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I Spent More Than A Year Dressing As Hello Kitty In Times Square, And It Was Surreal


I am Hellok92

In 2012, after working as a photographer in Latin America for the better part of a decade, Joana Toro moved to New York to study English.

Toro soon found herself in need of extra money, which led her roommate Marcela to introduce her to the semi-legal world of Times Square street performers. She was captivated by the mostly immigrant performers, who make a living by dressing as iconic characters, posing for pictures with tourists, and asking for tips.

It was shocking at first to see Mickey Mouse did not speak English and was an immigrant from Mexico,” Toro told the New York Times. “ ... It was surreal. A paradox.”

Soon after her introduction, Toro took up her own costume. For a year and a half, she donned the cumbersome costume of Hello Kitty and saw firsthand a world that most people can't imagine.

Toro shared some photos from her experience, and you can see the rest at her website

Toro was first introduced to the world of costumed performers by her roommate Marcela, who dances salsa with a Barack Obama mannequin.

When Toro decided to become a costumed character, she first tried wearing a Minnie Mouse costume. She ended up also trying Mickey Mouse and Dora the Explorer, before settling on Hello Kitty.

She rented the costume from Berta, a Mexican immigrant. She warned Toro that the gig was hard work and not very lucrative.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

How Bloomberg Pursuits Wound Up Shooting A Fashion Spread Inside The United Nations


bloomberg pursuits UN 1

The United Nations' headquarters is at the epicenter of international relations. This past week, the Security Council took up meeting after meeting to decide a course of action amid Ukrainian-Russian tensions. That's standard for the ambassadors of the 193 member states of the U.N.

But most people not involved in international dealings will never get to see beyond the U.N.'s Visitor Centre.

Alfred Hitchcock was famously denied entry, so he used a guerrilla camera to film Cary Grant entering the U.N. in "North by Northwest." "The Interpreter," starring Nicole Kidman, was allowed limited access to the listening booths, but that was prior to the installation of the current facilities team at the U.N., who closely guard the organization's newly renovated headquarters on Manhattan's far east side.

That same facilities team initially rejected a request from Bloomberg Pursuits, the finance company's new luxury magazine, to stage a workwear fashion shoot inside the building. But Pursuits' creative team was persistent.

They shared the story of one of their most challenging photo shoots to date with Business Insider.  

"It was four months with negotiations close to daily," said Bloomberg Pursuits editor Ted Moncreiff. "First, we said we wanted to do a story on the U.N. and on their renovation. Once we got them to say yes to that, we introduced the idea of a fashion shoot. After that, there was just a lot of legal wrangling."

"They're very properly protective of the U.N.'s reputation and they also can't ever be shown to give favoritism among the member states. I think there were just a lot of very legitimate sensitivities there, on top of the fact that we wanted an all-access pass," Moncreiff added.

Pursuits wanted to be the first to bring readers inside the new U.N., which underwent $2.1 billion in updates — and is now the first magazine to do a full spread in the building. Vogue made a portrait of former U.S. ambassador Susan Rice in the Security Council for a June 2009 issue, but no publication has photographed as much of the U.N. as Bloomberg Pursuits.bloomberg pursuits UN 7"The paperwork literally wasn’t complete until Wednesday, January 8th at 3:45 p.m. and the photo crew started loading in at 6 p.m. that day," said Brenda Milis, director of photography for Bloomberg Pursuits.

What really pushed the agreement to the wire was the U.N.'s $4,309 location fee. The business division of Bloomberg couldn't okay the charge without a W-9 form, but the U.N. doesn't have a W-9 because the international organization doesn't pay taxes. Moncreiff cut the check himself for the location on the day of the shoot and crossed his fingers that he would get reimbursed later. (He was, thanks to a different document that satisfied the magazine.)

"It was close," Moncreiff said. "I really did have this moment where I thought the whole thing is going to hinge on whether I remember to bring in my checkbook that day. I literally stuck a note on my phone. I wrote out two checks: One to 'The United Nations' and one to 'United Nations,' just in case." (Without the "the" is correct.)

A team of 14 went to the U.N. for the 17 hours of work split over the two-day shoot. The models came with an appropriately international pedigree. Christina Kruse is German, Alex Manning has a Japanese mother, and Edwin Gill, whose parents are from St. Thomas, fought in Iraq before becoming a model. 

Milis registered everyone beforehand with photo IDs. The make-up artist's case was too big to fit through the x-ray machine, so she had to unpack everything to get security clearance.

"The U.N. staff were unfamiliar with the makings of a fashion portfolio," Moncreiff said. "They thought the models arrived in cabs all made up in the one outfit that we would just shoot over and over and over again. They didn’t understand that we needed a hair and make-up and wardrobe room."bloomberg pursuits UN 8"In the beginning it was slow," Milis said. "It’s interesting that the U.N. employees came up to us like 'What are you doing?' They were a little suspicious. Then, toward the end of the first day, it was like we were all best friends. The staff was having their pictures taken with the models."

Once they started working, the shoot went smoothly, largely because the Pursuits team had to follow a strictly set pre-approved shot list for each room they visited: The lobby, the Security Council chambers, an interpreter's booth, the Dag Hammarskjöld Library, the kitchen, and the blocky exterior.bloomberg pursuits UN 5They only deviated from the schedule on the first day when they realized they could get a sunny shot of the building's facade, before a snowstorm arrived the second day of the shoot.

