolah like those in Hollywood.

Those who are rich, especially the self-made rich, are a different breed than most people. They do things differently. They live differently. They think differently. These differences get them where they are.

Without these actions (or an inheritance from your great uncle Earl), you’ll simply stay a reader, passive without action.

Let’s read and incorporate:

Financial Habits of the Rich (And How to Develop Them)

1. Build up cash by saving it. 

Yes, the rich save their cash. Rather than eating out all the time, they tuck those dollars into stock mutual funds that pay out. According to Jean Chatzky in The Difference, 55% of the self-made rich got there by saving.

Take action: Where are you spending that you don’t NEED to? Be honest. Write it down. Get serious about finding cheaper alternatives. If you shop at Starbucks every morning, stop. Invest in a Keurig and drop the money you would have spent into a savings account. When you’ve built it up a bit, invest it in a stock mutual fund and watch it grow.

2. Don’t pay for what you don’t need.

In other words, stop trying to outdo the Jones’ and stay within your budget for things like your house and car. If you pay $400 a month for an SUV that’s drinking dollars each week, pare down. Do you really need an SUV? Would a minivan be a more cost-effective alternative?

Take action: Take a look at the places you pay for lavish upgrades, and scale them back. Could you do with a smaller home? Could you do with less expensive clothes? Be honest in your assessment, or you’re wasting your time.

3. Haggle.

Never ever pay full price for something. Always look for ways to get a cheaper price. Talk to the store manager. Wait and shop on days when clearance sales are running. If you’re an avid Target shopper, you probably already know their clearance schedule.

Take action: The next time you want something, try to find it on sale, use coupons, or negotiate for a better price. Take the money you saved and add it to your savings pile to forward on to the stock mutual fund option.

4. Just do it.

This is true on so many levels. The self-made rich are people with the mindset that they can (and will) change their situations. Instead of waiting for good things to happen (or wondering why they don’t), they get out there and make them happen. They invest in businesses. They start businesses. Or they invest in things that will have high returns.

Take action: Whether you’re at work, the mall, or the grocery store, look for ways to earn more money. Don’t sit idle wishing you could do something. If you want this, you must make it happen.

5. Set goals – and achieve them.

Doing is a lot more productive if you know what your goals are. The rich know what they want to earn, and they set a plan before they go out to do it. They research what will earn them the money they want, then they set and accomplish goals around it.

Take action: Set small financial goals you can easily achieve to help you build your confidence. As you reach your goals, set new ones — so that you always have your sights on a new horizon.

6. Live simply.

The self-made rich live lives that are simpler than most, because the more you have, the more you pay. Do you need 100 pairs of shoes? My wife does, but she’s the exception, or so she says. Do you need three laptops in the house? Can you survive with one? You see where this is going. We’re a consumer society, and it’s reflected in all the “stuff” we buy. And most of it we don’t truly need.

Take action: Go through your house, declutter, and get rid of the things you don’t need. Then vow not to replace it with more. Think three times before buying, and always go for simple.

7. Get fit.

Yep. The self-made rich take care of themselves, too. Who wants to pay hospitals thousands and thousands of dollars to fix what they broke? Not the men and women who’ve worked so hard to earn and save. They maintain their health by taking active roles in exercising and eating right.

Take action: If you already exercise, great! If you don’t, start. Increase your level of fitness and see how you feel (mentally and physically) after a few weeks. Your mind and body will love you.

Remember: You don’t get to pick and choose. If you want to become self-made rich, you have to incorporate these seven habits into your own life today.

This post originally appeared at Moneyning.

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I Was Surprised By How Much I Loved Visiting Peru

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The Sun Gate at Machu Picchu, Cuzco, Peru

Peru is one of those places that make iconically beautiful countries like South Africa and Thailand feel a hint of jealousy. The nation’s thriving melting pot of cultures reflect a vibrant, diverse community, many with roots tied as far back to the Incas and other sophisticated pre-Columbian civilizations.

The country is riddled with archaeological sites that tell the story of these civilizations, which left a legacy that still lives on in the art, customs and traditions found in modern-day Peru.

I journeyed to Peru with avid hopes of climbing Machu Picchu and sipping coca tea with locals donning traditional Quechua garb. I did this, but also learned that this experience was only a minute sliver of the countless facets that make Peru a country with much to envy.

LIMA

When traveling to Peru you’ll most likely fly into Lima, a city rich with Pre-Columbian ruins and enchanting Spanish Colonial architecture.

It was my first time visiting the country, so I was happy to be traveling with Globus, an experienced tour company that focuses on authentic cultural experiences.

We settled in for lunch at Tanta, one of Gaston Acurio’s restaurants. Dubbed guru chef of Peru, Acurio is known as the man who made Peru famous for its thriving culinary scene. Ordering a fresh juice with your lunch is a must, and I would recommend trying the tacu tacu, a traditional Peruvian dish incorporating a rice and beans pancake, a thin “sábana” (sheet) of steak, and a side of fried plantain, topped off with a fried egg.

Presidential Palace, Lima, Peru

With content bellies, we ventured to one of Lima’s vibrant food markets where we sniffed and sampled many local varieties of fruits, vegetables, fish and spices. Here is where you’ll find cherimoya, a soft fleshy sweet fruit that is white in color and has a velvety custard-like texture — hence its secondary name, custard apple – or aji limo, a spicy type of pepper used in Peruvian ceviche, a dish the country is famous for.

After perusing the market we set out to learn more about the colonial heritage of the city. Our group visited some of Lima’s most revered sites such as the Plaza de Armas, the Government Palace and the Cathedral of Lima.

From here we headed to the Monastery of San Francisco, a stunning example of Spanish Baroque architecture, where ancient cloister murals from the 17th century adorn the walls and ceiling of the church. Catacombs, which lie below the monastery, contain an ossuary and secret passageways, lined with bones and skulls that are said to connect to the cathedral and the Tribunal of the Inquisition.

Later that evening, we enjoyed a magnificent dinner at Casa Garcia Alvarado, a historic home that once belonged to the Castro Iglesias family. The home dates back to Peru’s Colonial period, when its forerunners earned the titles, Count of Lurigancho and Marques of Otero, for services rendered to the Spanish Crown. It was later remodeled in 1932 and is currently owned by Ana Maria and Josefina García Alvarado.

Upon arrival, we were greeted by Ana Maria who escorted us to the Grand Salon where we enjoyed pisco sours and hors d’oeuvres including the typical Peruvian ceviche I had quickly grown to love. The best part of the evening was listening to Ana Maria tell stories of her family history over a beautiful home-cooked meal. The entire experience was very personal and warming.

cuzco cusco peruCUSCO

Tucked away within the striking Andes mountains range lies Cusco, the breathtaking Andean City, and the former capital of the Inca Empire. The city is peppered with luscious greenery, expansive farms, and ancient ruins, leaving you no other choice but to feel as though you’ve stepped out of reality and back into the 13th century.

We began our journey at the ruins at Saksaywaman, or as locals call it, “Sexy Woman”. Here, alpacas roam freely while locals tend to the land, creating an atmosphere that slowed my fast-beating New York City heart to a placid pace. Although the ruins steal the show amidst this picturesque landscape it’s important to note that the Cathedral of Santo Domingo is worthy of a visit. The exquisite Gothic-Renaissance architecture and paintings tell the story of the destructive Spanish invasion.

