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In Tokyo You Can Pay $263 For A Model To Deliver Your Lunch

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Platinum Lunch

Would you fork over big bucks to have lunch delivered by a model or an actress?

A Tokyo-based service called Platinum Lunch thinks you would after finding that people didn't love receiving lunch deliveries from men, complaining about the lack of manners and politeness.

The Wall Street Journal reports:

The service, intended for lunches at meetings, seminars, and events, is only available for corporate customers, and each order must be at least ¥30,000 ($263). The delivery women are models or actresses signed to Platinum Production, one of the major talent agencies in Japan, and they are trained to provide polite and attentive service.

In addition to the delivery minimum, you must place your lunch order three days in advance. The company says this is so "the delivery women can study the ingredients and details" in order to explain the menu to the clients.

You can read more about Platinum Lunch here.

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Hugh Hefner's Son Reveals What It Was Like Growing Up In The Playboy Mansion

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While most people associate the Playboy Mansion with scantily clad playmates and sex-fueled debauchery, it served as the childhood home for Hugh Hefner's sons.

Now 23, Hefner's youngest son, Cooper, recounts his childhood spent in what many consider to be a sort of adult fantasyland. For Cooper, it was quite the opposite: a child's wonderland fueled by Indiana Jones-inspired adventures in the Grotto, a zoo full of exotic animals, and epic games of hide-and-seek played in the mansion's private forest of redwood trees.

Cooper shared his experiences growing up inside the mansion, and invited Business Insider along on a private tour of the grounds.

Produced by Graham Flanagan. Additional Camera by Ryan Larkin.

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London's New Tube Trains Are Going To Be Way More Spacious Than The Old Ones

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Priestman1

London needs new underground trains. Some of the existing ones are decades old.

That task has been handed to Paul Priestman, director of design firm PriestmanGoode, which partnered with Transport for London (TfL) to develop the New Tube for London.

The modernized fleet, featuring wider doors, air-cooled carriages, and digital screens with live updates, will hit the Piccadilly, Bakerloo, Central, and Waterloo & City lines within the decade.

The plans for the multi-billion investment were unveiled in early October and are on exhibit at King's Cross until Nov. 16.

Priestman, a Royal College of Arts graduate who is also behind designs for the Gatwick shuttle and Virgin's Pendolino train, spent about three years coming up with the final design, with help from his four assistants and a team of TfL's own engineers. The challenges were monumental.

Almost 4 million people currently take the Tube everyday, a number that is expected to grow as the population of London continues to increase. In 2022, when TfL predicts the new trains will be ready, London's population is projected to hit 9 million, according to the Office of National Statistics. But the underground network is already at its maximum capacity. Right now, the TfL can simultaneously operate up to 535 trains, so the designers had to come up with a plan to increase the number of convoys on the move at the same time. They did this by reducing the time that each trains stops at the station. Wider doors means means it will take less time for people to load themselves into the cars. 

priestman3

The new cars will have a longer lifespan than the current rolling stock. Priestman tells Business Insider that he expects the new trains to be in good shape and functioning 50 years from now. The oldest trains in operation today are from the early 1970s.

"When building a public transportation network, you to think for the longevity," Priestman said. "When I design a new mobile phone, which sometimes I am asked to, the best thing to do is design something that is at the top for six months and then grows old, so that people buy a new one and you take a new commission. But you can't do that for the Tube. It has to last."

Business Insider visited the new Tube exhibition at King's Cross and spoke to Paul Priestman about his latest project.

Below is a lightly edited transcript of our conversation.

Tube

Business Insider: How did you go about increasing transport capacity and improving the quality of travel, given obvious limitations?

Paul Priestman: We had to take every available space back for the passengers. You can't change the size of the train, because the tunnels are there, and you can't change their length, because they are based on the platform, but we need more space. We did it through full trains — there will not be a door-break between one car and the other, but a flexible concertina where people can stand. The number of seats was fixed, but we increased space for the standing passenger.

BI: What were the other challenges?

PP: We had to find a way to put more trains on the network, but in order to do that, you need to cut the time the train stays in the station. It's called dwell time, the time when the system is at stall. Getting people on and off the train more quickly will be the true breakthrough. We increased the number and the size of the doors, and more spacious trains mean that people will slide through more quickly. The doors will be color coded, like traffic lights, to give people more information to get on and off. Other info will be available on the floor, designed to let the passengers flow toward the centre of the car, and on the electronic screens, that will run commercials through the journey, and display useful information on approaching station.

BI: I've heard that new trains will be cooled. Is that true?

PP: That was a requirement, and hopefully they will also be less smelly, as the trains will be easier to clean. We do a lot of aircraft design and hotel internal design, and all the materials we use in that area we tried to use it here on these trains — very durable but looks more luxurious.

ntfl interior 05

BI: What new materials are used in the new Tube?

