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The 10 Best Hotels In The Caribbean

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Jade Mountain St Lucia FB

With more than 5,000 islands and cays in the Caribbean, the sky's the limit for anyone looking to cure their wintertime blues with a tropical vacation.

To make the destination decision a little easier, Condé Nast Traveler determined the 10 best resorts in the Caribbean based on thousands of reader reviews as a part of its Gold List 2014.

From the pink sand beaches of Bermuda to the lush greenery of Jamaica, Caribbean jet-setters have a lot to explore. 

10. Anse Chastanet Resort, St. Lucia

Readers' Choice Rating: 93.3

Price: Starting at $540/night

You can have a classic Caribbean vacation at Anse Chastanet on St. Lucia's quiet southwestern coast. Architect-owner Nick Troubetzkoy's philosophy is to make nature an integral part of the experience. The estate sits on 600 acres bordering two soft sand beaches whose bays are protected as a marine reserves.   Anse Chastanet St. Lucia FBSource: Anse Chastanet St. Lucia/Facebook



9. Pompano Beach Club, Bermuda

Readers' Choice Rating: 93.8

Price: Starting at $310/night

A big draw for the Pompano Beach Club is its 18-hole Port Royal Golf Course, named Bermuda's finest by The New York Times. Besides its proximity to great golfing, the resort also offers a long stretch of pristine beach perfect for snorkelers and water sport enthusiasts. Pompano Beach Club, BermudaSource: Pompano Beach Club, Bermuda/Facebook



8. Jamaica Inn, Ocho Rios, Jamaica

Readers' Choice Rating: 94

Price: Starting at $523/night

With just 52 suites and cottages, every guest at Jamaica Inn gets a Caribbean Sea view. Every room also comes with its own private veranda. Beach activities are complimentary, like kayaking, sunfish sailing, snorkeling and paddle boarding. Planter's punch is also free everyday from 11 a.m. to noon on the beach.Jamaica Inn jamaicainnSource: Jamaica Inn



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A Yankees Pitcher Spent Around $200,000 To Fly To New York In His Own Boeing Dreamliner

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Masahiro Tanaka yankees pitcher

Japanese baseball sensation Masahiro Tanaka chartered his own Boeing 787 Dreamliner to fly him to New York, with the entire plane taken up by his five-strong party and his pet dog.

The ace pitcher, who has just signed a seven-year deal worth $155 million with the New York Yankees, is believed to have splashed out 20 million yen ($195,000) of his own money on the one-way flight.

"It's a (chartered) private jet. It's not something the Yankees have prepared," he told reporters at Narita Airport near Tokyo on Sunday.

Japan Airlines (JAL) confirmed he used one of its Boeing 787s but declined to disclose further details.

Jiji Press news agency said Tanaka booked out the whole plane -- which usually has about 200 seats -- for a group of five, including him and his wife. His pet dog -- -- a brown Toy Poodle -- was also aboard, the Sports Nippon said.

JAL said the plane had been booked ahead of the heavy snow that hit Japan over the weekend, grounding all regular commercial flights to New York on Sunday and causing travel chaos around the Japanese capital.

Even with the luxury of his own airliner, Tanaka did not escape the weather-induced misery, with his journey from a Tokyo hotel to the airport by car taking eight-and-a-half hours.

Tanaka paid for the plane in order to take part in the team's camp "in the best of form," a Japanese baseball official who accompanied him reportedly said.

He is to hold a press conference at Yankees Stadium on Tuesday before going to Florida for team training camp.

Tanaka, playing for the Sendai-based Rakuten Eagles, was unbeaten last season.

The right-hander went 24-0 with a 1.27 earned-run average and 183 strikeouts with only 32 walks in 212 innings for the Japan Series champion Eagles.

The Dreamliner has suffered a series of glitches since being rolled out by Boeing, most notably with the battery system, which last year saw the global fleet grounded for testing.

No problems were reported with Tanaka's flight.

SEE ALSO: The New Corvette Stingray Is, Hands Down, The Most Fun Car I've Ever Driven

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The Best Things To Buy Every Month Of The Year

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Sometimes, knowing when a particular item will go on sale is just common sense: Chances are you would spend a lot more on a winter jacket in November than you would in April.