Once a pagan community, the Incas were forced to bring Catholicism into their beliefs after the Spanish took over. Much of the artwork in the cathedral originated from the Escuela Cuzquenaor Cusco School of Art, which was built by the Spanish to educate the Incas with the methods and disciplines of European renaissance style artwork.

The Quechua painters were limited to painting scenes of European and Catholic importance. The restrictions imposed on the Inca artists meant that they were not permitted to sign their own artwork, so much of it is unidentifiable.

The Santo Domingo Monastery as well as the Kenko Amphitheater also proved to be worthy stops in this historic city.

Sacred Valley peruSACRED VALLEY

We continued our journey down the scenic route to the Sacred Valley to visit the Temple of Saksaywaman. Here we joined an El Pago a la Tierra, also known as the Mother Earth Ceremony. The ceremony is performed by a shaman and spoken in the local language, Quechua. With every offering, Mother Earth received some candy for her sweet tooth, and a libation, which was poured onto the ground to quench her thirst.

The next morning, we explored the Ollantaytambo ruins comprised of a town and the royal estate of Emperor Pachacuti who conquered the region, built the town and a ceremonial center.

Some of the stones used in the construction of the town were more than 350 tons, which had to be rolled up and down towering mountains in order to build the extensive terracing and irrigation systems in the Urubamba Valley.

After visiting the ruins, we drove over to a local house where we met the family and were granted a peek into their daily lives. The adobe house consisted of one small room and a small plot of land that allowed the family’s livestock –several  guinea pigs — to run free. These animals are seen as a delicacy, hence the children are not allowed to play with them as they are considered a food source rather than pets.

We explored the Sacred Valley a little further by heading over to Pisac, a quaint and friendly village where we found plenty of handmade Alpaca items, jewelry, bags, and hand-painted Incan pottery.

machu picchuMACHU PICCHU

The Incas built this estate around 1450, but abandoned it as an official site for the Inca emperors a century later at the time of the Spanish Conquest. Before 1911, the site was unknown to the outside world until the American historian Hiram Bingham brought it to international attention. Since then, Machu Picchu has been added as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Most of the outlying buildings (approximately 30 percent of the entire Machu Picchu site) have been reconstructed in order to give tourists a better idea of what the structures originally looked like.

There are a few ways you can explore this ancient mountain. If you have an adventurous soul, feed your adrenaline by taking the four-day hiking tour, which entails walking from morning until night and camping out on the mountain.

If you prefer to arrive a little more comfortably (as our group did) you can take the Peru Rail train through the Urubamba Valley while soaking in the verdant scenery. From there, you’ll board a bus up to Machu Picchu, which leads to the base of the ruins. No matter which way you choose to ascend the mountain, upon arriving be sure to have your passport stamped as proof that you’ve visited one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

QuinoaQUINOA AND MORE

You can take a girl out of NYC, but you can’t take the foodie out of this NYC girl. Our tour wrapped up with some delegated free time, which I used to relax, exercise and indulge my curiosity of Peruvian food.

In Cusco, I set out to try as many different quinoa dishes as I could get my hands on: quinoa soup, quinoa entrees, and even quinoa mousse for dessert (it just so happens to be one of my favorite foods). The land is also rich in potatoes and corn, and meats such as alpaca and guinea pig are local delicacies, so of course, I was sure to try each at least once.

On the final day of the trip, I spent much of my time back in Lima’s colorful markets. The selection of fruits, which are used for everything from juices and desserts, to sauces and purees mesmerized me. When you’re used to getting most of your produce from across the country (and sometimes from across the world), you suddenly appreciate the privilege of visiting a place that has a bounty of local produce available year-round. So I savored the present moment by sampling cacao fruit, lucuma, aguaymanto, pepino, camu camu and noni.

I ended this fascinating journey in the same manner in which it began – indulging in a spicy dish of fresh ceviche while soaking in the vibrant culture of one of the most intriguing places on earth.

What’s not to envy about that?

SEE ALSO: Skip The Summer Heat And Go Skiing In Chile's Andes Mountains >

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The 10 Cheapest Cities In The World

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Thimphu Bhutan

When I was in Nicaragua in 2011, I had a friend who was renting a room with her boyfriend in Managua.

They each paid $25 per month for rent. The bus ride to their job cost 10 American cents.

Point being: There are places in the world where your dollar can go a very long way.

This is important. If you’re a traveler, it correlates directly to how much traveling you will actually be doing.

I’ve also spent time in places like Australia and New Zealand, where transportation costs alone can drain you. Petrol is expensive. Car rentals. Sure, you can hitchhike, but the truth is you’re just not going to travel as much because everything is so expensive.

If you’re a writer / photographer / filmmaker, as a lot of Matadorians are, then keeping living costs as low as possible is a major priority. Look at the Beats: Paul Bowles hiding out in Morocco penning novels, the same with Burroughs in Mexico City. Even Rolf Potts has said he prefers to write in countries where his money goes as far as possible.

These places do exist. And they’re quantified — quarterly — by the website xpatulator.com. These guys compile cost of living data into nice little lists like “Cheapest Cities in 2013.” They also have a thing called “hardship,” which looks at how much different the place is going to be from somewhere like the US — or how big of an adventure, depending on how you think about it.

Here are the 10 cheapest as of April, 2013.

Thimphu, Bhutan

Bhutan sounds cool. You could trek the Himalayan Mountains, immerse yourself in Buddhism, and adopt the clean life, since cigarettes are illegal and alcohol is expensive. Xpatulator ranks all other costs as “very low,” however.

The country’s constitutional monarchy continues to take creative and unique approaches to solve the problems of their people and the planet. It was their king who coined the term Gross National Happiness, which led to a whole new economic paradigm now called “subjective well-being.” They also plan to ban pesticides and be the first country to go completely organic.

Job-wise, you’ll find English teaching and more.

Tunis, Tunisia

If you’ve been following reports from the Arab Spring movement, Tunisia might seem dangerous. Tunisians ousted their government in 2011, which led to revolutions throughout the Middle East, including the ongoing conflict in Syria. The US has issued a travel warning for Tunisia, citing a violent attack on the US embassy last September.

But if you’re reading Matador, you’re probably aware of the difference between ground-level truths and AP headlines. According Chris Barfield, American expat writer, Tunis is livable and fun:

There is political uncertainty here, but I don’t think any aggression or frustration is directed at expats — the events at the American embassy in September notwithstanding. I never have felt unsafe in Tunisia. There is a reasonable amount of harassment, especially for women, however.

On nightlife, he emphasized that “Tunis is a totally fun city to live in,” and recommended this story on the club Le Plug in Tunis. He also commented that healthcare is “especially cheap.”

Managua, Nicaragua

Nicaragua is attracting literally millions of tourists these days. They come to hike the volcano on Isla Ometepe, for the colonial architecture in Leon and Granada, and the consistent surfon the Pacific. There are also humanitarian jobs in Nicaragua, and the Peace Corps have a program there.

As a word of caution, Transparency.org, a site that indexes countries based on their perceived level of corruption on a scale from 0 to 100, with 100 being least corrupt, scores Nica at 29.

Bucharest, Romania

Bucharest is the Romanian capital of two million and the 11th largest city in the EU. Alcohol, groceries, and healthcare costs are “very low.”

Contemporary Romania is a melting pot of disparate cultures past and present, from the Ancient Romans, to Saxons, Turks, and Slavs, in a kind of East-meets-West motherland. Among other inspiring events in Romanian history, this was a place where demoralizing execution methods led to the legend of Dracula.