PP: For example, the London Tube is one of the few in the world that allows us to use fabric seats. You could not do that in New York, it would get vandalized. But in London, you can and I think that it is comfortable. Other materials, and colours, are reminders of what we see in this city: there is the black of iron and railways, and the red of the bricks. Glass and stainless steel represent Canary Wharf, the City, and its skyscrapers. There is the green of the rain reflection in a misty day. I call it "Londonness" — this train will be the new face of London, and will last.

BI: Like a heritage?

PP: I don't like the word heritage; it is not something from the past. I think this Tube express is what London is now and what is going to be for the next few decades.

BI: Will we see this train on the other lines, like the Hammersmith & City?

PP: No, those other lines use other trains, because the tunnels are different. So there will be different project, but I think that the direction of the design has been set.

BI: You travel a lot for your work and have designed projects throughout the world. How do you rank the London Tube among the other public networks?

PP: I think that the integrated system in London is just great. There is no excuse for having a car here: when I commute, I can take the bus, Tube, overground, Boris bikes [London's bike sharing network, a pet project of mayor Boris Johnson], and there is car sharing. And everyone uses it here. It is not like in America, where if you are pretty well off you would not take the bus. This also because London is really compact, and that is why I love it. Another thing I like is the brand behind it. I was in China a few weeks ago and I saw a girl wearing a T-shirt with the TfL symbol of it. That is a symbol of London. How many other public transport networks can claim the same?

tubeBI: The new Tube, which is said to be driverless, has already upset the tube workers' union. What do you think about it?

PP: It was part of the designer brief — it's possible for these trains to go driverless. If and when, it is not our decision, but they are ready for this eventually. I don't want to enter the issue, but it is a fact that it already happens in many other systems around the world — and in the DLR here — it is just a way to prepare for the future.

BI: Why do you think it has taken so long for London's underground system to go driverless. Paris has been driverless since the '90s ...

PP: That is true. I suppose it is something like the tunnels: They've always been there with that size, and it is hard to change it. So with the drivers, they have always been there.

BI: Of all the projects you have done, which one made you the most proud?

PP: I always look at the future, and I am always into the latest project, which is unfortunate because I can never comment on it. For example now, we are looking at some big train for some European countries. It is fascinating. There is nothing like transport design because it has to grasp the taste of that place. I don't like to wake up in an anonymous hotel room, or travel in a tasteless plane. If I am in China I want my hotel to let me breath that I am in China. It is a backlash to internationalism, and I love to do that.

BI: What were the images you had in mind when drafting these trains? Someone joked about Darth Vader, or other sci-fi references.

PP: [Laughs] No, nothing like that. I had London in my mind. These trains will be the new symbol of London People may not remember Darth Vader in 20 years time, or in 30. Maybe yes, I don't know. But I had to think that far ahead.

Watch an animation of the new Tube, published by TfL, below:

SEE ALSO: Japan Is Building The Fastest Train On Earth

Don't miss London Has Finally Fixed The Most Annoying Thing About The Tube

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12 Sayings Only People From California Will Understand

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I-405 freeway california los angeles traffic

California is known by many as the land of beautiful celebrities, packed freeways, and perpetual summer. 

But the nation's most populated state also has a huge variety of people with unique ways of speaking, from valley girl speak to surfer lingo to slang inspired by Bay Area hip hop. 

The people of the Golden State speak a dialect distinct enough to warrant its own name: California English.  

Inspired by Business Insider's roundups of expressions from the South, Midwest, and New England, we've come up with 12 sayings that only people who hail from the Golden State will understand.

1. "There's a Sigalert for the carpool lane on the 5 south." 

Freeways are a huge part of Californians' daily existence, so of course there are plenty of slang terms associated with it. Californians may be the only people in the country to put "the" before the number of a freeway route (and they're never called highways), and the only people to call it the carpool lane instead of the HOV.

And if there's a Sigalert, take it as a hint to avoid the area completely. Sigalerts are messages issued by the California Highway Patrol when there's an accident or anything else blocking multiple lanes of traffic, meaning that notorious California traffic is even more horrendous than usual (see also: Carmageddon).

2. "It takes 20 minutes, depending on traffic."

People from California say this all the time to describe their location, and it's barely ever true. 30 minutes just sounds way too far, and 15 minutes is unrealistic.  

We all know that 20 minutes away really means something closer to 40, and that light traffic is never something you can depend on. 

3. "June Gloom."

Beginning in June (or even at the end of May if it's a particularly unlucky year), a wave of foggy weather invades coastal areas of California and ruins everyone's beach plans. June Gloom/Grey May/No-Sky July are southern Californian terms used to describe a weather pattern that brings low-lying clouds and mist during the early summer months. 

Though people from out of town will try to convince you it's just air pollution, the fog that appears every morning usually clears up by mid-afternoon or so. 

4. "The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco." 

This San Francisco cliche is usually attributed to Mark Twain, though there's no evidence he ever actually said it. Contrary to what pop culture may have you have believe, summer in the Bay Area is pretty cold, and fog is a nearly constant presence. 

