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SUPERCAR FACE-OFF: McLaren MP4 12C Vs. Lamborghini Aventador


In the realm of supercars — where prices, top speeds, and horsepower are all sky high — it can be hard to know what's truly the best.

To help you decide which is the stronger ride — McLaren's MP4-12C or Lamborghini's Aventador, there's supercar comparison site TwinRev.com.

Rather than focus on the look and feel of the cars, TwinRev provides a full, numbers-driven breakdown of the advantages and disadvantages of each, drawing on testing numbers and professional reviews.

The Lambo's better — and worth the extra $147,000. Here's why:

 twinrev supercar mclaren mp412c vs lamborghini aventador

SEE ALSO: Breathtaking Photos Of Classic Rolls-Royces On A Road Trip Through The Alps

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How To Make An American Flag Out Of Bacon


Previously, we showed you how to make a bowl made entirely of baconWe cleverly called that creation a "bacon bowl."

This time around, we're gonna show you how to make the American flag with bacon. We're calling this the "bacon flag."

Find out how you can make the "bacon flag" just in time for the 4th of July:


Produced by William Wei

SEE ALSO: How To Make A Bacon Bowl

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4th Of July Sign In Public Park Sums Up The State Of 'Independence' In America


Park Sign Lakewood Ohio

Check out this sign.

It's a set of rules put into effect by the Lakewood Ohio parks division of the municipal government for the day that local Lakewood residents celebrate America's independence.

It's located on the viral image site Imgur under the title "No Fun Here, Move Along." The comments are predictably negative.

The most ridiculous rules seem to be against alcohol and fireworks on a day when many Americans traditionally drink and shoot fireworks.

The most concerning seems to be the one about police searching bags and coolers, and, considering recent events, the special notice that "The entire park is under video surveillance."

Is crime that bad in the suburbs of Cleveland? Not unless we're talking about shoplifting and marijuana possession.

The site Travel and Leisure named it one of the top suburbs to visit in 2010. Bloomberg Businessweek said it was was one of the best places to "raise your kids" in the same year.

A 2011 Patch article about the suburb listed Lakewood's recycle rate at 79 percent, the highest in Ohio.

That same article, ironically enough, contained this gem:

Lakewood, Ohio: “The most-of-our-taxes-go-towards-fireworks town.” 

Every Fourth of July, after I sop up the blood streaming from my ears, I think, “Nobody loves America more than Lakewood!” And you can tell by the number of car alarms going off after the over-the-top, shock-and-awe, explosion-fest we use to celebrate our country’s independence.

We've contacted the local Lakewood parks division to see what gives with the sign. We're awaiting a response.

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HOUSE OF THE DAY: Rapper Pharrell's Miami Penthouse Is Now Only $10.9 Million


Pharrell Williams Penthouse

Rapper and producer Pharrell Williams has lowered the price on his Miami penthouse from a staggering $16.8 million to $10.9 million, according to Curbed National.

The three-floor home is 9,080 square feet in total, and has been on the market since last December.

The home is massive, with five bedrooms, six and a half bathrooms, and unparalleled 360-degree views of the Miami skyline.

There's also a pool, elevator entry into the foyer, and massive terraces. The pad is still available through Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate.

Pharrell's pad is right on the ocean.

His house has an "opposite fishbowl effect" where he can see out, but no one can see in through the glass windows.

The expansive dining room can seat 12 people easily and has 180-degree views.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

How Well Do You Know The Statue Of Liberty?


After being flooded by Hurricane Sandy last fall, Liberty Island — and the Statue of Liberty — will finally re-open tomorrow, just in time for Independence Day.

The first ferry is slated to arrive around 8:45am tomorrow, and ferries will continue transporting visitors to the island throughout the day. Ellis Island, however, still remains closed.

How well do you know Lady Liberty? Take our quiz to find out.

SEE ALSO: The 50 Most American Americans Alive Today

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The 5 Best BBQ Joints In Chicago



Summertime in the Chi is fueled by fire. Fire on the grill and fire in the smokers.

For the smokiest, sauciest and most tender meat in town, taste-test the tried-and-true barbecue favorites in Chicago.

Whether it's Texas or Memphis-style, these are the five best 'cue joints in Chicago and beyond.

Smoque BBQ

3800 N Pulaski Rd.

Food: 26
Decor: 11
Service: 18
Cost: $20

"Lines out the door" attest that this Northwest Side BYO has "achieved BBQ perfection" in the form of "outrageous", "smoky" brisket "bursting with flavor", "the best" "juicy" ribs and "equally good" sides that "blow other joints out of the water"; it's "truly a dive" with eaters packed in at "community tables", but "friendly" staffers "manage the crowds well" (the "table juggling is fascinating") and it's "cheap to boot", so the "addicted" dub it "worth any wait, in any weather."

Uncle Bub's

132 S Cass Ave

Food: 24
Decor: 16
Service: 20
Cost: $19

"Tie on a bib and dig in" coach fans of this wallet-friendly "Southern rib joint" in Westmont, where you order "awesome" "smoky BBQ" from "efficient" servers at the counter before chowing down in a "comfortably rustic setting"; it's all ultra-"casual" – so "when you spill the sauce on yourself it won't matter."

Lillie's Q

1856 W North Ave

Food: 22
Decor: 18
Service: 19
Cost: $27

"Get sauced (BBQ sauced, that is)" at chef-owner Charlie McKenna's Bucktown 'cue joint, a "meat lover's" "heaven" say fans fawning over the "luscious" pulled pork, "scarf"-worthy ribs and other "Southern favorites", plus ‘moonshine' cocktails and an "awesome beer selection", all served in rustic, wood-accented digs; service gets mixed marks ("terrific" vs. "unreliable"), the "no-reservations policy is annoying" and a few find it just "so-so", but with moderate prices most agree it's still a "solid choice."

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

Here's What A Barbie Doll Would Look Like If She Had A Real Woman's Measurements


Barbie toy real life

It's different to rationally know that a Barbie doll's figure is based on wishful — and anatomically impossible — thinking, and then see the gaping disparity between what the doll and an average woman would look like side-by-side.