Learning Romanian should be easy, according to Anne Merritt.

Sofia, Bulgaria

Bulgaria is Romania’s like-minded southern neighbor. They both became EU members in 2007. And they both have lots of outdoor activities, whether that’s tanning on the Black Sea, skiing the Balkan or Pirin Mountains, or fishing the Danube River.

Algiers, Algeria

Political and economic instability has left Algeria relatively untraveled by outsiders. The US Department of State issued a travel warning for Algeria in February due in part to government inefficiencies and corruption (CPI score is 34) and continued activities of extremist militants. This is an “extreme hardship” area.

Recent attempts have been made to stabilize the government and economy and focus on attracting tourists. And there are great things to see there, like seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Calcutta, India

India is the land of variety: over 400 different languages, 500 varieties of mangoes. Here are a few things you can do in India: Snowboard the Himalayasride rivers, visit Tikam Chandgo clubbing in Calcutta, get an ayurvedic massageskateboardsurf.

Grocery costs are “very low,” though a significant percentage of Indians live in extreme poverty. Calcutta is actually one of the less impoverished places. Read Jed Purses’ budget travel experiment to learn how cheap it really is. And check out these books.

Kathmandu, Nepal

Nepal is a small country (slightly larger than Arkansas), but contains Mount Everest, the highest point on earth above sea level. For mortals, there are other treks.

Nepalese is the official language, but many others are spoken (Maithili, Bhojpuri). 80% of the population is Hindu. Kathmandu is the capital, with 990,000 people. One quarter of the population lives below the poverty line; the unemployment rate was at 46% as of 2008. This is another “extreme hardship” area.

Check out these photos of the people and place by Matadorian Will Manley. All things considered, Nepal would be amazing.

Islamabad, Pakistan

There’s no denying Pakistan would be an awesome place to live — in a few years. Right now, maybe not.

The US issued a travel warning for Pakistan last April, citing the presence of “several foreign and indigenous terrorist groups.” The Kashmir region is the site of the largest and most militarized territorial dispute to date. 2.9 million Afghan refugees live in Pakistan.

Hyderabad, India

Hyderabad: the city of pearls…and slums. 23% of Hyderabad live in slums, according to estimates from the census of India (Calcutta comes in at 6%), which makes me wonder why Xpatulator ranks household accommodation costs as “average.”

Hyderabad would be eye opening to the lives of what Henry Rollins called the “intolerably and unacceptably poor.” Hardship is “high.”

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The 10 Most Outrageous Hotel Concierge Requests

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Hotel Concierge

On any given day, hotel concierge Kalindra Ashleigh might help guests book dinner reservations, track down a lost cell phone—or have a freshly caught shark shipped to Abu Dhabi.

“As a concierge, you never know what your day is going to entail and what miracles you may have to pull off,” says Ashleigh, a concierge at the Montage Beverly Hills. In the case of the shark, a visiting prince had caught the fish and wanted it shipped home intact—but unfortunately, thorny customs issues got in the way. “Instead, I offered to have a taxidermist transform it into a trophy for the prince,” she says. (He declined.)

With their wide network of contacts, concierges are “logistical experts, ambassadors of the city, and most important, during your stay, the facilitators of your life,” says Ashleigh. At high-end hotels like the Montage, you’re more likely to find a concierge who belongs to Les Clefs d’Or, a global organization of veteran concierges whose code promises to “attend to any request so long as it is moral, legal and kind.”

While the shark incident is proof that not every desire can be fulfilled, most guests’ requests are pretty straightforward: According to a Hotels.com survey, 68 percent of concierges in the U.S. and Mexico say they get asked most about sightseeing recommendations. (A good rule of thumb: Tip your concierge about $10 for a good dinner or tour recommendation, and at least $20 for more complicated requests.)

When we checked with concierges from around the world, however, we found that they regularly field requests that go well beyond a nice walking tour suggestion. In Paris, one family asked for two small lions to be waiting in their hotel room for their daughter’s birthday party. At the hotel that inspired The Shining, two guests requested to have dinner with the resident ghosts. And back in Beverly Hills, one guest enlisted a concierge to organize an elaborate wedding—for her show collie.

In fact, many of the most colorful concierge requests seem to involve weddings, proposals, or some other bit of romance engineering. At São Paulo’s Hotel Unique, one heartsick guest asked the concierge to help him stage a Cinderella moment to woo back his love. “Ultimately, I don’t think the relationship worked out,” says a hotel spokesperson, “but getting a horse carriage and a glass slipper was quite a feat.”

See the 10 most outrageous hotel concierge requests >

More from Executive Travel:

ET Luxury Report

Seoul: Business Travel Guide

Guests at the The Stanley Hotel were disappointed that could not have dinner with the ghosts.

This secluded mountain resort inspired Stephen King’s The Shining, so it’s no surprise that guests regularly have questions about the lodge’s paranormal quirks (like furniture moving by itself, the sounds of invisible children or visions of the founders, F. O. and Flora Stanley, roaming the property). But one evening, a couple asked concierge Bonnie Watson if they could have dinner with the ghosts of Mr. and Mrs. Stanley in the hotel’s Cascades restaurant. Since The Beyond is not typically within a concierge’s network of contacts, Watson says she had to politely disappoint the guests: “They are off the clock tonight,” she says she told them.



Two guests at the Four Seasons in Whistler asked to have a chunk of glacier shipped to South Carolina.

Concierges book plenty of day trips for guests—like, at this Canadian resort, helicopter tours to visit a nearby glacier. But two guests at the Four Seasons came back from their glacier trip carrying a large cube of ice in a brown box, and wanted it shipped home—to South Carolina. Chief Concierge Hana Lynn arranged for a freezer box that could be shipped by air—and asked that the pilot make Whistler the last stop before heading east. She says the guest called two days later to report the ice cube had arrived in perfect glacial condition, and was then rendered into glacial-ice cocktails. “Definitely my most challenging request to date,” Lynn says.



A guest at The Duke St. James asked for an onion ring the size of his head.

Concierges often help guests navigate dietary restrictions—food allergies, special diets or religious observances—as well as culinary peculiarities. “We once had an American guest who asked for an onion ring the size of his head,” says concierge Ian Haigh at The Dukes St. James, in London. “He literally wanted the biggest onion ring we could find—it may have been an inside joke between the guests.” Undeterred, Haigh got in touch with some local steakhouses, one of which obliged him. “We had it ready when the family arrived,” he says, “and we made a very happy guest smile.”



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Here's Where You Can Buy A House With A Pool For $100,000 Or Less

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diving board swimming pool

While a community pool may seem like the cheapest way to escape the heat this summer, HOA fees can be pricey, and in older neighborhoods, shared amenities may not be available.

Fortunately, buying an affordable house with a pool is possible in real estate markets around the U.S. — and nothing beats swimming in the privacy of your own backyard.

Check out these homes on the market with full-size, in-ground pools for around $100,000.

SEE ALSO: The 10 Cheapest Cities In The World

Calhoun, GA

281 Buck Blvd SE, Calhoun, GA 

For sale: $112,900



Calhoun, GA

“Bask in the sun, poolside,” writes real estate agent Kay Fuller in the listing description for this 3-bedroom, 2-bath home. Spanning half an acre, the property includes a screened-in porch overlooking a manicured rose garden.