For the most part, everything they photographed was an organic part of the U.N. Their biggest prop was an old-fashioned TV showing a bomb exploding in Syria. "We have some kind of tension happening in every shot," Bloomberg Pursuits creative director Anton Ioukhnovets said.bloomberg pursuits UN 2"To me, an inspiration came a little bit from 'All The Presidents’ Men.' What was interesting there was that it’s people working on some kind of crisis situation. That’s what we had in mind when we went there," Ioukhnovets said.

"There’s a lot of glory in the U.N.," Moncreiff added. "But we weren’t seeking to glorify it. There are heroic shots and then there are pictures that anyone who works in an office can relate to."

You can see that in the balance of the Security Council's intensity and the quotidian kitchen, with a rotary phone that somehow escaped the billions of dollars in renovations.bloomberg pursuits UN 3Only twice did fashion photography and U.N. policy butt up against each other as the security personnel followed the Bloomberg Pursuits team through the headquarters.

The first time was when model Christina Kruse was shot in the public lobby wearing a lace skirt with no lining that was basically see-through. (It appears differently in the final image.)bloomberg pursuits UN 9"They gently reminded us that when we go into the Security Council chamber, we should be much more conservative," Ioukhnovets said, "and we happily obliged."   

Then, the Bloomberg Pursuits team wanted to show the names on the plaques at the horseshoe-shaped table in the Security Council to add another layer of authenticity.bloomberg pursuits UN 6They were asked not to, however, because it might show favoritism to have some countries' nameplates published in an international fashion magazine while others were excluded.bloomberg pursuits UN 1Ralph Mecke photographed the spread, Markus Ebner styled it and Anthony Graneri produced it. The spring issue of Bloomberg Pursuits hits newsstands March 14.bloomberg pursuits UN 4

SEE ALSO: The 16 Best Architecture Photos Of The Year

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Here's What You Should Really Be Eating For Breakfast


While the benefits of eating breakfast are well-known —  it can prevent weight gain, boost short-term memory, lower the risk of type 2 diabetes, and even make us happier — most of those health rewards depend on choosing the right foods.

"In general, a healthy breakfast contains protein, fruits, whole grains, or vegetables," says Ruth Frechman, MA, RDN, CPT, nutritionist and author of "The Food is My Friend Diet." Typically, you want to include foods from at least three of these groups, says Frechman.

The portion sizes will depend on your age, activity, and diet goals, but as a general guideline your "plate" should consist of about 25% protein, 25% carbohydrates, and 50% fruits and/or vegetables, says Frechman.

Frechman emphasizes the importance of eating breakfast, but recommends waiting until you're legitimately hungry to break bread. "If you force yourself to eat at 7 a.m. when you're not hungry, chances are you are going to gain weight."

When you are ready to chow down, here are some healthy breakfast options to make sure you start the day off right.


poached egg benedict

"Eggs are your friends again," says Frechman. Although one large egg contains 212 milligrams of cholesterol — a relatively large amount compared to other foods — it's now known that saturated fat increases "bad" blood cholesterol and not the cholesterol in foods.

One egg carries around 70 calories and packs 6 grams of protein. Before you toss the yolk, remember that the yellowish center is where most of the nutrients are found. The yolk is a good source of lutein, a vitamin also found in spinach and kale that helps prevents eye diseases.

Whole-grain bread, cereal, or oatmeal

oatmeal "Breakfast happens to be the easiest time to get in heart healthy fiber from whole grain cereal and oats which can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol," says Lisa Moskovitz, RD, CDN, owner of Your New York Dietitians. Fiber keeps us full and gives us energy.

"Always look for at least 5 grams of fiber when choosing breakfast cereals," says Moskovitz. She also says to use any milk with 1% fat or less. "No one over the age of 2 should be drinking higher fat cow's milk."

Another warning: If you're watching your weight, you want to stay away from whole-grain cereals with added sugar because those pack a lot of extra calories.

Peanut butter

Peanut butterThere are 8 grams of protein in two tablespoons of peanut butter, which is roughly 20% of the daily recommended amount for adult men and women. "It helps to have protein at every meal to regulate your blood sugar level," says Frechman. "If you were to have pancakes, syrup, and juice, your blood sugar would spike and then crash."

Also, peanut butter mostly contains the "good" unsaturated fat. "I always recommend a nut butter like cashew butter, almond butter, or sunflower butter instead of putting real butter, margarine, or cream cheese on a bagel," says Frechman. Yellowish spreads like margarine are much higher in "bad" saturated fats.


fruitBerries, bananas, or melon — take your pick. "There's no such things as an unhealthy fruit," says Frechman. However, you should mix and match your fruit choices to take advantage of a variety of different nutrients. Blueberries, for example, are high in antioxidants while oranges are loaded with vitamin C and potassium.

If you're looking for convenience, Frechman recommends bananas since they're easy to transport and eat without making a mess.


greek yogurt

"A breakfast parfait would make a great, very convenient breakfast," says Frechman. A 6-ounce serving of yogurt contains as much protein as a serving as meat. Greek yogurt contains even more protein — sometimes double the amount of regular yogurt. If you have diabetes or are watching your calories, plain, non-fat or low-fat yogurt is a healthier choice than fruit-flavored yogurts, which can have a lot of added sugar.