Click here to see the difference>

After comparing a Barbie's measurements with those of an average American 19-year-old woman (as determined by the CDC), artist Nickolay Lamm of MyDeals.com decided to take two months to create a real-life rendering of the Barbie doll.

"I want to show that average is beautiful," Lamm told Business Insider. "If Barbie can look good as an average woman, why doesn't Mattel make one? I've done a lot of Barbie projects because a lot of things can be improved to make the doll look more like a real woman."

This juxtaposition is a continuation of Lamm's other work around the Barbie doll. He has also shown what Barbie would look like without makeup and created images contrasting real versus Barbie-proportioned women.

But the 3-D figurines really brings the message home.

"The 3D printed model allowed me to make an accurate representation of normal Barbie because I used it as an outline in Photoshop," Lamm said. "The whole project took about two months to complete."

Lamm spent two months creating Barbie models based on average American women's measurements.

The difference was jarring.

And immediately noticeable.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

Oregon Proposes Tuition Free Colleges For In-State Students


Oregon Ducks Football

Lawmakers in Oregon are currently exploring a college payment plan that would initially allow in-state students to attend state schools for free, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The Associated Press recently reported that in-state students at Oregon's public universities will pay an average of 5% more next year due to tuition increases.

Under the plan — titled "Pay it Forward, Pay it Back" — students would annually give the state 3% of their salary for 24 years. The Journal quotes an estimate that would have students paying $800 their first year out of college and around $2,000 20 years after graduating.

The final four years of payment would give Oregon an extra $7,400 per student — the "Pay it Forward" part of the plan.

Students from Portland State University first pitched the idea to the Oregon state government, according to the Journal. As the Journal points out, the "Pay it Back" program could provide an alternative to college loans and student-debt interest rates.

PSU recently cancelled over 50 courses that were set to be offer this summer in response to a $5.7 million budget cut for the upcoming academic year. The Oregonian reports that many professors were confused by this action, as several of the cancelled courses would have generated a profit for the school.

A bill to create a study committee for "Pay it Forward, Pay it Back" has been passed by both the Oregon House and Senate. The bodies have two years to decide whether to introduce the program, the Journal reports.

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$150,000 Subscription Service For The Super Rich Delivers 'Mystery Gifts' To Your Door


ivip black box

Beauty fans can get monthly packages from Birchbox. Pet lovers have BarkBox.

And now there's a subscription service for the super rich called BlackBox, which delivers occasional "mystery gifts" to your doorstep for up to $150,000.

The service, from UK-based luxury and lifestyle site iVIP, launched Tuesday. Billed as "the world's most exclusive subscription service," the company already has around 30 customers who are interested in BlackBox, iVIP co-founder Matthew Rowe told Marketwatch.

BlackBox subscriptions are available in two tiers: The Premium Box, which costs £1,200 ($1,830) per box and comes six times a year, and The Infinity Box, "aimed at High Net Worth individuals willing to commit a minimum of £100,000 ($153,000) per year," according to the company.

Each box comes wrapped in a red bow and contains "new, unique, exclusive, or limited edition items scoured from around the globe; hand-curated, highly-coveted items from labelled goods to literature, tablets to telescopes, lovingly personalised, packaged, and posted to you," the BlackBox website says.

One drawback: There is a strict no-returns policy, according to Marketwatch. So you have to be willing to take a risk and get stuck with a lame, if expensive, toy.

As a bonus, BlackBox is also offering a share of the company to anyone who completes a year membership.

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Don't Worry, The Guy Who Offered Cronuts For Sex Was Only Joking


cronut delicious sweet croissant donut

On Tuesday, a "Casual Encounters" ad appeared on Craigslist offering cronuts  the croissant-donut hybrid that has people going crazy  for sex.

The ad, titled "Seeking Cronut Slut," was picked up by media outlets from New York Magazine to The Huffington Post. Everyone wondered if the cronut craze had finally gone too far.

But it turns out, the whole thing was a joke. The original poster responded to Business Insider in an email:

Even though the tone of my ad was serious, it was a bit of a joke.

Everyday there's a story about people camping out, sleeping on the sidewalk, lining up [for] hours... for a pastry.

So I figured if the cronut has such pop-star status just how far are some willing to go for one?

Surprisingly I got about 5 responses, but I had to let them go cold.

While any girl willing to perform sexual favors for a pastry is my kind of girl, alas... I have no cronuts  :-(

And here's the original Craigslist ad:

attached image

DON'T MISS: The 11 Best Donuts In America

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The 3 Best Recipes For Boozy Popsicles


Woman with popsicleWe're not much for trendy desserts. With the exception of the cronut phenomenon, we're just not going to wait in line for sweets or spend hours creating molecular, freeze-dried, gold-plated dishes. Just give us our ice cream and leave us alone, thanks.

But, that doesn't mean we're not open to a little twist on an old favorite. When we saw high-end restaurants and food festivals coming out with booze-infused popsicles, we sat up and took notice. Then we finally tried one — and now we want them ALL.

Alcoholic popsicles are, in a word, perfect. A cross between cocktail, fruit snack, and healthy dessert (well, a lot healthier than ice cream), they are fast becoming the official dessert of the summer. Our favorite part? These are just about the easiest dessert recipes you could ask for. Some fruit, some booze, and a Dixie cup — and you've got yourself a party. A really good party. The kind of party where your friends will spend the next six months asking when you're going to have another awesome party with the popsicles. P.S. Can you make them for their birthday next weekend, please?

Here are our three favorite boozy popsicle recipes absolutely perfect for an impromptu Fourth of July gathering or just a hot summer night when all you need is a sweet treat and a cold drink. Bottoms up, and bon appétit!

Mixed-Berry Pinot Pops

There's nothing more elegant than a glass of Pinot Noir at the end of the day. But, um, it's hot as hell, and sweating ain't so classy. Throw in some berries and pop your vino in the freezer, and you've got a perfect evening (or, y'know, late-afternoon) treat.

1/2 bottle Pinot Noir
2 cups water
2/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup raspberries
2/3 cup blackberries

In a large mixing bowl, combine water, wine and sugar. Stir until sugar is dissolved.

Add berries, smashing some slightly with a wooden spoon and leaving some whole.