Houston, TX

16722 Royal Mile Ln, Houston, TX 

For sale: $114,900



See the rest of the story at Business Insider
    


Billionaire Ron Perelman Accused Of Spending Daughter's Inheritance To Sue His Former In-Laws

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ron perelman

UPPER EAST SIDE — Billionaire Ron Perelman is so hellbent on exacting revenge against his former in-laws that he has burned through his daughter's $68 million inheritance to mount a slew of unsuccessful lawsuits against them, court papers claim. 

The targets of the lawsuits — the family of Perelman's second wife — say he has spent at least $20 million on five years of litigation. They have gone to court to find out exactly how much Perelman has splurged and claim he has so far stone-walled them in obtaining an accurate account.

The chrome-dome corporate raider was married to his second wife, tabloid gossip columnist Claudia Cohen, from 1985 to 1994, and had a daughter, Samantha, with her.

After their divorce, Perelman and Cohen remained close friends and lived a few blocks away from one another on the Upper East Side. When she died of cancer at 56 in 2007, he was appointed the executor of her estate, and Samantha, now 23, was named the main beneficiary.

Since 2008, on behalf of Claudia's estate, he has filed at least four lawsuits in New Jersey against Claudia's father, Robert Cohen, and her brother, James Cohen, accusing them of cheating Samantha out of a share of the family's lucrative media business.

Claudia's father, Robert Cohen, started Hudson County News Company, which operates a chain of newspaper and magazine retail stores.

Perelman, 70, accused Robert of going back on a promise to leave Claudia half his fortune. A lawsuit also claimed that between 2003 and 2008, James transferred assets from his ailing dad to himself, buying 95% of Robert's business for $15 million when it was later valued at $800 million.

The cosmetics tycoon said in court papers that he suspected the Cohens were up to no good when James approached him a few weeks after Claudia's death and asked to buy her share of a family estate in Palm Beach for a fraction of its true value.

"This was the first sign to me that James was engaged in misconduct, and it ultimately led me to file claims," Perelman said in a 2011 court document.

The Cohens counter that Perelman's litigation is driven by revenge — not out of a desire to protect Samantha.

The proof, they say, is in the will Claudia filed three years before her death, where she spoke of the importance of her family. Claudia expressed her "everlasting love" to her parents and described James and his wife as "the best brother and sister-in-law anyone could ever have."

The will also instructs Perelman to allow Samantha "liberal visitation time" with her grandparents and uncle.

The Cohens claim Perelman's true motivation for filing the lawsuits is to claw back money he lost in an $80 million divorce settlement with Claudia. The five-times-married Revlon exec has shelled out a whopping $138 million in settlements to four ex-wives, according to New York magazine.

The Cohens also claim that Perelman pursued the lawsuits to saddle them with staggering legal bills, glean confidential information about Hudson County News, and force James to watch his ailing father, debilitated by Parkinson's Disease, be humiliated during a grueling deposition.

So far Perelman hasn't been too successful — he has lost all four lawsuits and has appealed two.

The litigation has come at a hefty cost. Before he died in 2012, Robert Cohen won a $13 million judgment against Claudia's estate in a counter-claim. Perelman's attorneys were also fined $1.9 million for frivolous litigation in one lawsuit.

The estate's mounting expenses prompted James Cohen and his two sons in 2011 to obtain a ruling in Manhattan Surrogate's Court requiring Perelman to provide an accounting of the estate's money. Cohen and his sons said they had the right to the records because they're listed as beneficiaries in Claudia's will if Samantha were to die.

After getting a judge to sign off on the request, they have since claimed that Perelman has bucked the order, refusing to disclose fully the estate's expenses and transactions.

Perelman's alleged obstruction hasn't stopped the Cohens from speculating on the cost of litigation.

In one filing, James said that he and his father had spent $12 million on legal fees battling just one lawsuit. He estimated that, under Perelman's stewardship, the estate had spent at least $20 million on an army of pricey lawyers, but believes the amount is likely much higher. 

"Today, with the additional fees that the estate has incurred on unsuccessful appeals, the estate has surely spent in excess of $20 million on the New Jersey proceedings, and aggregate expenses in excess of $30 million are very much in the realm of possibility," the filing says.

A filing by James' sons, Justin and Robert II, said that the $68.8 million estate has paid $30 million in taxes and that the Perelman's litigation might have eaten up the remaining money.

"In his efforts to avoid discovery, [Perelman] has revealed that substantial grounds exist to believe that he has committed major improprieties, and that, far from acting as a fiduciary of the estate and its principal beneficiary, he has used the estate as his personal piggy-bank to finance a personal litigation vendetta against his former in-laws," the filing said.

A representative for the Cohens did not respond to a request for comment. However, filings over the past year show that the Cohens have continued to subpoena Perelman for records. The Revlon boss was also expected to be deposed last month by the Cohens' lawyers.

Christine Taylor, a spokeswoman for Ron Perelman, said in a statement that the Cohens' allegations were false.

"The only legal fees paid were to protect the assets of the estate against the claims made by Jimmy Cohen," she said.

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Lawsuit Accuses Upper East Side Aristocrats Of Abusing Their Chilean Nanny

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New York City nanny nannies central park

According to a bombshell report in The New York Post, a new lawsuit alleges that an Upper East Side couple kept a Chilean nanny as a "virtual slave" for three months.

The woman, Felicitas del Carmen Villanueva Garnica, claimed in the lawsuit filed with the Manhattan federal court that she was physically abused by her employers' three children, and kept in the U.S. under false pretenses, the Post reports.

The employers in question are Chilean aristocrats Malu Custer Edwards and Micky Hurley. Edwards is the descendant of Agustín Edwards McClure, a Chilean Diplomat who led the League of Nations in 1922, and Hurley is related to some of the Chile's founding settlers, according to The Post.

The lawsuit alleges that the socialites met Villanueva in Chile in December 2010, and offered her $10 an hour to come live with them in New York City.

But instead of the agreed upon wage, Villanueva told the court she was only given $800 monthly to work 12-hour days without a single day off.

Other shocking allegations include that Villanueva was forbidden to speak to anyone outside the family, locked in the room with the children, who "repeatedly" hit her, and only allowed to eat small amounts of milk, yogurt, eggs, and bread.

“They brought me here to mistreat me,” Villanueva told The Post. “They were telling me I don’t have any rights of any sort.”

Villanueva finally left the family in March of 2011.

The couple has denied Villanueva's allegations: "The claims are completely without merit and will be fully refuted in court," their attorney Robin Alperstein told The Post.

However, it's worth noting that in July 2011, the state Department of Labor ordered the couple to pay Villanueva $6,302 in back wages, the Post reports.

You can read the full report over at The New York Post.

DON'T MISS: Meet The Most Spoiled Kids In The World

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A Hedge Funder Is Selling His Buddhist-Inspired Home For $3.5 Million

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Princeton New Jersey home

The Wall Street Journal reports that a former hedge fund manager is selling his Princeton, New Jersey home for $3.575 million. 

Daniel Cloud is a founding partner of Firebird Fund Management.  He's currently a lecturer at Princeton University's philosophy department, according to the Journal. 

Cloud purchased the Buddhism-influenced 7,000 square foot home for $3.7 million in 2007, the report said.  He told the paper he wants to sell it because it's too much for one person.

Callaway Henderson of Sotheby's International Realty has the listing

Now let's take a tour of the house.

The home is located on a 9 acre wooded lot. There are walking trails and a pond on the property.



The home, which is located on Province Line Road in Princeton, was renovated by New York-based Garrison Architects.