But it's more difficult to know when to shop for other products, like wedding dresses, champagne, and used cars.

We came up with a definitive calendar for the best things to buy in every month of the year, based on expert advice from websites like DealNews, DailyFinance, and Cheap Flights, among others.

Check out our infographic below to see what you should buy this month, and during every month the rest of the year.

What To Buy Every Month of the year infographic

SEE ALSO: 12 Hilarious Photos Of Men Who Hate Shopping

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How Tory Burch Became A Fashion Billionaire In Less Than A Decade

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tory burch

Tory Burch is celebrating the 10-year anniversary of her company this week. 

Her eponymous fashion line, which includes high-end handbags and Reva ballet flats, is ubiquitous.

The designer's bags, sunglasses and shoes are flying off the shelves at Bloomingdale's, Nordstrom and Saks. She's competing with more established brands like Coach, Michael Kors and Kate Spade — and winning.

Burch's company is now valued at more than $3.5 billion. 

Burch started her career a fashion copywriter. After her ex-husband, retail tycoon Christopher Burch, gave her $2 million, she began designing clothes in her kitchen. Before long, she had an important celebrity endorsement and soaring sales figures. 

We mapped out how Burch became a fashion billionaire. 

Tory Burch grew up in Philadelphia. Her mother is a former actress, while her father was an investor. After graduating from high school, she attended the University of Pennsylvania.



Burch had a series of writing jobs before starting her fashion line. She worked for Vera Wang, Ralph Lauren and Harper's Bazaar.



In 2004, she launched her New York City flagship boutique. It's located in the retail mecca of NoLita.



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Things Got Crazy When 1,000 Motorcycle Riders Met On A French Beach For A Winter Race

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Enduropale 2

More than 1,000 motorcyclists met on the coast of northern France this weekend for the 39th annual Le Torquet Enduropale, a race that tests their ability to brave winter weather for a three-hour competition.

High winds and a rising tide made the sand on the beach at Le Torquet wet and difficult to ride through.

In a final lap nail-biter, French rider Adrien Van Beveren, riding a Yamaha for France's Moto Club Pecquencourt, took first place.  

To give you a sense of how tough this race is, we've compiled photos from the past few years, when snow, water, and lots and lots of crashes made just getting to the finish line an accomplishment. 

About 1,000 motor bikes and 500 quad bikes descend on Le Torquet every year for the Enduropale race.



Competitors come largely from France, but also Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, and the United Kingdom.



Here, the racers in Enduropale 2014 start the three-hour race on the beach.



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How To Pack A Suit So You're Not A Wrinkled Mess When Traveling

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It's every business traveler's nightmare: Flying into town for an important meeting and finding that your suit is wrinkled beyond repair.

One easy way to avoid creases is to wear your suit jacket on the plane instead of cramming it in your suitcase, said Eli Chess, managing partner at custom menswear maker Alabaster & Chess

But if you dread the thought of wearing business attire for any longer than you have to, there are also a few tricks to minimizing wrinkles, even if you're packing in a carry-on suitcase.

SEE ALSO: Here Are The 4 Bags Every Man Needs

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Nearly Two-Thirds Of Americans Don't Mind People 'Vaping' Nearby

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E Cigarette Chris Anderson Business Insider 12E-cigarettes may have a coolness problem, but the cigarette alternatives are fast gaining acceptance in America.

Not only are they a hit among U.S. teens, with sales expected to skyrocket to $10 billion by 2017, according to a Wells Fargo analyst, but 63% of Americans say they don't mind if someone "vapes" around them.

That's according to a new poll from Harris Interactive (commissioned by North Carolina-based e-cigarette manufacturer Mistic) conducted in December 2013. 1,011 adults were called and asked whether they would approve or disapprove of e-cigarette use at certain public places that typically ban smoking of traditional tobacco cigarettes, such as sporting events, malls, the office, and even on an airplane.

In general, men were more tolerant, with 71% saying they weren't bothered by an e-cig in their vicinity, compared to 55% of women.

And the difference seemed to be generational: 70% of Americans ages 18-34 said they would not be bothered by someone using an e-cigarette in close proximity, compared with 4% of those ages 65 and over.

