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Meet The Software Engineer Who Spends His Weekends Teaching Lightsaber Fighting

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lightsabersThis post is sponsored by Chivas.

Being a software engineer during the week and a Jedi knight on the weekends sounds like an unlikely combination. But Alain Bloch considers his two passions to be perfectly harmonious.

"A hero can take many forms," says Bloch, who works days as a senior software engineer at online petition platform Change.org. "There's the stuff you see in the fantasy books and out on the battlefields. But I can, from behind my computer desk, make the world a better place."

And then on Sunday afternoons, Alain Bloch sheds his office persona and helps make people's dreams come true in a different way — as a lightsaber instructor.

A Journey Begins

When Bloch moved to San Francisco and wanted to connect with his new community, he was surprised to learn how many locals shared his lifelong love of "Star Wars." He found collectors, hobbyists, and costumers, but he wanted to do something more active with his fandom. He wanted to make a fan film, complete with lightsaber battles. And he wanted to do it right.

That's when he found Matthew Carauddo, a martial arts and fencing instructor who had choreographed lightsaber fights for theater productions. Bloch emailed him to learn about his lightsaber fighting system and was immediately hooked. He had a hunch that others would be, too.

"At the end of it, I was like, 'I think we could make this into a class,'" says Bloch. "He said, 'Are you sure about this? It's such a geeky thing.'"

"I was like, 'You don't even know.'"

The Way Of The Jedi

It's likely that Bloch and Carauddo had no idea what would happen when they shared their quirky passion with the public. The response was tremendous. Now, three years later, they meet as The Golden Gate Knights every Sunday afternoon. Between 20 and 30 people show up each week for instruction, drills, and sparring in the specially crafted Novastar and Caine's Saber Combat System, or NCSCS.

"We don our Jedi cloaks and teach people the ways of the Force," Bloch said.

Geeky? Yes. Fun? Double yes. Popular? Hugely. Bloch has appeared on television interviews, performed choreographed lightsaber fights with the Temple Hill Symphony Orchestra, traveled to conventions, and more.

"It's a lot of fun," he said. "It's a great blending of fitness, imagination and just camaraderie. You don't find something like that anywhere else."

San Franciscans are finding the same thing to be true. Class participants range from diehard costumed "Star Wars" fans with handcrafted lightsabers (you read that right) to adventurous would-be couples on first dates. And while lightsaber instruction has plenty of appeal for adults, kids take particular joy in the experience. And Bloch loves working with them.

"We have a lot of kids out there who look up to us and want to emulate what we do," Bloch said. "To be able to inspire them to be their own heroes means a lot."

Staying On Target

As "Star Wars" enthusiasts will know, being a Jedi is about more than fighting. The ways of the Force include learning patience, being mindful, and protecting peace and justice. Those are pretty fine lessons for a Sunday. Which is why, despite the commitment it requires, adding a sixth day to his work week doesn't faze Bloch.

"I'm not really working," he says. "I enjoy teaching people and watching people get it and be creative with it. I also just like to be able to give back to the community."

For Bloch, the exercise is a plus, connecting to other "Star Wars" fans is great, and delighting kids is part of the fun, too. But dedicating time to his passion also benefits him as an individual, giving his life balance and more depth.

"Being able to step into the role of a Jedi knight, even for four hours on a weekend, it's enough to inspire people to get in better shape and to become a better person."

The Golden Gate Knights aren't alone in the galaxy. Other lightsaber clubs have emerged all over the globe and can be found at SaberWars.com. But Bloch's endeavor says something to enthusiasts of all varieties: Your passion can be used to benefit your community, inspire others, and allow you to become your own kind of hero, on the weekends and beyond.

- Written by Natalie Burg

This post is part of "The Honor Code," a sponsor series about about modern men embracing success, honor, and brotherhood. "The Honor Code" is sponsored by Chivas.More in the series »

Find out more about Sponsor Posts.

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'Instagram Activist' Photographs The Gritty Side Of New York City

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Bed-Stuy Instagram kidsPhotographer Ruddy Roye considers himself an "Instagram activist," tasked with telling the stories of New Yorkers whose stories would otherwise go untold. 

The more than 2,700 photos on his Instagram profile accomplish just that. Roye photographs the people he sees on the streets, most often when he's driving to and from dropping his sons off at school in Brooklyn's Fort Greene and Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhoods. 