The fog may be a nuisance to visitors touring the Bay Area, but San Franciscans embrace the fog as an essential part of what makes their city home. They even named the fog Karl and gave it its own Twitter and Facebook pages.

CA surfers

5. "It's pretty gnarly out, bro. It's double overhead today!"

Surfer culture has had a huge influence on the way coastal Californians speak. You may hear surfers, skaters, and snowboarders talking about "shredding the gnar," but even those who refrain from participating in extreme sports tend to use the word "gnarly" to describe things that are either extremely good or extremely bad.

You'll also hear words like "epic," and of course, "dude." Waves that are "double overhead" are not meant for the faint of heart.

6. "I'm stoked." 

Though Merriam-Webster defines "stoke" as "to stir or add fuel to (something that is burning)" this expression has absolutely nothing to do with building a fire, at least in a literal sense. Californians are stoked when they're totally, completely exhilarated about something, whether it's a trip to the mountains or a huge swell coming just in time for the weekend. 

Now a commonly used word in many regions, "stoked" became popular with "The Endless Summer," a classic surfing movie documentary by Bruce Brown in 1966.  

7. "Hella."

Perhaps one of the most distinctive and divisive words on this list, the use of the word "hella" is an immediate indication that the speaker is from northern California. Derived from "hell of a" or "hell of a lot," the word is generally used in place of "really," "a lot," or "very."

Don't get caught using this word in the southern part of the state, however. You'll only hear people from the Bay Area say this, while people from elsewhere in California will probably find the term annoying

8. "The industry."

Vague references to "the industry" might be a little confusing to people not from southern California. When someone says their husband works in "the industry," they don't mean he's an industrial worker, though he may belong to a different kind of labor union. Actors, directors, producers, screenwriters, art directors, film editors, and talent agents are just a few people who make up the huge entity that is "the industry." 

Show business is so prominent in Los Angeles that southern Californians should immediately get the reference. 

9. "This burger is bomb."

We've all heard people refer to things as "the bomb" since the late '90s.  Californians often put their own spin on this outdated expression by taking out "the."

It's usually food items that are referred to as "bomb," though theoretically anything awesome could be referred to in this way. 

10. "I'll take a Double-Double, animal style."

in-n-out burger

Californians are deeply proud of their In-N-Out, a fast-food burger chain that comes with its own jargon and a secret menu not advertised in stores. A burger served "animal style" has mustard fried into the patty and comes with extra spread and grilled onions. 

You can also order your fries animal style. If you're especially hungry, try a 3x3 burger, which comes with three beef patties, or even a 4x4, which comes with four.

11. "This burrito is dank." 

"Dank" is a prime example of a term whose connotation has changed from negative to positive thanks to slang usage. Though Merriam-Webster defines it as meaning "wet and cold in a way that is unpleasant," as in a dank basement, the word was adopted by stoner culture to describe high-quality marijuana. 

The word has since evolved to describe anything that is especially good, like an exceptionally tasty burrito. 

12. Whatever you do, definitely don't say "Cali." 

The only people who don't refer to California as "Cali" are the Golden State natives themselves. You will very, very rarely hear a Californian call their home state by this name, even though people from everywhere else love to call it that. 

If you want to blend in, try to avoid this shudder-inducing word in the presence of California natives.

Now Watch: People Can't Figure Out What This New England Saying About Kittens Means

 

SEE ALSO: The Best Sandwich From Every US State

DON'T MISS: 14 Midwestern Sayings That The Rest Of America Can't Understand

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The Best Golf Course In Every State

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Cypress Point Golf

Golf is a lifelong sport that takes a lot of patience, discipline, and practice. So for the pros and enthusiasts out there, we've gathered the best golf course in each state across the US.

We looked to golf experts Golf.com, Golf Digest, Golfweek, and Golf Course Gurus to ensure we picked the very best. From Mt. McKinley in Anchorage, Alaska, to the shores of Juno Beach, Florida, here is the top golf course in every state. 

ALABAMA: Shoal Creek Golf Club, Shoal Creek

Course owner Hall Thompson enlisted Jack Nicklaus to help him design a championship-caliber course in the mid-'70s, which resulted in the Shoal Creek Golf Club. The course has hosted two PGA Championships and will host the Regions Tradition on the Champions Tour through 2015. 

shoal creek club

Source: Shoal Creek Club



ALASKA: Anchorage Golf Course, Anchorage

The Anchorage Golf Course, designed by Bill Newcomb, offers breathtaking views of Mount McKinley, Chugach Mountain Range, Cook Inlet, and the Anchorage city skyline. Golfers can experience the area's natural wildlife with sightings of moose, foxes, and waterfowl.

Anchorage golf course

Source: Facebook/Anchorage Golf Course



ARIZONA: Estancia Club, Scottsdale

The members-only Estancia Club hosts the best golf course in the Grand Canyon State. The championship course was designed by Tom Fazio, who was named the Best Modern Day Golf Course Architect three times by Golf Digest. 

estancia golf club

Source: Youtube/National Production Network



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Watch This Amazing Video Of An Eagle With A Camera Soar Over Paris

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Recently in Paris, Sony strapped its Action Cam Mini on a white-tailed eagle named Victor. It flew from the top of the Eiffel Tower, over the Seine, and down into the Trocadéro Gardens. 