As for locations that normally didn't allow cigarettes, people became a little more finicky:

  • 58% of those surveyed thought e-cigs could be used at sporting events

  • 47% said vaping in malls was fine

  • 45% approved of e-cig use in restaurants and bars

  • 35% said vaping in an office or on public transit was okay

  • 29% wouldn't be bothered by e-cig use in a movie theater

  • 26% said vaping on an airplane was okay

And while this sounds like good news for the e-cigarette manufacturers, brands should remember that although the majority of nonsmokers may not mind e-cigarettes, that doesn't mean that cigarette lovers are willing to switch to vapor e-cigs (or that states and municipalities may ban them on their own).

SEE ALSO: The 15 Healthiest Cities In America

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Here's The Extravagant Banquet Being Prepared For Tonight's State Dinner

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state dinner table setting 2014

White House garden vegetables, dry-aged rib eye beef, and American wines — this is what guests at the White House will be served at tonight's State Dinner.

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama are hosting French President François Hollande today, to be followed by an official State Dinner held in a big white tent on the South Lawn of the White House.

Thanks to the White House Instagram account, we have an advanced look at the feast being readied for the 350 guests.

White House Executive Chef Cris Comerford and Pastry Chef Bill Yosses, selected a menu that "celebrates the best of American cuisine," according to a release from the White House. The ingredients come from around the country, and from the White House itself. Honey from the White House beehive will be used in a vinaigrette dressing, and the salad will feature ingredients from Michelle Obama's kitchen garden. 

The wine list is also American, with bottles from California, Washington state, and Virginia.

After the food, guests will be serenaded by Mary J. Blige. Keep reading to see the official menu, as well as a preview (and more specifics) on all of the courses.

"The Winter Garden Salad" served with radish, baby carrots, lettuce, and a red wine vinaigrette, looks more like a piece of art than a second course.

Pastry chef Bill Yosses prepares Hawaiian chocolate-malted ganache with vanilla ice cream and tangerines. And yes, that's a paint sprayer they're using to coat the desserts.

Sugar roses and fleur-de-lis, the official flowers of the United States and France. "We made 38 of each — that's more than 1,800 petals," Pastry Chef Bill Yosses said.

Here's the official menu.

white house State Dinner menu 2014

And an in-depth description of each course, via The White House:

The First Course, American Osetra Caviar, farmed from the estuaries of Illinois, is paired with quail eggs from Pennsylvania and twelve varieties of potatoes from farms in New York, Idaho, and California.

The Salad Course is petite mixed radish and baby carrots, served on a bed of merlot lettuce with a red wine vinaigrette. The Winter Garden Salad pays tribute to The First Lady’s White House Kitchen Garden. Even when covered with snow, the winter vegetables in the White House Kitchen Garden continue to thrive, and little hints of spring are already starting to sprout.

The Main Course, Dry-aged Rib Eye Beef, is sourced from a family owned farm in Greeley, Colorado and served with a Jasper Hill Farm Blue Cheese crisp from Greensborough, Vermont.

The dessert is a celebration of American traditions and produce. The Chocolate Malted Cake is a modern version of an all- American layer cake presented in a geometric form. This dish combines bittersweet chocolate from Hawaii, tangerines from Florida, and is served à la mode with vanilla ice cream from Pennsylvania.

After dinner, guests can enjoy fudge made from Vermont maple syrup, lavender shortbread cookies, and cotton candy dusted with orange zest.

BONUS: Bo and Sunny Obama are excited for the meal, too.

SEE ALSO: Incredible Photos Of The Gutted White House During Its 1950s Renovation

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A Former SEC Chair Is Selling His Gorgeous 218 Acre California Ranch For $15.9 Million

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Former SEC Chair Ranch House

Former SEC Chair Harold Williams is selling his modern California ranch for $15.9 million according to the WSJ.

It's designed by the architect who also designed the Getty Museum, Michael Palladino. They met when Williams worked for the J. Paul Getty Trust, which funded the museum.

The ranch is being sold in two parcels (if that's what you want), the main house and the 8-stall horse facility. All in all, the ranch includes 5 bedrooms, 5 baths, a gym, an office, and a solar-heated salt water pool. It's also in the middle of wine country.

Realtor Carey Kendall has the listing.

This is the view.



This lake is located near the property.