Click here to jump right to the photos >>

The people in the photos have stories to tell. There are the two men waiting outside a bodega for their reduced food stamp benefits. Then there's Sidahi, the former Alvin Ailey dancer who complains of hearing voices. And there's Andrew, the veteran addict looking for work. 

"All the people I photograph have interesting stories," he said to Business Insider. "My aim is to tell them as best as I can."

He hopes that his stunning, gritty portraits can spread a message of inclusiveness in his community. 

"I want people to be more aware of their surroundings and communities. I want to help change the way we look at people," he said. "I want the images to humanize a face that we scorn [and] ignore for whatever reason, and I want us all to judge less because we all have a story to tell."

Roye grew up in Jamaica, an upbringing that had a significant impact on his growth as a photographer. 

"We would all sit around, telling stories that are older than my grandparents," he said to DNAinfo. "So for me it's in my blood to tell stories I see on a day-to-day basis."

For Roye, Instagram has proven to be the most direct way to share those stories with his audience. 

"It is a platform that does not have the usual gatekeepers. It is the great equalizer," he said. "I am allowed a voice here."

He shared some of his photos with Business Insider. They are shown here with the original captions from his Instagram account.

April 23, 2013 — Ernst & Young

 "What occupies a New Yorker's mind is anyone's guess."

Bed-Stuy Instagram man looking

Source: Ruddy Roye/ Instagram



May 16, 2013 — Common Grounds

"All he said was 'it is a nice day for a stroll.'"

Bed-Stuy Instagram man

Source: Ruddy Roye/ Instagram



May 18, 2013 — Silk Road Cafe

"Falun Gong Parade — DimSum Saturday at Nom Wah Tea Parlour."

Bed-Stuy Instagram Chinatown parade

Source: Ruddy Roye/ Instagram



See the rest of the story at Business Insider
    






How To Brew Super-Strong Coffee At Home Without A Fancy Machine

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cold brew coffee

Forget the rumors you've heard about making an espresso on your stove top.

According to Darleen Scherer, the co-owner of Brooklyn-based Gorilla Coffee, that's technically just brewed coffee, since the brewer can't control the pressure of the steam  an essential part of making espresso.

"You really need a consistent temperature and pressure that you can only get from a so-called fancy machine," Scherer told Business Insider.    

So what's a coffee snob to do when he or she wants a quick fix from home?

Scherer had two recommendations for concentrated coffee, a stronger dose than regularly brewed coffee that can substitute for espresso in a pinch. One brew method's fast while the other's slow, but yields a larger volume.  

AeroPress

Brew time: About one minute

How-to:  Insert coffee grounds into the chamber, add heated water, put the plunger on top of the AeroPress and slowly press down. The farther down you press, the more bitterness you extract from the grounds.

Difference from regular brew: The press extracts coffee across an equal surface area instead of over-extracting from the sides and center like a drip-brew.

Cold Brew

Brew time: 18 - 24 hours

How-to: Steep rough coffee grounds in cold or room temperature water overnight or longer, depending on how strong you want the flavor. A Toddy set is a typical tool for cold brewing. Once brewed, some grounds have to be filtered out of the coffee. Then the extra brew can be stored in the fridge for about a week for quick coffee later. 

Difference from regular brew: It has a concentrated flavor, but cold brewing doesn't extract the acids from the coffee bean, making it less bitter.     

SEE ALSO: 7 Apps For Coffee Addicts

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Here's How Much Your Thanksgiving Dinner Would Have Cost A Century Ago

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norman rockwell freedom from want

The average Thanksgiving Day dinner this year will cost $49.04, 44 cents less than it did in 2012.

The American Farm Bureau Federation estimates the cost of Thanksgiving around the country every year based on feeding 10 people a meal with a 16-pound turkey, bread stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls with butter, peas, cranberries, carrots, celery, pumpkin pie with whipped cream, and coffee with milk.

But what would the same dinner have cost a century ago?

The Morris County Library in New Jersey researched the advertised prices of common Thanksgiving goods from November 18-22, 1911 in the NJ newspaper, The Daily Record. They discovered the cost of everything from sweet potatoes to plum pudding on the newspaper's old microfilm, and shared it with Business Insider.