Using a ladle, pour into popsicle molds (or just a paper cup!), making sure the berries are evenly distributed.

Note: If you're using the paper-cup method, let the pops freeze for about an hour (until they're slushy, but not totally frozen), then place the popsicle sticks in the center. Putting them in a partially frozen mixture will keep them stabilized. Don't have popsicle sticks? Use spoons or plasticware. Done!

Watermelon Margarita Pops

This is one of the most refreshing treats we've ever had. Sweet, fresh, tart, and a little salty — just like a perfect marg. Your all-time favorite summer cocktail is now a dessert as well. Life is pretty great, huh?

6 tbsp tequila
2 tbsp cointreau
2 1/2 cups watermelon
Juice of 1 lime (about 2 1/2 tbsp)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
Pinch of sea salt per popsicle

Using a blender, food processor, or immersion blender, puree watermelon. If you want it a little chunky, you can also do this with a whisk, smashing and whisking until you get a more liquid consistency.

Add water, liquors, sugar, and lime juice. Combine well by hand or in your blender, until well-combined.

Pour into popsicle molds or cups and finish by sprinkling sea salt (Maldon works best) over each pop. Stick 'em in the freezer, and check after about an hour. The liquids may have separated slightly, so stir with a knife to re-incorporate, then add sticks. In another hour or two, you should have solid pops.

Coconut-Mango White Rum Pops

Holy bananas, these are just so good. Think about the best piña colada you ever had. Got it? Now add fresh mango. That's how great these are. Creamy and sweet with icy, fruity bites and a hint of rum throughout. Bust out that half-empty bottle of rum you don't know what to do with and make these popsicles, STAT.

2/3 cup white rum
1 13.5 oz can coconut milk (about 1 2/3 cups)
3 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 mangoes (about 3 cups)

Peel mangoes and cut away from the seed (or just save yourself a headache and buy the precut – we'll never tell). Chop into large bite-sized pieces.

In a mixing bowl, combine rum and sugar. Mix until sugar dissolves (note: You can always use the stove to heat up this combo and move the process along. Just replace any rum that cooks off in the process).

Pour in coconut milk and whisk together until well-combined. Stir in mango and ladle into molds. Stick 'em in the freezer, and wait with bated breath until this glorious confection is ready. 

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Insane Red Bull Video Shows Biker Acting Out A Childhood Fantasy


BMX rider Danny MacAskill made an fantastic new edition to his MacAskill's Imaginate series. The video transforms a child's imagination into MacAskill's reality. 

Redditor otiotori posted the link on /r/videos on the website reddit.com.

The story begins with a young boy playing with his toy biker:

Danny MacAskill Red Bull Video

Suddenly the toy transforms into MacAskill himself:

Danny MacAskill

He starts doing tricks on the boy's bedroom BMX park:

Danny MacAskill

He flips over blocks:

Danny MacAskill Red Bull BMX Video

Toy soldiers hijack his bike:

Danny MacAskill BMX Red Bull Video

He plays Twister:

Danny MacAskill BMX Red Bull Video

The video plays to the sounds of Swedish rock band Houston's cover of "Runaway." Watch the incredible full video here:

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The Fourth Of July In 9 Charts


Two hundred and seven years ago today, America was born. Kind of. More like we announced an intention to be born. 

In that year, there were just 2.5 million people living in what would, in a few years, become the United States of America, according to current Censusestimates. Today, the metropolitan areas of both New York City and Los Angeles have larger populations. Essentially, America was the size of modern Chicago.

us 1776 population vs chicago today

Although the country has grown in both space and population, not everybody knows exactly what we're meant to be celebrating on the Fourth of July.  Asked in what year America claimed independence, less than a third of Millennials correctly guessed 1776, according to a 2011 Marist Poll survey.

independence year poll

But enough celebrating ignorance and more celebrating America. In 2012, Americans spent nearly $1 billion on about 207 million pounds of display and consumer fireworks. That's about 60 percent more than we spent in 2000. Interestingly, the sheer number of pounds of fireworks we bought peaked in 2005.

fireworks chart

The U.S. imports about a quarter of a billion dollars worth of fireworks with the vast, vast majority coming from China (appropriately enough, since the first fireworks in recorded history were from 7th century China).

china fireworks

The American Pyrotechnics Association (actual URL:http://www.americanpyro.com) claims that the rate of firework injuries has declined by about 80 percent since 1980. But there are still 4 recorded injuries for every 100,000 pounds of fireworks today. Here's how those injuries tend to break down (graph via Wonkblog).

fireworks graph

For a safer way to celebrate, there are always flags. The Flag Manufacturers Association of America claims its members sell more than $300 million in "fabricated flags, banners and similar emblems" each year. We still import nearly $4 million of American flags every year, six-times more than we export. 

flag imports

Famously, we get the vast, vast majority of our flag imports from China.

flag imports

Fireworks and flags are fine, but you can't eat them (safely). Fortunately for our stomachs, the final hallmarks of the holiday are hot dogs and burgers. So where do our American-bred pigs, hogs, and cattle come from? The folks at the Census and the USDA have data on that $90 billion mega-meat business, too.

If the meat of choice on your grill is beef hot dogs, steaks or burgers, there's a decent chance your food came from Texas, Nebraska, and Kansas, which combined account for about a third of annual meat production from cattle and calves in the U.S. (The American Meat Institute has slightly different figures.)


The hog and pig industry is more centralized. There are 66 million hogs and pigs in the U.S. today. About a third of them, producing 10 billion pounds of meat, are in Iowa.

hogs chart

More from The Atlantic:

Nashville in Paris: The Quintessential American Film as Seen Abroad

Soloists are American, Bands are British

America's Common Ground is Disappearing

Join the conversation about this story »


Turning A Subsistence Retirement Into A Luxurious Retirement


florida, retirement community, 1970sAre you a "Lone Ranger" investor, or do you lean heavily on a trusted financial advisor? Maybe you even take a hybrid approach. No matter what your approach is, we can all benefit from a periodic financial checkup.