A smoothie makes a complete, on-the-go meal. You can add a base of yogurt for protein and fresh or frozen fruit, like strawberries, for sweetness. If you don't like eating your vegetables with dinner, this blended drink is an easy way to cram greens like spinach or kale into your diet.

Fruit juice

orange juiceIt's completely acceptable to get your fruit in liquid form, but make sure to choose 100% fruit juice, otherwise there could be added sugar. "Punches and fruit drinks have added sugar, which are just extra calories," says Frechman.


blue bottle coffee

Coffee has received a bad rap over the years, but long-term medical studies are now tipping in favor of the caffeinated beverage. As long as you're not pushing 4 cups a day, there's nothing wrong with drinking coffee. 

Foods to avoid: Bacon, sausage, hash browns, processed cheese, biscuits with gravy, or granola bars

Most of these foods either contain a lot of saturated fat or are high in sugar. They're alright to eat once in a while, but not on a regular basis.

"People tend to think of granola bars as being healthy," says Frechman. "It's cheaper and more healthy to have just a bowl of cereal with milk and fruit."

NOW WATCH: These Food Hacks Will Make Your Life Much Easier


SEE ALSO: Everything Bad That Happens To Your Body When You Skip Breakfast

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The Truth About 'The Most Interesting Man In The World'




For over 40 years, Jonathan Goldsmith worked as a journeyman actor with over 100 IMDB credits to his name.

In 2006, he booked the role of a lifetime: the spokesperson for a Dos Equis beer campaign that soon made him known to millions as "The Most Interesting Man In The World."

Goldsmith lived and worked in Hollywood for years, but now prefers the quiet life with his wife Barbara and their two dogs in Vermont.

Goldsmith talked to Business Insider about how he landed the role that turned him into a cultural icon.

NOW WATCH: What It Takes To Work At Hooters

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31 Mesmerizing Pictures From A Remote Part Of Afghanistan That Is Still Untouched By War



In the late 1990s, New York-based photographer Frédéric Lagrange became obsessed with traveling to Afghanistan’s Wakhan Corridor after reading "A Short Walk In The Hindu Kush," English writer Eric Newby’s travelogue of his adventures in the area.

He made plans to visit, but then 9/11 happened, and the American invasion quashed any plans. The trip was too dangerous.

In 2012, with the war cooling down, Lagrange finally made the trip he had been dreaming about.

The Wakhan Corridor is a narrow strip of land in the far northeast of Afghanistan, bordering Tajikistan, Pakistan, and Western China. The harsh, beautiful landscape, bounded by the Hindu Kush mountains on the south, was once used as a major trading route for those traveling the Silk Road to China.

For three weeks, Lagrange and a team of locals made their way up the Hindu Kush mountains to the shores of Lake Chaqmaqtin. Along the way, Lagrange photographed the local peoples, who survive on the edge of civilization by raising and herding cattle.

He shared some photos from his journey with us, but you can check out the rest at his website

Lagrange began by flying into Dushanbe, Tajikistan, crossing into the Wakhan Corridor by Afghanistan's northeast border. If he traveled from Kabul, he would have had to pass through numerous Taliban-controlled areas.

After three days of driving with a guide, Lagrange reached the border. The army officer at the border told him that he was the first foreigner to cross that year.

He was greeted by his guide Adab (left, with Lagrange), a 23-year-old Afghani boy. Adab warned him of the dangerous reality of his life, saying that "If the Taliban ever comes to power [in Wakhan], I will probably be one of the first to be executed, having been around Westerners."

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

Why Veins Look Blue


arm wrist hand veinsBI Answers: Why do our veins look blue? 

Blood is never blue — it's always some shade of red. However, veins carrying red blood may appear bluish because of how human tissue and blood reflect and absorb light.

When light enters human tissue, it is scattered in all directions (or bounced around) by cells and other structures. That light is either absorbed into the tissue, or it escapes from the skin's surface. It is the escaped, or reflected, light that we see with our eyes.

Blood usually looks red because hemoglobin, an oxygen-carrying protein in red blood cells, absorbs lots of blue light and reflects lots of red light. (Think of someone turning "blue in the face" — it means they're not getting enough oxygen.)

But veins — unlike arteries — carry deoxygenated blood, which absorbs more red light than the oxygen-rich blood in the tissue around the vein. The more red light that's absorbed, the less of it we see.  

When red light is absorbed into veins but reflected off the tissue around veins, what we see on the surface of the skin is that it's less reddish around the veins than directly above them.

"When we compare the light reaching the surface above the vessel to the light reaching the surface nearby, the amount of blue light is the same, but the amount of red light is less," explains Michael Patterson, a professor of medical physics at McMaster University in Ontario and co-author of a 1996 paper that investigated why veins appear blue.

Blood vessel diagram

This creates somewhat of an optical illusion. A vein looks blue not because more blue light is being reflected, but because less red light is being reflected from the vein than from the tissue around it.

Because blue light waves are shorter than red light waves, veins that are deep below the surface of the skin will look the bluest. This seems counterintuitive, but it means they'll absorb the (long) red light, but the (short) blue light will hit the space above the vessel and bounce back to our eyes before it's ever absorbed. [See diagram at right.]