The eagle's handler, Jacques Olivier Travers, is the head of the nonprofit organization Freedom, whose objective is to reintroduce the white-tailed eagle into its natural habitat in the French and Swiss Alps. These eagles have been extinct in France for more than 50 years.

Check out Sony's Action Cam Mini here >>

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This Gadget Will Change Water Balloon Fights Forever

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water balloons gif bunch o balloonsEveryone knows that a quality water balloon fight is virtually an arms race. It all comes down to who has the most ammunition.

Now there's an awesome device that will give you an edge. Known as Bunch O Balloons (and which we first spotted on Gizmodo’s Toyland), this product will revolutionize childhoods and frat houses everywhere.

The rig lets you fill and seal 100 water balloons in under a minute, which, for anyone doing the math in their heads, is 1.7 balloons per second. All you need is a hose, and it's so easy that a kid can do it.

Water Bunch O Balloons gifThe idea was originally a Kickstarter project from Tinnus Enterprises out of Texas, and they teamed up with Zuru Toys, a family-owned toy company based in Hong Kong and run out of New Zealand, to sell the product.

The packets are being sold here for $17, though they won't be delivered until April 2015. Though that’s not in time for Christmas, it might be worth getting your order in early — these are sure to sell out quickly. bunch o balloons

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Americans Voted In Some Pretty Strange Places On Election Day

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weird voting

Voting is an inalienable right in the United States, one every citizen should be able to exercise if they so choose, no matter where they are. 

While many of us voted on Election Day in a school, civic center, or church, sometimes those facilities just aren't available. When that happens, communities have to get creative. 

Voters in Chicago and elsewhere in the US found themselves voting in some unusual places. Some visited their local car mechanic, others their laundromat or neighborhood diner, all of whom volunteered their space for the day. It's just another example of American ingenuity.

A cook prepares food orders in a kitchen as voters cast their ballots for the U.S. midterm elections at a restaurant used as a polling station in Chicago, Illinois.



A woman votes at a polling station inside a local grocery store in National City, California.



A voter is seen casting her ballot inside a dessert restaurant being used as a polling station in Chicago, Illinois.



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The 10 Best Public School Districts In The US

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Lower Merion School Bus Students

The Edgemont School District in Westchester County, New York has the best schools in the country, according to a new ranking from education review website Niche.

Interestingly, all of the top 10 school districts on Niche's list are in New York or Pennsylvania. Four of the 10 districts serve towns in Westchester County, a suburb right outside of New York City.

Niche rankings are based on a combination of user reviews and education statistics sourced from the government and public databases. According to Niche, "a high ranking indicates that the district contains great schools with exceptional teachers, sufficient resources, and a diverse set of high-achieving students who rate their experiences very highly."

Student and alumni reviews also show a lot of school pride. As one recent alumnus writes at Niche, "The teachers at Edgemont are really above and beyond, for the most part. The newly revitalized administration is also working to keep the standards of schools high."

Here are the top 10 school districts in the country, via Niche:

  1. Edgemont School District — Edgemont, New York
  2. Jericho Union Free School District — Jericho, New York
  3. Tredyffrin/Easttown School District — Tredyffrin Township, Pennsylvania
  4. Lower Merion School District — Montgomery County, Pennsylvania
  5. Scarsdale Union Free School District — Scarsdale, New York
  6. Great Neck School District — Great Neck, New York
  7. Pittsford Central School District — Pittsford Town, NY
  8. Rye City School District — Rye, New York
  9. North Allegheny School District — Wexford, Pennsylvania
  10. Chappaqua Central School District — Chappaqua, New York

See the full list of the top school districts in the country at Niche >>

SEE ALSO: The 25 Best Public High Schools In The US

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The 10 Best Bars In New York City

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the dead rabbit nyc

New York City has over 2,000 bars, so it can be difficult to figure out which are the best places to grab a drink.

From trendy cocktail bars to local dives, we've found the 10 best bars in New York City.

This list is derived from our list of The Best Bars In AmericaTo compile this list, we looked at six notable bar rankings— James Beard Awards, Esquire, Food & Wine, Zagat, The World's 50 Best Bars, and Liquor.com's Best Bars in America—and aggregated the rankings to come up with our own list of the Best Bars in America. We used Yelp ratings as a tie-breaker.

You can read more about our methodology here.

10. Saxon + Parole

316 Bowery

Saxon + Parole opened last summer in the Bowery in what was formerly Double Crown. Named after two 19th-century race horses, the bar has a vintage yet chic feel. 

The bar offers inventive concoctions  like Greek yogurt cocktails. Make a reservation in the cellar downstairs for wine and whiskey tastings. 



9. Mayahuel

304 East 6th Street

Mayahuel wants its customers to truly experience Mexico through its drinks.