According to the Wall Street Journal, the home was inspired by Buddhism's "three worlds."



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You Can Find The World’s Best Soup Dumplings In Taiwan

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soup dumplingsUsually I dislike travel posts that claim things are “the world’s best.” However, Din Tai Fung in Taipei, Taiwan, deserves the title.

Originally founded as a cooking oil retail shop in 1958, the thriving business was threatened in the 1970s when people began to change the way they cooked and used oil.

In 1972 Din Tai Fung was transformed into a restaurant with a focus on high quality food, locally-sourced ingredients and exceptional service.

Ask any local in the country where to find the best dumplings and they’ll tell you Din Tai Fung. Moreover, they’ve received a Michelin Star for the past four years, a distinct honor no other Taiwanese restaurants have attained. While Din Tai Fung is a chain, my experience was at the venue located in the iconic Taipei 101 building.

While I’d had dumplings in my life, I’d never sampled the life-changing experience that is the soup dumpling (Xiao Long Bao in Chinese). Din Tai Fung makes each dumpling with 18 precise folds, and you can watch the dumplings being pounded, kneaded, wrapped, folded and steamed through a translucent window while you dine.

In order to get the full experience, my group ordered a full spread: pork soup dumplings, beef soup dumpling, shrimp soup dumplings, chicken soup dumplings, vegetable soup dumplings, fried pork chops, fried rice with egg and scallion, peanut noodles, tofu soup, spicy shrimp and pork wontons, shrimp and pork chow mein, shrimp and pork potstickers, morning glory and, for dessert, pineapple cake and a red bean dumpling.

There is a method to eating a soup dumpling, and staff will help guide you through it. Here is how to enjoy:

  • You’ll be given a small plate of thinly sliced ginger, which you should top with a one-second pour of soy sauce and three one-second pours of vinegar. This will be what you place on top of your soup dumpling.
  • Next, use your chop sticks to pick up the very top of the dumpling and dip it in the sauce.
  • Now place the dumpling on your soup spoon and top it with ginger before poking a hole in it and letting the soup drain out. In essence, you’re creating a bowl of soup in your spoon.
  • The best part, stick the spoon in your mouth and enjoy.

This part-soup and part-hearty dumpling is life-changing, and the textures and tastes interact perfectly on your palate. While each soup dumpling is delicious, I was particularly fond of the pork, which has a slight spice to it. My personal favorite of all the dishes was the spicy shrimp and pork wontons, which emit a pleasant hot and spicy flavor as soon as you place them in your mouth.

The fried pork chop breaks up the carb-rich meal with some protein, and its tender texture yet bold flavor reminds me something I would enjoy at a Texas barbecue. With every bite of the meal, I’m immersed in a world of delicious culture that I never want to leave. Unlike with many local Taiwanese restaurants in the country, there are no surprises about what you’re eating. The only surprise is the overwhelmingly delicious flavor.

This post originally appeared on Epicure & Culture.

SEE ALSO: Check Out The Amazing Contrasts In Shanghai Right Now

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International Cities Are Turning Into 'Elite Citadels'

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diner en blanc nyc 2012 wealth rich luxuryTwo mournful friends dropped by our flat in Paris last Sunday.

They are a well-paid couple from the caste known in Paris as “bobos”: people with bourgeois incomes and bohemian tastes.

In the popular narrative, bobos have invaded Paris, driving out pure bohemians and the working class. But my bobo friends had a new story: they themselves were being driven out of Paris.

To get enough space for their kids, they were leaving for the suburbs. When they’d told the headmaster at the children’s school, he had looked sad and said: “Everyone is leaving.” Paris is pricing out even the upper middle-class.

There is a wider story here. The great global cities – notably New YorkLondonSingaporeHong Kong and Paris – are unprecedentedly desirable. At last week’s fascinating New Cities Summit in São Paulo, the architect Daniel Libeskind said: “We live in a time of renaissance … cities are coming back to life, after a long neglect.” Edward Luce chronicled the urban revival in last Saturday’s FT Magazine. However, there’s an iron law of 21st-century life: when something is desirable, the “one per cent” grabs it. The great cities are becoming elite citadels. This is terrifying for everyone else.

At the New Cities Summit I had a coffee with Saskia Sassen of Columbia University, leading thinker on cities. That took some doing: Sassen arrived from Bogotá that morning, and was flying to Zurich hours later. “Cities were poor,” she told me, in between. “In the 1970s London was broke, New York was broke, Tokyo was broke, Paris was much poorer than now. And the built environment was a bit run down.”

But from the 1980s, these cities recovered. An increasingly complex financial sector needed more sophisticated networks of lawyers and accountants. Corporate mergers and takeovers meant global headquarters got concentrated in fewer places. Crime declined, making cities less scary. And so great cities grew richer. Fancy architects put up lovely buildings. House prices rose.

First, the working classes and bohemians were priced out. Nowadays the only ribald proletarian banter you hear inside Paris is from the market sellers, who don’t live there anymore.

That was gentrification. Now comes plutocratisation: the middle classes and small companies are falling victim to class-cleansing. Global cities are becoming patrician ghettos. In 2009, says Sassen, the top 1 per cent of New York City’s earners got 44 per cent of the compensation paid to its workers. The “super-prime housing market” keeps rising even when the national economy collapses. After Manhattan, New York’s upper-middle classes are being priced out of Brooklyn. Sassen diagnoses “gradual destruction”.

Global cities are turning into vast gated communities where the one per cent reproduces itself. Elite members don’t live there for their jobs. They work virtually anyway. Rather, global cities are where they network with each other, and put their kids through their country’s best schools. The elite talks about its cities in ostensibly innocent language, says Sassen: “a good education for my child,” “my neighbourhood and its shops”. But the truth is exclusion.

When one-per-centers travel, they meet peers from other global cities. A triangular elite circuit now links London, Paris and Brussels, notes Michael Keith, anthropology professor at Oxford. Elite New Yorkers visit London, not Buffalo.

Sassen says: “These new geographies of centrality cut across many older divides – north-south, east-west, democracies versus dictator regimes. So top-level corporate and professional sectors of São Paulo begin to have more in common with peers in Paris, Hong Kong et cetera than with the rest of their own societies.”

. . .

All through history, bright young people migrated to metropolises: think of Dick Whittington, the semi-mythical medieval English country boy who ended up mayor of London. But today Dick wouldn’t be able to afford a bedsit in London. He’d have to turn down an internship. To buy in these cities now, you must either earn a fortune or inherit a house there – and often the same people do both. Outsiders who reach the city late rarely have the education and contacts to succeed.

Inevitably, the one per cent in the global city shapes national policies. Sassen mentions core features of the “neoliberal project”, such as deregulating finance or privileging control of inflation over job growth. “The work was done in Wall Street, the City of London,” she says. Elite opinion-formers, who live in global cities alongside financiers (albeit in smaller flats), assured the little people that these policies would help everyone.

Sassen sighs: “The capture by a very small number of cities of a lot of the excitement and wealth produced by the system – this is a problem.” Outside these hubs, things are less desirable. Most western cities have lost manufacturing. Market towns struggle as small-scale agriculture fades. A few secondary cities (Lyon, Denver, Bristol) thrive. Most don’t. Even cities as prominent as São Paulo, Moscow or Johannesburg may prove too violent or congested to succeed. “You also have cities that simply die – Detroit,” adds Sassen. But if they’re out in the sticks, nobody powerful will hear them scream.