In short, veins look blue because they carry deoxygenated blood, which means they reflect less red light than the surrounding tissues. And the deeper the vein, the bluer it will seem.

This post is part of a continuing series that answers all of your "why" questions related to science. Have your own question? Email dspector@buisnessinsider with the subject line "Q&A"; tweet your question to @BI_Science; or post to our Facebook page.

SEE ALSO: Why Skiers Fly Through The Air In A V Shape

More BI Answers: Is Drinking Carbonated Water Bad For You?

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YACHT OF THE WEEK: Rent Richard Branson's Luxury Yacht For $110,000 A Week


NECKER BELLE yacht richard branson

Since 2010, Richard Branson has rented out his luxury catamaran whenever he's not using it to cruise the waters surrounding his private island retreat.

That's coming to an end — the "Necker Belle" is up for sale, according to Yacht Charter Fleet. So if you want to spend a week on the luxurious catamaran without buying the whole thing, now is the time to act.

There's room for 12 people on board, if you put two guests in the queen bed in the saloon, and another two on the "comfy relaxation area" on the upper deck — outside. You can spend your days sun bathing, scuba diving, wake boarding, or chilling out and watching movies.

The weekly rate for a cruise in the Caribbean is $110,000, or you can spend $12,500 for the day. There's also an extra 25% advanced provisioning allowance, to cover expenses like food, fuel, port fees, customs, electricity, and drinks.

The Necker Belle catamaran was designed for Branson's extended family, so there's plenty of room on board.

It cruises the Caribbean year round.

There are four cabins on board.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

The 10 Most Expensive State Schools For Out-Of-State Students


University Virginia Lawn Rotunda Quad Campus

Out-of-state tuition for public universities is on the rise. 

The average tuition at a public four-year institutions increased by 3.1% in the past year, which is actually the smallest rise the College Board has reported seeing recently. However, the price tags still seem steep when you compare them to the average in-state tuition of $13,886.

The general explanations for tuition rises are lost revenue from the state funding and increased university spending, according to a recent Washington Post article. 

These 10 state schools charge the highest tuition for out-of-state students, according to data from U.S. News & World Report.

10. University of California—Los Angeles, $35,574

9. University of California—Riverside, $35,838

8. University of California—Santa Cruz, $36,294

7. University of California—Santa Barbara, $36,624

6. University of Vermont, $36,646

5. University of California—Davis, $36,774

4. University of California—Irvine, $37,566

3. College of William and Mary (VA), $37,852

2. University of Virginia, $39,844

1. University of Michigan—Ann Arbor, $40,496

Read the whole story at U.S. News and World Report.

SEE ALSO: The Most Expensive Colleges In America

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Google's New Office In Malaysia Is A Wild Indoor Jungle [PHOTOS]


google malaysia

Google's offices are the stuff of legend. 

From slides and basketball courts to themed floors and endless snacks, Google is always coming up with something quirky and new to add in to their office space. 

Their new offices in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia are no exception: Plants sprout from the walls and ceiling, while bright decor make for an office that feels a lot like a technicolor jungle. There's a boardroom that looks like a cave, complete with stalactites, and playground swings in the café. 

Like Google's other offices, the entire space is open and connected, meant to foster collaboration among employees. 

"They wanted a space where everyone could interact – they wanted to get all their people into the same space, and for that space to have a sense of identity that would make their presence known in Kuala Lumpur," project team leader Ramesh Subramaniam said in a press release. "We used a lot of different elements that relate specifically to Malaysia, but in an abstract way."

The offices were designed by global workplace design firm M Moser Associates, who have an office in Kuala Lumpur. 

Welcome to Google Malaysia.

Enter the reception area through an old but bright blue door.

The common area is filled with lots of decorations inspired by nature, like this incredibly realistic forest screen.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

The Typographer Who Created One Of The World's Most Famous Fonts Has Died


Mike ParkerMike Parker, typographer, died on February 23rd, aged 84.

What is the basis of civilisation? Some would say wheat; others, the taming of fire. Mike Parker would say, type. That little 15th-century typefounder's mould, made of brass, ready to take the hot lead that would cool into the letter-shape punched in the matrix, had helped people to read, and so had changed the way they thought and acted.

The Bible printed by Gutenberg around 1455, in that wonderful blackletter whose spacing of exquisitely planed type had never been bettered, had broken the hold of the church and opened the way to modern commerce. What could be more world-changing than that?

The little mould was one of the treasures he had found when he was tasked in 1958 to sort out the typefounders' artefacts at the Plantin-Moretus museum in Antwerp. Hooked on the subject already, with a master's from Yale on the types of Garamond, he now fell in love. From the dusty printing house he unearthed the unsurpassed 16th-century romans of Hendrik van den Keere, the ancestors of modern newspaper typeface and Poynter Oldstyle; the dancing baroque types of Robert Granjon, especially his Galliard, from which Mr Parker and his designer-colleague, Matthew Carter, developed a fresh version; and, tight-wrapped, still brand-new bright, the large Rotunda types cut for a never-printed antiphonary for Philip II of Spain.