That's why we took an in-depth look at independent financial advisors in the February issue of Miller's Money Forever. In order to give our subscribers the most bang for their buck, we called in Jeff White of American Financial Group, Ltd. to help teach us the best way to choose a financial advisor and how to get the most from their services. Some of our subscribers asked for more information on annual financial checkups, so I asked Jeff to do us a favor and teach us more on that topic. His reply is a must-read, in my opinion.

I should mention that we have no financial connection with Jeff and his firm. He has gladly given his time as a true expert in these matters, and we thank him for doing so.

Is It Time for Your Financial Checkup?

By Jeff White

Most of us schedule periodic medical checkups to monitor our blood pressure, cholesterol, and other signs of health. Preventive medicine lets us know where we stand against the grim reaper, and in some cases can even help us renegotiate life's final chapter. Most insurance companies pay for annual physicals, knowing that they help people to adopt healthy habits and avoid major expenses.

It makes equally good sense to have periodic financial checkups. Broadly speaking, we all face three possibilities in our golden years, each with its own risks:

  1. We will live to retire, but risk running out of money before running out of breath.
  1. We will die before we retire, leaving our family with inadequate resources.
  1. We may be disabled before or after retirement, leaving ourselves in dire straits.

How long has it been since you had a financial checkup to see if you are prepared for each of these possibilities?

Just as we shouldn't remove our own appendix because we don't have the skills, most of us likely don't have the tools or skills to perform an objective, thorough financial exam either. There are plenty of services available for this, both online and with a financial advisor. An independent financial checkup with a professional can go a long way toward making our money last so we can enjoy retirement. Just choose whom you listen to wisely.

When picking a financial advisor for your annual checkup, find one who's a member of a team of specialists. In medicine, an internist who finds a lump will refer you to an oncologist to determine if it is malignant, who will refer you to a surgeon if it is.

A financial advisor should work in concert with investment, insurance, tax, and legal experts to create an accurate picture of where you stand and give independent advice on how to correct any problems.

Hot Dogs and Beans, or Lobster and Caviar

Let's be optimistic and assume you will live long enough to retire, as most of us will. There are four levels of retirement lifestyles:

  1. Subsistence lifestyle, where you must live on Social Security and welfare.
  1. Have-to-have lifestyle, in which you have adequate income and resources for the basics, but not much else.
  1. Comfortable lifestyle, which includes travel, visiting family, pursuing hobbies, and whatever else turns you on, within limits.
  1. Luxurious lifestyle, which may include multiple residences, extensive travel, fine dining, charitable giving, etc.

I will focus on the have-to-have and comfortable lifestyles today, as this is where most of us fall. The subsistence lifestyle is not relevant, because it is likely too late for people in that category. If you fall in the luxurious lifestyle group, you have probably been receiving good professional help already.

In other words, what will be on your retirement menu? Hot dogs and beans, lobster and caviar, or something in between?

Tools of the Trade

A doctor uses x-rays, EKGs, and other tests to do his job. A financial advisor, on the other hand, should check things like the asset allocation in retirement accounts and personal investment accounts, expense ratios, commissions and fees for mutual funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs), amount and type of life and disability insurance, employee benefits derived from employment, etc.

One frequently misunderstood term in retirement planning is the "funded ratio," which points to whether we are on track for the retirement lifestyle we hope to achieve. The funded ratio is comprised of the income-producing assets we have today, plus the annual amount we are investing at a reasonable rate of return (net of inflation), divided by the total assets we will need at retirement to sustain our desired retirement income.

It sounds complicated, but a good advisory team can calculate it easily, explain it in understandable terms, and – most important – monitor our progress as we move toward retirement and beyond. Most financial planners have computer programs where they can plug in numerous variables to make the appropriate calculations.

Online tools may be adequate for basic calculations, but they have limitations. The output of such a program is only as good as the input. If you deviate from standard inputs, you run the risk of being misdiagnosed, particularly because they often use a one-size-fits-all approach. In many cases, these programs simply miss meaningful differences between people.

Bob and Betty Jones

Bob and Betty Jones are both age 50 and hope to retire in 15 years. They have two concerns:

  1. What will it take to be able to retire with the essentials of an acceptable lifestyle?
  1. What will it take to be able to retire and enjoy the things they really want to do?

They believe their "have to have" lifestyle will require an annual income of $25,000 on top of Social Security. They think a "comfortable" lifestyle will call for $50,000 in addition to Social Security. Both of these estimates will need to grow with inflation.

Bob has a modest pension of $6,800 from his company starting at age 65, but it is not indexed for inflation. The company switched to a 401(k) years ago.

According to a recent survey by the Employee Benefit Research Institute, only about 3% of those working in the private sector have a pension. Like Bob, unless you work for the government, your employer likely converted to a 401(k) or similar program long ago. This won't guarantee a certain amount of income; they are basically tax-deferred savings plans. As Bob and Betty realized, it is up to them to save and then invest wisely so they have enough to retire comfortably.

They currently have a total of $265,000 in 401(k)s, IRAs, and personal investments. They are adding $6,000 a year to their portfolio. Let's look at the funded ratio for both their have-to-have and comfortable lifestyles to find out if they are on track. As we do this, keep in mind that there are unknown factors to consider:

  • A realistic estimate of the rate of return on their assets. We assume 7% net of expenses. Studies show that a balanced portfolio of 60% equities and 40% fixed-income has delivered 7% over rolling periods of 10 years since 1926.
  • Will they retire into an up or down market? Consider the poor devil who retired on January 1, 2008 into the great recession market, versus the lucky guy who retired just one year later January 1, 2009, into the recovery market. This risk can be addressed with what we call a "shock absorber liquid portfolio." This means having two or three years of annual expenses in cash and near-cash accounts so you don't have to sell assets from your core portfolio when markets are down.
  • What will inflation do to their buying power? We assume a 4% rate of inflation, but actual inflation should be used to update their plan annually.
  • Are their investments diversified and allocated to reflect their tolerance for marketvolatility? Has the volatility of markets in the past few years changed their thinking?
  • How long will they live after retiring? Oddly enough, living a long life is perhaps the biggest risk facing retirees.

    There is always the chance that Bob and Betty could each live to age 120, but for this analysis, we will assume age 95. If your family has a history of longevity, you need to take that into consideration. Just as other assumptions should be periodically be monitored, so should their health and any breakthroughs in medicine that could extend their lifespans.