Here's what a Thanksgiving dinner would have cost in 1911:

Turkey: $.28/pound ($4.48 for a 16-pounder)

Bread stuffing: $.05/pound

Sweet potatoes: $.29/6 quart basket

Rolls (bread): $.05/pound

Butter: $.37/pound

Peas: $.05/can

Cranberries: $.13/quart

Carrots: $.25/6 quart basket

Celery: n/a

Pumpkin pie: (milk, eggs, flour, sugar, pumpkin, nutmeg, cinnamon) ~$.84 to make (recipe)

Whipped cream: n/a

Coffee: $.25/pound

Milk: $.05/pint

Total cost: ~$6.81

Of course, these prices don't take inflation into account: That measly-seeming $6.81 suddenly jumps to a staggering $165.29 when you consider inflation (calculated here for 2012 prices).

It's mostly due to the sheer size of the turkey, since a 16-pounder in 1911 prices would cost roughly $110 today (This year, the same-sized turkey would $21.76, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation).

See the full list of prices from New Jersey in 1911 over at the Morris County Library website, and be thankful that your turkey this year didn't cost over $100.

SEE ALSO: 12 Cooking Hacks For A Hassle-Free Thanksgiving

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What Happens When You Overeat

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Click for sound.

 

After stuffing our faces at the Thanksgiving table Thursday, many of us will claim that our stomachs feel like they're about to burst. But can we really die from eating too much?

It's nearly impossible for the stomach to explode from overeating, Mary Roach, the author of "Gulp," said in an interview with Business Insider.

The average stomach typically contains around 1 liter, or four cups, of food. Your stomach has an upper-limit before it tries to send that food back up. The stomach can handle around a gallon, or nearly 4 liters of food before you will throw up as a gag reflex, Roach said.

This response to overindulging in food or drink is true for most of the population. There are some cases, however, where people have managed to ignore their natural gag reflex and keep eating, causing their stomachs to rupture. (In 2003, "excessive over-eating" was reported as the cause of a 49-year-old man's stomach rupturing).

"Most cases of rupture seem to occur when a person has attempted to stuff their stomach with about five liters of food or fluid," according to NBC News. These people may have a history of disordered eating and have become accustomed to their stomach muscles stretching beyond their normal limits. Their brains also ignore signals telling them to stop eating.

When your stomach is filled with too much stuff and you don't vomit, all of that mass gets pushed up against the stomach's walls and can lead to it rupturing.  

You can learn more about digestion and what happens after food enters the mouth in the video above.

SEE ALSO: 7 Foods We Should Be Eating But Aren't

LEARN: The Science Behind How People Chew Their Food

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Turkey Is Horrible — You Should Make A Crown Roast Of Pork For Thanksgiving

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crown roast of pork with stuffing

Let's be real: Nobody likes roasted turkey.

Screw the pilgrims and skip the turkey this Thanksgiving. Make a delicious crown roast of pork instead.

Roasting turkeys at Thanksgiving is a sad and pointless tradition that inflicts needless misery on tens of millions of diners, not to mention turkeys, every Thanksgiving.

Yes, people like Thanksgiving dinner, but not because of turkey. They like stuffing and mashed potatoes and creamed spinach and whatever other butter-laden sides their families make. Turkey, especially the white meat of the turkey, is dried out and tough at most American homes, and must be doused in gravy before consumption.

"But it's good when you douse it in gravy," turkey defenders routinely protest. This is not a defense. Anything is good if you douse it in gravy.

"But I have a great brining technique that makes my turkey moist," you might say. Good for you. There's a whole industry built around getting moisture into turkey meat. Williams-Sonoma has figured out that people will pay $17 for a 9-oz. tin of salt, sugar and spices if you market it as a way to prevent turkey from being dry and horrible.

This only emphasizes the sadness of turkey: With great effort and brining and salting and flipping and other kitchen jiu-jitsu, it can be upgraded from bad to unobjectionable. But even after all that effort, it doesn't become awesome, just O.K.

This is why you should give up on the turkey and go for a meat that has a high enough fat content to be delicious on its own: a crown roast of pork.

The crown roast is 12 bone-in pork rib chops, tied into a circle. (You can get your butcher to do the trimming and the tying.) I'm partial to this recipe from Gourmet magazine in 2005, which involves stuffing the roast with more pork.

Which brings me to a key point: You can still stuff a crown roast and make gravy for it, in fact, that's encouraged. But the stuffing and the gravy serve as pleasant accompaniments to the crown roast, instead of crutches without which the meat is unpalatable.

And a crown roast makes for a dramatic presentation at the table, much like a whole roasted turkey. But unlike with the turkey, the presentation of the roast is not followed by disappointment when people actually eat it.

Thanksgiving shouldn't suck. And with pork, it doesn't have to.