For any type you could think of, Mr Parker knew the back-story. In his early years as director of type development at the Linotype typesetting company, where he stayed from 1959 until 1981, he walked around, a vigorous, booming figure, with his catalogue of the Plantin fonts under his arm--each specimen photographed with the light shining obliquely off the faces of the letters. Designers, he hoped, would look and imitate.

He did not draw the designs himself, though he had dreams of being an artist once. His job was to assess the spacing, shape, elegance and potential of the drawn types, and develop them. This was a subject he could expound on for hours, day or night, face to face, on the phone, or while devouring one of the five-alarm Korean stews he had acquired a taste for on his army service. Until he met his first wife, the upper-case Women in his Life all came from the world of typography.

A font for all seasons

His job at Linotype was also to build up a proper library of fonts for customers to order. He expanded the range from 150 to 1,500, cloning and adapting as necessary. This was standard industry behaviour, evolving as the different foundries and typesetting companies had competed for customers, designers and popular fonts down the years. Mr Parker could be a rascal with the rest: softening up Mr Carter, for example, and stealing him away from a rival company to become his chief designer.

He also stirred up controversy about Times New Roman, insisting that the original designs for it, by Starling Burgess, had been stolen from him in the 1920s. In 2009 he launched a type called Starling, based on those designs, to make his point; it was Times New Roman to the life, but better.

Of the more than 1,000 types he developed, his greatest success was Helvetica. It was he who adjusted it, or corralled it, to the needs of the obdurate, cranky, noisy Linotype machines which then printed almost everything in America. Originally it was the brainchild of a Swiss designers, Max Miedinger, who devised it in 1956. In contrast to the delicate exuberance of 16th-century types, Helvetica was plain, rigidly horizontal--and eminently readable.

It became, in Mr Parker's hands, the public typeface of the modern world: of the New York subway, of federal income-tax forms, of the logos of McDonald's, Microsoft, Apple, Lufthansa and countless others. It was also, for its clarity, the default type on Macs, and so leapt smoothly into the desktop age.

Not everyone liked it. He did not always like it himself: as he roared around Brooklyn or Boston, opera pumping out at full volume from his car, he would constantly spot Helvetica being abused in some way, with rounded terminals or bad spacing, on shopfronts or the sides of trucks. But far from seeing Helvetica as neutral, vanilla or nondescript, he loved it for the relationship between figure and ground, its firmness, its existence in "a powerful matrix of surrounding space". Type gave flavour to words: and this was a typeface that gave people confidence to navigate through swiftly changing times.

He rode them pretty well himself, leaving Linotype in 1981 with Mr Carter to found Bitstream, the first company dedicated to producing digital fonts that could be licensed for use by anyone. A partnership with Steve Jobs never quite happened and, in 1995, cost him his shirt; but he remained delighted by the typesetting possibilities of the digital age, in which whole pages could be set at the touch of a button, and thousands of fonts browsed and deployed by one person sitting at a desk.

As type historian for the Font Bureau in his later years, he liked to muse that typesetting had moved at a Procrustean pace between Gutenberg and the late 19th-century Linotype machine. But--cue for a broad, twinkling smile--he had been lucky enough to live and work in the latter half of the 20th century, an age of light-swift revolution generated, once again, by type.

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We Ate Lunch At Heart Attack Grill, The Las Vegas Burger Joint That Tries To Kill Its Customers [PHOTOS]


heart attack grill burger

On a recent trip to Las Vegas, I stopped by the Heart Attack Grill.

The restaurant has been in the news recently after its owner "Doctor Jon" Basso gave a bizarre interview on Bloomberg TV where he said his restaurant kills its customers. He even carried the (alleged) cremated remains of a customer with him.

And while it's a macabre gimmick, it's not entirely inaccurate. Heart Attack Grill is crazy unhealthy: The restaurant's signature dish is its 9,982-calorie Quadruple Bypass Burger, which weighs a staggering 3 pounds. Customers can order burgers with up to eight patties, all topped with chili, tomato, cheese, onion, and bacon (for an extra fee).

Inside, the restaurant has an ironic medical theme with nurse waitresses and hospital-themed decor. Even the customers have to wear hospital gowns, and anyone more than 350 pounds eats for free.

Disclosure: Our trip to Las Vegas, including travel, food, and lodging expenses, was sponsored by MGM Resorts International.

The Heart Attack Grill is not close to the Las Vegas Strip. We took a 20-minute cab ride that cost about $35. (That little squiggle is the strip.)

But we finally made it. Welcome to the Heart Attack Grill in downtown Las Vegas, where everyone who weighs more than 350 pounds eats for free.

Don't know how much you weigh? Thankfully you can weigh yourself outside before going in (there's another scale inside, too).

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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A Hedge Funder Paid Off A Retired Teacher's Debts After Reading Her Lament About Warren Buffett's Bracket Challenge


rhonda doug hess

Earlier this year, Warren Buffett announced Berkshire Hathaway would put up $1 billion as part of a promotion from Quicken Loans to reward anyone who filled out a perfect NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament bracket.

Buffett is one of the most charitable men on the planet, giving away billions each year, and has plans to donate the majority of his fortune upon his death. 