There's tons of light everywhere, especially in the common space.



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These Afghan Child Refugee Photos Will Break Your Heart — And Maybe Just Give You Hope

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muhammed muheisen ap photographerAssociated Press photographer Muhammed Muheisen, 33, has spent three years capturing the daily lives of impoverished Afghans who dwell in an enormous refugee camp in Pakistan. Through portraits of wide-eyed, dirt-poor Afghan children, Muheisen shows the worst civilian impact caused by decades of conflict.

"I wanted to show the outside world what I see every time I meet these children, their stunning eyes and their tough life standing together in front of my lens. I want these beautiful children to be remembered by their names not as displaced Afghan refugees," Muheisen wrote via email.

Although the photos of the children, most of whom do not have access to schools, are heartbreaking, Muheisen also captured how truly resilient they are.

"For me all of the children in this series have a special place in my heart because through them I learned how to appreciate what I have. Seeing how they adapt with the minimum makes you feel lucky," Muheisen wrote via email.

Muheisen's portraits and more of his comments are presented below:

"I am always amazed how the Afghan refugee children enjoy their time with nothing. They create elaborate games with no money and they are so creative."

afghan refugee children

"Simple things make them so happy, playing with anything that comes their way. They adapt with the minimum and they honestly look like the happiest children."

refugee children pakistan

"The hard life they live is so obvious to see in their faces. Their beauty is mixed with the rough life condition they endure everyday."

refugee child pakistan

 "They are so young in age but, unlike most children they are old in experience and know how to persevere."

refugee children pakistan

"I don’t speak their language and they don’t speak mine but we have a mutual respect and trust which is built on positive energy and simple gestures that shows these children I am here as a friend."

refugee children pakistan

"You can imagine how much time and energy it took to gain their trust. Wars broke them and forced them to leave their families and homes looking for refuge."

refugee children pakistan

"Characteristic of their culture, the girls would always hide from me. They would observe and try to understand what I was doing." 

refugee afghan pakistani camp

"Slowly they understood what I was trying to do and they approached me to have their pictures taken."

Afghan refugee children in pakistan

"I wanted to show the outside world what I see every time I meet these children, their stunning eyes and their tough life standing together in front of my lens."

refugee child pakistan

 "I want these beautiful children to be remembered by their names not as displaced Afghan refugees."

refugee pakistan children

SEE ALSO: The 20 Award-Winning Photos From The War In Syria Everyone Should See

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Mercedes Reveals The Wildly Luxurious New Coupe That Takes Curves Like A Pro Skier

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2015 S Class Coupe (18)

Mercedes-Benz has unveiled the 2015 S-Class Coupe, and it's very exciting. On top of great looks inside and out, the two-door version of the German automaker's flagship sedan is chock full of technologies that promise to make it both luxurious and a beast on the road.

Mercedes offers the choice to get headlights packed with 47 Swarovski crystals, but the more impressive technology can't be spotted until the coupe heads into a turn.

This is the world premiere of the "active curve tilting function," which makes the car lean into turns, like a motorcyclist or skier. That improves performance and keeps passengers seated more securely on hard curves — making sporty driving even more pleasurable.

The S-Class Coupe, which seats four, will make its debut at the Geneva Motor Show. Expect Mercedes to announce pricing closer to its market launch this fall.

Mercedes-Benz has been making large coupes since 1952. It's an unusual way to combine size, luxury, and sporty driving characteristics.



At 16.5 feet long, the 2015 S-Class Coupe is just gorgeous.



It will sit on wheels between 18- and 20-inches big.



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This Is Sky, The Wire Fox Terrier Who Just Won The Westminster Dog Show

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The results of the 138th annual Westminster Dog Show are in, and Sky, a wire fox terrier, has taken Best in Show.

Here's Sky (whose full name is GCH Afterall Painting the Sky) enjoying his winning moment:

And the official announcement from the Westminster Dog Show:

The competition took place at Madison Square Garden in New York City. According to NBC News, this was the 14th time a wire fox terrier has won Best in Show, more wins than any other breed since the show began in 1877.

According to the AP, Sky's handler is a regular on the dog show circuit. The AP reports:

Handler Gabriel Rangel, who won Westminster four years ago while guiding Sadie the Scottish terrier, led Sky to her 129th best in show ribbon overall. She became a Triple Crown winner in dogdom, having previously taken the National Dog Show and the top AKC event.