The East Village bar serves over 40 mezcals and tequilas and mixes over 50 different cocktails for patrons.



8. Clover Club

210 Smith Street

The Clover Club captures the old-time pre-Prohibition feel while offering a wide variety of delicious reasonably-priced cocktails.

The cocktail menu at this Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, bar is divided into eight sections including fizzes, punches, sours, and signature drinks.



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Take A Tour Of Elon Musk's $17 Million Bel Air Mansion

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elon musk house

Elon Musk, billionaire founder of SpaceX, Tesla, and PayPal, leads a pretty amazing life

In January 2013, he spent $17 million on a 20,248-square-foot mansion in Los Angeles' Bel Air neighborhood. He and his five sons had lived in the house for three years, which Musk rented before he felt financially secure enough to buy. 

The home, which has seven bedrooms, a giant screening room, a pool, and a tennis court, is what you would expect from a man worth $8.6 billion.

In November of 2013, Musk paid $6.75 million for a ranch home located across the street from the mansion. No word on whether he plans to demolish the small house to combine the two homes into an even bigger estate.

Musk's house is situated on a hilltop 1.66-acre plot in Los Angeles' ritzy Bel Air enclave.



It overlooks the exclusive Bel Air Country Club.



The house is enormous, with 20,248 square feet of space divided into different wings.



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Meet The 18-Year-Old Who Just Got Elected To The West Virginia State Legislature

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Saira Blair

Saira Blair didn't turn 18 — the legal voting age — until a few short months before the 2014 midterm elections.

Tuesday, she won the election for West Virginia's 59th House District.

Facing off against Democratic candidate Layne Diehl in a state that has turned red in recent years, the West Virginia University freshman became the youngest state lawmaker in the nation after sweeping 63% of the vote.

Blair will represent a small district in West Virginia's eastern panhandle, about an hour and a half outside the nation's capital, according to the Associated Press.

In a statement, the Republican teen said, "When I made the decision to run for public office, I did so because I firmly believe that my generation's voice, fresh perspective and innovative ideas can help solve some of our state's most challenging issues. I am honored and humbled to have been elected."

Earlier this year, Business Insider spoke to Blair for our annual list of the most impressive kids graduating from high school. Blair, then a senior at Hedgesville High School, told us she had always been active in public service and enjoys extracurricular activities. But a campaign for the House was a far cry from résumé padding.

Blair, who characterizes herself as a pro-life, pro-family, and pro-jobs fiscal conservative, decided to run when she took a hard look at the reality that faced her and her peers after graduation. She realized the solution was to make West Virginia more business-friendly.

"You can get a good education in W.V. if you choose to. What is difficult to get is a good paying job," Blair told Business Insider. "Students are our greatest export, and I want to work to address that issue through tax reforms, judicial reforms, and reducing government bureaucracy in an effort to attract more businesses to the state."

saira craig blair west virginia senator delegate

She stocked up on enough credits as an underclassman so that she could take on a lighter workload during her senior year of high school, and enlisted the help of her community and her dad, West Virginia State Senator Craig Blair, in canvassing and getting the word out. Blair organized her public-outreach efforts on Facebook and Twitter, which regularly featured photos of her knocking on doors and hanging campaign signs on lawns. Her cover photo displayed her cell number.

In the days leading up to the May 2014 state primaries, friends and family held signs outside polling places. Fellow classmates registered and voted on her behalf (she wasn't yet 18 years old). Blair defeated her opponent, a two-term incumbent, by an 872-728 vote margin.

Saira Blair

Running for public office at an age when most are contented to see R-rated movies, presented a unique set of challenges and surprises. Blair — who describes her hobbies as attending school sporting events, firearms, quilting, and politics — feared she wouldn't be taken seriously. The response blew her away.

"I was surprised that the people in my community understood someone as young as I am could share their conservative beliefs," Blair said, "and understand that you don't have to wait until you're 40, 50, or 60 years old to recognize the social and economic benefits of conservative principles."

Layne Diehl, saira blair

Five months later and Blair has made it to the big leagues. According to The Wall Street Journal, she will defer her spring semester to attend the part-time legislature's 60-day session. She intends to make up classes in the summer or fall at West Virginia University, where she studies economics and Spanish.

"I want to use my education experience to promote better economic opportunities for the citizens of West Virginia," she said. "My generation must have their voices heard if we want our state and our nation to grow and prosper."


NOW WATCH: T. Boone Pickens: Here Are The 3 Conditions You Should Set Before Taking Any Advice

 

SEE ALSO: The 25 Best Public High Schools In The US

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The Cheapest Days Of The Week To Fly

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airplane tropical sunset

Saving money on airfare is an art.

We've discussed when to book Thanksgiving travel, which destinations get more expensive as you procrastinate, and which US airports have the cheapest flights.

Now, another piece of the puzzle: CheapAir.com analyzed over 4 million domestic flights since the beginning of 2014 and found that the cheapest days of the week to fly are Tuesday and Wednesday, presumably because no one wants to go anywhere midweek.