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12 Reasons Why Ithaca, New York Is The Best College Town In America

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Ithaca Commons

Last week, the American Institute of Economic Research released its annual list of the best college towns in the country — naming Ithaca, New York as the best destination for students.

Ithaca is home to both Cornell University and Ithaca College, and is truly a welcoming and comfortable setting for students. As a former four-year resident of the town, I could not agree more with the AIER's findings (I graduated from Cornell earlier this year).

Based on my own experiences, Ithaca is the perfect mixture of giving students everything they would want in a college experience and offering seemingly endless opportunities to explore a unique local culture.

"Ithaca Is Gorges."

It's the most cliched line anyone has ever said about the city, but it's also true — Ithaca's gorges are gorgeous, as is much of the surrounding area.

The gorges, waterfalls, and green hills of Ithaca not only make great scenery, but also give the local area a cool calling card and a fun place to explore — just make sure you're staying safe.



Students basically make up half the population.

Ithaca is home to two major colleges — Cornell University and Ithaca College — which bring more than 20,000 to the city when school is in session, almost doubling the local population.

The young average age helps reinforce the feel of Ithaca as a college-centric city, and makes it more comfortable and fun to socialize.



Its bar scene and nightlife are tailored to college living.

To be blunt, one of the most important aspects of any college town is the local nightlife — and Ithaca has a great, student-oriented bar scene.

Many of the bars are centered around Cornell's off-campus area known as "Collegetown," but there's also a thriving downtown at the Ithaca Commons.



See the rest of the story at Business Insider
    






If You Don't Like Turkey On Thanksgiving, It's Because You're Cooking It The Wrong Way

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grilled turkey

Contrary to what some people believe, roasted turkey is delicious. And the fact that we typically only eat turkey this way once or twice a year around the holidays makes it even more of a treat.

If you don't like turkey, it could be that you've never had it cooked the right way.

On Thanksgiving, most people choose to roast their turkey in the oven. This is silly because you need the oven either to cook or heat up other dishes like mashed potatoes, stuffing, roasted vegetables, etc.

Some more adventurous cooks will try deep-frying their turkey, which produces a crispy golden skin but significantly increases the possibility of blowing yourself up before the big feast.

The best way to cook your turkey is to grill it.

My family has been doing this for years. It makes the turkey moist and smoky. That's because it roasts the turkey like a rotisserie — the flavors are locked inside while all the fat and grease drips off.

To grill your turkey on an outdoor grill, the first trick is to buy a turkey that is already brined (or you can do this yourself) to prevent the skin from burning.

Lightly brush your bird with melted butter (olive oil will start a fire on the grill) and stuff the inside of the turkey with an assortment of herbs. Anything will work, but thyme, rosemary, and sage are good choices.

If you have a Weber grill, you're going to use what's called the "indirect method" to grill your turkey. The beauty of this method is that it slowly cooks the turkey evenly on all sides.

First, preheat the grill with all the burners on high. The turkey is placed directly onto the cooking grate, meaning there's less of a mess to clean up after. Once the turkey is on the grill, turn the center burner off and the two side burners down, maintaining a temperature of around 350 degrees Fahrenheit. For added flavor, you can add hickory chips to a grill smoker.

Unlike oven-roasting, you don't have to turn or baste your turkey, so it's less of a hassle. The turkey is safe to eat when the internal temperature has reached 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

See this chart from Butterball for more tips on how to grill a turkey on an outdoor charcoal and gas grill.

SEE ALSO: 9 Simple Tricks To Make Your Thanksgiving Much Healthier

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11 Awesome Gifts For Your Favorite Skier

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Skiing in Chile

Winter weather is upon us, which means it's time to get ready to hit the slopes. 

We've rounded up the coolest accessories that will make great gifts for the skiing enthusiasts in your life. 

From Camelbaks and helmets to the latest in footwarming technology, we've got all of your gifting needs covered. 

The Voice Communicating Ski Goggles from Hammacher Schlemmer will help you meet up with your friends on the slopes.

These Bluetooth-enabled goggles use a bone conduction microphone so you can communicate clearly on the mountain without the interference of wind. You can chat with up to six friends within 1,600 feet of each other, and a full charge will last you 12 hours. 

Connect wirelessly to your iPhone so you can automatically answer incoming calls or play music while you shred the slopes. 

 Price: $299.95



The Smith Vantage helmet will keep you both comfortable and safe.