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It Was Thrilling To Watch The Brand New Airbus Jetliner Fly For The First Time

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AIRBUS A350 Editor's note: This is a condensed version of Airchive.com editor Chris Sloan's post on the maiden flight of the Airbus A350. You can read the full post and see photos at Airchive.com.

The first half of 2013 has certainly been a busy year in the annals of commercial aviation. In January the worldwide fleet of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner was grounded, not taking to the skies again until May.

On Valentine’s Day, American Airlines and US Airways announced a blockbuster merger, creating the world’s largest airline and effectively ending the legacy airlines consolidation game in the United States.

In early March, Bombardier rolled-out the CSeries CS100, the first in a line of airliners that could not only be a game-changing regional jet, but possibly challenge the Airbus A320/Boeing 737 duopoly. These headlines alone would make any year exceptional, but midway through the year another major event loomed large.

On June 14th, Airbus flew for the first time what is likely to be the last “totally clean sheet” large airliner of the rest of this decade – the Airbus A350 XWB. Even with roughly 2 days notice, there was absolutely no way I was going to miss this historic event. I, along with many others, had suspected June 13th or 14th would be “D-Day” for the A350, so I had my bags packed and reservations on hold just in case. 

The final assembly of MSN-1, the A350 prototype, began on April 5, 2012. On February 7, 2013 the European Aviation Safety Agency certified the A350’s Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines. Less then 3 weeks later, the first A350 rolled out of the final assembly line on February 26, 2013. By March 26, 2013 Airbus announced that APU and RR Trent’s had been installed on the MSN-1.

April bought 2 major order announcements: a new A350 customer in the form of British Airways’ parent corporation International Air Group and an additional aircraft request from Singapore Airlines. After a flurry of production news in the months leading up the launch, Airbus went into “radio silence” about the MSN-1’s final assembly, but on Tuesday June 11th, Airbus reported that the initial ground taxi tests were complete, and that the A350 would take to the skies for the first time on Friday June 14th at 10:00 AM Toulouse (CEST) time. 

Within minutes, I cleared my calendar, confirmed my flight reservations and made plans to leave for Toulouse the next day. With an ATC strike going on at the time, this was no easy task but I was determined to be there, finally arriving late on Thursday June 13th. At 7:30 AM on Friday June 14th, I was on a bus (the kind with 4 wheels) at Toulouse-Blagnac Airport, a jet-lagged mess heading for the Airbus Henri Ziegler Delivery Centre where we would witness this historic milestone. It was hard to believe that the first Airbus A300, the world’s first twin engine wide-body jet, had flown for the first time 41 years ago. Now the once-nascent European upstart (along with Boeing) is one of the world’s two leading aircraft manufacturers.

As we made our way to the opposite side of the airport, we noticed throngs of plane spotters lining the runways. The favorable weather forecast predicted light winds and partly cloudy skies, in direct contrast to the cold, cloudy day before which seemed like it could have threatened the best-laid of plans. In this case, timing would be everything. Airbus decided on a firm 10:00 AM CEST departure and it was going to be happen whether the press were ready or not.

At 9:15 AM, we were transported via bus to a large field parallel to runway 14R/32L where Airbus’ third-generation wide-body twin would take off for the first time. We learned that Airbus set a record that day with this particular A330 configured in a high density, single-class 416-passenger configuration – the most ever on an A330.  At 9:50 AM CEST, with winds 6 mph out of the NNE, A350 MSN-1 lined up on the threshold of the runway. At precisely 10:00 AM they began the take-off roll. The Rolls-Royce Trents were so quiet that the cheers from our audience were the only clue that the big twin had begun its maiden flight. Weighing in at “only 221 tons”, we leaped into the sky to cheers, tears, and applause. It was a powerful moment, only interrupted by thousands of camera shutters.

A chase plane and numerous helicopters followed the climb over the next 4 ½ hours, beaming down impressive, live multiple-camera coverage of the A350 in-flight to the more than 50,000 people watching the Airbus live web stream and millions others watching on TV across the globe. It is safe to assume that this was the most covered first-flight in history. 

There was no mention of when the next test flight would occur, including the much-speculated fly-over of the Paris Air Show the following week. Chris Young, the Rolls-Royce Project Director on the Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines provided the next briefing. Young boasted “The Trent XWB is the world’s most efficient jet engine. It takes in tons of air a second. The fuel is burned at half the temperature of the surface of the sun. Each of 68 turbine blades generates the power of a Formula 1 car.” Indeed, today’s first test flight was operated at the maximum 84,000 pounds of thrust on each engine at take-off.

With the A350 MSN-1 due back within the hour from its maiden sortie over Southwestern France, it was time for everyone to head back out to the viewing area adjacent to the runway. I sprinted across the field to be in the first photography position for the landing, even though the threshold point would be at some distance from our cameras. Traffic at Toulouse-Blagnac Airport came to a standstill foreshadowing the planned runway fly-over as cameras began pointing skyward. At precisely 1:50 PM CEST the flight crew performed a breathtaking fly by at around 800-1000 feet, and the raucous cheers and applause almost drowned out the Trent engines.

Within minutes, the A350 was visible on short-finals in the distance out of the South. A collective hush (really!) fell over the crowd as the MSN-1 flared then greased down onto the runway completing its historic 4 hour, 5 minute first flight. Thrusters were deployed right in front of the photographer’s area much to our delight as the pilots applied brakes and gradually slowed. The crowd went absolutely wild with hand shakes, back slaps, boisterous applause, and even hugs. The crowd reacted like Airbus had just won the Superbowl or the World Cup.

With fists pumped, arms raised, and wide smiles, the crew were all excited as they exited the aircraft. After a few photo opportunities, they made their way down the stairs through the crush of the exuberant crowd to the podium where Airbus President and CEO Fabrice Bregier said: “I congratulate the whole A350 XWB development team for having completed the first flight preparation in a record time. I also wish to thank the first flight crew today for taking this aircraft where it wants to be – in the sky.” He added: “[we] had this first flight date in mind for 9 months and thanks to the miracles of the entire A350 team, we made it!”

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A Floating Pool In New York's East River Is Getting Closer To Reality

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Two summers ago, Family and PlayLab launched the Kickstarter project +Pool, which promised New Yorkers a clean space to swim in the East River with a "floating pool."

The pool would work like a giant strainer dropped into the river, naturally filtering water from the East River without adding chemicals or additives. And it would actually clean up to half a million gallons of river water daily through a layered filtration system.

Now, after partnering with design, engineering, architectural, and environmental groups, and receiving civil approval for the project, Family and PlayLab is back on Kickstarter to make this thing into a reality.

The company is looking to raise $250,000 to build a "test" version of the pool. And it looks like they'll have no problem reaching their goal: At the time of this post, the company had reached almost half that amount with more than 1,000 backers and 24 days left to go.

The coolest part of the Kickstarter project is that people who fund the +Pool can buy one of the 70,000 tiles that will line the pool. They can put their name, logo, or whatever they like on the tile for a pledge starting at $25.

If all of the 70,000 tiles are bought, the company says the $15 million project will be completely funded. The first 5,000 people to pledge will also get two tickets to the opening day of + Pool.

See what the + Pool could look like below:

When it's done, the +Pool would float in New York's East River with a path from Brooklyn Bridge Park.

+Pool Kickstarter Project Family PlayLab

Without adding any chemicals or additives, +Pool would naturally filtrate the surrounding water.