The news isn't shocking. Of course you'll pay more to fly anywhere after business hours on Friday night. But it does quantify the difference: The average low airfare on Tuesdays and Wednesdays is $373, compared to $440 on Sundays — a difference of $67.

Below, take a look at CheapAir's findings. 

cheapair infographic average low airfare day of week

SEE ALSO: This Easy Trick Helps 67% Of Fliers Find Cheaper Airfare

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This Radical Plan Could End All Traffic Fatalities In New York

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On Nov. 7 the speed limit in New York City becomes 25 mph. Previously, it was 30 mph. This change is part of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio's Vision Zero initiative to end traffic fatalities in the city by 2024.

The Big Apple looked to Sweden for a solution after 294 traffic fatalities in 2013 — the city's worst year since 2006. 

Produced by Sam Rega

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The Most Popular Novels This Year

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Book covers

With the cold weather setting in, there's nothing better than curling up with a good book.

As the year comes to a close we looked back to find the best reads of 2014.

To generate a list of the "it" books this year, Goodreads collected data based on the most-searched-for, standalone fiction books on Goodreads between January and August 2014.

These are the most popular novels of 2014.

1. "We Were Liars" by E. Lockhart

This thrilling novel explores the lives of the Eastman family, and why teenager Cadence Sinclair Eastman can't remember what happened at her grandfather's lake house two summers ago. Cadence spends every summer at her grandfather's sprawling Cape Cod estate with two cousins and a friend. The foursome calls themselves "The Liars," and work together when their parents try to use them as pawns when it comes to settling their grandfather's estate and will. The family's dark secrets are revealed and Cadence finally uncovers what happened during that mysterious summer two years ago.  

Buy the book here »

2. "Landline" by Rainbow Rowell

Comedy writer Georgie McCool and her husband Neal, a stay-at-home dad, are struggling with their marriage. When Georgie receives the television writing opportunity of a lifetime she cancels the family Christmas trip to see Neal's family in Omaha. To Georgie's surprise, Neal packs up their daughters and heads to Omaha for the holidays anyway, leaving Georgie to contemplate their marriage. Neal is dodging her calls, so Georgie uses the ancient yellow landline phone in her room to call Neal's home phone in Omaha. However, the Neal she talks to on the other line is the Neal from 1998 when they first met. Now Georgie has the opportunity to fix her marriage from the past, or decide if her marriage truly isn't fixable. 

Buy the book here »

3. "All The Light We Cannot See" by Anthony Doerr

The World War II novel follows blind Marie-Laure and orphaned Werner. Marie-Laure's father makes scale models of their Paris neighborhood so his blind daughter can navigate the streets on her own and gain independence. When the Nazis occupy Paris, Marie-Laure and her father flee to the coastal town of Saint-Malo where she bravely works for the French resistance. Meanwhile, Werner, an engineering prodigy, lands a spot at a brutal Hitler Youth academy. Werner works for the Nazis and is sent to spy on the resistance in Saint-Malo, where his and Marie-Laure's stories converge. 

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4. "Big Little Lies" by Liane Moriarty

In a suburban Australian town, Madeline, Celeste, and Jane lead completely different lives but are connected by their children, who are all in the same kindergarten class. The story builds up to a parent fundraiser where a parent dies under suspicious conditions. The story starts six months before the fateful fundraiser, with the three women coming together when Jane's sweet-natured son is accused of bullying. "Big Little Lies" takes a look into the adult cliques and marriages of this seemingly placid little town and reveals the lies we tell ourselves to get through each day.  

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5. "One Plus One" by JoJo Moyes

Jess is struggling to hold her family together — her husband left, her step-son is being bullied at school, and she can't afford to send her braniac daughter to compete in the Math Olympiad. That's where Ed, a geeky and selfish tech millionaire whose home Jess cleans, comes in. Because of Ed's own dysfunctionality, Jess doesn't expect anything from him. However, he helps Jess and her family get to the Math Olympiad — possibly the first thing he's ever done for someone else. 

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6. "Ugly Love" by Colleen Hoover

Nurse Tate and airline pilot Miles have agreed to forgo a typical romantic relationship. Tate says she doesn't have time for a boyfriend, and Miles is still fighting demons from his past, but the two are attracted to each other so they start a purely physical relationship. Miles is upfront and honest about not being able to handle anything more; Tate says she doesn't want a relationship, but as time passes she develops feelings for Miles and believes she can change his mind, and maybe even overcome the thing that haunts him.

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7. "The Invention of Wings" by Sue Monk Kidd

"The Invention of Wings" is set in early nineteenth-century Charleston and is based on the historical Grimké sisters. On Sarah Grimké's eleventh birthday she is given a slave, a girl named Handful, as a present. The story covers the two girls' relationship over the next 35 years. Both come from different worlds, but have the same goal of making something more of their lives. Sarah eventually joins her older sister Angelina and the two serve as some of the earliest voices of the abolitionist movement. 