A good helmet is a must these days, and the Smith Vantage helmet is a great one. Twenty-one adjustable vents help you change your temperature appropriately for both winter storms and sunny skies, while the constant movement of air keeps your goggles from getting foggy. The helmet comes in a variety of colors, so you'll be looking stylish while keeping your head safe. 

Price: $22o



The Camelbak Antidote Reservoir makes it easy to stay hydrated in that dry mountain air.

Skiing can get exhausting, and it's important to stay hydrated. This Camelbak is an easy, handsfree solution — fill it with water in the morning and slip it into your backpack with the rest of your gear. Any time you get thirsty on the slopes, just bite and sip out of the tube. 

Price: $35



See the rest of the story at Business Insider
    






It's Time To Start Holiday Shopping — See All Of Business Insider's Gift Guides In One Place

Someone Spent $57,000 On This Rusted Wreck Of A 1957 Porsche [PHOTOS]

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1957 Porshce 356 rusted ebay motors

If you're trying to sell a rusted chunk of metal that looks like it may once have been a classic Porsche, eBay Motors is the place to go.

User daveh9112012 just made $57,200 by selling what remains of a 1957 Porsche 356 Speedster.

According to the auction description, it was found on an old Roosevelt estate in New York:

1957 Porsche Speedster Yard Find. This Speedster was found as is after sitting outside for a unknown number of years. It was pulled from an old Roosevelt estate on the North Shore of Long Island. It is believed to have been a race car owned by the Roosevelt's and run at Bridgehampton Raceway in the late 50's to early 60's. It appears that it was crashed at some point in history and was parked. It still has part of the racing numbers on the side along and a roll bar.

As you can see from the pictures it is in extremely rough shape. But it is still a real 1957 Speedster.

To pick this car up you will need to bring your own trailer, the trailer in the pictures IS NOT included in the sale.

Serial Number: 83385

Reutter Color Tag Number: 601

Any questions regarding this car please message me and I'd be happy to answer you.

"Extremely rough shape" is something of an understatement, but we're looking forward to seeing if the new owner can bring the old beauty back to life.

1957 Porshce 356 rusted ebay motors

1957 Porshce 356 rusted ebay motors

TEST DRIVE: Jaguar's Powerful New Sedan Is Like No Car It Has Ever Made Before

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Here's Why We Celebrate Thanksgiving When We Do

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thanksgiving turkey dinner

Instead of a specific date, such as Dec. 25, the weekday tells us when to start downing turkey — the fourth Thursday in November.

We've celebrated Thanksgiving since 1941. But getting there required some complicated moves, mostly from politicians.

At the request of Congress, President George Washington tried to set a date back in 1789. He wanted America to dine and give thanks on Nov. 26, which happened to fall on a Thursday that year. But no one really listened. The timing continued to vary, and other presidents even tried to make their own proclamations.

Until President Abraham Lincoln rolled up his sleeves. His 1863 proclamation (no, not the emancipation one)  officially commemorated Thanksgiving as the last Thursday in November.

In 1939, however, the last Thursday in November fell on the last day of the month. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, concerned consumers didn't have enough time between Thanksgiving and Christmas to shop for gifts, moved Thanksgiving to the second Thursday in November. Thirty-two states followed suit, but 16 refused to listen. For the next couple years, the country celebrated Turkey Day at two different times.

Congress decided to end the confusion once-and-for-all in 1941. The House passed a joint resolution declaring the last Thursday in November as the legal day for Thanksgiving. But the Senate, thinking back to what happened in '39, amended the bill to say the "fourth" Thursday in November. Some years, November does have five Thursdays.

Roosevelt signed the bill into law on Dec. 26 that year.

So now you know.

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The 89-Year Evolution Of The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

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Macy's Day Parade

Over the past 89 years, the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade has become an irreplaceable staple of Thanksgiving festivities. 

Every year, 3.5 million people flock to the streets of Manhattan to see the parade in-person and 50 million people gather around their television sets to watch the parade from home. 

What began as a small Macy's employee-run event called Macy's Christmas Parade, has morphed into a huge production that requires almost an entire year's worth of preparation.

From the parade's first character balloon, Felix the Cat, and its original route that started at 145th street, to this year's spectacle, which will feature appearances from Fall Out Boy, Florida Georgia Line, and the Robertson family of "Ducky Dynasty," the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade continues to be a sight to see.

The first Macy's Day Parade was on November 27 in 1924. The parade originally featured Macy's employees and live animals from the Central Park Zoo. Floats, instead of balloons, were the main attraction.