+Pool Kickstarter Project Family PlayLab

The pool will be separated into four parts: For kids, sports, laps, and lounging.

+Pool Kickstarter Project Family PlayLab

Here's what those Kickstarter tiles would look like:

+Pool Kickstarter Project Family PlayLab

And the view of the pool at night.

+Pool Kickstarter Project Family PlayLab

DON'T MISS: Where To Stay And Party In The Hamptons This Summer

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These Are The 10 Worst States To Retire In

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woman looking worried in the rain stressBeware of the beach! Watch out for historic neighborhoods, vineyards, sweeping verandas -- especially if you're about to retire. These places will steal your heart and get you thinking about a permanent move before you've considered all the angles.

And there are many. Bankrate analyzed a variety of data, including state taxes, local crime rates, access to medical care and cost of living. We found that some of the prettiest, most touristy states in the nation are also some of the toughest on retirees.

Here, in descending order, are 10 of the lowest-ranking states for retirement based on our criteria.

10. Delaware

Delaware is home to excellent beaches, hiking trails and other natural beauties. It's also a shopper's haven since it doesn't levy sales taxes on consumers. Yet, despite relatively low state and local taxes and a temperate climate, The First State can be tougher on retirees than many other states. Its cost of living is higher than average, according to data from the Council for Community and Economic Research, and access to medical care is below average.

Delaware's crime rate also is among the highest in the nation, with 3,970 property and violent crimes per 100,000 people, according to the FBI's 2011 Uniform Crime Report.



9. Minnesota

Garrison Keillor and the denizens of Lake Wobegon may disagree with this ranking, but the statistics are clear. Minnesota is a tough place for retirees.

Not only does it have a high cost of living; the weather is among the coldest in the nation. And the Tax Foundation estimates that state and local taxes amount to 10.8 percent of income, which includes sales, property and other taxes -- the seventh highest in the country.

Minnesota does provide residents good access to medical care, and its crime rate is well below the national average.



7-8. Maryland and Vermont

There's a two-way tie for this spot. Maryland and Vermont rank among the worst places to retire on Bank rate's list for a variety of reasons.

Both have relatively high costs of living and high state and local taxes. Maryland's crime rate also is worse than the national average, and Vermont's weather could be tough on a lot of retirees. Temperatures have been an average of 43.1 degrees in Vermont from 1981 to 2010, making it one of the coldest states in the country.

Of course, those drawbacks may not be enough to dissuade lovers of Maryland crab cakes or Vermont's rolling blue-green hills.



See the rest of the story at Business Insider
    


Mobile, Alabama, Is Desperate To Show Us That It's Not One Of The Most Miserable Cities In America

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julie mobile tumblrBack in March, I wrote a post called "The 11 Most Miserable Cities In America."

The post was based on the latest set of data from Gallup's annual Well-Being Index, which ranks cities in terms of emotional and physical health, work environment, and access to basic necessities, among other factors.

Let's be clear: I've never been to any of the cities on the list.

In the post, I explained that the list was based on statistics published by the consulting company, and not my own impressions.

Even so, I managed to make some folks pretty mad  just take a look at the comments.

One person, though, was determined to prove me wrong.

Sandy Stimpson, a businessman and mayoral candidate from Mobile, Ala.  which was the third miserable city in America, according to Gallup  started tweeting me invitations to come see the city for myself.

At first, I politely declined. But then I started to read about Mobile, and realized it actually sounded pretty neat.

Sure, the city fell in the bottom quintile on nearly every ranking on Gallup's index. But it's also home to the ninth-largest port in the U.S., which has worked hard to recover from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010. Airbus is currently building a major aircraft factory there, a move that will create several thousand jobs.

Plus, Mobile has one of America's best military museums. And it hosts a Mardi Gras celebration that reportedly rivals New Orleans'.

julie mobile tumblrStimpson reiterated his invitation, and wooed me with a YouTube video and a personalized Tumblr (and a hashtag!).

So I ran the idea past my bosses, and decided to take Stimpson up on his offer to show to me that Mobile is not one of America's most miserable cities. I'm flying down to the Gulf Coast city later this week, where I'll visit the Mobile River Delta, eat fresh seafood from the Gulf, and visit the plant of shipbuilder Austal USA.

I'm looking forward to meeting Stimpson, who is sponsoring my trip. But I really don't care about the Mobile mayoral race (Stimpson is running against Sam Jones, who's been in office since 2005). 

I do care about getting a real perspective on the city.

As the saying goes, there are lies, damn lies and statistics. I suppose I'll soon find out where the Gallup stats belong.

I sincerely hope that Stimpson and Mobile prove me wrong. You can read all about my trip here, and if you have any suggestions for can't-miss activities or sights in Mobile, please shoot me an email at jzeveloff@businessinsider.com.

SEE ALSO: The 11 Most Miserable Cities In America

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A Boston Woman Dropped $560,000 For Two Parking Spaces In A Trendy Neighborhood

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back bay boston mapManhattan may boast the highest monthly parking rates in the U.S.  ($6,744/year for a coveted midtown spot), but that's pocket change compared to the $560,000 one woman plunked down for two parking spots in Boston's Back Bay.

That's double the city's median home price.

The spaces were up for grabs at public auction last Thursday after the IRS seized them from their previous occupant, the Boston Globe's Katie Johnston reports.

Bidding for the rare tandem parking spots jumped by $10,000 increments until Lisa Blumenthal wiped out the competition.

So, what exactly does she get for $560,000?

Forget the lot; it's all about location. The Back Bay is home to many Boston hotspots like Copley Square and Newbury and Boylston Streets – all major shopping destinations. It's also notorious for expensive parking, costing as much $300,000 for a single space in 2009. Blumenthal's parking purchase set a new record.

She already owns three spots adjacent to her single family home in the area, but the extra spaces will allow friends and guests to park with ease. 

Boston is No. 3 on the list of most-expensive monthly parking rates in the U.S. at $405/month — more than double the national average of $166.

According to a study by Colliers International, parking costs are on the rise as office leasing increases; up 2.5% on average for a monthly unreserved space.

A majority of the 45 U.S. markets surveyed have fair parking availability, or 60-80% full on weekdays. One-third  have a waiting list for their spots, with an average wait time of 9.3 months.

But rising gas prices may affect parking prices for the coming year, as the higher gas cost persuades more commuters to use public transportation.

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Food Hacks For Healthy Baking [Infographic]

The Bed-Stuy Home From Spike Lee's 'Crooklyn' Just Sold For $1.7M

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crooklyn spike lee

BEDFORD-STUYVESANT — The 1994 Spike Lee film "Crooklyn" is the tale of a 1970s Brooklyn family. 

The setting for the film included 7 Arlington Place, a Bedford-Stuyvesant brownstone where the working-class family of seven lived.

Fast forward to 2013, and 7 Arlington Place is no longer the symbol of modesty it once was: the brownstone recently sold for $1.7 million, in what the house's realtor said could signal a new normal for Bed-Stuy real estate.

"Normally, I would say, things go over asking," said Jerry Minsky, of Douglas Elliman. "But not to that extent."

After a lull in 2012 post-Hurricane Sandy, Minsky and others said the new year has been a boon for Bedford-Stuyvesant real estate. Since January, homes in west Bed-Stuy have closed upwards of $1.5 million.

And those prices don't show signs of coming down soon.

"This is going to be around for a long time," Minsky said.