However, a day after we wrote about Buffett's challenge, we got an email from Rhonda Hess, a retired kindergarten teacher and mother of three other teachers. She thoughtfully laid out her frustration that such a huge sum would be rewarded for what amounts to dumb luck, and detailed her family's concerns about paying off their sons' college loans. With her permission, we published her remarks:

...Life is good and don’t get me wrong, we are blessed. We have so much more than countless others in the world and we know that. We have the luxuries of a roof over our heads and a car and can pay our bills even though most months are tight. However, the college loans drag on us like a ton of bricks. With them, we have no flexibility. Now we worry about things like how we are we ever going to replace the roof or the furnace when they quit. Any type of health issue would be devastating. Our finances depend totally on our prayer life and we are very thankful, God has been faithful. Why couldn’t Mr. Buffett’s organization instead of giving a billion dollars to one lucky person for something as frivolous as a basketball bracket (and I had three sons that played the game and love it) help LOTS of families that struggle to always do the right thing and never seem to get a break on the hardwood court of life...

The next day, we got another email.

"I would love to get in touch with Diz & Riz if possible and help pay off their loans (anonymously)," the individual said.

We did not think we would be crossing an ethical line by serving as an intermediary. After confirming his identity, we asked him to send us his legal counsel's contact info, which we then passed along to the Hesses. 

A few weeks later, we got an email from Rhonda and her husband Doug saying college loans they held for two of their sons had been paid off. 

"We've prayed a lot of years about these college loans," she told BI by phone. "We really had never seen a way that we could pay them off quickly ourselves, and our fear had always been that our kids would end up strapped if something happened to us, like if we died suddenly and our kids would suddenly be strapped with them. Our kids worked hard, they had their own college loans they'd been paying them off. This was so unexpected, it's really a miracle."

The individual would only allow us to say that he is a partner at a hedge fund and owns a media firm on the West Coast. He said he was simply struck by the parallels between the Hess family and his own — he also has three sons — as well as the devotion to teaching demonstrated by the entire Hess family. 

"People who are gainfully employed, with real jobs that help people in society, who teach our youth, are stuck in a structure where they can't get out from under [their debts]," he told us. "There's no program or mechanism to help them work through that," he said. "It was clearly frustrating and weighing heavily on them. 

He explained that the story came out at a time where he was feeling particularly fortunate, and that it felt inequitable to him that a family like the Hesses should have to struggle.

"There are ways to do things that are more scalable, but this was a way to do something that was very direct and meaningful to them, and I was fortunate in a position."

Andrew Hess, 33, is an adjunct Bible studies instructor at Colorado Christian University in Colorado Springs, and also teaches at his church. He serves as writer and content manager at Focus on the Family. He'd taken out loans to pay for his psychology degree at Taylor University in Indiana. The Hesses deferred to the benefactor's judgment to disclose the amount paid off, and but he declined to do so. 

"I'm pretty busy, I'd kind of put it out of my mind," Andrew Hess said. "Of course I was hopeful that it actually would work out. Then on the morning of, my mom forwarded the email they'd gotten from loan service that said 'we received your payment.' We were all kind of rejoining together, that's how I found out, I responded to thee email just saying 'Praise the Lord, that is outstanding.' I think my words were 'unbelievable.'"

The benefactor does not believe America needs to rethink how it does charity. But he does hope others will be inspired to make a similar gesture.  

"It would be terrific if someone else thought of something that was as directed and impactful on certain people's lives as opposed to something more diffuse, where the money run through organizations where it's difficult to follow. 

He continued:

"If people think through anything having read that I did this, it would be just how rewarding, how impactful this was for them [the Hesses], from the perspective that you can do this, that I had the wherewithal to help somebody I had never met before. That carries more significance for me than donating to the Red Cross...I think doing  a random good act, it makes me feel and continues to make me feel really good."

The Hesses now say they will focus on helping others around them, despite their apparent lifelong commitment to doing so. They are grateful that the benefactor recognized the effort teachers put into their profession.

"I think teachers are sometimes misunderstood," Rhonda Hess said. "Unless you have teachers in your family, I don't think the public really, truly understands the hours that teachers can put in. It's easy to think 'Oh teachers are off all summer,' or that type of thing."

Even so, she quickly added, "We think teaching was just wonderful careers for us. We love being teachers." 

SEE ALSO: Buffett: I'm Buying Stocks If They Fall Today

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HOUSE OF THE DAY: Swedish DJ Avicii Spent $15.5 Million On This Bonkers Mansion In The Hollywood Hills


Avicii House 3

Some of the most expensive homes in Los Angeles sit on a handful of streets named after birds in the Hollywood Hills. 

The Swedish DJ Avicii recently joined the ritzy neighborhood, purchasing a $15.5 million mansion, according to Curbed LA. The 7,000-square foot property comes with an impressive water feature that runs the length of the house, ending in a multi-level infinity pool.

The home was designed for a seamless experience between indoor and outdoor living. Most of its five bedrooms have glass walls that can open to the air.

It's not a bad way to live for a 24-year-old DJ who raked in $20 million last year

Avicii's Bird Streets mansion in Los Angeles has an impressive facade.

It includes an elaborate water feature that's the length of the house.

The water winds its way from the entryway into an ornamental pool, before flowing into a 75-foot-long lap pool and infinity pool.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

Restaurant Workers Will Hate You If You Order These Items


Avoid ordering these items unless you want to seem like a jerk. 