One obvious question then should be: Is age 65 the appropriate retirement age? Unless you have accumulated enough money to afford the luxurious lifestyle mentioned earlier, we don't think so. Considering the loss of work-related benefits including medical, dental, and life insurance, there are many reasons to defer retirement. Many retirees have changed careers and are enjoying new careers doing what they want in a less stressful environment.

Another factor to consider is whether they will free up any money by moving from their family home to a less expensive place. Has that prospect changed since the recession drove housing prices down? Do they really need a new car every three years? Could they increase their savings rate by eating out just twice a week instead of their usual three times?

By forgoing one $60 dinner out every week, Bob and Betty could save an extra $3,120 every year. Investing this at a real return of 3% would give them another $53,309 at age 65. You will see below that something as simple as this will make quite a difference in your retirement lifestyle.

The Results of Bob and Betty's Checkup

Recall that they need $25,000 to meet their basic needs. Bob's pension guarantees them $6,800 using a 100% joint and survivor option. However, since it is not indexed for inflation, its value must be recognized as only $5,800. Using the assumptions noted above, the income-producing assets needed at age 65 for the two different lifestyles are:

  • "Have-to-have" - $25,000 - $5,800 = $19,200 requires $376,328
  • "Comfortable" - $50,000 - $5,800 = $44,200 requires $866,339

Translating a lump sum into a monthly income requires skill, just as removing an appendix does. When working with a financial advisor, make sure you understand every assumption used in calculating this figure, and err on the conservative side. Better to have a little extra.

Bob and Betty knew that these numbers were assumptions. It is up to them to save and invest accordingly in order to realize their goals. But it is also imperative that they not fall prey to emotional investment decisions. Common mistakes like being out of the market when a rebound follows a decline, chasing the performance of an asset class that topped the field last period, or failing to rebalance their portfolio could all defeat their goals. A team of skilled, independent financial advisors, however, can go a long way toward keeping them on track.

Let's see how they are doing so far by calculating their funded ratios.

If their $265,000 portfolio grows as assumed, this will give them $412,861. Their annual investments of $6,000 a year will add $114,941, so their total projected assets at age 65 are $527,802. Bob and Betty are projected to be okay for their "have-to-have" retirement income, as their funded ratio is a bit over 140%.

But their funded ratio for the comfortable retirement lifestyle is 61%, so they are not on track for that level. They are short $388,537. Recall that eating out one fewer night per week and investing that money increased their total by $53,640. That one commitment would make up approximately 14% of the gap and raise their funded ratio to 67%.

Even if they were okay today, they cannot sit back and neglect their financial health. Periodic medical and financial checkups are good for us. The good and bad news for Bob and Betty is that they are on track for their "have-to-have" retirement, but will need to take corrective actions if they want to retire at age 65 in the style they really want.

Getting Bob and Betty on Track

Fortunately Bob and Betty did not fall into the common trap of thinking that the seemingly big number on their 401(k) statement meant they were in great shape. Like many folks who come in for a checkup, they were not totally surprised by the results and said, "That's what we were afraid of. What can we do?"

There are three steps Bob and Betty can take to reach their goal:

  • Change their asset allocation to hopefully generate a higher rate of return on their investments.
  • Save more.
  • Retire a few years later.

Bob and Betty did the right thing by addressing each option independently. They did not want to risk taking a step backward with their current nest egg, and preferred to forgo a bit more yield if it meant taking on more risk.

In addition, they looked at their current lifestyle and made a commitment to spending less, saving more, but still enjoying life. The more they made up the gap, the sooner they could retire.

They also realized that they might have to work a bit longer, but that was not a decision they had to make today. They simply needed to acknowledge that it is a likely possibility. And they understand that their investments have more room to grow. Their life expectancy after retirement will be longer, and their health may remain better if they have a place to go each morning, assuming the work is not stressful. They also discussed the possibility of part-time jobs doing something fun, as opposed to continuing with their current careers.

When Bob and Betty left, they booked an appointment for next year's checkup. They anticipated following their plan and hoped to be closer to their goals next year.

The Second Opinion

We would be remiss if we did not mention that a second – or even third – opinion is just as important for financial planning as it is for medical issues. Asking two or three advisors to give you their recommended game plan could be a good way to identify useable information in the forest of financial noise. Second opinions are worth the time and effort.

If your medical checkup shows some issues, then diet, exercise, and maybe medication changes are key. If your financial checkup shows some issues, saving more, spending less, better asset allocation, and retiring at a later age are all changes worth considering to optimize your financial health.


Folks, it's Dennis here again. If you'd like to find out more about choosing the right financial advisor, please check out The Financial Advisor Guide, a special report we published as a result of the research we did with Jeff White.

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Why You'll Soon Be Wearing Your Technology


shutterstock_117412537This post is sponsored by SAP.

Your clothes can do more than make you look cool.

Want to track your fitness goals, or have Google available at every second? If so, you might be ready for wearable technology: gadgets worn on the body, like belts, glasses, and t-shirts, that can do anything from monitor personal performance and movement to just be fashionable (such as an LED tie with voice-activated blinking lights).

As wearables evolve and appeal to the mainstream market, they are being accepted by more than geeks and gadget freaks. Last year, the focus was on Fuelband, Up, and Fitbit: wrist bands that collect personal data and sync it with your phone. A companion sleep-tracking app (a function of the Up and Fitbit bands) helps you to understand if you're sleeping well, or waking up through the night.

The focus on health and fitness helps us to perform better by collecting our data and identifying our personal patterns.

When Google Glass made a splash in early 2013, the wearable market gained still more traction. Google Glass can take photos or search the Internet. It also uses augmented reality to create a virtual layer (like where the best restaurants are) and then adds it to what you're seeing in real life when you wear the glasses and activate the functions.

Although Google Glass isn't slated to hit the mainstream market until later this year, developers are taking Google’s lead: They're creating competing products and assuming that the opportunities will continue to expand.

As of now, the wearable technology market is still undefined, and major players could emerge as more innovative products are unveiled. It may also take a while for individuals to adopt wearables that seem “distracting” or “funny looking.” Whether or not they are accepted in the marketplace will depend on something old-fashioned: the value these technologies bring.