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SEE ALSO: 13 Books You Should Read Before They Become Movies This Year

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Customer Furious After Restaurant Charges Him $3,750 For Wine It Said Cost 'Thirty-Seven Fifty'

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Sommelier pouring wine into a glass at a restaurant

New Jersey resident Joe Lentini is furious at Atlantic City's Bobby Flay Steak after the restaurant charged him $3,750 for a bottle of wine.

First reported by NJ.com's Bamboozled column writer Karin Price Mueller, Lentini went to a business dinner at the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa restaurant. The host encouraged Lentini to pick out the wine, so he asked the waitress if she could help.

"I don't know much about wine at all," Lentini told NJ.com. “I asked the waitress if she could recommend something decent because I don't have experience with wine. She pointed to a bottle on the menu. I didn't have my glasses. I asked how much and she said, 'Thirty-seven fifty.'"

Lentini assumed the waitress meant $37.50. Everyone around the table agreed to the price and they ordered the wine.

But the bottle of Screaming Eagle Oakville 2011 wine that she had pointed to wasn’t $37.50 — it was $3,750, and one of the priciest wines on the 24-page menu.

After dinner, news of the actual price of the wine quickly spread. With appetizers, a seafood tower, lamb chop, and two NY strip steaks, the total bill ended up being $4,700, including tax.

The maître d’ was called over and said he could bring the cost of the wine down to $2,200 (wine for this vintage typically ranges between $1,000 and $2,000). Though Lentini said he couldn’t afford that price either, the other diners agreed to split the bill so they could leave.

The Borgata told NJ.com that it has done nothing wrong and that all the proper practices were followed.

"As the leading culinary destination in this region, we consistently serve as many, if not more high-end wine and spirits without incident," executive vice president Joseph Lupo told Mueller. "In this isolated case, both the server and sommelier verified the bottle requested with the patron."

Not only that, but the host of the party — who declined to be named — said that he knew the price of the bottle, but that by the time he had figured it out, the bottle was already open and “possibly empty."

As for whether or not the wine was worth it, Lentini said: "It was okay. It was good. It wasn't great. It wasn't terrible. It was fine."

Next time he should order from the "Top 50 under $50" section on the Bobby Flay Steak wine list (“Stimulate your taste buds without breaking the bank!”).


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How Larry Ellison's Vision For An Italian Sandwich Shop Started A New Era For Food In Silicon Valley

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larry ellison young

Workers at major Silicon Valley companies like Facebook and Google may enjoy some pretty amazing meals in their corporate cafeterias, but that wasn't always the case. 

In the late 1980s, Fedele Bauccio was in the process of building Bon Appetit Management Company, a Palo Alto-based restaurant company that he hoped would change the way businesses fed their workers. 

"My office was in the area where all of the venture capitalists were at the time, starting new companies," Bauccio told Business Insider. 

He soon became acquainted with Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, who wanted to build a paninoteca, or traditional Italian sandwich shop, at his young company's new headquarters in Redwood Shores. 

"Being Italian, I said, 'I could do that,'" Bauccio said. "But we knew a small sandwich shop wasn't going to last long."  

As Oracle continued to grow, Bon Appetit created a series of unique concept cafes for the campus. There's now a Japanese noodle bar, an Indian curry house, and a Mediterranean marketplace, among other delectable options located in different buildings beside a lake. 

It wasn't long before other tech firms in Silicon Valley caught on to the idea.

fedele bauccio bon appetit

"Other companies saw what we did and said, 'We want to do that too.' Other companies were doing these large cafeterias (and we do have some large facilities, too) but there was obviously a benefit in doing these smaller cafes where you have a personal connection to the food and have different seating options," Bauccio said. "Silicon Valley took off like crazy, and now we have a whole new crop of companies — Google, LinkedIn, Amazon — that weren't even in business back then." 

As these companies have grown into massive global operations, Silicon Valley office culture has also changed significantly. Workers spending long hours at the office often look to their employers to provide healthy, authentic meal experiences at all times of the day. 

"It challenged us to create what I call 'casual collisions' — that as people break bread together, they come up with new ideas and innovations," Bauccio said. "The days of huge cafeterias are over."

A commonly held belief in Silicon Valley is that the happier, healthier, and better-fed employees are, the more productive they'll be. That's where all of the perks come in. 

kitchen sync google

And with initiatives that aim to bring nutritious and locally sourced ingredients into corporate cafeterias, Bon Appetit ensures that employees don't have to leave the office to eat good food. 

 "I think food is a huge perk, and I think it’s expected now," Bauccio said. "These people creating new products now — there’s no beginning or end of the day for them. They’re here all the time. We have to create experiences that start earlier and last longer, because it's not just lunchtime anymore." 

Here are some examples of dishes you can eat at Oracle's cafes today. 

 on

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SEE ALSO: 22 Mouthwatering Pictures Of Google's Legendary Free Food

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Stop Hating On Boxed Wine — Everyone Should Be Drinking It

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megan drinking boxed wine

Until recently, the last time I drank boxed wine was in college when "slap the bag” was an acceptable party game and everyone’s goal was to get as drunk as possible. 