The 5-year-old Sky lives in Rialto, Calif., with Rangel.

Sky looked like a champ during yesterday's terrier group competition:

sky terrier westminster

SEE ALSO: 25 Places To Party Before You Die

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Here's What To Do If Your iPhone Gets Stolen

One Of NYC's Hottest Hotels Is About To Be Sold For The Highest Price America Has Seen Since The Financial Crisis

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boom boom room, new york, bar, the standard

When The Standard Hotel was built in 2008, New York City and the world was in the midst of a terrible financial crisis. That meant clubs and restaurants were closing right and left. Investors scoffed at anything lux as consumers pinched pennies and watched wallets.

But all that's over, and five years later The Standard — known for its exclusive clubs, late-night upscale dining, and Sunday night bingo games where people dance on tables— is about to be sold for the highest price of any hotel since the financial crisis, the WSJ reports.

Investor Steven Kantor could shell out over $400 million to owners Dune Real Estate Partners and Greenfield Partners. That's $1.2 million a room.

Part of this success has to be attributed to the hotel's management company owned by Andre Balazs. It was he who turned the hotel into an adult playground.

Downstairs you have upscale bro'd out beer garden and the Standard Grill, an "American Bistro" that's open late enough to cater to insomniac guests and NYC partiers. The super-exclusive Boom Boom Room upstairs is known for its near 360 degree views of the Hudson River, and Le Bain, its hipper sister club brings in some of the best DJs in international dance music (and has a killer roof... and a hot tub).

The other part of this success has to do with the hotel market right now. As you may have noticed from Hilton's wildly successful IPO, it's booming.

Back in December, when we talked to Ryan Meliker, a senior analyst, Equity Research for investment bank MLV& Co. about Hilton, he said the hotel industry in general is in a really good place right now. As the global economic recovery continues, demand will increase.

At $22 billion, U.S. hotel transactions in 2013 were 10 times higher than in 2009. What's more, during a recovery, it's easier for hotels to raise room rates than it is for office or residential buildings. That means they're in a better position to take advantage of the money floating around, which investors love.

While some major players are taking this opportunity to buy — like Lowes which is looking to buy about half a dozen properties, according to CEO Paul Whetsell . Others are taking it as an opportunity to sell.  Blackstone is planning to IPO another hotel chain it owns, La Quinta. 

Another way companies are investing in the industry is by franchising — ramping up the number of hotels it manages but doesn't own. Companies like Starwood and Marriott have already headed in that direction.

Sounds like this is an industry to watch in general.

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How Meditation Makes Ray Dalio Feel 'Like A Ninja In A Fight'

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Dalio, Batali

Billionaire Ray Dalio, the founder of hedge fund behemoth Bridgewater Associates, has been practicing Transcendental Meditation (TM) for 42 years. 

"Meditation, more than any other factor, has been the reason for what success I've had."

Dalio spoke at a Transcendental Meditation Town Hall last night at the AXA Equitable Building in Midtown Manhattan along with other leaders and celebrities. Money from the event, which was hosted by the David Lynch Foundation, will go toward teaching at-risk youth and veterans meditation.

Dalio said he got into the Transcendental Meditation because of The Beatles. 

"The Beatles were doing it and so it caught my attention and sounded good. I started it and it worked."

It's widely known on Wall Street that Dalio incorporates the practice of Transcendental Meditation into his investing. He says that the benefits of TM are centeredness, calmness and creativity. 

Other people have been catching on because of Dalio.  The moderator for the evening CNBC anchor/ New York Times columnist Andrew Ross Sorkin said that Dalio is the reason he started practicing TM. 

"Ray runs the largest hedge fund in the world. Lives a pretty stressful life I would think with the markets," Sorkin said, adding, "Most people I know on Wall Street are a bit neurotic." 

Most practitioners of TM do it for twenty minutes, twice a day. 

"You don't do it in truth twenty minutes a day, twice a day, everyday," Sorkin said to Dalio. 

"No, I do it probably two-thirds of the days, twice a day," Dalio said, adding, "It's like yoga. If you practice it, it become easier to get into." 