The original version of this article was written by Jen Cohen Crompton and published on SAP.

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13 Stellar Homes From The 13 Original Colonies


We have 50 states now, but 237 years ago, there were just 13 Colonies with a handful of settlements in each. To celebrate Independence Day, we’re taking a real estate tour through each colony and getting a history lesson along the way.


240 Prince George St, Urbanna, VA
For sale: $449,000
Year built: 1742


Once upon a time, this residence was a tavern serving the seaport town of Urbanna. The story goes that the quaint residence even hosted Patrick Henry, the lawyer and future legislator who openly argued for the Colonies’ freedom from British rule.


306 Concord St, Framingham, MA
For sale: $289,900
Year built: 1628


The construction date of this home is just eight years after the colony of Massachusetts was founded by Puritan settlers. Coined the Thomas Gleason House, this residence has seen its share of history and updates, but it still has some of its original Colonial characteristics.

New Hampshire

130 Old College Rd, Andover, NH
For sale: $2.45 million
Year built: 1781

new hampshire

Little-known state fact: New Hampshire was called North Virginia when it was first founded in the 1620s by Capt. John Smith, (yes, that John Smith of Pocahontas fame.) This stately gentleman’s farm residence didn’t see Smith, but boasts a 5,500-square-foot home, 680 feet of lake frontage and a location just 90 minutes north of Boston.


3251 Gamber Rd, Finksburg, MD
For sale: $2.889 million
Year built: 1765


This 18th-century stone home was originally built for the governor to the king of England. Years later, the home is still grand. The 7-bedroom, 5-bath home is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and sits on a pastoral setting an hour from the the nation’s capital.


6 Parker Ln, Essex, CT
For sale: $1.45 million
Year built: 1750


Built years before the rumblings of revolution led to all-out war, this lakefront Connecticut property sits above a sloping lawn and quiet beach. The 3-bedroom, 3-bath home has been updated from its Colonial roots and includes freshly refinished hardwood floors and a water-facing porch.

Rhode Island

2 Pokanoket St, Bristol, RI
For sale: $695,000
Year built: 1680

Rhode Island

Rhode Island may be small in size, but its role in the Revolutionary War was big, as it was one of the first Colonies to declare independence from British rule. This sprawling Colonial home may have housed the first stirrings of dissent. Located on a large lot, the 5,210-square-foot home has views of Mount Hope Bay.


231 Phillips Mill Ln, Newark, DE
For sale: $385,000
Year built: 1750


Federal architecture transformed into 21st-century living. This 1700s home has been overhauled on the inside to incorporate an open floor plan, new finishes and modern amenities. The 1,700-square-foot home has 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms.

North Carolina

9642 NC Highway 97 W, Rocky Mount, NC
For sale: $398,700
Year built: 1785

north carolina
North Carolina, like many Southern states, was fueled by a plantation economy. This 1785-built home is a remnant from that time. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the North Carolina home has 4 bedrooms and 4 baths within 3,015 square feet of living space.

South Carolina

32 S Battery St, Charleston, SC
For sale: $8.985 million
Year built: 1780

south carolina

An outspoken critic of the Stamp Act and British rule, Col. John Ashe led an attack on British-held Fort Johnston. He was later captured and died while a prisoner of war, but his historic home still stands. The stately 10,756-square-foot residence has 6 bedrooms and 8 bathrooms.

New Jersey

166 Cherry Hill Rd, Princeton, NJ
For sale: $6.475 million
Year built: 1773

new jersey

Fifty-six delegates signed the Declaration of Independence, including the Rev. John Witherspoon, who was also the sixth president of Princeton University. Witherspoon’s stone manor was painstakingly restored by a Princeton architect in 1998 and is located just minutes away from the university’s campus.

New York

838 Route 9d, Garrison, NY 
For sale: $4.75 million
Year built: 1750

new york

This home was once an 18th-century barn and was transformed into an artistic residence. Built green, the spacious home takes advantage of the surrounding mountain and meadow views with large picture windows. Measuring 5,620 square feet, the house has 6 bedrooms and 4.5 baths.


111 S State St, Newtown, PA
For sale: $989,000
Year built: 1686


Once a tavern and the site of a 1778 Loyalist uprising, this Newtown home is thought to be the oldest framed building in the state of Pennsylvania. Standing for more than 300 years, the home has original pine floors, six fireplaces and 9-foot-plus ceilings.


410 E Bryan St, Savannah, GA
For sale: $1.35 million
Year built: 1779

This Southern residence was built in 1779 for William Woodward and was given a face-lift less than 100 years later in 1848. Typical of the period, the home’s entrance is marked by white columns, and a rear-facing porch looks over a meticulously-kept garden.


Erika Riggs, a real estate writer for Zillow Blog, covers celebrity real estate, unusual properties and home design trends. Read more of her work here.

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This App Will Unlock Your Latent Talents As A Composer


scorecleaner notes

Most of the people you know are as helpless with a page of sheet music as your average 14th-century peasant would have been with a copy of Moby Dick. You can't read music. You can't write it. Unless you've memorized it, you have no way of describing even a simple ditty, let alone a complicated jazz riff, to someone else (or to yourself, later). And you're not alone -- most aspiring musicians are also sheet-music illiterates. 

But ScoreCleaner Notes, an ingenious application developed in Stockholm, might be able to help. 

How it works

The app listens to a melody as a musician plays it in a studio--or as you hum it to yourself, or as a garage band improvises it in their basement. Then the app translates the sounds into the universal symbols of written music, which you can easily share via social media or email. The interface is so intuitive and the software is so intelligent that you can record just about anywhere, regardless of acoustics. And no matter the pitch, time signature, tempo, rhythm, or meter, ScoreNotes Press will put it in writing, like a voice memo for music. 

The idea won Doremir Music, the company behind the app, a prestigious Mobile Lion award from the Cannes Lion festival in late June. Bengt Lidgard, CEO of Doremir Music, says he isn't surprised, as music is a universal language. ScoreCleaner Notes is "capturing the creativity of people," he tells Inc., "compared to the tedious task of trying to do it yourself." 