In a recent Reddit thread, workers candidly revealed the items that are difficult or confusing to prepare. 

NOTE: Reddit sources are anonymous, and can't be independently verified by Business Insider. Some posts have been edited for clarity. 

1. The "secret menu" at Starbucks. 

Many Starbucks workers advised not to order off the "secret menu" — because it doesn't exist. 

"If you want a snickerdoodle or Nutella Frappuccino, know the base drink and the modifications, and order that," says barista stac52. "If you just say the name, it's up to the barista to come up with what's in the drink, and it may not be what the last barista you ordered from put in there."starbucks frappuccino2. Chipotle quesarito. 

This secret menu item is a huge pain for workers, writes Ssutuanjoe

"When customers order them, every employee in the restaurant hates you," he writes. chipotle quesarito3. McDonald's Mighty Wings. 

"They are specialty items that are made by request, so we have to go to the freezer, set out a special area in the deep-fryer (The spiciness of the wings can mess with other foods) and they take FOREVER to make," writes kalib97. "If you're fine with waiting 7 extra minutes for your order, go ahead and buy those Mighty Wings."McDonald's Mighty Wings4. Gargantuan "with extra everything" at Jimmy John's. 

"If you order this sandwich, I hate you," writes cardinals1996Gargantuan sub jimmy john's5. Chicken Littles at KFC. 

"They are annoying to make as we have to put on gloves, and the lids on go-cups only fit on properly when the store is not busy, scientific fact," writes TristanaMyWaifuKFC go cups6. A bread bowl of broccoli cheddar soup at Panera Bread. 

One worker writes that this is the most-ordered item at her restaurant. 

"There isn't anything wrong, we just need a break from the mundane," writes bluesmoke95. "Order something new and extravagent. We get bored."broccoli cheddar soup panera bread 7. Late-night pizzas. 

"One word of warning: do not show up 30 min before close, drunk, and order a double meat lover or ask me to 'hook you up' with double toppings," writes former Pizza Hut worker TheMightyFSM. "When dealing with more than 5 toppings the oven will not cook your pizza all the way through and I will laugh as you attempt to eat your pile of half-cooked dough."pizza hut stuffed crust7. Ridiculously modified food. 

"Restaurants make food the way the chefs and general managers want to, not the way you do at home," writes diner employee cravecase. "Please trust that the people you are paying to cook your food, that they are doing it right."barney greengrass eggs lox8. Loaded-up Subway subs. 

"When you order all of the veggies on your sandwich (especially flatbread) we want to murder you," writes Digital-Caffeine. "Stop asking us for extra extra extra spinach on top with three different sauces and then give us a dirty looks when your sandwich won't close."subway chicken enchilada melt 9. McGangbangs at McDonald's. 

The secret menu item is generally known to be a McChicken inside of a Double Cheeseburger. 

The problem?

"It truly doesn't exist," writes canserpants. "So stop ordering them." McGangBang10. P'zolo at Pizza Hut. 

"Subs take a lot of time and extra work, so workers don't put much effort into them, writes pottymouthgrl. "They mess up the flow when it's busy, and if we're really slammed, then we will probably be 'out of buns.'"p'zolo pizza hut

SEE ALSO: The 11 Grossest Sandwich Combinations That Have Been Ordered At Subway

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The 27 Coolest Cars At The Geneva Motor Show


Lamorghini Huracan LP 610-4 model

The press days are over at the Geneva Motor Show and the executives have gone home, so now it's time for the public to take a look.

For those who can make it through the mountains to get to the show, here are 27 cars you can't miss.

They include the outrageously powerful Koenigsegg One:1, the new Lamborghini Huracán, BMW's first front-wheel drive car, and the hybrid beast Porsche built to earn some glory at this year's 24 Hours of Le Mans.

The show is open to the public until March 16.

The new California T is powered by a turbocharged engine, the first time Ferrari has done that in decades. The fresh design will cut the car's fuel consumption and generate more power.

The all-new Huracán takes the place of the Gallardo, the most popular Lamborghini model ever. Powered by a 5.2 liter V10 engine that generates over 600 horsepower, it will run from 0 to 62 mph in just 3.2 seconds, and to a top speed of 201 mph.

Volkswagen continues to go crazy for crossovers with the T-Roc concept. The Polo-sized ride has two doors, four-wheel drive, and a diesel engine that knocks out 180 brake horsepower.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

Fantastic Life Advice From The First American To Summit Everest


Eric Becker's

As the first American to summit Everest, the first full-time employee of Recreation Equipment, Inc. (REI), and later, the CEO, Jim Whittaker has got a bit of wisdom under his belt.

Throughout his life, peers have marveled at Whittaker's resolve, perseverance, and outlook. His Everest training consisted of winter swims in Washington's Lake Sammamich to get used to the cold and hiking 20,320 foot Mount McKinley with 60 pounds of bricks in his backpack.

On May 1, 1963, at the age of 34, Whittaker's thorough preparation paid off. He pushed to the top of Everest even though his oxygen tank had long ago run out. But Everest was neither the first nor last of his achievements.

In the video below — "A Life Well Lived: Jim Whittaker and 50 Years of Everest" — Eric Becker gives us a portrait of the famous outdoorsman, businessman, and environmentalist. The video features archival footage of Whittaker's Everest expeditions and tells the tale of a man who lived by the words: "If you're not living life on the edge, you're taking up too much space."