If he stress even during market hours (9 a.m.-4 p.m. EST) Dalio will meditate.

"If there's stress, I'll just break off and go into the meditation. It will just wash off of me." 

If Dalio is seeing anxiety and he can't get himself out of it, he'll use meditation to produce calmness which allows him to deal with it like "a ninja in a fight."

"I would say that generally speaking, I feel like a ninja in a fight. In other words, when it comes at you, it seems like slow motion. OK, it is what it is. Because there's a calmness. So when there's a calmness, I can deal with it in a better way. Whereas, when there's that anxiety, it all seems so fast and less I am in control."

In addition to creating calmness, meditation sessions help with generating new ideas, Dalio explained.

"It's like when you take a hot shower and you get that creative idea and you just grab it. That's what it's like. Meditation brings you that kind of thing," he said. 

He says you can't muscle it or wrestle with it. You have to allow yourself to go "into the void."  It he says this gives you relaxation and creates access to these new ideas. 

At Bridgewater Associates, Transcendental Meditation has become part of the culture with many of the fund's employees practicing it now. For his staff, Dalio offers to pay half of the cost associated with learning Transcendental Meditation from an instructor.  

He says meditation has been integral to the fund's success.  Because meditation helps produce calmness, the employees are able to have thoughtful disagreements without emotion.  

"In our business, we want to have independent thinking. In order to beat the markets, you can't be with the consensus, so you have to have independent thinking," he said.

And you have to be a ninja.

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Driver Straps A GoPro To His BMW To Make An Epic Time-Lapse Video Of His Cross-Country Drive

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If you take enough photos on a drive across the United States, you can create a time lapse video that replays the epic drive in just a few minutes.

That's what a driver who identified himself as Maurizio Sera Art did recently, covering the 2,740 mile-trip from Los Angeles, Calif., to Washington, D.C. He strapped a Hero3 GoPro camera to the roof of his BMW and had it snap a photo of the road every two seconds.

The trip took him 44 hours over four days, and he ended up with 63,000 photos. Then he used those to create this awesome video that replays the 44 hour drive in under 7 minutes.

Watch the coast-to-coast drive, which starts under the Hollywood sign and wraps up in front of the Capitol:

SEE ALSO: You Can Now Drive From Los Angeles To New York On Tesla's Supercharger Network

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Take This Simple Test To Find Out If You're A Speed Reader

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Speed reading is an incredibly useful skill, no matter your profession.

If you think you have a leg up on the rest of the population, check out a new test from Staples' eReader Research Center that tells you how many words you actually read per minute.

Simply read a short passage, and then answer three questions that test your comprehension before you see the results. The test even compares your score to the average reading rate of everyone from a 3rd grade student to a bona fide speed reader, and then tells you how long it would take for you to read the world's classic novels.

Click the image below to take the test.

staples speed reading test

SEE ALSO: 25 Books That Changed The Course Of History

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How To Make A Bouquet Of Bacon Roses For Valentine's Day

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Valentine's Day is a tricky holiday. Some people take it seriously. Others think it's a joke

Here at Business Insider, we take Valentine's Day very seriously. We also take bacon very seriously. So, we combined these two very serious elements to create a bouquet of bacon roses— perfect for that special guy or gal in your life.

Produced by Will Wei & Dina Spector

NOW WATCH: How To Make A Bacon Bowl

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How One Gringo Made The Tequila To Rule All Tequilas

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ken austin jenna fagnan avion

We met at the Avion Embassy, a townhouse in Midtown Manhattan where Young Jeezy had just thrown his Super Bowl Party.

Ken Austin, Marquis Jet CEO and founder of the tequila that's about to change the way your drink — Avion — played host along with Avion President Jenna Fagnan.

It was time to taste.

Let me preface this by saying I am not a tequila drinker. I drink gin. That gin is served up and with a twist. But after tasting Avion, I know it isn't your normal Spring Break-lime-and-salt-Cinco-de-Mayo tequila. You want to taste it. When you taste it, you enjoy it. You do not make the — "oh-my-God-I'm-too-old-for-this-crap-face."

I don't know how else to describe it.

Besides, who can resist an invitation from a smiley CEO who decided to chase his dream of making tequila after getting Warren Buffett's blessing over a game of poker in Vegas?