The maestros of the app

The app is the brainchild of two musicians-slash-professors, Sven Ahlback and Sven Emtell, who met about a decade ago. At the time, Ahlback, a well-known folk musician, was at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm, researching his doctoral thesis on how humans understand and perceive music. Emtell, an accomplished bass player, was studying to become an engineer of computer sciences at the The Royal Academy of Technology next door.

The pair knew they were onto something when Ahlback showed Emtell his findings, but several years would pass before they founded Doremir (a play on "do-re-mi" and the abbreviation of their software, Music Information Retrieval) in 2008. 

Today their creation is a bestseller in Sweden and Doremir, and the company, which has raised $2 million in funding from European angel investors since it began soliciting in 2011, employs about ten people. Next up is developing an app for guitarists that turns picking and strumming into tablature.  

Lidgard says the company's ultimate goal is to reach the 250 million estimated amateur musicians around the world and allow them to bring their sounds to the masses. "We have a fantastic piece of technology, so we want to make it as user-friendly as possible," he says. "Our potential is enormous. Everyone that has a gem that hasn't been published, we can help publish it." 

He adds, "This is like the Siri of music." 

See for yourself in the video below:

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5 'Health Foods' That Aren't Actually Healthy


Baked lays by theimpulsivebuyKatherine Tallmadge is a registered dietitian, author of "Diet Simple: 195 Mental Tricks, Substitutions, Habits & Inspirations" (Lifeline Press, 2011), and a frequent national commentator on nutrition topics. This article was adapted from one that first appeared in the Washington Post. Tallmadge contributed this article to LiveScience's Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights.

Eating healthy can be harder than you think, thanks to an enterprising food industry that wants people to consume more than they need. That's because the United States' agricultural system produces twice as much food as what most people require — 3,900 calories per person per day, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service. This overabundance encourages creative marketing to unload the excess, much of it characterized by cheap ingredients, a long shelf life and minimal nutritional value — the kinds of "food" with the highest profit margins.

As a nutrition consultant, I know that words such as "low fat," "high fiber," "multigrain," "gluten free" and "natural" can confuse even the most sophisticated customers into believing what they're buying is healthful. In fact, market research proves that consumers make these assumptions.

What can you do? First, make a habit of reading the ingredients list, not just the nutrition facts panel. And remember the following products worth resisting.

Reduced-fat peanut butter.

The oil is the healthiest part of a peanut or a tree nut, containing most of the nutrients, so there's no advantage to taking it out. (Peanuts are technically a legume, but dieticians call them nuts because their nutritional characteristics and health benefits closely match those of tree nuts.)

In fact, removing the oil makes things worse because it robs the peanut butter of its health benefits. "Reduced-fat peanut butter has as many calories and more sugar than the regular" variety, said Bonnie Liebman, nutrition director for the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

Instead: Buy regular peanut butter and eat real nuts. Eating one or two ounces of nuts daily is associated with reductions in heart disease and lower cancer risk. A recent Harvard study showed that eating nuts is associated with lower body weight, too.

Enhanced water.

Sports drinks — which are just diluted soft drinks with salt — are only needed during intense exercise that exceeds one hour or that occurs in extreme heat. Drinks such as Vitaminwater are essentially sugary drinks combined with a vitamin pill.

They are "unequivocally harmful to health," says Walter Willett, professor of epidemiology and nutrition at Harvard’s School of Public Health. "Whether vitamins dissolved in water have any benefit will depend on who you are and whether you are already getting enough [vitamins] … Some people may be getting too much of some vitamins and minerals if they add vitamin water on top of fortified foods and other supplements."

A recent Iowa Women's Health Study found an association between certain commonly used vitamin and mineral supplements and increased death rates. But the worst offenders in this category are energy drinks such as Red Bull, Sobe Life Water and Monster Drinks. They're not only high in sugar, but most also contain stimulants, which may be harmful, especially for people with medical conditions like high blood pressure.

Instead: Drink water, ideally from the tap ("Eau du Potomac," as it's known locally here in D.C.). Water is the best drink for hydrating your body; it's naturally calorie free and contains fluoride to prevent tooth decay. And don't try to get vitamins from solely your beverages. No supplement matches the nutrients in whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts and whole grains.

Energy bars.

The reputation of these bars, also known as meal-replacement bars, is that they are healthy, aid in weight loss or help build muscle. In fact, they are calorie bombs: candy bars with vitamins, protein or fiber added.

For most of them, sugar is either the first (predominant) or second ingredient.

Instead: Snack on fruit or veggies for weight loss and yogurt for muscle gain. If you're hiking a long distance and want a healthful, nonperishable calorie bomb, try nuts and dried fruit.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

Beer Is Saving Neighborhoods Across America


craft brew

NEW YORK (AP) — To see how a small business can transform a neighborhood, just follow the barrels.

About 30 years ago, beer lovers wanting to create their own drinks started taking over abandoned old buildings in rundown city districts, refitted them with tanks, kettles and casks, and started churning out beer. The byproduct was a boom in craft beer drinkers: Barrels shipped have more than doubled in the past decade, according to trade publication Beer Marketer's Insights. Craft beer now makes up nearly 7 percent of the slow-growing U.S. beer market.

But beer drinkers weren't the only beneficiaries. The arrival of a craft brewery was also often one of the first signs that a neighborhood was changing. From New England to the West Coast, new businesses bubbled up around breweries, drawing young people and creating a vibrant community where families could plant roots and small businesses could thrive.

It happened in Cleveland. Once an industrial powerhouse, the Rust Belt city has been losing residents since the 1950s. Manufacturing jobs disappeared. The city nearly went bankrupt in 1978.

Marred by abandoned buildings and boarded-up stores after several hard decades, the downtown Ohio City neighborhood, just west of the Cuyahoga River, which divides Cleveland, was "perceived as dangerous and blighted" into the 1980s, says Eric Wobser. He works for Ohio City Inc., a nonprofit that promotes residential and commercial development while trying to preserve the neighborhood's older buildings.

Enter Great Lakes Brewing, which opened in 1988. Over the years, it's built a brewery and a brewpub from structures that once housed a feed store, a saloon and a livery stable.