The parade began in Harlem at 145th Street and ended in front of the Macy's flagship store on 34th Street. It was originally called the Macy's Christmas Parade, but was renamed the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade in 1927.

(Above photo is from 1994)



An estimated 250,000 spectators attended the first parade. Today, about 3.5 million people attend.

(Above photo is from 2007)



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How To Identify The Best Purebred Dog

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Click for sound.

 

Anyone who's seen a dog show has probably wondered: "What are the judges doing to those poor dogs out there?"

David Frei has hosted the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show for over 20 years, and the host of the National Dog Show, which airs annually on Thanksgiving Day — so, he has a pretty good understanding of what those judges are looking for in a "Best of Show" type dog.

The voice of the Westminster Kennel Club (and founder of a therapy dog charity called Angel on a Leash) tells us how show dogs are judged.

Produced by Kamelia Angelova and Will Wei; Additional camera by Justin Gmoser

Music: "Playtime" by Elyse Montano

SEE ALSO: How To Choose The Perfect Dog

Follow Us: On YouTube

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Here's What The Obamas Are Eating During Their Quiet Thanksgiving At The White House

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obamaWASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama and his family are pausing to celebrate a quiet Thanksgiving at the White House.

Some previous presidents have preferred to spend the holiday at Camp David, the secluded Maryland mountaintop retreat, but the Obamas have more chosen to have dinner at the Executive Mansion on this occasion.

The guest list for the private affair wasn't made public, so it wasn't clear who would be joining the president, first lady Michelle and daughters Sasha and Malia.

The menu was quintessential Thanksgiving, with turkey, honey-baked ham, cornbread stuffing, oyster stuffing, greens, macaroni and cheese, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole and dinner rolls. For dessert, the family had a choice of huckleberry pie, pecan pie, chocolate cream pie, sweet potato pie, banana cream pie or coconut cream pie.

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How To Be The Best-Dressed Guy In Your Fraternity

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Fraternity Fashion GuideWe recently brought you a fraternity fashion email from the self-proclaimed "Fratshionistau" that was making the rounds at Emory University.

We spoke with the author — Emory sophomore Jonathan Weiss— and put together our own Fraternity Fashion Guide. Weiss helped us determine some do's and don'ts for the well-dressed frat boy.

Inside, you'll find tips on how to dress for any occasion — formals, date nights, class, or parties.

You'll also find some advice directly from the Fratshionistau, such as this gem about how to best pull off a semi-formal look: "Simplicity stands out! Busy designs on shirts or ties are distracting. A solid white shirt with a solid colored tie, or a basic pattern, is always the easiest way to go."

Formal Wear

Formal wear is a look you'll only need to pull off once or twice a year, so why not make sure you're doing it right? When in doubt, opt for a dark ensemble — slacks, jacket, dress shoes, tie  — but please, we're begging you, get your pants hemmed. No one likes a guy in an ill-fitting suit. 

Sure you can rent a tux or suit, but if you invest now (assuming you've stopped growing), that $1,000 tuxedo will last you a long, long time. 

Occasions: Formal fraternity events in college and your friends' weddings after college.

Avoid: Tacky patent shoes, ill-fitting pants, and the cummerbund. As Weiss says, "It didn’t get you lucky at senior prom, and it won’t do the trick now."



Formal Look #1: The Tux

Our recommendations:

Tux:  Boss Hugo Boss 'The Stars Glamour' Trim Fit Wool Tuxedo ($895)

Cuff Links: J. Crew Fabric Knot Cuff Links ($12.50)

Bow Tie: J.Crew Italian Satin Point Bow Tie ($55)

Shoes: To Boot New York Ballard ($375)



Formal Look #2: Suit & Tie

Our recommendations: 

Jacket: Theory Eclipse Multi Wellar Suit Jacket ($645) 

Pants: Theory Marlo U Suit Pant ($235)

Bow Tie: Lauren Ralph Lauren Bow Tie ($50)

Tie: Theory Roadster Tie ($98)

Shoes: ALDO 'Brownlie' Wingtip Oxford ($100)



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Here's What 'No Animals Were Harmed' REALLY Means

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luck HBO

Many people heard that filming of the HBO series "Luck" was canceled when four horses died.

The Hollywood Reporter just published a stunning investigation suggesting this is just the tip of the iceberg of animal abuses occurring in the film world. 