Needless to say my memories of boxed wine were not the best.

But on a recent liquor store trip, I was intrigued by a good-looking box of wine. On the side of the box it claimed that it had three liters or four standard bottles-worth of wine, and that it would keep for over a month. It sounded too good to be true, but my frugal curiosity got the best of me.

And it was actually delicious.

Aside from the taste, I loved that I could have a casual glass without the pressure to finish an entire bottle. It helped that it cost about $20 for four bottles worth of wine, too.

Since then, I’ve tried a variety of boxed wines. Black Box, Wineberry, Bota Box, Trader Joe’s, and more, all with approximately four bottles of wine in a thick food-grade plastic bag. And I’ve learned one really important thing: We should all be drinking more boxed wine.

The fact that more people don’t drink boxed wine in America stems from our own cultural biases. Other areas of the world are much more liberal with how they partake: 50% of the wine sold in Australia, Brazil, Sweden, and Norway for example is boxed wine, according to Wines & Vines magazine. The Grape Vine Magazine reported that boxed wine is one of the fastest growing wine segments in the world with sales increasing 20% every year since 2000.

And even though boxed wine only accounts for 18% of sales in America, that could all be changing.

“The US wine market is growing tremendously and we’re developing a taste for wine,” Steffan Bankier, co-founder and CEO of the boxed wine brand Public House, told Business Insider. “People are starting to put good wine in the box, realizing that there are lots of benefits. Our generation is also rejecting anything that’s overly expensive, wasteful, or bad for the environment.”

drinking wine at the beach public house boxedEven if you’re a wine snob, there are simply too many benefits to ignore the growing market. 

First of all, it stores better — and longer — than regular opened wine. After pouring your first glass, boxed wine will stay fresh between six and eight weeks while your average bottle of red or white wine lasts less than a week once it’s been opened. The plastic bag keeps the air out and prevents oxidation until the wine has been dispensed into your glass, unlike a bottle which lets air in immediately after uncorking. 

Boxed wine also generates less waste. You don’t have to toss out wine that has gone bad, plus there’s less packaging since four bottles-worth of wine can fit inside one box.

The packaging is also more durable than a bottle. Glass is heavy and can easily break, but food-grade plastic and cardboard transport safely and don’t take up much space. Because the packaging is lighter-weight than glass bottles, when the wine travels across the country there’s less of a carbon footprint, too.

And because it can’t break as easily, is more light-weight, and is easy to transport, it’s better for on-the-go social settings.“It’s really convenient to carry. There’s a lot of places where they don’t allow you to have glass on rooftops, grassy areas, on the beach, and so on,” Jordan Gutman, co-founder and President of Public House, said. “Boxed wine naturally allows for that.”

All of this means that boxed wine ends up being cheaper. Prices typically range from $13 (Trader Joe’s) to $40 after tax for three liter boxed wines, and that’s not even including Tetra Pak options which are essentially adult juice boxes with a bottle and a half of wine inside (Bandit and French Rabbit are popular brands for those interested).

“The consumer right now pays so much for the bottles through shipping and packaging that it’s just unnecessary,” Gutman told me. “Our wine is such a better value. The average consumer is going to save about 40% just on the wine when they purchase a boxed wine simply because of the packaging.” 

megan drinking boxed wineI’m not a complete convert to boxed wine yet. I’ve continued to buy bottles to bring to dinner parties and friend’s houses and I still enjoy a high-quality wine as a splurge.  

It’s also worth noting that the only two areas boxed wine really falls short are perception (I’d never give boxed wine as a hostess gift, for example) and in the vintage market since boxed wine doesn’t age like bottled wine can (boxed wine can keep 6-8 months for unopened whites and 10-13 months for unopened reds).

So if you’re a wine snob and you can only drink the best of the best, ignore my advice. Get all the expensive vintages you want and fill up that pretentious wine cellar of yours. 

But for the rest of us, when it comes to day-to-day wine to drink with dinner, give boxed wine a chance.

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The Razor-Thin Townhouse In New York City Is Going To Look Awesome

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Dining Stair Elevator

A new razor-thin townhouse is set to make a splash in Manhattan's desirable Flatiron District of Midtown South. 

Designed by Skyway Development Group (and spotted on Curbed NY), the home has 8,000 square feet of space and a total of seven floors.

It also features a glass elevator to move up and down the skinny building.

kitchenThough it's relatively small, it packs a big punch with six bedrooms, four powder rooms, a "backyard," a roof deck, a home office, and a garage (to park your presumably very skinny car).

It will also have not one but two hot tubs, plus a sauna and a steam room.

SpaIt was designed by Andres Escobar and Karl "Hot Karl" Fischer served as the architect. According to Curbed, they've worked together before on some high-profile projects with good results.

RooftopThe townhouse will be built at 34 West 21st St., according to the press release, and will be a single-family home. 

FacdeOne last view of the incredible townhouse and its awesome layout.

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