"We resurrected all of them," says Pat Conway, who founded Great Lakes with his brother, Daniel. "We've beautified the neighborhood, provided a stunning restoration."

Other breweries and businesses — a pasta maker, a bike shop, a tortilla factory, as well as restaurants and bars — followed. Newcomers are flocking to the neighborhood, even though Cleveland's overall population is still declining. The city repaved the quiet street next to the brewery, Market Ave., with cobblestones, and poured millions into renovating the West Side Market, whose origins date back to the 19th century. Today, more than 100 vendors sell produce, meat, cheese and other foods there.

What's going on in Cleveland is happening across the country. Trendy small businesses like breweries and younger residents have been returning to downtown neighborhoods in many cities across the U.S. The biggest cities are growing faster than the suburbs around them, according to Census data.

Another benefit of the brewery boom: Manufacturers like brewers typically pay workers more than service businesses like restaurants or shops do. That's good for local economies.

But for some, the bubbles are bursting. In Brooklyn, N.Y., breweries are feeling the heat from rising real estate costs.

When Brooklyn Brewery opened in the Williamsburg section of the borough in 1996, its neighbors were mostly deserted warehouses and factories. Today, Brooklyn Brewery is surrounded by modern apartment buildings, trendy bars, shops and restaurants. There's still some graffiti, but that hasn't deterred the influx of new residents willing to spend a lot of money to live there. In the past decade, home values in the Brewery's neighborhood have more than doubled — up 145 percent, according to real estate appraiser Miller Samuel.

Rising prices might force Brooklyn Brewery to exit the trendy scene it jump-started. It has two buildings in Williamsburg, the brewery and a building across the street where it stores and ages its beer. Leases are up in 2025, and Brooklyn Brewery's co-founder and president, Steve Hindy, is already worried that the company will get kicked out of its warehouse. Once an iron foundry, the building, built in 1896, has been bought by developers who Hindy says won't renew the lease. He suspects that they want to convert the space into apartments.

The landlord, Solomon Jacobs, says he doesn't yet know what's going to happen with the lease.

But Hindy is already scouting other, cheaper neighborhoods in Brooklyn.

"We sowed the seeds of our own demise here," Hindy says.

Gentrification is pressuring at least one other nearby brewer. Kelly Taylor, who owns Kelso, is looking for new space in Brooklyn or the Bronx because he thinks his landlord won't renew the lease in 2017. In Kelso's neighborhood, the Clinton Hill section of Brooklyn, home prices have almost doubled over the past 10 years, according to Miller Samuel data.

"He'll tear down and build something more lucrative," Taylor says speculatively of his landlord.

However, the building's manager, Fred Sanders, says the lease was just renewed last year for five more years, and he hasn't had any conversations with Kelso about the future.

Even if the brewery owners don't have confirmation that they'll be forced to move, history shows they have reason to be concerned. Winifred Curran, a geography professor at DePaul University in Chicago, studies how gentrification changes cities. She wrote her graduate-school dissertation on how gentrification in Brooklyn's Williamsburg neighborhood affected small manufacturers. Small businesses struggled to stay put while developers converted factories and warehouses into lucrative lofts and swarms of wealthy new residents drove up prices, she says. She warns that the appeal of revitalized neighborhoods can decimate small businesses, both old and new.

"You can try to use the establishment of manufacturing businesses to be the wedge that allows gentrification to happen, but then you need to protect those businesses," Curran says. Otherwise "the market creates this demand for industrial space and then kills the goose that laid the golden egg."

Outside of New York, costs are lower, and many brewery owners in other cities say they haven't felt similar pressures from developers. But New York flashes a warning sign for what can happen when neighborhoods become popular.

One brewery, in Boston, is relatively protected. Harpoon Brewery opened on the South Boston waterfront in 1986, when it was surrounded by auto body shops and little else. Now the brewery draws more than 85,000 people a year from tours and tastings. These days, the city is focused on redeveloping the area. New apartment and office buildings, restaurants and a convention center sit nearby. Harpoon recently negotiated a 50-year lease with the city. The rent will rise over time, but generally, long leases provide protection from spikes that can happen when an area becomes so popular that property values skyrocket.

On the country's other coast, the tech boom has made one brewpub's growth plans more complicated. The 21st Amendment brewery, in San Francisco, is two blocks from the Giants' baseball stadium, which opened in 2000 and, along with the bustling technology sector, transformed the city's SoMa neighborhood from abandoned warehouses to hot spot. Now the company wants to build an 80,000-square-foot brewery — but that's not possible in SoMa.

"The manufacturing element of the business has been priced out," says 21st Amendment's founder, Nico Freccia. The company has opened offices in the East Bay, and he's scouting space there for the brewery, hoping to "help anchor the revitalization" of an Oakland neighborhood.

Similar dreams are fueling a new beer company in New York. Bronx Brewery is setting up shop in the Mott Haven section, next to a lumberyard, a manufacturer and the plant that prints the New York Post.

"We really want to be in the Bronx, be a part of a south Bronx community that's growing like crazy," says Chris Gallant, co-founder of the brewery, which will have a space for visitors. "We hope to get as many people there as possible — it'll definitely serve as marketing," he says.

About 29 percent of Bronx residents live in poverty, compared with 15 percent for all of New York state, according to Census data.

"I think that entire area is going to increase in value," Gallant says. "That's great for the south Bronx. But it could put us in a tough spot 10 years from now."

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21-Year-Old Dropbox Intern Crystal Lee Is Competing To Be Miss America


Crystal Lee

Stanford student and User Operations intern at Dropbox Crystal Lee has just been named Miss California. She was formerly Miss Silicon Valley.

Who is the Dropbox beauty queen?

Crystal Lee is a 21-year-old student at Stanford University. She's a sister of Delta Delta Delta sorority.

Lee says she was shy growing up, but her classmates always seemed to like her. In school, she was voted best dressed, best smile, and most likely to become president. She was also her school's President.

At Stanford, Lee got a BA in Human Biology and a Masters in Communication and Media Studies. She also studied dance at the Ruth Asawa School of the Arts prior to attending Stanford.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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