The American Humane Association (AHA) is the group that watches over animal welfare and awards films and TV shows the "no animals were harmed" moniker. They send representatives to watch over filming of movies and TV shows.

While the AHA once played a huge role in making Hollywood safer for animals, many recent incidents suggest that their work today in inadequate. Even those within the AHA who spoke to the Hollywood Reporter have lost hope in their role. 

But the problem, according to the article, is that the AHA's flexible application of the "no animals were harmed" credit leaves plenty of animals harmed. Notably, the credit doesn't apply during hiatuses in filming, when the harm wasn't intentional, or if the harm happened when the cameras aren't recording.

Here are some allegations made in the investigative report:

  • During New Zealand filming of Peter Jackson's "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey," 27 animals reportedly perished. According to the Hollywood Reporter, sheep and goats died from dehydration and drowning during a filming hiatus.
  • A trainer punched a Husky dog repeatedly in its diaphragm on Disney’s 2006 Antarctic sledding movie "Eight Below," starring Paul Walker, after the dogs got into a fight on set.
  • A chipmunk was fatally (and accidentally) squashed during the production of Paramount’s 2006 "Failure to Launch."
  • Potentially because crew members on Disney's "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl" had taken no precautions to protect marine life when setting off special-effects explosions in the ocean, dozens of dead fish and squid washed up on shore for days.
  • In March, a 5-foot-long shark died after being placed in a small inflatable pool during a Kmart commercial shoot in Van Nuys.
  • Two horses died during the filming of Fox's "Flicka," which the AHA claims were accidents. This film didn't get a "no animals were harmed" credit but a credit that said the "American Humane Association monitored the animal action." So now you know what that means.
  • In 2010 during the filming of the Hallmark Channel's "Everlasting Courage," a horse named Glass was fatally injured when he was stabbed by a small broken part of a runaway wagon. He was euthanized. [See the somewhat disturbing injury on Glass's leg]
  • Four horses died during the Luck filming's between 2010 and 2012 Read the full story on Luck here »
  • During the filming of "The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian," many horses were removed from production because of injuries – up to 14 at one time. But, the production recieved a "No Animals Were Harmed" disclaimer.
  • A report on equine performers from 2001 to 2006 concluded that 82 horses had been adversely affected while working on sets during this period, including 58 injuries and eight deaths (from things like a "collision with camera car," "stepped on lead rope," and "impalement").
  • Multiple horses died from colic (potentially triggered by heatstroke) on the set of "There Will Be Blood" from Paramount Vantage. The AHA gave the film a modified end credit that stated that they "monitored the animal action.”

Read Animals Were Harmed at the Hollywood Reporter »

SEE ALSO: Scientists Want To Bring 24 Animals Back From Extinction

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5 Tasty Alternatives To Boring Holiday Beverages

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mulled wine ladel smoking drink

Sipping on seasonal cocktails is a great way to get into the holiday spirit.

And even though classics such as mulled wine and eggnog are delicious, there are other winter drinks out there that will add a kick to your festivities.

Below are five easy replacements for boring holiday beverages, complete with recipes.

Instead of Mulled Wine, try Glögg

Mulled wine and the Scandinavian glögg are essentially the same thing, except glögg also adds a stronger spirit like vodka or brandy into the mix.

The best part about glögg is that since you're adding so much other stuff to it, you don't need to worry about having a nice wine — a cheap red of your choice will do the trick.

What you'll need: 2 bottles of dry red wine, 1 cup of vodka or brandy, brown sugar, 2 oranges, and spices like cardamom pods, cinnamon sticks, cloves, and more.

Instructions: Place everything in a large pot and bring the mixture to a simmer. Stir from time to time, and then remove from heat and let it sit for 2 hours. Strain everything to catch the spices, and reheat.

Find a full recipe here.

Instead of Spiked Hot Chocolate, make Spiked Coconut Hot White Chocolate

Peppermint Schnapps or Bailey's Irish Cream with hot chocolate are two tried and true cozy winter drinks. But if you're feeling adventurous, make hot white chocolate instead, and add some coconut rum for a touch of the tropics.

It's surprisingly easy to make hot white chocolate, and you can also amp up the flavor by adding some coconut milk into the mix, too.

What you'll need: Skim milk, a can of coconut milk, a bar of chopped white chocolate, and coconut flavored rum.

Instructions: Pour the milk and coconut milk into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and stir in the white chocolate until the mixture is smooth. Pour into a cup, and add as much rum as desired.

Find a full recipe here.