Some pearls of wisdom from the video:

  • "It's not thrill seeking. Its just testing yourself."
  • "You learn there's such a thing called gravity when you crash and burn. I think risk is really important."
  • "Being out on the edge, with everything at risk, is where you learn and grow the most."
  • And one given to him courtesy of "my friend, Bobby Kennedy," who Whittaker lead through the Yukon: "Don't go through life un-burnished."

Watch the full video below:

A Life Well Lived | Jim Whittaker & 50 Years of Everest from Eric Becker on Vimeo.

SEE ALSO: A 19-Year-Old Yale Sophomore Just Skied To The South Pole Faster Than Anyone In History

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Chef Thomas Keller Responds To The Damning Health Inspection Of His $310-A-Head Restaurant


per se kitchen thomas keller

This week, foodies were floored when one of New York's best restaurants — Per Se — received a "grade pending" rating after racking up enough points to earn it a "C" from the Department of Health. 

Chef Thomas Keller's three Michelin-star restaurant in Columbus Circle earned a whopping 42 violation points in its latest health department inspection, including for "Tobacco use, eating, or drinking from open container in food preparation, food storage or dishwashing area observed," and "Hand washing facility not provided in or near food preparation area and toilet room."

It was particularly shocking considering the The New York Times declared it the best restaurant in New York in 2011, and customers typically drop $620 on a dinner for two.

Grub Street's Hugh Merwin points out, however, that the violations at Per Se don't tell the full story. The restaurant — which prides itself on showing customers its well-run, pristine kitchen — isn't necessarily dirty by any stretch of the imagination. Merwin writes:

It's difficult to glean any real information from either of those write-ups, or to identify what's really "wrong" in Per Se's kitchen. Someone was eating or smoking or drinking or possibly chewing tobacco somewhere in the kitchen? Was it the presence of a drink, or a drink without a lid that was the issue? Were the kitchen towels soiled, or were they just not being stored in sanitizing solution?

Per Se is appealing the inspection, hence the current "grade pending" sign.

Keller (who also helms the three-star Michelin restaurant French Laundry in California) responded to CNN: "We look forward to the opportunity to address the allegations with the Department of Health in the upcoming Oath Tribunal. At that time our final grade will be determined. As with all of our restaurants, we continue to maintain the highest standard at Per Se."

Thomas Keller CNN responseHe followed up on Twitter that the kitchen will continue to be open for diners:

But even with the bad health rating, the world-class restaurant won't be in danger from want of customers — just a tedious follow up with the Department of Health. As one diner told CNN, he wasn't nervous to dine at Per Se because he "know[s] Thomas Keller's reputation."

Check out the screenshot from the Department of Health's Website below:

per se health violations

SEE ALSO: What Dinner Is Like At Le Bernardin, The Best Restaurant In New York City

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These $800 McDonald's Sweaters Sold Out In Just A Couple Of Weeks



The high-end fashion line Moschino debuted a McDonald's-inspired capsule collection on a Milan runway two weeks ago and some of the items, including a $780 sweater and $78 french fry iPhone case, are already sold out on the website. 

Here's the sold-out sweater, on the left. On the right is a $1,265 purse, which is also part of the collection. MoschinoBusinessweek's Vanessa Wong was the first to report that the fashions, created by American designer Jeremy Scott, are selling out. 

The collection also includes a smaller $865 purse, a $350 baggy t-shirt, and a $935 sweater dress. Here are all the related items that are available on Moschino's website:Moschino McDonald's

Some have questioned whether Scott's use of the McDonald's Golden Arches may have infringed on the fast food restaurant's trademark.

"In the collection, it appears as though McDonald’s trademark Golden Arches have been deftly curved into a heart-shaped motif," writes Anjli Patel in The Business Of Fashion. "On the one hand, Moschino’s could argue that its immortalisation of McDonald’s in fashion designs by using the heart-shaped motif is complimentary… On the other hand, McDonald’s could argue that Moschino uses the heart-shaped motif in fashion designs to draw an unflattering comparison between fast food and fast fashion."

But McDonald's has shared and promoted the collection on social media, so it seems unlikely that the company will take action against the design house.

SEE ALSO: Restaurant Workers Will Hate You If You Order These Items

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Go Inside A Tech CEO's $22 Million Mansion That's Entirely Controlled By 15 iPads


solar panel house

This is one mansion that's seriously energy-efficient. 

A home in Newport Beach, Calif., with a 3,000-square-foot solar panel has hit the market for $22 million, according to the Wall Street Journal

The home belongs to Stephen Rizzone, CEO and chairman of Pleasanton, Calif.-based tech company Energous Corp. which makes wireless routers.

Rizzone said that the solar panels provide about 95% of the home's power, though their appearance hasn't always been appreciated by the neighbors.

"The house gained some notoriety, good and bad," Rizzone said to the Wall Street Journal. "But we were able to work through that."

The 11,740-square-foot home sits on an amazing lot overlooking Newport Harbor.

Here's a look at those solar panels, which Rizzone says provide about 95% of the home's energy.

According to the listing, this was the first U.S. home over 10,000 square feet to be LEED Platinum-certified.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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