It was at an execs-only kind of bash, and "the only guy in the room without a bodyguard was Buffett. He was just wearing a Hawaiian shirt and smiling," said Austin.

Buffett bought Marquis jet in 2010, so the two men had worked together closely. Austin told Buffett there was no number two tequila in the world, and Buffett agreed that that was an opportunity. The next day Austin was calling distilleries in Mexico. The day after that he was on a plane to Mexico.

Eventually, Austin found a spot where he would make the tequila he had dreamed of at a high altitude where the roots of the agave plant (that's what tequila is made of) would have to work to go deep into the ground and survive. It makes for a lighter flavor, he says.

You'll understand that when you try Avion, a liquor on which no expense has been spared. For example, the "heads and tails" (top and bottom) of the agave are cut off before the plant is turned into liquor. That's part of what takes away the "I-need-to-squint-my-eyes" feeling you get after drinking most tequila.

But of course, that means there's less tequila.

"Our yield sucks, but I'm good with that," says Austin. For the record it's hard to believe the New York native wouldn't be good with just about anything these days. He's rocking the established, but relaxed executive look — think suede driving loafers and cashmere sweaters.

Not that Avion is a play-project for Austin. He has real investors like AOL CEO Tim Armstrong, YouTube founder and CEO Chad Hurley, and Coach CEO Lew Frankfort. Businessmen like that want real returns.

So Austin put together a really fierce team, helmed by Avion President Jenna Fagnan. When Austin came knocking, she was making her way to the top of French luxury brand LVMH where she worked as a VP-marketing and sales for LVMH's TAG Heuer.

"This was the greatest coup ever," Fagnan said of Austin's approach.

At first, after discussing the project over lunch, Fagnan planned to simply live vicariously through Austin and stay at LVMH.

Then one day Austin invited Fagnan to Marquis's office where he had about 30 shots of tequila lined up. It was time to taste.

About a third of the way through Fagnan got the picture.

avion reserva 44"I thought, holy cow, this is going to be the next big lifestyle brand," says Fagnan, a frank-talking brunette who grew up in an Alaskan fishing village. 

With that, she quit her job and joined the team.

Together, Fagnan and Austin have created 4 different Avion tequilas — a Silver, a Reposado (aged for 6 months in Jack Daniel's casks), an Anejo (aged for two years), and the Reserva 44 (aged for 44 months and then put in a crystal bottle signed by Austin himself).

Yup, every bottle is signed.

"Are you going to complain about it again," Fagnan asked.

"It sucks," Austin said with a smile that clearly said 'yes, but I love it.'

Pernod Ricard, the French liquor giant, loves it too. The company signed its first ever joint venture deal in order to distribute Avion.

Austin says it's like being the little guy trash talking at a bar while his huge friends stand waiting behind him, daring anyone to take a swing.

Seems like a solid way to take over the world, especially when you can back it up with taste.

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Amazing Aerial Photos Of African Wildlife

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Zack Seckler Plane

Stuck in Botswana for several days after finishing a corporate assignment, photographer Zack Seckler decided that he couldn't waste the opportunity to see the majesty of Africa.

Without any way to get around, Seckler hired a retired pilot to take him in an "ultralight," a lightweight two-seater plane that can take off and land almost anywhere. The pilot took Seckler over the salt pans and countryside of Botswana, where he found himself exhilarated by the flight and the scenes below.

"Being above the ground at such low elevations, and having the ability to precisely maneuver, was like gliding over an enormous painting and being able to create brushstrokes at will," said Seckler.

Seckler began photographing the incredible landscapes and the animals that wandered into them, creating a body of work that he calls "Aerial Abstracts."

Seckler shared some photos with us here, but you can see the entire project at the Robin Rice Gallery in Manhattan until Feb. 23, or on his website where he shares all of his current work.

During his time in Botswana, Seckler took several flights over the salt pans. He says that when he saw this zebra herd, he told the pilot to follow them.



The plane usually flew at an elevation of between 50 and 500 feet, though occasionally they went lower. That's how he got this amazing shot of these frightened zebra.



They saw zebra, donkeys, antelopes, and tswana, a type of cattle indigenous to Africa.



See the rest of the story at Business Insider
    






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