Instead of Eggnog, make a Tamagozake

Also know as an "egg sake," a Tamagozake is essentially just an eggnog with sake. And it's delicious.

Some people also use this sweet and creamy drink as a homemade cold remedy, but it's good all the time since it's so simple to make.

What you'll need: Sake, sugar, ginger, and one egg.

Instructions: Mix the egg and sugar together in a bowl while you heat the sake and ginger in a pot. Once it's hot, pour the sake in with the egg and sugar while whisking.

Find a full recipe here.

Instead of a Hot Toddy, make Hot Buttered Rum

Who doesn't like a hot toddy? The mixture of Whisky or brandy with boiling water, sugar, and honey topped with lemon, cloves, and/or cinnamon sticks was once thought to cure the common cold.

But those same spices and flavors gets a twist with the addition of rum and butter. It's a delicious, warming cocktail that will make anyone who makes it a huge hit at the party.

What you'll need: Dark brown sugar, one stick of butter, honey, ground cinnamon, nutmeg, spice rum, and boiling water.

Instructions: Mix the brown sugar, butter, honey, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves until smooth. Add the rum and 2 cups of boiling water and stir until the butter mixture dissolves.

Find a full recipe here.

Instead of Mulled Cider, try a Spiked Wassail

Hot apple cider is a holiday tradition, but it gets an extra kick with the Wassail. (The name comes from the Old English tradition of "wassailing" or caroling.)

It's very similar to spiked hot cider but with vanilla and bourbon. If you like apple cider, the Wassail is definitely for you.

What you'll need: Apple cider, fresh ginger, lemons, vanilla bean, and bourbon.

Instructions: Combine all nonalcoholic ingredients in a  saucepan and simmer for an hour. Pour bourbon into mugs and add hot spiced cider mixture. Garnish with cinnamon sticks.

Find a full recipe here.

SEE ALSO: 16 Hot Cocktail Destinations Around America

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HOUSE OF THE DAY: JFK's Sprawling Estate In Virginia Can Be Yours For $11 Million

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JFK Wexford aerial shot

Wexford, John and Jackie Kennedy's Virginia countryside estate, is on the market for just under $11 million. 

The four-bedroom ranch house lies on more than 160 acres of idyllic farmland in Marshall, Va. Of the many homes the Kennedys owned, this was the only one the couple built together, completed in 1963, just weeks before the president was assassinated. 

The estate is more than just a historic landmark — it also has plenty of amenities. There's a tennis court, swimming pool, and lots of space for horseback riding and fox hunting. Beautiful views of the Blue Ridge Mountains make this an ideal countryside escape. 

JFK wasn't the only president to call Wexford home. President Ronald Reagan rented the estate in 1980 and prepared for his debates against Jimmy Carter here. There's even an underground Secret Service bunker that's a reminder of the estate's presidential past (photos via Estately).  

Wexford lies on more than 160 acres of rolling Virginia farmland, about an hour outside of Washington, DC.



You can see the house in the distance, just across the pond.



There's also a tennis court and swimming pool.



See the rest of the story at Business Insider
    






The World's Longest Commercial Flight Has Been Cancelled

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On Monday, the world's longest commercial flight ended its run after nine years of shuttling passengers from Newark International to Singapore's Changi Airport.

According to the International Business Times, Singapore Airlines Flight SQ21 lasted 19 hours and covered nearly 10,000 miles. It operated on an Airbus A340 with only 100 seats, all of them business class.

The airline is canceling the once daily flight because it's unprofitable, partly due to rising fuel costs. 

It's exchanging those A340 planes for larger A380s, which are not designed to fly as far. Passengers who choose to make the trip with Singapore Airlines will now have a stopover in either London or Frankfurt.

In commentary, the Center for Aviation (CAPA) said the cancellation of two nonstop routes — Singapore-Newark and Singapore-Los Angeles in October — will "result in a 26% business class seat reduction for SIA in the US market."

Now that it does not offer the nonstop flights, Singapore will "compete head to head against about 20 carriers offering one-stop products in the Singapore-New York market and about 12 carriers offering one-stop products in the Singapore-Los Angeles market."

CAPA notes that the flights were unprofitable, but "had a high volume of corporate traffic and helped win corporate accounts in the US."

For reference, here's a map of the Singapore-Newark flight. You can see just how long it is, passing over the Arctic Circle:

Singapore Newark Flight Path arctic circle

SEE ALSO: 16 Awesome Photos From The Tremendous Dubai Airshow

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