In addition to the "Crooklyn" house, a three-story building at 44 Monroe St., just east of the neighborhood's Classon Avenue border, was on the market for nine months before the new year. In early 2013, that house closed at $1.6 million.

Soon after, a cash buyer bought 266 Clifton Place, also for $1.6 million, Minsky said.

Then came 7 Arlington Place, a house that Minsky said needed significant work. Anticipating a tough sell, Minsky decided to set the price lower than what the seller wanted, at $1.3 million.

The property closed in four days, $400,000 above the asking price, with a majority of offers coming in cash.

"There were a multitude of buyers, some who required mortgages, some who did not," Minsky said. "My client took an offer that was extraordinary."

Minsky would not confirm whether the eventual buyer paid with cash, but added that this shift to cash offers is a probable bank correction, after risky mortgages helped lead to the "housing bubble," and ultimately, the recession that began in late 2007.

With fewer mortgaged homes, the market has become more resistant to volatility, Minsky said. That, in turn, could lead to homes that will only grow in value.

"It's weeding out people with bad credit and low down-payments," Minsky said. "If the bank is not as accommodating in mortgage financing as they were prior to the Lehman collapse, what happens is people with other means step in."

Minsky isn't the only observer to have noticed the increase in prices. Real estate agency the Corcoran Group recently began leafleting the neighborhood with fliers soliciting business, as Brownstoner previously reported.

The fliers, from saleswoman Shameika Wade, boasted a December closing of $1.3 million, but said prices are only going up.

"Since then we've seen prices in the neighborhood as high as $1.8m and none of this has slowed demand in the least," the flier read. "Open houses see upwards of 100 people with lines down the street and only 1 lucky bidder can buy!"

But some observers are more cautious about the influx of money into the neighborhood.

Affordable housing advocates like Bridge Street Development Corporation, a Bedford-Stuyvesant nonprofit, worry that the increase in housing prices will force longtime residents out of the neighborhood.

"I think about the early 90s when I was a new college graduate and I saw what happened in Fort Greene and some of the other neighborhoods," said BSDC President and CEO Emilio Dorcely. "I'm seeing the exact same thing in Bedford-Stuyvesant."

To help create more opportunities for homeowners in Bed-Stuy, Bridge Street reaches out to homeowners and prospective homeowners. On Saturday, the group is holding an outreach program called "Fresh Start Home Resource Expo," in which housing experts will advise locals on mortgage, foreclosure and credit issues.

The organization has also worked on creating new affordable housing in the neighborhood, like Joshua Court at 300 Putnam Ave. and Noel Pointer Court at 790 Lafayette Ave.

But as Bed-Stuy continues to gentrify and developers begin to focus more of their attention on the neighborhood, it's become harder for groups to find space for affordable housing.

"If you would have walked around the neighborhood maybe 10 years ago, you would have seen a high number of empty lots," Dorcely said. "Now you're hard pressed to find a lot that's not already slated for development."

That fear of displacement is understandable, Minsky said.

"The amount of cash volume I saw go since January, post-Hurricane Sandy, is unprecedented to me," Minsky said. "You're going to see vast demographic shifts that impact socio-economics."

But higher housing prices have also given longtime residents new opportunities, the broker said. In the case of 7 Arlington Place, for example, Minsky said the owner was selling his house out of necessity. 

Now, he's nearly $2 million richer.

"He needed to do what he had to do," Minsky said. "It really, truly made a difference in this man's life to have his house sold."

While Dorcely recognizes that higher home values are also a reflection of the neighborhood's continued improvement, the hope is that groups like his can help provide a safety net for middle-class families.

"These are all positive things," Dorcely said. "We also want to make sure, as those positive things happen, we balance that with the need for affordable housing."

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A Brooklyn Seafood Joint Runs The New Best Food Truck In America

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red hook lobster truckCongratulations to New York's Red Hook Lobster Truck: It has been named the best food truck in America this year, according to The Daily Meal.

The truck, affectionately known as "Big Red," has been serving up its famous lobster rolls and other seafood specialties on the streets of New York since 2010. 

It is owned by Ralph Gorham and Susan Povich, a husband and wife duo who also own the Red Hook Lobster Pound in Brooklyn. Gorham and Povich opened the Pound in April of 2009 after a seafood-filled vacation to Maine convinced them to bring fresh, live Maine lobster to Brooklyn, according to the company's website.

Gorham began driving north each week to retrieve the freshest lobster possible, while Povich, trained at the French Culinary Institute, crafted a menu that now includes some of the city's most popular lobster rolls. 

Red Hook also operates two food trucks in Washington, D.C., and Gorham and Povich hope to open a second pound there as well, the website says.

To compile their list of the 101 best food trucks in America, The Daily Meal researched more than 450 food trucks in more than 40 U.S. cities. 

Here are the top 10, according to the Daily Meal. How many have you been to? 

10. Chef Shack (Twin Cities)

9. Where Ya At Matt (Seattle)

8. The Cinnamon Snail (NYC)

7. Rickshaw Stop (San Antonio)

6. East Side King (Austin, TX)

5. The Lime Truck (Orange County, CA)

4. Big Gay Ice Cream Truck (NYC)

3. Fojol Brothers (Washington, D.C.)

2. Kogi BBQ (Los Angeles)

1. Red Hook Lobster Truck (NYC)

SEE ALSO:  The Best Seafood In America

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10 Things You Should Feel OK Splurging On

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Aziz Ansari-Tom Face-Parks and Recreation

National Splurge Day was invented in 1994 by Adrienne Sioux Koopersmith, who calls herself "America's premier eventologist," and it occurs every June 18, whether you know it or not. You might be skeptical about it, but if enough people believe in it, perhaps it can be made to live, just like Tinkerbell!

However, we must admit that the idea of wanton spending sends a shiver down our frugal, money-saving spines. But maybe, just maybe, we can spin this faux-liday into something that fits both the urge to splurgeand the cravings for savings!

Therefore, we've put together a list of items that, despite your inherent deal-hunting nature, you should feel OK spending more money on. (Of course, you should still be looking for a deal on these higher-quality options; this is dealnews, after all!) Now as Tom Haverford would say, go on and "TREAT YO' SELF!

The Aeron Chair by Herman Miller

Aeron chairs have won endless praise for their design and ergonomics, but that praise doesn't come cheap.

Starting at $679, these seats are way more expensive than the ones you'll find at Office Depot, OfficeMax, and Staples. However, when you're sitting in a chair for at least 40 hours a week, shouldn't you get something that's designed to fit your butt like a glove?

It also comes with a full 12-year warranty, so you won't have to spend money on a new chair again anytime soon — unlike the cash you'd likely dole out to replace a bargain bin chair every couple of years.



Bed Linens

In 2011, the average American spent roughly 8.7 hours per day sleeping, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Why subject yourself to scratchy, stiff sheets for 3,175.5 hours every year? When it comes to bedding, treat yourself like a king (or twin, or queen, or California king) because there's a noticeable difference between budget, 200-thread-count sheets and luxury, Egyptian Cotton sheets.

Ever wonder why a hotel bed feels so much more comfortable than yours does? Good sheets!

 



Cosmetics

The point of makeup is to enhance a person's beauty in an inconspicuous way.

Cheaper cosmetics are less likely to look natural and will probably cake up later in the day and become a conspicuous way of de-hancing your beauty. Better quality cosmetics are far more likely to work with the conditions of your skin and look good on you, but they'll cost a bit more.



See the rest of the story at Business Insider
    


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